I married about a year ago. Now I have a suspicion that my spouse may have had extramarital sexual relations before our wedding night.
Would our Nikah be affected in any way if there had been no repentance before our marriage?
Islam Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for Muslims, experts in Islam, and those interested in learning more about Islam. It only takes a minute to sign up.Sign up to join this community
From what I can gather, you suspect your wife to be a non-virgin and fornicator based on some observations on your part (she hasn't confessed to it, nor do you have proper evidence like testimonies or medical reports, nor do you have any evidence that she is still engaged in such a relationship) and you are interpreting Quran 24:3 to mean that marriage with fornicators in not permissible and hence invalid (The Hanbali view that repentance is required).
Firstly: Legal judgements must always be based on concrete evidence and suspicion does not count no matter how convinced you are. There can be several alternate explanations for her physical symptoms and behavior such as masturbation, porn, accidents and natural variations etc. She could also be a non-virgin but not a fornicator (e.g. if she was previously married and divorced but did not tell you so). Verse 24:3 applies to habitually and openly immoral characters like prostitutes (see azbab ul nazool) or those convicted of fornication and punished (see Abu Daud's hadith), the view of the majority of the scholars is that it applies to habitual and continuing fornicators (prostitutes) and marriage with a non-habitual, convicted fornicator is allowed.
From Tafsir Al Qurtubi on 24:3, regarding marrying a past fornicator:
إنّ من زنى بامرأة فله أن يتزوجها ولغيره أن يتزوّجها. وهو قول ابن عمر وسالم وجابر بن زيد وعطاء وطاوس ومالك بن أنس، وهو قول أبي حنيفة وأصحابه. وقال الشافعيّ: القول فيها كما قال سعيد بن المسيّب، إن شاء الله هي منسوخة.
One who has fornicated with a woman, it is permissible for him to marry her, and it is also permissible for another man to marry the fornicatress. This is the view of Ibn Umar, Salim, Jabir bin Zayed, Ata, Taus and Imam Malik bin Ans. The same is the view of Imam Abu Hanifa and his companions. Imam Shafi said that the matter is as Saeed bin Musaib said: that God willing it is abrogated.
Secondly: Legal judgements are always made based on actions and not speculations about what one has in his or her heart. Repentance for her means that she does not engage in immoral activities anymore, you can't judge what remorse she feels in her heart ... If she does not engage in fornication anymore your marriage is valid and you can't judge whether she has properly repented. If she is openly defiant and continues to engage in immoral activity it is the view of some that the marriage is automatically dissolved, and of others that it isn't automatically dissolved but you should divorce her.
For more information see this.