Does Islam Really Forbid Interfaith Marriages?

By Paul Salahuddin Armstrong

The Quran doesn’t actually prohibit women from marrying anyone of other faiths.

The only ayah from the Quran that can be used to back up what is in many communities the traditional position on interfaith marriages is 2:221, but that only says not to marry off “your women” to “mushrikeen”, i.e. “polytheists”, more specifically the corrupt polytheists in Mecca nearly one and a half millennia ago who were unjust, oppressed people, and persecuted the nascent Muslim community.

The ayah doesn’t mention Jews, Christians, Zoroastrians, or people of any other religions – only “mushrikeen”. Considering that many religions today are monotheistic, how can they be included in any prohibition – even if we apply the wider definition of ‘mushrikeen’ as applying to polytheists in general?

Really, this isn’t a particularly strong ground to make a fatwa declaring interfaith marriages ‘haram’, as sadly many have done.

I officiate interfaith nikahs myself, as I see no grounds to deny people their right to a married life together, especially when the argument against it is so fragile.

We should be asking why some people so keen to break up other people’s relationships and deny them happiness? How is that Islam?

If some people don’t want to marry someone of another faith or heritage, that’s perfectly okay, but they shouldn’t even dare to try to deny that to those who do, they have their right too.

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