Is a Marriage to a Non-Muslim Woman Valid? (Shafi’i)

Answered by Shaykh Shuaib Ally

Question: Assalam alaykum,

If a Muslim man is in a relationship with a non-Muslim woman and she falls pregnant and then they get married, but she is not a person of the book, is the marriage valid islamically? If a child is conceived out of wedlock but the parents marry by the time he/she is born is the child classed as illegitimate or legitimate?

Answer: Wa alaikum assalam wa rahmatullah,

It is not legally permissible for a Muslim man to marry a non-Muslim woman who does not fall within the category of ‘people of the book’.
If a Muslim man were to nevertheless do so, that marriage contract would be invalid; that is, it would not be legally recognized.

When is a Child Considered Illegitimate?

Legitimacy or illegitimacy has to do primarily with attribution of the child to the father, and includes derivative rules related to inheritance, guardianship and marriage.

If a child is born to a validly married couple in a period in which the child could have been conceived in this valid marriage, it would be attributed to the father.

The lower limit for the duration of a pregnancy for legal purposes is six months. Therefore, if a man were to marry a woman and she were then to give birth three months later, the child would not be attributed to the father. If she were to give birth shortly after six months, the child would be.

Please see also: Can a Muslim Man Marry a Sikh or a Hindu?

Shuaib Ally