When a husband swears not to have sexual intercourse with his wife forever or for more than four months this is Ila’ and it is forbidden. If he doesn’t atone for his oath within this period the case must be put to a judge. 

Suspension of marriage

The Arabic word ila’ has no equivalent in English and many other languages, but it signifies a sort of suspension of the marriage. In Islamic terminology, it refers to a case in which a man makes an oath by Allah or by one of His attributes that he would not have a sexual intercourse with his wife forever, or for a period of more than four months.[1]

Ila is forbidden in Islam because it represents an oath to abandon a duty, which is helping his wife to maintain her chastity. If a man swears not to have sexual intercourse with his wife forever, or for more than four months, and he then has sexual intercourse with her and atones for his oath within the four months, then he has ended the situation of ila and Allah may forgive him. If the four months have lapsed and he continues to take the same attitude, despite his wife’s objection, the case is put to a judge who will order him to take one of two options: 1) To consider his oath as invalid, atone for it and resume the full marital relationship with his wife; or 2) to divorce his wife. If he refuses to take either one of the two options, the judge will dissolve the marriage.[2]


  1. [1] Al-Bahuti, Kashshaf al-Qina', vol. 5, p. 406.
  2. [2] Al-Nadawi, Al-Fiqh al-Muyassar, p. 320.