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Customs and Culture >
Can Muslims marry non-Muslims?

Marriage regulations in Islam revolve around concerns regarding the faith of the children who will result from the union. Marriage between a Muslim man and someone from a community not possessing a revelation is considered unlawful. While it is preferable for Muslim men to marry Muslim women, they are allowed to marry Christian or Jewish women, because these women are “People of the Book,” those who have a divine revelation. Compatibility of belief is understood to be critical to a harmonious marriage and family life. Whatever the male's official role as head of the household, women tend to spend the most time with the children, particularly when they are small, so children are more likely to be exposed to their mother's religion from an early age. Men therefore must select a wife who upholds monotheism and divine revelation.

Muslim women must marry a Muslim or someone who converts to Islam. Under Islamic law, the male is recognized as the head of the household, and in marriage his wife is expected to take the nationality and status given by her husband's law. The man is also responsible for the religious instruction of his older children and for serving as their guardian, particularly in matters of marriage. Thus the marriage of a Muslim woman to a non-Muslim man would represent the potential “loss” of the children from that union to Islam.

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