Can a Muslim woman marry a Non-Muslim Man? Short Version

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This is the short version of the article. If you are the Muslim woman considering marrying outside your faith, please read the full Version – 6000 Words – it may give you a few answers and relief.

This article brings a serious discussion about a marriage of single Muslim women in America in general and Muslim women in their fifties in particular. There are not enough Muslim men out there, and interfaith marriage is one of the few viable options to them. Most American Muslim Women rule out the idea of marrying someone from their home country as it does not work out culturally nor do they have the patience for arranged marriages. They want to get to know the guy before marrying, and that is not easy. Today, nearly 40% of Muslim women marry outside of their faith and most of them without conversion.

Researching the matrimonial sites, out of 1000 Muslim women, only 30% of them over the age of 50 have listed Islam as their religion, the rest have registered themselves as spiritual but not religious, and they invariably add, “religion is no bar.” Meaning, people of others faiths can approach.

There is nothing you can do, it is not your life, and you don’t have solutions either. You can tell them to marry a Muslim man, but it is their life, they have seen the growth, go through a divorce or have not married at all, and they know what they want. They want a man, not a religion to marry.  A majority of Muslims quietly go along with these decisions, some have a lot of questions, and some are ready to quote verses from Quran and make declarations that they are out of the pale of Islam.

By the way, this is not an exclusively Muslim problem; it is a problem in all faiths, again it is not the faith, but the whims of the guardians of the gospel.

This piece is not for you.

If you are a binary Muslim who is robotic and parrots between two words Halal and Haram on an autopilot, then this article is not for you. If you believe your religion is a guidance to live a happy and harmonious life and God has given the brains to think and live such an experience, please read on!. Remember, Islam is a deen of Fitra, a natural reflection of one’s nature, so if it is not common sense, then it is not Islam. Islam is not about forcing and regulating others life but bringing harmony and peace to mankind.

This piece is for those Muslims who understand the essence of Islam which is to create cohesive societies. It is for those who follow God’s signs. He has created the earth and the heavens, planets and the systems and programmed them to function cohesively. To understand cohesion, let’s start with our own bodies. We are composed of billions of different cells, but most certainly we can see that our bodies have several different organs, and all of them have to work together for us to live a normal life.  We are one planet, one earth and one system of creation and through one cause. That is one God.

If your answer is an emphatic no to a Muslim woman marrying a non-Muslim, then please don’t read this article. It is not for you.

But, if you are struggling with the idea of pursuing a relationship with a man, who is not a Muslim, but you like him and want to spend your life with him and are tempted to be Bibi Khadija, then it is worth reading the entire 6000 words piece with most possible questions and answers and references.  Finding the truth is your own responsibility, and in Islam, no one is responsible for your actions but you,  and no one bears the burden of others. It is your decision, and you have to live with it, so think through it.

The answer to the question has always been an emphatic NO. Guarding the flock is a human trait, and no tradition wants to lose a member of their culture to the other, whether you are a Hindu, Christian, Sikh or a Jew, Republican, Democrat, Libertarian or new, indeed, any tradition for that matter. Muslims are no exception either, and there is no need to beat up on Islam for your deficiency incomprehension.

This paper explores possible causes for the Yes or No response, and what happens if that cause is not there anymore. The primary source of Islamic knowledge is Quran and Hadiths that are authentic and reflect the personality of the prophet; mercy to mankind.

Quran does not expressly forbid Muslim women marrying non-Muslim men, and neither prophet has explicitly prohibited it. If you read the verses particularly the oft-quoted verses 60:10 and 2:221. There is an advisement to marry with whom you are compatible, and with whom you can live in harmony with. It is relational guidance that a believing bondsman is better than a non-believing man and vice-versa for men. The comparison is for one to understand that the social status is not essential, but harmony is.

Marriage is all about harmony – God wants his creation to live in peace. You don’t want to live with someone with conflicts throughout the day.  If you find a spouse who can live with you in harmony despite religion, race or region, then that ‘advisement’ or the condition is not applicable anymore.  After all, God is the one who puts love between two souls and it the couple who has to live their lives.

In verse 60:10 disbelievers were those individuals who prevented the believers from practicing their faith; there was an element of hostility between them. But today, most people of faith are believers in God in one fashion or the other. But those who do not believe in God will have difficulty to live with those who do think, and it is not advisable to marry them. I have officiated weddings between an Atheist and a faithful, it is about harmony and not the belief. If they can live in Harmony, God will not come in between their love, it is him or his system that made each other want to come together.  It is about compatibility and harmony and not religion or another case.

One of the most beautiful couplets to express this ‘love,’ ‘attraction’ between two people was represented by an Indian poet Ghalib some 150 years ago. He says,

Ishq an o aatish hai Ghalib, ke lagaye na lage, bujhaye no bujhe.
Love is such a flame Ghalib that you can cause it nor can you put it off, it just happens.

The questions are endless, but the answer is a powerful one, and that is accountability.  In the traditional societies parents rightfully felt responsible for guarding the happiness of their offspring, whereas parents in North America are learning to believe that their kids are independent and know what they want in their lives, and will find their own happiness.  Ultimately they have to live their own lives, and you cannot babysit them forever.  American Muslim parents trust their kids to do the right thing and let them run their own lives. Please note that this comparison is made with Muslims living elsewhere in the world.

There is one segment of single Muslim women that is reaching an enormous percent of all the single women.  These women are in their late 40’s and 50’s, and are divorced or widowed and certainly not looking for a provider, nor do they entertain having children – the traditional marriage items.  They are merely looking to have a friend and a companion in their marriages and live their own lives. God wants nothing more for his creation than harmony and happiness.

No woman should be denied her right to life, liberty, and happiness. No one can push an American Muslim woman to marry anyone other than whom she wants. By marrying someone she can be happy with, her faith remains strong, if not she would a Muslim in the name.

Some of us may not want to acknowledge it, but the 2nd and 3rd generation American Muslims will have their own Islam that differs from others in other lands. However the American practice of Islam would be closer to the one Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) practiced; a religion committed to building cohesive societies and caring for fellow humans and environment, in essence, Islam tells you to mind your own business as you do on the Day of Judgment.

Indeed, we all have the same Islam, and there is no doubt about it. However, our cultures are different, the culture of Nahadatul Ulema,  Deobandis, Naqshbandis, Sufis, Sunnis, Shias, Ahmadiyya, Ismailis, WD Deen Muhammad, Bohri’s, Nation of Islam, Alawites, Wahhabis, and others vary in practices from region to region. Even our rules are divided into six different schools of thought. The Islam practiced by Baghdadi is not the same as the one practiced by any American Muslim.  All of them are Muslims in their own right, and none of us have the power or permission from God to belittle or denigrate the other.

If God had said no to a Muslim woman marrying a non-Muslim man, it would have been told in the Quran, there is not even an inference. God does not make mistakes; instead, he empowers us to figure out our own equilibrium.

This essay is merely an expression of what many American Muslims are thinking but are afraid to express. I am pleased to present some thoughts to reflect on; ultimately the decision to marry rests in the hearts and minds of the individuals marrying. It is their life, and it is God who puts love in their hearts for each other.

God bless the Interfaith and Interracial Couples! Despite their religious, racial or cultural differences, they are setting the new standards of civility by showing the world how to live in harmony. Isn’t that is what God wants? We have to cherish and honor the couples who embrace genuine humanity by accepting each other’s uniquenesses.

When people are showing extreme intolerance towards each other, the interfaith and interracial couples are showing the way to live in harmony and are contributing to the idea of one nation. They are indeed exemplary patriotic Americans.

If we can learn to respect the otherness of other and accept the God-given uniqueness of each one of the seven billion of us, then conflicts fade and solutions emerge.

The sole intent of this essay is to understand the struggle of “Single American Muslim women” and keeping them from living with frustrations of culture and their wants and needs. We have expanded our fold to be reflective of God’s boundlessness and extending Prophet Muhammad’s mercy to the entire universe. After all, God says, he created all of us from one single couple; thus we are all one family and should not have any barriers between us.

Full Paper is 6000-plus words and is located at

Here is another article was written by Dr. Asma Lamrabelt, Muslim Scholar in Morocco, I was pleased to read as she also has a similar but a layered take.

Dr. Mike Mohamed Ghouse is committed to building a cohesive America and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day.

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