Interfaith Marriages

Is it haram for a Muslim woman to marry a non-Muslim?

Citation verse 10 of Surah Al-Mumtahinah (60).

Interfaith Marriages generate a lot of questions, particularly among Muslims. Questions like “Can a Muslim woman marry a non-Muslim?” “Is it Haram to marry outside Abrahamic faiths?” “Should one convert to another’s religion? “Do Hindus believe in one God?” “Do Sikhs worship Idols?” A plethora of inquiries come to me, and as a Muslim, I must find answers from the Quran and present it to them.

And now, I have received this question, “I read several interpretations, and they mostly agreed that it is haram for a Muslim woman to marry a non-Muslim; what does your research say?”

First, we must acknowledge that the Quran is the only book of guidance; all other books are the personal understanding of the scholars in their given time. This includes hadith, sharia, tafseers, sirat, and all other books. We also acknowledge that the Quran is for all times, meaning its wisdom remains the same, but its applications are adaptable to our times, the current time, and today.

For example, the Prophet told his followers in Madina, “If you can afford it, go to Hajj.” Their first thought was to find a camel or a caravan to go to Mecca. A 1000 years later, when someone in Indonesia said to go to Hajj, they started organizing a ship or a boat to head to Jeddah; 50 years ago, one was booking a ticket on an airline to go there, and today, you think of which airlines. Going to Hajj is the constant, whereas the mode of transportation changes. We no longer ride the camel, but we still perform the Hajj. By the way, Hajj is an option.

Nearly 50 verses in the Quran call on us to reflect, think, and even question. God wants us to be confident subscribers to his wisdom, which guides us to live in peace and tranquility within ourselves and in harmony with others, including fellow humans, animals, and the environment.

The Quran is for all times, meaning it should apply to our situations in our time.

This is the verse from Mumtahinah, Surah 60, verse 10:

یَـٰۤأَیُّهَا ٱلَّذِینَ ءَامَنُوۤا۟ إِذَا جَاۤءَكُمُ ٱلۡمُؤۡمِنَـٰتُ مُهَـٰجِرَ ٰتࣲ فَٱمۡتَحِنُوهُنَّۖ ٱللَّهُ أَعۡلَمُ بِإِیمَـٰنِهِنَّۖ فَإِنۡ عَلِمۡتُمُوهُنَّ مُؤۡمِنَـٰتࣲ فَلَا تَرۡجِعُوهُنَّ إِلَى ٱلۡكُفَّارِۖ لَا هُنَّ حِلࣱّ لَّهُمۡ وَلَا هُمۡ یَحِلُّونَ لَهُنَّۖ وَءَاتُوهُم مَّاۤ أَنفَقُوا۟ۚ وَلَا جُنَاحَ عَلَیۡكُمۡ أَن تَنكِحُوهُنَّ إِذَاۤ ءَاتَیۡتُمُوهُنَّ أُجُورَهُنَّۚ وَلَا تُمۡسِكُوا۟ بِعِصَمِ ٱلۡكَوَافِرِ وَسۡءَلُوا۟ مَاۤ أَنفَقۡتُمۡ وَلۡیَسۡءَلُوا۟ مَاۤ أَنفَقُوا۟ۚ ذَ ٰلِكُمۡ حُكۡمُ ٱللَّهِ یَحۡكُمُ بَیۡنَكُمۡۖ وَٱللَّهُ عَلِیمٌ حَكِیمࣱ ۝١

yāayyuhā alladhīna āmanū lā tattakhidhū ʿaduwwī waʿaduwwakum awliyāa tul’qūna ilayhim bil-mawadati waqad kafarū bimā jāakum mina l-ḥaqi yukh’rijūna l-rasūla wa-iyyākum an tu’minū bil-lahi rabbikum in kuntum kharajtum jihādan fī sabīlī wa-ib’tighāa marḍātī tusirrūna ilayhim bil-mawadati wa-anā aʿlamu bimā akhfaytum wamā aʿlantum waman yafʿalhu minkum faqad ḍalla sawāa l-sabīl

Translation by Shabbir Ahmed – “O You who have chosen to be graced with belief! When believing women come to you as immigrants, investigate their case, although only Allah is best Aware of their Faith. Once you establish that they are indeed believers, do not return them to the rejecters of the Truth. They are not lawful for the rejecters, nor are the rejecters lawful for them. Give the rejecters what they have spent on them (as dowry). And there is no blame on you if you marry these women, when you have given them their due marital gift. And do not hold on to wedlock with women who continue to deny the Truth. And you may ask them for the dowry you had paid, just as the rejecters have the right to ask the return of what they spent. This is the Judgment of Allah. He judges between you, for Allah is all-Knowing, all-Wise”

A few more translations are appended below.

Who are the believers and non-believers in the verse?

Like Mothers love their children, God loves his creation, and all that he wants is for it to live in harmony, peace, and tranquility. Every verse in the Quran has this singular goal.

Believers are those who believe that there is a creator of the universe and that they are accountable for their actions (Day of Judgment—no one goes scot-free). They care for God’s universe, which includes fellow humans, animals, and the environment.

Who are non-believers? Let’s see who they are. If you watch Western movies, you see everyone wearing a gun; if someone in the saloon looks at you in the wrong way or smiles slyly, you pull the gun on him without any consequence. That was America 300 years ago.

One thousand four hundred years ago, during the Prophet’s time, the Quraish people got their women to drop the baby girls from the pregnancy. It is happening in India even now. They would kill anyone who differed with them without remorse. These individuals are non-believers; they have no faith in the creator, and neither do they feel accountable nor care for fellow humans.

Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) reflected on the situation and had wished (before he was the Prophet) that his community also had a book like the Jews and Christians. The implication was that the books clearly defined morals, what is wrong and right, and they were accountable.

God created the universe in balance, and the Prophets (Abrahamic), Avatars (Dharmic), and peacemakers (all other traditions) were assigned the role of restoring that balance and building cohesive societies. God wanted all his creations to live in harmony and for every human to feel secure about his faith, race, ethnicity, or any other uniqueness.

Those who were not believers (at least one of the three values) usually lacked morals and were irresponsible. All God wants for his creation is to live in harmony and peace. Today, most people are accountable for their actions. Our justice system will nail the guy for evil acts and for infringing on other people’s rights. Most people are believers today, but some do not practice. Look at the massacres and genocides taking place despite their faiths.

Understanding the verse 60:10

Let me unpack the verse in simple language. So, when you meet a woman or a man, check them out. If they follow some principles, you can live with that person, and it would be worth marrying them. In reality, in today’s free world, you will not go out with someone who has no morals and does not respect you.

Many immigrants during the time of the Prophet were escaping persecution in Mecca and dashing to Medina, a sanctuary city. If you meet a woman, please do not send her back to the tyrants or deniers of the truth; they will make her life a living hell. Don’t you feel bad if your friend’s sister is married off to a guy who beats her, screams at her, and does not value her?

Marrying her comes with obligations, such as paying the dowry or Mahr back to her previous husband to get a release from him. It is like having divorce papers to make sure they are free to marry both emotionally and legally (believers). (Mahr is a common-sense gift like life insurance or a reserve fund to secure the woman in a contingency. Remember, women did not work outside their homes 200 years ago).

She is not lawful to her ex because she will not live peacefully.

After paying off the dower and getting her released from all obligations to her ex, it would free her to marry you with all her heart, mind, and soul.

In the other verse, 2:221, God calls on you to marry someone compatible with you – for example, a maidservant knows what you eat, when you go to sleep, and what you wear – marrying them would ensure one living in harmony. The Quran does not say that marrying a Muslim or a non-Muslim is haram to you.

The second part of the verse says not to marry Mushrikoon for the same reason cited above: they are not accountable for their actions. Today’s Mushrikoon are responsible for their actions; no one goes scot-free in our society.

Now, about your comment – that it is haram for Muslim women to marry non-Muslims. No, the Quran does not say that. The Quran says to marry someone compatible to live in peace and harmony.

That is all God wants: for us to live in peace.

وَمِنۡ ءَایَـٰتِهِۦۤ أَنۡ خَلَقَ لَكُم مِّنۡ أَنفُسِكُمۡ أَزۡوَ ٰجࣰا لِّتَسۡكُنُوۤا۟ إِلَیۡهَا وَجَعَلَ بَیۡنَكُم مَّوَدَّةࣰ وَرَحۡمَةًۚ إِنَّ فِی ذَ ٰلِكَ لَءَایَـٰتࣲ لِّقَوۡمࣲ یَتَفَكَّرُونَ

30:21 – Asad “And among His wonders is this: He creates for you mates out of your own kind. so that you might incline towards them, and He engenders love and tenderness between you: in this, behold, there are messages indeed for people who think”

30:21 Khattab, “And one of His signs is that He created for you spouses from among yourselves so that you may find comfort in them. And He has placed between you compassion and mercy. Surely in this are signs for people who reflect.”

30:21 – Bakhtiar, “And among His signs are that He created for you spouses from among yourselves, that you rest in them. And He made affection and mercy among you. Truly, in that are certainly signs for a folk who reflect.”

Who is a Muslim?

Anyone who subscribes to the following three fundamental values is known as a Subscriber or a Muslim; the traditional word is submission. These ideals result in living in peace and harmony with oneself, fellow humans, and the universe. The purpose was to create cohesive societies where every human feels secure about his identity

1) At the heart of Islam is the belief in a cause of the universe, referred to by many names, including Allah and God. This cause, known as ‘Allah, ‘is the focus of our devotion and understanding.

2) A central belief in Islam is that each individual bears responsibility for their actions. This means that we cannot evade the consequences of our deeds. This principle of personal accountability is a guiding light in our faith, urging us to live a life of righteousness and integrity.

3) Each of us cares about what surrounds us: the universe – humans, animals, and the environment.

The above is my understanding of verse 62 from Sura Baqarah, chapter 2 of the Quran, supported by one of the most outstanding contemporary Muslim scholars, Muhammad Asad. Asad’s translation is the most accepted in the world, as is his tafseers – exegesis.

More translations of the verse 60:10

60:10 – by Muhammad Asad “O YOU who have attained to faith! Whenever believing women come unto you, forsaking the domain of evil, examine them, [although only] God is fully aware of their faith; and if you have thus ascertained that they are believers, do not send them back to the deniers of the truth, [since] they are [no longer] lawful to their erstwhile husbands, and these are [no longer] lawful to them. None the less, you shall return to them whatever they have spent [on their wives by way of dower]; and [then, O believers,] you will be committing no sin if you marry them after giving them their dowers. On the other hand, hold not to the marriage-tie with women who [continue to] deny the truth, and ask but for [the return of] whatever you have spent [by way of dower] -just as they [whose wives have gone over to you] have the right to demand [the return of] whatever they have spent. Such is God’s judgment: He judges between you [in equity] – for God is all-knowing, wise.”

60:10 by Mustafa Khattab “ O believers! When the believing women come to you as emigrants, test their intentions—their faith is best known to Allah—and if you find them to be believers, then do not send them back to the disbelievers. These ˹women˺ are not lawful ˹wives˺ for the disbelievers, nor are the disbelievers lawful ˹husbands˺ for them. ˹But˺ repay the disbelievers whatever ˹dowries˺ they had paid. And there is no blame on you if you marry these ˹women˺ as long as you pay them their dowries. And do not hold on to marriage with polytheistic women. ˹But˺ demand ˹repayment of˺ whatever ˹dowries˺ you had paid, and let the disbelievers do the same. That is the judgment of Allah—He judges between you. And Allah is All-Knowing, All-Wise.”

60:10 By Dr. Laleh Bakhtiar O those who believed! When the females, ones who believe, drew near to you, ones who emigrate (f), put them (f) to a test. God is greater in knowledge as to their (f) belief. Then, if you knew them (f) as ones who believe (f), return them (f) not to the ones who are ungrateful. They (f) are not allowed to them (m) nor are they (m) lawful for them (f). And give them (m) what they (m) have spent. There is no blame on you that you (m) marry them (f) when you have given them (f) their compensation. And hold back conjugal ties with the ones who are ungrateful and ask for what you (m) spent and let them ask for what they (m) spent. That is the determination of God. He gives judgment among you. And God is Knowing, Wise.

60:10 Ahmed Raza – ‘O believers! When Muslim women come to you from pagan territory leaving their homes, test them. Allah knows better as to their faith, then if you know them to be believing women, return them not to the infidels. Neither those women are lawful to them nor they are lawful to them. And give their unbeliever husbands what they have spent, and there is no blame on you if you marry them when you pay them their dowries. And have not firm hold to the matrimonial ties with the unbelieving women and ask back what you have spent and the infidels should ask for what they have spent. This is the order of Allah. He judges between you. And Allah is All Knowing, Wise.

Can a Muslim woman marry a non-Muslim?

Mike Ghouse is committed to building cohesive societies and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day. He is a Muslim and an interfaith wedding officiant. More about him at or and

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