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The Reliance of the Traveller, by Ahmad ibn Naqib al-Misri, translated by Nuh Ha Mim Keller, states in the context of marriage:

m4.2 The following are not suitable matches for one another:

(1) a non-Arab man for an Arab woman (O: because of the hadith that the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, "Allah has chosen the Arabs above others");

Reliance Of The Traveller ; p. 523, Bottom

Arabic Text (of Hadith Only):

إن الله اصطفى العرب على غيرهم

(Here, "O:" indicates an "excerpt from the commentary of Sheikh 'Umar Barakat".)

This took me by surprise, since it seems to directly contradict another hadith:

... There is no virtue for an Arab over a non-Arab, nor for a non-Arab over an Arab ...

See What is the complete reference for Musnad Ahmed Hadith 22978, and any other occurrences?

Question: Is the hadith "Allah has chosen the Arabs above others" reliable, and how does it not contradict "no virtue for an Arab over a non-Arab"?


An anti-Islam blog quotes a SunniPath fatwa (no longer available):

The fact that Allah Most High has chosen the Arabs over other nations is affirmed in rigorously authenticated hadiths of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and give him peace; related by Bukhari and Muslim in their “Sahih” in the beginning of the chapter of merits, # 5897, on the authority of Wathilah ibn al-Asqa` who said, “I heard the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, say, 'Verily Allah has chosen Kinanah from the son of Isma'il, and He has chosen Quraysh from among Kinanah and He has chosen Hashim from among Quraysh and He has chosen me from the Bani Hashim.'”

The latter hadith is at Jami` at-Tirmidhi 3605 and 3606, both listed as sahih.

Islam Q&A seems to say two contradictory things on the topic: "... Arabs are superior to others in terms of descent and lineage ..." and "... an Arab Muslim cannot be superior to a non-Arab Muslim just because he is an Arab ...".

  • Maybe there's a translation conflict. But the fact that by hadith Arab's have a certain superiority by lineage sahih Muslim and espacilly islamqa holds the opinion that "Ahl as-Sunnah wa’l-Jamaa‘ah are unanimously agreed that the Arabs are superior to others in terms of descent and lineage, and that regarding the Arabs as superior is in general terms, and does not apply at the individual level." as quoted in the fatwa you linked in your post. – Medi1Saif Mar 19 '18 at 8:03
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The hadith of the farewell pilgrimage is strong and well known, it is also in agreement with the Quran:

يا أيها الناس إنا خلقناكم من ذكر وأنثى وجعلناكم شعوبا وقبائل لتعارفوا إن أكرمكم عند الله أتقاكم

O mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you.

Quran 49:13

On the other hand اصطفى العرب is similar to :

إن الله اصطفى آدم ونوحا وآل إبراهيم وآل عمران على العالمين

Indeed Allah chose Adam and Noah and the family of Abraham and the family of 'Imran over the worlds.

Quran 3:33

This is in terms of favor: in revealing the Quran in their tongue and raising the Prophet among them. Otherwise there are people like Abu Lahab who was from the Banu Hashim but is accursed in the Quran ... and there are praised Sahabah like Bilal from Ethiopia and Salman from Persia.


Kafa'ah (equality of status in marriage) is recognized by the schools, and it is generally not encouraged to marry outside of it, because inequality of presumed social status may lead to incompatibility and conflicts down the road.

However, a marriage outside of Kafa'ah is still possible and valid, but it requires the express consent of the woman and her family:

So in Hanafi marriages (who allow a woman to marry without the consent of the guardian): the guardian may contest the marriage when it is outside of Kafu.

Similarly, in Shafi marriages (who allow a father to marry off a virgin daughter without her consent): the father can not do so if it is outside of Kafu.


There are differences among the jurists as to what things to account for in Kafa'ah: They all only agree upon religious piety. Other factors include profession, freedom, wealth and various facets of lineage such as whether the person is arab or not.

Most of the jurists recognized some form of lineage as a valid factor, except for the Malikis:

ولم يعتبر المالكية الكفاءة في النسب

The Malikis do not account for lineage in Kafa'ah

الفقه الإسلامي وأدلته للزحيلي

The author also preferred this view and cited several examples from the life of the Prophet where he arranged marriages outside of lineage, e.g the marriages of Zaid bin Haris and Usama bin Zaid:

والحق أن اعتبار النسب في الكفاءة ليس صحيحاً، والصحيح قول المالكية

The truth is that consideration of lineage in Kafa'ah is not correct, and the saying of the Malikis is correct.

  • Why do you say a Shafi follower would marry off her daughter without her consent? Isn't that prohibited in Islam making the nikah null and void? – Ahmed Feb 24 at 7:33
  • @Ahmed It is agreed upon that the consent of the daughter should be taken, however there is difference of opinion on whether it is obligatory and whether a marriage without her consent would be invalid. Their argument is based on for example this hadith, a previously married woman has the right, which implies that a virgin does not have the right but it is mustahab to have her consent. – UmH Feb 24 at 12:01
  • Jazakallah Khair for the link and the clarification. – Ahmed Feb 25 at 14:31

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