Marriage: Inter-faith marriages - Muslim man, non-Muslim woman

Q352 :Marriages between a Muslim man and a Christian or Jewish woman is allowed but not recommended. If nevertheless a Muslim man wants to marry a Christian or a Jewish woman, how is this marriage solemnized?

A352 : You have adequately expressed my view on inter-faith marriages. Perhaps it is useful to say that when a Muslim man marries a Christian or a Jewish woman, he does not commit a sin. However, it is strongly discouraged. This is certainly stating the general rule. Individual cases must be considered on their own merits. It is possible that Muslim man finds himself in a situation when marriage with a non-Muslim woman is desirable, perhaps because he has very little choice. I know one man who had to leave his home country and live in a Western European country, where Muslims were a small minority. He spent the best of three years to marry a Muslim woman from any Muslim country. All his attempts failed. Eventually, he had no choice but to marry a woman from the place in which he lived. It is well known that of all other religions, we are allowed to marry women of the Christian or Jewish faiths. If one finds himself in a situation where he has to marry a follower of either of these two religions, his marriage ceremony is conducted in the same way as a marriage with a Muslim woman. Why should it be otherwise? What is required in such a marriage is the same as a marriage between a Muslim man and a Muslim woman: An offer of marriage made by the woman's father or guardian and an acceptance made by the man in the presence of two Muslim witnesses. The dower, which is a sum of money, in cash or kind, must be specified as being given by the bridegroom to his bride. The question is whether the woman's father, who is a Christian or a Jew, may act for her in such a marriage. The answer is in the affirmative, because she is not a Muslim. But the witnesses should be Muslims because their role is different from that of the bride's father. They may be required to confirm the actual marriage in front of a judge. In order that their testimony be binding on a Muslim party, the husband in this case, they must be Muslims. The bride's father is acting for her and since both are non-Muslims, there is no objection to him doing what a father should do for his daughter when she is married. She is entitled to receive a dower in the same way as a Muslim woman enjoys that right.

Our Dialogue ( Source : Arab News - Jeddah )