Answered by Shaykh Jamir Meah
Question: Assalamu alaykum
I used to be a prostitute. I have repented and converted to Islam. I am planning to marry a muslim man but I have read that it is impermissible for a muslim man to marry a fornicatress. What should I do?
Answer: Assalam ‘alaykum. Jazakum Allah khayr for question. I pray you’re well insha’Allah. May Allah increase you in your desire to practice the religion and seek God’s Pleasure.
It is permissible for a Muslim man to marry a woman who has committed illicit intercourse, or a Muslim woman to marry a man who has committed illicit intercourse.
The verse ‘The fornicator does not marry except a fornicatress’
The scholars of Tafsir have held a wide difference of opinion on the meaning and ruling of this verse, found in Surat al Nisa’, there being six differing views on the verse.
The conclusion of that discussion is that the most reliable opinion, and that held by the majority of scholars, is that this verse had been abrogated. Another strong opinion holds that the verse was not a general prohibition, but rather, it meant that it is not becoming, or not the preference, of the believing men or women to marry a fornicator or fornicatress.
[Tafsir Al Sabuni, Tasfir al Qurtabi, Tafsir Al Razi and confirmed by Sh. Ali Hani]
Other than a slight difference of opinion on the waiting period, the fuqaha state that the marriage between two persons that have committed illicit intercourse (or one of the two persons have) is valid. Imam Nawawi states,
‘If a woman fornicates, it is not obligatory for her to observe the waiting period (‘idda), irrespective if she is pregnant or not. If she is not pregnant, it is permissible for the man who fornicated with her, or any other man, to perform a marriage contract with her. If she is pregnant, then it would be disliked to perform a marriage contract before she gives birth to the child, and this is one of the two opinions narrated from Abu Hanifa (may Allah be pleased with him), while Rabi’, Malik, Thawri, Ahmad, and Ishaq (may Allah be pleased with them) held that the waiting period is obligatory on the fornicatress. Therefore, if she is not pregnant, the ‘idda is three cycles of purity [from menses], while if she is pregnant, then her waiting period [ends] by giving birth. It is not valid [according to this latter opinion] to marry her before she gives birth.’ [Al Majmu’]
Though the marriage is valid, it is obligatory for both the persons involved in illicit sexual intercourse to repent, have remorse for their actions, and resolve to never return to it again, and never mention it to each other or to others.
Even according to other minority opinions on this matter, if the person committed the above act, even if ‘openly’, such as through prostitution, but then sincerely repents, the marriage would be valid.
It sounds like you have both repented and are sincere in your religion. Allah guides whom he wills and forgives whom he wills, and your turning to the religion and striving towards Allah is a sure sign that Allah wants good for you and to shower you with His Mercy.
Therefore, marry each other and remain steadfast to that which you have been guided to. If you like, you may also give some charity, in money or food, as an additional way of expiation, and as a sign of your appreciation to Allah. See it as a new beginning.
I wish you both all the very best in your marriage and every happiness in this world and the next.
[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.