Dr. Rafik Beekun, theislamicworkplace.com
Last updated May 21, 2013
Recent studies reveal that 45-55% of married women and 50-60% of married men engage in extramarital sex at some time or another during their relationship (Atwood & Schwartz, 2002 – Journal of Couple & Relationship Therapy). According to US statistics, 46% of unfaithful wives and 62% of unfaithful husbands have had affairs with someone in the workplace. Dr. Shirley Glass (2003), a marriage and family therapist in her 20-year practice found that 50 percent of unfaithful wives and 62 percent of unfaithful husbands had affairs with someone at work. In a recent survey conducted by Men’s Health magazine, 44% of the males said they’d had an affair with a co-worker at a holiday office party at least once in their life.
The Islamic Position on Extra-Marital Affairs
Islam is very clear on the topic of extra-marital affairs, and considers it as one of the major sins. In The Qur’an in (Surah 17, al Isra,, verse 32), Allah says: Do not go near adultery, .surely it is an indecency, and an evil way [of fulfilling sexual urge]. (17:32) Fornication and adultery have severely been condemned in the hadiths of the Prophet (s). While describing the believers, the Qur’an says, “The believers are… those who protect their sexual organs except from their spouses… Therefore, whosoever seeks more beyond that [in sexual gratification], then they are the transgressors.” (23:5-6) Again Allah says, regarding His true believers: “Those who invoke not, with Allah, any other god, nor slay such life as Allah has made sacred except for just cause, nor commit fornication; – and any that does this deserves punishment.” [Sûrah al-Furqân: 68]
The Prophet (s) said: “The fornicator does not commit fornication while he is a believer” [Sahîh al-Bukhârî and Sahîh Muslim]
A young man once came to our Prophet (peace be upon him) and said: “O, Messenger of Allah give me a permission to commit fornication.”
The Companions were angry with the way that young man who dared to ask such a thing from the Prophet (peace be upon him), but the Prophet (peace be upon him) did not grow angry and immediately asked him: “Would you like a man to fornicate with your mother?”
The young man replied: “No.”
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Hence other people do not like it for their mothers. Would you like it for your daughter?”
The man said: “No.”
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Hence people do not like it for their daughters….” [Musnad Ahmad]
Moreover, those who engage in fornication and do not repent are the most maligned of people. Allah says: “The adulterer cannot marry any but an adulteress or an idolatress, and the adulteress, none mary her but an adulterer or an idolater; to the believers such a thing is forbidden” [Sûrah al-Nûr: 3]
Please note that extra-marital affairs may not involve any sex. It could be an emotional affair via the internet, and that may itself be equally problematic and dangerous. Please click here to watch a clip on the dangers of emotional affairs.
How you can tell whether your spouse is having an extra-marital affair
If a spouse is doing something haram outside of marriage,
- He/she may take a bath or shower more often.
- He/she may start dieting and watching his/her weight.
- He/she may try get into better shape.
- He/she may change his/her wardrobe either to look more fashionable or younger.
- He/she may change his/her haircut.
- He/she may become more romantic within the marriage, or indeed he/she may become less caring towards his/her spouse.
- He/she will start start ‘working late’ or on weekends, but you don’t see any paycheck increases, or you are unable to reach him/her by phone during these extra working hours, or he/she cannot tell you the location where he/she is going to be or what time he/she will be home.
- He/she leaves earlier for work than before.
- He/she may have more nights out with his/her friends (and you are not invited to come along because he/she needs his/her ‘space”.)
- He/she may take more and longer business trips, but you don’t notice extra mileage on his/her car.
- He/she may seem absent minded, listening to love songs, etc. or just acting restlessly.
- He/she is using the internet or his/her email or smartphone excessively with phone calls at odd hours that cannot be answered in front of you.
- He/she hides the home telephone or cell phone bill.
- He/she comes home with a different perfume on his/her clothing or make-up smears.
- When you pick up his/her phone calls, someone hangs up each time.
- When he/she is no longer interested in having sexual relations with you.
Please note that the above “signs” may not mean that your spouse is having an affair, but they may suggest you pay more attention to what your spouse d is doing.
Steps To Avoid Extra-Marital Affairs in the Workplace (and Elsewhere)
The following are some tips adapted from various Islamic sources, many work and spouse counseling sites, and Nina Chen for preventing unIslamic behavior and affairs in the workplace.
- Avoid what is doubtful. “On the authority of Abu Abdullah al-Nu’maan ibn Basheer (may Allah be pleased with them both) who said: I heard the Messenger of Allah (s say, ‘That which is lawful is clear, and that which is unlawful is clear, and between the two of them are doubtful [or ambiguous] matters about which not many people are knowledgeable. Thus, he who avoids these doubtful matters certainly clears himself in regard to his religion and honour. But he who falls into the doubtful matters falls into that which is unlawful, like a shepherd who pastures around a sanctuary, all but grazing therein. Verily every king has a sanctuary and Allah’s sanctuary is His prohibitions. In the body there is a morsel of flesh which, if it be sound, all of the body is sound and which, if it be diseased, all of the body is diseased. This part of the body is the heart.” (Recorded in Bukhari and Muslim)
- Have honest, trusting and transparent communication with your spouse. Do you “edit” information out about how you spent your day when you talk to your spouse? Do you exclude information about how you spent time with someone else you may be attracted to? If you find yourself engaging in such secrecy, ask yourself why and put an end to it. When in doubt, discuss the situation with your spouse. If you are unwilling to do so, you may stepping into a dangerous and un-Islamic area. Commit to honest and transparent relations with your spouse, and schedule private times for yourself and him/her so that you can reconnect emotionally. Most importantly, talk to your spouse if you sense yourself slipping. Unless one is shameless, extra-marital affairs are shrouded in secrecy, and discussing the issue makes it clear whether there is a marital problem, a problem of incompatible personalities, a sexual or emotional problem, or something else in the marriage that needs to be resolved. “And among His signs is this, that He created for you mates from among yourselves, that you may dwell in tranquility with them, and He has put love and mercy between your hearts. Verily in that are signs for those who reflect.” (Qur’an 30:21)
- Stay committed to your marriage. Strengthen your commitment to your marriage–a blessed act in Islam. Studies show that couples who commit to one another think less often about being with someone else. Keeping your marriage strong needs investment and commitment. Treat your wife (husband) with respect. (Muhammad).) said ‘I am the best amongst you and I am the best to my wife’ Address your spouse with the best of names. Prophet Mohammed (s) called Khadija ’Ya Khadija’ as an endearment. The following hadith has relevance for all those brothers who work 12-16 hour days neglecting their marriage and their wife. In hadith 88, in the book of Marriage, Abu Juhayfa quoted it from the Prophet (s): 4903. It is related that ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Amr ibn al-’As said, “The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said to me, ‘Have I not been told that you pray at night and fast in the day?’ I answered, ‘Yes, Messenger of Allah.’ He said, ‘Do not do it. Fast and break the fast. Pray and sleep. Your body has rights over you. Your eyes have rights over you. Your wife has rights over you.’”
- Honor your marriage publicly and tangibly. Frame a picture of your wedding/and of your kids and position it in your office where you (and anybody else who you may be wary of) can see it. Keep it as a constant reminder of your marital and family status. Bring your spouse with you to office parties, company picnics and dinners so that anyone who may be attracted to you gets the message loud and clear that you are married and committed to your marriage bifadlillah.
- Stifle fantasies about co-workers. Monitor and control your thoughts and keep your thoughts on a professional level. Don’t entertain fantasies/thoughts about an extra-marital relation with a co-worker since Allah knows at all times what you are thinking. Indeed, Allah is always near and is all aware– as mentioned in a number of Qur’anic verses such as, ‘He is with you, wherever you are…’ [Surah al-Hadid (57): 4]. Again, Allah emphasizes his closeness to each of us in the Qur’an: ‘And indeed, We have created man, and We know what his own self whispers to him. And We are nearer to him than his jugular vein.’ [Surah Qaf (50): 16] Similarly, Allah states that, in the case of the dying person, ‘But We are nearer to him than you, but you see not.’ [Surah al-Waqi'ah (56): 85] The issue of sexual fantasies in Islam is too complex to discuss here. To read more on this topic, please click here.
- Do work at work, and keep intimate/personal information for your spouse. If you share more of your personal information with a co-worker than with your spouse and spend more time with him/her than in your marriage, this is a big warning sign, and you need to desist and re-examine that relationship.
- Do not work alone with coworkers of the opposite sex. The Prophet (s) said: “No man is alone with a woman but the Shaytaan is the third one present.” Narrated by al-Tirmidhi (1171) and classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Tirmidhi. Al-Nawawi (may Allah have mercy on him) narrated in Sharh Muslim (14/153) that there was consensus among the scholars that it is haram for a man to be alone with a woman who is not his mahram Being alone with each other opens the door to haram opportunities. If you have to do work with someone of the opposite sex, arrange to have someone else present or leave the door to your office open or do it in an open and public area. The more you do work together alone, the more likely you are to build a connection that may lead to fornication or zina.
- When talking with coworkers of the opposite sex, stay focused on work related topics. When the conversation digresses to a more personal level, stop and leave. Conversations of a personal nature are between you and your spouse and is nobody else’s business.
- Don’t succumb to peer pressure. Your co-workers may try to make you feel vulnerable especially if you are feeling lonely or depressed while away on a business trip. Peer pressure may be exerted on you in the form of statements such as “Are you a saint? Everyone at our firm does this when away on business.” or “If you don’t do it, you are not one of us.”, etc. Stand by your Islamic principles, and if such peer pressure becomes intolerable, either go to the Human Relations Department and register a complaint or find a job with another company where marital fidelity is more valued.
- Travel in groups rather than in a pair. Since jobs often involve traveling, often with male and female colleagues going on business trips or trade shows together, protect your marriage by not spending time alone with any person of the opposite gender and never ever bring that person to your hotel room. If you must attend a social event, do so in groups. Be disciplined about your behavior in working relationships. A good tactic of preventing an affair is to ask yourself “would I be doing or saying this if my spouse was here?” of “What would Prophet Muhammad (s) do if he were in this situation right now?”
- Avoid online relationships with co-workers (or anybody else). These are just as toxic as an actual extra-marital affair because they may desensitize you, and act as a precursor to one. Remember the fiqh rule: Whatever leads to haram is itself haram. Prevent online affairs by placing the computer in a common room such as a family room or kitchen where you cannot hide the computer screen from your spouse. Stay away from chat rooms and never bring up or discuss sensitive topics and personal or marital issues with co-workers or anybody else over the Internet.
- Educate your co-workers about Islamic etiquette. One of my female co-workers was always wondering why I refused to stare at her face while speaking to her. This provided me with an opportunity to explain the concept of awra and modesty in Islam. Ever since, she makes sure that to let me know what parts of a meal at a company picnic or dinner has pork or alcohol.
- Use spiritual examples of Muslim men and women who faced similar tests. The story of Yusuf (Joseph) (a) and Zulaika in the Qur’an (Chapter 12) is a very moving one and a testimony to his spiritual fortitude. Similarly, the story narrated by Ibn Umar of the three men trapped inside cave is very moving, especially the part narrating the story of the second man who did not take advantage of a female relative after she tried to dissuade him from seducing her. Spiritual strength and growth correlate with one’s ability to resist temptation.
- Do not let you eyes stray and behave with Islamic humility as required in the Qur’an (Al-Hishmah).
Qur’an 33:35 (Y. Ali) For Muslim men and women,- for believing men and women, for devout men and women, for true men and women, for men and women who are patient and constant, for men and women who humble themselves, for men and women who give in Charity, for men and women who fast (and deny themselves), for men and women who guard their chastity, and for men and women who engage much in Allah’s praise,- for them has Allah prepared forgiveness and great reward.
Islam, in general wants to avoid problems. This is why marriage is recommended as soon as one can afford to or early abstinence. Since the issue of extra-marital relations and its associated consequences is very complex, I have listed below some sample questions and answers from Islamic scholars. Pleas feel free to go on to the websites that I have browsed and read the whole answer by these very knowledgeable scholars. If you have questions of your own, I suggest that you ask them directly or as the Fiqh Council of North America Insha Allah.
Finally, please remember the following hadith about the Day of Judgment:
The Prophet (s) said: There are seven whom Allah will shade in His Shade on the Day when there is no shade except His Shade: a just ruler; a youth who grew up in the worship of Allah, the Mighty and Majestic; a man whose heart is attached to the mosques; two men who love each other for Allah’s sake, meeting for that and parting upon that; a man who is called by a woman of beauty and position [for illegal intercourse], but he says: ‘I fear Allah’, a man who gives in charity and hides it, such that his left hand does not know what his right hand gives in charity; and a man who remembered Allah in private and so his eyes shed tears.’ Narrated by Abu Hurairah & collected in Saheeh al-Bukhari (English trans.) vol.1, p.356, no.629 & Saheeh Muslim (English trans.) vol.2, p.493, no.2248
1. What is the expiation for one who committed adultery with a married woman?
This question was posed to the Islamic scholars at Islamonline, and here is their answer:
Zina (adultery) is nothing but evil. But with a married woman it is a greater sin because that is a transgression against the husband’s honour. Allaah says concerning zina (interpretation of the meaning):
And come not near to unlawful sex. Verily, it is a Faahishah (i.e. anything that transgresses its limits: a great sin), and an evil way (that leads one to hell unless Allaah forgives him)
The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: If a man commits zina, faith will come out of him until it becomes like a cloud over him, and when he stops, his faith comes back to him. Narrated by Abu Dawood, 4690; al-Tirmidhi, 2625; classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh Abi Dawood.
Ibn Hajar al-Haythami said in al-Zawaajir an Iqtiraaf al-Kabaa’ir (2/138): Thus it is also known that there are different categories of zina. If it is done with a non-mahram woman who has no husband it is a serious matter. It is more serious if it is with a non-mahram woman who has a husband; it is more serious still if it is with a mahram. The zina of a previously-married person is worse than zina of a virgin, which is indicated by the fact that the punishment is different. And the zina of an old man who is of sound mind is worse than the zina of a young man, and the zina of a free man or a knowledgeable man is worse than the zina of a slave or one who is ignorant. End quote.
The expiation for committing zina with a married woman or any other is sincere repentance that fulfils all the conditions of repentance. That involves giving up the sin completely, regretting what one has done and resolving never to go back to it. Whoever does that has repented to Allaah, and whoever repents, Allaah will accept his repentance and turn his bad deeds into good deeds, as Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
Know they not that Allaah accepts repentance from His slaves and takes the Sadaqaat (alms, charity), and that Allaah Alone is the One Who forgives and accepts repentance, Most Merciful? [al-Tawbah 9:104]
2. He committed zina with her and she got pregnant; can he marry her while she is pregnant or should she abort he foetus?
It is permissible for the one who committed zina to marry the woman with whom he committed zina if they are no longer regarded as zaani, which is after repenting sincerely. If she is pregnant, it is not permissible to do the marriage contract with her until her pregnancy ends, and the child is not to be named after the zaani according to the majority of scholars. Some scholars are of the view that the illegitimate child is to be called after the zaani if he acknowledges him. See the answer to question no. 33591
In Fataawa al-Lajnah al-Daa’imah it says: What is required of both of them is to repent to Allah then to give up this crime and regret what has happened in the past of committing immoral actions, and they should resolve never to go back to it and they should do a lot of righteous deeds in the hope that Allah will accept their repentance and turn their bad deeds into good deeds. Allah, may He be exalted, says (interpretation of the meaning): [...]
It is not permissible to abort the foetus in order to get rid of the shame of zina. See the answer to question no. 13331.
3. His wife had extra-marital relations twice with another man; should he divorce her?
[...]The correct scholarly opinion is that it is not permissible to marry a zaaniyah (a woman who commits fornication or adultery) until after she has repented. The same applies if the wife commits zina: the husband has no right to keep her in that case; rather he should leave her, otherwise he will be a cuckold (duyooth). [...] Please click here to read the whole answer to question #3.
4. A man and a woman repented from an unlawful sexual relationship, but they continued to kiss and embrace, but without a sexual relationship, then they got married after that. Is this marriage permissible?
A relationship between a man and a woman outside of marriage, which is what is called an unlawful relationship, is haraam, regardless of the level of this relationship and whether it goes as far as an intimate relationship or zina (sexual relationship), which is the most reprehensible and abhorrent type of sins and one of the gravest of major sins that poses the greatest danger to the individualâs religious commitment and faith, or it is less than that, such as looking, touching or kissing. All of that is haraam and these are types of zina in the general sense, and are things that lead to the greater immoral action. [...]
If marriage takes place after a haram relationship between a man and woman, then one of the following scenarios must apply:
1. Either that marriage comes after an illegitimate sexual relationship, in which case the marriage is not valid except on the condition that both the man and woman repent from zina and it be established that the woman is not pregnant as a result of the haram relationship, because Allah, may He be exalted, says (interpretation of the meaning): âThe adulterer/fornicator marries not but an adulteress/fornicatress or a Mushrikah; and the adulteress/fornicatress, none marries her except an adulterer/fornicater or a Mushrik and that means that the man who agrees to marry (have a sexual relation with) a Mushrikah (female polytheist, pagan or idolatress) or a prostitute, then surely, he is either an adulterer/fornicator, or a Mushrik (polytheist, pagan or idolater). And the woman who agrees to marry (have a sexual relation with) a Mushrik (polytheist, pagan or idolater) or an adulterer/fornicator, then she is either a prostitute or a Mushrikah (female polytheist, pagan, or idolatress). Such a thing is forbidden to the believers (of IslÃ¢mic Monotheism)â al-Noor 24:3. Please read the complete answer to question #4 by clicking here.
5. Her husband has an extra marital affair with another woman, and is now potentially resuming it.
Answer from Sheikh:
First of all, we ask Allah to make for you a way out from your distress and rectify and guide your husband. We advise you to supplicate Allah to guide your husband and make him hate sins and acts of disobedience. It would be useful if you advise him repeatedly in a soft and calm manner while clarifying to him that this matter is forbidden and abominable as far as Sharee’ah and human nature are concerned. How can he do this with daughters of other people while he does not accept this for his own daughters, and not even for one of his female relatives? Please click here to read the remainder of the sheikh’s answer.
Extra sources and references:
Glass, S. (2003) Not just friends: Protect your relationship from infidelity and heal the trauma of betrayal. New York: The Free Press.
- Muslims caught cheating: Advice to protect against infidelity.
- All about Muslim marriages: Surviving infidelity.
- When it comes to marriage, know your real enemy.
- Marital Intimacy (stilldatingmyspouse.com)
- Preventing Extra-Marital Affairs (psychologytoday.com)
- Did You Marry A Cheater? Or, 4 Ways to Tell A Study Is Baloney (blogher.com)
- Who is Mahram (mehram/non-mehram) (makashfa.wordpress.com)
- Love or Desire? (muslimfaith.wordpress.com)
- What did you say, honey?
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