What is cheating?

I was forced to go and check all the meanings of this word again. Of course, you know the trigger. A woman supposedly killed her husband in cold blood, whom she suspected of having an affair with another woman.


In our own environment, there exists a distorted definition of every concept and principle, largely because of our lazy intellectual culture. Using terminologies/phrases/words loosely without recourse to their original meaning could look subtle and inconsequential, but those who know the power of language know that could have devastating effects, at least once in a lifetime.

One of such commonplace innovation among married and unmarried Hausa-Fulani Muslim women is the misuse of “cheating” to describe the act of dating another woman, with the intention of taking her to the altar, by one’s own husband. Used as an adjective, ‘cheating’ means ‘unfaithful or adulterous’. Hajiya/Malama, if your husband is dating another woman outside, HE IS NEITHER CHEATING NOR CHEATING ON YOU. He’s simply dating another woman, or just doing courtship. The basic principle and assumption in Hausa-Fulani Muslim culture is that premarital sex is absolutely prohibited.


The implications of tagging your husband with the poorly understood word ‘cheating’ are multifold, but let me highlight only three.

One, if you believe dating another woman is the same as cheating, it then follows that your husband is committing sex outside wedlock with another woman. Unless you can prove this claim according to the dictates of Shari’ah law, this is a grave allegation against both parties involved. You may not be brought to prove it legally here, but your Creator does not sleep nor forget.

We are therefore bound to make some more grave assumptions. If it is true your husband does that with the other woman, could it be he did the same stuff with you while you were dating? If it was so, I don’t see any reason why you should be barking now that he is doing it with another woman. You know what beast you are married to, after all. If he never did that with you, could it be that you did it with another person who dated you before you were married off? If you are into the habit of tagging your husband with ‘cheating’, I know you must be swimming in the pool of your sweat now.

If you erroneously assume that by dating your husband is cheating, how did you arrive at that warped logic? Can you cite any verifiable reference to buttress your ground that all men dating are necessarily cheating? This wrong perception often underlies some of the feudal family relationships in Northern Nigeria. For any woman who is primitively thinking this way is more likely to tag and ostracise the children of the latter woman as ‘born out of wedlock’, without minding the consequences.

Three, if you believe your husband is cheating when he is dating another woman, then you should come forward and tell us the right terminology for a man seeking someone’s hand in marriage. Do not insist on your confused claim that because he pledged to you that he won’t marry another wife. My sister, he only cheated you here to the extent ‘cheating’ means ‘deception’. He fooled you to believe what you want to hear. Ring wedding does not have any place in either Hausa tradition or Islamic culture.

Zaharaddin Abdullahi, Kafin Hausa, Jigawa State


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