Date : 30-05-2019

Question :

Is it prohibited for a Muslim woman to marry a non-Muslim according to scholarly consensus, and what is the evidence on that?

The Answer :

Praise be to Allah the Lord of the Worlds.

Islam made it permissible for a Muslim man to marry a woman from the People of the Book. The evidence on this is that Allah the Almighty says, " (Lawful unto you in marriage) are (not only) chaste women who are believers, but chaste women among the People of the Book …"{Al-Mai`dah, 5}. However, Islam made it impermissible for a Muslim woman to marry a non-Muslim man based on the following pieces of evidence:

First: Allah says, " Nor marry (your girls) to unbelievers until they believe: A man slave who believes is better than an unbeliever, even though he allures you. Unbelievers do (but) beckon you to the Fire. But God beckons by His Grace to the Garden (of bliss) and forgiveness, and makes His Signs clear to mankind: That they may celebrate His praise."{Al-Baqara, 221}.This verse clearly indicates that a Muslim woman isn`t allowed to marry a non-Muslim man. Al-Qhortobi says, " Nor marry" means "don`t marry a Muslim woman to an unbeliever, and the Muslim nation is agreed that an unbeliever isn`t allowed to marry a Muslim woman no matter what the case may be, because allowing that degrades Islam."{Tafseer Al-Khortobi, 3/72}.

Second: Allah says, " When there come to you believing women refugees, examine (and test) them: God knows best as to their Faith: if ye ascertain that they are Believers, then send them not back to the Unbelievers. They are not lawful (wives) for the Unbelievers, nor are the (Unbelievers) lawful (husbands) for them. "{Al-Mumtahanah, 10}. In his interpretation of this verse, Al-Razi said, "(send them not back to the Unbelievers) means that they aren`t lawful (wives) for the unbelievers nor are the unbelievers lawful (husbands) for them."{Tafseer Al-Razi, 29/522}.

Third: Narrated `Urwa bin Az-Zubair:
That he heard Marwan bin Al-Hakam and Al-Miswar bin Makhrama relating one of the events that happened to Allah's Messenger (PBUH) in the `Umra of Al-Hudaibiya. They said, "When Allah's Messenger (PBUH) concluded the truce with Suhail bin `Amr on the day of Al-Hudaibiya, one of the conditions which Suhail bin `Amr stipulated, was his saying (to the Prophet), "If anyone from us (i.e. infidels) ever comes to you, though he has embraced your religion, you should return him to us, and should not interfere between us and him." Suhail refused to conclude the truce with Allah's Messenger (PBUH) except on this condition. The believers disliked this condition and got disgusted with it and argued about it. But when Suhail refused to conclude the truce with Allah's Messenger (PBUH) except on that condition, Allah's Apostle concluded it. Accordingly, Allah's Messenger (PBUH) then returned Abu Jandal bin Suhail to his father, Suhail bin `Amr, and returned every man coming to him from them during that period even if he was a Muslim. The believing women Emigrants came (to Medina) and Um Kulthum, the daughter of `Uqba bin Abi Mu'ait was one of those who came to Allah's Messenger (PBUH) and she was an adult at that time. Her relatives came, asking Allah's Messenger (PBUH) to return her to them, and in this connection, Allah revealed the verses dealing with the believing (women): " When there come to you believing women refugees, examine (and test) them: God knows best as to their Faith: if ye ascertain that they are Believers, then send them not back to the Unbelievers. They are not lawful (wives) for the Unbelievers, nor are the (Unbelievers) lawful (husbands) for them. "{Al-Mumtahanah, 10}."{Realted by Bukhari}.

The evidence drawn from this narration is that amongst the conditions of Hudaybiyah was that the Prophet (PBUH) should return the infidels who have embraced Islam. However, women who converted to Islam were excluded from that agreement. Therefore, the Prophet (PBUH) refused to return Um Kulthum to the infidels.{Kindly check Asad Al-Ghabah Fi Ma`rifat Al-Sahabah by Ibn Khatheer, 7/376}. Accordingly, Allah revealed this general rule, which forbids that a Muslim woman marries a non-Muslim man. Therefore, a Muslim woman`s infidel relatives aren`t allowed to force her to marry a non-Muslim man, and such a thing is null and void, whether it is done with compulsion or consent.

Moreover, scholars are agreed that it isn`t permissible for a Muslim woman to marry a non-Muslim, and the evidence drawn from this consensus refutes the claim of whoever questions the impermissibility of marrying a Muslim woman to a non-Muslim. It is worth pointing that this consensus started from the time of the companions and their followers, who are legally, linguistically and behaviorally competent to grasp the rulings of Sharia.

Ibn Qhodama stated, "An unbeliever may not marry a Muslim woman no matter what the case may be. He added, "An unbeliever isn`t allowed to enjoy guardianship over a Muslim woman in any case, as agreed by scholars such as Malik, Shafie, Abo Obeid and others. Ibn al-Monther said, "None of the scholars has objected to that."{al-Moghni, 7/7}.

Based on reason, there are several aspects proving that it isn`t allowed for a non-Muslim, even from the People of the Book, to marry a Muslim woman; whereas, it is permissible for a Muslim man to marry a woman from the People of the Book. Islam made it permissible for a Muslim man to marry a woman from the People of the Book for he wouldn`t force her to convert as he believes that all divine religions come from the same source: Allah the Almighty. Allah says, "The Apostle believeth in what hath been revealed to him from his Lord, as do the men of faith. Each one (of them) believeth in God, His angels, His books, and His apostles. "We make no distinction (they say) between one and another of His apostles." And they say: "We hear, and we obey: (We seek) Thy forgiveness, our Lord, and to Thee is the end of all journeys."{al-Baqharah, 285}. On the other hand, since a non-Muslim doesn`t recognize Islam, it is risky for the Muslim woman to marry him, as his attitude will definitely undermine the stability of marital life while this isn`t the case with the non-Muslim woman marrying a Muslim. Moreover, Islam made it permissible for the believing Muslim to marry a woman from the People of the Book, but not the other way around. The evidence on this is that Allah says, "The food of the People of the Book is lawful unto you and yours is lawful unto them. (Lawful unto you in marriage) are (not only) chaste women who are believers, but chaste women among the People of the Book, "{Al-Mai`dah, 5}.

In addition, adherence to the above ruling preserves one of the greatest objectives of Sharia and that is preserving the religion of the wife by not allowing the non-Muslim man to marry her. This ruling reflects that Islam has protected humanity from every danger and elevated it materially and spiritually towards the path of perfection. And Allah the Almighty knows best.