Marriage to a Christian or Jewess
That a Muslim man can marry a woman who follows a divine religion, whether a Christian or a Jewess, is acceptable as mentioned in the Qur’an
Marriage to a Christian or Jewess
· Marrying a Christian woman.
· Marrying a Jewish woman.
That a Muslim man can marry a woman who follows a divine religion, whether a Christian or a Jewess, is acceptable as mentioned in the Qur’an. There is hardly any disagreement about it. However, a problem has arisen these days because those who claim to be Christian or Jews mostly observe nothing of the values of these religions and immorality is widespread among them.
The majority of scholars, of olden days and contemporary times, agree that it is permissible for a Muslim man to marry a woman who follows a divine religion. However, some people who belong to Christianity and Judaism declare themselves atheists. In addition, fornication and adultery are commonplace in their societies to the extent that the majority of people do not disapprove of it. Indeed, those who do not practise fornication before marriage are considered odd. In view of all this, contemporary scholars adopt more restrictive views on the matter. Here are some of their fatwas.
Shaikh Abd al-Azeez ibn Baz was asked about marrying women of other divine religions and his answer was: ‘This is permissible according to the majority of scholars
as God says
The virtuous women from among the believers and the virtuous women from among those who were given revelations before you [are also lawful to you] when you give them their dowers, taking them in honest wedlock, not in fornication, nor as mistresses
The stress here is on women who are virtuous and free. Explaining this verse, Ibn Kathir said: ‘The verse mentions virtuous believer women, i.e. virtuous women who believe in earlier revelations, stressing that they are free and virtuous as a prelude to what comes afterwards. The worst situation is to marry a woman from another religion who is not virtuous.
Al-Azhar also gave rulings that make such marriages lawful. Shaikh Abd al-Rahman Quraah gave a fatwa dated 16 Jumada II 1343 AH, 11 January 1925, to this effect. In a case presented before him, he said: ‘It is permissible in Islam that a Muslim marries a follower of a divine religion, whether she is Christian or Jewish, provided that both are free of any condition that makes marriage unlawful. If the two parties in the case presented in the question and mentioned in the marriage document attached to the question are responsible adults and they performed their marriage contract, with a commitment by one and acceptance by the other with witnesses present at the place where the contract is made, and if the witnesses were listening together and aware that what the two parties present before them performed was a marriage contract, the marriage contract is valid and all its effects are realized. It is not a condition that the witnesses should be Muslims. Whoever holds the marriage tie is also able to terminate it by divorce. This means that the Egyptian Muslim husband in the case presented may divorce his Christian wife in front of the authorized Egyptian officials.
Decisions by assemblies and councils of Islamic jurisprudence also make clear that such marriage is lawful.
The Assembly of Muslim Jurists of America adopted a decision saying that a follower of earlier revelations is a woman whose overall affiliation to Christianity or Judaism is confirmed. The decision explains that a marriage contract with a virtuous woman of this type is valid, and such a marriage is lawful, but discouraged. It involves serious matters, particularly with respect to the upbringing of children. The decision further explains that such a wife has full rights to practise her own religion and if divorced to have custody of her children until the children are seven years of age, unless the child is exposed to harm with respect to its faith.
The European Council for Fatwa and Research also stated in its decision 6/14 on the question of marriage between a Muslim man and a woman who follows an earlier divine religion. The decision said:
Having reviewed the question of marriage to women of other divine religions and the papers presented on the subject, and having held extensive discussions on the matter, the Council adopts the following decision:
1. A woman of a divine religion is one who believes in a faith that was, in its original form
bestowed by God such as Judaism and Christianity. As such, she believes, generally speaking, in God, His messages and the Day of Resurrection. She is neither atheist or apostate, nor a believer in a religion which cannot be confirmed as divine. The majority of Muslim scholars consider marriage with such a woman to be lawful, as God says in Surah 5, The Repast, which was one of the latest surahs to be revealed:
Today, all the good things of life have been made lawful to you. The food of those who were given revelations is lawful to you, and your food is lawful to them. And the virtuous women from among the believers and the virtuous women from among those who were given revelations before you [are also lawful to you] when you give them their dowries, taking them in honest wedlock, not in fornication, nor as mistresses.
A number of scholars of olden days, such as 'Abdullah ibn 'Umar who was a companion of the Prophet, considered such a marriage reprehensible, but the view of the majority is the correct one as made clear in the above-quoted Qur’anic verse.
2. Considerations that must be heeded when marrying a follower of an earlier divine religion:
First, ascertaining that the woman believes in a divine faith, as clearly mentioned earlier. It is well known in today’s Western countries that not every girl born to Christian parents is herself Christian. Likewise, not every girl brought up in a Christian environment is necessarily Christian. She may be a Communist and materialist, or she may belong to a sect that Islam does not recognize, such as Baha’ism.
Secondly, she must be virtuous. God has not permitted marriage with any follower of a divine religion, He has restricted permissibility making it applicable only to those who are virtuous. A virtuous woman is one who refrains from fornication and adultery or has sincerely repented such actions.
Thirdly, she must not belong to people who are hostile to Islam and Muslims, unless it is ascertained that she does not share the views of her people and their hostility.
You shall not find people who truly believe in God and the Last Day on friendly terms with those who contend against God and His Messenger
Marriage establishes a relationship that is more than friendly,
as God says
Among His signs is that He creates for you spouses out of your own kind, so that you might incline towards them, and He engenders love and tenderness between you. In this there are clear signs indeed for people who think
Fourthly, marriage to such a woman must not lead to harm, whether certain or likely. Indeed this condition applies to every permissible thing. If it is clear that the practice of a permissible thing will lead to a general harm, then such practice is generally outlawed, and if it leads to harm in particular situations, it is outlawed where such situations apply. The greater the harm the more stringent is the prohibition.
The Prophet says
There shall be no infliction of harm on oneself or others
Related by Ibn Majah, hadith No. 2,340
Harm that may result from marrying a non-Muslim woman may take several forms, such as having a negative effect on Muslim women who are of marriageable age, particularly if it becomes widespread. Another aspect of harm is that some people may not heed the condition that such a woman must be virtuous, as the Qur’an makes clear. Such a marriage may also have negative consequences with regard to the upbringing of children. Likewise, it may influence the attitude of the Muslim husband towards various matters that his wife finds acceptable but are unacceptable in Islam. Even if he dies, she may not observe the Islamic conditions with regard to his burial and inheritance.
The Islamic Network said: Scholars have differed with regard to the conditions that permit marriage with a follower of an earlier divine faith. Some of them stipulate two conditions:
1) That she should descend from the Children of Israel; and 2) that she should be virtuous, not an adulteress. Most scholars agree that the most important condition for such permissibility is that she must be virtuous, i.e. she is not an adulteress or careless about morality. A number of the Prophet’s companions married Christian women and considered such marriage permissible. However, 'Abdullah ibn 'Umar spoke out against such marriage, and 'Umar himself was reported to have held a similar view. Virtuousness means that she does not show her charms as loose women do.
· Majallat al-Buhuth al-Islamiyyah, No. 21.
· The website of the European Council for Fatwa and Research: www.e-cfr.org.
· The website of the Assembly of Muslim Jurists of America (AMJA): www.amjaonline.org.
· Islam Question and Answer: www.islamQA.info.
· Home page for IslamWeb.net website: www.islamweb.net.
· Salim ibn Abd al-Ghani al-Rafie, Ahkam al-Ahwal al-Shakhsiyyah lil Muslimin fi al-Gharb.
· Ali ibn Nayef al-Shahhood, Al-Khulasah fi Fiqh al-Aqaliyyat.
· Ibn Qudamah, Al-Mughni.