(The following was part of an answer given to a question in the “Ask Alim” section on the website www.nanima.co.za)
It is always very difficult to decide if one should inform one spouse that the other is cheating, especially if you know one or both the spouses.
A key point to remember is that whatever the course of action, the intention should be to act in the best interests of both the innocent and guilty spouse rather then be driven by the desire to expose. Many a time people love to expose infidelity, simply because they would love to sit back and watch the drama unfold, take revenge against the guilty spouse or even take pleasure in the pain of the innocent spouse.
This is obviously incorrect! Rather the motivation should be to try your best to assist both spouses by considering the following:
1. Make Duaa to Allah Ta’aala to make the task easy for you, guide you and grant a favourable outcome.
2.As this is a sensitive matter which could have grave consequences for the marriage ,kids and respective families, it would be a good idea to first consult with Ulama/those with experience in such matters regarding the specifics of the case and how best to approach the situation.
3. To first approach the guilty spouse with great wisdom and diplomacy, reminding the person of the seriousness of the act, the consequences it would have on their marriage, kids and families if they were caught and encourage the person to terminate the illicit relationship. Also remind the person that even if they did not get caught, Allah Ta’aala is aware and apart from the fact that they are depriving themselves from great barakah in their lives they would one day have to account for their deeds before their Creator. Do not be judgemental or condescending in your approach! Also, don’t resort to making threats as this will only alienate the person.
4. If you fail to convince the guilty spouse to stop cheating, try getting someone close to the person or a senior in the family or community to talk to the person. Be careful to choose a person of sound temperament and one who can keep matters discreet. A wrong choice in this regard could lead to disastrous consequences.
5. Finally, if it has become clear that the guilty spouse is unrepentant, it would only be fair that the innocent spouse be informed. In this instance even more diplomacy and wisdom would be required. First inform a select few who are close to the innocent spouse and strategise on how best to break the news and soften the blow. It is normal for the innocent spouse to go into denial and lash out against the bearers of the news.
6. Do not leave matters at the point of informing the innocent spouse. Try and assist with the after care in the form of a shoulder to cry on, arranging of counselling, mediation etc. Give the person hope, and help them realise that they can overcome this. One should also not forget that the kids and other close family members also suffer in such situations and would also require assistance.
Whilst the above may seem daunting and many would opt not to get involved, remember it is your Islamic duty to help your Muslim brother, be he the oppressor or the oppressed.
May Allah Ta’aala save us all from Zina and its effects, Aameen!