Answered by Ustadha Shazia Ahmad
I have been in a relationship with a non-Muslim girl for many years. We feel that it is now appropriate for us to get married. But over the past year, my attachment to Islam has grown. I believe that if we have different faiths, I will not be happy or at peace. This is due to the real-world challenges of family life.
We’ve talked about it and we know that we really want to live together. She said she was willing to accept my faith, but I don’t think she should do it simply for me. I’m confused because I wish to practice Islam more faithfully.
How could someone simply change religion for someone else’s benefit? Isn’t allowing her to do that unethical? Can you shed some light?
Thank you for your question. I commend you for trying to make the right decision for your future family and putting Islam first in your life.
The first step to any good deed is making repentance (tawbah). You must first repent for getting into an illicit relationship with someone before marriage. Alhamdulillah, you are seeking to make this right. The Prophet, may Allah bless him and give him peace, said, “Every son of Adam sins, and the best of those who sin are those who repent.” [Tirmidhi]
A Muslim Wife Is Best
As for practical aspects of raising a family, as a mother, I cannot tell you enough how important it is that the mother of your children be Muslim and that she instill that upbringing in them. See the following link to learn about the obligation of teaching Islam to the children:
Rights of Children in Detail
While a father is working most of the day, he relies on his wife to teach his children:
- How to purify and pray;
- How to fast;
- The stories of Prophets and Companions;
- The Qur`an with its meaning;
- Islamic etiquettes, decorum and values;
- The permissible and impermissible (halal and haram) of daily life and the list goes on…
You have three options:
- She can convert to Islam and then take a year to learn about it. This the general advice that I have heard from scholars; that converts should take a year to learn about the religion before marrying. You can be involved in this process, of course. Take a course on SeekersGuidance together. Introduce her to your family, learn Islamic customs and values. Waiting a year will also show her that you are serious about her learning the religion (deen). During that time, learn with her. The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and give him peace, said, “When Allah wishes good for someone, He bestows upon him the understanding of religion (deen).” [Bukhari; Muslim]
There is nothing wrong with her converting in order to marry you. Changing one’s religion to Islam for marriage is fine, because it is the correct religion to follow. If she converts, consider that her afterlife has been saved.
That being said, she must show sincerity and believe in Allah and His messenger, may Allah bless him and give him peace. If she doesn’t fundamentally believe in it, she should not say she does. Remember that Islam was spread throughout history from marriage, as well as conquests, etc. Of course, it is expected that she will learn it and apply it. Marriage being the motivating factor is not a problem.
- Your second option is to marry her as she is (if she is a Christian or Jew). Although permissible, this action will probably bring you much heartbreak and pain, especially since you are trying to improve your own Islam. I can almost guarantee differing opinions and contradictory views on lifestyle and raising children. Ease the transition of marriage by following Islam together. Raise your standard.
- The third option is to leave her. Pray istikhara so Allah can guide you in this affair. If you find that you cannot see her as a pious Muslim wife and get a negative feeling about this, then cut it off immediately and try to move on. Ask for Allah for guidance and help. Resolve to approach marriage the right way. The Prophet, may Allah bless him and give him peace, said, “Verily, you will never leave anything for the sake of Allah, Most High, but that Allah will replace it with something better.” [Ahmad]
I leave you with this hadith. Please contemplate and begin praying your istikhara. Also see the link below for an answer to a similar situation:
The Prophet may Allah bless him and give him peace, said, “A woman may be married for four things: Her wealth, her lineage, her beauty or for her religion. Choose the religious, may your hands be rubbed with dust (i.e., may you prosper).” [Bukhari]
May Allah bless you in whatever you choose.
[Ustadha] Shazia Ahmad
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Ustadha Shazia Ahmad lived in Damascus, Syria for two years where she studied aqidah, fiqh, tajweed, tafsir, and Arabic. She then attended the University of Texas at Austin, where she completed her Masters in Arabic. Afterward, she moved to Amman, Jordan where she studied fiqh, Arabic, and other sciences. She later moved back to Mississauga, Canada, where she lives with her family.