Knowledge

Consummating a marriage – Is intercourse necessary?

Question:

If a husband and wife have not consummated their marriage (the actual act of sex), but engage in other intimate acts with each other, is their marriage invalid? Is there a time limit after marriage for a husband and wife to consummate their marriage through sex? If 3 or 6 years pass by, does this mean they are not married anymore and should seek divorce, or re-marry each other again?

Assalamu Alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh

Thank you for your question.

May Allāh bless all married couples with happiness, peace and success.

A marriage is still valid if sexual intercourse is not taking place, as per the comfort and agreement of the couple.

In Islam, consummation of marriage occurs when the couple spend some time after the marriage in seclusion. Intercourse is not necessary for consummation of marriage. (See Fiqh al Islāmīy wa Adillatuhū)

If both partners have agreed to not engaging in sexual intercourse, then there is no issue. The marriage is intact. If however, either the husband or the wife is demanding sexual intimacy, and the spouse is not making themself available for this, then they have a right to initiate a divorce.

Each partner has the right to enjoy sexual intimacy. It is wājib (necessary) upon the partner to fulfill this right whenever the partner desires, especially if there is no genuine excuse (such as absence due to travel or intense sickness). One has the right to separate if sexual intercourse does not take place at least once in four to six months”. (See Fiqh Al Ḥalāl Wal Ḥarām by Sh. Khalid Saifullah Al Rahmani)

And Allah knows best.

Answered by Shaykh Yusuf Badat
Hadith of the Day Imam
Imam of the Islamic Foundation of Toronto and Director of Mathabah Institute

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