ASK FATHER: Interfaith marriage – Catholic and Muslim

From a reader…


Hello Father, i have a question about interfaith marriages. I’m Muslim and the woman I’ve been thinking of marrying a nondenominational Christian, but she fears it is sinful, there is a verse that suggests not to be unequally yoked with a nonbeliever, but i argue that Muslims are believers, for the reason we believe in Jesus Christ, and God with the capital G. I would love to hear your interpretation of such issue.


I can only speak from the Catholic perspective. A marriage between a Catholic and an unbaptized person can only be allowed if the bishop grants a dispensation.

This is out of a recognition of the great difficulty (not impossibility) of the success of a marriage between one person who believes that Jesus Christ is the sole source of salvation, and the Sacraments of the Church are the vehicle used to effect that salvation for a believe, and another person who does not believe this.

How is this disagreement solved in a marriage? By avoiding the issue? By constant bickering?

Moslems may “believe” in Jesus Christ, but they do not believe Him to be the only begotten Son of God, nor do they believe Him to be the sole source of salvation, otherwise they would not be Muslims.

Christians and Muslims also have strong differences in their understanding of marriage.

Muslims believe that the marriage contract can be voided. Either party is free to seek divorce. Christians (though many denominations have neglected this teaching) accept Jesus’ teaching that marriage is binding for life.

Those two very different understandings of the nature of marriage would seem to make a marriage between these two people difficult at best.

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  2. Lynn Diane says:

    I married a Moslem man who was very considerate of my Catholic faith. He took me to Mass on Sundays when we lived in the Middle East, and agreed to a Catholic marriage. He didn’t object to Catholic religious instruction for our children. He always admired the pope, and thought that the Catholic understanding of marriage was very close to that of the Moslems. He was opposed to divorce; his parents had divorced when he was a baby, and he suffered greatly as a result. When he was very ill, he asked me to make his funeral arrangements but not to tell him what they were. As he lay in an irreversible coma, my pastor baptized and confirmed him, and gave him the apostolic blessing. He was given a Catholic burial. We were married for 48 happy years.

  3. APX says:

    Lynn, your situation isn’t the norm. I had a roommate who was Catholic, married a Muslim after he sweet talked her, completely changed, became abusive and controlling and only tolerates her Catholic faith. I tried to warn her, but she didn’t listen.

  4. Josephus Corvus says:

    It is interesting to note that a Muslim and non-denominational Christian came to a representative of the Catholic Church for an authoritative answer on the question about Christian marriage. It’s almost as if they intuitively know where the fullness of the Faith resides.

  5. Lynn Diane says:

    APX, Certainly people are different. My case isn’t unusual, however. I have a Catholic friend who married an Iranian. She is heavily involved in Opus Dei. Her Moslem husband supports her completely. He hasn’t shown any interest in converting but when the local Opus Dei needs any work done on their chapel, he is there for them, building them a new altar and ambo, landscaping their grounds, and doing beautiful woodwork. The man who paints my house is Moslem; you couldn’t meet a kinder or gentler person. He also supports his Christian wife completely. Many Moslems have a very strong sense of family, which we unfortunately are losing here in the West.

  6. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Any child of any Muslim is legally regarded by Muslims as being a Muslim, and subject to Muslim laws. For the child of a Muslim to receive the Sacraments is regarded as apostasy, and apostasy is punishable by death.

    Individual Muslims may be good and kind, but their religion is not good and kind. Becoming more faithfully Christian will make you a better person, but becoming more faithfully Muslim will make you murderous. It is very common for Muslim men to be naturally kind, but to become controlling under cultural pressure as they grow older, or whenever they go home.

    That said, there are competing Muslim cultural traditions and religious laws, many of which are the work of hidden Christian or Jewish teachings, or which come from pre-Islamic religions (Zoroastrianism and various flavors of pagan, Buddhist, etc.).

    Also, the good news is that many Muslims are braving the penalties for apostasy, and becoming Christian anyway. Internet apologetics for Christianity, and the easy availability of Bibles, etc., have been bringing many Muslims to Christianity of various flavors. (And the interesting bit is that Protestant apologists tend to get closer and closer to traditional orthodox theology and the liturgical churches, the more they have to fight Muslim arguments and understand the Trinity.)

  7. Lynn Diane says:

    The dominant form of Islam in the area of the old Ottoman Empire is Hanife. This Sunni school of Islam is very juridical, moderate and dominated by laws, courts and interpretations of the Koran through the centuries. They have lately removed the punishment of death for apostasy. According to most schools of Islam, Jews and Christians are not infidels but “People of the Book,” entitled to respect as such, and are children of Abraham, as are Moslems themselves, they believe, through Isaac’s older brother, Esau. The term “infidel” refers to pagans, those who believe in multiple gods. The school of Islam which has some small sects that one might call “murderous,” is Wahabi or Salafi. These groups are found chiefly in Saudi Arabia and would never have gained prominence except, after WWI, the British placed the obscure Saudi tribe on the throne of newly created country, Saudi Arabia, when they divided up the old Ottoman Empire, just before oil was discovered there.

  8. JoanM says:

    I have no knowledge of the muslim religion and hae absolutely no fesire to know about it . To me it is totally false religion made u by a war lord and sread y the sword I find it very strange that after so many tears that there aere stll so many muslims I consider they should all have onvrted to Catholicism hunfreds of years ago.

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