Revisiting the Quran on Muslim Interfaith Marriage

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Can a Muslim Woman Marry a Non-Muslim?
A thoroughly researched article and answers the reason and purpose of why there was resistance all these years. http://interfaithmarriages.org/can-a-muslim-woman-marry-a-non-muslim-man/
Mike Ghouse
Interfaith Wedding Officiant
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Revisiting the Quran on Muslim Interfaith Marriage
By: Farhad Shafti
Courtesy – Exploring Islam 

The dominating understanding among Muslims is that while Muslim men are allowed to marry people of the book, Muslim women are not allowed to do so. In fact, even in the case of Muslim men some scholars argue that their marriage with women from the people of the book needs to be with the condition that Islam will prevail in the family, and good chances that the wife will eventually convert to Islam. This understanding also includes the view that the allowance of marriage for Muslim men is only limited to marriage with Jewish or Christian women and that marriage with non-Muslim followers of any other faith or ideology is forbidden for both Muslim men and Muslim women.

​In this article I review and assess the interpretations of the verses of the Qur’an that have led to the above conclusions. I discuss why in my view, such interpretations are false and contradictory and will offer a revised understanding based on these verses. My main argument is that no verse of the Qur’an has forbidden marriage between Muslim women and the people of the book, and that in fact no verses of the Qur’an has forbidden interfaith/ideology marriage (i.e. marrying with a person of a different faith or ideology) per se. I argue that the whole misunderstanding is due to generalising the meaning of the words Mushrik (polytheist) and Kafir (infidel) and not appreciating the real criteria of the Qur’an for forbidding marriage. I conclude, based on verses of the Qur’an that a Muslim (man or woman) may marry the follower of any other faith or ideology as long as that person is chaste and does not have enmity with the concept of God or Islam, and, does not explicitly and admittedly believe in more than one god. I also argue that Islam being prevailed in the family is not a condition for marrying with a non-Muslim and that it is not expected that the non-Muslim who marries a Muslim would eventually convert to Islam. I however appreciate that there can be very understandable and reasonable religious or cultural motivations that would make marriage with a non-Muslim a less desirable option for a Muslim.

I will first review and analyse the dominating view on the Qur’an and marriage with non-Muslims. This is mainly a critical discussion of the traditional interpretations of verses 60:10, 2:221 and 5:5. I will then present my understanding of what the Qur’an says about who to marry with and who not to marry with.

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Reviewing the dominating view:
The dominating view on this subject first invests on two verses of 60:10 and 2:221, and then based on conclusions from these verses interprets verse 5:5. While I disagree with the interpretations that the dominant view holds for these verses, I do agree with this sequence of studying the verses of the Qur’an on this subject. I therefore follow the same route by first discussing verses 60:10 and 2:221 and then looking at verse 5:5:

Verse 60:10

يا أَيُّهَا الَّذينَ آمَنُوا إِذا جاءَكُمُ الْمُؤْمِناتُ مُهاجِراتٍ فَامْتَحِنُوهُنَّ اللَّهُ أَعْلَمُ بِإيمانِهِنَّ فَإِنْ عَلِمْتُمُوهُنَّ مُؤْمِناتٍ فَلا تَرْجِعُوهُنَّ إِلَى الْكُفَّارِ لا هُنَّ حِلٌ‏ لَهُمْ وَ لا هُمْ يَحِلُّونَ لَهُن‏ …

     Believers, when believing immigrant women come to you, test them. God knows best about their faith. If you recognise them as believers, then do not return them to the infidels. They (i.e. believing women) are not lawful for them (i.e. infidels) and those (i.e. infidels) are not lawful for them (i.e. believing women) … (60:10)

The argument of the dominating view goes as follows:

  1. The verse forbids marriage of Muslim women with a kafir (infidel)
  2. A non-Muslim is kafir

a + b = a Muslim woman cannot marry a non-Muslim

The main problem with the above argument is in clause ‘b’. It assumes that non-Muslim and Kafir are equal. This however is not the way that the Qur’an uses the word kafir. In the terminology of the Qur’an kafir is one that rejects the truth, not because he is not convinced by it, but because of his/her arrogance. Such person recognises the truth or recognises an opportunity to see the truth, yet rejects it only due to arrogance. The verdict on whether one is kafir or not can only come from God through His messengers. Even a messenger of God cannot determine without revelation from God, if a person is kafir (a deliberation on verses 10:98 and 21:87, also verse 9:101 is recommended). Accordingly, non-Muslims at our time are not and should not be called kafir. The verses of the Qur’an are very clear about this definition and there are numerous verses that can be referred to. To name a few: 2:109, 2:256, 4:115, 8:6, 47:25, 47:32, 2:22, 2:42, 3:71, 61:5, 2:146, 6:20. To read more about the meaning of kafir please read my other article: An Insight into the Concept of ‘Kafir’ in the Qur’an.

The second problem with the above reasoning is that the ruling given in verse 60:10 is not even a general rule about marriage for Muslims. As it is clear from the wording of the verse Itself, the given ruling is specific to two groups of the direct addressees of the Qur’an at the time of the prophet (pbuh), these are the believers and the Mushriks (polytheists) of the time in Mecca. The verse is specifically addressing a very local issue that occurred after migration of Muslims to Medina. There were some newly converted Muslim women, based in Mecca, whose husbands were Mushriks. They were taking or had the intention of taking refuge in the Muslim community in Madinah. Muslims needed to know how to deal with this situation. The verse simply provides a solution to this local issue by giving a very specific ruling about it.
So the verse is a very specific one. It is not about non-Muslims, it is about Kafirs (infidels). It is not about all Kafirs, it is about Mushriks (idol worshippers) among them. It is not even about all Mushriks, it is about those Mushriks who were residing at the time in Mecca, who were actively or potentially the enemies of Muslims.
So to conclude, verse 60:10 is neither applicable nor relevant to the question of marriage to non-Muslims in general.

Verse 2:221

وَ لا تَنْكِحُوا الْمُشْرِكاتِ حَتَّى يُؤْمِنَّ وَ لَأَمَةٌ مُؤْمِنَةٌ خَيْرٌ مِنْ مُشْرِكَةٍ وَ لَوْ أَعْجَبَتْكُمْ وَ لا تُنْكِحُوا الْمُشْرِكينَ حَتَّى يُؤْمِنُوا وَ لَعَبْدٌ مُؤْمِنٌ خَيْرٌ مِنْ مُشْرِكٍ وَ لَوْ أَعْجَبَكُمْ‏ أُولئِكَ يَدْعُونَ إِلَى النَّارِ وَ اللَّهُ يَدْعُوا إِلَى الْجَنَّةِ وَ الْمَغْفِرَةِ بِإِذْنِهِ وَ يُبَيِّنُ آياتِهِ لِلنَّاسِ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَتَذَكَّرُون‏

     And do not marry the idolatresses until they believe And certainly a believing maid is better than an idolatress woman, even though she should please you And do not give (believing women) in marriage to idolaters until they believe And certainly a believing servant is better than an idolater, even though he should please you These (idolaters) invite to the Fire And God invites to the heaven and to forgiveness by His will And makes clear His communications to people, that they may be mindful (2:221)

Among the dominant view there seems to be mostly two different lines of arguments based on the above verse. I summarise both arguments as follows:

Argument One:

  1. The verse forbids marriage with mushriks
  2. Non-Muslims are mushriks

a + b = Therefore marriage with non-Muslims is in principle forbidden (the argument then goes on to consider verse 5:5 as one that has made an exception only for Muslim men, with regard to people of the book).

​Argument Two:

  1. The verse forbids marriage with mushriks
  2. Followers of non-Abrahamic religions are mushriks

a + b = Therefore marriage with followers of non-Abrahamic religions is forbidden (the argument then goes on to consider 5:5 as a stand-alone instruction where only Muslim men are allowed to marry people of the book).

The main problem with both the above arguments is in the interpretation of the word mushrik in clause ‘b’ of these arguments:
Not every person who has shirk in his beliefs can be called a mushrik. While shirk is an attitude, mushrik is a person who consciously and knowingly associates partners to God. The best example can be given from the Qur’an. The Qur’an (9:31) definitely considers the view that Jesus (pbuh) is the son of God as an act of shirk (polytheism). However, nowhere in the Qur’an Christians are called mushrik (polytheist). The Qur’an has categorically distinguished between a mushrik and a Christian. Verse 98:1 is a very clear example where people of the book are referred to as a group other than mushriks (polytheists).

Accordingly, based on the Qur’an, not only people of the book are not mushrik, followers of other religions and ideologies are not mushrik either, unless they explicitly believe in more than one god by their own confession. So for instance an atheist is not a mushrik. An atheist is simply a person who is not convinced that God exists.

I therefore consider the conclusions that are derived in the above two arguments to be false and do not agree with such interpretation of verses 60:10 and 2:221. Since this interpretation is the basis of the dominating view in interpreting verse 5:5, therefore I cannot agree with their interpretation of verse 5:5 either. I explain this in the next section.

Verse 5:5:

الْيَوْمَ أُحِلَّ لَكُمُ الطَّيِّباتُ وَ طَعامُ الَّذينَ أُوتُوا الْكِتابَ حِلٌّ لَكُمْ وَ طَعامُكُمْ حِلٌّ لَهُمْ وَ الْمُحْصَناتُ‏ مِنَ الْمُؤْمِناتِ وَ الْمُحْصَناتُ‏ مِنَ الَّذينَ أُوتُوا الْكِتابَ مِنْ قَبْلِكُمْ إِذا آتَيْتُمُوهُنَّ أُجُورَهُنَّ مُحْصِنينَ غَيْرَ مُسافِحينَ وَ لا مُتَّخِذي أَخْدانٍ وَ مَنْ يَكْفُرْ بِالْإيمانِ فَقَدْ حَبِطَ عَمَلُهُ وَ هُوَ فِي الْآخِرَةِ مِنَ الْخاسِرين‏

     Today all ‘clean’ things are made lawful for you. And the food to whom the Book was given is lawful to you and your food is lawful to them. And (lawful for you are) the chaste women of the believers and the chaste women from among the People to whom the Book is given, when you give them their dowers, and (with the condition that) you desire chastity not lewdness nor becoming secret paramours. And they who reject faith shall gain nothing from their deeds and in the world to come they will be among the losers. (5:5)

The typical argument of the dominant view is as follows:

  1. Any Muslim has to marry a Muslim unless being given an allowance
  2. The above verse gives allowance only to male Muslims to marry people of the book, that are Jews and Christians

a + b = a female Muslim is not allowed to marry people of the book

As it is clear from the conclusion of the last part, I do not see any basis for clause ‘a’. As I explained, verses 60:10 and 2:221 are not referring to marriage with non-Muslims. Also nowhere else in the Qur’an we have any instructions that would explicitly forbid marriage with non-Muslims.

As for clause ‘b’, verse 5:5 starts with a phrase that is not a new one at the time of revelation, that is, ‘clean things are made lawful for you’. Since this was already known by Muslims at the time, therefore it is clear that the rest of the verse is not providing any new instructions or an allowance. Rather, it simply provides clarification on what else is among clean things. The multiple ‘and’s in this verse are connecting their following phrase by the way of clarification. Therefore the clause ‘b’ in the above argument is also not correct because no allowance was intended here. I will discuss this in more detail later in this article.

My interpretative translation of the verse, stressing on the clarification links within the verse, is as follows:
Today all ‘clean’ things are made lawful for you. And (therefore) the food to whom the Book was given is lawful to you and your food is lawful to them. And (for the same reason lawful to you are) the chaste women of the believers and the chaste women from among the People to whom the Book is given, when you give them their dowers, and (with the condition that) you desire chastity not lewdness nor becoming secret paramours. And they who reject faith shall gain nothing from their deeds and in the world to come they will be among the losers. (5:5)

Once it is established that this verse is a clarification rather than a new instruction or allowance, then the issue of why female Muslims are not mentioned can be discussed.

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The Issue of Not Including Female Muslims Marriage with People of the Book in 5:5:

The argument of the dominant view is that since the female Muslims are not mentioned therefore they are not allowed to marry the people of the book. This argument only holds if we assume that 5:5 is giving a new instruction or allowance. This is an assumption that, as I explained above, cannot be true due to the beginning of the verse, where an already revealed instruction (i.e. ‘clean’ things are made lawful for you) is repeated.

There are two further problems with this understanding:

  • Verse 5:5 starts by reiterating that ‘clean’ things are permissible for believers. Then the verse counts chaste women from the people of the book as what can be considered as ‘clean’ (tayyib). To argue that women but not men, from the people of the book, are good for marriage is equal to saying that chaste women from the people of the book are ‘clean’ but their chaste men are not ‘clean’! This does not make any sense.
  • It is not in line with the style of the Qur’an to not spell out something that is illegal (haram) and leave it to interpretation. When it comes to regulations, the Qur’an is very clear about what is haram. Verse 2:221 is a clear example. The emphasis of the verse to mention both male and female is not to be missed. One could argue that in 2:221 it was enough to mention male Muslims and to leave it to the reader to deduce that the same applies to female Muslims. The verse however insists on mentioning both male and female and allocates a separate instruction and sentence for each. Similarly, if it was forbidden for female Muslims to marry people of the book, then this emphasising style of the Qur’an would demand this to be added to the instructions in verse 5:5. Verse 5:5 therefore would have continued with a phrase to say that the people of the book however are illegal for female Muslims.

As explained earlier, verse 5:5 simply clarifies what else are among the ‘clean’ and therefore lawful things. Once it is established that the verse considers chaste women of the people of the book ‘clean’ and therefore lawful for Muslim men, then it can easily follow from there that chaste men of the people of the book are also ‘clean’ and therefore lawful for female Muslims.

This then leads to the question of why then verse 5:5 is silent about Muslim women marrying people of the book:
In my understanding the reason for not mentioning marriage between Muslim women and people of the book in 5:5 is very simple and straightforward. Like many other verses of the Qur’an, verse 5:5 is located among the group of verses that are primarily and directly addressing men among the believers and not women. Deliberation on verses 5:2, 8 (where it refers to not exceeding limits due to animosity) and 5:6 (where men only are addressed with regard to ritual bath) reveals the tone of this group of verses. It is in fact due to this dominantly male tone in verse 5:5 that even for marriage among Muslims the verse only addresses male Muslims. For the same reason when it comes to marriage with people of the book only male Muslims are addressed.

Apart from the above, it should also be noted that the scenario of an Arab woman (no matter Muslim or non-Muslim) intending to marry a man from the people of the book could be a very unlikely scenario at the tribal system of the Arabs at the time anyway. In order to understand and appreciate this, one needs to read and study the mechanism of this tribal society. In the Arab society of the time binding among members of a tribe was an essential survival element. As part of this binding, if a marriage was to take place with another tribe, the tribe of the groom would demand the bride to move to their tribe and become one of them. We read in the article ‘Women in Pre-Islamic Arabia’, published by Muslim Women’s League, which itself benefits from a number of credible references, the following:

“Marrying women, for the most part, had the purpose of increasing the number of the tribe’s members and in turn, its power. … If the husband was from another tribe, the woman often left her family and found a permanent home in her husband’s tribe. The tribe which received the woman kept her children, unless there was a special contract to restore the offspring of the marriage to the mother’s people. The children were, therefore, of the tribe’s kin and not of the mother’s. In some other tribes, it was customary that the woman did not leave her own tribe, but either married someone within the tribe or married a stranger who agreed to stay with her family.”

Accordingly, Arab women used to marry within their own tribes and where a woman would marry an Arab man from another tribe normally she would migrate to that tribe, or the complex tribal relationship would demand the man to migrate to the woman’s tribe. The people of the book, although having their own tribal system, were in a totally different category of social identity. It is understandable that in such rigid tribal structure, with such carefully protected tribal patriotism and in the overall male-dominant society of the Arabs at the time, the marriage of an Arab tribal woman with a total stranger (i.e. a person from the people of the book) could be very unlikely. This would practically mean losing points in the tribal rivalry and strength without anything to receive in return. A scenario that was even less likely at the exceptionally sensitive political condition of the time in Arabia, when the Muslim community was just establishing itself.

In comparison, the marriage of a Muslim woman with a polytheist in the same tribal category could be a very common scenario because both parties belonged to the same category of tribal system and in most cases to the same tribes. This is why the Qur’an addressed this issue for both genders in 2:221.

So to summarise, in my view verse 5:5 cannot be used to forbid the marriage of a Muslim woman with a man from the people of the book. Not mentioning interfaith marriage for a female Muslim was simply due to the dominating male tone of the verse. This was also a very unlikely scenario in the tribal system of the Arabs at the time, and even a more unlikely one, considering the political situation at the time.

The actual criteria of the Qur’an for marriage are discussed at the end of this article.

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The Issue of Whether Islam should Prevail in an Interfaith Marriage:

As far as I am concerned, there is only one other issue that needs discussion in this article. This is:

  •  Has the Qur’an made the permissibility of marriage with women from the people of the book conditional to Islam prevailing in the family, which may then result in the woman converting to Islam eventually?

Before discussing this, I would like to make the above question and its scope clear by the following two points:

  1. There is no doubt that for the newly developed and established community of Muslims in Arabia at the time of the prophet (pbuh) Islam being the prevailing religion in the family could be a very important determining factor in an interfaith marriage. For the same reason, there is no doubt that in such male dominant society, no Muslim woman would want or was allowed to marry a non-Muslim.
  2. There is no question that a Muslim who intends to marry a non-Muslim may consider the possibility of him/her eventually converting to Islam desirable.

Here all that is under discussion is whether the Qur’an has made marriage with people of the book conditional to Islam prevailing in the family.
For instance, from among those scholars who express the above view, Javed Ahmad Ghamidi writes:

It should be kept in mind that the verse quoted above begins with the word اَلْيَوْم  (this day). It is evident from this word that this permission had a lot to do with the fact that monotheism had become distinct from polytheism and no confusion remained between the two. It was thus expected that if Muslim men would marry among the People of the Book, these women would be positively influenced by Islam. In this way, not only would there be no clash between monotheism and polytheism, but also there was a great chance that most of them would accept Islam. Consequently, Muslims today must necessarily take this aspect into consideration if they want to benefit from this permission. (Mizan, 391, 2)

Before I address this, I would like to make it clear that the arguments like the above are products of pure personal deduction. The fact is, the verse 5:5 itself has only put three conditions for the women from the people of the book to be married, and Islam prevailing in the family is not one of them.

After appreciating the above point, it is important to reiterate the point that was made earlier. The verse indeed starts with ‘today’, however the ruling that comes immediately after ‘today’ is not a new one, but one that was revealed much earlier. The first statement is that ‘clean’ things (tayyibat) are made lawful to you. This definitely was not a news to Muslims because the much earlier revealed verses of 7:32 and 7:157 (as well as verses like 8:26, 16:72, 17:70, 40:64, 45:16) have already given this ruling. As discussed earlier, the verse is clarifying a rule rather than initiating one. The clarification here is that food and chaste women from the people of the book are among the ‘clean’ (tayyibat).

I do appreciate that this clarification was left to be made when Muslims were in power. This is totally understandable. However in order to give a legal function to the word Today, all the phrases of the verse should be looked at and treated in the same way. The verse also says that the food of the people of the book is ‘clean’ and lawful. The verse further says that chaste women from among the believers are lawful. The question is, if Muslims are not in power, are all the items that are considered ‘clean’ in 5:5 become unlawful, including the food of the people of the Book and the chaste female believers?! How is it possible to argue that the word Today has legal implications only for one of the three of the items that are considered as ‘clean’ in verse 5:5?

In fact there seems to be a complete disregard about the fact that the verse has closely linked ‘permissibility of marrying with chaste women among believers’ with ‘permissibility of marriage with chaste women from the people of the book’ by making them share the same conditions. I would not object if someone refers to this closely linked expressions to argue that in the sight of the Qur’an marrying a chaste woman from among the believers and from among the people of the book are the same.

As discussed above, in my view the ruling in the verse is a clarification of the general application of permissibility of ‘clean’ things (tayyibat). This clarification however was made at an appropriate political time, that is, when the enmity of the people of the book towards the prophet (pbuh) and his followers was perished or was under control and the Muslim community was finally established. The word ‘today’ therefore has no legal bearings in verse 5:5. All the permissibility clauses in the verse were general and everlasting ones, whether Muslims were in a strong position or not and whether monotheism and polytheism became distinct or not.

There is therefore no basis to make the verse 5:5 conditional to Islam prevailing in the interfaith marriage. Such deduction seems to be arrived by the traditional assumption that the Qur’an demands all human beings to become Muslims and follow the shari’ah of Islam. I have already discussed in detail why this assumption is false. This can be found in my article The True Meaning of Universality of the Qur’an (2nd edition). The Qur’an has never demanded Christians or Jews to convert to Islam. Based on explicit verses of the Qur’an, including those in the latter part of this very chapter (i.e. 5:43,47,48) God recognises and validates the existence of different paths and religious systems and ideologies among the humankind and never intended to unite all of these under one religion.

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Concluding remarks on the criteria for marriage in Islam:
I now present my understanding of the criteria for marriage in the Qur’an:

Verse 5:5, along with verse 2:221 makes it clear that the Qur’an’s concern about the marriage of a Muslim is not a sectarian one, but a moral one:

Verse 5:5 clarifies the criterion for an allowed marriage. That criterion is for the spouse to be ‘clean’ (tayyib), which in 5:5 is further specified as chaste. This of course is in line with verse 24:26 where it is made clear that God wants ‘clean’ men and ‘clean’ women for each other. The polytheists in Arabia at the time, as the result of extremely corrupted beliefs and immoral attitude, were considered ‘unclean’ (najis), as explicitly mentioned in 9:28.  This was not the case for Jews and Christians of the time in Arabia. Of course the Qur’an mainly refers to these groups because other than Muslims, these were the only other widely recognised non-polytheist groups in Arabia. I fully agree with Muhammad ‘Abduh and Rashid Ridha in their tafsir of al-Munar, where they argue that people of the book cannot be limited to Jews and Christians and that it can include followers of many other religions like some of those in India and Far East (Tafsir al-Munar, 6:185-196).

In line with the above, verse 2:221 makes the criteria for disallowing marriage very clear. That is if the spouse would invite others to the hellfire by his/her evil beliefs and actions. Again, we know from the Qur’an that it is the arrogance resulting in rejecting the essential guidance of the Almighty that can make a person that type of kafir who would end up in hell and lead others to hell as well. The verse 2:221 therefore is closely linked with verse 60:10 where forbiddance of marital relationship with the same group (mushriks) is announced again, this time by referring to them as kafir, to cover the situation when a newly converted Muslim woman is already married to a kafir.

Accordingly, in principle the only non-Muslim with whom a Muslim should not marry is a non-Muslim that is kafir to the essential guidance of the Almighty, i.e. rejecting the essential guidance of the Almighty despite knowing its truth and only due to arrogance. As noted above, this is not a profile that would apply or could be attributed to any human beings at our time. In fact verses 2:221 and 60:10 are related to the primary addressees of the prophet (pbuh) and do not relate to our time. In other words, just as some of our learned scholars correctly argue that a kind of offensive armed jihad against non-Muslims was only applicable at the era of the prophet (pbuh) in Arabia, I also argue that the above prohibitions were also applicable only in the era of the prophet (pbuh) in Arabia. I disagree with generalising the above two verses in an attempt to include any non-Muslims into the fold of kafirs (infidels) or mushriks (polytheists).

As a side issue, it should also be noted that the mushriks who rejected the prophet (pbuh) at the time, aside from being kafirs (rejecting the truth out of the arrogance), had two features that would make marriage of a Muslim with them out of the question, even in a secular perspective. Firstly, many of them were enemies of Islam and Muslims. Secondly, many of them had a very unhealthy and immoral way of life. Again, this is not something that is generally true at our time.

Nevertheless, the above verses can indeed have some implications for our time as follows:

  • Enmity with the concept of monotheism and Islam was a vivid attitude of kafirs (infidels) at the time of the prophet (pbuh). It seems reasonable to argue that a Muslim should not marry a person who has such attitude, whether that person is technically a kafir who denies essential guidance of the Almighty or not. Even from a secular point of view, this consideration is reasonable and defendable. Who in his/her right mind wants to enter a permanent marital relationship with one who has enmity towards his/her beliefs/ideologies?
  • A question may arise that, ‘what about a mushrik (polytheist) who is not kafir (as defined earlier)’. While I appreciate that it can be argued that even this marriage is not made forbidden in the Qur’an, yet, I am inclined to consider it one that needs to be avoided. This is due to the general hatred of the Qur’an for explicit shirk (as strongly expressed in 31:13). I however reiterate that this is about explicit shirk which is what makes a person mushrik (as defined earlier in this article). Otherwise aspects of shirk can even be traced in the heart of a Muslim. This therefore does not include communities like atheists, agnostics, Buddhists, Zoroastrianists or Sikhs. None of the followers of these religious or ideologists (and many more) are mushrik by definition. Even among Hindus, not all denominations and individuals can be considered mushrik.
  • Obviously, as it is clearly mentioned in the verses of the Qur’an like verses 5:5, 24:3 and 24:26, marriage with a person who is known as an unchaste person is not allowed, Muslim or non-Muslim.

I would also like to make it clear that this article is about what can be derived from the Qur’an in terms of interfaith marriage. I do appreciate that there can be other legitimate reasons not to marry or approve marriage with a non-Muslim. A person may decide to marry only a Muslim because he/she likes a person from his/her own faith, or because he/she wants to make sure that the children resulted from this marriage will be Muslims, or because he/she likes to contribute into strengthening the community of Muslims. All these reasons and many others are totally understandable and can be valid for individuals. However none of these concerns are raised in the Qur’an with regard to marriage. These therefore remain as personal religious motivations and cultural considerations rather than divinely ordained ones.

So to summarise and to make sure I am not shying from writing it explicitly:

In my understanding, based on the above discussion, there are no instructions in the Qur’an that would forbid the marriage of a Muslim with a non-Muslim. A Muslim, male or female, may marry a non-Muslim, no matter what belief or ideologies that non-Muslim has or does not have. Only a person who explicitly believes in more than one God, or one who has enmity with the concept of God or Islam, or one who is not chaste should be avoided.

Last point: I think what should be the concern of an intellectual mind, is whether reasons provided are valid or not. I however do appreciate that sometimes knowing who else may have similar views may be a matter of interest. Obviously the views presented above are by no means the views of the majority of Muslim scholars. However there are a number of creditable Muslim scholars who more or less have presented the same views or the same line of thinking. A brief on some of these views can be found in the New Age Islam website, here.

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