What is Islam’s Stance on Muslim Men and Women Marrying Non-Muslims?

Answered by Ustadha Zaynab Ansari

Question: My friend has become attracted to a non Muslim, she seems to have lost her way in terms of religion. It does not matter to her if this person converts or not. She does not understand why Islam has some rules against women marrying or having intimate relations with the opposite sex who are not Muslims. I would just like a way to reconnect her with who she was and what she believed in. If you could just answer her question of why we cannot be intimate with those of opposite religions and opposite sex, unless they are willing to convert.

Answer: Dear Sister,

Assalamu alaikum,

I pray this message finds you well.

I do not know your friend, and, consequently, I’m not sure to which authority I should appeal to convince her that she is wrong.

The Qur’an is quite clear on the unlawfulness of Muslims marrying non-Muslims, with the exception of the unique permission given to Muslim men to marry believing, chaste women from the People of the Book.

This prohibition should not be misinterpreted as religious chauvinism, patriarchy, or misogyny. This rule is in place to preserve the lineage and identity of the future Muslim community. The assumptions behind allowing Muslim men to marry non-Muslim women from the Ahl al-Kitab are:

1. These marriages would be taking place in a Muslim milieu.
2. The children would be raised as Muslims.
3. Muslim women would still be able to find Muslim husbands.

Today, the above factors simply don’t exist, and, for this reason, many mainstream scholars highly discourage or consider it not permissible for Muslim men to marry non-Muslim women.

Likewise, should a Muslim woman marry a non-Muslim man, not only are the aforementioned mitigating factors not in place, such a marriage would go directly against what the Qur’an and Sunna say.

Matters of the heart are very hard to govern, and I daresay your friend will do what she wants to do. However, she needs to understand that she is choosing dunya over deen. If she would exercise patience, have more trust in Allah, and give this person da’wah, Allah willing, she could have the best of deen and dunya.

And Allah knows best,

Zaynab Ansari