Can I Marry Someone Who Hasn’t Been Divorced Yet?

Shafi'i Fiqh

Answered by Ustadha Shazia Ahmad


I’m getting to know a divorced man and am inclined to marry him. However, I just recently discovered that although he is divorced Islamically, his divorce has not been finalized secularly.

Should I continue to interact with him even though he is still technically married? I am uncomfortable doing so as long as he is still technically connected to this woman.


According to Western law, he is indeed connected to her, but rest assured that the woman is no longer his wife.

My only concern is that he is actually in the process of procuring a divorce from her. Do you know how serious he is with that? Has he seen a lawyer, or does he have divorce papers that need to be signed? What’s the holdup? I have heard that it can take up to 3 years to get a divorce in the US. You should have a frank conversation with him about this.

However, to protect yourself, I recommend that you give him the following options:

That you both stop getting to know each other and wait until the divorce is final.

That you both get engaged with your parent’s permission and then stop talking and wait to marry after the divorce is final

Otherwise, never do a nikah with him until his divorce is final (although valid in Islam) because you will have no protection of the law. Obviously, your discovery of his legal marriage will slow things down for you. Please pray istikhara, and see whether it is worth waiting for him. He may be an excellent choice for you, but you must be sure and be willing to wait for him to sort out his baggage.

I pray that Allah facilitates a blessed union between you both. Please take a course on marriage before you endeavor this and ask him to take it with you.

Marriage in Islam: Practical Guidance for Successful Marriage

[Ustadha] Shazia Ahmad
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadha Shazia Ahmad lived in Damascus, Syria, for two years where she studied aqida, fiqh, tajweed, tafsir, and Arabic. She then attended the University of Texas at Austin, where she completed her Masters in Arabic. Afterward, she moved to Amman, Jordan where she studied fiqh, Arabic, and other sciences. She later moved back to Mississauga, Canada, where she lives with her family.