Is Marrying A Non-Practicing Muslim Wrong?

09 December, 2016
Q Is it wrong to marry someone when you know that he is not religious in his heart? He was born a Muslim, and he used to be religious, but then he stopped. If he believes that there is a Creator but isn't a practicing Muslim, does this mean that marrying him is haram?



As-Salamu `Alaikum Dear sister,

Thank you for your question. Unfortunately, simply believing in a Creator does not make one a Muslim. Iblis (Satan) also believed in Allah, but we certainly cannot say that he was a Muslim!

Being a Muslim means believing in the six tenets of faith, i.e. belief in Allah, His angels, His books, His messengers, the Day of Judgment and qadar (divine predetermination). Then, of course, there is to testify with the heart and tongue that there is no god but Allah and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah.

According to our scholars, committing sin per se does not remove one from the fold of Islam, as long as the individual realizes that what he/she did was a sin and is remorseful for it. However, if one who does not pray claims that not praying 5 times a day is NOT a sin, then that removes him from the fold of Islam, likewise with any other of the major sins about which there is consensus among the `ulamaa’ (scholars) of the Muslims.

So the issue is not about human weakness or sin as we are all sinners to some degree. The issue is whether we believe in what Allah has sent down in totality, and whether our lack of fulfillment of anything we have been commanded by Allah is due to our lack of belief in those things.

The other issue that I see from your question pertains to how we are supposed to choose a spouse. The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) said,

“A woman may be married for four reasons: her religion; her beauty; her wealth; and her lineage. Marry the one of religion, and you will be successful.” [Bukhari and Muslim]

The noble scholar Shaykh Abd al-Rahman al-Shaghouri (May Allah have mercy on him) wrote, among his poetry:

“How often it is that someone marries a beautiful face

Whose fault is hidden in their mouth.

After being with them for a little while

You hear them constantly complaining, “Ooh, and Aah.”

(From Amjad Rasheed)

According to our scholars, in effect, the above hadith is about choosing a spouse firstly for their strength of character, which for Muslims is reflected in their religion, i.e. their way of life and the kind of person they are. Being married, I can tell you that this hadith and guidance from our Messenger (saw) is priceless.

Marriage is an intense, trying, and at times difficult relationship. It requires patience, compromise, and understanding. Although it is a special and wonderful institution, married people undoubtedly go through difficult times together that will test their iman and the strength of their cha

racter. Especially in our current times where the external pressures on families are so great, having a strong marriage is essential to our survival, well-being, happiness, and preservation of religion.

The point is that the criteria upon which we choose a spouse should, first and foremost, be on their strength of character and personality, because making a marriage successful in Islam requires more than good looks and money. It is my personal belief that many marriages that are not working are due the fact that from the beginning our criteria for choosing a spouse is not as it should be.

The issue as to whether this man is, in fact, a Muslim requires a bit more investigation; however, the way you have written about him does not sound too positive, if, in fact, he was at one time a practicing Muslim and now merely believes in a Creator. It would be helpful if you could help this young man and explore with him why he is no longer a ‘practicing Muslim.’

Perhaps, he has some reservations or some questions that have not been properly addressed. Please feel free to have him forward any questions he has to us at this site.



Disclaimer: The conceptualization and recommendations stated in this response are very general and purely based on the limited information that was provided in the question. In no event shall AboutIslam, it’s volunteers, writers, scholars, counselors, or employees be held liable for any direct, indirect, exemplary, punitive, consequential or other damages whatsoever that may arise through your decision or action in the use of the services which our website provides. 

About Dr. Abd. Lateef Krauss Abdullah
Dr. Abd. Lateef Krauss Abdullah is a Research Fellow at the Institute for Social Science Study’s Community Education and Youth Studies Laboratory, Universiti Putra Malaysia. He received his B.A. from the University of Delaware (U.S.), his M.S. from Columbia University (U.S.) and his PhD from the Institute for Community & Peace Studies (PEKKA), Universiti Putra Malaysia in 2005 in the field of Youth Studies. Abd. Lateef is an American who has been living in Malaysia since 2001. He is married and has 2 children.