Interfaith Marriage in Islam- Can a Muslim Marry a Non Muslim?

In Islamic jurisprudence, the question of “Can a Muslim Marry a Non Muslim?” is a complex and widely debated issue. While Islamic law permits a Muslim man to marry a woman from the People of the Book (Jews and Christians), the same doesn’t hold true for Muslim women, as there are differing interpretations. It’s essential to seek guidance from a knowledgeable religious authority or scholar to understand the specific circumstances and considerations surrounding interfaith marriages in Islam.

These ‘Muslim’ men and non-Muslim women gave birth to children, things became even more complicated. Eventually, disputes arose and they got separated, this caused the kids to be raised by a single parent, most notably, the mother. Hence, these kids are brought up without any teachings of Islam.

Who are Muslim men allowed to marry? Is it only permissible for me to consider a Muslim woman for Marriage? 

Interfaith Marriage in Islam- Can a Muslim Marry a Non Muslim

Muslim men are only permissible to marry either chaste Muslim women or chaste women belonging to the Ahl al-kitab (People of the book) i.e. Christians & Jews. Both of them need to be religious & must worship, Allah (SWT); the one true God. They can never be polytheists i.e. Hindus. While, these women cannot be lewd in behavior, neither can have boyfriends or be promiscuous.
Quran 5:5

The Ruling of Interfaith Marriage in Islam

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Within the holy Quran, there are two verses that make up the basis of who Muslim men can get to marry. These are – 

  1. Surah al Baqarah; Verse 221 

Can a Muslim man marry a non-Muslim woman?

Here Allah SWT clearly mentions that a Muslim man should rather marry a Muslim slave than someone who happens to be a polytheist. Even if these polytheists are eligible and attractive, Muslim men should refrain from marrying them. 

Only if a polytheist submits herself after being shown the Holy Quran, and its scriptures, and once she believes in the truth after having converted to Islam, can a Muslim man marry her. 

Therefore, it is prohibited for a Muslim man to marry a woman who is either a Buddhist, Hindu, or Sikh 

*Polytheist: Someone who worships multiple Gods.  

Can a Muslim Woman marry a non-Muslim man?

The same is not applicable to women. Women are prohibited from marrying either polytheist (non-Muslim men) or men belonging to Ahl al-kitab (people of the book)

  1. Surah al Maaidah; Verse 5  

Allah SWT explains in this verse, how the food consumed by the Ahl al-kitab (people of the book) is Halal (lawful) to be consumed by Muslims. Similarly, their women are Halal (lawful) to get married to Muslim men. Provided that these women convert to Islam.    

To conclude; in an Islamic marriage, both the potential partners should be Muslim men and women. Also; they MUST believe that there is no God but Allah SWT. Ideal spouses should also behave virtuously and hold righteous standards.  

Can a Muslim marry a non-Muslim? Are Christians considered as – Ahl al-kitab/ People of the book?

A large number of Muslim men nowadays emigrate to the West and consider women within that region as Ahl al-kitab. Therefore, these men end up marrying these Western women. 

Largely because these women had ancestors who were Christians, had Christian surnames, and resided in countries with Christian populations. So, these men presume such Christian women are eligible for marriage.

However, in today’s society, most of these Christian women living in the West are not practicing Christians at all. Rather, the majority of these women are secular and they might have never visited the church.         

These women possess a Christian identity and have their heritage. Although, they are only Christians by name. These so-called Christian’ women have secular beliefs and deny the existence of God, altogether. 

But there exists a small number of women, who sincerely practice Christianity. However, the majority of the practicing Christian’ women believe in ‘the Trinity’. They believe in God the Father God the holy Spirit & God the Son      

Allah SWT is specifically mentioned within the Holy Quran – 

People who hold the notion of ‘the Trinity’ are disbelievers and will have a painful end. 

لَقَد كَفَرَ الَّذينَ قالوا إِنَّ اللَّهَ ثالِثُ ثَلاثَةٍ ۘ وَما مِن إِلٰهٍ إِلّا إِلٰهٌ واحِدٌ ۚ وَإِن لَم يَنتَهوا عَمّا يَقولونَ لَيَمَسَّنَّ الَّذينَ كَفَروا مِنهُم عَذابٌ أَليمٌ

They have certainly disbelieved who say, “Allah is the third of three.”1 And there is no god except one God. And if they do not desist from what they are saying, there will surely afflict the disbelievers among them a painful punishment.

Quran 5:73-

Only the Unitarians & the rest of the Christian faiths truly believe in oneness. These are the people who can be taken as Ahl al-kitab (people of the book). 

But, these are a very small number of people.

As mentioned in Surah al Maaidah; Allah SWT says

People having the belief that Jesus happens to be the son of Allah SWT and then proceed with calling other people to have the same belief end up wrongly associating Allah SWT would not be able to enter heaven. Furthermore, they will not be provided with any sort of help and enter hellfire.  

لَقَد كَفَرَ الَّذينَ قالوا إِنَّ اللَّهَ هُوَ المَسيحُ ابنُ مَريَمَ ۖ وَقالَ المَسيحُ يا بَني إِسرائيلَ اعبُدُوا اللَّهَ رَبّي وَرَبَّكُم ۖ إِنَّهُ مَن يُشرِك بِاللَّهِ فَقَد حَرَّمَ اللَّهُ عَلَيهِ الجَنَّةَ وَمَأواهُ النّارُ ۖ وَما لِلظّالِمينَ مِن أَنصارٍ

They have certainly disbelieved who say, “Allah is the Messiah, the son of Mary” while the Messiah has said, “O Children of Israel, worship Allah, my Lord and your Lord.” Indeed, he who associates others with Allah – Allah has forbidden him Paradise, and his refuge is the Fire. And there are not for the wrongdoers any helpers.

-Quran 5:72

So, Christians who believe in ‘the Trinity’ are polytheists. Such kinds of people, due to their beliefs are strictly prohibited from marrying either Muslim men or women. 

To summarize, only a minority of women residing in the West belonging to Western societies are eligible to marry a Muslim man. This is largely due to their false & secular beliefs. 

Regardless of all these, a vast majority of ‘Muslim ‘men today, end up emigrating to the West and commit themselves to women who they are not eligible to marry, according to Islamic beliefs.  

Can I marry someone from a different religion? 

Marrying either a Jew, a Christian, or a Polytheists was largely disliked by the companions of Prophet Muhammad SAW 

Marrying either pagan or polytheist women

Ibn Abbas (RA) a renowned narrator of Hadith; the cousin of Prophet Muhammad SAW (PBUH), mentioned that once the ayah below was revealed, Muslim men stopped marrying Pagan women.  

To marry a Christian woman

Abdullah Ibn Umar (RA), a renowned narrator of Hadith; son of Umar Ibn Khattab specifically mentioned, to not marry Christian women. 

وَلَا تَنكِحُواْ ٱلۡمُشۡرِكَـٰتِ حَتَّىٰ يُؤۡمِنَّ‌ۚ

And do not marry idolatresses until they are believers.

Quran 2: 221

‘I do not know a worse example of Shirk than that of a wife mentioning that Jesus is her Lord’

Abdullah Ibn Umar (RA)

Having a good heart while serving bridal Mahr

It has been mentioned within verse 5 of Surah al Maaidah; that a newly married wife of Ahl al-kitab (people of the book) must be provided with Mahr (bridal price) while maintaining a good heart. 

bridal Mahr

إِذَآ ءَاتَيۡتُمُوهُنَّ أُجُورَهُنَّ

‘When you have given them their due’ Surah al Maaidah;

Verse 5

Numerous companions of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) himself mentioned that if the newly married wife has sexual intercourse, before the marriage got exemplified, in such a scenario, that marriage needs to be canceled, and the Mahr that was given needs to be returned.   

If Muslim women, consider marrying Muslim men who are immodest

When it comes to Muslim women choosing a husband. If her potential partner happens to be promiscuous, shows lewd behavior, and has secret lovers, then she should abstain from marrying the individual. Because he is not considered Halal (lawful) for marriage. 

The verse below, as mentioned in Surah al Maaidah; verse 5, is applicable for Muslim men as well as Muslim women. 

مُحْصِنِينَ غَيْرَ مُسَافِحِينَ وَلَا مُتَّخِذِي أَخْدَانٍ ‘

…being chaste not being lewd and not ones (who are) taking secret lovers.’ Surah al Maaidah;

verse 5

Types of problems that Muslim men face while they consider marrying a non-Muslim woman

Nowadays, Muslim men generally consider marrying a non-Muslim woman, due to the following reasons – 

  • Due to passion 
  • To attain residency & passport 
  1. As these Muslim men come to unknown territories, they end up meeting a woman, who is a local of that country and becomes weak towards her. As these men feel passionate about these women, he decides to marry her. These men have the idea that the girl being Christian, is Ahl al-kitab (people of the book). 

He also starts thinking that it would be possible for him to convert these women to Muslims.  

  1. Hundreds of thousands of Muslim men nowadays travel to the West to attain financial stability or to attain citizenship. One straightforward and quick way these men can achieve their goals is to simply marry women, who happen to be native of that region. 

Their idea is to attain nationality in this process. After marriage, these men tend to be granted residency within a duration of 2 years and receive their passport within a maximum of 3 years’ time. They consider this as the easiest route to attaining their target.  

As a result of the 2 aforementioned reasons, there exist several reasons for which problems may arise. These are – 

 The women

  1. Happens to be a non-believer 
  2. Is alcoholic and shows immorality 
  3. Has a family that shows hate towards Islam 
  4. Happens to be a strong believer in ‘the Trinity’ 
  5. Raises their children based on secular beliefs
  6. Suddenly abandons and divorces her husband  
  7. Once married, disrespects Islam and its teachings
  8. Is divorced and has children from a previous marriage  
  9. Forbids the children from following the teachings of Islam
  10. Brings up her children by having a grudge against their father  
  11. Educates their children on unethical behavior & also tells them to hate Islam
  12. At a point decides to divorce the husband without having any valid reason

To begin with, a lot of these Muslim men who emigrated to the West had a weak faith and they truly did not have a proper understanding of Islam. All they wanted was to make a lot of fortune in a short space of time. 

This has led to them making very poor decisions and the consequences have been dire. All they end up doing is, selling their faith and Islam in return for mere worldly rewards. 

A scenario when a non-Muslim wife ends up becoming better than their ‘Muslim’ counterparts

On the flip side, there are cases when a Muslim man married a non-Muslim woman, who agreed to follow the teachings of Islam and converted to a Muslim. These women turn out to be very practicing Muslims and get to understand Islam, very well. 

In may be the case, the ‘Muslim’ husband started getting further away from Islam to the point where they did not even fulfill the obligatory prayers. These women had converted to Islam upon the request of her husband. Later on her husband’s weakness and hypocrisy got exposed in the process when it came to following the rules and teachings of Islam.  


In reality, there’s no real solution if you’re a Muslim man and are committed to a non-Muslim woman with whom you have children in the West. However, if you had considered Interfaith marriage in Islam within a Muslim country under the ruling of Islamic marriage laws, then, you could’ve had things in your favor.

If things aren’t under your control, then, it would be wise for you to be patient, seek Allah’s refuge, and always ask for Allah’s forgiveness. You should always try to make things work out positively, be it for your spouse or her family. If you’re a Muslim, unmarried man, then, you should never forget to seek the refuge of Allah SWT and have trust in his plans. 

You should always try your utmost to practice Islam and its teachings as closely as possible and make sure to only marry a Muslim woman or a woman from the Ahl al-kitab (people of the book), someone who is keen to convert to a Muslim.

Talha Ubaidullah
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