Isn't it unfair that a Muslim husband's family rejects a Christian lady for marriage?

Details of the Question
Hello, I'm a Christian lady who has been dating a Muslim for the previous 2 years. We love each other and have hopes for that one day we could be together and have a family. Although I'm open minded to conversion I have not done enough research to make such a decision and it would be wrong to do it just for my partner. (converting to Islam) His family has now asked him to choose between me or his family seeing as how they don't accept the fact I am a Christian. Isn't it wrong for a Muslim to turn me away because of my faith?
The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

The verse 221 of the Surah al-Baqara clearly and apparently tells us that marriages between polytheists and Muslims are forbidden regardless of gender. A polytheist is a person who associates partners with Allah and who believes that there are other gods and who worships them. As for the People of the Scripture (Book), according to Islam, it means the people who had got further away and deviated from their original religions in terms of belief and worship when Islam emerged, who believed in a prophet and the religion he brought even if they lost their original books and who regarded their religion as the true religion although it was distorted according to Islam. When looked at closely, it can be seen that there are some polytheistic elements within faiths of the People of the Scripture, at least in some of them; they think that some created people like Jesus and Mary have some features special to Allah and worship them. For that reason, the faith of the People of the Scripture cannot save them from Hell unless they clear their faith from the polytheistic components. Despite this, since Christians and Jews have had some beliefs and applications based on revelation even if in part and are probably more inclined to believe in the Right Religion, they have been given some privileges and they have been made exempt from some of the laws peculiar to unbelievers. One of those exceptions relevant to our issue is that “Muslim men are allowed to marry women of the People of the Book”.

In the verse 5 of the Surah al-Maeda, after it is expressed that Muslim men and women can eat foods of the People of the Book (if offered), it is said that just Muslim men can marry women from the People of the Book; it is not stated that a Muslim woman can marry a man from the People of the Book. As there is nothing about it, we need to arrive at a decision based on the applications of the Prophet (pbuh); if there is not such an application, then we need to come to a decision by making comparison. Since women and men are subject to different rules about marriage, it is not possible to apply a rule about one gender for the other. Therefore,  a comparison was not made about the issue. As a matter of fact, before comparison, there is Sunnah. Some Sahabah and mujtahids who bring a different comment on the verse, said that even marriages between Muslim men and woman from the People of the Scripture is not halal (permitted) after the death of the Prophet. As for the issue about a Muslim woman’s marriage to a man from the People of the Scripture, they did not even make it a matter of discussion. There were men from the People of the Scripture in places where Muslim women lived in the time of our Prophet but there was not an example of such a marriage; there has been a consensus about that it is not halal. Fiqh scholars accepting that judgment as a rule based their views on this verse of the Quran about women who migrated from the country of unbelievers to a Muslim country in addition to the evidences mentioned above “O ye who believe ! When believing women come to you as Refugees, examine them. Allah knows best their faith. Then if you find them true believers, send them not back to the unbelievers.” Being supported by some other evidences, it was concluded that that the word “unbeliever” mentioned above included the People of the Scripture and that a Muslim woman could not get married to a man from the People of the Scripture or could not maintain her marriage ( al-Baqara 2/212). Most of the Fiqh scholars did not see a difference between marriages that continued and new marriages and some Fiqh scholars paying attention especially to some applications in the time of our Prophet and Umar said that it was not permissible to get married but that the marriage would not be invalid if one of the spouses became a Muslim ( Ibn Qayyim, Ahkam'u Ahli'z-Zimma, Damascus 1961, , 317 et al. , 340 et al.). Qardavi, one of contemporary scholars, also accepted that judgment.

It is natural that Islam wants to be spread and be accepted by people. A more natural outcome of it is to maintain the religion of the people and the following generations that believe in it. Maintaining it becomes possible through education and the most important means of education is family. If there are two religions in a family, it will affect the children and will pose a serious risk for them. For this reason, the ideal one is that Muslims get married to Muslims and start a family. If there is not a compulsory reason for it, a Muslim man should get married to a Muslim woman. It is more important that the husband of a Muslim woman should be a Muslim in terms of protection, education, and influence. In some matters like the continuation of the lineage, heritage, and guardianship, if the father is not a Muslim, there will be a series of problems. We can easily understand why it is not permissible for a Muslim woman to get married to a non-Muslim man when all those reasons are taken into consideration.

Prof. Dr. Hayrettin Karaman

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