Husband obliged to provide for wife and children and care for them
Fatwa No: 352438

  • Fatwa Date:13-12-2017 - Rabee' Al-Awwal 25, 1439
  • Rating:

Question

I am a Christian woman who married a Muslim man in an Islamic marriage ceremony. His family was always very nasty to me because of my religion, though they were nice to pagans who married into the family because they were rich. We had two sons, but I discovered that he was committing adultery. When I found out, he started beating me as well. We lived in a Muslim country (I still live there). When our sons were still small, he left and never came back. After a while, I found out that he had a daughter with a woman out of wedlock - while he was still married to me. He caused many legal problems for me and our sons by his actions. He never provided anything for them since he left, he would not even write a letter allowing me to enroll them in school. The mother of his child sent me a message telling me to leave him alone and that since he left me, he has no obligations to us under Islamic law, and that they are his legal family now. (Meaning that he has no obligation to provide for his sons or me because he chose to leave - without divorcing me). This woman is from a Muslim family. I know for a fact they were not married when the child was conceived or born, and I do not think that they are married even now. And even if they are, then that was done many years after the child was born. What are our rights as opposed to hers and her child's? He also takes care of her son from another illegitimate union. Now they live in his home country, which has a dual court system - Islamic and secular. We were married in the Islamic court system there. Here where I live, there is only the Islamic court. My sons are the only male children in their bloodline, as his brother has only daughters. His mother owns a lot of property, and he owns some too. If he dies, are my sons entitled to anything? What about their father's daughter with that woman? Do they have any obligations to her as a sister? Can I sue him for adultery even if they have since married? The proof of the adultery is the child and their cohabitation.

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allah, The Lord of the worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allah and that Muhammad, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, is His slave and Messenger.

We ask Allah, The Almighty, to relieve your distress, protect your sons, and bless them with righteous upbringing.

If the situation of your husband is as you described and he left you and refrained from providing for you and your sons, then he has committed a serious misdeed. Your husband is Islamically ordered to live with you in kindness; Allah, The Exalted, says (what means): {And live with them in kindness. For if you dislike them - perhaps you dislike a thing and Allah makes therein much good.} [Quran 4:19] An aspect of the enjoined kindness is fulfilling your rights over him, including the obligatory maintenance. It is incumbent on the man to provide for his wife and children. His neglect of this religious duty constitutes injustice towards you and your children. ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Amr, may Allah be pleased with him, narrated that the Prophet, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said, "It is sufficient sin for a man that he neglects his dependents." [Abu Daawood]

It is not true that you have no legal rights over him; if he has not divorced you, then you are still his wife and you have all the legal rights of a wife over her husband, and he is obliged to provide for his sons as long as they are still young and have no wealth to spend therefrom.

We advise you to seek the help of some wise people to talk to him and clarify to him that if he does not live with you in kindness, then he should divorce you in kindness and not leave you hanging like this, neither divorced nor really married. Allah, The Exalted, says (what means): {And you will never be able to be equal (in feeling) between wives, even if you should strive (to do so). So, do not incline completely (toward one) and leave another hanging. And if you amend (your affairs) and fear Allah - then indeed, Allah is ever Forgiving and Merciful.} [Quran 4:129] They should also advise him not to neglect his sons. If they could not convince him, then you should refer the case to the Shariah (Islamic) court.

You should know that your children are entitled to inherit from their father; Allah, The Exalted, says (what means): {Allah instructs you concerning your children: for the male, what is equal to the share of two females...} [Quran 4:11]

If it is proven that this 'daughter' was born out of wedlock, then she is not attributed to your husband and she is not entitled to inherit from him. She is also not a sister to your sons then. However, it should be noted that it is very serious to accuse someone of committing adultery without evidence or to question the lineage of a child; as this may lead to committing Qathf (i.e. false accusation of fornication/adultery). So be careful, especially given that your husband may have married this woman with a valid marriage contract in secret and had this girl during their marriage.

If it is true that your in-laws mistreat you, then that is blameworthy and wrong, as kindness to the in-laws is part of the etiquette of Islam. The fact that their brother's wife is a non-Muslim does not justify mistreating her. Allah, The Exalted, says (what means): {Allah does not forbid you from those who do not fight you because of religion and do not expel you from your homes - from being righteous toward them and acting justly toward them. Indeed, Allah loves those who act justly.} [Quran 60:8]

Lastly, we would like to invite you to embrace Islam; it is the true religion and the concluding divine message to humankind that has abrogated all previous divine religions. Please, refer to fatwas 86091, 88906 and 173389.

Allah knows best.

Related Fatwa