Which woman to marry?
Q). My wife died two years ago. I wish to marry a non-Muslim
woman who has promised to adopt Islam if the marriage goes through.
After our marriage, can she keep her relationship with her parents
and relatives? On the other hand, my parents want me to marry
a certain widow who is a relation of mine. I am rather confused
and I would be grateful for your advice.
(Name and address withheld)
A). I am afraid I cannot give you any advice in this
matter. That is entirely your decision. What I can tell you is
that if the non-Muslim woman you wish to many will only be a
Muslim because she wants to get married to you, then you have
to think twice before-marrying her. To start with, if she is
a Christian or a Jew, then she need not adopt Islam for the marriage
to be valid. But if she follows a religion, then she should adopt
Islam before you can marry her. In this case, you have to be
absolutely certain that she adopts Islam, knowing that it is
the faith to follow. You must on your guard against a situation
where her conversion to Islam is viewed by her simply as a device
to facilitate marriage. She has got to understand what believing
in the Oneness of God and the message of the Prophet Muhammad
If she becomes a Muslim, she can certainly maintain a good
relationship with her parents and relatives. A woman companion
of the Prophet asked him whether she should be kindly to her
mother who had visited her, although her mother remained totally
unwilling to adopt Islam. The Prophet told her to be kind to
her mother. On the other hand a Muslim woman who has a good character
and has good knowledge of Islam and its principles is a very
suitable woman to marry. The Prophet has recommended us to choose
for our marriage partner, a woman who Fears God and practices
Your choice must be based on the character of each one of
the two women, not the type of relationship you have with the
widow or the physical appearance of the non-Muslim woman. Marriage
is a very serious affair and the partner should be properly selected.
Marriage with a Christian
Q). A man wants to marry a Christian woman and the
parents of both are reconciled to the idea but the mosque in
their country are refusing to register the marriage. The people
there say that verses 6 of surah 5 refers to the Christians of
the Prophets time, who were Unitarian. Please comment
(Name and address withheld)
A). The argument given by the imam in the mosques is
quite wrong. The Christians at the tires of the Prophet were
not Unitarian. In fact the Christian beliefs at the Prophet's
time were the same as they are today. The Quran denounces
their claims of Trinity and their elevation of Jesus and his
mother, Mary, to a divine status. It also states clearly that
the Christians claimed that Jesus was Son of God, and refuted
their argument. Yet there remains a sufficient common area between
us and the Christians and the Jews to allow the marriage of Muslim
men with the followers of either of these two faiths. This means
that the marriage of this person to a Christian woman is allowed
in Islam, although it may not be recommended on other grounds.
Marriage with a prospective convert
Q). A Christian from my home country, the Philippines,
has repeatedly asked me to marry her, she says that she will
become a Muslim if our marriage is successful. Is it, proper
for me to marry her on this condition?
A). Normally a marriage between a Muslim man and a
Christian or a Jewish woman is acceptable and valid. The woman
does not need to change her religion and become a Muslim for
the marriage to go through. Indeed she may retain her faith for
the rest of her life. Her husband is not required to put any
pressure on her to embrace Islam. The basic principle, "No
compulsion is admissible in matters of faith", applies.
The above ruling is qualified by another Islamic principle,
which asserts that it is infinitely better for a Muslim to marry
a Muslim. This is better for both the couple and their children.
Therefore, you may marry this lady if you are convinced that
she will be a good wife for you. Her promise to become a Muslim
if the marriage is successful should not be taken literally.
What you should do, if you decide to marry her, is to explain
Islamic teachings and values to her at leisure using suitable
chances whenever they present themselves. You should let her
come to the decision of whether to become a Muslim or not at
her own time, without any pressure from you.
There is, however, another aspect to the question of inter-faith
marriages. That is the social and family aspect. It is needless
to say that the social conditions in which one lives has a great
influence on one's habits and practices. It does not take any
great stretch of imagination to realize that the habits, practices
and attitudes of a Muslim married to a Christian and living in
a Muslim society will be differed from those of the same couple
if they were to live in a predominantly Christian society. For
an interfaith marriage to succeed both husband and wife need
to make many more compromises than required if they belonged
to the same faith.
If they live in a Christian country, these extra compromises
will always have to be made by the Muslim husband. All this and
its bearing on the upbringing of children must be taken into
account before deciding to go ahead with an interfaith marriage.
Where to marry a non-Muslim
Q). Being aware that a Muslim man can marry a girl
of any other belief, we are at odds with our prospective wives
over what arrangements to make for the marriage ceremony. They
are insisting on ending the ceremony at a church, or, failing
that, they insist that a signing ceremony at the city municipality
should be prepared. We are demanding that we should have a proper
Islamic marriage, i.e., Nikah. The problem is that they will
certainly refuse to say the declaration that they believe in
the oneness of Allah and in the message of Prophet Muhammad.
Is there any way to have this marriage performed without displeasing
Ahmed G.A. Raya and S.N.Nauray.
Q). In one of your answers, you indicated that it is
allowed for a Muslim to marry a Christian or a Jewish woman.
You are undoubtedly aware of the Quranic verse, which states
that no Muslim, man or woman, may marry a polytheist. Now that
Christians claim that Jesus was the son of God and the Jews,
or some of them at least, make similar claims about Ezra, do
they not become polytheists whom we are not allowed to marry?
A.Ahmed, Dhahran & M.A.sirajuddeen,Najran.
A). The first letter makes the error of giving a Muslim
man permission to marry a woman of any other faith. This is not
true. The only interfaith marriages allowed in Islam are those
in which a Muslim man marries a Christian or a Jewish woman.
He is not allowed to marry a woman of any other faith or belief.
A Muslim woman, on the other hand, must marry a Muslim. Even
Christians and Jews are not allowed for her to marry.
The question raised in the second letter is whether we can
still consider Christians and Jews to be recipients of divine
revelations when they have deviated from these revelations so
far that they ascribe divinity to Jesus Christ or other beings.
In answering this point, we have to remind ourselves that what
Allah has made lawful, no one can make unlawful. Similarly, what
He has forbidden, no one can make lawful. It is only when a divine
commandment or rule is made conditional on something in particular
that the ruling may be changed on the basis of the condition
being met or not. When Allah has allowed us to marry Christian
and Jewish women He did not make that conditional on their having
any particular concept other that believing in Christianity or
Judaism. In other words, it is sufficient that a woman professes
to believe in Christianity or Judaism in order for a Muslim man
to be able to marry her.
Moreover, at the time the Quran was revealed, Christians
and Jews interpreted their religions in the same way as they
interpret them today. In other words, their religions did not
go through any real change in their basic concepts. We find Quranic
references to Christians claiming that Jesus was son of Allah
and Jews claiming that Ezra was son of Allah. Moreover, the Quran
refers to Christians ascribing divinity to Mary, mother of Jesus.
But in spite of all that, Islam had made it lawful for Muslims
to marry Christian and Jewish women. That permission remains
valid, because there has been no subsequent legislation to cancel
I can understand the worry the two second readers express
in their separate letters about this permission. To a Muslim
mind, the idea of a divine nature being attributed to anyone
other than Allah is nothing less than plain polytheism. But we
have to take Islam as it has been conveyed to us by our Prophet
Muhammed, peace be upon him. He has convit to us correct, complete,
and with everything taken into consideration. It is Allah who
has given us this legislation and He knows what He has legislated
for us. What we can say however, on this point is that being
aware of all the distortion that has crept into the ideological
concepts of both Christianity and Judaism, Allah considers that
both of these two divine religions still retain a measure of
the belief in the Oneness of Allah which is enough to justify
the permission of inter marriage with them on a limited scale.
We accept this legislation as it is and do not try to argue against
it with the aim of canceling it. For no man is allowed to cancel
legislation made by Allah.
Having said that, I must repeat what I have frequently said
in the past that although marriage with a Christian or a Jewish
woman is allowed to a Muslim man, we should not consider it except
in cases where no practical alternative offers itself. We have
to think of Muslim women who will be left unmarried when many
of us marry women of other faiths. We have also to remember that
Islamic legislation is suitable for Islamic society. This has
considerable bearing on the case in question. When a Muslim man
marries a Christian or a Jewish woman and takes her to live in
an Islamic society, she is bound to be influenced by the society
around her. Her own influence on her husband and his approach
to his faith will be limited.
The situation is entirely different when a Muslim man lives
in a non-Islamic society and marries a woman who does not believe
in Islam. There, the pressure of society will be great on him.
He may find himself having to give in on points of great importance
in his faith. Examples abound nowadays when Muslims have immigrated
to all European and American countries, where they are in a minority.
Without giving due thought to the permission given by Allah for
Muslim men to marry Jewish and Christian women, and without trying
to understand the reasons for this permission and the likely
effects of inter faith marriages on them, they rush into marrying
women in the countries they have settled in. Soon they discover
that they have made a grave mistake. Living in her own society,
close to her own relatives, the woman in question does not feel
any need to modify her habits and practices. She feels that it
is up to her husband to try to adapt to the norms of her society.
In doing so, he finds that he has to sacrifice some values, which
are basic to his faith. Once he starts, the road ahead is very
slippery. He will soon discover that he has moved far away from
the basics of his Islamic faith.
There are certain misunderstandings about Islamic marriage
in the first letter. The term Nikah means marriage.
To read or say nikah is to go through the marriage contract verbally.
It is not a condition that the declaration of believing in the
oneness of Allah and the message of the Prophet, i.e. the kalimah
which signifies acceptance of Islam be said by either man or
wife in that ceremony. All that it consists of is a proposition
of marriage and an acceptance of that proposition in the presence
of the womans father or guardian and witness. An Islamic
marriage contract may be performed anywhere, although we are
recommended by the Prophet to have it in a mosque. This is only
a recommendation, not an obligation.
The question is raised whether it can be performed in a church.
The answer is a clear and firm no. It is in fact
forbidden for a Muslim to have his marriage performed in a temple,
where worship of any sort other than Islamic worship is offered
or practiced. When the marriage of a Muslim man is made in a
church, he allows himself to run the risk of becoming an apostate,
since he may find himself in a position of having to take part
in non-Islamic worship.
There is no harm in having the marriage contract made in the
city municipality. In fact, if the girls father or guardian
is present and Muslim witnesses are also present, then the marriage
performed in the city municipality is sufficient for Islamic
purposes. In other words there is no need to have a further Islamic
Martial relations in the period
Q). Many of us, expatriates, go home for vacation after
an absence of one year or more. On arrival or just before departure
one may find his wife in her period. What is permissible for
him and what is not?
A). A companion of the Prophet, still a young man,
asked one of the Prophet's wives this very question. Her reply
was "All except intercourse." This is confirmed by
a report by Aisha that when she was in her period the Prophet
might ask her to tie up her underwear before he would do some
of the preliminaries of sex, always stopping short of intercourse.
This is an example of the middle attitude of Islam. It does
not go to the extreme of banishing a woman from her husband's
bed when she is in the period, like some other religions do,
nor does it allow intercourse because of the uncleanness that
attends the mensrual period.
To be more specific, when a woman is in her period, she may
have sex play with her husband. They may be undressed with the
exception of the area round her private parts. In the situation
you have explained, when one is with his wife after or before
a long absence, one should guard against exceeding this limit.
Marriage in the waiting period unacceptable
Q). I have got married to a lady after the court ordered
the dissolution of her former marriage. She had been married
to a man who left her soon after the marriage to live and work
in the Kingdom. For six years she did not receive any communication
from him, and he did not send her any money to look after herself.
An Islamic court in our country granted her application for the
dissolution of her marriage. Three days after the court decision,
we got married. Is our marriage proper and valid?
A). I would have thought that such a question should
have been put before the marriage rather than after it had taken
place. Marriage and divorce are very serious matters because
they mean the difference between a legitimate and an illegitimate
relationship. Hence it is very important to know the rules that
affect the validity of each one of them in order to ensure that
our family relationships are of the type that God permits. If
we do not know the rules, then we are likely to make mistakes,
which would land us in trouble as they may make a relationship,
which we so dearly wish to have unattainable, or they may make
a break of a relationship final and impossible to mend. It is
extremely important to realize that the rules God has laid down
for marriage and divorce are simple and straightforward. It is
we who introduce difficulties into them by choosing to ignore
God's rules and doing things our own way without observing what
God wants us to observe. I have repeatedly emphasized to my readers
the importance of knowing the Islamic law relating to marriage
and divorce before embarking on either step. I cannot make the
emphasis too strong, because, judging by the type of letter I
receive people continue to ignore these roles, mostly through
ignorance at their own peril
The writer of this letter says that he has married his wife
only three days after the court had ordered the dissolution of
her marriage to her first husband. Has he never heard of the
need to observe a waiting period during which the divorced woman
may not marry a man other than her divorcing husband?
In other words, she may be reunited in marriage with the man
who has divorced her, but cannot be married to any other man
until her waiting period is over This obviously applies if the
divorce has taken place for the first or second time, but not
if it is an irrevocable divorce which is the third one. The difference
is made because an important purpose of the waiting period is
to make sure of the parenthood of any child the woman may have
conceived from her first marriage, or may conceive early in her
I am afraid I do not have any comforting news for this couple,
because they made a 'marriag' at a time when no such a step could
be right. When a marriage comes to an end, either through divorce
or the death of the husband, the wife has to observe a waiting
period during which she may not get married.
This waiting period is of different duration according to
the circumstances of the woman, but in the case of this particular
lady, it should last until she has had three menstruation periods
after the court decision dissolving her marriage it is only when
the waiting period is over that the lady may get married again.
Nothing can waive this restriction because it is ordered by
God Himself. When the couple violated this rule by getting married
after only three days, they have precipitated something that
could not be lawful until its appointed time. Hence there is
a penalty which has to be imposed on them. I will explain.
There is only one of two alternatives. The couple might have
been totally unaware of the need to observe the waiting period.
It is very difficult to imagine that a Muslim couple living in
a Muslim country are unaware of the requirement of a waiting
period after divorce. Yet it may be that they might have overlooked
the requirement because of the dissolution of the first marriage
by a court order. Anyhow, if they were totally unaware or ignorant
of the requirement, then they must be separated straight away
and the woman has to observe her waiting period indeed what she
has to observe now is two waiting periods one for her marriage
which has been dissolved by the court and another for the second
'marriage' which is not valid.
Each waiting period lasts until she has had three menstruation
periods. The first one counts for the first marriage and the
second for the invalid marriage, unless she happens to be pregnant
at the time of her separation from the second man. In this case,
she observes the second waiting period first in this case; it
lasts until she delivers her baby. Then she must observe the
other waiting period for the first marriage. It must be clear
that the two waiting periods cannot nun concurrently. In other
words they cannot be counted at the same time. Each must run
its course separately. When she has completed her two waiting
periods, they may get married. To do that they must have a fresh
marriage contract, because the first one is invalid and of no
value whatsoever. The other situation is that the couple was
aware of the need to observe a waiting period but they nevertheless
went ahead and arranged for their marriage despite knowing this
requirement. Their action in this case is very grave indeed.
Their marriage is not valid at all. They would be considered
adulterers and they deserve the punishment of adultery because
their action is taken deliberately in defiance of God's law.
Moreover, they must separate immediately.
When they have separated, they may not be married to each
other for the rest of their lives That is because they have precipitated
what they would have had in good time, but the precipitation
constitutes a deliberate violation of Islamic law. The woman
will still need to observe her two waiting periods, in the manner
outlined above, before she could marry a different man. For their
sake, I hope that this does not apply to them. However, it is
only they who can tell whether it applies to them or not, because
they are the ones who can tell whether they were truly unaware
of the need to observe a waiting period or not
Confusion about the validity of the
Q). After one and a half Years of being married, a
woman obtained a ruling from an Islamic court nullifying her
marriage. The basis of the ruling was the ill treatment she received
from her husband who used to beat her up and demand money from
her. Her former husband was sent several notices with at least
one of these notices published in the Local paper but he failed
to appear in court. The court then granted her the nullification.
The woman is now married to another man but recently that
husband was told by a scholar that such a khula is not valid
Without the consent of the first husband which means that the
woman is still married to the first husband and her second marriage
is null and void. That caused the couple no end of distress.
Particularly since they have had a child recently. Please comment.
(Name and address withheld)
A). Sometimes I get very angry when I receive a question
like this. My anger is not directed at the parties concerned
in the problem, but at the outsider who voices an opinion which
has a far reaching effect on the lives of several people without
paying due regard to the circumstances of the case or studying
the problem in depth.
The reader speaks of a scholar telling him that such a khula
is not valid without the consent of the first husband. What he
did was to look at the question from the specific point of view
of khula and then he voiced his opinion on the basis of his school
of thought. This means that there are two limiting factors in
how he has dealt with the problem which involves the legitimacy
or otherwise of a marital relationship. That is very bad indeed.
I do not know the man or the country where he comes from but
I can guess his school of thought and I feel that he might have
not studied anything outside it. That is not the way a good scholar
should look at a problem like this with all its practical limitations.
This is not a case of khula in the first place. Khula is a
nullification of the marriage at the request of a wife which
may not have a reason other than the wife feeling that life with
her husband does not give her the fulfillment a woman expects
from a happy married life. In khula the woman pays back her dower
to her husband and her waiting period lasts only for one menstruation
period according to the weightier opinion to ensure that she
is not pregnant. When the khula takes place, it does not count
as a divorce.
Here the case is one of divorce by the judge on the basis
of ill treatment. In such cases the judge has to make sure that
there is undoubtedly ill treatment which means life with the
man is intolerable. The judge determines what sort of proof to
demand in order to satisfy him that the claims of the wife are
true. Here we are told that the man beats up his wife. If he
acknowledges that, then that is the best proof, but this could
also be proven by other means, such as witnesses who may be neighbors
or relatives? We are also told that the man used to demand money
from his wife. He sent her to her parents frequently to get him
that money. This is again another form of ill treatment, which
could easily make life intolerable.
The judge in this case has done what is required when he sent
repeated notices to the husband to attend the hearing, and when
he published an announcement in the local newspaper. If the husband
does not attend the court after all this and the judge is satisfied
that the ill treatment is a fact, then the judge is within his
jurisdiction to order the nullification of the marriage. That
nullification is considered as a divorce by the judge, which
is a single divorce. This is another difference between this
sort of nullification and khula.
The second husband of this lady may rest assured about the
validity of his marriage. He need not worry or ask any ones
opinion since the nullification is ordered by a court of Islamic
law. What is the purpose of asking anyone when no one would give
the case the sort of in-depth study and consideration as the
court would do?