Answered by Ustadh Salman Younas
Question: My husband was caught having cybersex with a woman he met online. He characterized these interactions as “only words.” I am concerned that his failure to acknowledge this will lead him to commit this act again in the future.
I don’t know what to do about the humiliation and the blame. What can I do?
Answer: assalamu alaykum
Let me initially state that this is not your fault in any way and those who are placing the blame at your feet – whether fully or partially – are demonstrating a level of ignorance that we have unfortunately witnessed many times from those who carry a lot of backwards cultural baggage. You should simply ignore most of these people; others, such as immediate family may require explaining if you deem it useful and effective but if they do not change their perception then that is something they will be accountable for.
As for your husband, no scholar who would permit cybersex with a woman one is unmarried to on the basis that it is “merely words.” The Qur’an does not simply tell the believers not to perform adultery (zina) but the more emphatic, “do not approach adultery.” (17:32) As the commentators of the Qur’an state, this includes both a prohibition on the act of adultery as well as all of which leads to it.
It is for this reason that the Prophet (God bless him) applied the term zina to the actions of the eyes, tongue, hands, and even the heart as per the narration of Abu Hurarya in Sahih Muslim. The zina of the tongue, as the Prophet (God bless him) termed it, was understood by all scholars as speaking to a strange woman in a manner that is not permitted, such as flirtatious speech. This is clearly prohibited by the Qur’an, the hadith, and the consensus of religious scholars. Indeed, God commanded the wives of the Prophet (God bless him), and by extension others, to “not be abject in your speech, so that he in whose heart is sickness may be lustful; but speak honorable words.” (33:32)
This is something your husband will have to realize. Trying to justify such actions will only lead to further engagement in it, which will damage not only his worldly and spiritual life but also that of his family and children. Although this is a very difficult situation, you should try your best to convince him that his course of action is wrong and there is no religious justification for it. He needs to be given support and made to realize that this is not about demonizing him but sincere concern on the part of his family for his well-being and the well-being of those around him.
If he is willing to change, I would suggest seeking professional help and counseling for these problems. However, if after trying your best he refuses to even acknowledge any wrong, you will have to decide whether the marriage is worth maintaining for yourself and your children. This is a decision that should not be taken lightly, as you know, but it is unfortunately sometimes the only course of action one can take.
[Ustadh] Salman Younas
Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Born and raised in New York, Ustadh Salman Younas graduated from Stony Brook University with a degree in Political Science and Religious Studies. After studying the Islamic sciences online and with local scholars in New York, Ustadh Salman moved to Amman. There he studies Islamic law, legal methodology, belief, hadith methodology, logic, Arabic, and tafsir.