Advice regarding Muslim interracial marriage being blocked

Given that I have recently received several calls and e-mails pertaining to parents blocking interracial marriages within the American Muslim community, I’d like to give some practical advice regarding this matter.

Of course, there were several inter-tribal and interracial marriages among the Sahabah in which several of them involved resistance from family members. Bilal, Julaybib, and Sa’ad as-Sulami are just a few who faced this.

Early Islamic scholars from Zayd bin Ali and Malik bin Anas gave verdicts on what constitutes compatibility for marriage listing deen, not just being Muslim but also level of practice and character, as being the criterion.  Other scholars such as Abu Hanifah and Ahmad bin Hanbal gave other criterion for compatibility besides deen which includes lineage and ethnicity.  At the end of the day, none of them said that it was haram to marry someone outside of one’s nationality or tribe.

Practicality, however, is important. Is it worth marrying someone at the risk of losing relations with one’s family?

In life, there are non-negotiable and negotiable relationships.  We are religiously commanded to keep family ties and to be kind to our parents even if they are disbelievers. This is non-negotiable.  Who we marry or even stayed married to, however, is negotiable.  We can wish to marry someone today, it doesn’t work out, then marry someone else tomorrow.  We can marry someone to later divorce them.

Though barring marriage to someone just for the color of their skin, hair texture and/or different tribal background is wrong according to my belief, I do not encourage anyone to marry at the risk of being exiled and disowned from one’s parents.  To be clearer, I simply do not encourage people who have never been married before to circumvent their parents and go to an imam or the justice of the peace to get married. Khutbah an-Nikkah can’t be performed by a justice of the peace who isn’t Muslim to begin with, nor can a Muslim justice of the peace working for the state conduct a religious ceremony.

That may seem like acquiescing to intolerance, but I personally don’t view it as beneficial to marry someone to then be barred from family gatherings and not speaking to one’s parents.  Having children and expecting the parents who balked at the wedding to come around doesn’t work in many cases at bringing parents into accepting the marriage.  Furthermore, I would never advocate for someone to marry into a family that has racist views about them and their family; I simply don’t see any dignity in that.

Again, this is just me sharing my thoughts, not a fatwa against inter-tribal or interracial marriage if one’s parents are against such a union.  I do not conduct weddings for Muslim sisters who have never been married before against their families’ wishes just as I refuse to marry Muslim men to Kitabi women.

Hopefully this clarifies my position when receiving future e-mails and calls.

6 thoughts on “Advice regarding Muslim interracial marriage being blocked

    • Actually, there is a dispute about it being either makruh in some cases or actually haram in the opinion of the minority.

      Regarding makruh, it is narrated relating to Surah 2, ayah 221 in Tafsir at-Tabari and others that Umar bin al-Khattab as the khalifah despised it when 2 companions married kitabiyyat. He told them to divorce those women. This was due to his concern that Muslim men were starting to favor marrying non-Muslim women over Muslim women. Imam Ali stated regarding this that a Muslim man is not to marry a Jewish or Christian woman over a Muslim woman, meaning when there are Muslim women to marry.

      Regarding haram, some such as the companion Abdullah bin Umar to Imam Zayd bin Zaynil Abideen Ali were of the opinion that Surah 2, ayah 221 abrogated the ayah which states that it was lawful to marry women from the People of the Book. They said the term polytheist had more than one meaning, and that what greater shirk is there to believe that Allah is part of a trinity and/or that He had a son. This is shrik. This is similar to the meaning when the Qur’an says that the polytheist are najis, which is used as a reasoning to bar Christians from entering into Makkah.

      So I simply do not promote anything which is makruh in America at best and potentially haram.

      WAllahu ‘Aalam

  1. “Practicality, however, is important. Is it worth marrying someone at the risk of losing relations with one’s family?”

    With all due respect for you as a person, your important work and your activism, this isn’t about practicality. This is about racist people who use emotional blackmail to force their children in (or out) of a marriage who don’t want this.

    Both their motivations&methods are haram. Giving them their way is succumbing to racism.

    Yes, we are religiously obliged to respect our parents, but NOT if they order us to do things that are haram. Racism is haram, just as haram as eating pork or drinking wine. And parents also should respect their children and their choices, if those choices are not immoral or haram. In matters like this, those racist families are wrong, since they make a problem out of something that should never be a problem.

    To many lives, loves and relationships are ruined by this disgusting jahili behaviour. Saying it’s a matter of practicality and that children should accept this is implicitly supporting haram and opressive behaviour. You can’t sit there and claim to fight against racism, while on the other hand succumbing to it.

    • I would never tell someone in the name of marriage to risk losing all other family ties. Sometimes, we make decisions out of maslahah. It doesn’t mean endorsing an evil of racism in the process, sister, nor is it analogous to when Muslims embrace Islam and are disowned by family members for such.

      WAllahu ‘Aalam

  2. “That may seem like acquiescing to intolerance…”

    It IS!

    “Though barring marriage to someone just for the color of their skin, hair texture and/or different tribal background is wrong according to my belief, I do not encourage anyone to marry at the risk of being exiled and disowned from one’s parents. ”

    But WHO is the one who creates trouble? Is it not the parents who try to forbid & destroy a halal relationship out of haram intentions? I cannot, will not support this – no Muslim in his/her right mind should! Call it what it is: Racism!

    “We are religiously commanded to keep family ties and to be kind to our parents even if they are disbelievers.”

    It’s not the children involved who break the family ties, it’s the parents who (threaten to) disown them. They are the ones doing 3 haram things at a time: Racism, breaking family ties and manipulating & blackmailing their children into doing things they don’t want, or trying to force them to leave a good relationship because of skin colour and ethnicity.

    “Furthermore, I would never advocate for someone to marry into a family that has racist views about them and their family; I simply don’t see any dignity in that.”

    Then the family is in the wrong and should change.

    • The family should change, and it would be there fault. However, no one can force anyone to change. If that person wishes to lose their entire family to marry someone, that’s on them.

      I wouldn’t marry someone under those conditions, nor would I advice anyone to do anything which I find problematic. That’s only ethical.

      Such marriages many times leave the ex-communicated one feeling lonely and resentful at times such as ‘Eid, weddings, aqiqah’s, family reunions, etc. I’ve seen this in really time with people, and know how it looks.

      WAllahu ‘Aalam

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s