I need your help in the following case.
A Pakistani Muslim man married a white American about 18 years ago. She embraced Islam at the time of Nikah. Life went on as usually. Initially she did try to offer prayers now and then and that’s all the Islam that was adopted. They have 2 kids, 10 and 7 years of age.
Now the wife has confessed that she committed adultery a year ago. She is repenting and very fearful of God now. She is ready to accept any decision that the husband makes but is also seeking forgiveness. The wife admitted the crime herself.
My questions are that under these circumstances:
Is nikah1 still valid?
Is it compulsory now for the husband to divorce her?
If the husband wants to forgive her for the sake of children (they are very scared and upset) would it be allowed from Islamic point of view?
If forgiveness is allowed and the matter stays confidential between the two and the wife reforms and mends her ways, what should be the attitude of the husband in the future?
As Prophet Mohammed PBUH said to not reveal such matters and to try and cover it, does it also imply between husband and wife?
Please let me know the solution to the above problem in the light of Islamic law, Qur’an and Hadith as soon as possible.
God bless you.
Answers to your questions follow:
The nikah is valid even after the referred incident.
Though such an incident may provide a very strong ground for the husband to divorce his wife if it is brought to his notice, yet the Shari`ah does not make it mandatory for the husband to divorce his wife, if he does not want to do so or if the incident is not brought to his notice.
The Shari`ah does not hinder the husband in doing so.
Under these circumstances, if the husband should decide on carrying on with the relationship and if the wife mends her ways, there seems to be no reason why the husband should change his attitude toward his wife in any way. After all, don’t we all need at least a second chance in our lives?
The incident does not need to be brought to the notice of the husband.
Besides the answers to your questions, I would like to add here that fornication/adultery is one of the biggest sins in Islam. The punishment of fornication in the hereafter is the unending life of hellfire. For the purposes of the life of this world, Islam considers it a sin not just against an individual but against the whole society. It is for this reason that according to the Shari`ah, fornication is the only crime whose punishment is to be delivered in public and the person involved in this crime is to be disallowed in marriage except with another fornicator. On the other hand, according to the Qur’an, true repentance, even after such a heinous crime, is not only accepted by the Most Merciful, but He has promised that in such a case He would convert a person’s bad deeds into good ones.
Thus, if the situation is bleak from one angle, it is very encouraging from the other. The consequences of this crime are indeed dire, but true repentance guarantees a life of everlasting bliss in Paradise.
For the benefit of your friend, I would suggest that you should help her in true repentance. For this purpose, you may help her read the Qur’an regularly and involve herself in activities (of her interest) that shall keep her away from getting involved in such a situation again. You shall, insha’Allah, be greatly rewarded, for all that you do in this respect.
29th July 1999
- i.e. the marriage contract. [↩]