Question 640: Aoa sheikh, I have a very serious question. If a women has lost her virginity in the past wrongfully by committing sin or been in relationship.  Can’t she be forgiven in the eyes of Islam?  Should a man accept such a women as her life partner?  What does Islam say about Marrying a fornicator who repented?

Answer 640: Although adultery is a great sin according to the Holy Quran, as He, the Exalted, says: “Nor come nigh to adultery: for it is a shameful (deed) and an evil, opening the road (to other evils)”[1], but one point of dire importance, is the special favor and grace which Allah, the Almighty bestows upon someone who repents; repentance destroys and effaces all of the sins and negative consequences of sins before Allah.

In the Holy Quran Allah (SWT) says: “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.[2]

Arabic version of this verse:

قُلْ يَـٰعِبَادِىَ ٱلَّذِينَ أَسْرَفُوا۟ عَلَىٰٓ أَنفُسِهِمْ لَا تَقْنَطُوا۟ مِن رَّحْمَةِ ٱللَّهِ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ يَغْفِرُ ٱلذُّنُوبَ جَمِيعًا إِنَّهُۥ هُوَ ٱلْغَفُورُ ٱلرَّحِيمُ

When Wahshi ibn Harb, the murder of Hazrat Hamza Sayyid al-Shuhada wanted to become Muslim and feared that his repentance would not be accepted as he committed the capital sin by killing Hamzah (as) until the above mentioned verse of the holy Quran was sent down and the way of repentance were being opened to him and other people who truly repent from their sins.[3]

In the Holy Quran Allah (SWT) also says: “and despair not of Allah’s mercy Surely none despairs of Allah’s mercy except the unbelieving people”.[4]

Imam Sadiq (as) said: Prophet Davood (as) inspired by Allah that if my servant commits sin but regretted and repented from his sin I would rather forgive his sin and convert his sin to a good deeds as I Am Allah, the Most Merciful.[5]

Imam Baqir (as) says: Whoever repents from sin is like the one who has not committed it.[6]

Impermissibility of Marrying a Fornicator

But, the is a verse of the holy Quran in which Allah (SWT) says: “The fornicator shall not marry any but a fornicatress or idolatress, and) as for (the fornicatress, none shall marry her but a fornicator or an idolater And it is forbidden to the believers”.

This verse is for those of fornicators who wouldn’t like to repent from their sins and want to repeat committing the sins, instead. So, they are not allowed to marry the believers.[7]

According to some interpreters of the holy Quran regarding this verse, a Muslim man asked the holy Prophet to let him marry Umm Mahzool (a woman who was famous for committing adultery) so the above mentioned of the holy Quran was sent down.[8]

In this regards, there is a Hadith narrated from Imam sadiq (as) regarding the above mentioned of the holy Quran that you are not allowed to marry the fornicators unless they truly repent from their sins. [9]

The Arabic version of this hadith:

سَأَلْتُ أَبَا عَبْدِ اللَّهِ (علیه‌السلام) عَنْ قَوْلِ اللَّهِ عَزَّ وَ جَلَّ الزَّانِی لا یَنْکِحُ إِلَّا زانِیَةً أَوْ مُشْرِکَةً، قَالَ هُنَّ نِسَاءٌ مَشْهُورَاتٌ بِالزِّنَا وَ رِجَالٌ مَشْهُورُونَ بِالزِّنَا شُهِرُوا وَ عُرِفُوا بِهِ وَ النَّاسُ الْیَوْمَ بِذَلِکَ الْمَنْزِلِ فَمَنْ أُقِیمَ عَلَیْهِ حَدُّ الزِّنَا أَوْ مُتَّهَمٌ بِالزِّنَا لَمْ یَنْبَغِ لِأَحَدٍ أَنْ یُنَاکِحَهُ حَتَّى یَعْرِفَ مِنْهُ التَّوْبَةَ

How to Repent

The followings are a few methods of repentance that tell us how to repent from our sins in a way so that Allah, the Almighty would forgive us.

One of the methods is knowledge. “…those of His servants only who are possessed of knowledge fear Allah Surely Allah is Mighty, Forgiving.”[10]

Another method is regret or remorse, as it states in the Holy Qur’an that Allah (swt) says, “And He it is who accepts repentance from His servants and pardons the evil deeds and He knows what you do”.[11]

Strong will and intention is another method of repentance. Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq (as) says, “A man never gets weak if he is strengthened with a firm intention (will).”[12]

Doing extraordinary good deeds which cause forgiveness of bad deeds. Just as it states in the holy Quran, “And keep up prayer in the two parts of the day and in the first hours of the night. Surely good deeds take away evil deeds. This is a Reminder to the mindful.”[13]

To set these elements in place, one must continually work for and pray for his/her increase in correct knowledge of the straight path. Upon realizing one’s sin one should feel sincere regret and remorse over the action, not just in getting caught at it, and one should make a clear intention, resolve and plan to reform.

Once someone said in front of Imam Ali (as), “Astaghfirullah” (I ask Allah’s forgiveness), then Imam Ali (as) said, “Your mother may lose you! Do you know what ‘istighfar’ (asking Allah’s forgiveness) is?”[14]

‘Astighfar’ is meant for people of a high position. It is a word that stands on six meanings:

  1. To repent over the past.
  2. To make a firm determination never to revert to it.
  3. To discharge all the rights of the people so that you may meet Allah quite clean with nothing to account for.
  4. To fulfill every obligatory act which you ignored (in the past) so that you may now do justice with it.
  5. To aim at the flesh grown as a result of unlawful earning, so that you may melt it by grief (of repentance) till the skin touches the bone and a new flesh grows between them.
  6. To make the body taste the pain of obedience as you (previously) made it taste the sweetness of disobedience. On such occasion you may say: ‘astaghfirullah’.[15]

Conclusion: According to the above mentioned verses of the holy Quran and traditions narrated from our Infallibles (pbuth), if she truly repented from her sin Allah forgives the fault and then she is considered like the one who has not committed the sin. And furthermore she mustn’t despair of the mercy of Allah Surely Allah forgives the faults altogether Surely He is the Forgiving, the Merciful.

Therefore, if she truly repented from her sin she will be able to marry a believer man. Otherwise, the believers are not allowed to marry such women unless they truly repented from their faults.

For further information on this issue, please read the following answers:

Index: How to Repent from Sins committed in the month of Ramadan, answer 139.

Index: Premarital relation with non-Mahram is impermissible, answer 082.

Index: Permanent or Temporary marriage of a married man without the permission of his wife, answer 565.

Index: Essential Requirements of a Successful Marriage in Islam, answer 515.

Index: Looking at non-Mahram Body for Marriage, answer 611.

Index: Good women are for good men / Types of Family in Quran, answer 512.

Index: Rights and Duties of Women in Islam: Reasons why men chat with non-Mahram, answer 641.

Index: Rules on adultery and its punishment, answer 238.

[1] . Isra (Night Journey), 32, وَ لا تَقْرَبُوا الزِّنى إِنَّهُ كانَ فاحِشَةً وَ ساءَ سَبِيلًا As for the prohibition of adultery/fornication, see: Al-Furqan, 68 and 69; Al-A’raf, 33; Al-An’am, 151; Kulayni, Ya’qub, translated by Mustafavi, Sayyid Jawad, Usul-e Kafi, vol.3, pg. 391, Wafa Publications, 1382 (2003); Najafi, Muhammad Hassan, Hurr Amili, Wasail al-Shi’ah, vol.28, Kitab al-Hodud, Jawaher al-Kalam, vol.41, pg. 260 and 258, Dar Ihya al-Turath al-Arabi, Lebanon, 1981.

[2] Surah Zumar, verse 53.

[3] . Tafris Nemooneh, Vol. 19, Pg. 502.

[4] . Surah Yousif, verse 87.

[5] . Bihar al-Anwar, Allamah Majlesi, Vol. 6, Pg. 28.

[6] . Usul al-Kafi, Vol. 4, Pg. 168.

[7] . Tafsir Nemooneh, Vol. 15, Pg. 114.

[8] . Tabarsi, Majma al-Bayan fee Tafsir al-Quran, Vol. 7, Pgs. 197-198, Naser Khosrow publication, Tehran; Ibid, Pg. 220; Qurtabi, Muhammad bin Ahmad, al-Jame’ lee Ahkam al-Quran, Vol. 12. Pg. 168, Naser Khosrow publication, Tehran.

[9] . Kuleini, Kafi, Vol. 5, Pgs. 354-355, Dar al-Kutub al-Islamiyyah, Tehran.

[10] . Holy Qur’an, 35:28.

[11] . Surah Shoura, verse 25.

[12] . Biharul Anwar, Vol. 67, Pg. 211; Biharul Anwar, Vol. 67, Pg. 205, hadith 14.

[13] . Surah Hud, verse 114.

[14] . Biharul Anwar, Vol. 93, Pg. 285.

[15] . “الجنة محفوفة بالمکاره و جهنم محفوفة باللذات و الشهوات” Wasa’ilul-Shia, vol. 15, pg. 309, section 42 (the section that speaks of refraining from haram desires and pleasures).

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