بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
To my brother in Islam,
As, Salamu alaykum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatahu. I pray this letter reaches you while you are in the best state of Islam and Iman. It’s been a while since we sat down and talked about the issue of you marrying that Christian lady. I’ve gathered some of my thoughts here on paper that you can reflect over. The first thing I want to add is the hadith of our Prophet (ﷺ) who said, “A woman is married for four things: for her wealth, for her lineage, for her beauty or for her piety. Select the pious, may you be blessed!
There are some scholars who say it’s allowed to marry a Christian and a Jew, and others prohibit it. Let’s discuss those who don’t allow it and look at their reasons why. Allah said, “And do not marry Al-Mushrikat (idolatresses, etc.) till they believe (worship Allah Alone).2:221.Then among the polytheists Allah mentioned the people of the scripture. He said:, “Made lawful to you this day are At-Tayyibat [all kinds of Halal (lawful) foods, which Allah has made lawful (meat of slaughtered eatable animals, etc., milk products, fats, vegetables and fruits, etc.). The food (slaughtered cattle, eatable animals, etc.) of the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians) is lawful to you and yours is lawful to them. (Lawful to you in marriage) are chaste women from the believers and chaste women from those who were given the Scripture (Jews and Christians) before your time, when you have given their due Mahr (bridal money given by the husband to his wife at the time of marriage)[5:5].
Imam Ash-Shafa’I said at first all the polytheists were included then the verse allowing marriage and food from the people of book was sent down. There are some people who believe the verse in Al-Baqarah abrogated the ruling for marrying the People of the Scripture in Al-Ma’idah. Therefore they don’t allow this marriage. There is a narration collected in Sahih Al-Bukhari Whenever Ibn `Umar was asked about marrying a Christian lady or a Jewess, he would say: “Allah has made it unlawful for the believers to marry ladies who ascribe partners in worship to Allah, and I do not know of a greater thing, as regards to ascribing partners in worship, etc. to Allah, than that a lady should say that Jesus is her Lord although he is just one of Allah’s slaves.”. An-Nahas in his tafsir rejected this saying it went against the consensus of the sahabah and Taabee’een. Moreover, it’s not possible that the verse in Al-Baqarah abrogated the verse in Al-Ma’idah; as Al-Baqarah was revealed in Madinah before Al-Ma’idah. The majority of the scholars hold the view that the verse in Al-Baqarah is general and the one in Al-Ma’idah is specific.
Now that the argument about the verse is out of the way let’s mention some other scholars who considered marrying a Jew or a Christian disliked. Atta ibn Rab’ah considered that verse was revealed at a time when the Muslim women were few. Ibn Umar disliked Muslims marrying Jews and Christians. Huthayfah ibn Al-Yaman married a Jew and Ibn Umar wrote him a letter requesting him to leave her, so Huthayfah wrote back asking him was it Haraam and Ibn Umar replied, “No”. Ibn Umar used to say the Muslim women are large in number, and I’m afraid the men will leave off single Muslim women, for the People of the Scripture. Among the four schools of Jurists, we find that Muhashi Al-Hanafi said, “ It’s allowed to marry from the people of the book, but it’s still better to avoid it and their food ;unless it’s necessary.” Ibn Habib Al-Malikey said: “Although we are allowed marrying Jews and Christians it’s burdensome.” Imam Ash-Shafa’I said: “I prefer that Muslim men don’t marry women from the people of the Book.” Now, if they are Christians who follow the Pslams of David, or the Scripture of Seth and Ibrahim then it’s not allowed to marry them, as these aren’t considered Holy books, but only admonitions.
Talha ibn ‘Ubaid married a Jew as well and Jabir ibn Abdillah was asked about this and he said, We married the Jews and the Christians during our conquest of Kufa;since there weren’t many Muslim women available for marriage, but after we returned back home we divorced them. Their women are lawful for us and our women aren’t lawful for them in matrimony. From these stories we see the Prophet’s companions married the People of the book and Jabir explained why. Some Shafa’i jurists explained the permissibility only relating to those whose ancestors were Christians and Jews before the bible was distorted and the advent of Muhammad[ﷺ], while those who entered into Christianity afterwards aren’t considered Ahlul Kitab. Nonetheless, that’s a view by some Imams in that school and Al-Khalal Al-Hanbali mentioned that you don’t have to ask about her ancestral beliefs.
We have arrived at the opinion that it’s permissible to marry Jews and Christians and just because something is permissible that doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to do, and at times it can be Haraam on a specific person. For instance, a man has a pious wife with no defects, but he wants to marry another woman, a Christian or Jew for example; however, he wouldn’t be able to treat them fairly. So what’s the verdict for this second wife, who in origin is permissible for him to marry? Consequently, the verdict for polygyny for that brother is Haraam, as the allowance for him to have more than one wife is built on the condition of his ability to be fair and just between wives. Additionally, the condition of choosing that Christian or that Jewish girl to be your wife is she must be chaste. The chaste girl is pure in thought and act and innocent of unlawful sexual intercourse. The same way it’s not permissible for you to marry a woman known for being a fornicator or an adulteress, you can’t take on the Christian lady who isn’t chaste.
About half a century ago we can say the women were more modest when compared to today and during the era of the companions far more modest than 5o years ago. This is the difficult thing you have to accept now. How can we allow someone into our homes and family who is different in their belief system, manners, and traditions? When they join our family they bring their western lifestyle, which has zero concern for modesty but instead view immorality as a sign of progression. Bear in mind too that the first educator of the children is the mother.
A man needs a wife for many things. He needs her to cook for him, to help in his household, for sexual relations, and to protect his secrets. And most importantly to educate his children, and for other things related to his religion growth, thus the non-Muslimah doesn’t offer this like a Muslim woman does. She plays a role in her husband’s life as his assistant and supporter to help him remain firm in his religion. The Muslimah helps her husband uphold the Islamic laws and practices. Practices such as getting up for Fajr, going to Eid and Jumu’ah and fasting and preparing Sahoor are things she might not have concern for. What’s more, the Muslimah is the best choice for the children. She will raise them as Muslim with Islamic principles, and the Islamic belief system. The non-Muslimah can’t offer this, but it’s still permissible to marry her.
There are some verdicts for this marriage that you must consider as well. Some of them are; there is no inheritance between you. Meaning you can’t inherit from her and she can’t inherit from you. The maintenance for her is the same as it would be for a Muslim woman. Imam Az-Zarkhashi Ash-Shafi mentioned that you need to make her perform ghusl after her menstrual cycle and post-natal bleeding.
There are more things that you should consider which can and will possibly be a trial for you after you marry her. Christians don’t take Ghusl . The Christians don’t wear Hijab, and go out with mini-skirts and tight jeans. Also, the issues with your father-in-law and mother-in-law and the child, if you have one, are something to seriously place in your mind.
I always tell my children and friends who consider getting married that getting married is easy, the test comes in remaining married. The last point I want to mention here is think about your children and their future. None of us know the unseen, but in the event, there is a divorce the mother will be awarded custody of your child. Think about some of the stories some scholars of Morocco mentioned. There was a man who lived in the countryside in Tangier that married a woman from Spain. They had 3 daughters together and after the father died the girls returned to Spain and became Christians. Also there was a government employee who lived in Rabat that married a French Christian. They had four children and one day they had a major dispute to the point that the husband went to work and when he came home he found the house empty. Allah’s aide is sought. Remember to pray Al-Istakara.
Written by your brother in Islam,
Abu Aaliyah Abdullah ibn Dwight Battle