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HomeCritical QuestionsCan a Muslim Woman Marry a Non-Muslim Man?

Can a Muslim Woman Marry a Non-Muslim Man?

Muslim scholars have emphasized that a Muslim woman cannot marry a man from Ahl al-kitāb

(People of the Book) in the following verse: “O believers! When the believing women come to you as emigrants, test their intentions—their faith is best known to Allah—and if you find them to be believers, then do not send them back to the disbelievers. These ˹women˺ are not lawful ˹wives˺ for the disbelievers.”[1]

It is stated in the Quran that a Muslim woman cannot marry an irreligious or polytheist man (associating partners with Allah) with the following verse: “And do not marry your women to polytheistic men until they believe, for a believing slave-man is better than a free polytheist, even though he may look pleasant to you.” [2]

Non-Muslims, such as Christians and Jews, who are called People of the Book, are not considered polytheists (infidels who associate other gods with Allah) if they believe in a divine book, even if its original has been corrupted, and in its prophets. In the Quranic terminology, the word polytheist is used for those who do not believe in a divine book and who have shirk (associating partners with Allah) in their beliefs, especially the pagans of Arabia.

The Quran also states that a Muslim man can marry women from the People of the Book (Jewish and Christian) and cannot marry non-Muslim (Atheist, Deist, Buddhist, etc.) “And ˹permissible for you in marriage˺ are chaste believing women as well as chaste women of those given the Scripture before you—as long as you pay them their dowries in wedlock, neither fornicating nor taking them as mistresses.” [3]

Islam is the last religion and contains the origin of previous divine religions. In this respect, a non-Muslim woman who marries a Muslim man preserves the originality of her religion and continues to believe in her prophet. The Muslim husband accepts the basic principles of his wife’s belief in Allah, the Hereafter, prophets, angels, and destiny. Thus, the unity of belief and a common view of life, which are at the beginning of the necessary bonds for the continuation of the marriage, are provided. But in the opposite case it is not so. Since a man of the People of the Book does not believe in the prophethood of Muhammad (peace and blessing be upon him) and that the Quran is the word of Allah, the risk of not ensuring family peace is very high.[4]

It should be added that if a woman from the People of the Book marries a Muslim man, if the woman does not become a Muslim, her husband cannot force her to accept Islam. Because her husband’s religion, Islam, prevents this. However, their children are considered Muslims. If the husband is non-Muslim, both the religious life of the woman will be endangered and most likely the children will be raised as non-Muslims.

[1] Al-Mumtahanah, 10

[2] Al-Baqarah,221

[3] Al-Ma’idah, 5

[4] Al Fiqhul Islam, Zahaili, 7/153.