Muslim Matrimonials and More's Ask Bilqis


Monday, December 20, 1999


Dear Bilqis,

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 haram.

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 don't understand.

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.




Dear "B.W.",

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 and love."

To this excellent summary I would like to add answers to your other questions:

  1. 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 go astray.
  2. 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.
  3. 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." (Qur'an 5:15-16)

-Bilqis Muslim Matrimonials