There is a consensus among almost all Islamic jurists according to which Muslim women are forbidden to marry non-Muslims. This is clearly stated in Surah Baqarah: “do not marry polytheistic men [to your women] until they believe. And a believing slave is better than a polytheist, even though he might please you” (2:221).
This prohibition applies to both temporary and permanent marriage. But what can be the wisdom behind this Islamic rule?
In many narrations (Hadiths)  and some verses of the Quran (2:221); (24:26), Muslims are advised to marry those who are equivalent to them. Being equivalent mostly means to be similar in faith and religion; however, it also includes being alike in culture, wealth, education, and family values. Right after stating the prohibition on the marriage with non-Muslims in Surah Baqarah (2:21), the reason behind this is uncovered (2:221).
In this kind of marriage, the Muslim will be most probably influenced by the polytheistic beliefs (which are in direct contradiction to Islamic teachings) of his/her partner. In such a condition, if the Muslim accepts those beliefs, he/she will be surely destined to enter Hell, and even if he/she remains Muslim, the conflicts between the couple will make their life a real Hell .
Then, for Muslim women, marrying a non-Muslim man (whether disbeliever (Kafir) or a believer in other Abrahamic religions) is undoubtedly against the divine guidelines and Islamic teachings, therefore, must be avoided.
As soon as one gets married, he/she is not fully independent anymore to decide for everything in life. Many habits and interests will be influenced by the preferences of one’s partner and even some of his/her beliefs. Getting married to a non-Muslim means to be seriously exposed day and night to the practices and beliefs of a religion other than Islam, or even to feed the mind with anti-religious thoughts.
This might in the first place hinder one from practicing Islam, then make him/her indifferent to Islamic beliefs and principles, and finally end in converting to a non-Muslim! And, women are more prone to this change: “You (Muslim men) are allowed to marry who doubt in their religious beliefs, but Muslim women are not; since the woman is influenced by her husband and he makes her follow his religion” .
Islam completes the teachings of the previous religions , therefore it does not allow Muslim women, who have taken the straight path with the help of divine guidance, to deviate and join disbelievers (Kafir) or the followers of other religions by getting married to a non-Muslim and consequently to be supervised by non-Muslims and depend upon them.
Islam considers certain rights for the wife over her husband. Treating gently, keeping respect, helping in household chores, forgiving her major mistakes, and honoring her are the duties of a husband in Islam . Besides, men are required to pay the marriage portion (Sedaq) and the living expenses (Nafaqah) to their spouses .
These rights will be most probably ignored in a marriage with a non-Muslim man of whether an Abrahamic religion or any other religions and this is another reason to ban Muslim women to marry non-Muslims.
To many children, fathers are heroes or at least good enough samples to follow in life. To some, fathers are only a member of the family. In any case, fathers play a predominant role in the education of children.
Hence, a non-Muslim father educates children based on his beliefs, and he surely affects the characteristics, attitudes, and religious beliefs of his children and more generally the following generations. This way, Muslim women married to non-Muslims might find their children disbelievers (Kafir) or followers of other religions, which will be really regretful.
Some Rulings …
The only way Muslim women might marry a non-Muslim man is that he converts to Islam before marriage.
If the formula (Nikah) of a marriage contract is pronounced before the conversion of the man, the marriage contract will be void. If the man converts after this void marriage, the formula (Nikah) still needs to be repeated since the man had not been Muslim during the previous formula (Nikah) [i].
Not getting married to a non-Muslim man is such important that if non-Muslim women (whether disbeliever (Kafir) or a believer in other Abrahamic religions) deliberately join Muslims or immigrates to Muslim communities, and if their faith is examined, It is forbidden (Haram) to send them back to their disbeliever family if they want to stay with Muslims. In this case, Muslim women are not any more lawful to their non-Muslim husband, his husband neither (60:10).
[i] See Risalah Amaliyah for more details and the rulings.
- S. H. al-Amili, “Wasail al-Shia”, vol. 14.
- A. H. Tayyib, “Atyab-ul-Bayan fi Tafsir-il-Qur'an”, (2: 221).
- M. B. Majlesi, “Bihar al-Anwar”, vol. 103, p. 377.
- M. B. Majlesi, “Bihar al-Anwar”, vol. 76, p. 7
Some people who are not well acquainted with the true Islamic teachings think that Islam has not provided for all Muslims equal social rights. And on account of the fact that Islam has made some distinctions between men's and women’s rights they conclude that the same distinctions are made in their social rights. As a result, the picture of women in Islam to them is usually the stereotype of an oppressed, inferior figure and bereft of any right.
Islam is the religion of equality and gender is not a standard for the preference of one over another. In fact, Islam has not only taught the equality of all humans before God but also promoted it in the social sphere. Consequently, in the Islamic social system men and women are granted equal rights and there is no difference between them about their gender.
But, the point is that “equality” does not mean the “similarity” of their rights, since men and women are not identical to one another in many respects . Therefore, we can deduce, although through comparing their rights a kind of disparity appears at the individual level, both of them privileges equal rights on the social scale.
The concept of women’s equal social rights is practically extended in all aspects of social life, and meanwhile, the “equality” does not reflect the meaning of “sameness.” Instead, it means that their social rights are equated in the matters related to self-worth and individual value to those of men.
Women are given a free hand to choose the occupation they want. But they have to note that their occupations should neither be incompatible with their physical and spiritual characteristics  nor in conflict with their duties towards their families.
This is why Islam has absolved them from providing for the family in the first place so that they become able to take care of their household as best as possible . However, they are entitled to receive a fair wage by their works either outside the house from their employers or inside the house from their husbands if they ask for it .
There is no restriction on women traveling alone if it is not inconsistent with the interests of their families. And regarding their social presence, it is a women’s right to be protected from men’s malicious eyes, whose obligation is casting his eyes down towards them .
In the Islamic social system, an equal emphasis is given to women for benefiting from social security systems and social services . Also, women’s right in benefiting from Islamic legal and juridical systems is equally safeguarded.
Many stories from the early period of Islamic history deal with women who referred their disputes to the Prophet (PBUH&HP) in the same way as men sought his judgment . Moreover, not only they share the right of election and the nomination to political offices with men but also can access the highest levels of political authority due to the Islamic laws, provided that it is not inconsistent with their physical and spiritual capacities and their responsibilities towards their families .
This right is so much important that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) once commanded that even slaved girls should be educated  and in one famous narration he considered seeking knowledge an essential task for both sexes .
In the light of the above facts, we can conclude that the idea of inferiority of the social status of women in Islam to men is void and baseless. However, as it was mentioned earlier, men's and women’s social rights are “equal” and not “similar” due to great differences between their characteristics.
That is why the social obligations of women in Islam are narrower than those of men; as Islam has exempted them from the burden of providing maintenance for the family  and even some religious practices.
- Mutahhari, Murtadha, The Rights of Women in Islam.
- Amini, Ibrahim, An Introduction to the Rights and Duties of Women in Islam.
- Penny, Sue, Islam, p.39.
- Lois, Beck, Women in Iran from 1800 to the Islamic Republic, pp. 165-166.
- Muhammad Javad, Bahonar, Islam and Women’s Rights.
- Universal Islamic Declaration of Human Rights; this article is available at https://www.whyislam.org.
- Johnson, Andy, Religion and Men’s violence against Women, pp. 322-325.
- Mahmudi, Hassan, Issues in Women’s rights: A Practitioner’s Resource Book, p. 47.
- Nasir, Jamal, The Statue of Women Under Islamic Law and Modern Islamic Legislation, p. 15.
- social rights
- Cornell, Vincent, Voices of Islam: Voices of life: family, home, and society, p. 85.
The first days of Islam were very difficult days for the Prophet (PBUH&HP) because he did not have many followers and the infidels could conspire for the Prophet (PBUH&HP) more easily. They even attacked his house to assassinate the Prophet (PBUH&HP), but thanks to Allah, this conspiracy was in vain. But in these difficult days, the Prophet (PBUH&HP) had very valuable companions with him, one of these precious followers was the wife of the Prophet, Lady Khadijah (AS). Now we want to know more about the Prophet's wife and her services to Islam and Muslim women.
Lady Khadijah (AS) was from the Quraysh tribe. Her father was Khuwaylid and her mother was Fatima, daughter of Zaydeh, both of whom were among the most rooted and noble Arab families in the Hejaz. Khuwaylid was the eldest of his tribe during the pre-Islamic period. Before the advent of Islam, Khadijah was considered one of the most prominent Quraysh women, so much so that she was called by the Lady of Quraysh women.
Although she was a beautiful and wealthy woman and had a lot of suitors, she did not accept them and started a business with the big amount of money she had. Until Prophet’s uncle asked his nephew to work for Khadijah like his other relatives, and he went to the Sham business on his behalf, and so it was continued. The decency of Muhammad (PBUH&HP) and his talent, merit, distinguished personality, and reputation for fiduciary duty made him famous in particular and in general that he was called "Muhammad Amin" *. This news and reports made Khadijah fascinated by her lineage, merit, character, and liking.
Lady Khadijah (AS) was the first Muslim woman in promoting Islamic culture and as a role model of a Muslim woman has played a great role and many women have learned lessons from her practical training. She was so faithful that even the Prophet (PBUH&HP) said this about her in various narrations, we will read some of them to know more about her great role and practical lessons:
1) The best women in the world are Khadijah and Maryam, the daughter of Imran (1)
2) One day, the Messenger of God (PBUH&HP) drew four lines. Then he asked: Do you know what these lines are? People said: God and His Messenger are more knowledgeable. The Prophet (PBUH&HP) said: The best women of Paradise are Maryam, the daughter of Imran, Khadijah, the daughter of Khuwaylid, and Fatimah, the daughter of Muhammad (peace be upon her), and Asiya, the wife of Pharaoh. (2)
In 24 years of living together with the Holy Prophet of Islam (PBUH&HP), Khadijah performed many services for the religion of Islam. The financial, spiritual, and emotional support of the Prophet (PBUH&HP), the acknowledgment of the Prophet in a time when no one approved of him, and his help against the persecution of the polytheists are some of these valuable services. After marrying the Prophet (PBUH&HP), Khadijah gave her property to him so that he could spend it however he wanted. The Holy Prophet of Islam says in this regard: "No wealth was as useful to me as the wealth of Khadijah."(3)
Khadijah, this noble lady not only believed in the message of the Prophet from the bottom of her heart but also helped him in the face of hardships and denials of polytheists and ill-wishers. While she was alive, she did not allow the persecution of the polytheists to be severe on the Messenger of Allah (PBUH&HP). When the Messenger of Allah (PBUH&HP) came home with a load of calamity and sorrow, Khadijah comforted him and removed the worry from his mind. The property of Khadijah was used as a suitable tool in the service of Islam and its development from the very beginning. Interestingly, the last part of Khadijah’s property was spent by Imam Ali (AS) during his emigration trip to Medina. Most Muslims traveled with Khadija's property. The last of them was a caravan led by Imam Ali (AS). (4)
She was also the mother of Fatima (AS), from whom the generation of Imams was born. Imam Sadigh (AS) said: "When Khadijah (AS) chose the Holy Prophet (PBUH&HP) as her husband, the women of Mecca turned away from her because of enmity. Not only did they not greet Khadijah; they even prevented other women from visiting her. In this way, a strange terror overwhelmed Khadijah.
Of course, she was more afraid of the Prophet (PBUH&HP) to be harmed than herself. When Khadijah became pregnant with Fatima, Fatima spoke to her in her mother's womb and advised her to be patient, but Khadijah kept this secret from the Prophet until one day she entered and heard that Khadijah was talking with someone. He looked around; but he did not see anyone, he asked: O Khadijah! Who are you talking to? Khadijah, in response, told that she was talking to the child she had in her womb, Prophet (PBUH&HP) replied: “Gabriel informed that this is a girl child. She and her descendants are pure, blessed, and Allah will create my descendants from him. From his generation are born the Imams of the religion and the Almighty, after breaking the revelation, makes them his successors on earth.” (5)
The position and role of lady Khadijah (AS) in the most difficult period of the history of Islam this affair is common knowledge. she played an important role in establishing and spreading Islam during the Besat** period with her material and spiritual support of the Holy Prophet (PBUH). She is a role model for men and women in society because she raised many human values and perfections inside herself. She gave all his wealth, economic facilities, and existence in the way of satisfaction of Allah and also with the spiritual, psychological, and social support for her husband, Prophet (PBUH), in promoting Islam and advancing its goals, thus making his name as a real and true model for a Muslim woman. She died in the tenth year of the Besat and shortly after the death of the Prophet’s uncle, Abu Talib (AS). Muslim women can learn from the practical lessons of lady Khadija (AS) throughout the history of Islam to be behind their husbands in any case and not to withhold any support from him.
- Al Umdah Ibn Tariq (page 405)
- Sirat Ibn Hisham (first Volume - Page 168)
- Encyclopedia of Shia (second volume – page 47)
- Encyclopedia of Shia (second volume – page 49)
- Encyclopedia of Shia (third volume – page 46)
* Amin means a trustee and someone who is trusted to keep the treasure of others while he does not betray or abuse the trust others gave him.
** Besat refers to the election of Prophet Mohammad (PBUHHP) as a prophet and the beginning of his mission