Marriage to the Ahle Kitab

by : By Sheikh Abdullah ibn Zaid al-Mahmud
Chief Justice of Shariah Court, Head of Islamic Affairs, Qatar

Allah has created women and men as complementary partners to each other. Concerning women and their role with men, Allah says:
"So that you (men) find rest and joy in them." (30-21).
While He has made women the 'queen' and the mother in the home, He has charged men with the responsibility of seeing to the needs of their women folk, and their wives.
Therefore, in marriage, one has to choose a spouse who has the same spiritual outlook and who has adopted Islam as his or her way of life and be able to fulfil the requisite roles. He or she must have the correct aqaid [beliefs] and practically manifest these in the performance of salah and fasting, etc. Concerning a woman who possesses such qualities, Rasulullah Sallallahu alayhi wa sallam has said: "The woman who performs her five daily saah, guards her chastity and obeys her husband, can enter Jannah by whichever door she desires. (Sahih Ibn Hibban)
Obviously these noble attributes can only be found in a pious Muslim woman, since Din is the only true means of enhancing one's character and protecting one against vile qualities. Nabi Sallallahu alayhi wa sallam also said, "The best of goodness for a man after taq'wa [fear of Allah] is a pious wife. If he instructs her, she obeys him. If he looks at her, she makes him happy. If he takes an oath vouching for her, she upholds him, and when he is away from her, she guards herself (i.e. her chastity) and his wealth. (Ibn Majah)
A woman is the first and everlasting Madrasah for her children, and the guardian of her home. Her adornment of herself with noble qualities and beautiful character will invariably pass on to her children and everyone else in her home. Therefore, the Hadith has it that: "Choose the one who is religious, otherwise you will be dishonoured." (Sahih Muslim)
Now, when a Mu'min [believer] is exhorted to choose a pious Muslim woman as his marriage partner as against an impious Muslim woman, this is all the more reason why he should not marry a Kitabiyyah [A Christian or Jewish woman who in this context maintains her religion without converting to Islam].
Firstly, she has no Din. Then again our experience too has taught us that most of the children of such unions end up themselves as Ahle-kitab, since children generally identify more easily with their mothers. They spend more time with them, follow their example and accept their teachings whether good or bad, even more easily. This has been witnessed on a large scale in Lebanon and Egypt. In many countries, one will find that daughters of such marriages prefer marrying Christians because of the encouragement and influence of their mothers. And this is totally unacceptable and haram in Islam. It occurs especially when the father dies, and the mother's influence and control is now consolidated on her children. So, the children are nurtured according to the Christian mother's way of life and belief. Not long afterwards, they begin to soil their chests with the symbol of the cross and gradually reinforce their inclination towards Christianity. In other words, it Is as if the father of such children had voluntarily surrendered his own children into the dens of kufr, and opened for them the gate of Jahannam.
Many young people who favour such marriages seem to be unduly impressed by the mannerism of the kuffar and this is due to their own lack of appreciation of the real value of Islam in their lives. Such people cannot be expected to yield any real Islamic influence on their own children's deeds and character. According to a well-known maxim, the period of youth has been referred to as a period of madness. Therefore, we find that very seldom do the youth carefully consider the consequences of their actions. Another disadvantage of such a marriage is that when such a woman dies, the Muslim husband does not inherit from her such a marriage is that when such a woman dies, the Muslim husband does not inherit from her estate because of the principal of 'the difference of religion' according to nass [explicit textual evidence] and ijma [consensus].
Another argument presented in support of such marriages is that these women are generally well educated and posses very refined manners. As Muslims, we should realise that the Western educational system which these woman have been put through, is in reality the pinnacle of jahl [ignorance] and dalal [deviation]. They have been nurtured on such a way of life that condones and takes a very lenient view of intoxicants, disobedience to Allah and the kufr belief in the divinity of Isa alayhi salam. Among the ideals of Western education today, is the silly feminist notion of the 'freedom' of women which has it that a woman should do whatever she wills independently without subjecting herself to the authority of a husband, or any other male in her life. Imagine the consequences of this, when, apart from being one of defective intelligence, her 'education' has now further impaired her ability to discern good from bad and ignorance from knowledge.
Without doubt, a Muslim woman is definitely purer in her ways, manners, cleanliness and refinement of character. Allah, declares: "And a believing slave woman is better than an idolatress even though she may allure you." (2:22)
Yes, the heathen woman may be well spoken, proficient in her language and may be able to read and write very well. But this is nothing as against the evils she has been subtly indoctrinated to accept as permissible and a normal part of life, like adultery, wine-drinking, nudity, and shamelessness, etc. It is the same educational system, which robs her of her modesty and allows her to swim nakedly and in the full gaze of men, and to travel long distances all by herself. It has also taught her to freely and closely associate with whomsoever she wishes and to even remain with him in privacy. Hence, there can hardly be any surprise when such people accept, among other things, that adultery is not wrong unless in the case of rape or in the bedroom of her husband. Modern day Christian (western) societal norms also dictate that a woman rises above her husband's authority. What a world of difference between a woman of such a background and a Muslim woman brought up in a pure, pristine home, on a wholesome existence, higher ideals and believing in the importance of physical and spiritual purity!
Another argument often presented in favour of marrying such women is that it is permissible according to the Qur'an. Here it should be understood that the permissibility was in order to facilitate the entry of Christians into Islam and to spread Islam among other nations, as well as for the purpose of demonstrating to non-Muslims the generosity of Islam. In the golden, early days of Islam, when Islam reigned supreme above all other religions, whenever a woman married a Muslim, she would, after observing her husband's Islamic and pure way of life, accept his beliefs, and willingly become a Muslim. History bears ample testimony to this.
Another pre-condition for the permissibility of marrying such women is that they must be muhsanah [chaste]. Allah says: "And those who are chaste from among those who were given the book before you." (5:5)
In the light of this, it is no secret that the majority of Christian and Jewish girls today do not fulfill this criterion since, as has been already mentioned, adultery, except in the case of rape or a spouse's unfaithfulness has become accepted as a norm. Not only have the majority of Christians and Jews today acquiesced to the legality of adultery, sodomy, and the consumption of wine, they even regard such condonement as allowing the individual his right to the 'freedom of choice', and to make matters worse, many are even proud to do so. Now, let us think that if they fail to even regard adultery anymore as a sin, could the condition of chastity ever be found in such people?
Today, it is not uncommon to find unmarried Christian and Jewish men and women experiment with 'marriage' before marriage for lengthy periods of time, and experience has shown that in most cases, they separate after short experiments'. They show a preference to live-in partners over spouses and prefer this kind of haram situations over marriage and regard this sacred contract as a burden. We have seen that Christian women of the past would maintain good morals and guard their chastity, whereas the western woman of today views adultery as a permissible jaunt if committed by mutual consent, just as she has 'accepted' sodomy and homosexuality as normal behaviour. Furthermore, not only are these sins viewed merely as sexual preferences but they are actually 'protected' by laws legislated in parliament.

As a result of this evil (i.e. Muslim boys marrying Christian and Jewish women), many of our Muslim girls today remain unmarried in the homes -of their fathers, their youth completely wasted away and their years swiftly passing by, while Muslim boys are covetously chasing after other women. When Hazrat Huzaifa Ibn Yaman married a Jewish woman in Madain,
Amirul Mu'minin Hazrat Umar wrote to him ordering him to leave her. "Is it haram?" asked Hazrat Huzaifa "Before putting down my letter," wrote Hazrat Umar "resolve to separate from her, for I fear that other Muslim men will follow your example in choosing non-Muslim women because of their beauty. And this will be a great temptation for our Muslim women."
Now, more than ever before, it is the duty of every responsible Muslim, especially the heads of states to purge their societies of disbelief and apostasy and particularly those elements which generate them. They are duty-bound to keep away the sick and contagion-infected camels from the healthy ones and make every effort to prevent this evil from spreading. It is an accepted fact that contagion of character is far worse than the contagion of bodies and that prevention is better than cure.
Our Nabi Sallallahu alayhi wa sallam said: "Do not choose as a companion anyone but a Mu'min and none should eat your food save a pious person." The indecency and immorality that have crept into Muslim-Arab societies of today are as a result of inter-mingling with Western and Christian Arab women, bereft of Din and acceptable character. The rot set in slowly when the Muslims began to learn their ways and ape their dressing. First, they began to reveal their hands up to the elbow. Then, the shoulders became uncovered until finally the legs up to the thighs became exposed. No longer was it unacceptable for men to walk about bareheaded and for women to brazenly reveal the hair of the head, face and neck. This was a reversion to the days of the period of the First Ignorance. As a result of blind following, first the younger women and then the older ones became enmeshed in this corruption.
The most sacred and prized possessions of a Muslim woman are her Din, honour, and modesty, which is safeguarded by concealing herself from strangers.

Therefore, our message to our dear Muslim youth is: Allah has honoured you with Islam and granted you superiority over others in the event of you fully adopting the Islamic way of life. Remember, it is your responsibility to withhold yourselves from following your base desires, to adorn yourself with noble qualities, and to safeguard yourselves from all evil. And for the sake of our children and your home, select a Muslim woman only, who will protect you regarding her chastity, your possessions and your family, and who will be a true friend and advisor in all your affairs. Our Nabi Sallallahu alayhi wa sallam has said: "The world is an object of benefit and the best of it is a pious woman." (Mishkat)
Highlighting her role, Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala has referred to the wife as "the companion at one's side." (36:4)
Therefore, in view of the above, a true indication of the foolishness of a man is his choice of a woman who does not have lman. The disastrous consequences of such foolishness on himself, his wealth and his family cannot be over-emphasized, History bears testimony to this.
These words of caution apply equally with regard to all non-Muslim women, whether Arab or non-Arab, since such women can never be expected to fulfil their responsibility with regard to the Islamic essentials like taharah [physical cleanliness], salah, fasting, etc., and cannot be supportive of their husbands in their religious observances. When today's westernised Christian or Jewish woman frowns upon the idea of obedience to a husband, how could it be correct, or even thinkable, for a Muslim man to choose such a woman as his wife?
Sadly, many of our youth seem to be inclined towards a life of permissiveness and freedom from all Dini and rational restrictions and are over-awed by the merely superficial things in life. They view everything with the eye of their emotions and not the eye of their mind and reason. As a result, they end up choosing the inferior over that which is superior. They feel, and this is indeed the height of ignorance, that progress and cultural refinement is to be found in people who are the products of an alcoholic, shamelessly naked and morally bankrupt Christian or Jewish society. They should bear in mind that should they persist on this course of deviation and destruction, and fail to return to the path of obedience to Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala, then they too shall go down in history as losers in this world and the Akhirah. This is certainly a great and costly price to pay for treading the path of evil and obeying our desires in this short life, and a far cry indeed from the way of our pious predecessors who had, under all conditions, held fast to the Din of Allah, the Lord of the worlds.