Can I Let My Kids Choose Their Religion?

18 December, 2020
Q Hi, I recently read that "according to some scholars, those who go for interfaith marriages without caring for the future of the kids are out of Islam." Such as in the case in which a father is allowing his/her child to learn both religions and then decide for him/herself. I am a Muslim and will be married to a Christian soon, inshallah. I would rather let my children learn both religions and decide for themselves when they are smart enough rather than impose Islam onto them as God created us all free. Does this make me a kafir?

Answer

Short Answer:

  • In real life, and speaking from experience of living in the West, the vast majority of Muslim men who marry Christian women and decide to “let the children choose when they grow up” end up with children who are not “believers in God” at all, in any sense.
  • The point here is not to “force” the children to be believers, this is an impossibility, but to teach them about the truth of Islam. And if they grow up and decide for themselves to reject the faith, then it is their own free decision. But this has to come after doing your best to direct your children toward belief.

 ………….

Salam Ishfaq,

What takes you out of Islam?

I am not sure where you found the quote: “According to some scholars, those who go for such marriages without caring for the future of the kids are out of Islam.”

First of all, there is nothing that takes someone “out of Islam” except for declaring him or herself non-Muslim.

So, even if there is something wrong with that marriage or with raising the children in a certain way that does not take any Muslim out of his declared faith.

As a general rule, there is nothing wrong with a Muslim man marrying a Christian woman.

Suppport AboutIslam.net

Although some scholars find it “makruh” (disliked) or even “haram” (forbidden), most scholars refer to the clear verses in the Quran which states the following:

{Today, all the good things of life have been made lawful to you. And the food of those who have been vouchsafed revelation aforetime (the People of the Book) is lawful to you, and your food is lawful to them. And [lawful to you are], in wedlock, women from among those who believe [in this divine writ], and, in wedlock, women from among the People of the Book before your time-provided that you give them their dowers, taking them in honest wedlock, not in fornication, nor as secret love-companions.} (Al-Maida 5:5)

Some people say that there are no more people of the book because (some of the) current Christians worship Jesus, etc.

But, in the Quran itself, God still addressed those who believe in the trinity doctrine as the ‘people of the book’.

{O People of the Book! Do not overstep the bounds [of truth] in your religious beliefs, and do not say of God anything but the truth. The Christ Jesus, son of Mary, was but God’s Apostle – [the fulfillment of] His promise which He had conveyed unto Mary – and a soul created by Him.  Believe, then, in God and His apostles, and do not say, “[God is] a trinity”. Desist [from this assertion] for your own good. God 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.} (Al-Nisaa 4:171

So, the Islamic law ruling for this marriage is permissibility.

How to Apply the Rule

Having said that, I would like to highlight the fact that there is a difference between an Islamic juridical ruling, which is called hukm, and the application of this ruling in a specific case, which is called fatwa.

The rule is permissibility, but if the rule is not applied properly, the action could move from being a permissible action into being a disliked action or even a highly forbidden one.

Now, the fatwa, which is the application of this rule in your SPECIFIC case, is something that I cannot issue with certainty unless I know you and your circumstances.

You mentioned something that is very important, which is that you will “let” the children “decide for themselves.” And here is a problem with the application of the rule that could make this marriage a mistake.

Please kindly allow me to explain.

A Parent’s Responsibility

In Islam, as a principle, and according to the Quran, nobody has the authority to force anybody to become Muslim. 2:256: THERE SHALL BE NO coercion/compulsion in matters of faith.

However, there is an “obligation” on every Muslim parent to teach his/her child the religion of Islam. And I am not speaking about a certain culture or tradition, in the sense of what people eat, drink, listen to, or wear, even though there are some few Islamic provisions in these areas.

I am speaking about Islam in the sense of faith in One God: believing in all the prophets and messengers of God, including Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad (peace be upon them); believing in the holy books that God had revealed, including the Torah, Gospel, and Quran; believing in the afterlife; and the rest of the pillars of faith in Islam. 

And, by the way, if your children are believers in that sense, they will also become believers in their mother’s sense, because they will believe in Jesus and the Gospels, etc., even though they would not pray to Jesus.

Can I Let My Kids Choose Their Religion?

But in real life, and speaking from experience of living in the West, the vast majority of Muslim men who marry Christian women and decide to “let the children choose when they grow up” end up with children who are not “believers in God” at all, in any sense.

I have seen many examples; one of them is a Muslim neighbor of mine whose wife is Christian.

However, their two daughters are now in their teenage years and they are strong and self-declared atheists.

The point here is not to “force” the children to be believers, this is an impossibility, but to teach them about the truth of Islam. And if they grow up and decide for themselves to reject the faith, then it is their own free decision.  

{And say: The truth [has now come] from your Sustainer: let, then, him who wills, believe in it, and let him who wills, rejects it.} (Al-Kahf 18:29)

But this has to come after doing your best to direct your children toward belief.

In any case, pray to God to guide you in this matter. May Allah guide us all to the truth.

Salam.

(From Ask About Islam archives)

Please continue feeding your curiosity, and find more info in the following links:

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