The Religious Board of Muslims explained the fatwa on the inadmissibility of interfaith marriages

11 November 2020


The Fatwa (theological conclusion-ed. TASS) of the Council of Ulema of the Religious Board of Muslims of the Russian Federation on the inadmissibility of interfaith marriages on the territory of the Russian Federation was issued in 2019 and was intended to emphasize the disapproval of such practices in Russia, the head of the press service of the organization Dilyara Akhmetova told TASS on Tuesday.

"In the Orthodox reading, a Muslim man is allowed to marry a Christian or Jewish woman. The fatwa itself was adopted to emphasize that in the current conditions of the Russian Federation, we do not encourage or approve of this. If you go to Syria, Egypt, and so on, it's not common among Muslim men, but it's not a  rare thing. < ... > This fatwa was adopted a year ago, " she told TASS.

She explained that the theological opinion of the Council of Ulema published on the website of the organization on Monday is devoted to the practice of Muslim marriage. "In the additional materials to it, there is a reference to the fatwa dated a year ago," Akhmetova added.

Earlier, the media reported that the Council of Ulema on November 9 banned Russian Muslims from marrying representatives of other religions. The Fatwa No. 5/19 "Interfaith marriages" was adopted on November 19, 2019. It states that "interfaith marriages, in particular with representatives of the people of the Book, are unacceptable on the territory of the Russian Federation and are possible only in certain isolated cases by the decision of the local mufti, who considers and takes into account all the circumstances of this particular case."

The fatwa refers to the opinion of a large number of Islamic theologians about the extreme undesirability of interfaith marriages in a non-Islamic state where Muslims are a minority. In addition, an undesirable consequence of mixed marriages in the fatwa is that the marriage of Muslim men with representatives of other faiths can reduce the chances of Muslim women finding a co-religionist spouse.

Preserving identity

The fatwa of the Council of Ulema of the Religious Board of Muslims of the Russian Federation on disapproval of interfaith marriages in Russia is aimed at preserving national and religious identity, reducing the number of divorces, scientific Secretary of the Council Ildar Alyautdinov told TASS.

"This document can be called unprecedented for Russia, but if we consider the world experience, such decisions are not new. Moreover, the vast majority of authoritative Muslim scholars of the past have also repeatedly expressed the opinion that it is undesirable for a Muslim to marry a woman from the people of the book. Today, this topic has become even more relevant, because in modern society, unfortunately, the traditional values of the family are gradually being lost, while for those who have entered the path of learning the faith, support and understanding of their loved ones are especially necessary. <...> The decision is designed to preserve national and religious identity, as well as reduce the number of divorces, " Alyautdinov said.

He noted that another important factor for establishing such a ban is the incorrect understanding of the essence of Islam by one of the spouses. "This often leads to misunderstandings between family members, children do not receive proper religious education, and the spiritual foundations of the family are weakened," he believes. A number of world councils of Muslim scholars, according to him, also declare "the inadmissibility of interfaith marriage in a non-Islamic state."

Difference of opinion

Part of the clergy of the Religious Board of Muslims of the Russian Federation does not support the fatwa on the undesirability of interfaith marriages, such a difference of opinion is acceptable. The fatwa also cannot be legally binding for believers and clergy, said Damir Mukhetdinov, the first Deputy Chairman of the organization.

"The Council of Ulema in the structure of the Religious Board is an independent body that freely formulates the position of its members' theologians. The discrepancy between the opinions of the Ulema and the general position of the Religious Board is permissible, based on the principle of respect for the diversity of views and opinions, and the truth and correctness of an opinion is left to the judgment of God. Some of our clergies do not support or only partially support this theological conclusion," the website of the organization quotes him as saying.

Mukhetdinov noted that over the past year since the fatwa was adopted, it did not cause any problems and was perceived as a theoretical understanding of the problem of frequent family destruction in the context of the modern Russian Federation. "I strongly reject the concerns expressed by outside commentators about potential social contradictions precisely for the reason that in a secular state, the decisions of the Ulema are not valid in the system of legal coordinates, they appeal to the believer, his conscience, piety and responsibility to the Creator," he added.

Politicization of the issue

Mufti Albir Krganov, the Chairman of the Spiritual Assembly of Muslims of Russia, urged not to politicize the issue of interfaith marriages of Muslims with representatives of other religions.

"We describe this kind of decision referring to the Holy Quran that allows Muslims to marry Christian and Jewish women. <...> Apparently, our brothers in the Religious Board of Muslims of the Russian Federation have considered explaining the interpretation a little different this verse of the Quran is their opinion, several scholars, the imams, who are in the Council of Ulema, it is not the decision of the united religious figures, Muslims in the country. <...> This document should be taken as a recommendation of these scientists, < ... > it is not necessary to politicize it today and cause a conflict between representatives of different religions, especially since we live in a multi-ethnic and multi-religious country," he told TASS on Tuesday.


GSV "Russia - Islamic World"

Photo: Egor Aleev / TASS