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Marriage to Hindus, Buddhists, Jews and Christians
By S. Abdullah Tariq
Reprinted from Islamic Voice, June 1997 / Safar 1418 AH
Marriage to a Hindu
1. I am a Hindu. Recently near our colony a Hindu boy married a Muslim girl. Later I am told that before the marriage, the Hindu boy was being asked to change his religion from Hinduism to Islam. In this case, why cannot the girl change her religion to marry the boy?
- K. Ravi, Behrampur
2. A Hindu woman married a Muslim man and is following Hinduism. She did not undergo Nikah. They kept Hindu names of their children and did not perform their circumcision. All of them including the husband talk Kannada (a local language) in their home. This man neither married nor is having any relationship with any other women. What is the Islamic law in this case?
- (XXX. Bijapur)
3. A Muslim married a Hindu. Both of them remained in their respective religions and it was known to all the relatives, friends and accquaintance that the Muslim spouse would continue his/her/Muslim identity. Will his/her Namaz-e-Janaza be offered by the Muslims and will he/she be allowed to be buried in the Muslim burial ground?
Under orders from a local Moulvi, the residents of the locality did not offer Namaz-e-Janaza in such a case and did not allow the burial in the Muslim burial ground. Is it right?
If the children of the above couple are free to choose the faith of their liking from any of the two religions, what will happen if they die before maturity?
- C.M. Jadwet, Calcutta
1. Islam does not approve of idolatry and assigning attributes of one God to any other person or entity. The above sin will not be forgiven on the Day of Judgement. Although it recommends good peaceful relations with the peace loving non-Muslims, a compromise on faith is not permitted. As there shall be no re-birth in this world and a soul has its eternal abode in either the paradise or hell, how can Islam allow a Muslim to prefer burning in hell-fire as a result of abandoning Islam for the sake of a marriage? Qur’an has warned the Muslims thus. “Believers, fear Allah as your rightly should and do not die except as Muslims.” (Surah Al-Imran 3:102)
2. There is no harm if they speak Kannada. A language has no bearing on religion. Even keeping the local names of the children, provided the meaning of the name is not Mushrikana or Unislamic and not getting them circumcised could be ignored, but the very fact that he is living with a Hindu woman makes him a perpetual and consistent sinner. As for his punishment in Islamic law, it is irrelevant because it cannot be implemented.
3. Living constantly under sin does not make a person murtad (a renegade). Those wishing to offer his/her funeral prayer should not be barred from it or motivated against it. There also is not justification in not letting the body be buried in the Muslim burial ground.
The children who do not attain the age of accountability do not suffer for the misdeeds of their parents. They shall enter Paradise.
Question: Please refer to the Islamic Voice Sept. '94 issue of 'Our dialogue' under the heading, "Can a Muslim marry a Buddhist?" Your reply is in the negative. While recognising marriage of a Jew or a Christian woman with a Muslim man on the ground of being "Ahle Kitab", you have placed a Buddhist in the category of "Mushrikeen", misquoting irrelevant verses of the holy Qur'an 2:221. As per Qur'an there is no nation in the world in which an Apostle/Prophet has not been sent. We understand that no effort has been made in our country to find and recognise a Prophet for the Indian nation. There must be a holy book in Indian language in whatever state it may be and there must be some followers thereof to be treated like Ahle-Kitab. Is it not necessary for Muslims to find out the true status of our Buddhist or Hindu brothers and live accordingly with them peacefully?
- F.M.Khan, Rewa
Answer: It is not necessary for Muslims to marry a Buddhist or a Hindu to live with them peacefully. We are required to live with them peacefully even if we are not allowed a matrimonial relationship with them. The answer you have referred to was taken from Arab News and the verse 2:221 was rightly quoted therein in context of the Buddhist. In the available literature of Buddhism, we do not find the conception of a Creator and Sustainer God. The present day Buddhists go a step further. Instead of maintaining silence on the existence of God, they have started denying God. Nearly all of them are idolaters although Buddha had specifically forbidden making and worshipping his idols. There is no doubt that they will be categorised among Mushrikeen and therefore matrimonial relations with them are forbidden. The Qur'an clearly ordains: "You shall not marry Mushrik women (idolatresses or who ascribe God's attributes to others as ascribe partners of Him) unless they embrace the Faith. A believing slave woman is better than a Mushrik woman although she may please you. Nor shall you wed (your women to Mushrik men unless they embrace Faith. A believing slave is better than a Mushrik, although he may please you. These invite you to Fire but Allah calls you by His will to Paradise and to forgiveness. He makes plain His revelations to mankind so that they may be mindful." (Surah Al-Baqarah 2:221)
In principle, there is some substance in your logic that there may be some followers thereof to be treated like "Ahle-Kitab," but practically there is no Buddhist who can be categorised thus although there is the probability of some Hindus being termed as Ahle-Kitab. It is essential to understand the term Ahle-Kitab to grasp a clear-cut conception of his subject. From Qur'anic narrations and the scholars' discussion, Ahle-Kitab' may precisely be defined as:
"A group of people believing in God and Prophethood and the Books (or Book) of God, who still possess a Book of God (though distorted) and also know and believe in the Prophet through whom that Book was revealed."
Buddhists do not believe in God and Prophethood. They do not believe in Buddha as a Prophet of God and apart from some stray saying ascribed to Buddha they don't even possess the Word of Buddha.
On the other hand Hindus are closer to meeting the criteria than the Buddhists. They believe in God and an overwhelming majority of them believe in a Book (the Vedas) they call the Word of God. Research has been made to try to establish the identity of the Prophet or Prophets sent to the Indian people.
Late Moulana Shams Naved Usmani has done commendable work in this direction. I have been writing in the comparative studies column of Islamic Voice that there are conclusive proofs of a series of Prophets from Adam to Noah visiting India. (For more details, see my Urdu Book 'Agar Ab Bhi No Jage To' or its English translation 'Now or Never'). Besides, the Vedas have a strong case of being the collection of scriptures revealed to these Prophets.
But even that is not enough to categorise Hindus as Ahle-Kitab. There should at least be a small sect, a group of people (not just a few individuals who do not know each other) who must believe in these Prophets as the bearers of Books that they claim to be the Book of God. Only then can that group of people be called Ahle-Kitab.
Question 1: The holy Qur'an has absolutely allowed marrying Jewish or Christian women vide 5:5. But IslamicVoice March '96 in reply to a question forbade marrying a Catholic girl if she believed in Trinity. In my view the question whether she believes in one God or not is unreasonable, as there were Christians believing in the Trinity even in the time of the Prophet pbuh. (See Surah Maidah 5:73). The Qur'an has given sanction to believers to marry from the people of the book without any conditions.
- T.K. Yoosuf, Pulikhal, Malappuram
Question 2: Islamic Voice, in answer to a question on "Love marriage" states that a Muslim would be allowed to marry a Christian girl if she is a Unitarian Christian, in other words if she believes in One God. Fair enough. Can you kindly point out today a Unitarian Christian? Can you kindly point out today a Unitarian Christianity mentioned in the Qur'an? Unitarian Christianity is defunct now which is why our learned Ulemas have disapproved of this allowance. Hence your approval of such an alliance is erroneous and against the spirit of Qur'an.
- T.V.A. Abdul Malik, Madurai.
Answer 1: Believers are permitted to marry the girls from the people of the Book vide (Surah Al-Maidah 5:5) but you are greatly mistaken if you think that the permission is unconditional. Some conditions are laid down in the same verse i.e. you must pay Mehar to them and they must be virtuous women and not of loose character. Other conditions are derived from (Surah Baqarah 2:221) which forbids a Muslim to marry a Mushrik. As the Shariat orders are applicable on the apparent, all women who are involved in open Shirk are forbidden to believing men even if they are from Muslim families.
Deriving absolute orders from a verse when there are other verses also touching the subject can at times be very misleading. For example the same verse (5:5) allows the food of the people of the Book. But the permission is not unconditional although no condition is mentioned in the verse. In the case of meat, it should not be of an animal which is not slaughtered properly. The flesh of swine and that on which the name of other than Allah has been invoked is also unlawful although you frequently find these types of meat in the Christian families. Even at the time of the Prophet, Christians ate pork as it was allowed by St. Paul who was also the pioneer of Trinity in Christianity. And that is not all. You are not permitted to consume meat offered by Jews or Christians if you are certain that the Name of God has not been invoked while slaughtering the animal (Sell Surah Al-Anam 6:121).
So you see that the permission to marry a Catholic girl (Ahle-e-Kitab) in 5:5 is not without further conditions just as the permission to eat food of the Christians (in the same verse) is not unconditional. A Muslim's marriage to a Catholic woman is permitted only if she does not practise idolatry and amends her belief of sonship of the Christ to the Prophethood of Jesus.
Answer 2: I have personal friends among Christians (born as well as convert Christians) who denounce Trinity, believe in One God and proclaim Jesus Christ a Prophet of God. There are Unitarian Churches and quite a number of Christians are openly Unitarian. There are also a large number of Christians who are formally attached to protestant Churches and other denominations but believe in One God and the Prophethood of Christ. Not withstanding the above fact, I am not supposed to demonstrate a Unitarian Christian if someone wants to know the conditions of marrying a Christian girl. Simply put, if a Trinitarian Christian girl is converted to Unitarianism, a Muslim is permitted to marry her. No Aalim can dare cancel the allowance given by Allah and His Prophet. Ulema have only recommended (and rightly so) against such marriages as in most of these love marriages, the girl only pretends to be Unitarian for convenience's sake while the boy himself does not know even the basics of Islam. They have gone a step further, again rightly so, and recommended against marrying the Ahle-Kitab' girl, especially a Christian, who is converted to Islam because in most such cases, the conversion in only a pretence, sometimes for the express purpose of converting the boy to Christianity after a while. Ulema's warning is against deception and for those persons who are ignorant of Islamic ethics. They cannot and they have not altered the law. The genuine permission is neither erroneous nor against the spirit of Qur'an. It is for those seeking the permission to decide for themselves if they are only pretending to abide by the Shariat. In that case, they will deceive none but themselves as Allah knows what is in their hearts.
For the present day youth, it is wiser to explain the law with its boundaries and limitations to them instead of concealing the allowance provided by Shariat for the sake of untold considerations. In the Former case they may and they usually do try to be faithful while in latter they tend to altogether ignore the law.