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non muslim marriage

Last updated: 20th January 2007
Question ID: #3609
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sir my question is that. can a muslim man marry to non muslim girl. is that right. plz guide me in this issue. i will wait for ure answer

Bismillahir Rahmaanir Raheem

Al Jawaab Billahit-Tawfeeq

It is forbidden for a Muslim to marry a non Muslim girl who is not from the People of the Book (Ahlul Kitaab). Therefore, a Muslim is not allowed to marry a Sikh, Hindu, Bhuddist etc. This is is because of the verse in Surah Baqarah,

وَلَا تَنكِحُواْ ٱلۡمُشۡرِكَـٰتِ حَتَّىٰ يُؤۡمِنَّ‌ۚ

"And do not marry a polytheist until she believes (i.e. accepts Islam)." (2:221)

Thereafter, the question arises as to whether it is permissible to marry a Jew or Christian who are considered to be People of the Book. This is permissible as Allah Ta'ala mentions in Surah Maaidah,

ٱلۡيَوۡمَ أُحِلَّ لَكُمُ ٱلطَّيِّبَـٰتُ‌ۖ وَطَعَامُ ٱلَّذِينَ أُوتُواْ ٱلۡكِتَـٰبَ حِلٌّ۬ لَّكُمۡ وَطَعَامُكُمۡ حِلٌّ۬ لَّهُمۡ‌ۖ وَٱلۡمُحۡصَنَـٰتُ مِنَ ٱلۡمُؤۡمِنَـٰتِ وَٱلۡمُحۡصَنَـٰتُ مِنَ ٱلَّذِينَ أُوتُواْ ٱلۡكِتَـٰبَ مِن قَبۡلِكُمۡ إِذَآ ءَاتَيۡتُمُوهُنَّ أُجُورَهُنَّ مُحۡصِنِينَ غَيۡرَ مُسَـٰفِحِينَ وَلَا مُتَّخِذِىٓ أَخۡدَانٍ۬‌ۗ

"This day, good things have been made lawful for you. The food of the people of the Book is lawful for you, and your food is lawful for them, and good women from among believers, and good women from among those who were given the Book before you, provided you give them their dowers, binding yourself in marriage, neither going for lust, nor having concubines." (5:5)

This verse of the Qur'an highlights that it is permissible for a Muslim man to marry a non-Muslim girl on the condition that she is either Christian or Jew. This is also mentioned in Hidayah, "It is permissible to marry a Kitaabi (person from the book) woman."

However, despite it being permissible to marry the People of the Book. It is best to marry a Muslim woman due to reasons of kufu' (compatibility). A Muslim woman will always be more sensitive to the various issues surrounding a Muslim man's life and will be able to help him better himself.

Hazrat Mufti Umar Farooq Sahib (DB) has spoken at length about this particular topic in his kitaab Fiqhi Jawahir Vol. 2. With regards to the matter of Kufu’, Hazrat Mufti Sahib mentions the following:

Even though marrying women from the People of the Book is permissible, it still holds great risk and problems on an individual, social and religious level. Due to this reason, it is better not to marry them.

Hazrat Umar (Radiallahu Anhu) would command those Sahabah (Radiallahu Anhum) who had married Kitaabi women to divorce them. Imam Abu Bakr Jasaas (Alayhi Rahma) relates:

“Huzaifa ibn Yamaan (Radiallahu Anhu) had married a Jewish woman. (Upon hearing this news) Hazrat Umar (Radiallahu Anhu) sent a letter to him instructing him to divorce her. Hazrat Huzaifa (Radiallahu Anhu) sent a reply which asked, ‘Is she Haram upon me?” Hazrat Umar (Radiallahu Anhu) wrote in his reply, “No, however, due to their women generally being unchaste and impure, I fear for you that you may fulfil your needs by using a shameless woman (i.e. your new wife in marriage).” (Ahkamul Qur’an)

Imam Muhammad ibn Hassan Shaybaani (Alayhi Rahma) has related this narrative in his book Kitaabul Aathar. However, there is a slight different in Hazrat Umar’s (Radiallahu Anhu) final response. It is as follows:

“I give you a Qasm (oath) that divorce your new wife before you lower my letter. This is because I fear that the other Muslims will also follow in your footsteps and marry the women of Ahluz Zimma/Ahlul Kitab. And (I fear that) due to their beauty, the Muslims will prefer them over Muslim women and in this manner, there will be a problem for the Muslim women.”

It is proved from this that Ameerul Mu’mineen Umar (Radiallahu Anhu) had forbade Hazrat Huzaifa (Radiallahu Anhu) from marrying a Kitabi because of the loss and trouble it could have caused him. The trouble was that either the woman was a fornicating, unchaste woman or that due to her beauty, the chain of marrying within Muslims would have been forsaken and Muslim women would have been left without being married.”

Hazrat Mufti Umar Farooq Sahib then mentions some reasons as to why it should be abstained from: (here they have been summarised, for full details please read Fiqhi Jawahi vol.2)

1) Many people in our time declare their faith as Judaism or Christianity but this is only due to heritage or the community that they may be in. In reality, they may have no faith at all and may be Atheist. They do not have belief in the Bible or the Torah, nor do they believe in Hazrat Musa or Eesa (Alayhimas Salam). It is seen then that such a woman is in no way permissible for a Muslim man.

Hazrat Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanwi (Rahimahullah) mentions, “The majority of Christian and Jewish women are Atheist and for this reason, it is impermissible to marry them. However, if they believe that Eesa (Alayhis Salam) was a messenger of Allah, it would be permissible to marry them. This however is rare.” (Malfuzat, Hakeemul Ummat)

Hazrat Mufti Muhammad Shafi (Rahimahullah) writes, “A Muslim man must fulfil two conditions in order to marry a Jew or Christian:

- The first is that she should not be like the common European Christian or Jew whom in truth is has no religion and is an Atheist. Rather, she should at minimum believe in her faith even though her actions may be in opposition to this.

- The second condition is that she must have been born a Jew or a Christian (or converted to that faith from another religion other than Islam). He cannot choose to marry a woman who has left the fold of Islam and then accepted the mentioned faiths (i.e. he cannot marry an apostate).

When both conditions are found in a Kitaabi woman, marriage to her will be permissible. However, there is still displeasure in this due to it occurring without any great necessity and it still holds a much trouble. It is for this reason Hazrat Umar (Radiallahu Anhu) prevented Muslims from marrying Kitaabi women during his Khilafat."

2) Even if a Kitaabi women is practising of her faith, it is still not proper for a Muslim man to marry her. This is because Kitaabi women generally are free from chastity and purity. In the current era, the Kitaabi women contain within themselves (a like for) fornication, immoral activity, impermissible relations to such an extent that the forehead of humanity sweats just hearing about it! If a person does marry such a woman, it will still be considered valid however the Qur’an verse mentions, “good women” meaning “pure, chaste women”. This is more proper and befits a Muslim woman as opposed to a Kitabi woman. Our houses will be tainted and spoilt by a fornicating woman.

3) Even if the woman is practising of her faith and chaste too, it is still better not to marry her due to the hadith, “Whomsoever (chooses a woman for her Islam) may his hands be cleft of dust.” Meaning “may he be successful”. So to choose a woman who has a foul religion will cause a lot of displeasure.

4) It is possible that the Muslim women may be left in huge troubles because Muslim men prefer to marry Kitaabi women due to their beauty.

5) It is possible that a Kitaabi women can make her Muslim husband so compliant to her wishes that he begins to leave prayer with congregation and other types of worship. As a result he will cut himself off from the Muslim community. Many stories have been related from western countries one of which is about a Muslim man who gradually stopped coming to the mosque and stopped all sorts of interaction with other Muslims. After his death, the Muslim community were trying to lay claim to his body in order to bury it but his Kitaabi wife refused and ultimately, it was buried in accordance to the Kitaabi burial process. We seek refuge in Allah Ta’ala from such a state. Ameen.

6) There is a risk that the Muslim man begins to become so inclined to his wife that his wife pulls him towards her faith and places him in such a fitnah that he leaves his faith. May Allah Ta’ala protect us all. Ameen.

7) In many western countries there is a tradition in such cross faith marriages that before the child is born, a decision is made that half the children will be upon the faith of the husband and the remaining half will be on the faith of the wife. If this condition is made by a Muslim man, he becomes an apostate as soon as he makes it. This is because he had pushed his child into become a Kaafir and has even shown pleasure upon it. And if he had a second wife who was Muslim, then she immediately comes out of his wedlock due to his apostasy.

8) It may happen that after marrying a Kitaabi, she may refuse any children emanating from this marriage to be circumcised despite the wishes of the Muslim husband. Even though Imam Shafi’ (Alayhi Rahma) has deemed circumcision Wajib. This has also been related by Imam Abu Hanifah (Alayhi Rahma) in one narration and in a more authentic narration, he has deemed it as Sunnat e Muwwakida (emphasised Sunnah) and a mark of one’s Islamic faith. It is that symbol of differentiation between a Muslim and a non Muslim and in the Ahadith it has been included in the Fitrat (natural disposition).

9) According to Shar’iat, when a child is born the first thing that is established is that the child will be a Muslim. However, the children generally spend more time with their mother in their childhood and as a result become close to her. Due to this, her influence will be felt by the children and in future, the child may go on to choose her religion. Similar is the case when separation or divorce occurs between a couple, the children generally are received by the mother. In the same manner, the children will be taken into care by the mother after the death of her partner. In such cases, a Kitaabi woman will make her children enthusiastic upon her faith.

10) In the situation of having a child after marrying a Kitaabi woman, the man may then desire to give his new child an Islamic education. However, the Kitaabiah desires to give her child education in accordance to her faith or only secular studies and would like to refrain from giving the child an Islamic education. May Allah Ta’ala prevent this that a Muslim man then becomes weak in front of his wife’s wishes and discards an Islamic education for his child which is farz (compulsory) for him to provide.

11) It is possible that a kitaabi woman may marry a Muslim man in order to spy on the Muslims and find out about their matters in order to plot against them or may play a strong role in helping this happen. Such incidents have been related in history.

And Allah knows best.

Answered: Abdus Subhan Dalvi (Student of Jamia Sirajul Uloom)

Answer last updated on:
22nd November 2010
Answered by:
Ulamaa ID 04
Location: London