Cheating Husband

Answered by Ustadh Farid Dingle

Question: Should I seek a divorce if my husband has been cheating on me?

Answer: In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate.

Dear questioner, may Allah relieve you of your emotional pain, and reward for the disloyalty that has been shown to you.

If he is clearly trying to change, and your can emotionally bear living with him, you should try your best to stay married to him for the sake of you both, and for the sake of the children.

When to forgive and forget

The default modus operandi for a Muslim is to forgive and forget, even when cheated on by one’s spouse. The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, ‘Whosoever covers up the faults of others, Allah will cover up his faults on the Day of Rising.’ [Bukhari and Muslim] This even applies to a spouse being unfaithful, because it does not involve anyone else’s rights.

That said, the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) also said, ‘The believer is not stung from the same hole twice.’ [Bukhari and Muslim] Therefore, if your husband is not showing any real signs of change and you suspect he is continuing in his bad ways, you should seek a divorce.

This would also obtain if you just feel that you can’t live with him anymore given the gross level of his betrayal.

The right to divorce

According to many scholars, a woman has the right to ask for a divorce if she is being emotionally abused by her husband. They distinguish between a one-off major form of abuse and a one-off lesser form of abuse. [al Sharh al Kabir, Dardir and others]

In order to unilaterally enact a divorce, you would have to agree with your husband to go to a Muslim arbitrator. The arbitrator–ideally a mufti–would decide whether or not there are grounds to enact a divorce without your husband’s concept on the mere basis of what he has done.

Otherwise, you could just simply convince him to divorce you by telling him that you cannot live with him anymore.

Feeling down

Allah created us only knowing Him. Then we entered this world and turned our hopes and attention to other than Him. If He loves a slave of His, He turns him back to Him by sending him blessings or by calamities, or by sending both. What you are going through right now is that very thing: Allah is turning you to Him through a very difficult trial.

The only way to pass the trial and escape the pain of what others do to one is to turn completely to Allah and make Him your one goal. This isn’t easy, but it will change your life forever. Allah Most High says:

So flee to Allah. Indeed, I am to you from Him a clear warner. [51:50]

Please also read: Prayer For Mental Well-Being

Upshot

Ask yourself if you have the strength and willingness to live the rest of your life with him, and try to see if he has genuinely changed and has turned his back on his bad past. If it is just impossible, then just seek a divorce.

Allah Most High says:

And if a woman fears from her husband contempt or evasion, there is no sin upon them if they make terms of a settlement between them. And settlement is best. And present in [human] souls is stinginess. But if you do good and fear Allah, then indeed Allah is ever, with what you do, Acquainted. [4: 128]

But if they separate, Allah will enrich each [of them] from His abundance. And ever is Allah Encompassing and Wise. [4: 130]

Please also have a read of this: Unfaithful Husband Working Overseas

[Ustadh] Farid Dingle

Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadh Farid Dingle has completed extensive years of study in the sciences of the Arabic language and the various Islamic Sciences. During his studies, he also earned a CIFE Certificate in Islamic Finance. Over the years he has developed a masterful ability to craft lessons that help non-Arabic speakers gain a deep understanding of the language. He currently teaches courses in the Arabic Language.

Custody Of A Child

Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam

Question: Assalam u Alaikum, I have been a widow for 2 years. In the Hanafi fiqh, if I decide to marry again to a non-mahram, what custody and responsibilities will I have over my son and daughter? My father-in-law has stated he is the wali of the children, what age is this till?

Answer: Wa alaikum assalam wa rahmatullah

In cases of marital separation by death or divorce, the custody of young children normally immediately transfers to the mother of the children.

If the child is a boy, the mother has a right to keep him until he is able take care of his own needs, such as eating, drinking, and using the bathroom without assistance. This has been estimated to be around seven lunars years of age. And if the child is a girl, the mother has a right to keep her until she begins becomes an adult according to the Sacred Law (shari‘a). Thereafter, the custody rights transfer to the father. In the absence of a father, the next in line is the paternal grandfather, the brother, and finally the paternal uncle. This is the upshot, but there are, of course, details.

Child Custody in Cases of Remarriage

Abu Dawud reported a tradition (hadith) in which a lady came to the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) and said, “O Messenger of Allah! My womb was a container for this son of mine, my bosom was a source of drink for him and my lap was a place of security and protection. His father divorced me and he wants to take him away from me.” So the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “You have a greater right to him as long as you do not marry.”

If a mother remarries somebody who is not a blood relative (mahram) of the child, she loses her right to custody. The reason for this is that her new marriage may busy her from giving sufficient attention to raising the children, and even if it doesn’t, it is assumed as such. Accordingly, the right transfers to the maternal grandmother and failing that, the paternal grandmother. Any time there is a death or a person is unfit or unable to look after the child, the right transfers to the next person. When the right is with other than a mother, both girls and boys have the same custody period.

Whenever the child becomes an adult, custody rights no longer apply. Hence, the children may choose where to live at this point. Similarly, and whenever the matter is taken to court, the verdict is going to be binding because it now becomes a procedural issue which one is normally bound to uphold. If this occurs in a non-Muslim country, the law of the land would need to respect. Hence, if the judge rules in favor of the mother, she would have the right to keep the children. Moreover, it is possible for somebody who has a right to forgo it, and thereafter, suitable living arrangements with the mother could potentially be organized.

Guardianship of Young Children

As for guardianship (wilaya), it remains in the hands of the paternal grandfather, as long as he is alive, who takes the place of his son, the father, normally until adulthood. The job of the guardian is to ensure that the child gets an education, medical attention, when and if required, and that his money and possessions are safeguarded. It doesn’t mean that he gets custody rights immediately because that is a separate set of laws.

(Qadri Pasha, al-Ahkam al-Shar‘iyya fi’l Ahwal al-Shakhsiyya; al-Fatawa al-Hindiyya; Kurdi, al-Ahwal al-Shakhsiyya)

Please also see: Who Gets Custody of the Children After a Divorce?

And Allah Most High knows best

[Ustadh] Tabraze Azam

Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadh Tabraze Azam holds a BSc in Computer Science from the University of Leicester, where he also served as the President of the Islamic Society. He memorized the entire Qur’an in his hometown of Ipswich at the tender age of sixteen, and has since studied the Islamic Sciences in traditional settings in the UK, Jordan, and Turkey. He is currently pursuing advanced studies in Jordan, where he is presently based on his family.

Is My Marriage Still Valid?

Answered by Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil

Question: Assalam aleykum,

I am a mother of small children, feel very suicidal and am self-harming. My husband has been unfaithful to me for many years, refuses to change his ways, leave the house, get a job, or accept help from my family. His family doesn’t want him either – as he is a convert to Islam. All he does is use me for sex, yell at our children, and play video games.

My husband and I met online and I wanted to include some conditions in our marriage contract like not speaking to his ex-girlfriends, not taking on another wife. He agreed to those conditions, verbally, but the imam did our nikah stipulating the conditions in our actual contract. Am I still married to him?

Answer: Assalamualaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

I pray this finds you well. May Allah reward you for reaching out to us.

Validity of marriage

Dear sister, please know that you are still married because the conditions were not stipulated in the actual contract.

Suicidal feelings

The fact that you are feeling very suicidal and self-harming shows me how utterly overwhelmed you are. Having two small children to care for is already exhausting enough, let alone the stress of your husband. I cannot imagine the mental, emotional and spiritual burdens you are carrying. Please, dear sister, is there anyone you can reach out to for help?

You deserve better than this. You are worthy of love, safety, and belonging. Your husband is breaking you, and he is not worth dying over. Your children need you.

Spiritual support

Please perform the Prayer of Guidance to be sure about leaving your marriage. From what you have described, I do not see anything left to salvage, except for your sanity, and your children. May Allah place courage and wisdom in your heart, and help you to take the steps that you need.

As often as you can, please perform the Prayer of Need and plead for Allah to give you the strength to do what needs to be done.

Helping your husband

Unfortunately, you cannot save your husband from himself. He may have an undiagnosed mental illness – Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) – that contributes to lack of insight and refusal to change. It is not your responsibility to fix him. Only he can choose to get better. He is an adult, and is responsible for his actions. He is hurting you and your children, and most probably will not stop if you stay married to him.

This is far easier said than done, but you need to work out a plan to keep you and you children safe. Please work out an exit plan with a culturally-sensitive counsellor. You will need legal help too, as he is refusing to leave your home. He is behaving like a child, and since change will not come from him, it will have to come from you.

How Can I Get Rid of an Ex-Husband Who Doesn’t Want to Leave the House?

Play therapy for children

When possible, I encourage you to seek counselling for your children. Play therapy is a wonderful way to help them overcome and release trauma.

Family

Where is your family in this situation? Can you lean on them for support? Even if you feel guilty and unworthy, please reach out to them. You know your practical situation best, but think of ways to leave your kids with trustworthy family members so you can:

1) Sit down and drink a hot cup of tea.
2) Do a short 5 minute meditation, like Dr Kristin Neff’s self-compassion break.
3) Go for a walk in nature.

Once you have taken the edge off your anxiety, then you can build up to meeting counsellors and seeking legal help. This may feel like a mountain to you right now, but know that with Allah’s help, even mountains can be scaled, one step at a time.

I wish I could be there with you in person. Please know that my duas are with you, and most importantly, Allah Most High is too. May Allah send you the best of helpers, and bring you back into a state of balance, joy, and contentment. May this terrible time be a distant memory for you one day, and a means for your closeness to Allah.

Please see:

My Husband Abuses Me and Is Addicted to Pornography. We Have Small Children. Should I Stay or Leave?
I Am Divorced, My Life Is Finished. Can You Help Me Not Leave Islam?
A Reader on Patience and Reliance on Allah

[Ustadha] Raidah Shah Idil

Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil has spent almost two years in Amman, Jordan, where she learned Shafi’i’ fiqh, Arabic, Seerah, Aqeedah, Tasawwuf, Tafsir and Tajweed. She continues to study with her Teachers in Malaysia and online through SeekersHub Global. She graduated with a Psychology and English degree from University of New South Wales, was a volunteer hospital chaplain for 5 years and has completed a Diploma of Counselling from the Australian Institute of Professional Counsellors. She lives in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, with her husband, daughter, and mother-in-law.

My Husband Doesn’t Pray.

Answered by Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil

Question: Assalam aleykum,

My husband used to pray and go for jumu’ah, but now he doesn’t pray at all. He says he is mad at Allah for all the suffering in the world, and why should he pray to a God who is supposed to be merciful, but let women and children be violated etc? We end up arguing sometimes. His mother is not Muslim. My kids and I are Muslims and practice, but he refuses to pray with us, so I lead salah with my kids. What else can I do? I keep making dua to Allah to bring him back to the straight path. He knows the punishment of neglecting his salah and jumu’ah.

Answer: Assalamualaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

I pray this finds you well. May Allah reward you for reaching out to us.

Meaning of tribulations

This must be such a difficult situation for you and your family. May Allah grant you a way out, and bring your husband closer to Allah.

When we view suffering through the lens of the dunya, then there is no end to pain. But this is not the way of the believer. We must remember to look at suffering through the lens of the akhirah.

Please refer him to these resources:

Suffering and Divine Wisdom
The Problem of Evil and a Summarized Islamic Response
Why We Suffer – 2 – What Is the Problem of Evil? – Shaykh Hamza Karamali

Husband’s anger

Your husband sounds very sensitive. This quality, when harnessed well, is a very positive trait. When it is not channeled well, then it can cause great harm to himself, as manifested by his refusal to pray.

Anger is a secondary emotion. Beneath it is often deep sadness, anxiety and/or powerlessness. Your husband was not born into a Muslim family and embraced Islam at a later age. He needs stronger foundations. He needs to better understand Allah, and have a better opinion of Him, through a courses such as Absolute Essentials of Islam (Shafi‘i): Habshi’s Encompassing Epistle Explained: Getting Started With Your Belief and Practice or Absolute Essentials of Islam (Hanafi): Getting Started With Your Belief and Practice. I pray that he enrols in these courses.

I discourage you from arguing with your husband. Focus on nourishing your connection with him. Soften him through your own kindness and patience with him.

Beautiful character of the Prophet

I encourage your husband to soften his anger through getting to know the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him). There is deep healing in that. Studying the Shama’il with a teacher would be so beneficial for him. In lieu of that, perhaps he can listen to A Beauty Most Sublime and The Prophet’s Heart: Understanding the Prophet’s Beautiful Relationship with Allah and with Allah’s Creation. Even if does not want to, please strive to listen to these blessed recordings. Your heart will change, and impact on his, inshaAllah.

If he is willing to listen, encourage your husband to write a letter to the Prophet (peace sand blessings be upon him), pouring out his sorrow, anger, disbelief and so on. When his eyes shed tears, then his heart will often.

The door of punishment is not changing your husband’s behaviour. Perhaps the door of Prophetic love will.

Spiritual nourishment

Please look after your own heart during this time. Guard your prayers, and increase your acts of worship. Bring light into your home. Have regular gatherings of goodness in your home, and connect to like-minded and like-hearted families.

Be gentle with yourself. Forgive yourself. When you feel overwhelmed, I encourage you to practice these Self-Compassion Guided Meditations and Exercises

Guiding your children

It was narrated from Aishah (may Allah be pleased with her) that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “Allah is Gentle and loves gentleness in all things.” [Sunan Ibn Majah]

Your children are so blessed to have you as their mother. Please ensure that your own aqidah foundations are strong, so that you can teach them about Allah and protect them from being negatively influenced by your husband. You are the wellspring from which they draw from, and they learn best from you who are.

I strongly recommend that you purchase and go through these wonderful children’s books from Fons Vitae. I have bought them for my own children.

Please continue to lead salat for your children. Do acts of worship together, as a family (reading Qur’an, reading Hadith, making dua together etc), even if your husband is unwilling to join you. The states of your illuminated hearts will flow to your husband. Trust in this.

Please see:

A Reader on the Problem of Evil, Suffering, Destiny, and Allah’s Mercy

[Ustadha] Raidah Shah Idil

Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil has spent almost two years in Amman, Jordan, where she learned Shafi’i’ fiqh, Arabic, Seerah, Aqeedah, Tasawwuf, Tafsir and Tajweed. She continues to study with her Teachers in Malaysia and online through SeekersHub Global. She graduated with a Psychology and English degree from University of New South Wales, was a volunteer hospital chaplain for 5 years and has completed a Diploma of Counselling from the Australian Institute of Professional Counsellors. She lives in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, with her husband, daughter, and mother-in-law.

Defining Ill-Conduct (Nushuz) in Marriage.

Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam

Question: Assalam alaykum

How can we equate Nushuz (ill-conduct) on the part of the wife with that of the husband as mentioned in 4:34 and 4:128. Most scholars have understood Nushuz to mean marital discord. So here’s my grievance, why would the wife be disciplined by the husband when she commits Nushuz (4:34) but not so in the case of the latter since she is told to make an agreement (4:128). There are critics who made the claim that this ‘proves’ that Islam is ‘misogynistic’ as they understood from the two verses that the man’s word is absolute and the woman has no right to oppose. They say that when the wife commits Nushuz, she is disciplined with an iron fist but when the husband commits Nushuz she is forced to put up with his behaviour and make an agreement with him.

After reading Ibn Khatir’s tafsir on 4:128, when the wife fears that her husband is steering away from her or deserting her, she is allowed to forfeit all or part of her rights, such as provisions, clothing, dwelling, and so forth, and the husband is allowed to accept such concessions from her. How is this just?

The critics then rant that Islam favors men more than women and say that the husband can force his rights on her but the wife must forfeit her rights to satisfy her husband’s ego. I find this troubling and distressing myself. Also, I know that past and present scholars and jurists have agreed that when the wife commits Nushuz by not responding to his call for intimacy, the husband would then forfeit his responsibility of providing nafkah. How true is this? When we read 4:34 it only commands the husband to resort to three options only. Nowhere does the verse say that the husband should not provide for her and I also didn’t find such verdict in the hadith books themselves (correct me if I’m wrong). If this is true can it be applied to the husband as well? Can the wife refuse his call for intimacy if he fails to be kind, loving and responsible towards her and provides nafaqa(spendings) for her?

Answer: Wa alaikum assalam wa rahmatullah,

There is some detail to this, but the upshot is that you have to read Sura al-Nisa’ in its entirety, and thus verses in full context, in order to fully appreciate the underlying meanings and spirit found therein.

The two verses in question are as follows:

(1) “Men are the caretakers of women, as men have been provisioned by Allah over women and tasked with supporting them financially. And righteous women are devoutly obedient and, when alone, protective of what Allah has entrusted them with. And if you sense ill-conduct from your women, advise them first, if they persist, do not share their beds, but if they still persist, then discipline them gently. But if they change their ways, do not be unjust to them. Surely Allah is Most High, All-Great.” (Sura al-Nisa’, 4:34) 

(2): “If a woman fears indifference or neglect from her husband, there is no blame on either of them if they seek fair settlement, which is best. Humans are ever inclined to selfishness. But if you are gracious and mindful of Allah, surely Allah is All-Aware of what you do.” (Sura al-Nisa’, 4:128)

Differing Gender Roles

Men and women have different roles. In the context of the family unit, the husband has been made the caretaker, as described in the verse. What does this responsibility entail? It requires that men act as the protectors and guardians of women; that they spend upon them financially, emotionally and otherwise; and that they secure for them their best interests in the journey of life.

The husband has a duty to maintain and preserve the sacred nature of his family unit in order that one and all can fulfil their divine calling to worship Allah Most High in serenity. There is a special reason or wisdom (hikma) for the breakdown of gender roles societally. We can often perceive what this is, yet at other times, it may not be so evident.

Defining Ill-conduct (nushuz)

Nushuz is not marital discord, but rather, ill-conduct or non-fulfilment of rights. Both verses are generally describing a set of affairs wherein one spouse is expressing their unhappiness, at some level, with the other, yet the latter would like to remain in the relationship.

When ill-conduct arises from the wife, then the husband, in order to put the situation right, has a few options, the details of which can be found or sought elsewhere. And in the opposite case, the wife also has some options given to her in order to improve the situation.

However, husband and wife are not equal in the right to pronounce a divorce, if it wasn’t contractually stipulated, but she can exit the marriage via a khul‘a agreement if she would like to. She is never at any rate expected to put up with ill-treatment or genuine harm.

Guardianship (wilaya) in the World

Allah Most High says, “Allah is the Guardian of those who believe.” (Sura Al-‘Imran, 3:68)

The sunna of Allah in the cosmos is to have people who lead and make the final call. This is normally the only way things can get done. Obviously, discussing, sharing ideas and seeking counsel is a prophetic sunna, but going forward, somebody has to make a decision, for better or for worse.

The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) instructed that a man is in charge of his “flock,” and a lady, similarly, of hers. This pyramid of guardianship or leadership extends to all aspects of life, for instance, there is one community or district leader, as it were, one leader of any given country, one prophet [of this umma], and, metaphorically speaking, above all, one Lord.

The presence of ill-conduct signifies that something in the relationship is off. It is then the man’s duty, as the caretaker and guardian, to ensure that things are amicably resolved. Accordingly, the verse explains the three main matters which are at his disposal in order to rectify the problem. The expectation is that there be a variety of permitted avenues for rectification, because it’s often going to be different strokes for different folks.

As for abuse, such as the unjust refusal to divorce, it is not within his remit. A man cannot use his responsibility to perpetuate harm (darar) or abuse of any form whatsoever. Men’s guardianship (wilaya) over women can never be used as a smokescreen for the unlawful. As such, if he is not fulfilling his duty, she can take the matter to court to forcibly remove herself from the marriage. This is not a matter of worldly control, but moral, religious duty.

The Response of a Lady in Cases of Ill-conduct (nushuz)

Just to reiterate, we are discussing cases in which they would like to remedy the situation and remain together. If they would like to separate, both have the right to do so. Otherwise, she has many financial rights over him. Hence, if she’s going to get divorced, she may opt to make a settlement (sulh) of sorts to remain in a marriage which she’d rather be in, such as giving up part of her dowry (mahr). In doing so, the husband who has any semblance of dignity, self-respect and excellence, would also strive to improve his relationship with her because it is all, in the end, for Allah.

Incidentally, the reason for revelation of this verse was actually an incident which happened between our Mother Sawda (may Allah be well-pleased with her) and the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) in which she forfeited her night with him for Lady ‘A’isha. (Tirmidhi)

Finally, and to be absolutely clear, the Qur’an and Islam itself are free from those who abuse their wives. There is no permission or excuse to engage in any such behaviour in the Qur’an by the agreement of the scholars who’s word counts for anything. Real men, namely, those that follow the prophetic way in its details, never need lay a finger on their spouses. Marriages work on the basis of gracious character and deep love, as the Qur’an informs us, and if your life is lacking in either, you need to take a step back to renew your direction.

[Tantawi, al-Tasir al-Wasit (3.333); Ibn ‘Ashur, al-Tahrir wa al-Tanwir (4.266); Sayis, Tafsir Ayat al-Ahkam (1.148); Bouti, al-Mar’a (114)]

And Allah Most High knows best.

[Ustadh] Tabraze Azam

Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadh Tabraze Azam holds a BSc in Computer Science from the University of Leicester, where he also served as the President of the Islamic Society. He memorised the entire Qur’an in his hometown of Ipswich at the tender age of sixteen, and has since studied the Islamic Sciences in traditional settings in the UK, Jordan and Turkey. He is currently pursuing advanced studies in Jordan, where he is presently based with his family.

I Fell in Love with a Married Man, but He Will Not Divorce the Mother of His Two Year Old Child.

Answered by Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil

Question: Assalam aleykum,

I fell in love with a married man. He confided in me about how he has not had marital intimacy with his wife since the birth of his two year old son. She is rude to him, his parents, and has many other bad character traits. He does not want to divorce her because he wants his child to grow up with both parents in the same house.

In Islam, are you are allowed to have two wives and not have marital intimacy with the first – meaning, to only keep the first because she is the mother of his child?

Answer: Dear sister, you are in a very delicate and challenging situation. I pray that Allah grants you the courage to do what is pleasing to Him.

Reality Of Trials

You have fallen in love with a married man, who has fallen out of love with his wife. It sounds like his wife may be struggling with some form of postpartum depression and/or anxiety. Having a small child to care for can be very stressful on any marriage.

I see two options:

1) He exhausts all avenues to repair his marriage before divorcing his wife and then marries you.
2) He exhausts all avenues to repair his marriage, succeeds in healing the rift in his marriage and stays committed to his wife.

When Staying Married Is Oppression

Narrated Anas (may Allah be pleased with him):

Allah’s Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Help your brother, whether he is an oppressor or he is an oppressed one. People asked, “O Allah’s Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him)! It is all right to help him if he is oppressed, but how should we help him if he is an oppressor?” The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “By preventing him from oppressing others.” [Bukhari]

It would be a form of oppression for this young man to stay in his marriage. His wife is failing to fulfil her marital obligations, and he has become emotionally unfaithful to her. It would be more just for him to divorce her, decide on how to jointly raise their child, and move forward.

Please know that he is already hurting his child by staying in an unhappy marriage. Children learn best from who we are, what we do, far more than what we say. Even though he is only two, his whole world is his parents, and he can tell when they are in pain. Perhaps it would be better for his child to see that it is possible for his parents to find fulfilling marriages elsewhere, rather than stagnate and grow resentful for his sake. That is a terribly unfair burden to place on an innocent child.

Problematic pattern of behaviour

It would have been better for this young man to address the problems in his marriage with the help of a marriage counsellor. This may start up a problematic pattern of behaviour. If you marry him, please ensure that you both deal with conflict as a team, instead of him straying elsewhere for comfort.

Being a second wife

It is not permissible to be married to two women with the intention to not have marital relations with the first. Both wives are owed the obligation of equal treatment.

In short, being a second wife is permissible, but in today’s modern context, strongly disliked. I strongly discourage you from being a secret second wife. You need the support of your family.

Please perform the Prayer of Guidance to help you decide how to move forward.

Marriage

Marriage is a journey of growth. Growth is not always easy. Please do this course to help prepare you: Marriage in Islam: Practical Guidance for Successful Marriages.

Additionally, please perform the Prayer of Need in the last third of the night, as often as you need to.

I pray that Allah blesses you with goodness in this life and the next.

Please see:

Polygamy archives
Love, Marriage and Relationships in Islam: All Your Questions Answered
Selected Prophetic Prayers for Spiritual, Physical and Emotional Wellbeing by Chaplain Ibrahim Long

[Ustadha] Raidah Shah Idil

Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil has spent almost two years in Amman, Jordan, where she learned Shafi’i’ fiqh, Arabic, Seerah, Aqeedah, Tasawwuf, Tafsir and Tajweed. She continues to study with her Teachers in Malaysia and online through SeekersHub Global. She graduated with a Psychology and English degree from University of New South Wales, was a volunteer hospital chaplain for 5 years and has completed a Diploma of Counselling from the Australian Institute of Professional Counsellors. She lives in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, with her husband, daughter, and mother-in-law.

Saying One Is Divorced in Jest

Ustadh Tabraze Azam is asked if saying one is divorced in jest or thoughtlessness to others in conversation or chat counts as a legal divorce.

 

Question:

Assalam alaykum wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.

If one says words like “I am divorced” or “I got divorced” (not the exact wording as it happened a long time ago and in ignorance) during an online chat/phone conversation with friends, or says similar words as lie just in front of friend or in the office just as story or false statement without any intention of giving false appearances, does it count as a legal divorce in the Hanafi school?

Jazak Allah khayr.

Answer:

Wa alaykum assalam wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.

No, uttering the phrase “I got divorced” or “I am divorced” does not constitute a valid occurrence of a divorce. Rather, if the statement is not truthful, it would usually be an impermissible lie, and thus, something which requires sincere repentance just like other sinful actions.

Valid divorces are utterances directed at the wife, in order to permanently end a lawful relationship with her. Hence, when a statement is made regarding divorce, yet it isn’t clear in its indication of divorce, such as, “I am going to divorce you,” it doesn’t legally count.

It is also important to note that utterances of divorce can be directed at the wife actually or effectively. The latter type don’t necessarily require an entire phrase beyond the central utterance of divorce. The nature of this subject, however, is that it is very sensitive, so you should train yourself to avoid using such language, particularly in the presence of your spouse, unless required.

Please also see Does Vocally Saying the Word “Divorce” Make Me Legally Divorced? and How Can a Woman Get an Islamic Divorce? and A Reader on Tawba (Repentance).

And Allah Most High knows best.

Wassalam,

Tabraze Azam

Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.


Marriage and Severed Ties of Kinship

Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil advises on mending relations with estranged parents and marrying with their blessing.

Question:

Assalam alaykum wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.

My parents got divorced when I was 3 and I ended up with my father who raised me. I didn’t see my mother for almost 19 years, until I finally decided I wanted to see her. AlhamduliLlah I saw her and we got very close, but it created a lot of problems for me as well, as my mother and father were at times competing for my loyalty. It felt like I was being dragged from both sides.

My mother has a lot of emotional problems and gets angry very easily, and because I haven’t grown up with her she sometimes expects me to act in certain ways or do certain things that I’m not accustomed to and she gets angry at me for not doing them. This has caused me a lot of psychological problems and at times I would dread talking to my mom because I would be scared of witnessing a bad reaction from her despite trying my best not to say or do anything that might upset her.

My mother right now doesn’t talk to me. She severed ties with me about a year ago and is forbidding my sisters from talking to me as well. This happened because I was getting to know a girl for marriage and my mom insisted that I bring this girl to the country where my mother is living before we do anything, and I explained to my mother in the gentlest manner that I couldn’t do that because neither the girl nor her family would agree to that if we weren’t married. I informed my mother that I was planning on doing a recitation of Fatiha with my father’s side of the family and the girl’s family and my mother was furious that she wouldn’t be present for this, particularly after I explained that neither me or nor my mother would have the means to fly my mother out to the country where we were going to do this.

After this, my mother stopped talking to me, and my sisters too, not because my sisters want to but because my mother is not letting them. I’ve been texting my mother since then and I tried calling her as well but she stopped answering me. I message her frequently to ask about her, make dua for her, and apologize for upsetting her but she doesn’t answer me.

My mother lives in a different country and I don’t have the means to go there at the moment. Things didn’t work out between the girl and I for marriage, and now I’m looking for another suitable marriage partner. So my question is, would it be permissible for me to get married while my mother is not talking to me given my circumstances? I’m nearing 30 years old and it’s very difficult for me to please everyone in my family. Obviously because I grew up with my father, I’m closer to him than my mother and he’s more involved in my life than she was. I’m just thinking that I’m reaching a point in my life where I don’t want to keep delaying marriage, especially for reasons that are beyond my control and capacity to deal with.

 

Answer:

Wa alaykum assalam wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.

I pray this finds you well. May Allah reward you for reaching out to us.

Mother’s Anger

It sounds like beneath your mother’s anger are deep feelings of shame, guilt, sadness and so on. When you told her that you would read the Fatiha without her, she probably felt completely cast aside, disrespected, and unloved. Her decision to cut off ties with you remains sinful, but is understandable, given her emotional imbalanced nature.

Even though she did not raise you from the age of three, she is still your mother, and it is still obligatory for you to treat her with kindness and respect.

Because of this, I strongly discourage you from getting married without her knowledge and her blessing. She will be even angrier, and you will be giving your future wife the wrath of a deeply unhappy mother-in-law.

Give yourself a reasonable time limit. I am not saying to wait ten years, but you do need to try harder, and give your mother time to come around.

Please perform the Prayer of Guidance about getting married. Please perform the Prayer of Need and beg Allah to soften your mother’s heart.

Exhaust Every Option

Please try harder to reconnect with your mother. Send her gifts, write her letters, and so on. Give in charity daily, even if it is little, with the intention of earning your mother’s forgiveness.

Ideally, please save up to fly in person to kiss her hand. When she sees you, it is only natural for her heart to soften, and for her to weep healing tears. It sounds like she has 19 years of regret and shame, manifesting in her anger towards you.

Please complete this course so you can better understand the rank of your mother, even though she is challenging: Excellence With Parents: Muhammad Mawlud’s Birr al-Walidayn Explained: Your Parents’ Rights and How to Fulfill Them.

Financial Priorities and Marriage

If you cannot afford to visit your mother, can you afford to support a wife?

Even though you are not close to your mother, she remains your mother, and must be treated with compassion and respect. She has already missed out on so much of your life, and it sounds like she is desperate to connect with you. She is trying to be part of your marital selection process, because she wants to be part of your life.

Gender Interaction

Please know that you need to still observe appropriate gender interaction while looking for a wife.

Do not get too emotionally attached. The woman you marry must be sensitive to your mother’s situation, too. Being kind and patient with your mother is this a pathway to Jannah for you and your future wife, when handled well.

Mother’s Rank

“We commanded man (to be good) in respect of his parents. His mother carried him (in her womb) despite weakness upon weakness, and his weaning is in two years. (We said to man,) “Be grateful to Me, and to your parents. To Me is the ultimate return.” (Sura Luqman 31:14)

I pray that when you become a father some day, you will better understand the rank of your own mother.

Even your father raised you when your mother left at the age of three, consider this: your mother kept you safe in her womb, gave birth to you, nursed you, and looked after you for the first three years of your life. Nothing you can do can repay that debt to her.

Please see How Can I Deal With My Difficult Mother in a Respectful Way?

 

Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.


Unfaithful Husband Working Overseas

Ustadh Farid Dingle untangles the difficulties a wife faces when her husband who works overseas decides to marry a second wife but wishes to divorce his first on no grounds.

Question:

Assalam alaykum wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.

I am married for six years. I have two kids. My son is five years old and my daughter is three. My husband has been working in Dubai for four years. In the past four months he stopped talking to me properly and he asked divorce from me, because he met his first girlfriend on Facebook and he wants to marry her.

I agreed on his second marriage and told him that as we have kids he needs to take care of both the wives equally and should give equal rights. He says that his girlfriend can’t tolerate me. Now I made a deal that I will never interfere in his life but he should not divorce me as I don’t want to be called as divorcee. He agreed to this.

My questions are: Is it right to divorce the first wife just to marry another woman, when there is no reason for divorcing the first wife? And is it right to stay as a wife without interfering in husband’s matters and without getting any rights whether physically or emotionally?

Answer:

Wa alaykum assalam wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.

Dear questioner,

May Allah bring light, baraka, and change into your situation.

Being a man

The first thing your husband needs to understand is that being a man comes with responsibilities and rights. His duty before his wife and children is to provide material, emotional, and religious support and protection. This means that he cannot be ‘out of the picture’ and not communicate. “It is sufficiently wicked for a man to squander those he must support.” (Muslim and others)

The right of man to take a second wife is only on the proviso that he not squander the rights of the first. Allah says, “So do not incline completely [the other wife] such that you should leave her (the first wife) hanging.” (Sura al-Nisa 4: 129)

This is exactly what is proposed, and it is un-Islamic. Your husband should make this very clear to the second wife, and to you and the children.

Being a co-wife

The Prophet, Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “It is not permissible for a woman to ask [her husband] to divorce her ‘sister’ so that she might take her place: that is what has been apportioned for her.” (Bukhari)

This is exactly what the other wife to-be is asking: that she be the wife, and you get out of the picture. This is not Islam.

If she wants to marry your husband, she has a right to, but she has no right to ruin someone else’s marriage.

He too should be man enough to be very clear and set the boundaries as laid down by the Sacred Law.

Divorce

It is very, very difficult for women from cultures that stigmatize divorce to become a divorcee. I pray that the matter doesn’t end up like that.

That said, if you husband stubbornly refuses to come to his wits and come back to you as a proper husband, divorce might be the only option.

I would advise you both to talk this matter out in a lot of depth. You should both be fully aware of the legal and emotional repercussions of divorce, and how it will affect the children, and their mother.

You should be willing to admit any faults from your part and express a strong will to change so that he feels that their might be a future between the two of you after all. Problems don’t solve themselves, and being away from your for such a long time is not a good way to solve the issues.

Repentance

You should encourage him, and yourself, to repent to Allah. Allah only sends us strive and difficulties to draw us closer to him. Allah Most High says on the tongue of Noah, upon whom be peace, “Seek your [cherishing] Lord’s forgiveness – indeed He ever is forgiving – and He will send down pouring rain, and [really] help you with money and children, and He will make [permanently] yours gardens and rivers.” (Sura Nuh 71: 12)

Allah the Omnipotent

Allah can do anything, and can make anything come out of anything. He can make you happy with your husband, and without your husband, and can open doors that you could never dream of. Keep up hope and always thank Allah.

I pray this helps.

Farid

Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.


Divorce Due to Lack of Household Support

Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil is asked if it is permissible to divorce a spouse who consistently refuse to help with childcare and household chores.

 

Question:

Assalam alaykum wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.

My husband and I have been having arguments on and off for the past few years. My husband doesn’t help me with house chores, nor does he help me care for the kids. He expects me to do it on my own, without any support from him. I get exhausted and overwhelmed from everything I have to do.

I’ve talked to him about helping me out more and I’ve addressed my concerns several times. He seems to just brush it off. I can’t keep going like this. I’m starting to hate him, due the way he treats me. I’m considering divorce, what should I do?

Answer:

Wa alaykum assalam, wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.

I pray this finds you well. May Allah reward you for reaching out to us.

Marriage Difficulties

Narrated Abu Hurayra, may Allah be pleased with him: “When the following was revealed: ‘Whoever works evil will have the recompense of it.’ (Sura al-Nisa 4:123) That worried the Muslims, so they complained about that to the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, and he said: “Seek closeness and be steadfast, and in all that afflicts the believer there is atonement, even a thorn that pricks him, and the hardship he suffers.” (Tirmidhi)

Dear sister, please know that you are not alone in your struggle. Allah is testing you with something so painful as a way to open your heart to Him.

Please know that you are being very reasonable in your expectations from your husband. Children need both their mother and their father. You also need support from your husband to go through the ups and downs of marital life. The Prophetic household was one of love and mercy, something for all of us to strive for.

Reflection Point

What was your husband’s parents’ marriage like? Was your father-in-law a hands-on father, or did he leave everything to your mother-in-law? Unfortunately, this was very common for our parents’ generation. Women were expected to do everything, without complaint. As a result, many men and women missed out on nurturing from both parents, causing problems when they become adults.

For example, a common flow-on effect are husbands expecting their wives to do the same as their mothers. We live in a different time, where women are more educated and empowered. We know the value of husbands who are more present in their children’s lives. Unfortunately, this means more effort on their part, and it is easier for many to just stick to the problematic default model. It takes courage to break out of that. Please perform the Prayer of Need and ask Allah to soften your husband’s heart.

Marital Communication

I am sorry that your husband is not listening. That must feel very frustrating for you. You cannot change his response or his behavior, but you can change your own thoughts, behaviors and beliefs.

Please speak to a culturally-sensitive therapist to learn better communication and coping skills. If that is difficult for you, then there are many Muslima life coaches online, who can schedule calls with you. Sister Megan Wyatt from Wives of Jannah could be an excellent resource for you.

Seeking Support

Please get support through this trying time. Do you have close friends and family you can lean on?

I don’t know how old your children are, but if they are still young, please ensure that you schedule regular time for yourself. You need that time to recharge.

Even if they are not younger kids, do take that time out every day and every week to recharge yourself. This is especially important because your husband is not supportive. The more nourished you feel, the more emotionally generous you can be with everyone else. I find these meditations very helpful when I feel overwhelmed with my multiple roles: Self-Compassion Guided Meditations and Exercises.

What are some ways you can physically, emotionally, spiritually and mentally recharge yourself, on a daily, weekly and monthly basis? Please write them down and stick them up on your bedroom wall.

Considering Divorce

It was narrated from Abd Allah bin Umar that: the Messenger of Allah said: “The most hated of permissible things to Allah is divorce.” (Sunan Ibn Majah)

There is a problematic dynamic in your marriage, but before you go down the path of divorce, I encourage you to exhaust all options first.

Please perform the Prayer of Guidance about what to do next. A sign to stay in your marriage could be your husband softening and deciding to change his ways. A sign to leave could be your husband’s refusal to change.

I pray this has been helpful. Please know that Allah loves you. May He offer you solace through this time, and bring you closer to Him.

Please see Love, Marriage and Relationships in Islam: All Your Questions AnsweredA Reader on Patience and Reliance on Allah.

Raidah

Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.