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Last Updated: 2011/10/23
Summary of question
What is the ruling of adultery with a married woman and what is the way of its repentance?
I had a relationship with a girl knowing that she had a husband; I want to know its ruling and in what way can I make repentance?
Concise answer

Fornication especially with a married woman is one of the most hateful and grievous sins. But the Almighty Allah is most merciful in His judgment. If a sinner who has committed a shameful and abominable act becomes penitent and resolves to abstain from committing sins and makes amendment, there is every hope of him being pardoned and forgiven by the merciful Allah.   

Therefore, if you want salvation, hope in Allah’s pardon and forgiveness without disclosing your sin to anyone else, andwithout delay,make haste in seeking repentance with your Lord.        

The verdicts of most of the Maraji’ on fornication with this type of woman are that she is forbidden for him (the fornicator) forever to marry.

Detailed Answer

Fornication and indiscriminate relationship with women is one of the biggest evils in the society that leads to a lot of irreparable damages. Based on this, this type of relationship is forbidden and strongly detested in Islam 

Almighty Allah says in theQur’an “…Nor come near to adultery; for it is a shameful deed and evil, opening the road to other evils.”[1]

In this short statement, three important points are made:

I.      It did not say to not commit adultery but it says: do not come near this shameful act. This explanation besides being an emphasis that the depths of it related are evil work (fornication) in most cases has introductory steps that gradually lead one to come near it. Gazing at opposite sex is one of it introductory steps; exposing the body and immodest dressing is another introductory step, seductive literatures, inappropriate films, immoral publication and centers for corrupt acts. Each and every one of these is regarded as an introductory step towards fornication.

In addition, being alone with a woman that is not one’s mahram (that is sitting of a man and a woman in secluded place all alone), is another cause of seduction. The abandoning of marriage and unnecessary stringency from both families of a couple who want to get married; all these contribute to “coming close to fornication” which has been forbidden in the above verse in a short and simple sentence. Each and every one of these steps has been treated separately as forbidden by the traditions.

ii.    The statement,“it is a shameful deed and evil” contains the use of three words of   emphasis (Inna and the use of past tense, and the term “evil”) portray the grievous nature of this sin.

iii.   The further statement “it is a bad path”, is an expression of the reality, that this deed leads to the spread of other evils in the society.

                   The sinister outcomes of fornication as stated by the infallible ones:

i.      The holy Prophet (sa) said: Fornication has calamities both in this world and the next. As for this world: it destroys the brightness and beauty of mankind, leads to untimely death, and reduction of blessings. As for the next world: it leads to distress on the day of resurrection, Allah’s wrath and everlasting punishment in hell.

From the Prophet (sa) it is reported that: at any time that fornication is on the high rate, untimely death also increase on high rate.

Don’t commit adultery, so that your spouse also shall not be tainted with adultery. Whoever invades others’ chastity, his own chastity shall be invaded as well. The same way you relate to others, so you shall be related to.[2]

From Imam Ali (as) in a narration it has been stated: I heard from the Prophet (sa) that:

Fornication has six disastrous outcomes: three of these are faced in this world and the other in the next world. Among the ones that are of this world, one of it is that, it takes away one’s glory and brightness, reduces blessings and leads to destruction of people. But the three that will be faced in the next world are the wrath of God, difficulties in reckoning and the entrance to the hellfire.[3]

Ali (as): To forsake adultery is a protection of the family’s right and the abandonment of sodomy is a way of protecting progeny.

In one of his speeches, Imam Ridha (as) mentioned some of the bad outcomes of fornication in the following statements:

1.             Committing murder by way of abortion

2.             Destruction of family ties and genealogy

3.             Abandonment of the child’s right to proper upbringing

4.             The ruination of the standards of inheritance

Because of all these ill consequences and other evils associated with fornication, Islam seriously condemned it and regarded it as a grievous sin. But if one who has committed this evil deed, especially fornication with a married woman and sincerely regrets his deeds, seeks repentance and honestly mends his ways, the door of repentance is open to him.

The holy Qur’an in describing the “Righteous Servant of the lord”, mentions not committing fornication as one of the qualities of these categories of the servants of Allah, “…and those who do not commit fornication”. Whoever commits this (fornication), will be faced with a severe penalty. His punishment on the Day of Judgment shall be in multiple folds. And will be faced with disgrace forever: Except those who have repented, have faith and engaged in righteous works. For such, their evil deeds shall be transformed into good ones, for God Almighty is most forgiving, the most merciful. And anybody who have repented from sin, and of faith and engaged in righteous deeds, has truly returned unto Allah”[4].


Describing the virtuous ones in another section it states: “…and those who after committing wrong deeds or having wrong their souls, remember Allah and seeks forgiveness of their sins, and who is it that can forgive them except Allah? And do not persist in committing further sins, apart from the ones already committed, “for such the reward is forgiveness from their Lord,and Gardens with rivers flowing underneath, an eternal dwelling: How excellent arecompense for those who work (and strive).”[5]

It is stated in a reliable hadith: A young man came crying to the holy Prophet (sa) in a very sad condition, and said, I am afraid of Allah’s wrath.

The Prophet said: Have you practiced polytheism? He said: No.

The Prophet said: Have you killed unjustly? He said No.

The Prophet said: God will forgive your sin no matter how big it is.

The man said: My sin isbigger than the sky, the earth, the heavens and the throne [of Allah] and the kursiyy.

The Prophet said: your sin, is it greater than Allah?

The man said: No, Allah is greater than everything.

The Prophet said, go and repent, for Allah Almighty forgives great sins.

After a while the Prophet said: tell me, what your sin is.

The man said: O messenger of Allah! I am ashamed to say it is in your presence.

The Prophet said: say what is it that you have done.

The man said: for the past seven years, I have engaged in exhumation of the grave and the shroud of the dead I used to remove from their bodies, until the day I exhumed the body a lady from Ansar, after coming across the naked body my nafs was excited and… (thereafter he narrated the incident of his transgression).

When his story has come to this end, the prophet (sa) became very angry and said: Get this adulterer out of here, he looked at him and added: how much you are close to hell fire? The young man came out crying hard, headed towards the road and said: Oh the Lord of Muhammad (sa)! If my repentance is accepted to you, inform your Prophet about it, if not send fire from the above toburn me down and set me free from the punishment of the next world. As he was saying this, a revelation descended to the Prophet (sa)[6] and the verse:…”Say: "O My servants who have transgressed against their souls! Despair not of the Mercy of Allah. for Allah forgives all sins: for He is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful”.[7]

Based on this, if you seek salvation with hope of Allah’s pardon and forgiveness, you must as soon as possible repent between you and your lord without disclosing your sins to anybody. As for the jurisprudential ruling on this matter, some of the maraji’ believe that such a woman (who is married and one commits adultery with) will become haram forever to the adulterer (meaning that he can never get married to her, even if she ever gets divorced from her husband).[8]

[1] Israa’:32.

[2] See: Qaraa’ati, Mohsin, Tafsir Nur, vol. 8, pg. 193, eleventh print, The Cultural Center for Lessons from the Quran Publications, Tehran, 1383 (solar calendar).

[3] Makarem Shirazi, Naser, Tafsin Nemouneh, vol. 12, pg. 102, first print, Daar al-Kutub al-Islamiyyah, Tehran, 1374 (solar calendar).

[4] Furqaan:68, 69, 70 and 71.

[5] Aal Imraan:135 and 136.

[6] Makarem Shirazi, Naser, Tafsir Nemouneh, vol. 19, pg. 507.

[7] Zumar:53.

[8] Tawdih al-Masaa’il (annotated by Imam Khomeini), vol. 2, pg. 471, issues: 2401, 2402 and 2403.

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