Prayer Time

  |      |      |   The Message of Islam:

 Islam, unlike other religions is a strong advocate of marriage. There is no place for celibacy. The prophet (peace be upon him) has said "there is no celibacy in Islam''. Marriage is a religious duty and is consequently a moral safeguard as well as a social necessity.

Islam does not equal celibacy with high taqwa or  Iman. The prophet has also said, "Marriage is my tradition who so ever keeps away there from is not from amongst me".

However, traditional Islamic jurisprudence says that Muslim women were not allowed to marry non-Muslim men.  Now the question that arises is that, what happens a woman embracing islam without her husband?

This question is based on the ruling that no Muslim woman may be married to a non-Muslim. According to the four main schools of jurisprudence, it is forbidden for thew ife to remain with her husband, or indeed to allow him conjugal rights, once her period of waiting has expired. While some jurists were of the opinion that it is for her to remain with him, if he does not prevent her from exercising her religion and she has hope in him to revert to Islam.

Imam ibn Al-Qayyim has written on this question in his book Ahkam Ahl Al-Thimmah, [or rulings for non-Muslim subjects]. He points out that the scholars up to his generation, differed a great deal on this question, and he enumerated nine different views.

He then discusses these views and states the argument of scholars who rule that marriage is nullified once either party has become a Muslim and the other has not.

Ibn Al-Qayyim speaks at length on one of the nine views, which is based on a report by Muhammad ibn Sireen on the authority of Abdullah ibn Yazeed Al-Khutami, a companion of the Prophet, peace be upon him, stating that “a woman embraced Islam, while her husband was a Christian. Umar ibn Al-Khattab gave her the choice either to separate from him or to stay married to him.”

He explains that this does not mean that she stayed married to him in full sense of the word. She simply waits for him. When he becomes a Muslim, she is his wife, even if that takes several years.

He comments that this is the most valid view no this matter, as evidenced by the Sunnah. It is the view preferred by Ibn Taymiyah (may be pleased with him). He also explains that the marriage in this case becomes an option, not a binding status.

This means that the woman may choose to terminate it, or to keep it, if she does not put it into effect until her husband has become a Muslim.

These scholars based their view on the the case of Zainab, the Prophet’s daughter, who became a Muslim in Makkah. Her husband was very late in adopting Islam. After six years, he embraced Islam and he was reunited with his wife, without a new marriage contract.

This means that, the marriage remains in force only as an option. The woman has the other option of separation and marrying a Muslim man.

The sum up of the view is that the woman who becomes Muslim, while her husband remains a non-Muslim, has a choice either to separate from him, or stay married to him without sexual contact until he becomes a Muslim.

Allah Almighty knows best.


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