Q. I have been told that Muslim women are not allowed to marry non-Muslim men but Muslim men are permitted to marry non-Muslim women. What does Islam say?
Answer by Professor Dr. Kaukab Siddique:
Islam teaches that marriage is half the faith. Marriage is one of the most powerful means for the spread of Islam. It turns hostile communities into friends. The Qur’an used it to break up the well-established system of slavery in pre-Islamic Arabia and then in the rest of the Islamic commonwealth.
Islam does not permit a Muslim, male or female, to marry a non-Muslim, especially in countries like the U.S., China and India where Muslims are minorities.
In a fully developed Islamic state, where Islam is dominant, Muslim men are sometimes allowed to marry non-Muslim women who are chaste and follow the original teachings of Moses and Jesus, pbuh.
In America, people coming in from Arab countries have propagated the view that Muslim men are allowed to marry non-Muslim women. Not only is this an incorrect view it has seriously damaged the Islamic cause in America.
This country has become more pagan than Christian and a non-Muslim woman who comes into a Muslim home is backed by the entire power of the secular State system and the children of such a marriage are educated by a secular education system. Other than in very exceptional cases, such a marriage is very damaging.
Tens of thousands of American and African-American women have embraced Islam during the last two decades. These men who are marrying non-Muslim women are denying marriage to those women who have embraced Islam. Racism and nationalism are often involved in the Muslim male’s decision to marry non-Muslim [usually White] women.
Why have U.S. Muslims been so misled? It has to do with inability to study the Qur’an in CONTEXT and the desire to study the Qur’an WITHOUT the help of the Hadith of the Prophet, pbuh. If we were to know HOW to study Islam, such questions would not arise.
The Qur’an makes it very clear that marriage is to be based only on FAITH in ALLAH and that one of its purposes is to UNDERMINE SLAVERY. Marriage based on CLASS STRUCTURE and NATIONALISM is a clear violation of Islam. Here is what the Qur’an says:
“Do not marry women who associate others with Allah [mushrikat] until they believe. A slave woman who believes is better than one who associates others with Allah [mushrika] even though she allures you. Nor marry men who associate others with Allah [mushrikeen] until they believe: A male slave who believes is better than one who associates others with Allah [mushrik] even though he allures you. They [associaters] beckon you to the Fire but Allah beckons by His Grace to the Garden [of Bliss] and forgiveness, and makes His Signs clear to mankind that they may receive admonition.” [2:221]
Notice that I have written the Arabic word in brackets. It is often incorrectly translated as “disbelievers” and “idolaters” although mushrik is one who associates others with Allah.
All interpretations must end when there is a clear Hadith of the Prophet, pbuh, on the issue. He never recommended marriage with non-Muslim women. Addressing men, he makes it quite clear that Islamic integrity and faith is the requirement for marriage:
“The messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be on him, said: Women are married for 4 reasons: for wealth, for family nobility, for beauty and for Deen: You should marry for Deen, otherwise may your hands be rubbed in the dirt.” [Narrated by Abu Huraira, r.a., in the Sahih of Bukhari and the Sahih of Muslim.]
Deen is a comprehensive term for piety, knowledge and practice of Islam, and Fear of Allah.
Our Arab brothers try to take advantage of a permission granted in chapter 5 of the Qur’an to marry women from the People of the Book: These brothers [conveniently?] ignore the fact that the verse they are using was revealed after the victory of Islam when Islam had become the dominant force in Madinah: ” … [lawful unto you in marriage] are not only chaste women who are believers but chaste women among the People of the Book revealed before your time ….” [5:5]
This is a legal “permission” within a context of Islamic dominance. The Prophet, pbuh, does not recommend it. What is legal is not necessarily the best course.
And Allah knows best.