Is a Marriage to a Non-Muslim Woman Valid? (Shafi’i)

Answered by Shaykh Shuaib Ally

Question: Assalam alaykum,

If a Muslim man is in a relationship with a non-Muslim woman and she falls pregnant and then they get married, but she is not a person of the book, is the marriage valid islamically? If a child is conceived out of wedlock but the parents marry by the time he/she is born is the child classed as illegitimate or legitimate?

Answer: Wa alaikum assalam wa rahmatullah,

It is not legally permissible for a Muslim man to marry a non-Muslim woman who does not fall within the category of ‘people of the book’.
If a Muslim man were to nevertheless do so, that marriage contract would be invalid; that is, it would not be legally recognized.

When is a Child Considered Illegitimate?

Legitimacy or illegitimacy has to do primarily with attribution of the child to the father, and includes derivative rules related to inheritance, guardianship and marriage.

If a child is born to a validly married couple in a period in which the child could have been conceived in this valid marriage, it would be attributed to the father.

The lower limit for the duration of a pregnancy for legal purposes is six months. Therefore, if a man were to marry a woman and she were then to give birth three months later, the child would not be attributed to the father. If she were to give birth shortly after six months, the child would be.

Please see also: Can a Muslim Man Marry a Sikh or a Hindu?

Shuaib Ally

Can a Muslim Man Marry a Sikh or a Hindu?

Answered by Ustadha Sulma Badrudduja

Question: Can a Muslim man marry a sikh or hindu girl?…If not, what are the reasons and consequences of it…..if that couple really wants to marry each other then what should they do?

Answer: Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

I hope this message reaches you in the best of iman and health.

Allah Most High says, “Do not marry unbelieving women until they believe […] And do not marry (your women) to unbelievers until they believe.” [Quran 2:221]

It is clear that Allah has not made it permissible for Muslims to marry non-Muslims, though there is an exception for Muslim men to marry women from the People of the Book (i.e. Jews and Christians).  Hanafi scholars have pointed out that even this exception is in many cases disliked or even sinful if one cannot be sure that it will not influence one’s religious devotion or beliefs, or that of one’s children.

Among the many wisdoms of this ruling is the preservation of the religion of Islam and prevention of harm to one’s religious foundation. This ruling is an insight into the importance of the sacred trust one undertakes by marrying, having children, and raising them to be obedient God-conscious servants.

In terms of consequence, one’s marriage would not be valid if they married one other than whom Allah has permitted for them, and therefore the man and woman would be considered to be living outside of wedlock.

Muslims should guard their personal interactions according to the teachings of Islam. If a Muslim gets himself or herself in a situation where they desperately want to marry one with whom marriage is not permissible, they should immediately pull away and  speak to a scholar.

The scholar should be able to evaluate the situation and determine which of the two options is more suitable: (1) proposing the idea to the non-Muslim to study Islam and adopt the faith so that there can be a valid marriage or (2) asking the couple to leave the relationship altogether.

It will no doubt take one time to heal if strong feelings had developed, but no one leaves something for the sake of Allah except that He rewards them and replaces their loss with something better for them. Allah Most High says, “And those who strive for Us – We will surely guide them to Our ways. And indeed, Allah is with the doers of good.” [Quran 29:69]

And Allah knows best.