A Christian Woman Had A Civil Marriage, And She Wants To Have An Islamic Marriage With Another Man Without The First Husband Having Divorced Her
Islamic Rulings -
Living Shariah Verdicts
Islamic Questions & Answers
I know an orthodox Christian girl who got married to a Muslim man in court. They
got married about two and a half year ago and then she got separated from him
about five months ago. She now contacted her church and the priest told her that
her marriage was not valid in the eyes of the church as it was done in the
court. They also told her that her marriage was a legal matter and she may
pursue to get a legal divorce from her husband but otherwise she is free to
marry again. She is looking for marriage again as in her opinion her faith is
Christianity and she would do what her church has asked her to do. Now, my
question is can I marry that girl? She is willing to marry me in mosque as it
will be religious marriage and she would accept it and consider it as marriage.
Secondly, she said that I should not question her marriage with the other man as
it is her decision which she has taken after speaking to her church. Please
Praise be to Allah
It is permissible to marry a woman of the people of the Book on condition that
she is chaste. Perhaps this is what you mean when you say that she is orthodox.
Allah, may He be exalted, says (interpretation of the meaning):
"Made lawful to you this day are AtTayyibat (all kinds of Halal (lawful) foods,
which Allah has made lawful (meat of slaughtered eatable animals, etc., milk
products, fats, vegetables and fruits, etc.). The food (slaughtered cattle,
eatable animals, etc.) of the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians) is
lawful to you and yours is lawful to them. (Lawful to you in marriage) are
chaste women from the believers and chaste women from those who were given the
Scripture (Jews and Christians) before your time, when you have given their due
Mahr (bridal money given by the husband to his wife at the time of marriage),
desiring chastity (i.e. taking them in legal wedlock) not committing illegal
sexual intercourse, nor taking them as girl-friends. And whosoever disbelieves
in the Oneness of Allah and in all the other Articles of Faith (i.e. His
(Allah's), Angels, His Holy Books, His Messengers, the Day of Resurrection and
AlQadar (Divine Preordainments)), then fruitless is his work, and in the
Hereafter he will be among the losers"
But marriage to a Muslim woman is preferable.
Shaykh Ibn Baaz (may Allah have mercy on him) said:
If the Jewish or Christian woman is known to be chaste and to avoid that which
leads to shameful deeds, then (marriage to her) is permissible, because Allah
has allowed that and has made it permissible for us to marry their women and eat
But nowadays there is the fear of much evil for those who marry them, because
they may call him to their religion, and that may lead to his children becoming
Christian. So the danger is great, and it is more prudent for the believer not
to marry a woman of the people of the Book, because there is no guarantee that
she will not fall into shameful deeds, or attribute to him children who are not
his… But if he needs to do that, then there is nothing wrong with it, so that he
may protect his chastity and lower his gaze thereby. He should try hard to call
her to Islam, and beware of her evil, lest she drag him or the children towards
End quote from Fataawa Islamiyyah (3/172)
It is not permissible to do the marriage in the church, because of the great
evil that is involved in that, namely approval of the ascription of partners to
Allah, may He be exalted, in the words that they repeat when performing the
If this woman was previously married to a Muslim man, then it is not permissible
for you to marry her, until her marriage with the first husband is ended by
means of divorce, annulment or the like.
This first marriage is either valid, according to what we believe in our
religion, or it is an invalid marriage.
If it was a valid marriage, then the matter is clear: it is not permissible for
any man to marry a woman who is married to someone else, even if she is from the
people of the Book and the husband is a Muslim.
Indeed, even if she is one of the people of the Book and her husband is also one
of the people of the Book, it is not permissible for a Muslim to marry her when
she is still married to the first husband.
In fact it is not permissible for a Muslim to turn a woman against her husband,
whether she is a Muslim or one of the people of the Book, because the Messenger
of Allah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said: "He is not one of us
who turns a woman against her husband or a slave against his master." Narrated
by Abu Dawood (2175); classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh Abi Dawood.
Shaykh 'Abd al-'Azeem Abaadi (may Allah have mercy on him) said:
"who turns a woman against her husband" that is, he mentions the bad qualities
of the husband in front of his wife, or he mentions the good qualities of some
other man in front of her.
End quote from 'Awn al-Ma'bood (6/159).
If we assume that the first marriage was an invalid marriage, then she still
does not have the right to leave that marriage or enter into another marriage,
until the first marriage is ended either by divorce from the husband or
annulment of the marriage by a Muslim judge. Legal divorce is not sufficient in
this case, and she does not become permissible for you or anyone else thereby.
When they entered into that invalid marriage, they believed it to be valid, so
they do not have the right to leave that marriage or cancel it except by the
same means as they would leave a valid marriage, especially since all this time
has passed. Was this marriage permissible for her in the past, when she was with
her husband, then when she decided to marry you, it became unlawful, or as if it
In fact her asking the priest, after all this time had passed, and telling you
about that, is a kind of messing about and following whims and desires for the
sake of her desire to end the first marriage and enter into a new marriage,
simply because she wants to!
Ibn Qudaamah (may Allah have mercy on him) said: If a woman enters into an
invalid marriage, it is not permissible for her to marry anyone other than the
one who married her, until he divorces her or the marriage is annulled. If he
refuses to divorce her, the judge may annul her marriage. This was stated by
End quote from al-Mughni (7/342).
Shaykh Ibn Baaz (may Allah have mercy on him) said: The marriage is invalid
according to the more correct of the two scholarly opinions, but she does not
have the right to remarry until after he divorces her or her marriage to him is
annulled by the Muslim judge, so as to avoid going against the view of those
scholars who said that the marriage is valid.
End quote from Majmoo' Fataawa Ibn Baaz (20/411).
See questions no. 127179 and 217698
The view of the priest is of no relevance, because perhaps he thought that the
marriage would not be valid unless it was done in the church.
Moreover, here we are speaking about the validity of the marriage according to
our religion and its teachings. This is what is obligatory for you, and in our
view what the priest has to say is irrelevant and has no consequences at all.
The woman's saying that you have no right to ask about her first marriage is not
right. Rather it is not permissible for you to marry her until you know what
happened regarding the first marriage and whether she is unmarried at present.
To sum up: this woman is either married in a valid marriage, in which case it is
not permissible for you to turn her against her husband, let alone propose to
her and marry her;
or she is married in an invalid marriage, so she needs a divorce from her
husband in order to be able to marry someone else.
And Allah knows best.
Source: Haykh Ibn 'Uthaymeen Said In Al-Liqa' Al-Shahri 17.