Girl meets boy, girl likes boy, girl is Muslim, boy is not Muslim. They fall in love and want to get married….but it’s haram. Eventually, she finds a way to rationalize it in her head and finds an imam that will perform the nikkah. Girl and boy are now married and will live happily ever after. This scenario is one that is often heard, especially among Muslims in the West. The scenario if a Muslimah wanting to marry a non-Muslim.
Based solely on the Qur’an and Sunnah, it is not permissible for a Muslim woman to marry a non-Muslim regardless if he is ahl-al-kitaab(People of the Book-Jews and Christians) or not. A Muslim man may marry a non-Muslim but only if she is from ahl-al-kitaab, is actually practicing and does not engage in shirk. That means that contrary to popular perception, a Muslim man cannot just marry any “Christian" woman, she has to be abiding by the rulings in her book and must not commit shirk which pretty much rules out Catholics and any others who believe in the trinity. If a Muslim man does find this woman and marries her, all kids born from the marriage must be raised Muslim and she must not bring about what is forbidden in Islam into her home. Many scholars also add that it is not recommended for Muslim men to marry non-Muslims in the west because that results in Muslimahs not having someone to marry.
So back to the scenario that I presented earlier. Though the imam performed the nikkah(marriage contract) it is not valid under the eyes of Allah(SWT). The couple might consider themselves married but Islamically they are not. That means that any carnal interactions that they have will be considered zina(fornication) and any kids borne of the marriage will belong to the bed. Often times, we Muslims are of the opinion that the permission or ruling of an imam is always correct and supersedes the rulings of Allah(SWT). This is wrong(unless of course you’re into the whole infallible imam thing). Just because an imam says something is okay or halal does not make it so. I've seen imams who condone domestic violence, imams who tell their congregation that saying “bismillah” on non-zabiha meat makes it halal, and imams who think its okay to lead salah late because of his discretion. None of these things are okay under the banner of Islam. Allah(SWT) says:
A man slave who believes is better than an unbeliever, even though if he attracts 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 receive admonition” Qur'an 2:222
In both of these verses, Allah(SWT) tells us that a man who is a disbeliever is not lawful to a believing woman, so despite how many imams are ok with performing these types of nikkahs, it still does not make it halal. It just means that the imam is also complicit in the disobedience. Along with these verses from the Qur’an, most Muslims are familiar with the story of the Prophet’s (SAW) daughter Zainab who was married prior to accepting Islam. When she accepted Islam, she was told that her husband was no longer her husband and that they had no rights to one another. Though she loved him dearly, her love and submission to Allah(SWT) was greater and she left her husband. Her husband later converted and they remarried.
If, despite knowing that Allah(SWT) has forbidden this practice, you are still interested in pursuing marrying a non-Muslim man then 1. you need to ask yourself if you’re really submitting to Allah(SWT) as a Muslim should and 2. Ask yourself if such a decision is the best for your life and for your future children. Remember that marriage is a form of worship to Allah(SWT) and your spouse is supposed to assist you and guide you towards Jannah. How will someone who doesn't even believe in your faith guide you towards Jannah? How will this individual help you and your children increase your Islamic knowledge? Will this person ensure that you are given all of your spousal rights as determined by Shari’a(Islamic laws based on the Sunnah and the Qur’an)? Most likely the answers to these questions will be 'no". Wouldn't you want a spouse that can lead your family in jama’a(congregational prayer) during salah, a spouse that you can have suhoor and iftar with? In most cases of interfaith marriages that I have seen, the Muslim rarely practices properly, that is not to say that those in Muslim marriages are perfect, but often times, religion is thrown to the way side and usually creates trouble when brought up. For instance, a sister who rarely prays, drinks alcohol, doesn’t observe hijab, etc. marries a non-Muslim. In the beginning it might be fine, her Muslimness is not really apparent so its not a big deal BUT a few years into the marriage, she decides to start observing better, she no longer wants to go to clubs, she wants to begin observing full hijab, she wants to be a good Muslim. The husband is confused and does not like it. Her changes her affecting him and because they don’t believe in the same tenets, he doesn’t understand why she has to do all these ‘weird’ things. Eventually this marriage ends up in extreme discord and eventually divorce.
I am in no way saying that all interfaith marriages end in divorce but I am saying that such a situations is not the best for someone who wants to practice their faith fully. That goes for any faith, I don't think a Baptist would be able to practice their faith fully while married to a Muslim or atheist nor will an Orthodox Jew who is married to a Catholic. I have friends whose mums are Muslim and their fathers Christian or have no religious affiliation, most of these friends seem to simply go through the motions of Islam but none of them fully embody it. We've had discussions in which many of them say that in their homes, religion was rarely discussed. I mean it would be pretty awkward to tell your child that Islam is right or correct and that they should live this way. The child would probably respond “well how come daddy doesn't do it if it’s the correct way”.
To sum this all up, it is not permissible for a Muslimah to marry a disbeliever. If a nikkah is performed, it is not valid, it is null and void. Just as if a woman was forced to marry a man, even if the nikkah is performed, the marriage is not valid in the eyes of Allah(SWT). Any interaction that they have with one another will be haram, they will be committing zina and therefore be considered Zani/Zaniah.
At the end of the day, regardless of our personal opinions on the matter or what we've experienced, we must remember that our ultimate purpose in life is to worship Allah(SWT). Worshiping Him also includes submitting to Him. Therefore, if He says no marrying non-Muslim men, then that means we shouldn't do it regardless if our parents, imam or local scholar says it is permissible.
What are your thoughts on this subject? How do you feel about imams that perform such nikkahs?
As humans in this dunya we are inundated by many distractions, misguidance, and falsehoods therefore making life much more confusing and difficult. What are we thinking, saying, observing, and experiencing in our lives? Are we truly living by Islamic ideals? This is where we can choose to actively “Strive For Clarity.”