I read this a long time ago on Khaled Abou Fadl’s website:
Surprising to me, all schools of thought prohibited a Muslim woman from marrying a man who is a kitabi (among the people of the book). I am not aware of a single dissenting opinion on this, which is rather unusual for Islamic jurisprudence because Muslim jurists often disagreed on many issues, but this is not one of them…
…This is the law as it exists or the legal legacy as we inherited it. In all honesty, personally, I am not convinced that the evidence prohibiting Muslim women from marrying a kitabi is very strong. Muslim jurists took a very strong position on this matter–many of them going as far as saying if a Muslim woman marries a kitabi she is as good as an apostate. I think, and God knows best, that this position is not reasonable and the evidence supporting it is not very strong. However, I must confess that in my humble opinion, I strongly sympathize with the jurists that argued that in non-Muslim countries it is reprehensible (makruh) for a Muslim to marry a non-Muslim. God knows best–I have reached this position after observing that the children of these Muslim/non-Muslim marriages in most cases do not grow up with a strong sense of their Islamic identity. It seems to me that in countries like the U.S. it is best for the children if they grow up with a Muslim father and mother. I am not comfortable telling a Muslim woman marrying a kitabi that she is committing a grave sin and that she must terminate her marriage immediately. I do tell such a woman that she should know that by being married to a kitabi that she is acting against the weight of the consensus; I tell her what the evidence is; and then I tell her my own ijtihad on the matter (that it is makruh for both men and women in non-Muslim countries). After telling her all of this, I add that she must always remember that only God knows best; that she should reflect on the matter as hard as she can; then she should pray and plead for guidance from God; and then ultimately she must do what her conscience dictates.
This is quite liberating and empowering for a Muslim woman to read. We don’t see many scholars telling a Muslim woman that “she must do what her conscience dictates” even if what her conscience dictates goes “against the weight of the consensus.”
Of course, this leads to the questions: 1) How important is the the “weight of the consensus” when it is clearly almost always patriarchial? 2) How *fair* is the concensus? and more importantly, 3) Doesn’t Muslim Feminism appear to be an antithesis of the “concensus”?
Do you know any feminist work done to the topic of Muslim women marrying Christian/Jewish men? Can you help me with some resources on ‘fatwas’ like Abou Fadl’s? What do you personally think about the topic?