Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Q and A: Marriage Between a Muslim Man and a Hindu Woman

Here's an interesting question:
Marriage between a Muslim man and a Hindu woman. What are your thoughts?

Let me first thank you on providing such a good platform for religious questions!
I am a 20 year old muslim boy who lives in the UK. My partner, is a 19 year old Hindu girl who is currently staying in India but plans to study in the UK also. I adore with all my heart and the bond that has developed over the years is something i truly am proud of! I have never felt such a connection with anyone in my life and i can genuinley say i am in love! :) I believe i am a normal God-fearing muslim with respect and understanding of all the major faiths. My partner is of the same understanding of religions (maybe a little bit more than me!) and is also a very pious and intelligent individual. We respect each others beliefs and compatibility has never been an issue (ie she does not drink alcohol or consume pork, whereas i do not eat beef; I aknowledge festivals such as Holi and Diwali whereas she is the same for Eid-ul-fitr, Eid-ul-aza and Ramadan). My question however, is regarding the possibility of marriage. I have researched this to a great extent but have still to find a definate answer and although God knows best, i feel you will enlighten me on this subject to a great extent.
After several years with my partner, I am certain that she is the one person for me. I wish to marry her :) I will never force her to convert to Islam as this is something only a person can decide for themselves. Also, a person must realise if they were in the same situation in changing religion it is possibly the hardest thing one can do. I myself cannot bear to convert from Islam as i wholeheartedly believe in the central ideologies and teachings and do not wish to cause conflict with my parents and family. From my personal knowledge of this matter, i understand a muslim man can marry someone 'of the book'(Ahl-al-Kitab) but this does not specify the Quran, Bible or the Tohrah. I believe it is someone of God conscienceness. Afterall, the Bhagvad Gita is a also a 'book'. I believe it refers to someone who believes in 1 God and with the basic principles of faith, love, harmony and worship of God. I also understand it is a common misconception that Hindus believe in several Gods or worship idols as im sure your aware of. A Hindu belives in 1 God and the principles of the relegion are displayed through parables and idols descibed in the Bhagvad Gita and other holy scriptures. It is NOT a religion incompatible with Islam but actually provides a platform for recoginising your own beliefs and comparing with anothers (the same can be said for any religion). I would personally say it makes you think a lot more about your own belief, instead of simply being born into a Muslim family and accepting it in a very sheep-like mentality. I think that Muslim-Hindu marriges are uncommon, not because of religious reasons, but for simply cultural reasons. As in people do not fully understand another religion or cannot accept that people of a different religion are of equal status. Conflicts can occur between family members, etc. I understand why it could be difficult for Muslim girl to marry into a non-muslim family as she would tend live with the husband away from her family and may feel slightly alienated without the proper support and her family closeby (The same can be said for any religion to be honest). However, i am not against this type of marriage. If anyone is open enough to discuss the differnces and similarities between their religions then surely a compromise can be achieved between both partners. From my personal case, this is already achieved :) I do feel however the greatest hinderance will come from parents as they are perceptively set in their ways. I love my parents very dearly and would never intentionally disobey their wishes. But when matters of love arise i feel MY wishes will be ignored and i will not be allowed to marry the girl i love :)
So basically to sum up, i am asking will Hinduism permit a Muslim boy to marry a Hindu girl by considering the whole situation of the two people involved? I have asked a similar question to several Islamic experts but feel it was not answered properly.

Thanking you in advance,


My reply
How would you answer this question?

Salaam Hasan,

From a Muslim perspective a "Person of the Book" is a person of the Abrahamic root "book" of faith. In other words, another Muslim, a Jew or a Christian (or Noahide). Hindus are not accepted as People of the Book. I love the Bhagavad Gita and have even translated it into English ( however it does not qualify in this context. Hindus are viewed as infidels to Muslims and marriage between a Muslim and Hindu is strictly forbidden in terms of Sharia and Sunna.

From a Hindu perspective, "God is One, the sages use diverse Names." In other words, ALL people of all faiths are part of the greater "Sanatana Dharma" (Path to the One) and so a Hindu would technically be allowed to marry a Muslim from this perspective (but see below).

Gender roles in both Islam and Hinduism must also be considered in ways they would not apply in Western culture. A Muslim man can marry any female person of the Book (Muslim, Jew or Christian). A Muslim woman can ONLY marry another Muslim.

HOWEVER Islam firmly believes that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was/is the final and greatest prophet. As a Muslim man/husband you are deemed responsible for the spiritual well being of your family. Now, as the head of the family it is within your right to "allow your wife to maintain false beliefs" however to do so will be viewed as a stigma against your devotion to Allah, subhana wa talla. A good Muslim husband will always insist his wife and children be good Muslims (even if he marries a Jew or a Christian). If not, many Muslims (most) will not consider the husband to be a good Muslim. This will have far reaching impacts for you in the masjid and beyond and should your children wish to marry within the deen the perspective in-laws MAY consider you wife's "infidel" beliefs a dis-qualifier for the perspective marriage.

As a Hindu, her caste is very important. She is forbidden to marry below her caste but can marry one caste above her status (male Hindus can marry a woman from a lower caste and elevate them to their own caste). As a non-Hindu you are casteless. This means that while her faith acknowledges the validity of Islam as a Path to the One, since you do not belong to a caste such a marriage would be prohibited by devout Hindus for that cause. If she marries a non-casted (or sub-casted) husband of whatever faith she may, depending on her family and community, be viewed as an outcaste herself, as well as her children.

Also, as a Muslim how do you feel about her worship of the murtis (ie religious images), which Islam views as idolatry? If she practices puja (worship) before such images are you OK with this? Such worship is not only a direct violation of Islamic law, but a serious sin according to the Qu'ran, al Hadith and Sunna. What if she seeks to train your children in her religious views. Traditionally Muslim men set the religious standard for the family and largely leave the religious education to their wives. How will your kids be raised? As Muslims or Hindus or... This is a very important consideration as well and one that rests heavily on the shoulder of any Muslim father.

Also, according to the prophets of Islam, if these are indeed the Last Times that will witness the coming of the Dijal and Madhi, as many People of the Book believe, one of the early "purifications" the Ummah will perform will be to invade India specifically and wipe out all traces of Hinduism from the subcontinent. If this happens in your lifetime this will mean the death or forced reversion of your wife's entire family. Just something to think about. The differences between your two faiths are many and deep. To be a devout Muslim married to a devout Hindu will raise countless difficulties and problems for you both.

My honest suggestion would be that this marriage should not happen unless you are willing to convert to her sect of Hinduism, she is willing to revert to your sect of Islam and embrace all that that entails, or you both decide to abandon you religious faiths and maintain this non-religious commitment (which of course I don't suggest for either of you). Considering the fundamental differences between Islam and Hinduism I would strongly discourage such a mixed union.

Hope this helps,
~John of AllFaith
~Muhammad Yahya Saleem
~Jagannatha Prakasa

Ask John of AllFaith any question at
The oldest and largest free answers service on the Internet.
Interfaith Religious Questions
Misc. Religious Questions
Bible Studies
Gaudiya Vaisnavism (Hare Krsna)
The Bible and Homosexuality
General Christian Topics
Baptist Christianity
Or Contact John of AllFaith Directly

Read some my Questions and Answers Here!

No comments: