I know from other questions on this site that Muslim men can marry Jewish or Christian women, that Muslim women can't marry non-Muslims, and why there's a difference in marriage law for Muslim men and women. I've also learned a good deal about temporary marriages, but this question is not about that.

My question is, can Muslim men marry women who are not Ahl-al-Kitab? That is, can a Muslim man marry a woman who is either atheist, deist, polytheist, pantheist, Zoroastrian, or anything else I haven't thought of?

Since Hanafi is the school of Fiqh with the greatest number of adherents, I'd specifically like an answer from that perspective. But if you could give a quick note about how widely-accepted your answer is from the perspective of the other schools, that would bring your answer from good to great.

  • please specify which school of Fiqh you are asking about and also you mean permanent or temporary marriage (Mutah). Commented Mar 19, 2015 at 15:47
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    @BattleofKarbala I think it should be assumed that a person is talking about permanent marriage, unless they specifically mention temporary. But regarding the schools of Fiqh, I have no idea. I'm hoping to get a decent overview. Commented Mar 19, 2015 at 15:56
  • @BattleofKarbala Why insist on a degree of specificity for this question that wasn't there for any of the dozens of questions that are either linked to in this question or duplicates of the ones I linked to? Commented Mar 19, 2015 at 19:33
  • Be specific This site is not for vague questions. you should specify you need shia or sunni answer? which school of Fiqh? what type of marriage you mean? if other questions have not obeyed the policies so they have problems too. Commented Mar 19, 2015 at 19:34
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    @BattleofKarbala How many varieties of thought are there on this topic? Overview questions are generally accepted on other SE sites. Commented Mar 19, 2015 at 19:34

3 Answers 3


Marriage with disbelievers is prohibited, except marriage to chaste women among the People of the Book:

ولا تمسكوا بعصم الكوافر

and hold not to marriage bonds with disbelieving women

Quran 60:10

الْيَوْمَ أُحِلَّ لَكُمُ الطَّيِّبَاتُ ۖ وَطَعَامُ الَّذِينَ أُوتُوا الْكِتَابَ حِلٌّ لَّكُمْ وَطَعَامُكُمْ حِلٌّ لَّهُمْ ۖ وَالْمُحْصَنَاتُ مِنَ الْمُؤْمِنَاتِ وَالْمُحْصَنَاتُ مِنَ الَّذِينَ أُوتُوا الْكِتَابَ مِن قَبْلِكُمْ

This day [all] good foods have been made lawful, and the food of those who were given the Scripture is lawful for you and your food is lawful for them. And [lawful in marriage are] chaste women from among the believers and chaste women from among those who were given the Scripture before you ...

Quran 5:5

5:5 literally only allows for marriage with those who are "given the book", and are understood to be the Jews and Christians. The schools only add restrictions to this (such as excluding nations who converted after the time of the Prophet Muhammad or excluding non-Israelites).

There is a very minority opinion that allows for marriage with Zoroastrians, based on some traditons from the Sahabah that they had a genuine Prophet and a Book from Allah, but this tradition is weak and the opinion is not shared by the major schools of thought, including the Hanafis.

Other than that polytheists are specifically excluded in 2:221 and any other religion would fall under the verses quoted above.

ولا تنكحوا المشركات حتى يؤمن ولأمة مؤمنة خير من مشركة ولو أعجبتكم

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.


The fornicator does not marry except a [female] fornicator or polytheist, and none marries her except a fornicator or a polytheist, and that has been made unlawful to the believers. (Qur'an 24:3)

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. Those invite [you] to the Fire, but Allah invites to Paradise and to forgiveness, by His permission. And He makes clear His verses to the people that perhaps they may remember. (Qur'an 2:221)

The above verses explain concerning polytheists.

And a possible definition of a believer which describe the eligibility for a woman to be called as a believer.

Muawiya ibn al-Hakam came to the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) and told him, "I am very newly from the Jahiliyya, and now Allah has brought Islam," and he proceeded to ask about various Jahiliyya practices, until at last he said that he had slapped his slave girl, and asked if he should free her, as was obligatory if she was a believer. The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) requested that she be brought, and then asked her, "Where is Allah?" and she said, "In the sky (Fi al-sama)"; whereupon he asked her, "Who am I?" and she said, "You are the Messenger of Allah"; at which he said, Free her, "for she is a believer" (Sahih Muslim).

And now what about those other religions in which people worship although only one God, but to some Monkey God or Moon God, then it is most likely that, that woman of that religion wouldn't believe that Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) is a messenger of God, but, still to answer and to be more accurate, ask her "Who created that Monkey God or Moon God", if she answers, that Monkey God or Moon God existed all by itself, then leave her, else if on reminding her that there is 'something which created everything including that Monkey God or Moon God', and if she recognizes, realizes and affirms to that fact, along with believing that Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) is the messenger of that 'something which created everything', then you can marry her.

So in short, a Muslim man is allowed to marry a 'non-Muslim (and non-Ahl-al-Kitab) woman' only if she believes according to the definition fore mentioned. Prior to becoming a believer, no one cannot marry her while she is unbeliever.

No matter what the school of thought is, everyone abides by the verse 2:221 i.e. a verse from Qur'an if he has to be called himself as a believer because this is ruling is from Allah. As far as I know there must not be any disparity in this issue.

May the creator guide us all.

  • Verse From Quran

    Do not marry idolatresses, until they believe; a believing slavegirl is better than an idolatress, though you may admire her (2:221)

  • Fatwa

    It is permissible for a Muslim man to marry a non-Muslim woman if she is Christian or Jewish, but it is not permissible for him to marry a non-Muslim woman who follows any religion other than these two (IslamQA)

  • write a better answer or leave a criticism in the comment before hitting downvote
    – user2724
    Commented Mar 19, 2015 at 6:40
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    Why are you talking as though you're new to IslamSE, here most of the people just down vote and go, you should learn to correct all by yourself, they're not gonna help you. Commented Mar 19, 2015 at 14:00

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