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Out-of-Wedlock Children in Islam: Their Status

Wael Abdelgawad | Zawaj.com

Happy babyMany Muslims believe that any child born out of wedlock has no relationship whatsoever with the father. That the child cannot take the father’s name, cannot inherit from the father, and receives no financial support from the father.

This is all true only if the parents are not in a common-law relationship equivalent to marriage; and if the father does not acknowledge paternity and does not live with the mother.

Let’s look at a situation in which the father does acknowledge paternity. The scholars have disagreed on the matter in this case, but one opinion outweighs the other.

Claiming Paternity

Some scholars are of the view that the out-of-wedlock child is not to be attributed to the zaani (fornicator), even if he acknowledges him and wants to attribute the child to himself; rather the child is to be attributed to his mother only.

Other scholars are of the view that if the zaani wants to attribute his out-of-wedlock child to himself, then the child should be attributed to him. This was also the view of some of the salaf (early generations) and was narrated from Imam Abu Haneefah.

The scholars at IslamQA.com say that the view that the out-of-wedlock child is to be attributed to the zaani if he wants to acknowledge him and if the mother was not married to any other man, is more correct, and Allah knows best. It was the view favoured by Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah (may Allah have mercy on him) and his student Ibn al-Qayyim. See: al-Ikhtiyaaraat al-Fiqhiyyah (p. 477) and Zaad al-Ma‘aad (5/374).

Ad-Daarimi narrated in his Sunan (3106) that Sulaymaan ibn Yasaar said: If a man claims that a boy is his son and that he committed zina with the mother, and no one else claims that boy as his, then he may inherit from him.

Ibn al-Qayyim said: Rationally speaking, the father is one of the two parties involved in the act (of zina), and as the child is attributed to his mother and she may inherit from him and he may inherit from her, and the blood relationship is established between him and the mother’s relatives, even though she bore him as the result of zina and the child was the product of the water of both parties and they both agreed that he is their child, why shouldn’t the child be attributed to him if there is no other man who claims to be this child’s father? This is based purely on rational thinking.

So if the father acknowledges paternity of the child, he is considered the father’s child with all the rights and obligations that entails.

Owner of the Bed

Baby sleeping in a shoeIn a separate issue, if the man and woman are in a relationship where they live together – even if they are not married – then the child is considered to belong to that man, as the Messenger of Allah (sws) said, ‘The child belongs to the owner of the bed, and the stone is for the adulterer.’ [Al-Bukhaari and Muslim].”

Also understood from this hadith is that a child born to a married couple is considered to be that couple’s child and is attributed to the husband, even if there was some suspicion of adultery, or even if the mother was raped by someone else. This is best for the stability of the family and the well being of the child, who is innocent in the situation.

On the other hand, the scholars have said that if the relationship was a mere love affair (boyfriend-girlfriend); and the father denies paternity; then the child is not attributed to that man and he does not have to spend on him. The child is attributed to his mother.

DNA Testing

Dna strand


There are situations where DNA testing could be used to determine parentage, and therefore to accord the child his paternal rights, such as when the couple are unmarried and there is some doubt or question about paternity.

Many Islamic scholars have been slow to acknowledge the possibilities of DNA testing in fiqh. This matter should be seriously considered and studied by a group of scholars. After all, Allah encourages us to learn and use our minds, and to develop new understandings of the world:

“In the creation of the heavens and the earth and the alternation of the night and day are signs for those of understanding.” (Quran 3:190)

Zawaj.com Editor Update: I spoke to a local scholar and former professor at Al-Azhar University, Dr. Khalil Gharib, who said that DNA testing can indeed be used to determine paternity in Islam. He reminded me of an incident regarding Umar ibn al-Khattab (RA):

Malik related to me from Yahya ibn Said from Sulayman ibn Yasar that Umar ibn al-Khattab used to attach the children of the Jahiliyya to whoever claimed them in Islam. Two men came and each of them claimed a woman’s child. Umar ibn al-Khattab summoned a person who scrutinized features and he looked at them. The scrutinizer said, “They both share in him.” Umar ibn al-Khattab hit him with a whip. Then he summoned the woman, and said, “Tell me your tale.” She said, “It was this one (indicating one of the two men) who used to come to me while I was with my people’s camels. He did not leave me until he thought and I thought that I was pregnant. Then he left me, and blood flowed from me, and this other one took his place. I do not know from which of them the child is.” The scrutinizer said, “Allah is greater.” Umar said to the child, “Go to whichever of them you wish.”

The salient point here that is ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) hired someone who specialized in studying children’s features to try to determine parentage. That is, essentially, a very crude method of DNA testing. No doubt if modern DNA testing had been available, ‘Umar would have ordered it.

No Shaming

Lastly, the out-of-wedlock child is a full citizen and is innocent of his parents’s sin. He should not be shamed, accused, or made to feel inferior to anyone. No one carries the burden of another’s sins. I detest the terms “son of haram” or “illegitimate” child. “Illegitimate” implies that the child’s very humanity is in question. No human being is illegitimate! We are all spiritual beings, equal in Allah’s sight but for our faith and deeds.

The out-of-wedlock child enjoys all the rights of any other citizen and should not be looked down on in any way.

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The Seventy Major Sins – Al-Kaba’ir

Seventy major sinsThe Seventy Major Sins in Islam – Al-Kaba’ir

– reprinted from TheModernReligion.com

The major sins are those acts which have been forbidden by Allah in the Quran and by His Messenger (SAW) in the Sunnah (practise of the Prophet), and which have been made clear by the actions of of the first righteous generation of Muslims, the Companions of the Prophet (SAW).
Allah Most High says in His Glorious Book:

If you avoid the major (part) of what you have been forbidden (to do), We will cancel out for you your (other) evil deeds and will admit you (to Paradise) with a noble entry. (al-Nisa 4:31)

Thus by this verse, Allah Most High has guaranteed the Garden of Paradise to those who avoid the major sins.

And Allah Most High also says:

Those who avoid the greatest of sins and indecencies, and forgive when they are angry (al-Shra 42:37) Those who avoid the greatest sins and indecencies, except for oversights, (will find that) surely your Lord is ample in forgiveness. (Al-Najm 53:32)

The Messenger of Allah (SAW) said: “The five [daily] prayers, Friday to Friday, and Ramadan to Ramadan make atonement for what has happenned since the previous one when major sins have been avoided.” It is therefore very important to determine exactly what the greatest vices, technically called “the major sins” (Kaba’ir), are, in order that Muslims should avoid them.

There is some difference of opinion among scholars in this regard. Some say these major sins are seven, and in support of their position they quote the tradition: “Avoid the seven noxious things”– and after having said this, the propeht (SAW) mentioned them: “associating anything with Allah; magic; killing one whom Allah has declared inviolate without a just case, consuming the property of an orphan, devouring usury, turning back when the army advances, and slandering chaste women who are believers but indiscreet.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

‘Abdullah ibn ‘Abbas said: “Seventy is closer to their number than seven,” and indeed that is correct. The above tradition does not limit the major sins to those mentioned in it. Rather, it points to the type of sins which fall into the category of “major.” These include those crimes which call for a prescribed punishment (HADD; plural, HUDUD), such as theft, fornication or adultery (ZINA), and murder; those prohibited acts for which a warning of a severe punishment in the Next is given in the Qur’an or the tradition; and also those deeds which are cursed by our Prophet (SAW). These are all major sins.

Of course, there is a gradation among them, since some are more serious than others. We see that the Prophet (SAW) has included SHIRK (associating someone or something with Allah) among them, and from the text of the Qur’an we know that a person who commits SHIRK will not his sin be forgiven and will remain in Hell forever.

Allah Most High says: Surely, Allah does not forgive associating anything with Him, and He forgives whatever is other than that to whomever He wills. (al-Nisa 4:48 and 116)

01. Associating anything with Allah
02. Murder
03. Practising magic
04. Abandoning prayer
05. Not paying Zakat
06. Not fasting on a Day of Ramadan without excuse
07. Not performing Hajj, while being able to do so
08. Disrespect to parents
09. Abandoning relatives
10. Fornication and Adultery
11. Homosexuality (sodomy)
12. Consuming usury (Ribaa)
13. Wrongfully consuming the property of an orphan
14. Lying about Allah and His Messenger
15. Running away from the battlefield
16. A leader’s deceiving his people and being unjust to them
17. Pride and arrogance
18. Bearing false witness
19. Consuming Khamr (intoxicants)
20. Gambling
21. Slandering chaste women
22. Stealing from the spoils of war
23. Theft
24. Highway Robbery
25. Taking false oath
26. Oppression
27. Illegal gain
28. Consuming wealth acquired unlawfully
29. Committing suicide
30. Frequent lying
31. Judging unjustly
32. Giving and Accepting bribes
33. Woman’s imitating man and man’s imitating woman (in dress, etc)
34. Being cuckold
35. Marrying a divorced woman in order to make her lawful for the husband
36. Not protecting oneself from urine (being unclean, wearing soiled clothing)
37. Showing-off (boasting of charity or good works)
38. Learning knowledge of the religion for the sake of this world and concealing that knowledge
39. Bertrayal of trust
40. Recounting favours
41. Denying Allah’s Decree
42. Listening (to) people’s private conversations
43. Carrying false tales and rumors
44. Cursing
45. Breaking contracts
46. Believing in fortune-tellers and astrologers
47. A woman’s bad conduct towards her husband
48. Making statues and paintings of human beings and animals
49. Lamenting, wailing, tearing the clothing, and doing other things of this sort when an affliction befalls
50. Treating others unjustly
51. Overbearing conduct toward the wife, the servant, the weak, and animals
52. Offending one’s neighbour
53. Offending and abusing Muslims
54. Offending people and having an arrogant attitude toward them
55. Trailing one’s garment in pride
56. Men’s wearing silk and gold
57. A servant’s running away from his employer, violating a contract
58. Slaughtering an animal in dedication to anyone other than Allah
59. To knowingly ascribe one’s paternity to a father other than one’s own
60. Arguing and disputing violently
61. Witholding excess water (hoarding, withholding vital goods from the public)
62. Giving short weight or measure
63. Feeling secure from Allah’s Plan
64. Offending Allah’s righteous friends (disrespecting the scholars and saintly people)
65. Not praying in congregation, missing congregational prayers consistently without an excuse
66. Persistently missing Friday Prayers without any excuse
67. Unsurping the rights of the heir through bequests
68. Deceiving and plotting evil
69. Spying for the enemy of the Muslims
70. Cursing or insulting any of the Companions of Allah’s Messenger

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Is it Prohibited to Marry Someone Guilty of Zinaa (Adultery/Fornication)?

Two parrots on a fence in Brooklyn

Reprinted from SeekersGuidance.org
Answered by Sidi Abdullah Anik Misra


A girl and I committed zina a few months back. We are in the process of getting married very soon. Is it permissible for me to marry the girl I committed zina with? Is it obligatory for her to repent before we get married? She will definitely repent but I want to know if its required in order us to marrry. I read this on islamqa.com.


All praise is to Allah Most High who has shown us right from wrong, in order that we may benefit both in this life and in the next life.

Zina (either illicit fornication for those never-before-married, or adultery for those who have been married) is one of the vilest and gravest sins a Muslim can commit, after ascribing partners with Allah, murder, and disobedience to one’s parents. In the Qur’an, right after the prohibition of killing one’s children, Allah Most High says:

“And do not even go close to Zina! Truly, it is a gross obscenity and an evil path (to go down).” [al-Quran, 17:32]

This verse is not just about prohibiting the act of zina itself, rather, we are told not even to go near it through anything that may lead or invite to it. This is why the pre-marital contact of an unrelated man and woman for unnecessary reasons is not allowed in Islam, even if marriage is the eventual goal.

However, if anyone has fallen into committing this act (and may Allah save us), know that Allah is so Merciful and He is ready to accept the repentance of those who are truly remorseful and commit themselves not to repeat the act again. He, Most High, says:

“And those who, after they had committed a gross obscenity [ie. zina], or wronged themselves [by what approaches it, such as kissing], remembered Allah, and then sought forgiveness for their sins – and who forgives sins except Allah? – and they did not continue in committing it, knowing fully-well [it was a sin]:

For those people, their recompense is a great forgiveness from their Lord! And gardens underneath which rivers flow! They will be in there forever! What a wonderful reward for those who act for Allah!”

[al-Quran, 2:135-136, interpretation from Jalalayn and Tabari]]

It is definitely a step in the right direction that you both have turned away from this and are now working to get married soon. Both of you, not just the woman, should repent from what has passed and make a firm commitment not to come near to a situation where it might happen again. However, the direct answer to your question is that it isn’t a legal requirement that one repent (which is an inward act between a servant and Allah) in order for the marriage to be valid (which is an outward action).

That being said, it is still obligatory to repent in any case, and to do so before marriage is not so much of a technical requirement as some opinions say, but rather something strongly encouraged for the couple get on the right footing with Allah Most High as they embark on the sacred journey of being husband and wife. Now, we’ll look at the reasons why the majority of scholars say this, and the verse of the Quran which concerns the issue.

The Verse Concerning Marriage With Those Who Commit Zina

Allah Most High says:

“A man guilty of adultery or fornication does not marry other than a woman guilty of adultery or fornication, or an idolatress, and as for a woman who committed adultery or fornication, no one but a man who committed adultery or fornication, or an idolater, marries her. And that has been prohibited for the Believers.” [al-Quran 24:3]

The opinion that you read (on islamqa.com) says that this verse is a prohibition against the marriage of a Believer with someone guilty of zina, until the adulterer repents, thereby being cleansed of the sin and no longer being an adulterer. This is based on the taking the statement “it has been prohibited” at one of its literal and apparent meanings and applying it to marriage. Some Hanbali scholars held this view.

However, the majority of scholars have said that this is not a prohibition in terms of validity of marriage, but rather they interpret the verse in many different ways.

Al-Suyuti in Tafseer al-Jalaalayn points out that the beginning of the verse speaks about who is appropriate for marriage to another due to their character; that the only person who would want to marry an adulterer is one who has similar inclinations or makes light of the sin of zina, or a person who is not a Muslim and therefore does not see zina as being unlawful and sinful in the first place. The suitability of a man and woman of this nature is repeated twice to show emphasis on how detestable the act and its consensual perpetrators are, and it also highlights that this stigma is not attached only to the male or female alone (as is sometimes sadly observed in some cultures).

Al-Suyuti goes on to say that the prohibition on the Believers was initially meant to address a situation in which some very poor Muslim Emigrants to Medina had wanted to get married to women who were pagans and known prostitutes, so that they might benefit from those women’s earnings to survive. Hence, the verse was revealed to prohibit this, and he says that the prohibition of marrying anyone who had once committed adultery was abrogated by a later command which said “and marry the single ones from amongst you.” [al-Quran, 24:32]

That does not mean however, that it is of no consequence to marry someone who is unrepentant about their adultery, nor that a chaste person should marry such a person.

Al-Shaukani in Fath al-Qadeer lists 7 different interpretations, one of them being that the verse is simply commending the most commonly observed trend, which is that a chaste person would not usually want to marry someone who was unremorsefully unchaste. He also mentions that the verse is in reference specifically to people to whom zina has become a way of life and even a way of earning. Some transmissions of prohibiting the marriage of two fornicators to each other exist from some Companions, but conflicting narrations from some of those same Companions and the rulings of many of the Imams of the Salaf (such as al-Shafi’i and Abu Haneefa) who knew the Companion’s opinions better than we do today, show that this prohibition was not conclusive or absolute.

Ibn Katheer in his tafseer quotes a narration attributed to Ibn ‘Abbas which indicates that the word “to marry” in this verse (yankiHu) actually takes its other literal meaning, which is “to have intercourse”, so that the verse reads “(illicit intercourse) is prohibited for the Believers”. Al-Tabari says that the verse was revealed to speak about a specific brothel which was frequented by non-Muslims and adulterers, and that the Muslims were forbidden from visiting houses the likes of those. Al-Baghawi even mentions specific people for whom the verse was revealed initially. To summarize, a casual glance through many other tafseers will reveal that while most mufassireen (commentators on the Qu’ran) reported a variety of reasons and interpretations of the verse, the most common interpretations were either one compatibility and censure, or a prohibition that was later abrogated in that same surah.

Some Reports on this Issue

Reports of the sayings of the Companions and Followers on this issue are plentiful.

Daraqutni reports, in part of a hadeeth, from Aisha that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) was asked about a man who committed zina with a woman, and then wanted to marry her. Part of the reply was, “Something unlawful (zina) does not make prohibited that which is lawful (marriage)…”

He also reports that Ibn Abbas, regarding a man who had committed zina with a woman and then married her, said, “The first part of [the relationship] was fornication (al-sifaah) and the last part of it was lawful Islamic marriage (al-nikaah). The first part was unlawful, and the last part was lawful.” In another riwayah, he said “there is no harm in it”, and that a similar meaning had been reported from ‘Umar, Abu Hurayara and Jabir (may Allah be well pleased with them all), though saying there is “no harm in it” doesn’t necessarily show that it is liked or recommended.

‘Abd al-Razzaq in his Musannaf also relates from Ibn ‘Abbas, on the same issue that a man committed zina with a woman then married her, that he said, “Then that (marriage) is better”, and in another narration, “Now he did the right thing!”, and “What’s disliked about that?”

He goes on to report that Abu Bakr (Allah be pleased with him) said, “There is no better repentance than that he marries her- (after all) they both went from fornication to Islamic marriage.” [This last report contains an unidentified narrator but its concept and wisdom is amply supported by other reports]. Although there are fewer reports about ‘Aisha and Ibn Mas’ud not allowing such a marriage, perhaps they can be interpreted as recommendations rather than laws, or that the wisdom is for both people to start fresh with other people rather than build their marriage on wrong actions or to discourage the validating of pre-marital relationships. Either way, repentance as a technical requirement to validate the marriage is not established according to the majority.

Amongst the Sunni schools of law, the Hanafi school (as well as the Shafi’i and Maliki schools) rules the permissibility of the marriage of two adulterers [Tabyeen al Haqaiq, al-Zayla’i]. One proof says that the verse in the Quran intends to prohibit intercourse rather than marriage with an adulterer, as it would otherwise seem to recommend that a fornicating muslim can actually marry a non-believing idolater, and there is no such valid marriage between the two as is decisively established in Islam, and so the meaning is carried upon intercourse in order to outlaw zina, and not marriage, to an adulterer. However, the opinion of some Hanbali jurists that repentance is required is good in its meaning because it forces the two people to recognize their wrong and repent to start their marriage on a fresh footing.

One might say however, that the intention to make up for the wrong one has done by doing in its place what is good and chaste, by getting married, is itself a commendable act that shows regret for what was done in the past, though correcting a wrong must be joined by sincere taubah and a promise never to return to the sin again. It should also be clear that there is also no obligation for the two parties to continue on with marriage after an illicit relationship; rather, one should marry someone who they feel has a good Islamic character and a desire to live a righteous life.

And Allah knows best, and His help is sought,

Abdullah Misra
Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani

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Rights of Children Born Out of Wedlock

Baby sleeping in a shoe

Okay, the photo is not directly related to the article, I just thought it was very funny, this baby who fell asleep on a shoe. - Zawaj.com Editor

Date: 05/Aug/2003

Name of Mufti: Group of Muftis

Topic: Rights of Children Born out of Wedlock

Name of Questioner: A Muslim from USA

Question: Dear scholars, As-Salamu `alaykum. I am a Muslim male convert from USA. I have two children from before I accepted Islam and they were both born out of wedlock in an unlawful relationship before I met my wife.

Since accepting Islam I gained custodial rights over them but not custody. They live with me and my wife who also have two children and of course I care for and maintain them. I call them son (6) and daughter (5) and they call me father. My wife calls them step-son and daughter and they call her step-mother.

I have learned that in Islam, children of zina are not ascribed to the father and that there is no parent/child rights between them. They are considered orphans and there is no term as step-parent. Having said all of this back ground info., my question is what are the relations between us according to Shari`ah? Should I allow them to know they are orphans? If their birth mother wants them back though she refuses acceptance of Islam should I allow them to leave my home to live with her? If I am not considered their father than what is our duty to them and them to us? Jazakum Allah khayran.


Wa `alaykum As-Salamu wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh.

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.

Dear brother in Islam, we commend your pursuit of knowledge and your keenness to seek what is lawful and avoid what is not. We earnestly implore Allah to bless your efforts in this honorable way.

First of all, it is to be stated that adultery and producing a child out of wedlock is indeed an enormous sin in Islam. However, a non-Muslim who embraces Islam should be assured of the promise of the Messenger of Allah who said,“Islam wipes out all of one’s past sins.” In other words, on becoming a Muslim every single sin you had committed in the past, no matter how enormous and ugly they were, will be blotted out, and thus once again you will become like a new born baby, and hence free of all sins. Furthermore, Allah’s infinite compassion is such that while, upon embracing Islam, you are absolved of all of your past sins, you carry over to Islam all of the good deeds you ever happened to do in the past: It is indeed a double mercy.

Secondly, as for the child born out of wedlock, like every other child, he or she is born sinless; it does not carry the stigma of the sin of the father or mother or both. A basic principle in Islamic justice is that no one bears the blame for another’s fault. A child born as a result of an illegitimate relationship suffers no adverse discrimination on account of his parents’ sin.

Responding to the question in point,Dr. Muzammil H. Siddiqi, former President of the Islamic Society of North America, states:

“The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said that Islam removes the sins of the past. Since you accepted Islam, Inshaa’Allah you will receive the forgiveness for your past sins.

Since you acknowledge that those children are yours, you are their father and they are your children. They are not orphans as long as you are alive. If you want to take care of them, then you should do that, but if their mother wants them, that is acceptable.

Most importantly, try to raise them as Muslims. Because this thing happened before Islam, these children will inherit from you if they are Muslims, but if they do not accept Islam, then they will not have the rights of inheritance from you. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said that a Muslim doesn’t inherit from a non-Muslim and a non-Muslim doesn’t inherit from a Muslim. However, you are allowed to give them a share from your will, which should not be more than 1/3 of your assets.”

In this respect, the prominent Muslim scholar, Sheikh Muhammad Iqbal Nadvi, Imam of Calgary Mosque, Alberta, Canada, and Former Professor at King Saud University, Riyad, Saudi Arabia, adds:

“The children born out of wedlock deserve all the care they need as children; thus you should provide them with all the requirements and elements to make them succeed in this life.

They are not responsible for the past deeds of their parents. However, the attribution of the child’s name to the father is based on the acceptance of the father. If he approves of it, then he/she can be named after him.”

– IslamOnline.net

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