Interfaith marriage in Islam

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Islamic Law has different regulations on interfaith marriage, depending on which of the two spouses is Muslim. It permits a Muslim man to marry up to four non-Muslim women from the People of the Book (that is, Christians and Jews) however some say this practice is no longer valid.[1] In addition to this it is seen as "makrooh" (disliked) by Muslim scholars for Muslim men to marry outside the religion because the rightly guided Caliph, Umar, banned interfaith marriages for Muslim men.[2][3] Furthermore, Quran verse 4:25 tells Muslims to marry Muslims[4]

Marriage of Muslim women to non-Muslim men[edit]

(See verse 60:10 below)

Islamic scholars generally forbid Muslim women from marrying non-Muslim men. This prohibition serves to preserve the Islamic faith from dilution and expand it, within societies which are patriarchal but multi-faith. It effectively ensures that over many generations, providing that the society is patrilineal, Islam would naturally gain in adherents relative to other co-existing religions, through its ability to secure the adherence of all offspring from mixed marriages. In effect, all children of any mixed-marriages involving Muslims are guaranteed to be raised as Muslim.[5] This systemic method of expanding the Muslim community in any multi-religious society is assisted by the ability for Muslim men to marry more than one non-Muslim wife (a possibility usually not available to non-Muslim men) and therefore secure all of their offspring for the Islamic faith - provided that the society acknowledges a patrilineal religious system in which only the father's religion is passed down. [6][7] There also exists a minority view that does permit convert women to remain with non-Muslim spouses as an exception to the general rule.[8]

Conversion to Islam of one spouse in a non-Muslim marriage[edit]

In Islamic law, if a non-Muslim woman is married to a non-Muslim, and she converts to Islam, the marriage is suspended until her husband converts to Islam. She could, in theory, leave the non-Muslim husband and marry a Muslim one (analogous to the Pauline privilege among Catholics). If the non-Muslim husband does convert a new marriage is not needed. In the Quran, it is said,

O ye who believe! When there come to you believing women refugees, examine (and test) them: Allah knows best as to their Faith: if ye ascertain that they are Believers, then send them not back to the Unbelievers. They are not lawful (wives) for the Unbelievers, nor are the (Unbelievers) lawful (husbands) for them. But pay the Unbelievers what they have spent (on their dower), and there will be no blame on you if ye marry them on payment of their dower to them. But hold not to the guardianship of unbelieving women: ask for what ye have spent on their dowers, and let the (Unbelievers) ask for what they have spent (on the dowers of women who come over to you). Such is the command of Allah. He judges (with justice) between you. And Allah is Full of Knowledge and Wisdom. {Surah 60:10}

Modern practice[edit]

In practice, many Arab countries allowed interfaith marriage to Christian or Jewish women but not to non-Muslim men.[9] In Lebanon for example there is no civil personal status law and marriages are performed according to the religion of the spouses. There, Muslim women cannot marry non-Muslim men, whereas this is possible vice versa,[10] at least if the spouse is a Christian or Jewish woman. Turkey allows marriages to non-Muslim men through secular laws.[11] In Malaysia a non-Muslim must convert to Islam in order to marry a Muslim. The offspring of such unions are automatically Muslims and all Malaysian Muslims are legally prohibited from leaving Islam (Riddah).[12]

Interfaith marriage especially between Hindus and Muslims often have been the bone of contention and have resulted in communal riots in India.

In several African countries, such as Tanzania and Gambia, it is not uncommon that Muslim women are married to Christian men.

See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ Ben Youssef Zayzafoon, Lamia. The production of the Muslim woman: negotiating text, history, and ideology (Oxford, UK: Lexington Books, 2005) 108. [1]
  6. ^ Bharathi Anandhi Venkatraman: Islamic States and the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women: Are the Shari’a and the Convention Compatible?. 44 Am.U.L.Rev. 1949 (1995).
  7. ^ Ozan O. Varol: Is Secularism Possible in a Majority-Muslim Country?: The Turkish Example. 42 Tex. International Legal Journal 1 (2006).
  8. ^ Abdullah bin Hamid Ali: "[CORRECTED RESPONSE] A Muslim Woman Remaining Married to a non-Muslim Man after She Accepts Islam". [2]
  9. ^ The Need to Unify Personal Status Laws in Arab Countries
  10. ^ [3]
  12. ^ Marriage Procedures Between Muslim and Non-Muslim