Why aren’t Muslim women allowed to marry non-Muslims?

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?

 

Choosing a Compatible Mate to Marry for Muslim Women

 

In many narrations (Hadiths) [1] 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 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 the Hell, and even if he/she remains Muslim, the conflicts between the couple will make their life a real Hell [2].

 

Then, for Muslim women, marrying a non-Muslim man (whether disbeliever (Kafir) or believer in other Abrahamic religions) is undoubtedly against the divine guidelines and Islamic teachings, therefore, must be avoided.

 

Muslim women

 

Marriage Affects One’s Religious Life

 

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” [3].

 

Islam completes the teachings of the previous religions [4], 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.

 

Fulfillment of the Wife’s Rights in a Marriage

 

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 of the duties of a husband in Islam [5]. Besides, men are required to pay the marriage portion (Sedaq) and the living expenses (Nafaqah) to their spouses [5].

 

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.

 

Muslim women

Children’s Education and the Following Generations

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 the 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 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).


 

Notes:

[i]  See Risalah Amaliyah for more details and the rulings.

 

References:

[1] S. H. al-Amili, “Wasail al-Shia”, vol. 14.

[2] A. H. Tayyib, “Atyab-ul-Bayan fi Tafsir-il-Qur'an”, (2: 221).

[3] M. B. Majlesi, “Bihar al-Anwar”, vol. 103, p. 377.

[4] M. B. Majlesi, “Bihar al-Anwar”, vol. 76, p. 7