How Do I Manage the Relationship with My Less Practicing Husband?

Shafi'i Fiqh

Answered by Ustadha Shazia Ahmad

Question

My American husband converted to Islam 6 months before we married. I am an Arab Muslim and we have been married for 20 years. He still doesn’t know how to make wudu or say the whole prayer correctly. He doesn’t fast Ramadan. He took Islam seriously in the beginning when we went for ‘Umra. A few years back he said it’s not in him to be spiritual. I keep telling him we can’t be married if he is not Muslim. He works and lives in another city so he just visits on his days off. Shall I divorce him? I fear my marriage is haram if he isn’t truly Muslim.

Answer

Thank you for your question.

Muhammad ‘Alawi al-Maliki writes, “There is scholarly consensus that it is unlawful to charge with unbelief anyone who faces Makkah to pray unless he denies the Almighty Creator, Majestic and Exalted, commits open polytheism that cannot be explained away by extenuating circumstances, denies prophethood, or something which is necessarily known as being of religion, or which is mass transmitted (mutawatir), or which there is scholarly consensus upon its being necessarily known as part of the religion.” [The Reliance of the Traveller, w47.1, from Alawi’s Mafahim yajibu an tusahhaha]

The above is the legal criteria used by scholars about whether a person is deemed to have left Islam or not. It seems to me that your fear might be overtaking you. From what you have mentioned, it seems that your husband just doesn’t want to practice the religion, but still believes in the shahada (testification of Faith). I would hold on to that tight if I were you.

Perhaps, instead of discussing rituals with him, you can point him towards intellectual books about Islam and history. Perhaps you can take a Sirah class with him. Usually, the heart is motivated or inspired by these types of things and actions follow naturally next. Try not to push him but rather show him the fruits of living an Islamic lifestyle.

Also, as a first step, you can consider strengthening the marriage. Nothing strengthens one’s religion better than this. And as a side note, when your children are getting married, remind them to pray istikhara before they marry someone and to marry someone for religion. Usually converts to Islam should have about a year before they marry. May Allah Most High inspire you and give you the best of both worlds.

Please see the links below for more related information:
I Have Entertained Thoughts About The Disbelief of Another Muslim: Am I Still Muslim?
My Husband Is Not Practicing: What Can I Do To Make Him A Better Muslim?
Should I Divorce Someone Who Has Stopped Practicing Islam?
Marriage to a Non-Practicing Convert and Betraying My Father’s Trust

[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.