Marriage With The “People of the Book” (Ahl al-Kitab)

Excerpt from ‘Abdur Rahman I. Doi, Shariah The Islamic Law, pp. 134-136. TaHa Publishers. ISBN 0-907461-38-7 1984, reprint 1997. Compiled by Usman Sheikh

In Islam, “People of the Book” are the Jews and the Christians, those who believe in the Books of Allah like Taurat and Injil revealed to Prophets Musa(P) and Isa(P) respectively. Marriage with women of the people of the Book if [sic] permitted in Islam according to the following injunction in the Qur’an:

“This day are all things good and pure made lawful to you. The food of the people of the Book is lawful unto you and yours is lawful unto them. 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, when you give them their due dowers, and desire chastity and not lewdness nor secret intrigues”Qur’an 5:5

There is a consensus of opinion of the Ulama of the Ahl al-Sunnah Wal-Jama’ah that marriage with Jews and Christian women is permitted as was the practise of the Companions of the Prophet(R) (sahabah) like Uthman, Talha, Ibn Abbas, Hudhaifah and their followers (tabi’un) like Saad bin al-Musayyab, Said bin Jubair, Al-Hasan, Mujahid, Tawus, Akramah and others.

In spite of the practise of the Sahabah, and the Tabi’un, Abdullah bin Umar(R) was of the opinion that one should not marry a Jewish or a Christian woman. He used to say: “Allah has forbidden to marry polytheists, and I do not understand anything other than greater polytheism when a woman says that her Lord is Isa(P) who is a servant from the servants of Allah.”cf. Sayyid Sabiq, Fiqh al-Sunnah. op. cit. 6, pp. 208-209

Although there are examples of the pious Sahabah and their followers (tabi’un) who married the Kitabiyyah, one has to take enough caution before contracting such marriages. The Sahabah had exemplary characters and their lives were full of righteousness and piety (taqwah). After marrying such women who followed different religions and celebrated different festivals, they knew how to keep them under proper control so that their children were not influenced by their mothers. There is not a single example of the Sahabah or the Tabi’un whose children ever transgressed from the limits of Allah or changed over to the mother’s religion. Therefore, marriage with such ladies is permitted but is generally discouraged as Makruh.

I have seen in many such marriages the food problems, when the mother even at times brings forbidden food and children partake of it. Likewise, she would sip wine as part of her religious ritual, and the habit slowly finds its way into the house. In some houses, I have even seen Christmas and Muslim festivals celebrated simultaneously. In extreme cases, boys of such marriages bear Muslim names, while girls bear the names common among the Christians and Jews.

If there are a good number of Muslim women to get married with, in any given country, it will be considered unlawful, according to the Ijtihad of certain Ulamacf. Al-Qaradawi, Yusuf, Al-Halal wal Haram fil Islam, 1977 p. 245, to marry the Kitabiyyah women. Since Muslim women cannot marry the kitabi men, who will marry them in those circumstances? It is better then that Muslim men marry Muslim women. The jurists of the four schools of Islamic jurisprudence have discussed the marriage with the Kitabiyyah women and given their juristic views. According to the Hanafi school it is unlawful to marry a Kitabiyyah women if she is in the country which happens to be an “abode of war” (Dar al-Harb) because that can open up a door to mischief. In such conditions, the children by that marriage will be more inclined towards the religion of their mother.Kitab al-Fiqh alal Madhabib al-Arbiah, op. cit., vol. 4, p. 76

The Maliki school on the other hand, has two opinions. The first is that the marriage with a Kitabiyyah is completely disapproved (makruh) whether she is a Dhimmi or one belonging to the abode of war. The dislike for a woman of the latter category is greater. The second opinion is that there is no complete disapproval in marrying a Kitabiyyah because the Qur’anic words has given a tacit approval. They show disapproval of such a marriage in the abode of Islam because it is not forbidden for a Kitabiyyah woman to drink wine or eat the flesh of a pig or going to the church and this affects the religious belief and behaviour of her children. It is not essential for a Kitabiyyah that both of her parents are ahl al-kitab. Her marriage will be valid even if her father is a kitabi and her mother is an idol-worshipper. The Shafi’i and the Hanbali schools believe that both her parents must be ahl al-kitab in order to have a valid marriage. If her father is a kitabi and her mother is an idol-worshipper the marriage is unlawful even though she has reached the age of puberty and has accepted the religion of her father.Ibid., p. 77 Marriage With The "People of the Book" (Ahl al-Kitab) 1

Cite this article as: Bismika Allahuma Team, “Marriage With The “People of the Book” (Ahl al-Kitab),” in Bismika Allahuma, October 5, 2005, last accessed December 1, 2022,

One response to “Marriage With The “People of the Book” (Ahl al-Kitab)”

  1. In the name of Allah most gracious most merciful
    Assalaamu alaykum wa rahmatuallahi wa barakatuhu

    Permission To Marry Free Jew and Christinas Women who are believers in uncorrupted part of sacred books.
    5:5 This day are (all) things good and pure made lawful unto you. The food of the People of the Book is lawful unto you and yours is lawful unto them. (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 when ye give them their due dowers and desire chastity not lewdness nor secret intrigues. If anyone rejects faith fruitless is his work and in the Hereafter he will be in the ranks of those who have lost (all spiritual good).

    Jew and Christian women must have the following beliefs.Belief in one God[exactly as muslims believe],Angels,Judgement day,Heaven,Hell,Destiny,Prophets,Halal food [food sacrificed in the name of God],forbiddence of Alcohol,swine,blood],Believing in uncorrupted parts of sacred books as divinely sent.

    Following are the verse which proves that Some Jews and Christians followed only the uncorrupted part of scriptures.

    Invitation to accept all scriptures.
    5:65 If only the people of the Book had believed and been righteous We should indeed have blotted out their iniquities and admitted them to gardens of Bliss.

    66 If only they had stood fast by the Law the Gospel and all the revelation that was sent to them from their Lord they would have enjoyed happiness from every side.There is from among them a party on the right course; but many of them follow a course that is evil.

    67 O Apostle! proclaim the (Message) which hath been sent to thee from thy Lord. If thou didst not thou wouldst not have fulfilled and proclaimed His mission: and Allah will defend thee from men (who mean mischief). For Allah guideth not those who reject faith.

    68 Say: “O People of the Book! ye have no ground to stand upon unless ye stand fast by the Law the Gospel and all the revelation that has come to you from your Lord.” It is the revelation that cometh to thee from thy Lord that increaseth in most of them their obstinate rebellion and blasphemy. But sorrow thou not over (these) people without Faith.

    69 Those who believe (in the Qur’an) those who follow the Jewish (Scriptures) and the Sabians and the Christians any who believe in Allah and the Last Day and work righteousness on them shall be no fear nor shall they grieve.

    Believers Jews And Christians who followed uncorrupted part of books

    2:62 Those who believe (in the Qur’an) and those who follow the Jewish (Scriptures) and the Christians and the Sabians and who believe in Allah and the last day and work righteousness shall have their reward with their Lord; on them shall be no fear nor shall they grieve.

    *Note:[Those who follow Quran,those who follow uncorrupted part of previous scriptures,an important point here is that Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him is prophesised in previous scriptures.If Jews & Christians follow those uncorrupted parts of scriptures completely then they?ll eventually believe in Quran but if they don?t follow previous scriptures completely while following only the basic beliefs along with it maintaining righteousness then they are people of the book/ahle-kitab whose women can be married to muslim men.

    *Note:About sabians:Latest researches have revealed a small remnant of a religious community numbering about 2,000 souls in Lower Iraq, near Basra. In Arabic they are called Subbi (plural Subba). They are also called Sabians and Nasoraeans; or Mandaeans, or Christians of St. John. They claim to be Gnostics, of Knowers of the Great Life. They dress in white, and believe in frequent immersions in water. Their Book Ginza is in a dialect of Aramaic. They have theories of Darkness and Light as in Zoroastrianism. They use the name Uardan (Jordan) for any river. They live in peace and harmony among their Muslim

    Believing Jews who later accepted Prophethood of Muhammad peace be upon him
    3:113 Not all of them are alike: of the People of the book are a portion that stand (for the right); they rehearse the signs of Allah all night long and then prostrate themselves in adoration.

    114 They believe in Allah and the Last Day; they enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong; and they (hasten in emulation) in (all) good works; they are in the ranks of the righteous.

    115 Of the good that they do nothing will be rejected of them; for Allah knoweth well those that do right.

    116 Those who reject faith neither their possessions nor their (numerous) progeny will avail them aught against Allah; they will be companions of the fire dwelling therein (for ever).

    Believing people of the book who also believe in Quran again signifies they followed uncorrupted part of scriptures.
    3:199 And there are certainly among the people of the Book those who believe in Allah in the revelation to you and in the revelation to them bowing in humility to Allah: they will not sell the signs of Allah for a miserable gain! for them is a reward with their Lord and Allah is swift in account.

    Believing Christians who later accept Prophethood of Muhammad peace be upon him again signifies they followed uncorrupted part of scriptures.

    5:82 Strongest among men in enmity to the believers wilt thou find the Jews and Pagans; and nearest among them in love to the believers wilt thou find those who say: “We are Christians:” because amongst these are men devoted to learning and men who have renounced the world and they are not arrogant.

    83 And when they listen to the revelation received by the Apostle thou wilt see their eyes overflowing with tears for they recognize the truth: they pray: “Our Lord! we believe; write us down among the witnesses.

    84 “What cause can we have not to believe in Allah and the truth which has come to us seeing that we long for our Lord to admit us to the company of the righteous?”

    Prohibited To Marry Deviant Jews And Christians.

    Deviant Jews & Christians who became followers of corrupt books.

    5:13 But because of their breach of their Covenant We cursed them and made their hearts grow hard: they change the words from their (right) places and forget a good part of the Message that was sent them nor wilt thou cease to find them barring a few ever bent on (new) deceits: but forgive them and overlook (their misdeeds): for Allah loveth those who are kind.

    14 From those too who call themselves Christians We did take a Covenant but they forgot a good part of the Message that was sent them: so We estranged them with enmity and hatred between the one and the other to the Day of Judgment. And soon will Allah show them what it is they have done.

    15 O People of the Book! there hath come to you Our Apostle revealing to you much that ye used to hide in the Book and passing over much (that is now unnecessary): There hath come to you from Allah a (new) Light and a perspicuous Book.

    Deviant Jews who claimed Uzair as son Of Allah
    9:30 The Jews call Uzair a son of Allah and the Christians call Christ the son of Allah. That is a saying from their mouths; (in this) they but imitate what the unbelievers of old used to say. Allah’s curse be on them: how they are deluded away from the truth!

    *Note: A sect of them called ‘Uzair a son of Allah.And present day Jews are monotheists yet they permit Alcohol,believe in purity of Torah completely while the book ascribes falsehood to the teaching in matter of faith,conduct etc .Excellent site to study similaries between Judaism & christianity

    Deviant Christians who invented Catholic belief and Trinitarians
    5:17 In blasphemy indeed are those that say that Allah is Christ the son of Mary. Say: “Who then hath the least power against Allah if His Will were to destroy Christ the son of Mary his mother and all everyone that is on the earth? For to Allah belongeth the dominion of the heavens and the earth and all that is between. He createth what He pleaseth. For Allah hath power over all things.”

    *Note:Catholic belief is invented belief.

    The Christian Sects
    Sa`id bin Batriq, the Patriarch of Alexandria and a famous Christian scholar, mentioned in the year four hundred after the Hijrah, that a Christian Council convened during the reign of Constantine, who built the city that bears his name. In this Council, the Christians came up with what they called the Great Trust, which in reality is the Great Treachery. There were more than two thousand patriarchs in this Council, and they were in such disarray that they divided into many sects, where some sects had twenty, fifty or a hundred members, etc.! When the king saw that there were more than three hundred Patriarchs who had the same idea, he agreed with them and adopted their creed. Constantine who was a deviant philosopher — gave his support to this sect for which, as an honor, churches were built and doctrines were taught to young children, who were baptized on this creed, and books were written about it. Meanwhile, the king oppressed all other sects. Another Council produced the sect known as the Jacobites, while the Nestorians were formed in a third Council. These three sects agreed that `Isa was divine, but disputed regarding the manner in which `Isa’s divinity was related to his humanity; were they in unity or did Allah incarnate in `Isa! All three of these sects accuse each other of heresy and, we believe that all three of them are disbelievers.

    5:18 (Both) the Jews and the Christians say: “We are sons of Allah and His beloved.” Say: “Why then doth He punish you for your sins? Nay ye are but men of the men He hath created: He forgiveth whom He pleaseth and He punisheth whom He pleaseth: and to Allah belongeth the dominion of the heavens and the earth and all that is between: and unto Him is the final goal (of all).”

    4:171 O people of the Book! commit no excesses in your religion: nor say of Allah aught but truth. Christ Jesus the son of Mary was (no more than) an Apostle of Allah and His Word which He bestowed on Mary and a Spirit proceeding from Him: so believe in Allah and His Apostles. Say not “Trinity”: desist: it will be better for you: for Allah is One Allah: glory be to him: (for Exalted is He) above having a son. To Him belong all things in the heavens and on earth. And enough is Allah as a Disposer of affairs.

    *Note:1-Mentioned in this verse (a)Allah (b)Jesus (c)Mary (d)His word (e)Spirit.At the time of prophet Muhammad peace be upon him Christian sect used to believe in trinity.And trinity comprised of Allah,mary& jesus.But now a days they have changed their beliefs.Today trinity to them means Allah,jesus & Spirit.

    *Note:2-Excerpts from tafsir ibn Kathir-

    (a) (Al-Masih `Isa, son of Maryam, was (no more than) a Messenger of Allah and His Word, which He bestowed on Maryam and a spirit from [created by] Him;) `Isa is only one of Allah’s servants and one of His creatures. Allah said to him, `Be’, and he was, and He sent him as a Messenger. `Isa was a word from Allah that He bestowed on Maryam, meaning He created him with the word `Be’ that He sent with Jibril to Maryam. Jibril blew the life of `Isa into Maryam by Allah’s leave, and `Isa came to existence as a result. This incident was in place of the normal conception between man and woman that results in children. This is why `Isa was a word and a Ruh (spirit) created by Allah, as he had no father to conceive him. Rather, he came to existence through the word that Allah uttered, `Be,’ and he was, through the life that Allah sent with Jibril.

    (b) (And has subjected to you all that is in the heavens and all that is in the earth; it is all from Him.) meaning, from His creation. `from Him’ does not mean that it is a part of Him, as the Christians claim, may Allah’s continued curses be upon them. Saying that something is from Allah, such as the spirit of Allah, the she-camel of Allah or the House of Allah, is meant to honor such items. Allah said,

    5:73 They do blaspheme who say: Allah is one of three in a Trinity: for there is no god except One Allah. If they desist not from their word (of blasphemy) verily a grievous penalty will befall the blasphemers among them.

    [Christians who are protestants can?t be married to muslims]

    *Note:3-Actually trinity of present day is quiet an invention

    Tertullian, a lawyer and presbyter of the third century Church in Carthage, was the first to use the word “Trinity” when he put forth the theory that the Son and the Spirit participate in the being of God, but all are of one being of substance with the Father.
    When controversy over the matter of the Trinity blew up in 318 between two church men from Alexandria – Arius, the deacon, and Alexander, his bishop – Emperor Constantine stepped into the fray. Although Christian dogma was a complete mystery to him, he did realize that a unified church was necessary for a strong kingdom. When negotiation failed to settle the dispute, Constantine called for the first ecumenical council in Church history in order to settle the matter once and for all. Six weeks after the 300 bishops first gathered at Nicea in 325, the doctrine of the Trinity was hammered out. The God of the Christians was now seen as having three essences, or natures, in the form of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

    Deviant Jews And christians
    2: 135 They say: “Become Jews or Christians if ye would be guided (to salvation).” Say thou: “Nay! (I would rather) the religion of Abraham the true and he joined not gods with Allah.”

    2:113 The Jews say: “The Christians have naught (to stand) upon”; and the Christians say: “The Jews have naught (to stand) upon.” Yet they (profess to) study the (same) Book. Like unto their word is what those say who know not but Allah will judge between them in their quarrel on the Day of Judgment.

    2: 120 Never will the Jews or the Christians be satisfied with thee unless thou follow their form of religion. Say: “The guidance of Allah that is the (only) guidance.” Wert thou to follow their desires after the knowledge which hath reached thee then wouldst thou find neither protector nor helper against Allah.

    3:85 If anyone desires a religion other than Islam (submission to Allah) never will it be accepted of him; and in the Hereafter he will be in the ranks of those who have lost (all spiritual good).

    Finally Jews and christians will be judged by the laws of Quran[Capital laws to interest based transactions etc]

    Jizya/protection tax
    9:29 Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His apostle nor acknowledge the religion of truth (even if they are) of the People of the Book until they pay the Jizya with willing submission and feel themselves subdued.

    *Note:[These are the oppressors who themselves disbelieved & further oppressed the believers for their faith.They?re told to pay Jizya ,it is a protection tax,paid by ahle-kitab/people of the book & non-muslims in general[idolators,deviant christiand/jews] living with freedom under Islamic law,they are called Dhmmi?s]

    “The sunna is that there is no jizya due from women or children of people of the Book, and that jizya is only taken from men who have reached puberty.

    This is because jizya is only imposed on them on conditions, which they have agreed on, namely that they will remain in their own countries, and that war will be waged for them on any enemy of theirs.

    Permitted to marry free women from people of the book
    Al-Muwatta Hadith Hadith 28.38a

    Prohibition against Marrying Slave-Girls of the People of the Book

    Malik said, “It is not halal to marry a christian or jewish slave-girl because Allah the Blessed, the Exalted, said in His Book, ‘Believing women who are muhsanat and women of those who were given the Book before you who are muhsanat’, (sura 5 ayat 6) and they are free women from the Christians and Jews. Allah, the Blessed, the Exalted, said in His Book, ‘If you are not affluent enough to marry believing women who are muhsanat, take believing slave-girls whom your right hands own.’ ” (Sura 4 ayat 24)Malik said, “In our opinion, Allah made marriage to believing slave-girls halal, and He did not make halal marriage to christian and jewish slave-girls from the People of the Book.”Malik said, “The christian and jewish slave-girl are halal for their master by right of possession, but intercourse with a magian slave-girl is not halal by the right of possession.”

    Al-Muwatta Hadith Hadith 28.40
    Yahya related to me from Malik from Ibn Shihab, and he had heard from al-Qasim ibn Muhammad that they said, “When a free man marries a slave-girl and consummates the marriage, she makes him muhsan.”Malik said, “All (of the people of knowledge) I have seen said that a slave-girl makes a free man muhsan when he marries her and consummates the marriage.”Malik said, “A slave makes a free woman muhsana when he consummates a marriage with her and a free woman only makes a slave muhsan when he is freed and he is her husband and has had sexual relations with her after he has been set free. If he parts from her before he is free, he is not a muhsan unless he marries her after having been set free and he consummates the marriage.”Malik said, “When a slave-girl is married to a free man and then he separates from her before she is set free, his marriage to her does not make her muhsana. She is not muhsana until she has married after she has been set free and she has had intercourse with her husband. That gives her ihsan. If she is the wife of a freeman and then she is set free while she is his wife before he separates from her, the man makes her muhsana if he has intercourse with her after she has been set free.”Malik said, “The christian and jewish free women and the muslim slave-girl all make a muslim free man muhsan when he marries one of them and has intercourse with her.”

    *Muhsanat means free & married male or female.

    Sahih Al-Bukhari HadithHadith 7.209 Narrated byNafi
    Whenever Ibn ‘Umar was asked about marrying a Christian lady or a Jewess, he would say: “Allah has made it unlawful for the believers to marry ladies who ascribe partners in worship to Allah, and I do not know of a greater thing, as regards to ascribing partners in worship, etc. to Allah, than that a lady should say that Jesus is her Lord

    Al-Tirmidhi HadithHadith 3321 Narrated byAbdullah ibn Amr ibn al-‘As
    The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “There are four types of women with whom there can be no cursing: a Christian woman married to a Muslim, a Jewess married to a Muslim, a free woman married to a slave, and a slave woman married to a freeman.”
    Ibn Majah transmitted it.

    Sahih Al-Bukhari HadithHadith 7.209 Narrated byNafi
    Whenever Ibn ‘Umar was asked about marrying a Christian lady or a Jewess, he would say: “Allah has made it unlawful for the believers to marry ladies who ascribe partners in worship to Allah, and I do not know of a greater thing, as regards to ascribing partners in worship, etc. to Allah, than that a lady should say that Jesus is her Lord

    Allah knows best!

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