Monday, December 6, 1999
With updated reader responses and Bilqis' answer, December 24, 2001
I am in love with a man who has been very unhappily married for the past thirteen years. He has remained with his wife for the sake of their three children. We had made plans to marry, but a sister at the mosque intervened and told his wife. His wife threatened suicide so we cancelled our marriage plans. I phoned his wife to try to reason with her, and she laughed at me, and said I must be dreaming to think he will marry me. Now it seems as though the mosque are against a marriage also, even though we have a baby girl together.
Is this really the Islamic thinking, that it is o.k for a man to abandon his baby girl and ruin her life just because his first wife is selfish? He used to pay me child support, but has stopped because his wife is jealous and making a fuss every time he pays. I am now seriously in debt. Please help.
-In debt and alone
Dear "In Debt",
Islam, like all traditional religions, is against sexual relations outside of marriage. Most civilized societies acknowledge this religious tenet in theory at least if not in practice. So I am certain that you were aware that to get involved with a married man was wrong religiously, morally and legally. Having chosen to overlook that fact you now find yourself in quite a predicament.
The Muslim brother you refer to I am sure was well aware that he was committing a serious sin when he started this relationship with you. Whether married or not it is a serious sin for him to have engaged in sexual relations with you without benefit of marriage and a grave injustice to his wife and family. Apparently you had no problem with the idea of him abandoning his first three (legitimate) children, but are now outraged that he would fail to acknowledge his latest (illegitimate) child. According to Islamic Law, if he acknowledges your child as his own, he is subject to serious punishment for adultery. If he was displeased with his marriage, the proper course of action would have been a divorce and to remarry if he wanted another relationship. This is the Islamic perspective on the matter.
Regarding a child born out of wedlock, Islam does have something to say. If the father does not acknowledge the child then he cannot be forced to bear responsibility. For further information on the subject you should go to http://www.ourdialogue.com/c6.htm#3. I wish your child well, for she is the innocent victim in all of this.
Response from a Reader, December 2001
Salaam, I was reading a question that you answered and you said that if a father does not want to be part of his child's life he does not have to be. Sorry sister but that is wrong! Allah said that a man must take care of his kids. That means pay child support if he has to. He must take care of his children.
Why is it a man doesn't have to take care of his child if he does not want to? Allah said you have to take care of your children. That's like saying if a man was to marry a woman and she had his child he doesnt have to take care of his child if he does not want to. It shouldn't matter if the child was the child of the man's mistress. That really doesn't make sense at all. If that was true, do you know how many kids there would be with deadbeat fathers! A lot. Why would Allah let someone do that? I hope the woman hit him up for child support anyway. I know I would. Let's say you were the mistress of some muslim man and you had his child. Would you just let him walk away with out giving you a dime? You're lying to yourself if you said you would. I cant believe you would give that girl that advice.
I read the article you referred the girl to but I dont believe that's true either. Do you have a surah that Allah said that? I would really appreciate it if you give it to me. That's ridiculous. Please right back.
It seems that you have misunderstood the implications of my response regarding "illegitimate children" and paternal child support. I did not say that "if a father does not want to be a part of his child's life he does not have to." My response was based in Islamic law on the subject. As I understand it, a man has the right, with honesty, to accept or deny a child born out of wedlock as his own. This only seems fair in cases where the child may not be his. So if the father denies that the child is his, and paternity cannot be proven, then he cannot be forced to bear responsibility. Otherwise, any woman could claim that any man is her child's father, and he would be forced to pay.
On the other hand, if you notice, in cases where the man is truly the father, the couple is encouraged to repent of their sin, then to marry and raise the child with love and care. And certainly Allah and His Prophet always encourage honesty, kindness and justice to all. I would never encourage a father to not take care of or see his child. That would not be the position of Islam, as you have correctly pointed out.
I hope you understand better now.