Islam allow Muslim men to marry Christian women
because Christians like Jews are basically followers of monotheism. However, the
placement and context of the Qur’ānic verse which permits such marriages show
that it is desirable that certain conditions be met if such a marriage is to
take place. Needless to say that the Qur’ān has been revealed as a coherent
Book. It is not a disjointed collection of verses as is generally believed.
There is profound structural and thematic coherence in it. Each verse has a
definite context and until and unless this context is carefully kept in
consideration, the true implications of a verse can usually not be ascertained.
Disregarding the context of a verse often leads to serious misinterpretations
which distort the stance of the Qur’ān. It is therefore of paramount importance
that each verse be interpreted in the light of its context.
Consider now the context of the verse under discussion. The
following verse immediately precedes it:
This day the disbelievers have abandoned all hope of
vanquishing your religion. Have no fear of them: fear Me. This day I have
perfected your religion for you and completed My favour upon you and have chosen
for you Islam as your religion. (5:3)
Consider next, the verse under consideration:
This day all things good and pure are made lawful to
you. The food of the People of the Book is lawful to you, and yours to them.
Lawful to you are the chaste among the believing women and the chaste women
among the People of the Book, provided that you give them their dowries and
desire chastity neither committing fornication nor taking them as mistresses.
It is clear from the above mentioned verses that these
directives pertain to the period when the supremacy of Islam had been
established in Arabia -- when the disbelievers had lost all hope of overcoming
the Islamic forces and the Muslims had become an unconquerable force. It was in
these circumstances that the Muslims were permitted to marry Jewish and
Christian women. Moreover, it is evident from the verse that only virtuous and
upright women among the People of the Book were allowed to be taken in marriage.
It is evident
that in such conditions and circumstances, there was virtually no possibility of
the Muslims being influenced by their religions directives and cultural
traditions. Instead, there was a far greater possibility that such marriages
would positively influence the women of the People of the Book by inducing them
to accept Islam.
By analogy, therefore, such marriages today seem desirable
only in societies where the cultural traditions and legal injunctions of Islam