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by Arif Khan

MARRIAGE WITH CHRISTIANS AND JEWS :  The marriages between Muslim men and CERTAIN non-Muslim women is allowed. However, certain restrictions exist on such marriages, especially if they occur in non-Muslim lands where Islamic law and religion is not prevailing.

Here I am translating the "fatwaa" from Maulana Muhammad Yousuf Ludhianvi, a well-known Muslim scholar from Pakistan, answering a question regarding the shar'aii position of marriages in the US with non-Muslim women. This question was asked by a Pakistani Muslim, living in the US, and it appeared in Maulana's column that is published every Friday in a daily newspaper, "Jang". He interprets the Islamic law as following:

******* 1- Non-Muslim women, to whom Muslim men can marry, are the women from Christian and Jewish religions who are residents of "Daar-ul-Islam****" nations where Islamic law prevails) and who are thereby called, "Dhi'mmi" (those who give Jazzia instead of Zakaat in an Islamic state??), but NOT the residents of "dar al-kufr" (where the kuffar or non-Islamic rule exist). To these women, marriage is allowed but is "mukrooh tanzihi." (I can't translate it properly)

2- With Christian or Jewish women, who are resident of "dar a-harb"****, the nikah (the marriage contract) will be valid, but will be a "mukrooh Tahrimi" (worse than tanzihi) situation. The act which is "mukrooh tarhimi" is so close to "haraam" (not permissible at all) that it is ALMOST "haraam" and is "na'jaiz" ie. not legal. The man involved will be responsible for committing an act which is so close to a state of "sin". **** Victor Danner describes "Dar al-Islam" as : the House of Islam, or the Islamic world; the Islamic community, where submission to the Divine Will reigns; Opposed to dar- al-harb ( the non-Islamic community)

3- It is required that the women should be practicing their religion at the time of marriage and they are not practically "Mulhid" (atheist). To any women, who doesn't believe in God, religion, God's message and doesn't practise any religion at all, the "nikaah" (marriage) will be INVALID and according to "shari'ah" (Islamic Law), such a couple is involved in sin.

4- If any Muslim marries a woman from "People of the Books", the children, by shar'iah (Islamic law) are considered to be Muslim. For instance, often, in "dar al-harb," the kids adopt the religion of their mother; and, sometimes, a marriage is arranged upon agreements between the couples that half of kids will adopt mother's and the other half will follow father's religion. If a Muslim man agrees to ANY of such terms accepting the kids to be raised non-Muslims, the person will be regarded as a "Murtid" (the one who has denied Islam) because he has allowed his kids to become "kaafir" who may have been brought up in Islamic religion. Anyone who willingly and knowingly allows/agrees for his kids to become "kaafir" is regarded as "kaafir." He is out of the Islamic circle. If he had any Muslim woman in his "nikaah" before this marriage, the Muslim woman is free from his bond (because a Muslim woman can't remain married a non-Muslim).

5- Since some of our naive Muslim youngmen, living in the West, get married to the christian women in their countries. And since, usually, the local courts allow the women to get the custody of kids and the divorce settlement in their favor, our youngmen are "khusar al-duniyaa wal'-aakhiraah", means the wanderer or lost in this world and the Hereafter. Since, according to sharia'ah, the "al-maa'roof ka'almashrrot", meaning whatever is prevailing or common practise in the society is being accepted in a marriage contract. It means a Muslim man, by getting married under these circumstances in these countries, is knowingly agreeing that the woman may, in case of divorce, gets the custody of the kids and is free to raise them afterwards as she pleases.

6- For all the above stated reasons, in non-Muslim countries, it is not allowed for Muslim youngmen to marry Christian women. For the reason #3 (woman not practising a religion), the "nikaah" isn't even valid. Since the reason #4, leads to "kufr" and he becomes "murtid", the marriage to any Muslim wife becomes invalid. The reason #5 is not apllicable, if the local laws do not usually grant custody to woman or if Muslim man hasn't agreed to any "kufriaah" terms (such as accepting some kids to be raised as non-Muslims). "Haaza ma' indee, wal'Allah ilm bis'swaab." *******

As it is clear, that Maulana Yousuf's position is extremely strict on the issue of getting married to non-Muslim women in the West. But so is the seriousness of such situations. A scholar at Dar ul-Noor hifz school and Al-Farooq Masjid, Atlanta, Dr. Abdul Ghaffar, recommends that if a Muslim is already married to a non-Muslima, he should REMAIN married to her. He should be kind and passionate to her and facilitate her understand of true Islam. He should reflect Islam in his character and encourage her to become Muslim voluntarily before kids are born into such marriage. At that time, I found out the Al-Farooq Masjid doesn't even administer ANY inter-faith marriages.

The best option under these circumstances is to introduce the woman to Islam and WAIT for her to accept Islam before getting married. Imposing any firm conditions of her accepting Islam before marriage will NOT do any good. Because, if a woman is willing to accept Islam merely to get married to a Muslim man that she likes, she will be most likely to leave Islam if the marriage ends up in a divorce or even if the marriage becomes unpleasant for her.

It should be desirable that a woman accepts Islam solely for the reason that she likes Islam. Any forceful acceptance of Islam is not likely to be permanent nor very suitable for a happy marriage. If the woman is not a Muslim by her own choice, then in case of divorce, she may leave Islam and be free to date and marry a non-Muslim. Her new family may ultimately decide how to raise the Muslim man's children. This situation should never be acceptable to any Muslim man.

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