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Question: Allah states in Surat Nur that it is forbidden to marry a Zani or a Zaniyah. But if this marriage is carried out is it legally effective or l and void like some Hanbali scholars believe?

According to the majority of imams, including Abu Hanifah, Malik and Shafi, marriage of a zani (fornicator) or a zaniyah is considered undesirable before repentance; however, if it did happen, they consider it as valid. Imam Malik said: I do not love a person marrying a woman notorious for zina (or vice versa), but I do not consider it as haraam.

The discussion above--it should be noted--is about someone who has been notorious for such a sin; but as for as someone who is not so, and yet may have been guilty of zina, it is not at all an issue of contention. In other words, such a marriage is deemed as certainly valid.

Scholars of the hanbali school, however, disagree with the above mentioned ruling. They take the Qur'anic text in the apparent meaning, and consider such a marriage, if it did take place, as invalid. Therefore, according to them, if someone did marry before repentance, then they need to be separated. They may redo the nikah (marriage) after repentance.

There is no contention among any of the imams mentioned above about the validity of marriage of those who have been guilty of such sins--if they have done so after repentance.


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