Question 081: Salaams dear Sheikh. Does any of the Maraji’ allow permanent marriage with a person from the People of the Book, what is their ruling on the purity/impurity of such persons?

Answer 081: Our maraja have different opinions regarding permanent marriage with People of the Book as follows:

Imam Khomeini: As an obligatory precaution, it is impermissible to get married to People of the Book. Of course, Imam Khumayni (rah) has said in this issue (the issue of permanent marriage with non-Muslim women who are of the People of the Book) that it is an obligatory precaution, which means those who follow him can refer to the verdict of another jurist who says such a marriage is permissible and follow him instead.Ayatollahs Golpaygani and Safi: The permissibility of marriage with People of the Book isn’t devoid of strength [this is a jurisprudential term meaning that it is permissible], but in the case of one being able to marry a Muslim woman, it is greatly makruh (abominable), as a matter of fact, in such a case, precaution should be observed.

Ayatollahs Khoei and Tabrizi: As a recommended precaution one shouldn’t permanently get married to them and some sects such as the Khawarij, Ghulat and Nawasib who consider themselves Muslims have the same ruling as kafirs and can’t be married to by Muslim women and men, neither permanently nor temporarily.

Ayatollah Noori Hamedani: Marrying them permanently is permissible according to the stronger fatwa, but precaution should be observed in not getting married to them permanently in the case of them being able to get married to a Muslim woman.

Ayatullah Zanjani: The Muslim man cannot get married to the Magi or a non-Muslim who is not of the People of the Book, neither permanently nor temporarily, and apparently, permanent or temporary marriage with Jewish or Christian women isn’t void, but it is makruh and against recommended precaution, especially if the marriage is permanent.[1]

Ayatollah Fazel Lankarani: The Muslim man cannot be permanently married to kafir women, even if they are Jewish or Christian as an obligatory precaution, nevertheless temporary marriage is permissible with Jewish and Christian women.

Ayatollah Makarem Shirazi: The Muslim man cannot get permanently married to kafir women as an obligatory precaution, but temporary marriage with People of the Book such as Christians and Jews is permissible.

Ayatollah Bahjat: The Muslim man cannot get married to other than People of the Book and Magi [from the kafirs], neither permanently, nor temporarily, and apparently, temporary marriage with Jewish and Christian women, both temporary and permanent, isn’t void although it is makruh and against recommended precaution, especially in permanent marriage.

Ayatollah Sistani: The Muslim man cannot get married to kafir women who aren’t of the People of the Book, but temporary marriage with Jewish and Christian women is permissible, and according to obligatory precaution, permanent marriage with them isn’t.[2]

He also says: For a Muslim man to marry a woman from Ahlul Kitab permanently is against the compulsory precaution in any circumstance. And his temporary marriage to a Jewish or a Christian woman is allowed, only if he is not already married to a Muslim wife. If he has a Muslim wife, temporary marriage with an Ahlul Kitab woman is not permissible without her consent; nay, even with her consent, it is not permissible, based on compulsory precaution[3]. [4]

Rules on the purity and impurity of people of the book

Almost all Shiite faqihs agree on the nijasah of the kuffar (non-believers)[5], but the impurity of Ahlul Kitab (People of the Book)[6] is an issue of dispute amongst them. The different viewpoints are as follows:

  1. Nijasah of all non-Muslims among which are the Ahlul Kitab. This viewpoint was chosen by Ayatollah Golpaygani who stated and thoroughly explained about it in Nehayat al-Afkar fi Nejasah al-Kuffar, this was also Imam Khomeini’s verdict on the issue.[7]
  2. Taharah of Ahlul Kitab and nijasah of the rest of the nonbelievers. This verdict has many advocates.[8] A hadith from Imam Reza confirms this fatwa.[9]
  3. Taharah of all people, perceiving the nijasah of non-Muslims a result of normally making contact with a najis (impure) substance such as pork and wine, thus if they cleanse and wash themselves they will no longer be najis. Therefore, these people aren’t najis per se, they become najis as a result of other najis substances.
  4. The Ahlul Kitab (that is, the Jews, the Christians and the Zoroastrians) are ritually pure (tahir) as long as you do not know that they have become ritually impure (najis) by coming into contact with an impure object. You can follow this ruling when dealing with them.[10]

For further information in this regards, please read the following answers:

Index:  Rules regarding temporary or permanent marriage with people of the book, answer 080.

Index: Essential Requirements of a Successful Marriage in Islam, answer 515.

Index: A Shia woman cannot marry a Sunni man?, answer 612.

Index: Permanent or Temporary marriage of a married man without the permission of his wife, answer 565.

Index: Premarital relation with non-Mahram is impermissible, answer 082.

Index: Looking at non-Mahram Body for Marriage, answer 611.

Index: A Shia Muslim woman cannot marry a non-Muslim man, answer 342.

Index: A Muslim Woman Cannot Marry a Non-Muslim Man, answer 576.

[1] . Tawdih al-Masa’il of the maraji’ (annotated by Imam Khomeini), vol. 3, p. 468.

[2] . Ibid, vol. 2, pg. 468; Ibid, pg. 469; Hakim, Muhammad Saeed, Minhajul-Salehin, vol. 3, pg. 33.

[3] . The official website of the office of Sayyid Sistani (ha), rules concerning Marriage, q&a.

[4] . Adopted from answer 080 (Index:  Rules regarding temporary or permanent marriage with people of the book).

[5] . Tawdihul-Masael of the Maraje’, vol. 1, pg. 76-77.

[6] . Ahli Kitab: A non-Muslim on whose prophet a Divine Book has been revealed, i.e., a Jew or a Christian. This term, according to the Qur’an, does not apply to the followers of Prophet Muhammad, PBUH, who have been called “Muslimun” or “Mu’minun” in the Qur’an, Hadith and other Islamic reference books. It is used as a synonym for Kitabi (with its fern. Kitabiyyah q.v.).

[7] . Tawdihul-Masael of the Maraje’, vol. 1, pg. 76.

[8] . Ayatullah Khamenei, Ajwibatul-Istifta’at, pg. 67 and Ayatullahs Nouri Hamedani and Fazel Lankarani, Tawdihul-Masa’el of the Maraje’, vol. 1, ppl 76-77. Also, see: Sadr, Muhammad Baqir. Buhuthon fi Sharhil-Urwatil-Wuthqa, vol. 3, pp. 283-284.

[9] . Wasael al-Shia, vol. 3, pg. 422, hadith 4050.

[10] . The official website of the office of Sayyid Sistani, Q&A: Ahl-e Kitab.

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