Fartwa: Why a Muslim Woman Is Not Allowed to Marry a Non-Muslim Man


Name of Questioner:  Zenab


 Dear Sheikhs, As-Salamu `alaykum. I would like to know why a woman is not allowed to marry a non-Muslim man while a Muslim man can marry a Jewish or Christian lady? What is the wisdom of that? Jazakum Allah khayran.

Consultant:  Yusuf Al-Qaradawi

Wa `alaykum As-Salamu wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh.Answer:

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.

Dear sister in Islam, we would like to thank you for the great confidence you place in us, and we implore Allah Almighty to help us serve His cause and render our work for His Sake.

First of all, it is to be stressed that Islam does not encourage the interfaith marriages. 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. The only exception is given to Muslim men who are allowed to marry the chaste girls from among the People of the Book.

However, a Muslim woman is better suited to a Muslim man than a woman of Christian or Jewish faith, regardless of her merits. This is because marriage is not based on fulfilling one’s sexual desires; rather, it is an institution. It aims to establish a home on the bases of tranquility, faith and Islamic morals. To fulfil this task, the whole family must apply Allah’s course and try to convey His message.

It is obvious that Islam made it impermissible for a Muslim woman to marry a non-Muslim with aim of keeping her away from things that may jeopardize her faith. In fact, Islam aims at protecting religion. To achieve this goal, it prohibits a Muslim from being involved in something that represents a threat to his religion. A Muslim woman will not feel that her religion is secure while being with a Jewish or a Christian husband especially as the majority of the People of the Book do not show due respect to our Prophet, Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him).

Allah Almighty says: “And the Jews will not be pleased with thee, nor will the Christians, till thou follow their creed. Say: Lo! The guidance of Allah (Himself) is Guidance. And if thou shouldst follow their desires after the knowledge which hath come unto thee, then wouldst thou have from Allah no protecting friend nor helper.” (Al-Baqarah: 120)

Given the fact that the husband is generally the head of the household, it’s not far-fetched for a non-Muslim husband to prevent his Muslim wife from performing some Islamic rituals which may seem a nuisance to him, for example fasting, or even refraining from marital relations during the fast. As a result, he might force her to change her religion, and if she refuses, the situation may culminate in divorce.

As for why Islam allows a Muslim man to marry a Christian or Jewish woman, it’s clear that every Muslim believes in Moses and Jesus (peace be upon them) and he holds all the Prophets of Allah in high esteem. Thus a Muslim finds no harm in his wife’s being a Christian or a Jew, for the spirit of tolerance Islam holds for other religions is ingrained in him.

In his response to the question you raised, the eminent Muslim scholar, Sheikh Muhammad Al-Hanooti, member of the North American Fiqh Council, states:

If Allah is the one who prohibits a Muslim woman from marrying a non-Muslim, then we as Muslims are supposed to believe it and to take it. As a matter of faith, you cannot become a Muslim unless you accept everything when it is ordained by Allah or carried out by his Messenger. The Qur’an says, “O Ye who believe! Put not yourselves forward before Allah and His Messenger…” (Al-Hujurat: )

If you ask about the benefits of not marrying a non-Muslim, we can count you many reasons. A man is the manager of his household. He will persecute his Muslim wife in many dos and don’ts. She can hardly guarantee that kind of operation. Moreover, marriage is an institution for elevating our levels of having a good Islamic life. Pleasing Allah is our number one goal. If a woman is married to a non-Muslim, maybe the only thing she will accomplish in her marital life is what is good for livestock.

Shedding more light on the question, we’d like to cite the words of the eminent Muslim scholar, Sheik Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, in his well-known book, The Lawful and the Prohibited in Islam:

It is haram for a Muslim woman to marry a non-Muslim man, regardless of whether he is of the People of the Book or not. We have already mentioned the saying of Allah, “…and do not marry (your girls) to idolaters until they believe…” (Al-Baqarah: 221)

And He said concerning the immigrant Muslim women: “Then if you know them to be Believers, do not send them back to the unbelievers. They are not lawful for them (as wives), nor are they lawful for them (as husbands).” (Al-Mumtahanah: 10)

No text exists which makes exceptions for the People of the Book. Hence, on the basis of the above verses, there is a consensus among Muslims concerning this prohibition.

Thus, while a Muslim man is permitted to marry a Christian or Jewish woman, a Muslim woman is not allowed to marry a Christian or Jewish man. There are many sound reasons for this difference. First, the man is the head of the household, the one who maintains the family, and he is responsible for his wife. And while Islam guarantees freedom of belief and practice to the Christian or Jewish wife of a Muslim, safeguarding her rights according to her own faith, other religions, such as Judaism and Christianity, do not guarantee the wife of a different faith freedom of belief and practice, nor do they safeguard her rights. Since this is the case, how can Islam take chances on the future of its daughters by giving them into the hands of people who neither honor their religion nor are concerned to protect their rights?

A marriage between a man and woman of different faiths can be based only on the husband’s respect for his wife’s beliefs; otherwise a good relationship can never develop. Now, the Muslim believes that both Judaism and Christianity originated in divine revelation, although later distortions were introduced into them. He also believes that God revealed the Tawrah to Moses and the Injeel to Jesus, and that both Moses and Jesus (peace be on them) were among the Messengers of Allah who were distinguished by their steadfast determination. Accordingly, the Christian or Jewish wife of a Muslim lives under the protection of a man who respects the basic tenets of her faith, her Scripture, and her Prophets, while in contrast to this the Jew or Christian recognizes neither the Divine origin of Islam, its Book, or its Prophet (peace be on him). How then could a Muslim woman live with such a man, while her religion requires of her the observance of certain worships, duties, and obligations, as well as certain prohibitions. It would be impossible for the Muslim woman to retain her respect for her beliefs as well as to practice her religion properly if she were opposed in this regard by the master of the house at every step.

It will be realized from this that Islam is consistent with itself in prohibiting the Muslim man to marry a mushrik (polytheist) woman, for since Islam is absolutely opposed to shirk (polytheism), it would obviously be impossible for two such people to live together in harmony and love.

Allah Almighty knows best.

You can also read:

Marrying a Non-Muslim Male

Marriage to a Christian Woman

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6 thoughts on “Fartwa: Why a Muslim Woman Is Not Allowed to Marry a Non-Muslim Man”

  1. Another demonstration of the selfishness that is islam!!!! Interesting that islam is really so weak that even its doctrines try to ward of challenges from superior schools by destroying them.

  2. Islam is so stupid. All that to ‘explain’ why Muslim women cannot marry outside their faith, but none of it makes any sense. A Christian wife’s religion is respected by the Muslim husband? Ridiculous. Over the years I have met a couple of women who planned to marry a Muslim. Of course, I but in and say ‘don’t do it’ much to the chagrin of my friends who urge me not to! 🙂

  3. I dated an Indonesian muslim woman for almost 3 years and had a great relationship. Probably the happiest relationship of my life. I had to break this relationship because I just felt it was not right and the future was not good.

    I’m glad I left her and sent her back to her country. I’m still minimally supporting her to go to school and improve her chances in life but that is all I can and will do. It’s not her fault she’s muslim.

    She told me about many of her Indonesian friends who married western men, some of whom converted to islam (quite obviously stupid weak men), some men were not bothered by it and others who accepted the woman but did not like or care about islam. I told her I could not accept islam and that if she could not convert – even to anything but islam, I would have to leave her. Eventually that is what I did but I gave her very fair notice – more than 2 years.

    It’s primarily but not entirely because of her that I became knowlegeable about islam. The more I learned about it the more I despise it. I love this site – its been one of my reference materials.

    I’d highly recommend to anyone not to get mixed up in relationships with muslims. It’s not worth the headache.

    I could not bear the thought of islam in my life and I certainly would not want to import any islam to my country.

  4. John,
    You cannot make sense out of religious dogma – it contains little sense (and it is certainly not from a divine being). Dogma is used as a political tool – thus what you see in the quran is designed to keep the followers of islam ignorant and ready to act as gun fodder for ther “religion”. In this respect islam has been a very successful experiment in subjugating communities to an ideology that thrives on violent subjugation of others and those with differing opinions within the community. One thing is certain – islam is not the creation of a superior intellgence.

  5. Well there it is in black and white. If muslims cannot intermarry without requiring conversion then there is no point in them being in western countries as they will not assimilate. If they come and do not assimilate then they are colonizers. Islamic immigration is anti democratic as none of us was ever asked. Therefore oppose it by any means necessary

  6. Yes especially immigration from certain countries like Egypt where too much taxpayer money is given to. Sayed Qutb and Mohammed Atta they were both on visas and hated the places they visited Atta did cocaine and Sayed Qutb complained about the people the music everything. They prove their worthlessness by the way they behaved.

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