Conditions for Marriage Among Muslims With Herpes
Can a non-infected Muslim consent
to marriage with a Muslim who has herpes?
According to Muhammad Jibaly and Dawud Adib at the Qur'an and Sunnah Society's 1998 Convention, people with genital herpes may get married and have children, provided that both spouses are carriers of the same disease. It is not permissible for someone who has such a disease to marry someone who does not due to the risk of transmission. Likewise, it is not permissible for someone who does not have such a disease to marry someone who does due to the general prohibition against bringing undue harm upon oneself.
However, when such a case had been presented to Shaykh Bin Baz, (Allah have mercy on him), he responded that such a marriage was permissible with consent. Now, it may be that the Shaykh did not understand the issue of herpes that well, and therefore was not aware of the full extent of the resulting harms, or it may be that he understood that the harm resulting from herpes was merely an inconvenience such as that of a recurring flu and therefore did not see it to be significant enough to impose such restrictions. In fact, the medical information on the issue seems to be in agreement with this view. Even so, whether one agrees with the permissibility of consenting to marry a Muslim with herpes, it is certainly at least preferrable that Muslims with herpes marry others who are already infected in order to limit the spread of the disease. And Allah knows best.
Can a Muslim man with genital herpes marry more than
Upon consideration of this view, the prohibition would only be valid if in fact an "increased risk" does indeed exist. The answer seems to imply that the presence of herpes could somehow manifest other STDs when more than one sexual partner is involved, or that "multiple partners" in an Islamic marriage somehow carries the same risk of infection as having multiple partners in general.
After corresponding with Dr. Ray Fowler at Anatopia.com, we found that although herpes can not cause other STDs to develop, it does facilitate the spread of other STDs that are already present in one of the partners. Further, the fact that a person has contracted herpes from somewhere, does point to the possibility that they may have contracted other STDs as well. In addition, various types and strains of herpes also exist which could ultimately infect all members of the marriage by way of the male's interraction between the females. As a result, any marriage between herpes carriers, whether plural or not would require precautions that would help protect against these factors - namely:
The remaining factor then is whether "mutiple partners" within the context of an Islamic marriage carries the same risks as other situations where the public at large may engage in sexual activities with multiple partners. Obviously the risk is not the same, as one sitaution takes place within the context of a divinely ordained institution and the other does not. I am not saying that the People of Knowledge have equated the two - but I am wary that when non-Muslim experts on STDs are presented with the scenario of plural marriages that they may not have a clear understanding of the situation and that they may equate plural marriage with multiple sexual partners in general, thereby biasing the medical data at the scholar's disposal which is used to make judgments on the issue. Some examples may be the absence of changing sexual partners due to the marriage committment, the requirement of a full bath (ghusl) after sexual relations, the prohibition of having relations with more than one partner at the same time or anal sex, as well as other rules which eliminate risky behaviors within the Islamic context.
Therefore, when the proper precautions are in place, there is little
medical support for the view that plural marriage exposes those involved
to undue harm. We have found that others, including at least one Muslim
family who is already
Additional Considerations Regarding STD Risks
The pertinent question regarding plural marriages then becomes: Can the scholars prohibit something otherwise permissible based on a risk that has actually become as common as other risks faced in day to day life? For example, is the risk of riding on a plane or automobile (which could even be life threatening), any less serious than the risk of becoming infected with a latent STD in a marriage with someone who engaged in extra-marital relationships before coming into Islam?
As we are not in a position to make judgments on these issues, we can
not offer any firm conclusions on such controversies at this time. What
we do hope to achieve is to make the relevant information available so
as to allow those Muslims who do have taqwa, to make reasonable decisions
in the mean time. We also hope that the People of Knowledge may consider
these factors aside from the stigma attached to STDs since the problem
is so prevalent and contact us with
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