What is Zihar?
In the name of Allah, the most Beneficent, the most Merciful.
Zihar is a term denoting a custom of the Arabs in the days of ignorance. In case of disagreement with their wives they used to say to them, “You are for me like the back of my mother.” After saying this, they used to take their wives as their real mother in being prohibited for them, and the ties of marriage were held to have been broken for good. (Maariful Quran P.345 V.8)
With regards to your question, the ruling in light of the Shariah is as follows;
If anyone said to his wife that she was equal to his mother, sister, daughter or like his mother sister etc… then it should be judged as to what he meant by it.
|If he meant in terms of respectability, age or appearance she is equal to his sister, then it is immaterial and of no account.|
|If while saying it he did not mean this but merely said without any aim or purpose then this is also immaterial.|
|If saying this he meant divorce, then it is one Talaq Baain.|
|If he did not intend divorce but just meant that though she is his wife but he has forbidden on himself to do sexual intercourse with her. This in Shariah is called Zihar.|
The religious decree for such position is that the woman will continue to be his wife but the husband cannot do sexual intercourse with her or kiss her or embrace her with passion etc… and she will remain forbidden for him howsoever long a period may pass. But after giving compensation (Kaffarah) they can live as husband and wife and there is no need for remarriage.
The compensation of Zihar is similar to breaking the fast. If the man has capacity and strength he should keep fasts for sixty days continuously without any gap and should not have sexual intercourse with his wife before the end of sixty fasts. If he does, he shall have to keep the sixty fasts afresh, whether the intercourse was done during the day or night, intentionally or unintentionally.
If a person is unable to keep the 60 consecutive fasts of Kaffarah for some valid reason e.g. continuous sickness, then one has the option of choosing from one of the following four;
- Feed sixty poor people to the fill for one day (two meals)
- Feed one poor person for 60 days (two meals a day)
- Give sixty people 1.6 kg of wheat of its value in cash or food.
- Give to one poor person 1.6 kg of wheat, rice or grains of its value in cash for 60 days.
If the husband did sexual intercourse with her without giving kafarah then it would be a major sin. If the husband did not use the words equal or like but just said she was his mother or sister then it is of no account. However, to say like that is very bad and a sin also. (Raddul Muhtar P.123 – P.129 V.5 & Bashti Zewar P.318 – P.320)
Only Allah Knows Best
Mohammed Tosir Miah
Darul Ifta Birmingham