Married to someone who leaves Islam.

Q. Can one follow another person in Salaah, who is married to a Christian woman who was previously Muslim and changed her faith to Christianity?

A. A Muslim (male or female) who changes his/her religion from Islam to Christianity is an apostate (Murtad) in Islam, and marriage with such a person is totally haram (unlawful) and prohibited.

The great jurist and commentator of the Holy Quran, Shaikh Mufti Muhammad Shafi (RA) writes in his famous commentary Ma’ariful Quran, ‘If a Muslim rejects Islam and becomes a Christian or a Jew, then this person will not be called Ahul Kitaab (People of the Book-(Christian or Jew) with whom marriage is allowed). Instead, this person is known as an apostate (Murtad). Eating from this person’s slaughtered animals will be totally Haram according to the unanimous opinion of all scholars. (Ma’ariful Quran vol.3 pg.59)

Imam Al Qurtubi has given the narration which has been recorded by Imam Muslim and Abu Dawood which states that during the time of the Prophet (SAS) a Jewish man accepted Islam and then rejected it, (returning to Judaism), for this, he was given the punishment for apostasy. (Tafseer Al Qurtubi vol. 3 pg.46)

As mentioned above, one who leaves Islam to enter another religion, immediately becomes a, an apostate (Murtad). Even if he has accepted Christianity, apostasy will still be evident since he has forsaken his faith and has given allegiance to another religion.

Apostasy is a grave crime in the sight of Allah, and it brings about the severe punishment in this world and the hereafter. In this regard, the Holy Quran states, ‘And whosoever of you turns away form his religion (of Islam) and dies as a disbeliever, then his deeds will be lost in this life and in the Hereafter, and they will be the dwellers of the Fire. They will abide therein forever’. (sura Al Baqarah (2) verse 217).

While commenting on this verse, the commentators of the Holy Quran have stated that the statement ‘his deeds will be lost in this life’ includes some of the following:-
1) The marriage (due to apostasy of one spouse) will involuntarily and immediately be broken.
2) The apostate will not inherit from the wealth of a Muslim.
3) The Salaah, fast and other acts of worship done as a Muslim will be rendered null and void.
4) Salaah of Janaza will not be performed for the apostate, and he will not be buried in a Muslim cemetery.

The deeds ‘lost in the hereafter’ means that the apostate will not benefit from any good deeds done in the world. He will be thrown in the fire of Hell to remain forever. (Ma’ariful Quran vol.1 pg. 520).

With respect to what constitutes apostasy, the Fuqaha (jurists) have mentioned the following: – ‘There are three major causes for apostasy. They are: –
1) The rejection of a law which has been well established through the consensus of the Ummah in Islam. For example, the rejection of the compulsory duty of Salaah, Fasting Zakaah or Hajj. Similarly, the rejection of the law prohibiting intoxicants and interest (Riba). In the same manner, rejecting the Holy Quran as the words of Allah. The rejection of these will cause a person to become an apostate.
2) Doing the actions and practices of the non-Muslims/Unbelievers. For example, prostrating before an idol and adopting the modes of worship of the non Muslims.
3) Disassociating oneself from Islam through the act of giving up/leaving the religion of Islam, or to insult, revile or abuse Allah, the Prophet (SAS) or Islam.

Apostasy therefore, means that one has turned away from Islam voluntarily through his clear expression of disbelief (that he is no longer a Muslim), or through words that describe this act, or practices that imply his rejection of Islam. (Al Fiqhul Islami wa Adilatihi vol.7 pg.5577).

From the above explaination, it becomes well established that the Muslim woman (in question) who changed her faith to Christianity, has become an apostate, (seeing that she has rejected Islam). It does not matter which religion she has adopted, the act of rejection of Allah as the only God, the Prophet (SAS) as the final messenger and the Holy Quran as the words of Allah, has already occurred.

With respect to the allowance for a Muslim man to marry a Christian or Jewish woman (who is termed Ahl-Kitaab) then this refers to those who were born in their faith as Christians or Jews or they have forsaken a religion of shirk to accept Christianity or Judaism.(Ma’ariful Quran vol.1 pg.520).

As for one who has forsaken Islam to accept Christianity, then this person is an apostate (Murtad), with whom marriage is forbidden. This clearly means that if a Muslim man is married to a Muslim woman who later rejects Islam and becomes an apostate, then the marriage will be broken and it must not continue. In this regard, the following are the well accepted verdicts of the great Imams and Jurists of Islam: –

When one of the spouses apostates and turns away from Islam, then a separation occurs between them, without the need for a divorce. There is no need for the Qadhi (Islamic Judge) to cause this separation. Instead, this marriage will dissolve automatically and will be annulled. This is according to Imam Abu Hanifa, Abu Yusuf and the famous opinion of the Maliki scholars. It is also the preferred statement of the Maliki scholars that the separation due to apostacy is a divorce. The scholars of the Shafi and Hambali Mazhab have stated that when apostacy takes place in the marriage, one will wait until the iddah (waiting period) of the woman comes to an end (this is a period of three months from the time one rejected Islam). If the apostate re-accepts Islam before the waiting period comes to an end, then both of the spouses will continue in their marriage (since both will be Muslims). If the apostate does not re-accept Islam and the waiting period comes to an end, then the woman will automatically be divorced with an irrevocable divorce from the time one rejected Islam. It means that the irrevocable will occur on its own without the husband giving it, and will be regarded as having been issued since the spouse rejected Islam.(Al Fiqhul Islami wa Adilatihi vol.9 pg. 7162)

The law which is established from these quotations is that on account of the apostasy of the wife (when she rejected Islam to accept Christianity), her marriage with the husband became automatically broken. Therefore, it will not be permissible for the Muslim husband to continue to live with this woman as a wife. If he continues to keep her as a wife, then this will be a haram (unlawful) one, and his sexual relations with her will be deemed as adultery, since the woman is no longer his wife. His act of continuing this marriage amounts to flagrant disobedience to Allah and His Messenger, and is a gross violation of the laws of the Shariah. On account of this, he will be deemed as an open transgressor and a sinner (a Fasiq) and performing salaah behind him will be Makrooh (reprehensible). In this regard, the following are evidences given from the authentic books of Islamic Jurisprudence:

1) In the famous book on the Fiqh of Abu Hanifa (RA) known as Al Muktasar Al Qudoori, written by the great Jurist As Shaikh Abul Hasan Ahmad bin Muhammad Al Baghdadi ( Died 428 A.H), it is recorded, ‘It is Makrooh (reprehensible) to put as the Imam (one to lead the Salaah), a slave, a desert Arab, a Fasiq (sinner, transgressor), a blind man and one born out of adultery/fornication. However, if any of them had lead the Salaah, then it will be valid, (Al Muktasar Al Qudoori pg. 39- Chapter on Salaah in Jamaah).

While commenting on this statement, the great scholar and jurist, As Shaikh Abdul Ghani Al Ghunaimi Al Maidani (Died 1298 A.H) writes in his famous and renowned commentary of Al Muktasar Al Qudoori: – (It is Makrooh), that is, Tanzihi (reprehensible to a light degree) (to put a slave as an Imam) because of the dominance of ignorance that is, the lack of knowledge since he has no time to seek knowledge. It is Makrooh Tanzihi to put (a desert Arab as an Imam) because of the fact that ignorance is dominant amongst them. It is also Makrooh Tanzihi to put a Sinner/Transgressor as an Imam because he is accused in the matter of his Deen. (Al Lubaab Fi Sharhil Kitaab vol.1 pg. 90). The same (above mentioned) ruling is mentioned in Al Hidaya vol.1 pg.122- Chapter of Imamat).

The reputed jurist, Allama Shami has also mentioned that it is Makrooh Tanzihi to put as an Imam, a slave, a desert Arab, a fasiq (sinner transgressor), a blind man and an innovator, he further mentions that a fasiq ( sinner) is one who transgresses, and he comes out of that which is right (correct). It refers to one who commits major sins like consuming intoxicants, committing adultery or fornication, consuming Riba (interest/usury) and other similar sins.

Allama Shami has also explained that the word ‘Makrooh Tanzihi’ which has been used for a Fasiq Imam means that performing Salaah behind another  person (besides the Fasiq Imam) is preferred and more virtuous, however, performing salaah behind him will be better than performing it individually. (Raddul Muhtar vol.1 pg. 559,560).

With respect to this Mas’ala, it is authentically reported from Imam Ahmad bin Hambal that he said, ‘it is not permissible to perform Salaah behind a Fasiq (sinner/Transgressor)’. As an evidence for this, the tradition of the Prophet (SAS) has been mentioned in Ibn Majah in which Jabir (RA) has narrated, ‘I heard the Prophet (SAS) upon the mimbar saying, ‘No woman must lead a man (in Salaah ). No Faajir Muslim (sinner) must lead a Mumin (believer) in Salaah except that the king has forced him to do so, or one fears the sword or whip of the king’.(Al Mughni by Ibn Qudama vol.2 pg.187)

Imam Shafi and Malik (AR) have also stated that the Imamat (leadership as Imam) of a Fasiq ( a Muslim who commit sins and transgresses the laws of the Shariah) is Makhrooh. (Al Mughni vol.2 pg.187; Kitabul Fiqh Ala Mazahibil Ar’ba’a vol.1 pg.429; Fiqhul Islami wa Adilatihi vol.2 pg.1205). Allama Ibn Al Humam has further given another opinion of some of the great jurists of the Mazhab of Imam Abu Hanifa. He writes, ‘In Ad Diraya, our companions have stated that it is not proper that one be led in Salaah by a Faasiq (sinner/transgressor) except in Juma Salaah, because for the daily Salaah, one can find another person as an Imam for Salaah (and it may b e difficult to get another one to lead the Juma Salaah). That is, he can go to another masjid to perform Salaah and he will not be sinful in doing so, as it is mentioned in Al Khulasa. Based upon this, it is Makrooh (to perform Salaah behind the Fasiq ) in Juma Salaah when it is established in different places of the city as given as the opinion of Imam Muhammad, and Fatawa (verdict) is upon this. (Fathul Qadeer Sharh of Al Hidaya vol.1 pg 304).

From this entire discussion, the following rulings have been established: –
1) The Muslim woman who has accepted Christianity is deemed to be an apostate, and not a Christian woman (Ahlul Kitab) with whom marriage may be allowed.
2) Marriage with apostates is totally haram in Islam. Hence, the woman’s marriage with a Muslim man will be automatically broken, and it will be totally haram for the Muslim man to continue living with the apostate as his wife. If the man continues to live with her, then he is guilty of openly violating the sacred law of the shariah and will be deemed a sinner-(Fasiq).
3) Performing Salaah behind a fasiq has been unanimously declared as being Makrooh (reprehensible) by all the scholars.

And Allah knows best.

Mufti Waseem Khan