Why same religion in a marriage is important?
In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.
As-salāmu ‘alaykum wa-rahmatullāhi wa-barakātuh.
You enquire why same religion is important in marriage. In the case of a woman, it is not only important, it is compulsory. A Muslim woman cannot marry a non-Muslim male under any circumstances. However, a Muslim male may marry a Christian or Jewish woman. He cannot marry any other non-Muslim women.
It is a undisputed fact that a male is the stronger gender. It is also an undisputed fact that a marriage comes with influence and concessions. For a Muslim, the preservation of ones Iman and Islamic values is of paramount importance. If a Muslim woman had to marry a non-Muslim man, he will use his strength, love and influence the Muslim woman to adopt his religion. This is very likely as a wife gives in to the wishes of her husband either wilfully or due to circumstances. Allah knows the nature of woman and prohibited them to marry non-Muslim men in order to be able to preserve their Iman and live with peace and harmony.
In the case of a male, it is advisable for him to marry a Muslim woman. That is more conductive to compatibility between the spouses, and also a means of both of them easily practicing on Islam. They would encourage each other of Islamic values. If they have children, both parents would be able to instil Islamic values in them.
Shari`ah permits a Muslim man who is strong in his Iman to marry a Christian or a Jewish woman. He would influence his wife and be a means of taking her out of kufr (disbelieve). This is easier with Christians and Jews as they are people of the book and are common in Islamic values. The Muslim man would use common features to get across his wife and influence her to Islam with love and care.
If the husband is weak in Iman and there is fear that he will be influenced into Christianity or Judaism by his wife, then it is not permissible for him to marry such a woman.
In any event, marrying a Christian or Jewish woman comes with the following great challenges.
- There will be two religions in one home. There is a great possibility that both spouses will cross lines with each other on religious grounds, for example, the wife would want to celebrate Christmas or Easter and the husband is not comfortable with that. Such differences will definitely lead to disputes given the sensitive nature between the husband and wife.
- In the case of a child, the father would want his child to be nurtured with Islamic values. The Christian woman would want to baptise the child. Again, this will lead to disputes creating an uncomfortable environment. Drinking alcohol and eating swine etc, and many other issues that would come in the way. The purpose of marriage is peace and comfort. This could be well achieved with unity in religion.
If a man is certain he will be firm on Islam and tolerate his Christian or Jewish wife and influence her to Islam, then that will be an act of virtue. However, the issue is will he be strong enough as thought!
And Allah Ta’āla Knows Best
Student Darul Iftaa
Checked and Approved by,
Mufti Ebrahim Desai.