Zhihar by saying 'Let me marry my mother by the Ka`bah if I marry other than my wife'

Q: I attended a course at the Management Institute in Jeddah around ten (Part No. 23; Page No. 181) years ago. During that period, I tried to marry and searched for a suitable wife, but I could not find one. A month later, I returned to my family, wife and children in Abha city. When my wife knew that I wanted to marry again, she screamed and cried in the presence of my late mother and her children. I tried to calm her any way I could; so she asked me to swear not to marry another woman. She also insisted that I took an unlawful oath, even though I was not convinced. The formula of the oath was: ( I swear it would be like having sexual intercourse with my mother at the Ka`bah if I marry another woman. ) My mother (may Allah be merciful with her) died last year and my wife has aged somewhat. I now have eleven sons and daughters, some of whom are in their twenties. Moreover, the house has become a bigger responsibility, while in the past my mother would share in the housework and raising the children. Therefore, I want to marry again, but I am hesitant because of the oath I took. I hope that Your Honor will give me a fatwa on the issue. Is it permissible for me to remarry as I feel that it is very necessary for me? May Allah safeguard you!

A: The formula you mentioned does not indicate Zihar (declaring one's wife unlawful to one as a wife, while at the same time not divorcing her so she can remarry). Actually, Zihar means considering one's wife to be unlawful through likening her to (Part No. 23; Page No. 182) an unmarriageable female relative. Rather, it is only an oath that must be expiated for, as making someone other than one's wife unlawful is not binding, and he will be liable to Kaffarah (expiation) of breaking the oath if he breaks it. Allah (Exalted be He) stated: O Prophet! Why do you forbid (for yourself) that which Allâh has allowed to you till He (Exalted be He) said: Allâh has already ordained for you (O men) the absolution from your oaths. Accordingly, the wording you used does not render unlawful what Allah has made lawful to you and does not prevent you from remarrying. Therefore, if you wish to marry another woman, you must offer a Kaffarah of breaking an oath, which is feeding ten needy persons each receiving one kilo and a half of wheat, dates, rice or any other local staple foodstuff, clothing the same number of needy persons or freeing a Muslim bondsman. If these options are not feasible, you may fast for three days as a Kaffarah of breaking your oath. Moreover, you must repent sincerely and determine never to utter such obscene words again.May Allah grant us success. May peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad, his family, and Companions.