Monday, December 20, 1999
I am writing you because I have fallen in love with a Muslim
woman (I am not Muslim). I know that it is haram for a Muslim
woman to marry a non-Muslim man. My understanding is that there
is no reason given in the Qur'an or hadith as to why this is
In Yusuf Ali's translation of Qur'an 2:221: "Nor marry
(your girls) to unbelievers until they believe: a man slave who
believes is better than unbeliever even though he allures you.
Unbelievers do (but) beckon you to the fire."
Could you please tell me who is an unbeliever and what makes
an unbeliever. Also what is meant by "they invite you to
fire-they lead you astray".
I spent my childhood in a Muslim country (Libya) and have
had many Muslim friends in my life. I respect Islam and all Muslims.
I don't feel that I should have to renounce my savior in order
to marry a Muslima. Although I am a Christian man, you could
say that part of me has been shaped by Islam.
I know there are many Muslim men who marry non-Muslim women.
I also know that there is still debate among some of your scholars
about Muslim men marrying Christian women. Why does Islam accept
the marriage of non-Muslim women and not non-Muslim men? I just
This is the 21st century and cultural boundaries are beginning
to blur between different societies. Isn't there someone (an
Imam or a Sheikh) that I can talk to or have an interview with
that can help me and my girlfriend discover the answer that that
we seek? Is there someone in Islam that can make an exception?
My feelings for this woman are real. I have only her best
interests at heart. I would never ask her to turn her back on
her family or her religion. I love her like no other and would
like to marry her if we could discover a way. I am willing to
do whatever it takes to make this work. Please, I ask you to
be open-minded about his and to assist me in any way possible.
If there is the slightest hope, I would like to know about it.
Thank you very much for your attention to this very important
matter. My friend and I are extremely sad about this obstacle.
We anxiously await your reply.
Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, the noted Egyptian
scholar, has dealt with this issue concisely in his book, "Al-Halal
wal Haram fil Islam" (The Lawful and the Prohibited in Islam).
Here I have excerpted the section titled, "PROHIBITION OF
A MUSLIM WOMAN'S MARRYING A NON-MUSLIM MAN":
"It is haram for a Muslim
woman to marry a non-Muslim man, regardless of whether he is
of the People of the Book or not. We have already mentioned the
saying of Allah Ta'ala, ...And do not marry (your girls) to idolaters
until they believe....(2:221) And He said concerning the immigrant
Muslim women, ...Then if you know them to be Believers, do not
send them back to the unbelievers. They are not halal for them
(as wives), nor are they halal for them (as husbands). (60:10)
No text exists which makes exceptions for the People of the Book,
hence, on the basis of the above verses, there is a consensus
among Muslims concerning this prohibition.
Thus, while a Muslim man is permitted to marry a Christian
or Jewish woman, a Muslim woman is not allowed to marry a Christian
or Jewish man. There are many sound reasons for this difference.
First, the man is the head of the household, the one who maintains
the family, and he is responsible for his wife. And while Islam
guarantees freedom of belief and practice to the Christian or
Jewish wife of a Muslim, safeguarding her rights according to
her own faith, other religions, such as Judaism and Christianity,
do not guarantee the wife of a different faith freedom of belief
and practice, nor do they safeguard her rights. Since this is
the case, how can Islam take chances on the future of its daughters
by giving them into the hands of people who neither honor their
religion nor are concerned to protect their rights?
A marriage between a man and woman of different faiths can
be based only on the husband's respect for his wife's beliefs;
otherwise a good relationship can never develop. Now, the Muslim
believes that both Judaism and Christianity originated in divine
revelation, although later distortions were introduced into them.
He also believes that God revealed the Taurat to Moses
and the Injeel to Jesus, (Taurat refers to the original
scripture revealed to the Prophet Moses by God, and Injeel to
the Prophet Jesus. These are not to be confused with either the
existing Torah or Old Testament, or the four Gospels of the New
Testament. (Trans.)) and that both Moses and Jesus (peace be
on them) were among the messengers of Allah who were distinguished
by their steadfast determination. Accordingly, the Christian
or Jewish wife of a Muslim lives under the protection of a man
who respects the basic tenets of her faith, her scripture, and
her prophets, while in contrast to this the Jew or Christian
recognizes neither the divine origin of Islam, its Book, or its
Prophet (peace be on him). How then could a Muslim woman live
with such a man, while her religion requires of her the observance
of certain worships, duties, and obligations, as well as certain
prohibitions. It would be impossible for the Muslim woman to
retain her respect for her beliefs as well as to practice her
religion properly if she were opposed in this regard by the master
of the house at every step.
It will be realized from this that Islam is consistent with
itself in prohibiting the Muslim man to marry a mushrik woman,
for since Islam is absolutely opposed to shirk, it would obviously
be impossible for two such people to live together in harmony
To this excellent summary I would like
to add answers to your other questions:
- You ask if there is an Imam or Sheikh
who can give you the answer you seek, and who can make an exception.
But Allah has already given you the answer and you swerve away
from it. How can any human make an exception to the laws of God?
This is the kind of thinking that caused the nations before to
- Perhaps you are certain that, as an
enlightened individual, you would not oppose your Muslim wife
in the practice of her religion. However, it is unlikely that
you would encourage her the way a Muslim would. Would you wake
her up in the still of the night to pray? Would you understand
her refusal to celebrate Christmas? Would you read Qur'an with
her every morning? Would you be tolerant of her Muslim friends,
participation in Islamic community activities, wearing Hijab,
fasting in Ramadhan, etc? If she is not very religious right
now, have you considered the possibility that she might become
more serious about Islam in later years? Would you teach her
Islamic behaviors and principles? These are all things that a
good Muslim husband would do. So even if you did not oppose her
Islam, she would nevertheless suffer from the lack of encouragement
and rapport that she would experience with a Muslim. In fact,
you are harming her Islam from the very beginning by trying to
find a way for her to escape Allah's prohibition of marriage
to a Christian.
- You said that you should not have to
renounce your savior to marry a Muslima. Presumably you are speaking
of Jesus, peace be upon him. B.W., I would like to help you understand
that becoming Muslim would not be a renunciation of Jesus: far
from it! Islam honors Jesus the son of Mary (pbuh) and accords
him his true status as a great Prophet and Messenger of God.
Allah says in the Qur'an (4:171): "O
followers of the gospel! Do not overstep the bounds in your religious
beliefs, and do not say of Allah anything but the truth. The
Christ Jesus, son of Mary, was but Allah's messenger - (the fulfillment
of) His promise which He had conveyed unto Mary - and a soul
created by Him. Believe, then, in Allah and His messengers, and
do not say, 'Allah is a trinity". Desist for your own good.
Allah is but One God; utterly remote is He, in His glory, from
having a son: unto Him belongs all that is in the heavens and
all that is on earth; and none is as worthy of trust as God."
In conclusion, to become Muslim is consistent
with your love and respect for Jesus. If you are indeed "willing
to do whatever it takes to make this work," as you say,
then I present to you the inspiring words of Allah the Exalted:
"O followers of the Bible! Now
there has come unto Our messenger (Muhammad), to make clear unto
you much of what you have been concealing of the Bible, and to
pardon much. Now there has come unto you from Allah a light,
and a clear divine writ, through which Allah shows unto all that
seek His acceptance the paths leading to salvation and, by His
grace, brings them out of the depths of darkness into the light
and guides them onto a straight way."