When Huma Abedin (foto), aide to Hilary Clinton, married Anthony Weiner (foto), New York Congressman, it sent tongues wagging in the Muslim community. She did the unthinkable, the ultimate taboo for a good Muslim girl from a good Muslim family – she married a Jew… and he did not convert. O-M-G. The question that makes even the most open-minded Imams squirm was revived: Can a Muslim woman marry a non-Muslim man? The answer in all the major schools of thought has traditionally been a resounding NO. Absolutely, not. Not ever. Haraam, sister.
The response only begs the next question, but why? It is not prohibited in the Qur’an. Few modern scholars feel comfortable forbidding it for that reason. Yet, few are actually willing to articulate this in an official forum. Dr. Abou El Fadl is an example of a scholar who has openly and candidly addressed the issue of Muslim women marrying “men of the Book.” In his response he explains his dislike of the issue and his tendency to avoid answering the question. He describes the traditional thought and then goes on to mention that he, personally, finds the evidence regarding the prohibition to be weak and does not feel comfortable telling a woman she cannot marry a kitabiyya [People of the Book.]
I am not a scholar, but Dr. Fadl’s response echoes the sentiments I have heard from other scholars as well. As such, the bases for this opinion are two ayats [Qu’ran verses], the opinions of scholars I have questioned, and my own research. This opinion does not apply to marriages where one converts to another’s faith. Additionally, for the purposes of this discussion I recognize that we live in a patriarchal society and I am not contesting the traditional roles ascribed to men and women as per our cultural patriarchy.
What God Says: Qur’anic Law
The Qur’an addresses marriage to non-Muslims in two instances :
1. “And do not marry polytheistic women until they believe. And a believing slave woman is better than a polytheist, even though she might please you. And do not marry polytheistic men [to your women] until they believe. And a believing slave is better than a polytheist, even though he might please you.” [Qur’an 2:221]
2. “And [lawful in marriage are] chaste women from among the believers and chaste women from among those who were given the Scripture before you, when you have given them their due compensation, desiring chastity, not unlawful sexual intercourse or taking [secret] lovers.” [Qur’an 5:5]
There are several absolute truths we can establish from these two ayats. The first is that a differentiation is made between non-Muslim “People of the Book” (those of the Judeo-Christian faith) and non-Muslim polytheists. This distinction determines that both men and women are not permitted to marry anyone who associates another god with God. That is pretty straightforward and not to be contested. The next point is that men are permitted to marry chaste Muslim, Jewish or Christian women when certain duties are upheld. We generally accept this at face value as our right to marry. We also accept from this that though Muslim women are not directly addressed, if Muslim men are given permission to marry Muslim women then naturally, Muslim women can marry Muslim men. The Qur’an does not provide further guidance on whether Muslim women can marry men “of the Book.”
This leads us to the issue at hand – can we assume that the reverse is true for Muslim women marrying Judeo-Christian men?
• If not, can we forbid Muslim women from marrying a Christian or Jewish man?
• If yes, what does that mean in our patriarchal structure?
What People Say: Traditional Thought
Traditionally, the answer has been no, the reverse situation cannot be assumed for Muslim women. The argument is that if men are expressly given permission to marry women of the Book then women must also be given express permission in order to do the same. All major schools of thought accept this ruling. Many provide justifications as to why this traditional view has been upheld. The justification for this view fall primarily along these lines: 1) preservation of the Ummah [Muslim Community], 2) the father establishes religion for his children, 3) loss of certain rights as a Muslim woman, 4) implications on family law.
L’articolo prosegue su Altmuslimah