Married to a Non-Muslim

Answered by Mohamed Rida Beshir and Ekram Beshir

Married to a Non-Muslim

Our brother is married to a non-Muslim woman. He is not paying much attention to Islam or an Islamic education for his children. We are concerned about their future in North America if they do not receive clear guidance from their father regarding Islamic faith and manners. What should we do for our nephews and nieces?


It is encouraging to receive such a question, indicating the concern of those sisters for their nieces and nephews. May Allah SWT reward them for their wonderful spirit of trying to save these Muslim children and making sure they grow up to be strong confident Muslims who observe and practice their deen.

There is no doubt that the role of parents is very crucial in their children’s lives. Parents represent the first circle that children will encounter in their environment, and children’s personalities are formed according to how their parents deal with them. The Prophet SAAW clearly indicated this to us in his saying:

“All babies are born with a pure nature, and it is their parents who can change that nature and make them Jews, Christians or fire worshippers.”[1]

Because of this great influence that parents have on their children, some scholars made marriage to women from the People of the Book conditional upon the family’s living in a Muslim-majority society [2] to ensure that the children grow up as Muslims. Our situation in North America, where Muslims live as a minority, is different. Thus, when a Muslim man chooses to marry from among the People of the Book, he should take all precautions to ensure that his children from this marriage will be raised as Muslims. In addition to including this as part of the marriage contract with his non-Muslim wife, he must make sure that he will provide his children with all the guidance and proper support mechanisms necessary for the children’s Islamic development. Parenting in North America is a huge challenge even when both parents are Muslim. It is an even greater challenge when one of them is not.

The following are some suggestions for those sisters:

  • Remember that you have no control over your brother or his family. However, you may gently advise and offer subtle suggestions without being too direct or at all harsh. Do not let your genuine concern about the future of your nephews and nieces lead you to any foolish or unacceptable behaviour with your sister-in-law.
  • Be very kind and maintain very good relations with your brother’s family. Treat your sister-in-law in the best possible way and let her see the beauty of Islam through your behaviour and conduct. Remember the Qur’anic advice: “Repel (an evil) with what is best, then verily, he between whom and you there was enmity, will become as though he were a close friend,”[3] and “Allah does not forbid you to deal justly and kindly with those who do not fight against you on account of religion and who do not drive you out of your homes. Verily Allah loves those who deal with equity.”[4]
  • Visit your brother’s family regularly and exchange gifts with them.
  • Talk to your brother in a very soft, gentle and kind way to explain to him the serious consequences for him and his children if he does not provide them with the proper guidance. Mention that you are available if he needs any help or support in this matter.
  • If there is a member of the community who is well respected by your brother, you could approach that community member and explain your concerns to him. Ask him to discuss the matter with your brother. He may have more influence on your brother and be able to convince him to do the right thing regarding his children’s upbringing.
  • Make a lot of du‘a to Allah SWT, asking Him to protect your brother’s children and to open your brother’s heart so that he might see the seriousness of his actions and provide his children with the Islamic teachings necessary for them to grow up with strong and confident Muslim personalities.

[1] Al Bukhary, Musllim, and Others.

[2]See chapter three of Blissful Marriage, A Practical Islamic Guide by Drs. Ekram & M. Rida Beshir. Amana publications, 2003.

[3]Qur’an: Chapter 41, Verse 34.

[4]Qur’an: Chapter 60, Verse 8.

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