, by DR WAQUAR ANWAR
I was taken aback by the concluding remarks of the letter of Maqbool A Siraj (Radiance, 19-25 November, 2006) meaning that the permission given to a Muslim man to marry a Christian or Jew woman and corresponding denial of similar permission to a Muslim woman to marry a Christian or Jew man is not only archaic but also patriarchal. The learned writer may not be aware that this law is derived from the Qur’an. There is no worthwhile debate among the Islamic scholars, past or present, relating to the interpretation of the particular verse of the Holy Book. In other words the law as such is very clear. Now once we accept the Qur’an as the Book of God preserved from all forms of distortions and relevant for all times to come, there is no scope of calling any of its provision as ‘archaic’. Nothing here can be outdated or antiquated. Scope of interpretation is to understand the verse or verses in true perspective but to assign an intention like “patriarchal” to it is out of place. This is a question of faith in the infallibility of the Qur’an.
The logic behind the particular provision of the Qur’an has been discussed by scholars. There is no confusion about the Islamic articles of faith. God is one, the Qur’an is His book revealed for human beings through Muhammad (peace be upon him) who is the Saviour, etc. Now one cannot dilute any assertion about any of these aspects in order to make it presentable in any plural society. Plurality and coexistence do not demand confusion about faith. One should be sincere and bold enough to explain his position on a subject. Now when Islam talks about the ultimate success of an individual or a society based on its articles of faith, how can it encourage the offspring of any wedlock under its banner, its future generation, to go astray? Islam permits marriage between Muslim male and Christian or Jew female with the condition that the offspring will be nurtured as Muslim. This condition is not possible in the case of any wedlock between Muslim female and non-Muslim male. This is a case of the confidence reposed by Islam in its own provisions.
Another aspect is that it is incumbent on all Muslims to have faith on the prophethood of Christ, Moses and all other Prophets. So a Christian or Jew lady coming in a Muslim home will not have to face any agony relating to her faith in these prophets whereas the situation will be just opposite in the case of a Muslim lady becoming a member of a family of any other religious background. A Jew has no qualm in denouncing Christ or Muhammad and a Christian has no problem in talking ill about Muhammad (peace be on all of the prophets). The state of mind and approach of a Muslim in this regard is quite contrary to that of the Peoples of the Books. This is very much evident as despite repeated provocations by way of casting aspersions on the personality of the last Prophet, Muslims have totally desisted from any quid pro quid behaviour. It is unthinkable for them. They will lose their status of being Muslim the day they think any thing unbecoming of any prophet of God. This unique condition makes a Muslim household lovable for the female members of the People of the Books. The converse is not true!However this has to be understood that the permission, as above, is not encouraged. Prophet Muhammad himself discouraged his companions from such marriages. So it is an unwelcome, although permitted, situation.