Q. I am almost 33 years and have accepted Islam for just over 3 years, Alhamdulillah. It is my intention to get married. In my efforts towards this I was recently introduced to a sister of another race. She is practicing and has no problem with my race. I would like to find out what rights does my mother (a non Muslim) have over me in terms of choosing a spouse. Secondly, from your knowledge and experience would marrying someone from a different race cause my parents and family to be pushed away? Thirdly what conflicts can arise with interracial marriages.
A. Your mother does not have the ‘final say’ or the ‘exclusive right’ of choosing a spouse for you. She may guide you to choose a person, may give you her opinion or may even tell you whether she is in favour of the person or not. If her advice is sound and she has valid Shariah reasons for disapproving and she ask you to refrain from marrying a certain person, then being obedient to her in this matter is commendable, and you will be rewarded for your obedience to her. However, if her reasons for dislike are not valid in the Shariah, then obedience is not necessary. Seeing that your mother is a non Muslim, then she will not have a ‘right’ over you in choosing a spouse.
Marrying a person from a different race is not prohibited as long as the person is a Muslim. However, one must look to see whether it will create problems or not. Islam has given us the principle of compatibility in marriage, and this includes race also. Compatibility is one of the ingredients which bring success, happiness and a good understanding between the spouses. This has been highlighted in a hadith seeing that people of different race, tribe, country, descent would have a different culture, likes, dislikes etc. Although both parties may be Muslims, yet, we have seen problems arising among both parties, the majority of which stem from being from a different race.
So, interracial marriages are not prohibited in Islam, when both parties are Muslims. However, seeing that marriage is done to bring about happiness and success, and it brings about extended relations with many people, one must think carefully before making a decision.
Islam condemns in its entirety racial discrimination, racial behaviour, racial remarks and ill feelings based on racialism. However, despite this, it is sad to know that there are Muslims who are involved in such ills. If a wife is subjected to these, then it makes the marital life very difficult, and if the husband is subjected to such behaviour, it may lead him to divorce his wife without a valid reason. So care and consideration must be taken in this very important matter of marriage.
I wish you the best, and May Allah bless you in your decision.
And Allah knows best.
Mufti Waseem Khan