Muslim women and non-Muslim men

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?

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52 thoughts on “Muslim women and non-Muslim men

  1. Marahm says:

    I haven’t read a thing, but I do have a very good friend who married a kitabi. She is Palestinian by blood, Saudi by passport (by now American, I am sure) and was an observant Muslim when we lived in the Kingdom together.

    As a doctor, she was denied a residency in her preferred field, because the men had first priority. She obtained a desirable residency in the United States, and moved here. By the end of her studies, she had met and married another student, and American doctor.

    By the time I saw her again, she had given birth to several children, set up a private practice, and had all but abandoned the rituals of Islam. She was very happy.

    When I asked her why, she said, “Living as a Muslim is too hard here in the United States. ”
    I asked her about her kids. She said, “We’ll teach them both religions. When they are grown, they can choose for themselves.”

    I asked her if she felt any sense of sin. “No,” she replied. “Allah knows my heart. He knows the world. This society is not set up for Islamic ritual, and there’s no sin in not being able to do it.”

    I pointed out that other Muslims seem to manage, and she replied, “Allah is all-forgiving. I think everyone will go to Heaven in the end.”

    The only fact that caused her distress was that she’d never be able to return to Saudi Arabia, not even for a visit.

    I was shocked, but now, after having repatriated myself, I understand her position, and agree with it, to an extent.

    • Metis says:

      Thanks for sharing this story, Marahm. This is a very odd law in the GCC countries. Even if the man had converted on paper for her, she wouldn’t have been able to be a full Saudi citizen when she married him.

  2. Coolred38 says:

    I do not believe it’s forbidden for a Muslim woman to marry from al kitab simply because it isn’t forbidden for Muslim men to marry them. In the Quran when God speaks he speaks to everyone unless specifically stating so. We can assume when He uses the masculine gender that he is either referring to men specifically, in which case he points that out, or he is speaking to both men and women. The verses indicating that marriage to women from al kitab is permitted to you doesnt single out men as the only audience intended…so we should assume it is inclusive. What is permissible for Muslim men is permissible for Muslim women. If chrisitan and jewish women are allowed in marriage and are NOT considered unbelievers or kafirs…then it should be assumed that christian and jewish men are viewed in the same light. One gender cannot be acceptable in marriage and the other gender forbidden. What sort of sense does that make and how unfair is that for Muslim women? Muslim men have 3 choices of marriage partners…Muslim, Christian, and Jewish women….yet Muslim women have only one choice, Muslim men? We speak of the Quran and say it expounds equality, fairness, and justice….but then turn around and say God expands the rights of Muslim men but limites the rights of Muslim women….God loves men so much he gives them a buffet of female choices…but give Muslim women a strict diet of only Muslim men?

    Not to mention the excuses given as to why Muslim women cant marry other than a Muslim man. Her deen will be compromised? As if she is more susceptible to straying from the path then a Muslim man married to a christian or jewish woman. Her children will not be raised Muslim? We know that children spend most of their time with their mothers in their formative years….so which children will learn more about their deen…those being raised by a Muslim mother (muslim father) or those raised by a christian/jewish mother (muslim father)? That makes no sense either. Oh yes. lets not forget, her nonMuslim husband will prevent her from practicing her deen. And yet we have entire “Islamic” countries that force a cultural interpretation of its Muslim women….which is NOT in keeping with the practice of true Islam…but thats ok cause her husband is Muslim?

    Give me a break. What this “law” comes down to is Muslim men wanting it all…while restricting their own women to meager choices. Basically, Muslim men are thinking…we can have your women (christian/jewish) but you (christian/jewish men) cant have ours.

    This hails back to a time when capturing women as slaves and their children were automatically “born” muslim and therefore increased the Muslim population was an active and instant way to increase Muslim populations. It’s assumed that these wives (slaves) of Muslim men will eventually convert to Islam and therefore increase the muslim population with more babies etc…but the fear that Muslim women will convert out of their faith and raise their children as nonmuslims is what forbids them from marrying out.

    In other words…Muslim men seem to think only THEY have the ability to hang on their faith despite being married to a nonMuslim…but believe Muslim women are too weak and easily led astray to hang on to theirs. Period.

    • Metis says:

      “One gender cannot be acceptable in marriage and the other gender forbidden. What sort of sense does that make and how unfair is that for Muslim women? ”

      I think a lot of women are asking the same question but I’m not sure if it is going anywhere. Do you think it is possible that 14 centuries of mindset has become difficult to break? I do know that there is a hadith of Ibn Abbas claiming that even men shouldn’t marry women from the Kitabi but I don’t know if the Prophet himself banned such unions.

    • Metis says:

      I also wanted to comment on “We speak of the Quran and say it expounds equality, fairness, and justice…”

      I think Quran is very explicit that the two genders are not equal. That is just my understanding and it has often been said by a few scholars as well. There is equity in the Quran but I don’t see equality.

      The other thing I wanted to point out is that there were two Kitabi women in the Prophet’s household – Raihana (Jew) and Mary (Copt) and he didn’t marry either. It is quite possible that marriage to kitabi women is not allowed whereas non-Muslim women could be kept as slaves/presents. However, Mary did give birth to the Prophet’s son and had he survived he would have been raised by her away from central Medina so your argument that children spend their early years with mothers comes in.

      “Basically, Muslim men are thinking…we can have your women (christian/jewish) but you (christian/jewish men) cant have ours.”

      I see much logic in that.

  3. Marahm says:

    Coolred, you said, “This hails back to a time when capturing women as slaves and their children were automatically “born” muslim and therefore increased the Muslim population was an active and instant way to increase Muslim populations.”

    This makes a lot of sense to me. I tend to regard many of our “Islamic” practices as arising out of ancient political expediency.

  4. Sara says:

    It never made sense to me that Muslim women can’t marry non-Muslim men, but the other way around is okay, since I feel that usually kids are influenced more by their mothers. So if the mother is a non-Muslim then that would affect the kid more than if the father was a non-Muslim. I’m sure this isn’t always the case but it seems quite logical in cultures where kids are closer to their mothers.

    Consensus is undoubtedly patriarchal and not representative at all, but it does carry a tremendous amount of weight, sometimes even more than the sunnah or Qur’an, it seems. The paper I’m doing now on Amina Wadud leading prayer is basically about how the consensus on the issue is all that matters: all other arguments are invalid because that one argument is so strong.

    Abou el-Fadl is always so refreshing!

    • Metis says:

      “Consensus is undoubtedly patriarchal and not representative at all, but it does carry a tremendous amount of weight, sometimes even more than the sunnah or Qur’an, it seems.”

      Sara, do you know of any hadith that points to instances of Muslim women marrying kitabi men? I have been looking but so far have found nothing. How was this “consensus” formed if there is nothing in favour or against the practice?

  5. Mezba says:

    From what evidence I have seen this leads to kids abandoning Islam. Moreover the scholar seems to forget the hadith that that majority of the ummah will not unit in error (or something to this effect).

    • Lat says:

      Or not to deal with matters that are in doubt.Since the Quran doesn’t explicitly say anything with this regard for muslim women,then the matter is in doubt! Forbidding muslim women from marrying non-muslim men works in favour of muslim men by protecting their inheritance and properties from going outside their families and honor killings play a role in this as well.

      Here muslim marriages are conducted only for muslim couples.So even a Jew or Christian has to convert to marry a muslim man or woman.It doesn’t work one way.Otherwise they have to register in the secular registra of marriages office.

      For a muslim woman marrying a non-muslim man has some challengers ahead in keeping the marriage going.It’s tough but it’s not impossible.But I doubt it will work if one party gets more religious after marriage and asserts his/her views with regard to their children’s or family life.Sometimes after marriage things start to change and they may not be hopeful as they were before their marriage.Outside pressure and family support are important factors on how such marriages succeed.

      I personally know of some families where the spouse convert so to marry the muslim partner and when they end up in divorce,they revert back to their previous religion and sometimes children end up in a limbo,whether on whose religious path to follow.And I’ve read stories how children are painfully separated from their mothers so that they end up growing under their father’s religion.This could also happen to muslim women married to non-muslim men.There are no guarantees.Unless an agreement is made to bring up children in both religions of the parents and whether this agreement will be fullfilled is another matter.

      The “weight of the consensus” is still strong right now and most couples do adhere to this patriarchial system because it is still favoured.

      • Metis says:

        Lat, what has been your experience – my experience is that Muslim women who want to marry non-Muslim men without converting them are not very religious to begin with anyway. Sometimes men convert for the Muslim woman which again is something I find very strange.

        • Lat says:

          “Muslim women who want to marry non-Muslim men without converting them are not very religious to begin with anyway”

          Yes,that’s true. Because a religious muslim woman wouldn’t marry any other than a muslim man.I know a lady(not religious) whose son has a Hindu name while she remain a muslim.
          For the case of the man converting,maybe he really loves the girl.Afterall the conditions to marry her is clear esp if the girl feels comfortable staying in her own family support .But I don’t like the circumcision part though.

          There are many cheeky old and middle men here ,who convert so as to have multiple wives in other countries.They don’t practice the religion but want to enjoy the benefits it affords them.Unfortunately this affects their first marriages and relationships with their children.

        • Salaam Alaikum,

          I have to butt in here because I know of two men who converted to marry Muslim women. One is now a Dr of Islamic theology and a university lecturer and the other is in Allah’s grace and mercy, but before he died did endless work for converts and young Muslims especially (despite not being at all practicing initially) and had a long and very happy marriage.

          Allah guides as He wills, Alhamdulilah.

    • Metis says:

      Mezba, I have seen children of very devout Muslims leaving Islam as well. And then there are devout Muslims whose either parent was not Muslim. In fact, there are greater chances of children growing out of Islam if the mother is not Muslim.

  6. Marahm says:

    Kids whose parents are of different religions will feel more freedom to choose their own path, even if it leads to a third way of belief. This should be true no matter what two religions are involved. I’m a case in point. My parents were of differing Christian religions.

    In my family of origin today, we represent four different religions, and we can never talk about any of them. I believe our parental lack of religious unity gave us kids permission to explore.

    • Sara says:

      I had the same experience: my dad is Muslim, my mum Catholic (but not religious) and I chose Islam in the end, but it was really a choice since neither of my parents pressured me to go either way.
      However, this isn’t always the case. Many times the father has the upper hand in the family in general, so his religion is the one enforced.

    • Metis says:

      “Kids whose parents are of different religions will feel more freedom to choose their own path, even if it leads to a third way of belief. This should be true no matter what two religions are involved.”

      This is something I agree with personally although it would have frightened my parents tremendously.

  7. mariam says:

    salam 🙂
    I think pushing for muslim women marrying non muslim men dont solve the real problem.real problem is that from one hand there are so many single muslim women and from another hand muslim men leave alone this pool of single muslim women and marry non muslim women, why ? because they have learned that dating with a muslim woman is haram but dating with a a non muslim women is ok.so stupid system.( Organica talked about this in her blog)
    I think we should fix our corrupt system that” discourage young men from marrying divorced,widowed and older muslim women and courage them to marry young non muslim women.”

    I dont know about other Islamic countries but in Iran this issue is not a problem at all.when an Iranian muslim woman wants to marry a non muslim man ( mostly non Iranian),this man simply go to a scholar and say a shahada , scholar give him a paper that show he has said shahada and they can easily register their marriage.no one can say does he pray,fast …..? who can say who is muslim or not? many non Iranian muslims argue that this is a lie.but I dont think it is a lie.there are so many muslims who are more atheist than many atheists and there are many atheists who are more muslim than many muslims.
    so for a man who want to marry his love saying those two sentences are not a big deal at all. daughter of one our relatives married her german husband in this way.I should add, this process can be done in all Iranian embassies across the world without any problem.

    and personaly I dont think I can marry a non muslim man.
    I want to pray with my husband beside me in our home.(when both are home :-))
    I want eat Suhoor(sahar) in Ramadan with him.
    I want to break my fast with him.
    I want to read Quran with him.
    I want to read Dua with him while walking between Safa and Marvah.
    I want he say” salam to Hossain” when I give him a glass of cold water.
    I want to read Quran and Dua with him in shrine of emam Reza.
    my faith has flow in every minute of my life , my faith is not just a name for filling application forms ( or any form like it).and I think this issue dont differ for men or women.
    in the end the only judge is God.
    mariam-Iran

    • Metis says:

      Mariam, Thanks for your comment which I enjoyed a lot.

      Many countries allow Muslim women marrying non-Muslim men if the men accept Islam on paper. But I also know that some GCC countries require the man to be circumcised just so that he really considers the situation. I think the problem arises when the man refuses to convert even on paper.

      I really liked what you wrote about your passion for faith!

  8. sarah says:

    I think that the ruling has less to do with the man corrupting the wife’s deen and more to do with the wife having to be ‘obedient’ to the husband. The Quran also clearly states that the man has a degree of authority over the wife because he spends of his wealth on her and is responsible for her maintainence. It would therefore be wrong of the wife to contradict a ruling or an agreement made with the husband.
    This framework seems old fashioned and patriarchal for many of us living in the modern west but for millions of women around the world this is still the traditional structure of the family.
    It is easy for women who are legally and financially independent to say that the ruling seems out of date but for some of our sisters around the world marrying a nonMuslim man may present a whole range of man-made legal and social difficulties. To many it is a real risk to take such a step. But is this cultural or religious?
    Religiously the Quran says the man has a degree of rank above. I personally wouldn’t make that choice easily to let someone be in that position who was not a Muslim but I certainly think that it is a personal matter and I agree that God is indeed Merciful and a full account of all actions will be made when we meet our Maker. I don’t think the Quran outlines a punnishment for any woman making that choice.

    • Lat says:

      “Religiously the Quran says the man has a degree of rank above.” I don’t think it’s religiously but rather socially ‘ordained’ by the concensus group.And I agree with the rest of your statements.

    • Metis says:

      Sara you wrote – “I think that the ruling has less to do with the man corrupting the wife’s deen and more to do with the wife having to be ‘obedient’ to the husband. The Quran also clearly states that the man has a degree of authority over the wife because he spends of his wealth on her and is responsible for her maintainence. It would therefore be wrong of the wife to contradict a ruling or an agreement made with the husband.”

      I am glad you said this because I have often seen feminists deny that the “Quran also clearly states that the man has a degree of authority over the wife” even though I see it there very clearly. You are a feminist, how do you understand that verse? Do you agree that there is equity but no equality in the Quran?

      • Zuhura says:

        I am one who would deny that. I like Ahmed Ali’s translation, “Men are the support of women as God gives some more means than others […].” But I read virtually all references to gender in the Qur’an as context-specific. E.g at that time and place men had more means than women. In my own household I have more means than my husband. I don’t believe there is any place for authority of one person over another in a marriage; however in decisions about money the person who is providing more should have a more weighted voice in the event of disagreement.

        • Metis says:

          Zuhura, I just realised you and Sarah are both referring to surah 4 verse 34 while I went on a tangent and was referring to 2:228 🙂

          I agree that all translators apart from perhaps Rodwell and Sale call men ‘protectors/supporters/maintainers’ with regards to 4:34 (although the Arabic word قوامون – qawwamoona (maintainers/superintendents) collocates with the word علي – aala which is a preposition meaning ‘over or on’, so I do see hierarchy in fine print there as well) , but 2:228 uses the term ‘equitable’ and the phrase ‘men have a degree above (women)’ used even in Arabic which makes me conclude that there is equity (which is related to quality) rather than equality (which is related to quantity).

          “in decisions about money the person who is providing more should have a more weighted voice in the event of disagreement.”

          Amen!

      • Zuhura says:

        PS: I don’t understand the distinction between equity and equality. How can we have the former without the latter?

  9. susanne430 says:

    Great post and comments. In the Bible it was Solomon – yes a man! a king! – who was lead astray by his wives who believed in other gods rather than him keeping them in line. And in the New Testament women were mentioned in this letter to Timothy:

    “I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.”

    If I remember correctly Timothy’s father was mentioned as a Greek so people speculate that he was not in the faith. Yet these women passed along their faith to Timothy.

    My point, women can be more devoted to and influential in their faiths than their husbands. 🙂

    That said, I agree with Mariam when she said, “my faith has flow in every minute of my life , my faith is not just a name for filling application forms.”

    I’ve never agreed with converting to a different religion for the sake of marrying someone. Don’t we believe how we do “for the sake of Allah/God”? I read what Lat said about people converting to one faith for marriage and then converting back to their original faith when divorce happens. That just seems weird to me.

    • Metis says:

      “My point, women can be more devoted to and influential in their faiths than their husbands.”

      I agree with that. I have seen women to possess the spiritual insight men lack.

  10. Metis says:

    Thank you so much for your comments, ladies. A relative wanted help on the matter because she wants to marry man who is a devout Christian and does not believe in converting for the sake of a human being. He doesn’t want her to convert to Christianity either. However, the girl’s family is giving her much grief because they believe she will live in sin if she marries him and their children will not be religiously legitimate.

    I am sure she will find your comments very helpful and of great value.

  11. Marahm says:

    Metis, your relative is in a quandary, indeed. As a senior citizen with many years of both married and unmarried life behind me, I would like to tell your relative that when husband and wife are strongly faithful to their own religions, problems will occur.

    Love and cooperation go only so far. Ramadan will come, and the wife will be celebrating alone, and seeking fellowship from amongst her Muslim relatives. The husband will do the same when Christmas rolls around. Each may cooperate with the other, but will not share the spiritual joy of full participation. A sense of loneliness may prod each, or both, to become inactive and eventually unobservant.

    Even if none of that occurs, other problems that invariably arise in marriage will be exacerbated by the couple’s inability to worship together in a commonly accepted faith.
    If these two marry, they’d be wise to explore Unitarian Universalism, if their country offers that choice. UU does not require conversion, and does not require denunciation of previous faith.

    • Metis says:

      I think so too, Marahm! I think it is unfair that either or both must change their religions. They are both already UU; that’s how they met, but the real problem is the girl’s family who want to see their future SIL accepting Islam which he thinks is unfair.

  12. Sophia says:

    Part of the reason I’m hesitating about converting is this issue. The man I plan to marry is not Muslim, nor do I expect him to become Muslim if I convert. But I worry that if I convert I won’t be able to bring him with me to meet other Muslims without it being a big taboo – he’s willing to share me with Islam, but is Islam willing to share me with him?

    • I don’t think you should worry about what other Muslims think – then you’ll end up living in a hole scared to go out.
      Marry him and don’t think twice about it! If he’s a good person that’s enough. As was shown in this post, it is not that clearcut that the Qur’an bans women from marry non-Muslim men.

    • Metis says:

      Sophia, I agree with Marahm. Or you could be extremely bold and comfortable right from the start by declaring – “this is how I practice my Islam and I don’t need to explain it to anyone”!

  13. sana says:

    I read an article in magazine long time back about how muslim parents let their only daughter marry a non muslim guy and it was love cum arranged marriage. they said that apart from his religion there was nt one single reason they would not like in him and best, that they could trust him blindly that this guy would love their daughter unconditionally, unlike a muslim guy. that was so enriching, They also said something like “better to marry a “good” trustworthy non muslim than a “bad” muslim and be unfulfilled and unhappy for the rest of her life”
    They said they couldn’t let him go and accepted when he proposed to their daughter.
    Rare case, but many people discouraged and opposed to their decision. I would only pray that the parents’ decision be Allah’s decision too and the marriage remains blessed forever, ameen.

    btw: “http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/life-style/relationships/man-woman/Extra-marital-affairs-are-good-for-marriage-/articleshow/5395063.cms”

    • Metis says:

      Wow, Thanks for the link Sana!

      “They also said something like “better to marry a “good” trustworthy non muslim than a “bad” muslim and be unfulfilled and unhappy for the rest of her life””

      That is brave and so honest!

  14. Marahm says:

    The two of you would do well to explore a religion you could both embrace.

  15. sarah says:

    Metis, yes I do feel that man is given a degree above but I see this as material rank and not a spiritual one. Spiritually I feel that I am in every way equal to a man. In God’s estimation I am worth the same as a man and we are all only as good as the deeds we do. I do not feel the need to shy away from what is clearly written in the Quran. I do not think this rank issue is demeaning because men and women have different roles and obligations. This verse does not mean I cannot work but Islam does teach that financing the family is not my responsability and my money is my own unless I chose to share it. For men this is not the case, their hard earned money is meant for me and my children and does not only belong to him. It is this burden (as well as greater physical strength for work ) which gives them the rank ‘above’.
    I know that this may rankle with many women but so many other aspects of Islam demonstrate that women should be treated with respect, courtesy and equality that it must be put into the context of the whole. I feel Islam thinks of men and women as equal spiritually but having different roles.
    It may seem strange in our modern world where feminists have fought so hard for total equality but IMHO in doing so they have now shouldered an extra burden of earning while the men can have no share in the physical/emotional changes a body goes through during childbirth so this framework – where women deny the needs of childrearing and think they can have it all – has actually made life harder for many. It is this juxtaposition which is resolved in Islam but is now being faced by the younger generation of women working in the west today.

  16. Marahm says:

    Sarah, I’ve been saying the same thing for years: “… they have now shouldered an extra burden of earning while the men can have no share in the physical/emotional changes a body goes through during childbirth so this framework – where women deny the needs of childrearing and think they can have it all – has actually made life harder for many.”

  17. Metis says:

    I found something else here which may interest some of you – http://www.suite101.com/content/are-muslim-woman-allowed-to-be-married-to-non-muslim-husband-a257962

    I especially found the last paragraph very interesting:

    Marriage and fatwa rulings are meant to protect all parties. The sharia make such rulings in an attempt to prevent women from abandoning their religion. Abandonment of Islam (or Apostasy) is considered a grave sin and in some countries, it’s a punishable crime. Therefore, Muslims believe that it is best to always follow the Quran and sunnah (ways) of Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) as they make decisions.

  18. Lat says:

    But Jews and Christians aren’t idolaters but monotheists.It is stated clearly in the Quran.If their women can be married by muslim men on the understanding that they are also monotheists and believers of other prophets,then why aren’t their men available for marriage for muslim women? Is really patriarchy the problem or the ego and pride of the muslim male? If women are forbidden then so should the men.

    I understand the lwhole lineage and obedient thing but times are changing as women are seeing men of all colours and minds 🙂 I think it’s best to look at suitable avenues (like marriage agreement ) so that women aren’t burdened to accept rulings that question their faith, so much so that they can abandon it someday too by superficially doing acts of worship.What’s the point of it?

  19. Lat says:

    Forgot to mention above that when I said monotheists,I meant as people of the book.If they’re idolaters,then the Quran wouldn’t address them by a different name but lump them together with the rest.

  20. Metis says:

    Lat, good points. I think Jews AND Christians are monotheists so I agree with your first statement. I also agree that it is better to allow women to seek lawful means than push them to the limits so that they abandon Islam.

    What I see happening is that even though Jews and Christian are seen as People of the Book, that is only limited to them not being forced to convert to Islam and for them to pay jizya, and Muslim men allowed to marry their women (Quran, 5:5). Like you said earlier, Muslim women couldn’t have been allowed to marry kitabi men because it would have meant Muslim inheritance going to a non-Muslim man; it would have meant a non-Muslim lineage for the child born to a Muslim woman; and it would have meant an inferior position for the Muslim because in marriage it is the man who has a superior position.

    But I also agree that things should change with time. Who will bring that change, is the question!

  21. Coolred38 says:

    Metis…what is a “nonMuslim lineage”? Isn’t being Muslim an active choice…not an accident of birth? Your comment indicates that merely because you mother is Muslim but if your father isnt…the likelyhood you will grow up muslim is slim…but we know that holds true for chidren with two muslim parents.

    Nothing is guaranteed no matter who raises you.

    My ex was a born Muslim/Arab…despite his best nonMuslim actions throughout our marriage…his (my) children are still Muslim…meanwhile I have fallen off that wagon for the most part. So….despite being raised in a house with a the worst example of a “muslim” father…and a former devout convert muslim mother gone astray…our children are still hanging in there. It’s all a crapshoot really at the end of the day.

    Never know where the influence stops and true faith begins.

    • Metis says:

      Coolred, I didn’t mean that it is what I think; I was trying to put in writing the thoughts of the “consensus” – making sense of why the consensus is against such marriages. I actually think that children should be given the choice – religion shouldn’t be an accident of birth (like I mentioned in a comment to Marahm above) and I also agreed with you that children are most likely to be influenced by the mother at least in the early stages of their lives.

      I know a few people leaving Islam despite having been raised in a devoutly practising family so I know what you mean and I agree with you.

  22. Marahm says:

    Coolred, I disagree that, “It’s all a crapshoot really at the end of the day. ”

    I believe– with nothing but years of personal observation– that people who are brought up within a single religious culture will keep their religion, especially if they remain within that culture for reasons of extended family or economic necessity.

    You don’t see a lot of conversion when the convert does not have a history of a multi-religion family, or lives in a secular state. Could, or would, a Muslim apostatize while living in Saudi Arabia?

    I’m not a sociologist, and this topic would be fodder for sociological study. The weakness of blogging is that people like us put forth generalizations that are drawn from personal experience, but may not hold true for an entire population.

    That said, I quickly add that blogging is a wonderful venue to do exactly what we do– put forth personal observations that may not hold true for a greater population.

    You also said, “Isn’t being Muslim an active choice…?” and that is a question that needs contemplation, perhaps a devoted post.

  23. Coolred38 says:

    Metis…fair enough. Thanks for clarifying.

    Marahm…Since you lived among Arab/Muslims long enough to get to know them (rather than those that choose to comment and soap box about them without any thing more relevant than hearing or reading about them) you would know as well as I how many Muslims out there are Muslim merely for show. Being raised among Muslims no more equates with remaining Muslim throughout your life then converting at some point in a nonMuslim country. My personal experience aside….I happen to know a great many Bahraini/Arab/Muslim women who merely go through the motions just to keep everyone happy and nonjudemental. I must acknowledge personally that I find it admiral for those Muslim women born and raised in Islamic countries, such as Saudi that obviously practices a whole different brand of Islam, who are able to remain steadfast and faithful despite being forced to endure cultural Islam rather than God inspired Islam.

    A feat I was unable to accomplish within myself.

  24. Marahm says:

    Of course, many people– born Muslims and even converts— “go through the motions” for reasons more practical than spiritual inspiration. However, in a society that majorly practices a single religion, these people will always identify themselves with the majority. Their lives will remain integrated with their families, whether they actually believe in the religion or not. Sometimes, personal belief is less important than “going through the motions.” especially when everyone around you is of a single mind.

    I am reminded of the “Sunday Christians”, those who carouse around Saturday night doing all kinds of questionably “sinful” activities and then show up for church the next morning. While not having an ideal attitude, these people nonetheless belong to the tribe, and reap the benefits thereof.

    The blatant apostate, the agnostic, the honest questioner, the one who delves into history and philosophy trying to get to the bottom of all this, is the one who is held at arm’s length, the one who exchanges full membership for the possibility of probing ultimate truth. We who read and comment on these blogs often belong to this category.

  25. Marahm says:

    I probably got off post. I want to reiterate my humble opinion that marriage works best when both partners belong to the same religion, even if one of them “goes through the motions. ” Children will certainly grow up more grounded, but if their nature requires further investigations, they will do so from a grounding in a particular tradition, and will refer their new discoveries to the original teaching.

    Going back to personal experience, I see that my life has taken all kinds of turns simply because my parents were of differing religious minds, and I spent years questioning religions, and I still do! I don’t know if this is in my nature or the result of the chink in my religious upbringing, but I must admit that I admire people who arrive to adulthood fully integrated and convinced of the religion in which both their parents raised them.

    • Metis says:

      “I must admit that I admire people who arrive to adulthood fully integrated and convinced of the religion in which both their parents raised them.”

      But Marahm, do you think it is fair to “raise children” in a particular religion without teaching them the value of choice? Conviction and integration, I feel, is often (but not always) the result of childhood indoctrination rather than the result of true thoughtful understanding because when we grow up hearing the same thing over and over and over and over again without being given the option of believing in it or rejecting it, it becomes the truth. I feel that being raised into two religions with opposing teachings might give children the chance to develop their minds because they hear two conflicting opinions and subconsciously begin to make choices.

  26. Marahm says:

    Very wise comment, Metis. I’ll have to meditate on it awhile before I formulate a response, if, indeed, I can do so.

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