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Interfaith Marriage in Islam

Does Islam permit marriage outside of the faith?

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Dancing at a wedding

Dancing at a wedding

Wathiq Khuzaie/Getty Images
The Qur'an lays out clear guidelines for marriage. One of the main traits you should look for in a potential spouse is a similarity in religious outlook. For the sake of compatibility, and the upbringing of future children, it is most recommended for a Muslim to marry another Muslim. However, in some circumstances it is permissible for a Muslim to marry a non-Muslim.

 

Muslim Man and Non-Muslim Woman

In general, Muslim men are not permitted to marry non-Muslim women. "Do not marry unbelieving women until they believe. A slave woman who believes is better than an unbelieving woman, even though she allures you.... Unbelievers beckon you to the Fire. But Allah beckons by His Grace to the garden of bliss and forgiveness. And He makes His signs clear to mankind, that they may receive admonition" (Qur'an 2:221).

An exception is made for Muslim men to marry chaste or pious Jewish and Christian women, who are referred to as "People of the Book." This comes from the understanding that Jews and Christians share similar religious outlooks - a belief in One God, following the commandments of Allah, a belief in revealed scripture (Books), etc. "This day are all things good and pure made lawful to you.... Lawful to you in marriage are not only chaste women who are believers, but chaste women among the People of the Book, revealed before your time, when you give them their due dowers, and desire chastity not lewdness. If any one rejects faith, fruitless is his work, and in the Hereafter he will be in the ranks of those who have lost" (Qur'an 5:5).

The children of such a union are always to be raised in the faith of Islam. This should be discussed thoroughly by the couple before they decide to marry.

 

Muslim Woman and Non-Muslim Man

Under no conditions is a Muslim woman permitted to marry anyone but a Muslim man. The same verse cited above (2:221) mentions, "Nor marry your girls to unbelievers until they believe. A man slave who believes is better than an unbeliever...." No exception is given for women to marry Jews and Christians, so the law stands that she may only marry a believing (Muslim) man. As head of the household, the husband provides leadership for the family. A Muslim woman does not follow the leadership of someone who does not share her faith and values.
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