I recently read your response on a non-Muslim and Muslim marriage where the Muslim is a woman. I was wondering whether particular circumstances allow for this. For instance, it is often argued that the reason behind this directive is that the man dictates the religion of the children so if he is non-Muslim they will remain so. However, in the historically Muslim city of Harar in Ethiopia (it has been Muslim for centuries) the spread of Islam mainly came when the Ameer [i.e. the ruler] of that area allowed Muslim woman to marry non-Muslim men. The children then retained Islam as their religion. In this case there was a lack of non-Muslim women. Another question would be concerning the religion of shirk and that of one God. There are many people now in the world who are not part of any religion per se, or if they are, have their own views. What if for instance you have an individual who does not subscribe to any religion, but believes strongly that there is only one God? Which group do they fit into…
Before we can discuss the reason of the prohibition of marriage between a Muslim woman and a non-Muslim man, it is important to first see whether such prohibition can truly be found in the Shari`ah or not. In one of my previous answers to a similar question, I had pointed out that a) the Qur’an has expressly mentioned the prohibition of marriage between a Muslim man/woman with a polytheist person; b) As far as the marriage between a Muslim man/woman and a Christian or a Jewish person is concerned, the Qur’an has expressly allowed marriage between a Muslim man and a Jewish/Christian woman but has not given any express directives regarding marriage between a Muslim woman and a Jewish/Christian man. This silence of the Qur’an regarding marriage between a Muslim woman and a Christian/Jewish man, has generally been construed as a disapproval of the Qur’an regarding the particular issue. However, because of the silence of the Qur’an in the related issue, marriage between a Muslim woman and a Jewish/Christian man cannot be termed as prohibited by the Shari`ah. In my opinion, prohibition of a certain matter in the Shari`ah, requires express directives to the effect.
In view of the above explanation, it should be obvious that the ultimate decision regarding such a marriage (between a Muslim woman and a Christian/Jewish man) is left to the individual.
My personal inclination regarding the matter is that such a marriage (Muslim woman and Christian/Jewish man) be avoided, as it seems more prudent to me to say that because the matter has not been given positive approval by the Qur’an (especially keeping in view that marriage between a Muslim man and a Christian/Jewish woman has been expressly allowed), therefore it should be considered as something which the Shari`ah dislikes or silently disapproves, even though it has not expressly prohibited it. However, it should be appreciated that a difference of opinion can exist in the matter.
As far as your opinion regarding the (possible) boost in the spread of Islam as a result of the allowance of such marriage is concerned, it seems that if such was desirable in the Shari`ah, then it would probably have expressly allowed such a marriage. In my opinion, the important thing for a Muslim is not to try and find adjustments in the Shari`ah, even for purposes that apparently seem to help the spread of Islam but to try to understand and follow the directives of the Shari`ah in letter and spirit.
Finally, you have asked:
There are many people now in the world who are not part of any religion per se, or if they are, have their own views. What if for instance you have an individual who does not subscribe to any religion, but believes strongly that there is only one God? Which group do they fit into…
In my opinion, such people for the purposes of setting limits of social interaction with them, should be grouped with Ahl e Kitaab (the Jews and the Christians), primarily because of their monotheistic beliefs.
23rd January 2000