Can a Muslim Woman Marry a Non-Muslim Man if Their Children Are Raised as Muslims?

Answered by Ustadha Zaynab Ansari

Question:   salam alykom wa rahmatu Allah..

I am Muslim woman and I want to marry a Catholic man.  He is not willing to convert to Islam because he doesn’t want to practice any religion.  We are really in love.  I didn’t meet a Muslim man so far who I can spend the rest of my life with and this guy is perfect for me.  Can I marry him in a civil marriage?  If we have children, he doesn’t mind if they are raised Muslim.  Any advice would be appreciated.

Answer: Dear Sister,

Assalamu alaikum,

I pray you are well and enjoying the blessings of Dhul-Hijjah as women and men gather in the Sacred Precincts for pilgrimage to Allah’s House.

From an Islamic legal standpoint, your civil marriage to a non-Muslim man is not valid. The invalidity of this marriage is not based on its being a civil contract. In fact, in Islam, marriage is a civil contract with sacred aspects. The invalidity of this marriage is due to the unsuitability of the marriage partner. Muslim women are required to marry Muslim men, on the basis of what Allah revealed:

“Do not marry unbelieving women (idolaters), until they believe: A slave woman who believes is better than an unbelieving woman, even though she allures you. Nor marry (your girls) to unbelievers until they believe: A man slave who believes is better than an unbeliever, even though he allures you. Unbelievers do (but) beckon you to the Fire. But Allah beckons by His Grace to the Garden (of bliss) and forgiveness, and makes His Signs clear to mankind: That they may celebrate His praise.”  (Al-Qur’an, 2:221)

In this Qur’anic verse, we see that faith (in Allah and His Messenger) trump other considerations, including social status. Muslim men are given qualified permission to marry non-Muslim women, however, in another verse:

This day are (all) good things made lawful for you. The food of those who have received the Scripture is lawful for you, and your food is lawful for them. And so are the virtuous women of the believers and the virtuous women of those who received the Scripture before you (lawful for you) when ye give them their marriage portions and live with them in honor, not in fornication, nor taking them as secret concubines. Whoso denieth the faith, his work is vain and he will be among the losers in the Hereafter. (Al-Qur’an, 5:5)

No similar permission is given to Muslim women to marry non-Muslim men. In fact, when we examine the hadith (traditions) of the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, for biographical information about women in the early Muslim community, we discover that some of them had non-Muslim men who were interested in marrying them; however, these women insisted that these men become Muslim first.

I urge you to consider, in addition to the cautions I have stated above, the difficulty that will be entailed in having children with someone who is not Muslim, yet trying to raise those children as Muslims. It will be possible, yes, but what will you do when you need a positive Muslim male role model for your children, particularly your boys? These are important questions.

Last, but not least, please read the details of the Guidance Prayer at

May Allah give you clarity,

Zaynab Ansari
Dhul-Hijjah 6, 1432