Does Adultery Invalidate Marriage?

Does Adultery Invalidate Marriage?

Question:

I have a question and I am very ashamed of it. I cheated on my husband during our marriage. I’m extremely sorry and ask for forgiveness from Allah every day. I’m sure I will never do this sin ever again and I will forever live with guilt. I’m so sorry for what I did and I hope Allah will forgive me.
I don’t want to tell my husband about it and I want to be a good wife in the future. Now I want to know if my marriage is valid if I choose to not tell him anything about it. Or is it obliged for me to tell him?
Please help me and answer my question so I can know what to do because I feel like I’m losing my mind. I’m afraid that my marriage is not valid.

Answer:

In the name of Allah, Most Compassionate, Most Merciful,

It goes without saying that sex and intimacy outside of marriage is unlawful and a great sin according to Islamic teachings. One must repent sincerely from this sin as soon as possible. The sin you have committed is indeed very serious. However, a believer should never lose hope in the mercy of Allah Most High and thus should turn to Him in repentance (tawba).

Allah Most High states:

“O you who believe, turn to Allah with a faithful repentance. It is hoped from your Lord that he will write off your faults, and will admit you to the gardens beneath which rivers flow…” (Qur’an 66: 8).

And:

“Say, O servants of mine who have acted recklessly against their own selves, do not despair of Allah’s mercy. Surely, Allah will forgive all sins. Surely, He is the One who is the Most-Forgiving, the Very-Merciful” (Qur’an 39: 53).

Sayyiduna Anas ibn Malik (may Allah be pleased with him) relates that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) said, “All the children of Adam are wrongdoers, and the best of the wrongdoers are those who repent.” (Sunan Tirmidhi)

Imam Nawawi (may Allah have mercy on him) mentions three central conditions for valid repentance:

(1) Leaving the sin altogether,

(2) Having remorse over having committed the sin, and

(3) Firmly resolving never to return to the sin.

Furthermore, it is important to stay away from those people/things that could lead one into returning to the sin. This is also one of the principles of Islamic jurisprudence, namely ‘blocking the means’ (sadd al-dhari’a) – based on the idea of preventing an evil before it actually materializes.

Allah Most High states:
“Do not even go close to fornication. It is indeed a shameful act, and an evil way to follow” (Qur’an 17:32).

Is one’s marriage invalidated?

As for your question in relation to the status of your marriage, despite adultery being a serious sin, one’s marriage is not invalidated by it. Islamically, a marriage is terminated by actual issuance of divorce (talaq), divorce from the husband in return for a financial settlement (khula’) and annulment in an Islamic court or Shari’ah council (faskh). Apart from these three, there are also other situations referred to in the Qur’an that result in termination – namely, the vow of abstention (ila’), maternal comparison (zihar) and mutual oath swearing (li’an).
As such, a spouse indulging in the sin of adultery and sexual intimacy outside of marriage does not automatically terminate or invalidate one’s marriage.

Do I have to disclose to my husband?

Islamically, it is not necessary to disclose your extra marital affair to your husband. In fact, after repentance, one should not disclose their sin to anyone or even think about it themselves. You should move forward, work on your marriage, fulfil your husband’s rights and make good to him; for “surely, good deeds erase bad deeds. That is a reminder for the mindful” (Qur’an 11: 114).

And Allah knows best

[Mufti] Muhammad ibn Adam
Darul Iftaa
Leicester, UK

Question #: 7718
Published: 16/12/2020