Many of my friends have married Christians and Jews. I was always told a Muslim should only marry a Muslim. What is the correct Islamic position on marrying a Christian or a Jew?
In the Name of God, Most Merciful, Most Kind.
Jazāk Allāh Khayr/ Thank you for your question.
In response to your query, kindly note the following:
The Ahl-Al-Kitāb (the People of the Book)
There is no doubt that in Islam, the Ahl-Al-Kitāb (the people of the book), meaning Christians and Jews, have a special God given position, in connection with Muslims, compared to disbelievers who subscribe to other religions, beliefs, cults or ideologies. For this very reason, in general, it is permissible for Muslims to consume their [religiously slaughtered] meats and marry their women.
The Qur’ān declares the following:
“This day, good things have been made lawful for you. The food of the people of the Book is lawful for you, and your food is lawful for them, and chaste women from among believers, and chaste women from among those who were given the Book before you, provided you give them their dowers, binding yourself in marriage, neither going for lust, nor having paramours.” (Qurʿān 5:5}
It is the ijmāʾ (consensus) of Islamic jurists that Muslim men can marry Jewish and Christian women. (See: Aḥkām Al-Qurʿān)
ʿOthmān Ibn ʿAffān (may God be pleased with him) married a Christian woman named Nāilah. (See: Nawāzil Fiqhīyyah Al-Muʿāṣarah)
Ṭalḥah (may God be pleased with him) married a Jewish woman. (See: Aḥkām Al-Qurʿān)
Ḥudhayfah (may God be pleased with him) married a Jewish woman. (See: Nawāzil Fiqhīyyah Al-Muʿāṣarah)
Conditions to Marry a Jew or Christian:
- She must be ʿafīfah (chaste) and noble as the word muhṣanāt indicates in the verse.
- She must genuinely be a Jew or Christian who believes in the main tenants of her religion including the belief in their prophet (Jesus and or Moses) to some degree, belief in a revealed book and also life after death. Claiming to say one is a Jew or Christian while denying these tenants deems her out of her own faith from the Islamic view.
Others Important Factors
Some scholars forbid marrying a Jew or Christian woman in non-muslim lands.
Most jurists are of the view it is makrūh tanzihīy (lightly disliked) in general for a Muslim man to marry a Jew or a Christian, since she will have an impression on his religiosity in one way or another. Ibn ʿĀbidīn writes, “It is better not to marry a Jew or Christian woman.” (Rad Al-Muḥtār)
In Islam, a Muslim woman cannot marry a Christian or Jewish man. The primary reason for this, is that, this is the legislation God has laid down in the Qurʾān. A true muslim will always adhere and surrender to the guidelines specified in the Qurʾān. Some jurists elaborate, explaining that in Islam, the captain and or spearhead of the muslim family is the husband, who influences every aspect of the family. Therefore, the husband must be a muslim.
In an interfaith marriage, Islam instructs that the children must be raised as muslims. (See: Nawāzil Fiqhīyyah Al-Muʿāṣarah)
And Allāh Knows Best.
By Sheikh Yusuf Badat