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Race and Tribe

Answered as per Hanafi Fiqh by DarulUloomTT.net

Q: Assalaamu Alaikum,

I was very surprised to hear recently that a marriage between an African muslim and and Indian muslim is not recommended because: The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be with him)said that we should marry from our own tribe.
Is this true? Can I find this somewhere in Quran or Hadith?

Also, could an African muslim and an Indian muslim belong to the same tribe in Trinidad since we have the same religion, customs etc?


A: Walaikum Salaam,

Islam does not divide between race and tribe. Once a person has firm belief in Allah, in the final Messenger (Muhammad S.A), and believes in all that is necessary to believe in as taught in the Holy Quran, then this person is a Muslim. Hence, this Muslim can contract a marriage with another Muslim regardless of the tribe or race one may belong to. Once both parties are Muslims, then marriage can take place and there is no prohibition for this in Islam. However, owing to the fact that marriage brings about ‘living together’ for a long period, and naturally a person in the marriage will desire to have a successful marriage, the Prophet (S.A) has given guidelines which, if implemented and adopted, can bring about good living between spouses, and can protect their marriage from a destructive end.

In this regard, the Prophet (S.A) mentioned that women should be married to men who are compatible and suitable to them. This teaching of compatibility/suitability between the spouses is very important for the existence of ‘good living’ and ‘good relations’ among them. We know very well that marriage is not for one day, a week or a year. It is a contract in which a person enters, having the commitment in his/her heart to remain in the marriage until Allah wills. Hence, both spouses spend years together living as a family. In this state, it is seen that the bad habits, traits and qualities of one spouse seriously affect the other. In some cases, it is seen that the girl may be an upright, good Muslim who is conscious of her religion, but the boy she is married to happens to be one who is not conscious of Islam, and so, he may not be fulfilling his religious obligations like Salaah, fasting etc. At times, he may even be addicted to un-Islamic habits and may even ask his wife not to wear the hijab. In some cases, the boy may come from a different religious background (having converted to Islam) and after marriage, his Muslim wife becomes forced to associate with and be part of the un-Islamic practices and even shirk practices that are done by the boy’s family members.

Obviously, after marriage both the boy and girl’s family interact with each other and they maintain a family relation with each other. In many cases, we find that in order to keep the peace and harmony among the members, Muslims compromise in their religious beliefs and hence, at times, do practices that are associated with shirk and kufr. In this case, the reason for such wrongdoing is the lack of understanding of the laws of compatibility in marriages.

Therefore, it must be understood that Islam has given beautiful teachings for the success and goodness of the marriages of men and women, and from these is that of compatibility/suitability between spouses. It is in this regard, while advising guardians regarding the marriage of their girls/daughters etc, the Prophet (S.A) is reported to have said, ‘Do not marry women except to those who are suitable to them’ (Recorded by Dar Qutni and Baihaqi from the narration of Jabir (R.A)

Based on this tradition, the Jurists/Scholars have stated that suitability is one that should be considered when women are being married to men. Parents/guardians (those who are in charge) of marrying off their girls/women should look to see if the boy/man is compatible to the girl/woman or not before giving her in marriage. If spouses are not suitable and compatible to each other, then many problems come about in the husband/wife relationship, as is seen generally today.

As mentioned before, once Imaan and Islam is present, then marriage will be valid. However, the sacred Shariah has given the believers beautiful guidelines for the protection, preservation and success of their marriages. With this understanding, it should be known that a marriage between an African Muslim and an Indian Muslim is valid and proper. There is no prohibition in this. Similarly will be the case when people of different nationality marry each other. However, in all these cases, the boy and girl must give consideration to their living after marriage; will their values and practices, conduct and traits be acceptable to each other, will they be able to integrate with the in-laws and feel accepted by them. It is a fact that people of different races have different interests, values and behaviour. Sometimes on account of the inability of one spouse to cope with the behaviour or ‘ways’ of the other, problems arise in the marriage which lead to a divorce.

At times (and this has been seen) that when a girl of a certain race contracts a marriage with a boy of another race, then she becomes an ‘outcast’ to her family members. Naturally, people may prefer to marry others who are just like them due to the fact that there is much in common, and there is suitability which brings about goodness in the marriage.

And Allah Knows Best

Mufti Waseem Khan


This answer was collected from DarulUloomTT.net, which is operated under the supervision of Mufti Waseem Khan from Darul Uloom Trinidad and Tobago.

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