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I Am Heartbroken About My Wife’s Troubled Past. Why Did Allah Do This to Me?

Answered by Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil

Question: Assalam aleykum,

I am heartbroken about my wife’s troubled past. While we were engaged, I found out that she had many boyfriends in college. She doesn’t know how shattered I am about her past. Why did Allah do this to me?

I love her, yet she irritates me. She doesn’t communicate enough with me especially when I’m angry with her, and she prefers watching TV over studying Islam.

What can I do? Leave her in hands of Allah but ignore or consistently call her and remind her?

Answer: Assalamualaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

I pray this finds you well. May Allah reward you for reaching out to us. Please forgive me for the delay.

Tribulation

It sounds like you were under a lot of family pressure to get married to your wife. That being said, you chose to marry her, and now you are living with the consequences. Please take responsibility for your contribution to your difficulty, and choose to behave with maturity.

I see a few options for you:

1) Learn better ways to communicate with your wife and commit to improving your marriage.
2) Seek out a marriage counsellor to help you and your wife sort out your differences.
3) Do nothing differently, and risk destroying your marriage.

Healing

There is great wisdom behind why Allah commands us to hide our sins. It is only natural for you to feel devastated about your wife’s past. Please make space for your feelings of deep pain and grief. Work on ways to process and release these strong feelings – and not on your wife.

I recommend that you consult this website – Emotional First Aid and The Anger Iceberg.

Wife’s past

“…except the one who repents and believes and does good deeds, then Allah will replace the evils of such people by good deeds, and Allah is Most-Forgiving, Very-Merciful.” [Qur’an, 25:70]

Your wife’s past sin is over. I pray that she has made a complete repentance. It is not difficult for Allah to transform her bad deeds into good ones.

You sound frustrated with your wife. You want her to be more religious. You want her to treat your parents better. You wished she had been more chaste in the past.

Because you did not engage in sinful pre-marital behaviour, you feel entitled to a wife who did the same. This is a mistake. Every time your wife does something that irritates you, your feelings of entitlement kick in. You risk holding her in contempt, criticising her, feeling stonewalled, and becoming defensive when she is unhappy with you. These are all ingredients for divorce.

The Four Horsemen: Criticism, Contempt, Defensiveness, and Stonewalling
Emotionally Intelligent Husbands are Key to a Lasting Marriage

Prayer of Guidance

Please perform the Prayer of Guidance about how to move forward. Be honest with yourself. If you are unwilling and/or unable to put in the hard work to make your marriage work, then it is better for you to let your wife go.

Marriage

Love is not enough for your marriage to survive, let alone thrive. A successful marriage requires daily work, sacrifice, forgiveness, and tremendous maturity. Please refer to this: Masters of Love.

I encourage you and your wife to give your marriage a chance. The key here is your ability to decide that she is worth the work.

3 Research-Based Tips for a Happy and Healthy Relationship
N is for Newlyweds

Excellent Character

The reality of being creation is this – we do not question the choices of our Creator. We strive to do the best we can, with what He gives us. I cannot tell you why Allah allowed your marriage to happen, but I can tell you that you can either make this better or worse. If you choose to, you can transform yourself into a kinder, more generous, more forgiving version of yourself. If you do not choose this higher path, then you will sink to the lower path of being consumed by resentment and anger.

Mother

You cannot nag or force your wife to be the model wife you feel that you deserve. Please do not expect your wife to be a version of your mother. Comparing her to your mother will only make things worse.

Look at it this way. What do you long for from your wife? Love and acceptance? It is likely that she feels the same way. Can you accept and embrace her as she is? You yourself are far from perfect, and you too have sinned. Your sins are simply different to hers. Humble yourself with that knowledge.

I pray that Allah grants you wisdom, forgiveness, and the courage to heal your marriage.

Please see:

Love, Marriage and Relationships in Islam: All Your Questions Answered
A Reader on Patience and Reliance on Allah

Wassalam,

[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.

Does Knowing a Potential Spouse’s Past Matter?

Answered by Shaykh Jamir Meah

Question: Assalamu alaykum

Does knowing a potential spouse’s past matter when for the purpose of marriage?

Is it unrealistic to try to find a man who is as pious as myself?

Answer: Assalam ‘alaykum. I pray you’re well.

A potential spouse’s past is not important, and one should not ask or answer questions regarding past sins of any kind.

It is not unrealistic to find a pious and chaste spouse if one looks for the right things when seeking a marriage partner.

Asking about Another’s Past

The Prophet ﷺ said, ‘Modesty is a part of faith.’ [Sahih Muslim]

It is a grave mistake for brothers or sisters to ask a potential spouse about their past sins, particularly relationships. Not only is it a sin, but it also puts the other person in a situation where they may sin by speaking.

Furthermore, if the two people do not pursue the marriage interest, all they have gained from each other is knowledge of the other’s sin, while if they marry, the knowledge they have of past relationships wreaks havoc, engenders mistrust and jealousy, and eats away at the marriage from the onset. Given all this, one may ask, what is the benefit in asking the question in the first place?! The gain is nothing, while the damage is plenty.

Unfortunately, it seems many prospective husbands feel it is okay to talk about their past sins and, quite often, how they have abandoned the life of sin for the ‘holy’ life, perhaps believing it enhances their profile, adding an ‘edge’ and distinction to them! The sad thing is that if the prospective wife did the same, there is no merit afforded to her for turning her life around, just moral judgement and disdain.

The truth is, any person with genuine modesty and piety would not expose themselves out of sheer fear, regret, and embarrassment, let alone ask another person such a question directly.

The Sahaba used to weep and be heart-broken if they recollected their past mistakes, and that was for acts before Islam. There is a lesson in this.

The issue is with the men who are asking, not you. Don’t take the attitude of people, even if many, as a reason to doubt yourself or what is right. Similarly, even if other sisters feel it is okay to ask or know about these things, stay firm on what is proper and pleasing to God, and this way you will have kept your dignity.

You may find the following answers helpful also:

Informing a Prospective Spouse About Past Non-Marital Relationships

Finding a Pious Spouse

The Prophet ﷺ said, ‘A strong believer is better and more beloved to Allah than a weak believer, though there is good in both’. [Sahih Muslim]

People are at different levels of faith and practice. Seek out a spouse who shows the hallmarks of genuine piety and modesty, not only in their worship, but in their everyday dealings, speech, and general nature and habits.

There are plenty of brothers and sisters like this. If one is sincere that they desire a spouse for the sake of Allah, and look for the right things in a spouse, insha’Allah Allah will send them the right person if it was meant to be.

Get your parents, family, local Imam and others to ask around. It is your right to ask about a potential spouse’s family and upbringing, and general conduct and religious practice.

Please also refer to the following:

Finding A Spouse Archives

Supplication for a Spouse

May Allah grant you every good wish.

Warmest salams,
[Shaykh] Jamir Meah

Shaykh Jamir Meah grew up in Hampstead, London. In 2007, he traveled to Tarim, Yemen, where he spent nine years studying the Islamic sciences on a one-to-one basis under the foremost scholars of the Ribaat, Tarim, with a main specialization and focus on Shafi’i fiqh. In early 2016, he moved to Amman, Jordan, where he continues advanced studies in a range of Islamic sciences, as well as teaching. Jamir is a qualified homeopath.

I Fear That My Past Will Catch up to Me. What Do I Do?

Answered by Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil

Question: Assalam aleykum,

I have been through a lot of trauma in the past, and have even attempted suicide. Alhamdulilah, I was guided to Islam through the man I want to marry, but have not told him about my past sinful relationships. I worry that the ghosts of my past will come back and haunt me. What do I do?

Answer: Assalamualaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

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

Repentance

Anas (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said, “Allah, the Exalted, has said: ‘O son of Adam, I forgive you as long as you pray to Me and hope for My forgiveness, whatever sins you have committed. O son of Adam, I do not care if your sins reach the height of the heaven, then you ask for my forgiveness, I would forgive you. O son of Adam, if you come to Me with an earth load of sins, and meet Me associating nothing to Me, I would match it with an earthload of forgiveness.”‘ [Tirmidhi].

Dear sister, please trust in the indescribable Mercy of Allah. No matter how terribly you have sinned, Allah’s Mercy is greater than all of it.

Past

Only Prophets (Allah’s blessings and peace be upon them all) are Divinely protected from sin. Everyone else has made mistakes, some graver than others. You are not alone. Continue to make regular istighfar every day, and trust that Allah is capable of forgiving you and burying your past. Give in regular charity with the intention of drawing closer to Allah.

Sin

Please remember to never speak of your past sin to anyone. It is obligatory for you to conceal your sin. Refer to this resource to help you understand why: Is It Permissible to Lie In Order to Conceal Past Sins?

Trauma

You have accumulated a lot of trauma in your life journey. I encourage you to release this trauma through seeking professional help – is there a holistic healer, counsellor or psychologist you can speak to?

I encourage you to consider resources such as the trauma release work of Hakim Archuletta and Hafsa Hasan.

Marriage

Congratulations on your upcoming marriage. You have described falling into sin with this man, so I encourage you to:
1) not delay your nikah
2) keep an appropriate distance between the two of you, until the day you marry.

Please educate yourself through courses such as Marriage in Islam: Practical Guidance for Successful Marriages, lesson sets as well as podcasts.

I pray that Allah blesses you with the gift of a sincere repentance, and the gift of a tranquil, loving marriage which brings you closer to Him.

Please see:

Love, Marriage and Relationships in Islam: All Your Questions Answered
Reader on Repentance

[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.

What Should I Say When I Am Asked About Someone’s Past When It Comes to a Marriage Proposal?

Answered by Shaykh Jamir Meah

Question: Assalamu alaykum

I had a marriage proposal from a bride who I really liked but unfortunately someone from my family went to the bride’s family and said things about my past which were really bad. So they backed up. I am very sad about this.

If someone asks me about someone’s past for a marriage proposal should I disclose everything I know about his past?

Answer: In the Name of God, the Merciful and Compassionate

Thank you for your question. I’m sorry to hear about the difficulties you are facing. May Allah reward you immensely for turning your life around and grant you the very best in this life and the next.

In regards to your specific question of what is permitted to say when asked about a prospective spouse, the scholars discuss two scenarios: When a third party is approached for advice or a reference, and when the person himself is asked about his suitability for marriage.

SEEKING ADVICE FROM A THIRD PARTY

If a third party is asked for advice concerning a prospective spouse for someone, there are two scenarios: when the person has bad character traits or is sinning (presently), and when the person may have sinned in the past but has now become upright. The following rules also apply to even when the third party is not asked for advice (i.e. they simply know of the marriage proposal and about the prospective spouse).

When the potential spouse possesses bad character, deficiencies, or is sinning (presently)

If the person being asked about is someone who is currently sinning or has blameworthy traits, such as irreligiousness, miserliness, aggression, laziness, etc., then the person being consulted is obliged (wajib) to disclose what they know of him. However, this must only be done in following way:

1. If the prospective spouse is not suitable at all, the third party must first limit their words to ‘He/She is not suitable for you’. If this suffices the one seeking advice, then it is not permissible to disclose any further information.

2. If this does not suffice the enquirer, then the third party must disclose further information, but only to the extent that the questioner understands the point or is content that he can make a decision. This means that the information must be given gradually, in the least amount necessary each time (e.g. he does not tell them everything all at once or the worst things first), giving a little bit more information, each time stopping and leaving it with the questioner to ask more if needed. If the potential spouse has major and minor flaws, or is committing major and minor sins, the third party must first mention the minor sins and observe if that suffices the questioner. If, at the end, he does end up having to tell the questioner about more serious flaws or sins relating to the person, then he may do so if necessary, even about major sins.

4. That the information they give is absolutely true of that person, and not based on mere assumption or gossip.

5. That the information is given with the intention of sincere counsel (naseeha), and for the genuine benefit of the questioner to make an informed decision regarding marriage. In such cases it would not be considered slander or backbiting because it has a legal excuse. It should not be for any other reason, such as trying to cause rifts between people, or merely for gossips sake.

Imam Ibn Hajr states, ‘Whoever is sought for advice regarding a prospective spouse, or a scholar whom one wants to meet, or a prospective business associate, [to enquire whether] are they suitable or not? Or [even] if not asked … He is obligated to mention … the person’s flaws according to the shariah as well as according to local custom. … It is not permissible [to mention anything] except that which is absolutely necessary, and therefore it is obligatory to mention his shortcomings step by step, starting with the least serious, then the next, then the next [and so on]. And this is one scenario [out of six] in which talking about another person with that which he would dislike [ghiba] is permissible.’ [Tuhfa al Muhtaj]

One of the textual proofs for this ruling comes from the rigorously authenticated hadith in which Fatimah bint Qays came to the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), enquiring about two men, Mu’aawiyah and Abu Jahm, both of whom had proposed to her. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) replied, ‘As for Abu Jahm, he does not put down his staff from his shoulder, and as for Mu’awiya, he is destitute, having no wealth.’ [Muslim, Ibn Majah]

The majority of the scholars explain the indirect words of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), ‘he does not put down his staff from his shoulder’ to mean he beats his wives, while others have said it means he travels so often he is barely home. What is clear is that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) mentioned each men’s deficiencies as caution.

We also notice that contrary to the ruling we gave above, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) did not first restrict his words to ‘he is not suitable for you’, or mention the men’s deficiencies gradually, but rather he (peace and blessings be upon him) informed her straight away of the main issues concerning the two men. However, as the scholars have explained, the likely reason that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) did this, was that even though the women would have sufficed with the words ‘he is not suitable for you’, he (peace and blessings be upon him) had known that this particular questioner thought that these two men had worse states than actually was the case, and therefore he clarified the situation for her in one go, by mentioning the crux of the matter straight away. [Nihayat al Muhtaj, Tuhfa]

When the potential spouse has repented and become upright

If the person being enquired about is known to have sinned or had bad character traits in the past, but it is known that he / she has become upright, then the third party should only mention his/her current state, and not refer to the person’s past.

If the enquirer persists in knowing more (for the genuine reason of marriage, not mere idle curiosity), then the advisor may inform him in the gradual manner we described above. While the third party should try to avoid mentioning the person’s past sins, if he did mention them as sincere counsel and that it would genuinely be in the questioner’s best interest, then it would be permitted to do so, even if it were major sins. Even then however, it is recommended one does not mention the person’s past sins, and one should do all they can to avoid it if possible. *

Again, we should also note that this is only permissible if there is concrete fact that the person had indeed committed those sins, and not based on hearsay, speculation, or inference. To do so without certainty is itself a major sin, as the honour, reputation, and prospects of a person is at stake.

WHEN THE PERSON HIMSELF IS ASKED ABOUT HIS OWN SUITABILITY FOR MARRIAGE

When someone is directly asked about their own suitability for marriage, such as when a prospective spouse asks the other, or the prospective guardian asks the sought after bride or groom, there are also two scenarios.

When the potential spouse (being asked directly) possesses bad character, deficiencies, or is sinning (presently)

If the potential spouse is currently sinning in his life, or has blameworthy traits which will have an effect on the marriage and relationship, then there is a difference of opinion. The foremost opinion is that the prospective spouse being asked must do the following in order:

1. Tell the questioner ‘I am not suitable for you’.

2. If the questioner still insists on following up, then he / she either drops the proposal altogether, or informs the other person about all their shortcomings (that which is deemed as legal and local customary flaws), but this again is done gradually, one piece of information after the other.

[Tuhfa al Muhtaj, Nihayat al Muhtaj].

However, there is another valid opinion, and perhaps more practical and useful in most situations, which states, ‘If one is consulted about his own character, then [these instructions should be followed]:

1. If they have a deficiency or flaw that would legally permit a spouse to nullify a marriage contract (such as impotency, leprosy etc.), then it is obligatory for them to inform the other person.

2. If they have deficiencies or flaws that would not permit nullification of a marriage contract, but do reduce their desirability as a spouse, such as bad character or miserliness, then it is recommended to tell the person.

3. If they are currently sinning [whether minor or major sins], it is obligatory for him / her to make sincere repentance immediately, to conceal their own faults, and to not mention it to anyone else.

[Iyaanat al Talibin]

As a side note, it is advisable that people who are seeking to get married and looking for a spouse, should not wait until the point of marriage talks to give up sins and repent, in the hope that marriage will keep them on the straight and narrow. While repentance is good at any time, it isn’t fair to introduce another person in one’s life when it is still on shaky ground or just at the beginning of the right path. Therefore, unless one fears committing more sins by not getting married, one should ideally get their lives and work on establishing a firm footing in the religion, and even their worldly life, before seeking out their life-long partner.

When the potential spouse (being asked directly) has repented and become upright

As for when a person has already made sincere repentance and has become, or working hard to become, an upright person, then there is no difference of opinion in that the person should not tell anyone, including a prospective spouse, about their past sins or flaws.

It is also permitted to lie in such a situation, such as when someone asks another if they have done such and such sin, and they answer ‘No’ even if they have. Lying in this situation is recommended, while many scholars have stated it is obligatory.

I hope the above answers your question in detail.

In regards your own personal situation, it is unfortunate that a relative has mentioned your past mistakes, especially because you have shown that you have left old habits behind and are trying to live correctly. No one is infallible, even great people, and everyone deserves second chances (as well as third, fourth and many more chances!).

Perhaps the following will be of help:

1. Try speaking to, or get someone to speak to the relative who is mentioning these things about you. Try to get them to understand that you have changed and it is causing you distress.

2. Perhaps request the sister’s family to see you and explain to them your situation and that while what has been said maybe true, it is the past and that you have changed. However, be dignified in doing this and do not get emotional or angry. If at the end of the day they still say no, then it was not meant to be, regardless of what people have said, while if it is meant to be, it will happen, even if the whole community meddle in your affairs.

3. Most importantly, turn to Allah and make sincere supplication. This is a test for you and a chance to show your patience, gratitude and firmness. If you stay firm, in the end you will be the one who succeeds, insha’Allah. Recite the following verse from the Qur’an: ‘Our Lord! Grant unto us spouses and offspring who will be the comfort of our eyes, and give us (the grace) to lead the righteous’ [25:74].

4. Pray Salat al Hajar. You can find out how to pray this prayer here.

I wish you all the best, and that Allah increases you in your faith and uprightness, and grant you the best of spouses. Amin.

Warmest salams,
[Shaykh] Jamir Meah

*The information marked with an asterix was checked and confirmed by Shaykh Abu Bakr Ali al Khatib, a senior lecturer at Ribaat, Tarim. (may Allah preserve him).

Shaykh Jamir Meah grew up in Hampstead, London. In 2007, he traveled to Tarim, Yemen, where he spent nine years studying the Islamic sciences on a one-to-one basis under the foremost scholars of the Ribaat, Tarim, with a main specialization and focus on Shafi’i fiqh. In early 2016, he moved to Amman, Jordan, where he continues advanced studies in a range of Islamic sciences, as well as teaching. Jamir is a qualified homeopath.

Should I Talk About My First Marriage to My Potential Spouse?

Answered by Ustadh Salman Younas

Question: I have been married twice. Now someone wishes to marry me. However when I want to talk about my life prior to my last divorce he stops me. He is only concerned with what I am now. I have also shared that I have sinned much and have repented. Should I talk about my first marriage?

Answer: assalamu alaykum

This individual who wishes to marry you is right: the past is the past. If you have sincerely repented, there is no reason to bring your past actions up especially if it entails exposing sin, which is in fact prohibited in our religion.

Since your suitor has already said he has made up his mind and does not wish to indulge in the past, you should simply move on and maintain the cover that Allah has placed over you. For more details relating to this, I would advise you to read the following answer:

Should I Tell My Spouse About My Relationships Before I Got Married?

Salman

Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani