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Muslim Marrying a Non-Muslim


Assalamualaikum. Boleh tolong tanyakan Ustaz… betul ke non Muslim woman is not obligated to convert to Islam to marry a Muslim man? But it is an obligation for a non Muslim man to convert to Muslim if he want to marry a Muslim woman?

Wa’alaikumsalam warahmatullah. That statement is incorrect. The truth is:

– Muslims are not allowed to marry non-muslims (with the exceptions of Jews and Christians which will be explained later) unless they revert to Islam. This ruling applies to both men & women. Al-Quran states in Surah Al-Baqarah verse 221 which means:

“Do not marry polytheistic women until they believe; for a believing slave-woman is better than a free polytheist, even though she may look pleasant to you. And do not marry your women to polytheistic men until they believe, for a believing slave-man is better than a free polytheist, even though he may look pleasant to you. They invite ˹you˺ to the Fire while Allah invites ˹you˺ to Paradise and forgiveness by His grace. He makes His revelations clear to the people so perhaps they will be mindful.”

– Muslim men are allowed to marry women from the ‘people of the book’ (ahlul kitab – Jews n Christians) but Muslim women are not allowed to marry men from the ‘ahlul kitab’. (The reason will be explained later)

“It is lawful for you to marry chaste Muslim women and chaste women of the People of the Book when you have given them their dowries.” (Al-Quran, 5:5)

– Hence, other non-muslims besides the two groups above (eg: buddhists, taoists, hindus, athiests, etc) are not permitted.

– Scholars from Syafie’ school of thought (Mazhab) opine that the permissibility is meant only for women whose lineage are originally from Bani Israil (Israelites).

– Scholars from other school of thoughts opine that any woman who follows the religion of the ‘ahlul kitab’ (which means Jews, Christians and any woman who follows their religion) are included in the permissibility.

– HOWEVER, the permissibility is tied to certain conditions that must be adhered to, otherwise the marriage will not be allowed.

– Some of the conditions include, but not limited to: the woman must live in accordance to Islamic way of life. Hence, sinful acts such as drinking alcohol, not covering of her aurahs in front of non-related men, gambling, etc are not allowed to be practised. The upbringing of the children must also be based on the teachings of Islam, hence there is no option of allowing the children to choose whose faith they wish to follow when they grow up.

– If any of the conditions are not met during the marriage, the marriage must be nullified. If the woman does not agree to the conditions before the marriage, the marriage cannot be carried out.

– That is one of the reasons why only muslim men are allowed because in Islam, husbands are burdened with the responsibility to be the leaders in the family. He should be the one managing and making sure the conditions are met throughout the marriage and that the wife should not in any way influence the way of life or influence the children into following her religion.

– Finally, the Islamic government, or highest Islamic institution in each country, or state, etc, has the right to allow or forbid such marriage. If it is not the interest of the community, especially when such marriages can cause more harm than good, then such marriage is forbidden.

– In fact, during the time of Sayyidina Omar as the caliphate, he has already banned such marriages due to increasing number of young men marrying the women of ahlul kitab and abandoning marrying muslim women at that time.

– In Singapore & Malaysia, Mazhab Syafie’ is generally being practised and thus the practise is not allowed. Additionally, when the highest Islamic authority in a country prohibit such acts, the ruling becomes the valid ruling to be followed according to the Sharee’ah, based on the command of Allah in the Quran for Muslims to obey the ‘ulul amri (muslim leaders):

“O you who believe! Obey Allah and obey the Apostle and those in authority from amongst you.” (Qur’an, Surah Nisa 4:59)

– In conclusion, it is still obligated for non-muslim men or women to revert/convert to Islam first in order to marry muslims.

Wallahu ‘Alam
Za’iem Al-Hadi Bin Sallim

Ps: There is an article in Malay from the mufti of Wilayah Persekutuan explaining briefly on this


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