Are Muslim Women Allowed to Marry Non-Muslim Men? by Becky

The traditional answer to this is a resounding no! A quick search on Google will reveal the same, countless websites and sources telling you no, it is haram (forbidden), not allowed under any circumstances. It does not make a difference if the man is Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Agnostic or Atheist, if he is not Muslim a Muslimah (Muslim woman) is not allowed to marry him. Even if she was married, then converted to Islam, she must divorce him, these sources say.

But what is the legal basis for this in Islam? Does it really say in the Qur’an that Muslim women are not allowed to marry non-Muslim men, while it is okay for Muslim men to marry women who belong to Ahl al-Kitab (People of the Book, i.e., Christians and Jews)?

In the following section I am going to first take a look at the arguments that are traditionally given against Muslim women marrying non-Muslim men, before I will take a look at what the Qur’an says, and the views of modern scholars who disagree.

Traditional Arguments Against Muslim Women Marrying Non-Muslim Men:

There are two Ayahs (verses) of the Qur’an that address the issue of marriage to non-Muslims[1]:

Do not marry Unbelieving women (idolaters), Until they believe: A slave woman who believes Is better than an unbelieving woman, Even though she allure you. Nor marry (your girls) To unbelievers until They believe: A man slave who believes Is better than an unbeliever, Even though he allure you. Unbelievers do (but) Beckon you to the Fire. But God beckons by His Grace To the Garden (of Bliss) And forgiveness, And makes His Signs Clear to mankind: That they may Celebrate His praise.[2]

– Surah 2:221

This day are (all) things Good and pure made lawful Unto you. The food Of the People of the Book Is lawful unto you And yours is lawful Unto them. (Lawful unto you in marriage) Are (not only) chaste women Who are believers, but Chaste women among The People of the Book, Revealed before your time,— When ye give them Their due dowers, and desire Chastity, not lewdness, Nor secret intrigues. If any one rejects faith, Fruitless is his work, And in the Hereafter He will be in the ranks Of those who have lost (All spiritual good).[3]

– Surah 5:5

From the first verse (2:221) we see that Muslim men and women are not allowed to marry unbelievers until they believe, but in the second verse (5:5) chaste women among the believers have been made lawful. This has traditionally been interpreted as only making it lawful for Muslim men to marry women of the Book, but not the other way around (Muslim women marrying men of the Book).

The justifications given are usually to do with: 1.) Religion of the children, 2.) Loss of marital rights and 3.) Issues of family law.

1.) Religion of the children:

Within Islam it has traditionally been expected that children who have a Muslim father, will automatically become Muslims themselves. Therefore, the argument goes, if the father is not Muslim, neither will the children be. (This is also used to support the mans right to marry non-Muslim women, as the children are still expected to be Muslim).

2.) Loss of marital rights:

Islam guarantees the woman certain rights amongst these her right to mahr (dowry), her right to be supported by her husband (and keep any personal income to herself), the right to remain in her own religion (as long as it is Islam, Christianity or Judaism), the right to keep her own name.

A Muslim husband is bound to honour these rights, whereas a non-Muslim man is not, and for example might force the woman to convert to his religion.

3.) Issues of family law:

Islamic law regulates issues such as divorce, child custody and inheritance. If a woman was to marry outside Islam, it is argued, these laws might no longer be followed. Since child custody within Islam, is usually awarded to the father, they reason that in the case of divorce the children would end up with their father and therefore not be raised as Muslims.




Arguments for the Permissibility of Muslimahs Marrying Non-Muslims:

Different Types of Non-Muslims:

As is clear from the above verses from the Qu’ran, there is two different kinds of Non-Muslims. The mushrikun (polytheists) and the People of the Book (monotheists, Christians and Jews). One might add that in modern society there is also a third group, the atheists/agnostics who do not believe in any god, but this group is not explicitly addressed in the Qur’an.

Equality of Men and Women:

Surah 2:221 clearly states that neither Muslim men nor Muslim women may marry polytheists. Surah 5:5 says that it is okay for Muslim men to marry women from the Book, i.e., Christians or Jews. It is very clear in the Qur’an that Muslim men and women are given the same rights:

For Muslim men and women,— For believing men and women, For devout men and women, For true men and women, For men and women who are Patient and constant, for men And women who humble themselves For men and women who give In charity, for men and women Who fast (and deny themselves), For men and women who Guard their chastity, and For men and women who Engage much in God’s praise,— For them has God prepared Forgiveness and great reward.

– Surah 33:35

The Qur’an does not forbid women what it explicitly permits men. Furthermore, the general rule is that everything is halal (permitted) unless it is explicitly forbidden.

So, since the Qur’an explicitly permits men to marry Christian and Jewish women, and nowhere explicitly forbid women to marry Christian and Jewish men, it must be allowed.

Addressing the Traditional Arguments Against Women Marrying Non-Muslim Men:

So, as mentioned earlier there are three main arguments that are traditionally used against Muslim women marrying Non-Muslim  men: 1.) Religion of the children, 2.) Loss of marital rights and 3.) Issues of family law. Generally speaking these arguments presumes we live in a patriarchal world where men are in charge of women, and men and women do not have equal rights. Although I am aware that there are many places int he world where this is still so, we are thankfully moving towards greater equality and this is the kind of society I am going to base my arguments on.

1.) Religion of the Children:

In modern day society most parents strive to raise the children together, and the children do not automatically receive the religion of either parent. Rather, religion is something you choose yourself, and even if you are raised as a Muslim or a Christian as a child, many children do not choose to follow their parents religion as adults.

Furthermore, if we accept the premise that the father passes down his religion because he is the head of the household, it also presupposes that the mother is the primary caregiver and nurturer of the children. This in turn means that the mother is the one who is spending the most time with the children, teaching them values, behaviour and, yes, religion as well. So in reality, this is more of an argument against Muslim men marrying non-Muslim women (since they would most likely teach the children their own religion), rather than against Muslim women marrying non-Muslim men.

2.) Loss of Marital Rights:

One of the beautiful things about Islam is, that at the time, it gave women marital rights they had not previously had. Since then however, these rights have become common place. In most societies today you can choose to keep your own name, a man cannot force you to convert to his religion, and he cannot take your personal income against your will. The right to mahr(dowry) can be discussed between the couple before the marriage takes place, and so can issues of who is going to pay for what.

Furthermore, this argument presumes that all Muslims are righteous men who will honour these rights and create an ideal marriage where each partner respects, loves and works with the other partner. This is ideal indeed, but it is not reality. If a woman finds a loving partner who respects and accepts her and her religion, why should she not marry him? Especially if she feels disrespected by the Muslim men around her, who might have more traditional and patriarchal views than her.

3.) Issues of family law:

Reality is that Islamic law is not static. The rights granted in the Qur’an are the minimum, not the maximum. The foundation, not the whole house. Furthermore, every couple will be subject to the laws of the country where they are married and/or reside. Which, amongst others, mean that the mother will often be more likely to be granted custody than the father. Again, this is actually more of an issue for Muslim men marrying outside their faith.

If a couple is concerned with these issues, one way to deal with it is to have the issues drawn up in their Nikah (matrimonial contract). This is how Muslim women are already advised to secure their rights, such as the right to work, take an education, prohibit her husband from taking anymore wives, etc.

Atheists and Agnostics:

The issue of whether it is permissible for a Muslim woman to marry an atheist or agnostic man is even less clear cut. He is not a mushrik (polytheist), but he is also not a Christian or a Jew, and as such do not belong to the People of the Book. It is a difficult issue, and I would leave it up to the individual woman’s consciousness and values what she thinks would be right.



Difficulties in Interfaith Marriages:

The following section will discuss the difficulties in interfaith marriages, whether it is Muslim men married to non-Muslim women or Muslim women married to non-Muslim men.

Marriage is difficult, especially when the partners are not from the same background, have different values, world views, beliefs etc. But the differences could be just as big amongst Muslims, as between Muslim and non-Muslim. I believe what is most important here is the genuine respect and acceptance of ones partners beliefs.

It is also questionable whether the biggest difficulties in marital life is between an interfaith couple, or an intercultural couple. As mentioned previously, if a couple shares the same cultural background, level of education, values and goals in life, but not the same faith, they might still find it easier to relate and make their marriage work, compared to a couple who shares the same faith, but has nothing else in common

These difficulties are the same for both men and women, but they might very well be exacerbated in a society where the majority is non-Muslim. This is why many school of thoughts consider it makruh (disliked) for men to marry non-Muslim women if they live in a non-Muslim country. Clearly, it will be much easier for us if we could all find a partner who shares our religion, values and beliefs. This would be ideal, but unfortunately the world is not an ideal place. Although marrying outside the faith is discouraged, it does not seem to be prohibited.

Progressive Sheiks and Imams:

In Oxford, England, Dr. Taj Hargey performs ceremonies for mixed couples from all over Europe. As far as he knows, he is the only imam in England to do so openly. He says: “We do it because there is no prohibition in the Koran.”[4] He furthermore states that they make the couple sign five non-negotiable conditions that protect the woman’s faith, and they have to agree to counselling before the ceremony was performed.

These sound like very reasonable clauses to me, and something that would be healthy in any relationship. Marriage tends to be strengthened when the couple openly discuss values and beliefs beforehand, instead of ignoring the issues thinking it will not be a problem.

Shaykh, Dr. Abou El Fadl, an accomplished Islamic jurist and scholar who has studied Islamic jurisprudence in Egypt and Kuwait, as well as a prominent Professor of Law at UCLA, with degrees from Yale and Princeton[5]. He has issued a fatwa on the issue of Muslim women marrying non-Muslim men[6]. In it he comes to the following conclusion: “In all honesty, personally, I am not convinced that the evidence prohibiting Muslim women from marrying a kitabi [Person of the Book, i.e., Christian or Jewish] 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.”


In conclusion, the issue of the permissibility of Muslim women marrying non-Muslim men is not so black and white, as it is normally portrayed. It seems reasonable to conclude, that at least in the case of a Muslim woman marrying a Christian or Jewish man, it is allowed, though possibly disliked if she is in a country where the majority of the population is non-Muslim. Ultimately it is up to the individual Muslim woman to follow her own conscience and do what she believes is right in the eyes of God.

And God knows best.


[1]Unless otherwise stated I will be using the translation (by Yusuf Ali) and transliteration found here:

[2]Transliteration: Wala tankihoo almushrikati hatta yu/minna walaamatun mu/minatun khayrun min mushrikatin walaw aAAjabatkum wala tunkihoo almushrikeena hatta yu/minoo walaAAabdun mu/minun khayrun min mushrikin walaw aAAjabakum ola-ika yadAAoona ila alnnari waAllahu yadAAoo ila aljannati waalmaghfirati bi-ithnihi wayubayyinu ayatihi lilnnasi laAAallahum yatathakkaroona

[3]Transliteration: Alyawma ohilla lakumu alttayyibatu wataAAamu allatheena ootoo alkitaba hillun lakum wataAAamukum hillun lahum waalmuhsanatu mina almu/minati waalmuhsanatu mina allatheena ootoo alkitaba min qablikum itha ataytumoohunna ojoorahunna muhsineena ghayra musafiheena wala muttakhithee akhdanin waman yakfur bial-eemani faqad habita AAamaluhu wahuwa fee al-akhirati mina alkhasireena


39 thoughts on “Are Muslim Women Allowed to Marry Non-Muslim Men? by Becky

  1. […] begin alphabetically, there is first Becky whose paper is titled “Are Muslim Women Allowed to Marry Non-Muslim Men?” in which she offers both opinions by Muslims for and against Muslim women marrying non-Muslim […]

  2. Becky says:

    I’m looking forward to reading/answering any comments and/or questions you might have. (And am writing this comment so I can make sure I’ll be notified whenever there is new comments to this posts).

  3. Humaira says:

    Really interesting article, very balanced view. I’m quite traditional in some respects, and very open minded in others. You’re absolutely right that in the Western World, it’s difficult to maintain a strong Islamic identity, and by automatically assuming that because a partner is Muslim then the kids will follow their faith, which is not always the case especially in the case of fathers who are traditionally not the primary caregivers.

    I have to respectfully disagree with your view, but I liked the balanced nature of the article and it definitely gives food for thought as we’re moving in such difficult times especially for muslim women to find an appropriate partner who ticks all the boxes.

    • Becky says:

      Thank you for taking the time to read and comment Humaira!

      Nothing wrong with disagreeing! I realize that most Muslims will probably disagree, but I think it is important that we have honest, and open discussion about these issues, and maybe come to see why certain rules/thoughts/traditions exist. How many of these are based on the Qur’an, and how many are just tradition/culture that we blindly follow?

      It is definitely very difficult to find appropriate partners that have all the characteristics that we would like, which is why this issue is even more important today.

  4. Coolred38 says:

    Simple but Muslims prefer to make it complicated. The Quran is written for men, as in it generally addresses men and uses the masculine form of speaking for nearly the whole of it. So much so that one of the prophets wives complained that women were not addressed or spoken to at all in the Quran. Even though god does not specifically address Muslim women throughout the book, it is understood that when he speaks to Muslim men he is also speaking to Muslim women. If he allows something for Muslim men then he allows it for Muslim women. If he forbids it for Muslim men then he forbids it for Muslim women etc. (I know someone will get on here and bring up something like 2 women=1 man thing but thats not what Im speaking of..this is about what Muslims are allowed and forbidden)

    Since god describes exactly who the believing Muslim man can marry and who he cant…and does NOT expressly forbid those same marriages to Muslim women anywhere in the Quran, then it must be assumed that he also allows it for Muslim women. It only makes sense really. If Muslim men are allowed to marry women of the book even though there is the chance his children will be affected by her religion, her culture, her ideals….why would that be more allowable then a Muslim woman marrying a man of the book?

    Simple. Muslims believe women have no agency, cannot be strong in their faith without a strong leader (ignoring the fact that a lot of nonMuslim women married to Muslim men never become Muslim and remain firm in their own faiths) so that Muslim women can only be led, guided, directed etc by a Muslim man. If you wanted to see patriarchy alive and well in the Islamic/Arab culture this is a perfect example.

    Basically Muslim MEN (and I say men because god does not mention it) are saying…we have our women and we get to have your women too, but not only can you (being nonMuslim men) NOT have our women, you cant even look at them, speak to them, know their names etc.

    How very selfish and exclusionary against Muslim women. The “Fish” in the sea for Muslim men is wide and varied, but Muslim women are restricted to just one certain kind. Doesnt sound very godlike to me.

    • Nahida says:

      Yes! What this person said! It’s a given in all other parts of the Qur’an that when God addresses men, women are also being addressed. Also, men are not supposed to make forbidden what God has not clearly made forbidden, and yet here we are.

      Any scholar who insists that Muslim women should not marry Muslim men is contradicting himself if he believes this and CONTINUES to enforce sexist limits that God has not commanded. The worst excuse I hear for this is “children often take the father’s religion” which just pisses me off because it’s not even true, and if it were, it’s PROBLEMATIC, it’s a sign that women are not being treated equally as they should and that should be looked at and changed–not used as some sick cultural justification!

      • Becky says:

        Thank you Nahida! I agree with you 100 per cent! I really like what you said about it being problematic if the child automatically takes on the father’s religion. Also, I think today it is highly highly unlikely that a (Western) woman would do that, and let’s face it, it is usually in Western countries that Muslim men are marrying non-Muslim women.

    • Becky says:

      Thank you for taking the time to read and comment CR!

      I agree with you completely. I think the problem with these sort of issues is that it a patriarchal culture and tradition which has interpreted the Qur’an, which gives us patriarchal rulings and laws. It’s about time we start reading the religious texts for ourselves and re-interpret the message without the patriarchal tradition/culture influencing us.

  5. Lat says:

    I enjoyed the article,Becky! It relates to how we as Muslims in this contemporary period feel about inter-faith marriages.Even Muslim men who marry non-Muslim women give a lot of freedom to their wives on how to raise their children,as compared to being married to Muslim women.It’s as if Muslim women should know where they stand when it comes to adhering to their own religion.I personally know a Hindu woman who married a Muslim Bangladeshi man who was not so religious,and had 2 sons from him.They are both Hindu and the husband was fine with it.He didn’t force them to be Muslims because their mother isn’t and it’ll be tough for him to raise them as Muslims.I believe it worked for them because his family,predominantly Muslim, approved of her and didn’t bother much about her Hindooness as she didn’t display any form of her worship while she stayed with them.

    I also know of a Muslim woman who married a Hindu man.She was unsuccessful in trying to convert him after marriage and in the end I’m told they’ve both became Christians.It speaks of tensions between couples who come from different religious backgrounds and wanting to find a common space in religion to live happily.It’s a complicated issue.If a Muslim woman who embarks on this path is strong in religion,I doubt she will marry a non-Muslim. Thank you for your article!

    • Becky says:

      Thank you for taking the time to read and comment Lat!

      I agree with you that it is definitely very difficult in any inter-faith marriage, and there is never a guarantee of what religion the kids will have in the end, or if any of the partners will convert.

      I also do think it is important to realize the fact that many Muslims are more culturally Muslim than religiously, and for them, it really might not be ideal to marry someone who is very religious (although it is taboo to say that out loud).

  6. Sara says:

    Very interesting! This is definitely an issue I’ve been thinking about for a while. I feel like if I met a man who was similar to me in terms of outlook, it wouldn’t matter if he was Muslim or not.

    “In modern day society most parents strive to raise the children together, and the children do not automatically receive the religion of either parent.”

    Exactly. This is precisely what happened with me. But I have to say, often kids don’t really have a “free choice” later on, since we are socialized pretty strongly. I can imagine that often the mother’s religion will influence the child more since she is often the nurturer. I know I was more influenced by my mother’s outlook and views than my father’s, because I was closer to her.

    I love your arguments about why there should not be a problem. Since the mother is usually the nurturer, it should perhaps make more sense that Muslim men should only marry Muslim women.

    Great post!

    • Becky says:

      Thank you for reading and commenting Sara!

      I agree with you completely that nothing is ever certain in terms of the religion that the kid will have, and yes the mother is definitely more often the main nurturer (especially if you adhere to standard Muslim culture and the woman’s place in the family).

  7. Metis says:

    Becky, I find this post very well-balanced. You have looked at both sides of the issue which is great. Thanks for sharing all these links and your research into the matter with us.

    I wanted to add that we as Muslims force women to the point where they marry men of their choice and then consequently become irreligious. Why can’t there be ijtihad? certainly even women from the People of the Book have also changed now. And what if a woman accepted Islam just in name to marry a Muslim man? Would she ensure that her children become Muslim, observe Islam and value Islamic concepts? There are so many ifs and buts.

    • Becky says:

      Thank you for reading and commenting Metis!

      Those are great questions. I definitely think that the majority of Christian/Jewish women today (if she is practicing, and not just Christian or Jewish of name) would NOT accept having her children automatically become Muslim (at the most, she would say they would be raised in both religions and make their own choice).

      Following that, I’ve actually been doing a bit more thinking for this past week, and if you want to consider which partner will give you the best chance of raising the kids in your own religion (outside a partner of the same religion), I actually think an agnostic would be the best choice. Most agnostics (and some atheists) are not anti-religion as such, they just don’t believe, but wouldn’t mind letting their kids grow up in a religion, as long as they get to make their own choice later in life.

      And yes, it is a definitely true that some (many?) Muslim women aren’t able to find a man with the qualities she seek, in the end she gets pushed so far because if she marries someone outside Islam, she is considered an apostate instead of giving support to remain in the faith. It is very sad.

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  9. Metis says:

    I was wondering – what examples do we have in sunnah and hadith regarding Muslim women marrying non-Muslim men? Does anyone know?

    • Becky says:

      None were mentioned in any of the explanations/fatwas I read concerning why it is/isn’t allowed, but I have to admit I didn’t look into it any further than that.

  10. Coolred38 says:

    Off hand I can remember that one of the Prophets daughters (?) Ruqayya (could be wrong…been along time since I read up on this issue) was married a man that did not convert to Islam after she did. He was captured during war against the Muslims (several times I believe) and her pleas to release him were met with his release each time. They were separated quite alot during their marriage due to this…but I cannot ever recall reading her being forced to divorce him simply because he was not Muslim.

    Like I said, it has been years….

    • Metis says:

      Coolred, if I remember correctly she was also told to divorce him and remarried him Islamically after he converted. I may be wrong.

      • Coolred38 says:

        I will have to go searching thru what material I have to check that because now that you brought it up…I fairly certain she did not have divorce and remarry…which was the basis for many to claim that her marriage was still halal before during and after his conversion.

        I had so many documents etc while in Bahrain but had to leave a majority of it behind. Too expensive to bring over. Imiss all that those books and papers. So much information I had collected. 😦

  11. susanne430 says:

    Great post, Becky! I enjoyed reading the various points of view and found the guy’s suggestion for Muslims of both sexes to only marry Muslims within non-Muslim lands of great interest!

    Interesting comments also. Thanks for sharing! Nicely written!

  12. Riven says:

    Great article. I’d like to see one addressing women who convert to Islam *after* marriage and children. As long as the husband doesnt interfere I think they should remain married. Surely its a bigger sin to deprive children of their home and father?
    I converted 15 years after marriage and had 5 children. My athiest husband supports me in my faith, will pay for me to go on Hajj and Umrah and actually does all you’d want of a *muslim* husband with regards supoort, financial and emotional. More than some declared muslim husbands.
    So I’d like to see this addressed for converts who convert after marriage.

  13. Riven says:

    Will look up Ruqayya. I think I read Sheik Qaradawi addressing this issue and agreeing it was ok for a muslim woman to be married to a non muslim man as long as he did not interfere in her faith. But as the Holy Quran says ‘Let there be no compulsion in religion’ and the final judgement is between a person and Allah (swt)

    • Becky says:

      Thank you Riven.

      Yes the issue of women converting when already married is definitely important, and is one of those cases where I, personally, would say that unless my husband were trying to prevent me from practicing my religion, I would stay married.

      Unfortunately many of these sites on the internet will tell you that you must divorce your husband until he converts. I honestly cannot agree with that at all, I do not think it is God’s will to split up families or “force” people into converting by giving them the “choice” convert or I’ll divorce you.

      Your husband sounds like a lovely man, mashAllah.

      • Riven says:

        Thanks Becky for your reply. Its sad I have to kind of hide him. He’s also my Carer as I’m a disabled person. Complicated but like I said, he is immensley supportive of my faith, happy to take care of the children while I swan off to Iftars and muslim days out and is encouraging me to go on Hajj as soon as I turn 45 (Saudi visa laws. sigh)
        But the judginess of some members of the Ummah is depressing.
        Inshallah he will convert one day. He already defends Islam to ignorant racist types 🙂

        • Becky says:

          MashAllah, he truly sounds like a wonderful day. InshAllah he will conver one day, but like you said, there is no compulsion in religion, he has to find his own path. I’m very sad that your local Ummah is not more supportive, I find that incredibly frustrating. As are the Saudi visa laws!

          • Riven says:

            The visa laws are a whole article possibly 😀
            Clearly 45 is when you can be let out alone without a mahram cos you are ‘past it’. Dont know whether to laugh or cry!

  14. James82 says:

    Good luck sisters. I am not going to say anything as being a man because I will be branded as judgemental.

  15. Musa says:

    Good day Becky , I enjoyed reading your article because you raised some good and balanced points for Muslim women marrying non Muslim . However I honestly don’t believe both Muslim men and women should be able marry out of their faith in Western Countries because , you guessed it , of the children may not grow up as Muslim. Also marriage is the completion of the second half of our faith( Deen/ Iman) and ideally most practicing Muslims would want a partner who would bring them closer to Allah(swt).

    Also I was a bit confused when you described people of the book are not polytheists and therefore verse 2:221 does not apply for them. I think we need a definition of the word shirk ( to associate/share) and in order to understand this verse.

    Greater shirk( Shirk Al Alkbar)
    a) Rubbiyah( Lordship)

    b) Al asma and sifat( names and attributes )

    c) Ibadah (worship)

    Lesser Shirk ( Al Shirk Al Asghar )
    Is when someone believes in tawhid( no God but Allah(swt)) but some of his/her acts of worship are aimed at to pleasing others. I will give you an example.

    Mahmud ibn Lubayd reported, “God’s messenger (PBUH) said: “The thing I fear for you the most is ash-Shirk al-Asghar.”
    The companions asked “Oh! messenger of God, what is that?”
    He replied “Ar-Riya (showing off), for verily God will say on the Day of Resurrection when people are receiving their rewards, ‘Go to those for whom you were showing off in the material world and see if you can find any reward from them.”

    Mahmud ibn Lubayd also said, “The Prophet came out and announced, ‘O people, beware of secret Shirk!’
    The people asked, ‘O messenger of God, what is secret Shirk?’
    He replied, ‘When a man gets up to pray and strives to beautify his prayer because people are looking at him; that is secret Shirk

    Even Muslims can fall into the trap of polytheism , assuming the above hadith is true and authentic.

    Also I have found several verses which describe Christians as polytheists( because they associate Jesus(pbuh) in worship with Allah(swt) and also believe in the Trinity) and disbelievers( Kuffar). Please also read them in Arabic because they make much more sense. I have no knowledge about the Jewish faith , but I will be looking for verses , if any , which describes Jews as disbelievers or polytheists

    Surely, they have disbelieved who say: “Allâh is the Messiah Īsā (Jesus), son of Maryam (Mary).” But the Messiah Īsā(Jesus) said: “O Children of Israel! Worship Allâh, my Lord and your Lord.” Verily, whosoever sets up partners (in worship) with Allâh, then Allâh has forbidden Paradise to him, and the Fire will be his abode. And for the Zâlimûn (polytheists and wrong-doers) there are no helpers- 5:72

    Surely, disbelievers are those who said: “Allâh is the third of the three (in a Trinity).” But there is no llâh (god) (none who has the right to be worshipped) but One Ilâh (God -Allâh). And if they cease not from what they say, verily, a painful torment will befall on the disbelievers among them-5:73

    I have yet to come across a verse which guarantees immunity from polytheism for people of the book. So I am still considering verse 2:221 also applies to the people of the book.

    The final point I want to rise is that I agree with the people who say its forbidden for Muslim woman to marry a non Muslim man because children need to follow the religion of the father , even though its not the case in Western countries.
    Consider this verse

    O you who believe! Take not for Auliyâ’ (supporters and helpers) your fathers and your brothers if they prefer disbelief to Belief. And whoever of you does so, then he is one of the Zâlimûn (wrong-doers)

    Surah 9:23
    Auliya( Wali) = Guardian(s). for example your father is your Wali.

    This verse clearly instructs us that if our fathers take another religion than Islam , then we should not consider them as Auliya( Guradians) or we will be considered among the Zalimun( wrong-doers). A Muslim woman should never agree to having children with a man( Wali of her children) who prefers another religion over Islam, unless she wants her children to be among the Zalimun( wrong doers), but honestly who would want their children to be among the wrong doers ?? .

    I think its ultimately up to the Muslim woman to decide if she wants to marry a non Muslim man based on her own interpretations of Quran and not on what scholars say . But evidence which supports this marriage is weak and limited. Dr. Abou El Fadl fatwa did not provide evidence which suggest that Christians are not polytheists, all he said is that he does not feel comfortable telling a Muslim woman to not Marry a man among the people of the book. He did not provide a single verse based on the Quran or Hadith to support his case.

    Dr. Taj Hargey performed interfaith nikah based on the rule “We do it because there is no prohibition in the Koran”. Well what about Gay Marriage, would he willing to do that because he didn’t find a single verse which prohibits it( Astagfruallah).

    I apologies if I offended to any sister , but most of my points are based on verses from Quran and Hadith :).

    • Becky says:

      Hi Musa, and thank you for your long and thought-provoking comments 🙂 I apologize for the late reply, but this December has been very busy for me.

      The reason why I described People of the Book as not being polytheists, is because the Qur’an itself distinguishes between the People of the Book and non-believers in the two above verses. How else would you interpret the second verse, Sura 5 verse 5:

      This day are (all) things Good and pure made lawful Unto you. The food Of the People of the Book Is lawful unto you And yours is lawful Unto them. (Lawful unto you in marriage) Are (not only) chaste women Who are believers, but Chaste women among The People of the Book, Revealed before your time,— When ye give them Their due dowers, and desire Chastity, not lewdness, Nor secret intrigues. If any one rejects faith, Fruitless is his work, And in the Hereafter He will be in the ranks Of those who have lost (All spiritual good).

      How can you decide which verse is “more” correct, 2:221 or 5:5, when they are both in the Qur’an? I fully respect all the verses you mentioned above, but you can find equally many verses in the Qur’an stating how People of the Book will receive their award and not be damned:

      Not all of them are alike; a party of the people of the Scripture stand for the right, they recite the Verses of God during the hours of the night, prostrating themselves in prayer. They believe in God and the Last Day; they enjoin Al-Ma’rûf and forbid Al-Munkar ; and they hasten in (all) good works; and they are among the righteous. And whatever good they do, nothing will be rejected of them; for God knows well those who are Al-Muttaqûn .(3:113-115)

      And there are, certainly, among the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians), those who believe in God and in that which has been revealed to you, and in that which has been revealed to them, humbling themselves before God. They do not sell the Verses of God for a little price, for them is a reward with their Lord. Surely, God is Swift in account. ‘(3:199)’

      Verily! Those who believe and those who are Jews and Christians, and Sabians, whoever believes in God and the Last Day and do righteous good deeds shall have their reward with their Lord, on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve . [Quran 2:62]


      I completely understand your point of not wanting to raise children with someone of a different faith, but, the point I was also trying to make, that in that case both men and women should refrain from entering an interfaith marriage, when in a Western country.

      And btw, yes, I would love to see more Imans performing homosexual marriages, but that is a completely different discussion.

  16. Musa says:

    Sorry for the late reply, enjoying my summer holidays 🙂

    Firstly I want to clarify that I never said one part of the Quran is “more” correct than the other. That would be very silly of me. I was trying to say that in verse 5.5 and 2.221 there is not a single word that says people of the book are not mushrikun, this simply based on YOUR interpretation and you could right or wrong, Allah knows best.

    I , however , disagree with your interpretation for the following reasons.

    1)If people of the book were not mushrikun , then how could you interpret verses 5.72-73 where Allahs(swt) described those who believe that Jesus(pbuh) is the son of God and trinity as disbelievers( kafaru*) and are practicing shirk/polytheism(Yashrik*),?

    *Words found in the Arabic text

    That’s why I think most Muslim believe that the majority of Christians today , not all , fall under the categories described in verse 5.72-73 hence verse why 2.221 applies to them

    2) Also how would you interpret verse 9.31 Allah(swt) where described those who follow changed laws of Rabbis and Priests( i.e. the distored Old and New testaments) are practicing shirk/polytheism(Yashirkun* , word found in the Arabic text)

    They (Jews and Christians) took their rabbis and their monks to be their lords besides Allah (by obeying them in things which they made lawful or unlawful according to their own desires without being ordered by Allah), and (they also took as their Lord) Messiah, son of Maryam (Mary), while they (Jews and Christians) were commanded [in the Taurat (Torah) and the Injeel (Gospel)) to worship none but One Ilah (God – Allah) La ilaha illa Huwa (none has the right to be worshipped but He). Praise and glory be to Him, (far above is He) from having the partners they associate* (with Him).” 9.31

    3) For sake of argument lets say that people of the book are not mushrikun and apply your interpretation else where in the Quran like verse 9.28. Where Allahs(swt) commanded the Islamic Ummah to not allow Mushrikun to enter Sacred Mosque i.e Mecca. If you interpretation was right and Allah(swt) knows best, that means Jews and Christians are allowed to enter Mecca. And I don’t think practicing Muslims will ever agree to this idea

    O you who believe (in Allah’s Oneness and in His Messenger (Muhammad SAW)! Verily, the Mushrikun (polytheists, pagans, idolaters, disbelievers in the Oneness of Allah, and in the Message of Muhammad SAW) are Najasun (impure). So let them not come near Al-Masjid-al-Haram (at Makkah) after this year, and if you fear poverty, Allah will enrich you if He will, out of His Bounty. Surely, Allah is All-Knowing, All-Wise. 9.28

    In summary I don’t know if your interpretation is right or wrong , Allah(swt) knows best. But from veres 5.72-73 and verse 9.31 I don’t think its right.

  17. Musa says:

    With regards to my interpretation verse 5.5 I would say the vast majority of people of the book are practicing shirk( from the three verses mentioned in previous comment) but for some reason Allah(swt) made it halal to eat their lawful food ,ie. fruit and vegetables , lawful animals , dairy products etcs.
    The majority of scholars believe that marrying chaste Christians or Jewish women is halal even if she is practicing shirk. I would agree with them.
    There are minority of scholars who say its better to marry Christian woman who does not believe in the trinity because 1- she maybe saved of hell fire 2- she wont be teaching our kids shirk and kufr :). If the woman is Jewish then its better for her to believe Jesus(pbuh) is the Messiah. I would personally prefer the minority scholars view since it makes much more sense. However I agree with you that Muslims should not take the risk of marrying outside their faith if they live in the West.

    With regards of which people of the book who will enter paradise, I found this fatwa and I think it’s a good read.

  18. Ellen Keim says:

    I became a Muslim at the age of 57 with the support and consensus of my husband who was raised Catholic, but doesn’t practice any religion. Obviously I’m not having any more children (the four I do have are grown) and I have more resources than my husband anyway. I was told by some Muslims (who don’t even know me) that I would have to divorce my husband but other Muslims told me to pray about it. I have, and feel that it would be a sin for me to break up a healthy marriage and cause both of us pain and financial insecurity.

    Just my two cents’ worth.

    • Hi Ellen, and thank you for your comment. I agree with you completely 🙂 I definitely feel that if you are already married, and your husband is supportive and your relationship is otherwise good, it is a much better choice for you to stay married instead of breaking up your marriage. Don’t let other Muslims – especially those who do not know you – discourage you. I wish you all the best.

      • Ellen Keim says:

        Thank you, Becky. I guess my situation illustrates a common problem among Muslims. We are told that something is absolutely necessary even when it doesn’t make sense and we are told to not use our own reasoning because that could lead to bid’ah, or worse, anarchy. How is a Muslim supposed to know how to act? As a convert, I find this very problematic, but I bet a lot of born Muslims do, too.

  19. […] regarding this topic are all but sexist views and flimsy theories. However, there are a fewarguments against this as of late, especially in the modern day where things have changed from what has […]

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