Is it permissible for a Muslim man to marry a woman from the People of the Book, from another religion (Christian or Jewish)? Who are People of the Book?

The Details of the Question

It is said that it is permissible to marry a woman of the People of the Book. Who can we call the People of the Book? Anyone who is a Christian/Jewish according to their ID? There are also atheists among them. We should not look at their identity only. We should ask about their faith. What kind of faith should we accept? In other words, what is a Christian? Is it Christianity to believe that Jesus is the creator?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

It is permissible to marry a woman who says that she is a Christian or a Jew; the marriage with such a woman is valid. However, it is not permissible to marry a woman who is an atheist even though she is a Christian according to her identity card.

Muslim men and women cannot marry polytheists. A polytheist woman is a woman who associates other things with Allah, for example, worships idols, stars, fire or animals.

Allah Almighty states the following:

“Do not marry unbelieving women (idolaters), until they believe...” (1)

It is permissible for a Muslim man to marry a Jewish or Christian woman. Scholars agree on it. The following is stated in a verse of the Quran:

“... (Lawful unto you in marriage) are (not only) chaste women who are believers, but chaste women among the People of the Book, revealed before your time... “(2)

The wisdom behind the permissibility of marrying a woman from the People of the Book (Ahl al-Kitab) is the possibility that this woman will believe in Allah, the prophets, the Last Day, and the Hereafter due to her marriage to a Muslim.

Marriage of a Muslim Woman with a Non-Muslim Man

It is unanimously haram for a Muslim woman to marry an unbeliever.

“Nor marry (your girls) to unbelievers until they believe.” (3)

For, it is feared that a believing woman might be an unbeliever as a result of this marriage. Her husband will call her to his own religion. Women generally follow and obey their husbands and are affected by what they do; they follow their husbands in religion. (4)

A woman cannot be married to a man at the same time as her sister, aunt or a mahram woman. It is haram for a man to be married to two sisters or a woman and her aunt at the same time. Allah states the following while explaining the women who are haram to marry:

“Prohibited to you (For marriage) are:… and two sisters in wedlock at one and the same time, except for what is past…” (5)

This issue is explained in more detail in hadiths:

“A woman cannot be married to a man at the same time as her aunt.” (6)

The reason why it is forbidden to be married to two close relatives (women) at the same time is mostly related to moral issues. In this kind of marriage (that is, being married to two sisters or an aunt and her niece at the same time), jealousy and competition may occur. It causes the disconnection of kinship relations. In general, two wives of a man do not get on well. Such a marriage is haram. Therefore, being married to two close relatives (women) at the same time was rendered haram.


(1) al-Baqara, 221
(2) al-Maida, 5
(3) al-Baqara, 221
(4) Fatawa al-Hindiyya 11/330
(5) an-Nisa, 23
(6) Bukhari, Nikah. 27.

(Mustafa KASADAR-Sadık AKKİRAZ, Kadın İlmihali, p. 356-357)



Islamic law is a universal law. Therefore, its decrees are wide and tolerant enough to meet the needs of all humanity. As a matter of fact, according to Islamic law, a Muslim man can marry a non-Muslim woman from the People of the Book and she can be the mother of his children. It is permissible and valid. Therefore, the marriages of those who marry Christian women have been considered valid and their children have been regarded as legitimate.

Although such a marriage is permissible and valid, there are some issues that need to be considered:

- How will a woman who was brought up with Christian upbringing, customs and habits bring up and educate her children born to a Muslim husband? How will she treat her husband and children? That is the issue to think about…

- The Muslim husband will want Islamic discipline, and the Christian mother will tend to act according to her own faith.

- Will the child who is caught between two different faiths and cultures have a double personality, sometimes acting according to the faith of his mother and sometimes of his father? Or will another person who rejects both emerge? That is, an atheist who does not accept any religion?

An example related to the effect of a Christian lady on her husband:

“Ottoman Sultan Bayezid I married the Christian princess Olivera after his father’s conquest of Kosovo. This woman apparently married the sultan, but she never forgot her Christian faith and country in her heart. As a matter of fact, it is said that this Christian wife, Olivera, got the pure sultan used to drinking and indulging in entertainment.”

“When all the Crusaders gathered to eradicate the Ottoman State, which they tried to destroy by uniting, in Niğbolu, this Ottoman sultan once went to the village alone in the darkness of the night by riding his horse through the enemy. In the darkness, he shouted,

O Doğan! Thus, he found out about what was happening by talking to the castle commander aloud. Then, he turned back and took all the precautions and won a victory.”

So, he resisted the Crusader armies, but he could not resist a lady who was brought up with foreign culture in his house.

As a matter of fact, when Sultan Bayezid I had the Great Mosque built in Bursa, he said to the great scholar Emir Buhari:

– I hope this great mosque I have built in my country has no missing part. Emir Buhari warned him as follows:

– O Sultan! Everything is beautiful, but one missing part is salient.

– The Sultan said, “What is the missing part? Tell me and I will complete it.” Thereupon, the great scholar warned him as follows to guide him:  

– There should have been barrooms in the corners of the mosque. They are missing.  

The Sultan was unable to predict the reason for this unexpected answer and asked,

– What does the mosque have to do with barrooms?


– Your body, which is the building of Allah, has the same relation with alcohol as the mosque has. You fill the building of the body that Allah has built with alcohol but you hesitate to put alcohol in the corners of the building of worship that you built yourself? Is it more sinful than what you do?

After that, the Sultan never drank again. Thus, Olivera’s negative effect on him came to an end.

For this reason, the following is written in fiqh books: Even if it is valid to marry a Christian woman though there is a Muslim woman, it is makruh because this marriage cannot be free from drawbacks. However, the marriage is valid and the children born from such a marriage are legitimate because Islamic law is universal enough to meet all kinds of needs. There are of course exceptions.

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