Marriage in a Church
If a Muslim wants to marry a Christian woman who wishes to retain her faith and she takes him to her church where a priest will perform the marriage, Muslim scholars consider it as an invalid marriage.
Marriage in a Church
· Marriage officiated by a priest.
· A non-Muslim dictating the marriage formula.
A Muslim wants to marry a Christian woman who wishes to retain her faith. She takes him to her church where a priest will perform the marriage. What is the situation regarding this marriage if both parties are Muslims?
Scholars do not consider it permissible for a Christian priest to perform the marriage of a Muslim. Their ruling is based on
the verse that says
Never will God allow the unbelievers a way [of mastery] over the believers.’
It is clearly established that an unbeliever cannot have authority over a believer.
The Permanent Committee for Research and Fatwa
issued a fatwa  stating: ‘The Committee received a question asking whether a Muslim may marry a Christian woman at a church, with a priest performing the marriage, after the marriage has been already performed according to the Islamic way and registered at the British General Registry Office of Births and Marriages?
In answer, the Committee states that it is unlawful for a Muslim to marry a Muslim or a Christian woman in a church or by a priest, even after he has married her according to the Islamic way. To do so is to uphold the Christian traditions of marriage, honour their rituals and places of worship and venerate their clerics and worshippers.
The Prophet says
Whoever behaves like a particular community belongs to it
Related by Ahmad with a reliable chain of transmission
As for a Muslim entering a church, the Permanent Committee for Research and Fatwa rules that this is forbidden. Under the Presidency of Shaikh Abd al-Azeez ibn Baz, the Committee stated: “It is not permissible for a Muslim to join the unbelievers in their places of worship, as this increases their numbers. Al-Bayhaqi reports with a reliable chain of transmission 'Umar’s order: ‘Do not join the unbelievers in their churches and temples, as God’s anger befalls them.’ However, if one goes there for a legitimate reason, or to tell them about Islam and call on them to believe in God’s oneness, this is appropriate.”’
The Egyptian Dar al-Ifta issued a fatwa by Shaikh Muhammad Khatir, the former Mufti of Egypt, dated 5 February 1978, stating that: ‘If the marriage between a Muslim man and a Christian woman is performed according to the civil procedure, with a commitment and acceptance, and in the presence of two Muslim witnesses, the marriage is appropriate and valid. As for performing the marriage in a church, it is well known that a church only performs the marriages of Christians of its own denomination. It is therefore unlawful for a Muslim to perform his marriage there.
A fatwa by the Assembly of Muslim Jurists states: ‘It is wrong for a man who believes in God and the Last Day to perform his marriage in a church because such a marriage will not be in accordance with Islamic law but according to the practices of unbelievers. Such a person must not be helped to do so, and Muslims must not attend his marriage if it is performed in this way. It is their duty to advise him against it. If he rejects their advice, he should be left alone so as to persuade him and others to change.
The European Council for Fatwa and Research said in its fatwa that performing marriage in a church is reprehensible from the Islamic point of view. It is forbidden if it includes participation in their religious rituals or if the marriage involves something of which Islam disapproves, such as adding a condition that the children born in such a marriage will not be brought up as Muslims. Nevertheless the marriage is valid if it fulfils the Islamic requirements. All the conditions of the marriage will then be upheld. However, if a Muslim has to go through this he should take the precaution of performing the marriage contract again somewhere else to ensure publicity of the marriage among Muslims.
The Council strongly advises young Muslims not to commit such an action, which suggests that a husband will try to please his wife even though his action would incur God’s displeasure. It also exposes himself to the risk of allowing his children to be brought up as non-Muslims.
The late Shaikh Atiyyah Saqr also issued a fatwa saying: ‘If a Muslim man marries a Christian woman according to the civil procedure, with commitment and acceptance and in the presence of two Muslim witnesses, the marriage is proper and valid from the Islamic point of view. To perform the marriage in a church according to the Christian tradition makes the marriage invalid. If people need to perform the marriage in a church, let this be after the marriage has been performed elsewhere according to the Islamic way, or else after the church rituals have been completed. If the marriage is performed away from the church, there is no need to go there and perform the marriage again.
· The website of the Assembly of Muslim Jurists of America (AMJA) www.amjaonline.org.
· The website of the European Council for Fatwa and Research. www.e-cfr.org
· Abd al-Azeez ibn Baz, Fatawa.
· Atiyyah Saqr, Al-Fatawa al-Islamiyyah, vol. 5.
· Fatawa by the Egyptian Dar al-Ifta.
· Majallat al-Buhuth al-Islamiyyah.
- Fatwa No. 1,113, published in Majallat al-Buhuth al-Islamiyyah, No. 9, p. 48.
- A. Saqr, Al-Fatawa al-Islamiyyah, vol. 5, p. 1,927.