by Dr. M. Amir Ali, Ph.D.
In the year 2 A.H. Allah revealed Surah Al-Baqarah (#2) to the Prophet. In verse 221 Allah commanded that no Muslim should marry anyone outside of Islam. The terms used in this verse is “al-mushrikoon wa al-mushrikat” meaning idolater men and idolater women. However, scholars agree that the term at that time applied to all non-Muslims. It meant that neither Muslim men nor Muslim women were allowed to marry outside of Islam.
In the year 7 or 8 A.H., before the conquest of Makkah, Surah Al-Mumtahinah (#60) was revealed. In verse 1 Allah reprimands those who have the relationship of friendship and trust with those who reject the faith and persecute the believers. A wife is the closest friend of a man and she is among the most trusted by him. A non-Muslim woman, by her rejection of Islam, is making the statement that Prophet Muhammad was a liar, the Qur’an is a false book written by a man and there is no Allah. How is it possible for a man to make such a women who rejects faith to be his wife?
In the verse 10 of surah 60 Allah categorically prohibits sending a Muslim woman to a non-believing man as his wife. Also, Allah clearly says that a Muslim man should not keep a non-believing woman as his wife. However, in the year 10 A.H. Allah made an exemption with some restrictions that a Muslim man could marry a woman from the People of the Book as given in verse 5 of surah 5. However, there are conditions attached, which are given in the same verse and there are the precautions as outlined in surah 60.
Muslim scholars understand that the permission to marry a Christian or a Jewish women is an exception not a recommendation. Marrying a non-Muslim women has its blessings when she eventually accepts Islam. If she does not accept Islam, the Muslim male is depriving a Muslim woman of finding a home. In addition, he may be bringing a women into the Muslim society who may be a source of disruption, an informant and a saboteur. I have seen some disastrous cases of interfaith marriages whereas a few have worked very well.