Marriage to People of the Book
Allah Ta’ala has created women and men as complementary partners to each other. Concerning women and their role with men, Allah says “So that you (men) find rest and joy in them” (30:21). While He has made woman the ‘queen’ and the mother in her home He has charged men with the responsibility of seeing to the needs of their women-folk, and their wives.
Therefore, in marriage, one has to choose a spouse who has the same spiritual outlook and who has adopted Islam as his or her way of life and be able to fulfill the requisite roles. He or she must have the correct Aqaaid (beliefs) and practically manifest these in the performance of Salăh and fasting, etc. Concerning a woman who possesses such qualities Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) has said, “The woman who performs her five daily Salaat, guards her chastity and obeys her husband, can enter Jannah b y whichever door she desires”. (Sahih Ibn Hibaan).
It is clearly evident that these noble attributes can only be found in a pious Muslim woman since the Deen is the only true enhancer of character and protection against vile qualities. Nabi (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) also said, “The best of goodness for a man after the Taqwa (fear) of Allah is a pious wife, If he instructs her, she obeys him. If he looks at her, she makes him happy. If he takes an oath vouching for her, she upholds him, and when he is away from her, She guards herself (her chastity) and his wealth (Ibn Maajah).
A woman is the first and everlasting Madrassah for her children and the guardian of her home. Her adornment of herself with noble qualities and beautiful character will invariably pass on to her children and all the people in her home. Therefore, the Hadith has it that: “Choose the one who is religious, otherwise you will be dishonoured." (Muslim)
Now, when a Mu’min (believer) is exhorted to choose a pious Muslim woman as his marriage partner as against an impious Muslim woman, this is all the more reason why he should not marry a Kitaabiyyah. Firstly, she has no Deen. Then, our experience too has taught us that most of the children of such unions end up as Ahle-Kitaab, since children identify more easily with their mothers. They spend more time with them, follow their example and accept their teachings whether good or bad, even more easily. According to the author, this has been witnessed on a large scale in Lebanon and Egypt. In many countries, one will find that daughters of such marriages prefer marrying Christians because of the encouragement and influence of their mothers. And this is totally HARAAM in Islam. It occurs especially when the father dies, and the mother’s influence and control is now consolidated on her children. So, the children are nurtured according to the Christian mother’s way of life and belief. Not long afterwards, they begin to soil their chests with the symbol of the cross and gradually re-inforce their inclination toward Christianity. In other words, it is as if the father of such children had voluntarily surrendered his own children into the dens of kufr, and opened for then the gate of Jahannam.
Many young people who favour such marriages seem to be unduly impressed by the mannerism of the kuffar and this is due to their own lack of appreciation of the real value of Islam in their lives. Such people cannot be expected to yield real Islamic influence on their own children’s deeds and character. According to a well-known maxim, the period of youth has been referred to as a period of madness. Therefore, we find that very seldom do the youth carefully consider the consequences of their actions.
Another disadvantage of such a marriage is that when such a woman dies, the Muslim husband does not inherit from her estate because of the principle of ‘the difference of religion’ according to nas (explicit textual evidence) and ijmá (consensus).
Another argument presented in support of such marriages is that these women are generally well- educated and possess very refined manners. As Muslims, we should realize that the western educational system which these women have been put through is in reality the pinnacle of Jahl (ignorance) and Dalaal (deviation). They have been nurtured on such a way of life that condones and takes a very lenient view on intoxicants, disobedience to Allah and the Kufr belief in the divinity of Eesa (AS). Among the ideals of western education today, is the silly feminist notion of the “freedom” of women which has it that a woman should do whatever she wills independently and without subjecting herself to the authority of a husband, or any other male in her life. Imagine the consequences of this, when, apart from being one of defective intelligence, her education has now further impaired her ability to discern good from bad and ignorance from knowledge.
Without doubt, a Muslim woman is definitely purer in her ways, manners, cleanliness and refinement of character. Allah Ta’ala declares: “And a believing slave woman is better than an idolateress even though she may allure you” (2:22).
Yes, the heathen woman is proficient in her language and can read and write very well. But this is nothing as against the evils she has been subtly indoctrinated to accept as permissible and a normal part of life, like zina, wine-drinking, nakedness and shamelessness, etc. It is the same educational system which robs her of her modesty and allows her to swim nakedly and in the full gaze of men, and to travel long distances all by herself. It has also taught her to freely and closely associate with whomsoever she wishes and to even remain with him in privacy. Hence, there can hardly be any surprise when such people accept, among other things, that zina is not wrong unless in the case of rape or in the bedroom of the husband. Modern-day Christian (western) societal norms also dictate that a woman rises above her husband’s authority. What a world of difference between a woman of such a background and a Muslim woman, brought up in a pure, pristine home, on a wholesome existence, higher ideals and believing in the importance of physical and spiritual purity.
Another argument in favour of marrying such women is that this is permissible according to the Qur’an. Here, it should be understood that the permissibility was in order to facilitate the entry of Christians into Islam and to spread Islam among other nations, as well as for the purpose of demonstrating to non-Muslims the generosity of Islam. In the golden, early days of Islam, when Islam reigned supreme above all other religions, whenever a woman married a Muslim, she would, after observing her husband’s Islamic and pure way of life, accept his beliefs, and willingly become a Muslim. History bears ample testimony to this.
Another pre-condition for the permissibility of marrying such women is that they must be Muhsana (chaste). Allah says, “And those who are chaste from among those who were given the book before you” (5:5). In the light of this, it is no secret that the majority of Christian girls today do not fulfill this criterion since, as has been already mentioned, adultery, except in the case of rape or a spouse’s unfaithfulness has become accepted as a norm.
Not only have the majority of Christians today acquiesced to the legality of zina, sodomy, and the consumption of wine, they even regard such condonement as allowing to the individual his right to the “freedom of choice”, and to make matters worse, many are even proud to do so. Now, let us think that if they fail to even regard zina anymore as a sin, could the condition of chastity ever be found in such people?
Today, it is not uncommon to find unmarried Christian men and women experiment with “marriage” before marriage for lengthy periods of time, and experience has shown that in most cases, they separate after short “experiments”. They show a preference to live-in-partners over spouses and prefer this kind of haraam situation over marriage and regard this sacred contract as a burden. We have seen that Christian women of the past would maintain good morals and guard their chastity, whereas the western woman of today views zina as a permissible jaunt if committed by mutual consent, just as she has “accepted” sodomy and homosexuality as normal behaviour. Furthermore, not only are these sins viewed merely as sexual preferences but they are actually “protected” by laws legislated in parliament.
As a result of this fitna (i.e. Muslim boys marrying Nasaarah women), many of our Muslim girls today remain unmarried in the homes of their fathers, their youth completely wasted away and their years swiftly passing by, while Muslim boys are covetously chasing after other women. When Hadhrat Huzaifa bin Yaaman (RA) married a Jewish woman in Madaain, Ameerul Mu’umineen Hadhrat Umar (RA) wrote to him ordering him to leave her. “Is it haraam?,” asked Hadhrat Huzaifa (RA) in his reply. “Before putting down my letter,” wrote Hadhrat Umar (RA) “determine that you will separate from her, for I fear that other Muslim men will follow your example in choosing non-Muslim women because of their beauty. And this will be a great fitna for our Muslim women”.
Now, more than ever before, it is the duty of every responsible Muslim, especially the heads of states to purge their societies of kufr and ilhaad (apostasy) and particularly those elements which generate them. They are dutibound to keep away the sick and contagion-infected camels from the healthy ones and make every effort to prevent this evil from spreading. It is an accepted fact that contagion of character is far worse than a contagion of bodies and that prevention is better than cure..
Our Nabi (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) has said “Do not choose as a companion anyone but a Mu’min and none should eat your food save a pious person”. The indecency and immorality that have crept into Muslim-Arab societies of today are as a result of inter-mingling with western and Christian Arab women, bereft of Deen and acceptable character. The rot set in slowly when the Muslims began to learn their ways and ape their dressing. First, they began to reveal their hands up to the elbow. Then, the shoulders became uncovered until finally the legs up to the thighs became exposed. No longer was it unacceptable for men to walk about bareheaded and for women to brazenly reveal the hair of the head, face and neck. This was a reversion to the days of the period of the First Ignorance. As a result of blind Taqleed (emulation), first the younger women and then the older ones became enmeshed in this fitna.
The most sacred and prized possessions of a Muslim woman are her Deen, honour, and modesty which is safeguarded by her concealing of herself from strangers.
Therefore, our message to our dear Muslim Youth is this: Allah Ta’ala has honoured you with Islam and granted you superiority over others in the event of you fully adopting the Islamic way of life. Remember! It is to your responsibility to withhold yourselves from the evil of following your base desires, to adorn yourself with nobler qualities, and to safeguard yourselves from all evil. And for the sake of your children and your home, select a Muslim woman only, who will protect you regarding her chastity, your possessions and your family, and who will be a true friend and advisor in all your affairs. Our Nabi (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) has said, “The world is an object of benefit and the best of it is a pious woman. (Mishkăt). Highlighting her role, Allah Ta’ala has referred to the wife as “the companion at one’s side”(36 : 4). Therefore, in view of the above, a true indication of the foolishness of a man is his choice of a woman who does not have IMAAN. The disastrous consequences of such foolishness on himself, his wealth and his family cannot be over-emphasized. History bears witness to this.
These words of caution apply equally with regard to all non-Muslim women, whether Arab or Non-Arab, since such women can never be expected to fulfill their responsibility with regard to the Islamic essentials like Tahaarah (physical cleanliness) Salăh, fasting, etc. and cannot be supportive of their husbands in their religious observances. When today’s’ westernized Christian woman frowns upon the idea of obedience to a husband, how could it be correct, or even thinkable, for a Muslim man to choose such a woman as his wife?
Sadly, many of our youth seem to be inclined towards a life of permissiveness and freedom from all Deeni and rational restrictions and are over-awed by the merely superficial things in life. They view everything with the eye of their emotions and not the eye of their mind and reason. As a result, they end up choosing the inferior over that which is superior. They feel, and this is indeed the height of ignorance, that progress and cultural refinement is to be found in people who are the products of an alcoholic, shamelessly naked and morally bankrupt Christian society. They should bear in mind that should they persist on this course of deviation and destruction, and fail to return to the path of obedience to Allah Ta’ala, then they too shall go down in history as losers in this world and the Aakhirah. This is certainly a great and costly price to pay for treading the path of evil and obeying their desires in this short life, and a far cry indeed from the way of our pious predecessors who had, under all conditions, held fast to the Deen of Allah Ta’ala, the Lord of the worlds.
By Shaykh Abdullah bin Zaid Aal Mahmood
Chief Justice of Shariah Court; Head of Islamic affairs; Qatar
 A Christian or Jewish woman who in this context maintains her religion without converting to Islam.