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Muslim Men in the West Should Think Carefully Before Marrying Outside the Faith
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- The woman should not be from people who are fighting Islam or are helping others to fight Islam.
- 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)
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