Can a Person Who Commits Zina Pray and Fast?

27 January, 2020
Q Assalamu alaikum, I'm 27 years old and I reverted to Islam one year ago. I have to emphasize that I'm not this kind of person who can take religious rules very seriously, I respect the rules, but in the end I just trust my own logic and conscience. I realize I won't ever be a pious Muslim, but I like Islam from the cultural and philosophic point of view, that's why I'd rather be a "non-religious Muslim" than a "non-religious Christian" or an "atheist". I've been trying to pray (although not regularly), I fasted some days of Ramadan and I attend the local mosque on Fridays. I have a boyfriend, who comes from a Muslim country, but his level of religiousness is similar to mine. He prays and fasts, but he doesn't strictly follow all the rules. We live in different countries, but we meet approximately once a month and we stay together and we also commit zina. I see absolutely nothing wrong about it, because I believe that the Quranic rules applied to a totally different period of time, when women were highly dependent on men, there was no effective birth control, no legal alimony system etc. I believe that nowadays, if two adult people have sexual relations by mutual consent, they use effective contraceptives and respect each other, it's not a big deal. I don't want to get married at this point of my life and even if I wanted to get married, I don't believe in the Islamic idea of marriage. I believe that people should spend time together (without other people) and preferably even live together before they get married. It doesn't have to include sex, but it's kind of normal that two adult people who feel attracted to each other eventually will do it. You don't have to explain me that my views are wrong form the mainstream Islamic point of view, because I know it, but I just trust my own intuition on these issues. My question is the following: yesterday we had a conversation on this issue with my boyfriend and we were unsure whether we can still perform some of our religious duties while we commit zina and don't repent about it. I was raised in a Christian family and I remember that in Christianity (at least in the Catholic Church) there are some limitations for those who have "unlawful" sexual relations, for example they can't participate in the Holy Communion ritual until they repent and quit their sin. Is there anything like that in Islam? My boyfriend says it's enough if we just take ghusl and then we can pray and fast just like any other Muslims. Is he correct? Thank you in advance for your answer and please don't be too judgmental.


Short Answer: Never give up praying and fasting. There is no sin that you can commit that will cut you off from being allowed to worship, to talk to, to fast for, or to pray to Allah. Allah is the Creator of the human heart and He knows what is in it, what hurts it, what keeps it strong and at peace. Haram actions hold great potential to be harmful, addictive, and/or destructive to the human being. God is warning us to stay away from them because they hurt us.


Thank you for contacting and trusting us with your question.

And congratulations on accepting Islam!

As a former Catholic myself, I understand the impulse to try to look within one’s former faith to find answers.

But this pursuit will rarely be fruitful.

Never Give Up Praying & Fasting

So, to answer your question, there is no sin that you can commit that will cut you off from being allowed to worship, to talk to, to fast for, or to pray to Allah (SWT).

Cutting off that line of communication (which is what worship is) between you and God is an atrocity.

I don’t care if it’s the Pope or the Grand Mufti of Timbuktu, no one gets to say you are cut off from the worship of God.

So, never give up fasting and praying and all other forms of worship.

But, I would like to take a moment of my time to unpack some of the ideas you have expressed.

I hope you continue reading because I am in no way trying to judge you. I only wish to offer something that I hope will benefit you.

You said that you don’t take religious rules very seriously. I honestly don’t blame you for taking this stance since you come from a Catholic/Christian background.

Sins, or breaking religious rules, in the Christian context, have been warped into tools of manipulation and shaming.

Plus, sins in the Christian context are presented as actions that “hurt God”. This is almost hilarious to me if it weren’t so arrogant.

How can human beings harm an All-Powerful Being?

God is not in need of anything; nor can we harm or benefit Him.

Sins in Islam

In contrast in the Islamic context, sins, or actions that are haram, are not meant as a way to manipulate or shame people.

Muslims are directed  to 1- never talk about people behind their back, 2- mind their own business, 3- hide their fellow Muslim’s sins (unless it is a sin that is oppressing others), and 4- keep their sins private.

Similarly, sins aren’t arbitrary actions that “hurt God”.

Haram actions hold great potential to be harmful, addictive, and/or destructive to the human being.

In other words, they are things God is warning us to stay away from because they hurt us.

Islam & Culture

Also, you said that you like Islam from a cultural point of view.

I am not sure what you mean by a “cultural” because this can mean many things.

Islam is not about being Arab, or Indo-Paki, or Indonesian, etc.

Islam works within every culture known to humankind.

A Chinese Muslim’s culture will look very different from a European Muslim’s.

I only point this out because many new Muslims throw out their cultural identity and adopt a new Arab identity, for example. But this is totally unnecessary and damaging to the psyche.

You do not have to have a completely different cultural identity to be a Muslim.

You can appreciate another culture and choose to incorporate some practices into your life. But there is a lot within Eastern culture that is confused for Islam, and is not, in fact, Islam.

So, try to learn more about Islam from the authentic sources and scholars who live in and understand the Western context (Suhaib Webb, Ingrid Mattson, Anse Tamara Gray, Omar Suleiman are a few).

Rules & The Philosophy of Islam

My second thought about your comment on “culture and philosophy” in Islam is that if you don’t feel the need to follow the “rules”, you might have missed the philosophy of Islam.

The philosophy of our faith is that our bodies are only here for a short time, but our souls have no end and they are returning to their original home with God.

If you take the path of Islam, or the deen, in this life, Islamic philosophy teaches that the purpose of this body and this life we are given is to do everything in our power to bring our souls closer and closer to God.

And as a result of getting closer to God, we will find strength and feel peace, tranquility, and fulfillment in this life and perfection in our original home with our Lord in the next.

One can only find the soul’s comfort if one chooses to do the actions that bring one closer to God-i.e. pray, fast, act justly, be kind to God’s creation, etc.

But if one chooses to harm one’s body and soul, and waste this life only following desires (doing the haram), then this brings one away from God.

Our souls feel this distance acutely. And the farther away from God we get, the more we find heartbreak and emptiness since God is the source of love, peace, and comfort.

Good Deeds & Bad Deeds

In a nutshell, Islam teaches us that the more good we do, the closer we come to God. The more we harm ourselves and others, the father away from God we get. It is up to us to choose.

Also, you said that you see nothing wrong with committing zina “because I believe that the Quranic rules applied to a totally different period of time, when women were highly dependent on men, there was no effective birth control, no legal alimony system etc.”

Something I have comes to learn through painful lessons in my own life is that every generation, when it is young, believes it is smarter, better, more equipped to handle and perhaps escape the consequences of their actions than former generations.

But what every generation learns, as we age and as life beats us down, is that we are no better, smarter, or more capable of escaping consequences.

As long as we are human, our consequences are going to meet us one way or another even if those consequences are different from generation to generation.

Our Creator Knows

Allah (SWT) is the Creator of time itself and He knows what has been, what is, and what is yet to come.

He is the Creator of the human heart and He knows what is in it, what hurts it, what keeps it strong and at peace. And these “rules” are meant for our protection throughout time.

You also expressed that you prefer to follow your “own intuition on these issues.”

We must use our intellect, logic, and intuition, but we must always be on the lookout for weakness in them. We are limited beings with short lives and only one perspective.

And reflecting on wisdom from sources outside of our own selves (even if at first glance we think they are wrong and we know better) will only make our intellect stronger.

I pray for all the best for you in this life and the next. And I pray for our continued guidance.

I hope that this answers your question.

Salam. Please stay in touch.

(From Ask About Islam archives)

Please continue feeding your curiosity, and find more info in the following links:

New Muslims – All You Need in Your New Life

Youth, Culture and Islam in the West

Islam is One Thing, Culture is Another

Top 10 Secrets For a Happy Marriage (Folder)


About Theresa Corbin
Theresa Corbin is the author of The Islamic, Adult Coloring Book and co-author of The New Muslim’s Field Guide. Corbin is a French-creole American and Muslimah who converted in 2001. She holds a BA in English Lit and is a writer, editor, and graphic artist who focuses on themes of conversion to Islam, Islamophobia, women's issues, and bridging gaps between peoples of different faiths and cultures. She is a regular contributor for and Al Jumuah magazine. Her work has also been featured on CNN and Washington Post, among other publications. Visit her blog, islamwich, where she discusses the intersection of culture and religion.