Wa `alaykum as-Salamu wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh.
In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.
In this fatwa:
A Muslim woman is not allowed to marry a non-Muslim man.
In his response to the question in point, Dr. Muzammil Siddiqi, former president of the Islamic Society of North America, states:
Allah Almighty says,
“This day are (all) good things made lawful for you. The food of those who have received the Scripture is lawful for you, and your food is lawful for them. And so are the virtuous women of the believers and the virtuous women of those who received the Scripture before you (lawful for you) when you give them their marriage portions and live with them in honor, not in fornication, nor taking them as secret concubines. Whoso denies the faith, his work is vain and he will be among the losers in the Hereafter.” (Al-Ma’dah 5:5)
There are two types of people: mahram and non-mahram. Mahram are those relatives between whom marriage is not allowed. Non-Mahram are those among whom marriage is permissible.
Referring to this, Allah Almighty says,
“Forbidden unto you are your mothers, and your daughters, and your sisters, and your father’s sisters, and your mother’s sisters, and your brother’s daughters and your sister’s daughters, and your foster mothers, and your foster sisters, and your mothers-in-law, and your stepdaughters who are under your protection (born) of your women unto whom you have gone in but if ye have not gone in unto them, then it is no sin for you (to marry their daughters) and the wives of your sons who (spring) from your own loins. And (it is forbidden unto you) that ye should have two sisters together, except what hath already happened (of that nature) in the past. Lo! Allah is ever Forgiving, Merciful.” (An-Nisaa’ 4:23)
Muslim men and women can socialize among the mahrams, but not among the non-mahrams. When men and women are in the presence of non-mahrams then they must lower their gaze.
Allah Almighty says,
“And tell the believing women to lower their gaze and be modest, and to display of their adornment only that which is apparent, and to draw their veils over their bosoms, and not to reveal their adornment save to their own husbands or fathers or husbands fathers, or their sons or their husbands’ sons, or their brothers or their brothers’ sons or sisters sons, or their women, or their slaves, or male attendants who lack vigor, or children who know naught of women’s nakedness. And let them not stamp their feet so as to reveal what they hide of their adornment. And turn unto Allah together, O believers, in order that ye may succeed. And marry such of you as are solitary and the pious of your slaves and maid servants. If they be poor; Allah will enrich them of His bounty. Allah is of ample means, Aware.” (An-Nur 24:30-31)
As far as the interfaith marriages are concerned, Islam does not encourage them. The general rule of Islam is that Muslims should marry Muslims. A Muslim male or female should not marry a non-Muslim male or female.
Allah Almighty says,
“Wed not idolatresses till they believe; for lo! A believing bondwoman is better than an idolatress though she please you; and give not your daughters in marriage to idolaters till they believe, for lo! A believing slave is better than an idolater though he please you. These invite unto the Fire, and Allah invites unto the Garden, and unto forgiveness by His grace, and expound thus His revelations to mankind that haply they may remember.” (Al-Baqarah 2:221)
For the satisfaction of your heart, let me explain why Muslim men are allowed to marry women from among the People of the Book and why Muslim women are not allowed to do so.
First of all, it is not an honor or a privilege to marry a non-Muslim. It is a burden and a big responsibility. It is better to abstain from such marriages.
Muslim men who are living in non-Muslim countries in particular should not marry non-Muslim women.
However, man being the head of his household is more capable to handle the needs and problems of his non-Muslim (Christian or Jewish) wife. Muslims believe that Moses and Jesus (peace and blessings be upon them all) were Prophets of Allah and so they give them full honor and respect.
Jews and Christians do not consider Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) as the Prophet of Allah. Thus they are unable to give the same respect and honor to him and to his followers.
A Jewish or Christian woman with a Muslim husband will be in a much better position than a Muslim woman with a Jewish or a Christian husband.
Even then, there are many non-Muslim women who married outside their faith say that they wish their religion too had forbidden them, because they know how difficult and hard it is to be the wife of a husband who has a different faith.
A Muslim woman should know that Allah has really honored her and made it easy for her by not allowing her to marry a non-Muslim man.
According to the Qur’an, the husband is the head of the household and his wife should obey him. Allah does not put the Muslim woman in a position that a non-Muslim becomes her head in her own private life.
Allah has spared her to suffer from being under the authority of a non-Muslim husband.
Please, abandon the idea of marrying a non-Muslim, unless he truly accepts Islam. If you marry a non-Muslim, this will be a major sin. You will be living in sin and your relationship with that non-Muslim will be illegitimate in the eyes of Allah. May Allah protect you from all sins, amen.
Allah Almighty knows best.
Editor’s note: This fatwa is from Ask the Scholar’s archive and was originally published at an earlier date.