Tag archive for ‘interfaith marriage’

Muslim Men in the West Should Think Carefully Before Marrying Outside the Faith

Muslims in the West should be cautious about marrying non-Muslims

Muslims in the West should be cautious about marrying non-Muslims

Interfaith Marriages

Children have the right to be brought up in an Islamic environment by good Muslim parents. So Muslim men in the West should think carefully before marrying outside the faith.

Muslim men and women are told to seek faithful spouses with a strong, good belief, and not allow non-Muslim standards of selection influence them. Muslim men can marry only Muslim, Christian, or Jewish chaste women, while Muslim women can marry only chaste Muslim men.

Allah (s.w.t.) said:

This day are (all) good things made lawful for you. The food of those who have received the Scripture is lawful for you, and your food is lawful for them. And so are the virtuous women of the believers and the virtuous women of those who have received the Scripture before you (lawful for you) when you give them their marriage portions and live with them in honor, not in fornication, nor taking them as secret concubines. Whoso denies the faith, his work is vain and he will be among the losers in the Hereafter. [Qur’an: Al-Ma’idah (5:5)].

A Muslim man is discouraged from marrying a non-Muslim woman if there is no Islamic State or if he is not living in an existing Islamic state, since the non-Islamic states do not recognize his rights as head of the family to raise the children Islamically. On the contrary, the children will most likely be brought up in their mother’s religion, since the Muslim husband does not have his Islamic rights in his non-Muslim wife’s country.

There are many tragic examples of Muslim men who tried to take their children to their Muslim countries after they divorced non-Muslim wives. The women in many of these cases succeeded in bringing the children back to be raised in the non-Islamic societies as non-Muslims. The fathers are referred to as kidnappers (of their own children) in the non-Islamic media. Unfortunately, even the governments in Muslim countries these days help the non-Muslim wives to get custody of the children. This is due to the absence of an Islamic state which would protect Muslim children from being kidnapped by non-Muslim wives to be raised as non-Muslims.

Muslim men should consider these issues before they marry non-Muslim women, especially when the man is strongly influenced by her physical appearance. A Muslim man should look to the future and consider his duties toward his children. The cases mentioned show clearly the damage that can be done to children in interfaith marriages, and while a personal sin may be easy to forget and repent from, one may never overcome the problems that arise because his children were raised as non-Muslims as a result of his negligence concerning providing the right spouse and community for them. Children have the right to be brought up in an Islamic environment by good Muslim parents.

The benefits of marrying a non-Muslim woman are minimal when both live in a non-Islamic state. The woman and her relatives would not see how Muslims live as a community, nor would they have close contact with family, should the Muslim man decide to marry her and live outside the Islamic State. Marrying a chaste Christian or Jewish woman in a non-Islamic state should be considered as a last resort and as the only alternative to keep him from falling into adultery. Men, however, should be aware of the fact that most women in non-Islamic societies do not qualify as chaste women in Islam, (i.e. abstention from unlawful sexual activities). Some Muslim men ignore these conditions and ignore the commands of Allah when they are misled and fooled by a smile from a non-Muslim woman.

Abdullah Ibn `Abbas, a famous companion of the Prophet (s.a.w.) and a famous scholar, said that Muslim men should not marry Christian or Jewish women from people who are enemies of Islam.

Dr. Yusuf Al-Qaradhawi, a contemporary Muslim scholar, said that the Christian or Jewish women can be married only if the four conditions summarized below are satisfied:

  1. She must be Kitabiyyah, i.e. Christian or Jewish by faith, and not by virtue of birth into a Christian or Jewish family. Many women who live in Christian or Jewish societies today are atheists, Buddhists or Bahai’s. These women are prohibited for Muslim men. A woman who commits apostasy, by becoming a non-Muslim after being a Muslim, would not be allowed to marry a Muslim man, since apostasy is much worse than unbelief.
  2. She must be Muhsanah, which means chaste and virtuous. Women who are involved in illicit relationships with men are prohibited for Muslim men. Most non-Muslim women these days do not qualify as Muhsanat (chaste and virtuous women who abstain from sexual activities outside marriage), and Muslim men should fear Allah and keep this condition in mind.
  3. The woman should not be from people who are fighting Islam or are helping others to fight Islam.
  4. There should be no threat or possible harm from marrying her. For example, if a man’s children would not be raised as Muslims, he should not marry her. If the courts in a non-Islamic society would give the children to her in the case of divorce, then he cannot marry her, unless she agrees that he would have the children in the case of divorce.

Dr. Yusuf Al-Qaradhawi also said that Muslim men may not marry Christian or Jewish women if the Muslim community is a small minority in a huge non-Muslim society, and such marriages would make it impossible for Muslim women to find Muslim men to marry. This is classified under “limiting the allowed” in the Islamic jurisprudence. Dr. Yusuf Al-Qaradhawi used the example that if all people grew cotton instead of wheat, the government would have the right to stop them from doing so, since wheat is a necessary food ingredient, even though growing cotton is allowed in normal cases.

Non-Muslim women who repent and accept Islam are treated as any other Muslim if their acceptance of Islam is sincere and not merely for the purpose of marrying Muslim men. Islam forgives all that was before it. Some people, however, accept Islam by name only to marry a Muslim, without showing the least change in their lifestyles to prove that they are following Islam. One should not marry from such people.

There are many Muslim girls of a marriageable age who are living in non-Islamic countries, and it is the duty of the Muslim men to protect these girls from marrying non-Muslim men, which is absolutely prohibited in Islam. If Muslim men loosely practice their right to marry Christian or Jewish women, the Muslims girls in non-Islamic societies will be forced into unwanted circumstances and Muslim men will be at least partially responsible and will get their share of the punishment from Allah.

In considering marriage to a non-Muslim woman a man should remember that marriage is more than the private marital relationship. A good Muslim woman would provide her husband with total security, comfort, trust, tranquility, and happiness, and would raise the children as good Muslims. A man would not have to see his children taken to a church every Sunday without being able to prevent it or live with the concern that his wife would teach his children un-Islamic traditions. It is much easier to trust a Muslim woman than to trust a non-Muslim woman who does not fear Allah, and know that He is watching her all the time. And certainly a woman who does not fear Allah, who sees and knows everything, will not fear or obey her husband who is only home in the evenings.

Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) said:

A woman is chosen as a wife for her wealth, beauty, family, and faith. Win the one that has the faith or you would ruin your life. (Bukhari and Muslim).

The following verse from the Qur’an beautifully gives us the guidelines for selecting the right wife:

Allah (s.w.t.) said:

Do not marry unbelieving women until they believe; a slave woman who believes is better than a free woman who does not believe, even though the latter may appear very attractive to you. Al-Qur’an: Al-Baqarah (2:221)

Source: IslamforToday.com

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Life Goes On: Mixed Sunni-Shi’ah Marriages in Iraq

Mixed Sunni-Shiah marriages are increasingly common in Iraq
Mixed Sunni-Shiah marriages are increasingly common in Iraq
By Ahmad Hassan
Translated By Yosra Mostafa
Reprinted from IslamOnline.net

With the continuing sectarian strife in several areas of the Iraqi capital, one might be surprised to find that the cultured Baghdadi youth remain uninfluenced when it comes to marriage. Their choices can still include someone from a sect or ethnicity other than their own.

Yes, it is true that Baghdad is divided between the two main sects: Sunni and Shiite. One will find neighborhoods that are either predominantly Sunni or predominantly Shi`ah. In areas where Sunni and Shiite intermingle, there are militias defending the major sect and they may try to obstruct the presence of families from the other sect. However, these militias never prevent marriages between young men and women who belong to differing sects or ethnicities. The main reason is that many Iraqi families are originally mixed families, and there are areas where sectarian and ethnic exclusivity is non-existent; this helps to bind all constituents of the Iraqi society together. Moreover, religious authorities, both Sunni and Shiite, do not ban mixed marriages.

Touring the different areas of Baghdad, I talked to 66-year-old Ahmed, who worked on the railways for 32 years. His lineage is Shiites and goes back to Imam Musa Al-Kazim. Ahmed said, “When the Iraqi government was formed in 1921, it was not sectarian. Rather, it relied on educated people and school graduates to fill government positions.”

His father is an example of such a history. Ahmed recalls that his father was from Baghdad, but worked in the Kurdish city of Al-Sulaymaniyyah. His father married a Kurdish woman and they had many children. Although his paternal grandfather was a sayyid (Shiite religious scholar) and his maternal grandfather was the imam of a mosque, both fathers did not object to the marriage.

Ahmed continued, “The Shiite tradition does not prohibit Shiites from marrying Sunnis and foreigners, so I maintain strong bonds with my uncles in Al-Sulaymaniyyah, and I have married my daughter to one of my Kurdish relatives. We still exchange visits and have fine relations away from sectarianism.”

Khadija Abdul-Qader is a 35-year-old Sunni teacher who is married to a Shi`ah colleague. She said, “When Abu `Ali proposed 10 years ago, my father never asked him about his sect. He only asked him about his family, their reputation, and his qualifications, and our destined marriage was fulfilled, al-hamdu lillah.”

Khadija explained, “There is no restriction on the practice of religious rites despite the differences. Besides, there are no differences between the two Islamic traditions. I was brought up to visit all the awliyaa’ [saints] from Sayyidna Al-Kazim in Baghdad to Sayyidna Al-Imam `Ali in Najaf, to Sheikh Abdul-Qader Al-Kilany, and Imam Abu Hanifa An-Nu`man. I also used to attend the ceremonies of dhikr at the Prophet’s mawlid [birthday] (peace be upon him).”

“The only difference is that the Shiite let their arms hang down, whereas Sunnis fold their arms in prayer, but this is not a great difference. Prayer is the same, the qiblah is the same, and the Shahadah [testimony of faith] is the same.”

Khadija also made it clear that “Most Iraqi citizens from all sects do not accept the acts of killing and displacement that have taken place in some regions. Even my husband’s family embraced their neighboring Sunni family for a few days when some militants chased them with the intention of killing them or forcing them to migrate, but they were safely smuggled from the area. Most educated people are dissatisfied with these acts, which stand for a change being made to the intertwined social fabric. Even the late Ayatullah Muhammad Al-Sadr (a Shiite religious authority), used to recommend praying in Sunni mosques, and praying behind Sunni Imams. At the same time, he called Sunnis to pray at husainiyyat [female-organized worship, now associated with places].”

sunni-shiah-marriages2
Half of all registered marriages in Iraq these days are Sunni-Shiah mixed marriages

The Personal Status Court

Despite the grave security situation in Baghdad, wedding ceremonies are still held, only with a slight modification in the timing of the ceremony. Instead of an evening ceremony, the families of most brides and grooms have to celebrate at noon to guarantee a safe return home for their guests before the curfew starts. Most newlyweds no longer spend their first days at a luxury hotel in Baghdad, but substitute this with a stay at a house of the groom’s family or a trip to Kurdistan or outside Iraq.

A judge at the Personal Status Court in Al-Karkh area, who refused to mention his name, said, “Among every 17 marriages that I sign on a daily basis, eight to ten are mixed marriages.”

“The families and relatives of the newlyweds are mostly educated people who do not see the sectarian or national differences as an obstacle to the happiness of their children.”

“There are Sunnis who marry Shiite and vice versa. There are fellow Turkmen who marry Kurds and Arabs and vice versa also.”

The judge commented on the problems that may arise from choosing the religious school to follow for the legal proceedings: “There are two prevalent traditions followed in Iraq: the Hanafi school [which is Sunni] and the Ja`fari school [which is Shiite]. But I notice that most people make their agreement outside the court previous to presenting themselves to me, and then I only have to speed up the process and complete the marriage according to the law.”

“I don’t recall that the security incidents negatively affect a large number of people who apply for marriage [certificates]. I think a 40 percent decrease is a fair enough comparison to the figures before the American invasion, because many of the youth have migrated, unemployment is now rampant, security is nonexistent, families are displaced, and heads of families are killed for reason of security or sectarian violence. Traditionally, the death of a relative prevents you from having a wedding party until a year has passed. All of this has directly and indirectly affected marriage in Iraq, especially in Baghdad.”

In the middle of my conversation with the judge, loud sounds of cheering came from outside — the youth have arrived! I ask the judge to allow me to witness the marriage. The groom’s name is Maher, a Sunni engineer who graduated recently and works in one of the departments of electricity. The bride is Zaynab, a Shiite, a graduate from the Department of Translation and a colleague at Maher’s workplace. When the wedding was completed, the cheering was loud, and well-wishers showered them with kisses. I asked Maher after congratulating him if he did not have Sunni relatives whom he could marry. Amazed at the question, he said,”What attracted me to Zaynab is her politeness. This reflects her elevated upbringing and conservative family.”

When asked about how Zaynab’s parents agreed to the marriage when she is Shiite and he is Sunni, Maher replied, “Her father never considered that at all. He only asked me about my job, inquired about my family, then agreed and I appreciated that.”

Then I asked Zaynab, “Do you expect to find difficulties, being from a different sect from your husband’s family?” She replied, “No, no, I don’t expect that, especially as his mother is a Shiite and my husband’s lineage ends with Imam `Ali [`Ali ibn Abi Talib ] (may Allah be pleased with him). Besides, they are a well-educated family and they’re not rigid about their tradition. I noticed this while working with him in the same department for a year. My family as well taught me to respect others and to listen to their views, and that there is no difference between the traditions. I would even like to say that my brother is in Al-Mahdi Army [a Shiite militia], and he did not object to my marriage to Maher.”

And Members of Parliament?

One of the female Parliament members of the Iraqi Alliance List [an electoral coalition formed mainly from Shiite groups] is a Shiite who asked for her name not to be mentioned. She denied any significant effect of the sectarian strife on Shiite –Sunni marriages.

“I’m from a strict Shiite family, but my brother is married to a Sunni, and although he was killed amid sectarian incidents, we married one of his daughters to a Sunni.”

I was tempted to ask her if the sectarian discourse comes up in closed Parliament sessions.

“There are those who are from all [electoral] lists,” she replied, “who talk about nationalism and sectarianism. This mentality differs according to the upbringing and culture of each one. We have on the Alliance List someone who speaks in this manner. Despite requests to not use such expressions which reflect badly on the streets, they commit themselves to not speaking in that way for a week, and then they continue as before. I think the brother on the Sunni Tawafuq List suffers the same problem, but some of them have a moderate discourse that reflects their Iraqi identity and their patriotism.”

I asked her, “As an unmarried young woman, if one of the Sunni MPs proposed to you, how would you respond?” She replied, “If he is not a fanatic, is a college graduate, and is unmarried, then I will definitely accept his proposal, but with my parent’s consent.”

“In the Parliament, we should encourage such marriages to bring about a generation of Iraqis who are not preoccupied with sectarianism, who represent Iraq with all of its constituting elements, and who would build bridges of trust and cooperation with everyone.”

An Iraqi MP from the Sunni Tawafuq List, who wished to be referred to as A.S. said, “I’m against sectarianism, and the greatest proof is that my daughters are married to Shiites, and I’m about to marry one of my sons to a Shi`ah. We should bring everyone closer together because Iraqi history is not sectarian and does not prevent Sunnis from marrying Shiites or vice versa, nor Kurds from marrying Arabs or Turkmen. As long as the religion is one, Islam, then I see no problem in spreading these marriages to preserve the intertwined fabric.”

MP Safiyyah Talib Al-Suhail, a member of the National Iraqi List headed by former prime minister Iyad Allawi, is proud to represent the Iraqi unity with all of its sects. She is married to former minister of human rights, Dr. Bukhtyar Muhammad Amin, a Kurdish Sunni. Her sister is also married to a Sunni and they have sons, daughters, and many grandchildren. I asked her, “In your view, is sectarianism an obstacle for youth on the road to marriage now?” She replied, “The Bani Tamim tribe [to which she belongs] has Sunni moieties. They are a part of our origin and we can’t separate ourselves from them. That is why my father did not see this issue as prohibitive or faulty. He wanted tribal members to follow his example and to see the vision of one Iraq and that mixed marriages are harmless as long as the couples are understanding. Their life should be filled with love, and disagreements between sects and ethnicities should not be an obstacle in the way of love that bonds a husband and wife. Added to this, children would spread messages of interrelatedness and family ties between different tribes and ethnicities.”

After a peak of 16 during the time of the toppled regime, the percentage of Sunni-Shiite marriages may slightly decrease due to fears of failing to build a stable Iraqi family structure. But the Iraqi societal fabric remains well knitted even in the darkest of times.

Ahmad Hassan is an Iraqi journalist and writer based in Baghdad.

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