Answered by Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil
Question: Assalam aleykum,
My friend, a mother, had an affair with a married man. Her husband found out, recorded their private conversation, and threatens to reveal it to their family members. What should she do?
Answer: Assalamualaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,
I pray this finds you well. May Allah make things easier for your friend, and may He reward you supporting her.
Narrated Anas: Allah’s Messenger (upon him be blessings and peace) said, “Help your brother, whether he is an oppressor or he is an oppressed one. People asked, “O Allah’s Messenger (upon him be blessings and peace)! It is all right to help him if he is oppressed, but how should we help him if he is an oppressor?” The Prophet (upon him be blessings and peace) said, “By preventing him from oppressing others.” [Sahih Bukhari]
What your friend’s husband is doing is a form of oppression, and is forbidden in Islam. It is impermissible to publicise sin and to humiliate another believer. He sounds deeply hurt and enraged, and would benefit from counselling.
It will take a lot of work and courage, but it is possible for a marriage to heal from infidelity. Unfortunately, it sounds like your friend’s husband is more interested in vengeance, and not healing. Regardless, encourage your friend to acknowledge her husband’s pain, express her deep remorse, and to invite him to marriage counselling.
Please advise your friend to perform the Prayer of Guidance up til 7 times about what to do about her marriage. For example, if her husband’s stance softens and he agrees to attend counselling, then that is a sign for her to stay and work on her marriage. If he continues to abuse her and refuses to change his ways, then that is her sign to leave.
Encourage her to wake up 10-15 minutes before the entry of Fajr and perform the Prayer of Need. She has no control over what her husband does, but she can appeal to the Turner of Hearts. Encourage her to surrender this heartbreaking matter to Allah, and to trust in Him.
Your friend sounds understandably worried about her husband exposing her sin. Reassure her that God-fearing family members would not be interested in hearing the recording. If her husband were to resort to that, then his standing among his family members would surely drop. However, if he does gain an audience, then call her to bear this trial with patience, and to respond to ugliness with good character.
Please refer to the Reliance of The Traveller for more information:
Chapter R3.0: TALEBEARING (NAMIMA) R3.1
(Nawawi:) Having summarily mentioned that talebearing (namima) is unlawful, with the evidence for this and a description of its nature, we now want to add a fuller explanation of it. Imam Abu Hamid Ghazali says, “Talebearing is a term that is usually applied only to someone who conveys to a person what another has said about him, such as by saying, ‘So-and-so says such and such about you, ‘ In fact, talebearing is not limited to that, but rather consists of revealing anything whose disclosure is resented, whether resented by the person who originally said it, the person to whom it is disclosed, or by a third party. It makes no difference whether the disclosure is in word, writing, a sign, nodding, or other; whether it concerns word or deed; or whether it concerns something bad or otherwise. The reality of talebearing lies in divulging a secret, in revealing something confidential whose disclosure is resented. A person should not speak of anything he notices about people besides that which benefits a Muslim to relate or prevents disobedience. Anyone approached with a story, who is told, ‘So-and-so says such and such about you, ‘ must do six things:
-1- disbelieve it, for talebearers are corrupt, and their information unacceptable;
-2- tell the talebearer to stop, admonish him about it, and condemn the shamefulness of what he has done;
-3- hate him for the sake of Allah Most High, for he is detestable in Allah’s sight, and hating for the sake of Allah Most High obligatory;
-4- not think badly of the person whom the words are supposedly from, for Allah Most High says, ‘Such much of surmise’ (Koran 49.12);
-5- not let what has been said prompt him to spy or investigate whether it is true, for Allah Most High says, ‘Do not spy’ (Koran 49.12);
-6- and not to do himself what he has forbidden the talebearer to do, by relating it to others.” (Ibid., 471-72)
It was narrated from ‘Abdullah bin ‘Umar that the Messenger of Allah (upon him be blessings and peace) said: “The most hated of permissible things to Allah is divorce.” [Sunan Ibn Majah]
If your friend and her husband choose the path of divorce, then as much as it may hurt at first, reassure your friend that Allah will carry her through. Even if she no longer loves her husband, they have children, and built a life together. The fallout will be difficult, and events like divorce will show her who her true friends really are.
Her top priority, after her own emotional health and safety, is the care of her children. Divorce is traumatic for children, but they are also resilient. Encourage her to read the book “The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce: A 25 Year Landmark Study” by Judith Wallerstein, Julia Lewis, and Sandra Blakeslee.
If your friend and her husband and her commit to a path of healing their marriage, please be of support to her. The fact that she had an affair in the first place signals her disconnection from her husband, as well as Allah. Both relationships can be salvaged, and it all begins with a return to Allah, first and foremost.
Please direct her to these resources:
May Allah guide your friend and her husband to what is most pleasing to Him, soften their hearts, and relieve their distress and their children’s.
[Ustadha] Raidah Shah Idil
Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil has spent almost two years in Amman, Jordan, where she learned Shafi’i’ fiqh, Arabic, Seerah, Aqeedah, Tasawwuf, Tafsir and Tajweed. She continues to study with her Teachers in Malaysia and online through SeekersGuidance Global. She graduated with a Psychology and English degree from University of New South Wales, was a volunteer hospital chaplain for 5 years and has completed a Diploma of Counselling from the Australian Institute of Professional Counsellors. She lives in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, with her husband, daughter, and mother-in-law.