Part 3 of the debate: Should Muslim women be able to marry non-Muslim men?

When Huma Abedin, aide to Hilary Clinton, married Anthony Weiner, New York Congressman, it sent tongues wagging in the Muslim community. She did the unthinkable, the ultimate taboo for a good Muslim girl from a good Muslim family – she married a Jew… and he did not convert. O-M-G. The question that makes even the most open-minded Imams squirm was revived – Can a Muslim woman marry a non-Muslim man? The answer in all the major schools of thought has traditionally been a resounding NO. Absolutely, not. Not ever. Haraam, sister.
The response only begs the next question, but why? It is not prohibited in the Qur’an. Few modern scholars feel comfortable forbidding it for that reason. Yet, few are actually willing to articulate this in an official forum. Dr. Khaled Abou El Fadl is an example of a scholar who has openly and candidly addressed the issue of Muslim women marrying “men of the Book.” In his response he explains his dislike of the issue and his tendency to avoid answering the question. He describes the traditional thought and then goes on to mention that he, personally, finds the evidence regarding the prohibition to be weak and does not feel comfortable telling a woman she cannot marry a kitabiyya (person of the Book).

I am not a scholar, but Dr. Fadl’s response echoes the sentiments I have heard from other scholars as well. As such, the bases for this opinion are two ayats, the opinions of scholars I have questioned, and my own research. This opinion does not apply to marriages where one converts to another’s faith. Additionally, for the purposes of this discussion I recognize that we live in a patriarchal society and I am not contesting the traditional roles ascribed to men and women as per our cultural patriarchy.

What God Says: Qur’anic Law

The Qur’an addresses marriage to non-Muslims in two instances:

1. “And do not marry polytheistic women until they believe. And a believing slave woman is better than a polytheist, even though she might please you. And do not marry polytheistic men [to your women] until they believe. And a believing slave is better than a polytheist, even though he might please you.” [Qur’an 2:221] 2. “And [lawful in marriage are] chaste women from among the believers and chaste women from among those who were given the Scripture before you, when you have given them their due compensation, desiring chastity, not unlawful sexual intercourse or taking [secret] lovers.” [Qur’an 5:5]

There are several absolute truths we can establish from these two ayats. The first is that a differentiation is made between non-Muslim “People of the Book” (those of the Judeo-Christian faith) and non-Muslim polytheists. This distinction determines that both men and women are not permitted to marry anyone who associates another god with God. That is pretty straightforward and not to be contested. The next point is that men are permitted to marry chaste Muslim, Jewish or Christian women when certain duties are upheld. We generally accept this at face value as our right to marry. We also accept from this that though Muslim women are not directly addressed, if Muslim men are given permission to marry Muslim women then naturally, Muslim women can marry Muslim men. The Qur’an does not provide further guidance on whether Muslim women can marry men “of the Book.”

The Issue

This leads us to the issue at hand – can we assume that the reverse is true for Muslim women marrying Judeo-Christian men?

  • If not, can we forbid Muslim women from marrying a Christian or Jewish man?
  • If yes, what does that mean in our patriarchal structure?

What People Say: Traditional Thought

Traditionally, the answer has been no, the reverse situation cannot be assumed for Muslim women. The argument is that if men are expressly given permission to marry women of the Book then women must also be given express permission in order to do the same. All major schools of thought accept this ruling. Many provide justifications as to why this traditional view has been upheld. The justification for this view fall primarily along these lines: 1) preservation of the Ummah, 2) the father establishes religion for his children, 3) loss of certain rights as a Muslim woman, 4) implications on family law.

  • Preservation of the Ummah: Since we live in a patriarchal system there is a need to maintain a certain order under that system. The family lineage is passed through the father so if Muslim women marry outside the Muslim community this would, somehow, impede the growth of the Ummah as a whole.
  • Religion stems from the father: Children are most often recognized by their father’s name, culture, traditions, customs, beliefs, etc. In most customs, a woman marries into a family, not the other way around. In many instances the woman will even move into the husband’s family home. In such scenarios, not only is the father’s beliefs and legacy passed on in a symbolic sense, the father’s family and culture also exert a great influence over the children. This view that religion stems from the father is also used to support the notion that Muslim men may marry a kitabiyya, while Muslim women cannot.
  • Loss of rights: Islam ensures certain rights to women, which in an interfaith marriage cannot be guaranteed because the husband is under no obligation to ensure these rights are protected. This includes, but is not limited to, the right to freely practice her faith, the right to a mehr , the right to keep her name after marriage, the right to retain her earnings, the right to have her husband provide for her and their children, etc. Again, this is not thought to be an issue for Muslim men marrying outside of the faith because, the patriarchal household is accepted as the norm. Thus, as part of his duties, a Muslim husband is expected to provide for his family, uphold the rights of his wife and not prevent her from practicing her faith. He is also prohibited from forcing his wife to be Muslim. The fear, however, is that a non-Muslim husband heading a household would not be obliged to do the same, placing the woman at a disadvantage.
  • Implications on family law: Islamic law provides guidance regarding various topics within family law. This is of particular significance in regards to interfaith marriages as it includes matters of divorce, child custody, and inheritance. A concern for some scholars is that if Muslim women marry outside the faith, not only would they lose their God-given rights, but also, Islamic family law would not be able to address the issues that may arise.

Come On, Really…?

The notion that the Ummah is somehow preserved through the offspring of Muslim men is culturally archaic. The spread of Islam has been through its message, and its growth is maintained through the belief of its followers. A man’s family name, traditions and faith are passed to his children only in a symbolic sense. Their decision to follow or not follow his ways stem from a number of factors, and is ultimately governed by their personal choice. There are further inconsistencies in the reasoning given by those who purport this rule in light of patriarchal tradition. If we maintain that men are the head of households and carry on family legacy, then we also support the notion that women are the primary caretakers and nurturers. Thus, religion and culture are more likely to be passed through the mother. This is especially true of the common nuclear family in America, where the children are solely under the care and supervision of the mother, not the father’s extended family. It simply does not make sense that a practicing Muslim mother would not raise her children as Muslims. It makes even less sense that a non-Muslim mother could be expected to raise her children as Muslim.

The aforementioned justifications speak to an Islamically ideal situation – a marriage between a Muslim man and Muslim woman where both care for and respect each other and live in wedded bliss for the sake of Allah in a Muslim majority country with his upstanding Muslim family. It assumes that by marrying a kitabiyya a Muslim woman is forgoing this wedded bliss. It also assumes that if she marries a Muslim man she will be in an Islamically ideal situation. Both assumptions are just not realistic. If a Muslim woman finds a practicing man of God who respects her better than the Muslim men around her and with whom she connects with better as well, why should anyone stop her from marrying him? Even if we are to presume that all the single available Muslim men of America are Islamically ideal men and a Muslim woman would be crazy to reject all these potential Muslim suitors – if she chooses to marry a kitabiyya, she does not lose any wifely rights in this country, at least. The beauty of Islam is that it guaranteed a minimum standard for women at a time when there was no standard. We are fortunate enough to live in a society where these basic rights and more are upheld by law.

The concern that a shift in traditional thought will have implications in Islamic law is understandable, but should not be considered a threat to our Islamic traditions. Islamic law is not divine and it is not set in stone. It is a man-made interpretation of divine doctrine and tradition. It is a living body of law and should be treated as such. Implying that the fear of readdressing Islamic family law is enough to forbid all Muslim women from marrying outside the faith is just lazy. A body of law requires constant thought and analysis in order to develop. There are many Islamic scholars who recognize the need for development in Islamic legal theory, and are uncomfortable upholding traditions that are not prescribed in the Qur’an, yet few are willing to voice that opinion. When it comes to the rights of women we need to remember that Islam provided a floor, not a ceiling, and we must be careful of twisting something into haraam that is not expressly prohibited.

Sooo…..

Ideally, most of us want and expect to marry a Muslim. It simplifies a lot of complications in our minds regarding marriage and family. But the reality is that in our society we have an increased chance of meeting and marrying a non-Muslim. Huma’s choice may have made the news. But men do it all the time. We accept their decision, as it is their choice, their right. We don’t analyze all the possible outcomes it may or may not have on the future of his children and the Ummah. So why are we prohibiting women from observing the same right when it is not prohibited in the Qur’an? And why are we prohibiting it with outdated justifications?

At most, the traditional justifications provide evidence that marrying kitabiyya is discouraged, not that it is forbidden. The choice is left to the believer.

Renowned scholar Tariq Ramadan said it best. When asked how he would react if one of his children married a non-Muslim, he replied:

“I would naturally prefer someone to share the principles of being a Muslim. But it’s their choice. Look, by then, I will have done what I have had to do [as a father]. I have transmitted my principles to them. So I say to them, know who you are and your values. When you know this, then you are free. “

Allah knows best.
Growing up as a Pakistani-South African Muslim in suburbia New Jersey, Nadia Mohammad spent much of her childhood thinking she was Desi until she moved to Pakistan and learned she was American. Returning to the U.S. with this new perspective and a defiance of social stereotypes she delved into the world of South Asian and Muslim American media and activism. A Loyola University Chicago law graduate, she continues to believe in the values of justice and equality with cupcakes for all. An earlier version of this article was previously published at The Goatmilk Debates.

16 Comments

  • NadiaM says:

    ***Addendum***

    Salaam all,

    I wanted to follow up with a mini-addendum to this article. Since the original post on http://www.goatmilkblog.com I received much feedback, mostly positive, some negative. I want to address some concerns brought up and point out other areas of research that should be explored.

    First off, some have expressed concern about discussions of such topics by non-scholars and the risk of readers accepting an opinion as if it were a fatwa. I think each of us adequately expressed that we are not scholars. We were each exploring the development of one side of the issue and were limited in our word count. The debate style is simply to facilitate discussions that are already occurring in the community. Articles such as these are not meant to provide one-stop-shop answers or fatwas, we can only give readers a reference points to explore. It is up to the reader to investigate the issue further and make a well-informed decision on his or her life choices.
    Second, should any of the readers be interested in exploring this issue further, I would like to briefly touch upon a few points that have not been brought up by the other debaters here:

    1)  We are taught that men and women are equal but have ???rights??? over one another when pertaining to certain issues. Thus, the underlying issue here, in my opinion, is whether women and men have equal rights when it comes to their options for marriage. For those who accept that they do not, the discussion is moot. They believe that there is an inherent inequality in marriageable options for men and women, and that this notion is founded in Islamic text. Those who do not agree with the aforementioned premise are trying to understand the accepted Islamic tradition of this inequality, why it exists and whether it is an accurate interpretation of Islamic text.

    2)  There are, however, some who argue that the equality does exist, just not as traditionally accepted. They define this equality by prohibiting both men and women from marrying non-Muslims (kitabiyya included). This is for several reasons, such as: a) the definition of kitabiyya only pertains to Muslims, b) even if kitabiyya did pertain to Jews and Christians before, the deviation of these groups from certain key Islamic principles make this definition invalid today.

    3)  One other point of contention is Surah Al-Mumtahanah (http://www.quran.com/60). This Surah is often misread/misinterpreted when used on a variety of issues. The reason for this may be due to lack of Arabic skills and background knowledge. Still, the gravest error made with this Surah and many others is taking ayats or parts of ayats while disregarding the rest. For example, 60:1 revealed during a time of particular tribulation, tells believers not to take Allah???s enemies (disbelievers) as allies at a time of war. 60:7, then states that Allah might turn your enemies into your allies, and that He is most forgiving and merciful. So one can see how 60:1, if taken out of context, can ignore the true message at hand.

    60:10 is sometimes used in the marrying/not marrying non-Muslims debate as evidence that women may not marry non-Muslims, Jews and Christians included. The ayat speaks of those converting during this time of contention for the community (at times this would be in secret or at a risk to them). It says that when these believing women come to the believing men, the believing men should not send them back to the disbelievers as they are no longer regarded as lawful for them (in marriage). Those arguing against women marrying non-Muslims, stop here. But this seems to be a major error, as the ayat continues and states that the believing men should not hold on to their marriage bonds with disbelieving women.

    So several questions arise from ayat 60:10 ??? a) which disbelievers are being spoken of and under what context? b) how does this ayat contribute to the debate over the meaning of kitabiyya? c) if this ayat can be used to demonstrate that women are explicitly prohibited from being married to any non-Muslims, then does this not explicitly prohibit men from doing the same, thus, demonstrating equality?

    I explored the popular argument in my original article and the loopholes in this reasoning because I felt it was a good start to such a discussion. I would also like to point out that we, as Muslims, are instructed as to the qualities to seek prospective spouses. These qualities are expected, ideally, to be inherent in a Muslim. Therefore, as I mentioned in my article, it seems quite clear for many reasons why marrying a non-Muslim, even a Christian or Jew, would be strongly discouraged for women or men. But the popular argument as to why it is prohibited for women does not provide an adequate explanation. This means, if there is a ???yes??? or ???no??? answer on this issue, the opinion has not been fully formulated for the masses.  It is understandable that the popular opinion was accepted by all schools of thought, because men often traveled and needed more marriageable options, while women did not, and by living primarily in Muslim societies did not find a need to explore the issue further. This is simply not the case for many young Muslims today living in non-Muslim societies. This is forcing many to act as they deem appropriate despite the confusion.

    Ultimately, this all demonstrates a need for further scholarly exploration of all aspects of the issues to determine a) whether Muslim women and men have equal options when it comes to choosing a partner in marriage and b) what these options are and the standards accepted.

    Insha’Allah, that clears up some confusion as to the nature and purpose of this discussion and provides some relevant reference points for exploration. As always, Allah knows best.

  • Revertive says:

    What is wrong with that photo! She looks like an alien. Is it photoshopped? or just a really weird angle?

  • OmarG says:

    One thing we need to ask is why the ayah was revealed in the first place. It seems to imply that cross-religious marriages were rare or unheard of in ancient Arabia. Do we know if Arab Jews, Arab Christians and Arab pagans intermarried? I think this is a critical line of research on this issue: the cultural context.

    So, the ayah was revealed because something in that cultural context was preventing people from marrying across religions. Thus, the ayah was revealed to counter this perhaps-unspoken taboo? If so, then why were women left out of the permission AND also not explicitly prohibited from it? Cross-tribal marriages seemed somewhat common (?), but for some reason this did not apply to religions (also ‘?’). Why? And to what extent?

  • OmarG says:

    >>does not make sense that a practicing Muslim mother would not raise her children as Muslims.

    Yes, but I’ve never seen or ancedotally heard that any of the Muslimahs who marry non-Muslims were what one regards as “practicing”: prayer, fasting, zakat, etc. Perhaps there are, but I’ll bet a nickel that even statistically most are not very practicing; its merely a part of their ancestral ethnic identity.

  • NadiaM says:

    OmarG: I think what you bring up in regards to why ayat 5:5 was revealed is important. Equally important is establishing and clearly defining “kitabiyya” as I mentioned in my Addendum. Some argue the term only applies to Muslims not Jews and Christians, or that if it did include Jews and Christians, it does not anymore because of how those faiths have deviated from their original form. Therefore, they see no point of further discussion. But that still acknowledges that both men and women are prohibited from marrying non-Muslims and that there is equality for men and women in their options for marriage. So the meaning of “kitabiyya” is key here, in my opinion.

    In regards to “practicing.” I think the same anecdotes can be found of Muslim men marrying non-Muslim women (particularly, those in the US). Yet, we don’t generally, think of this as an issue for men. We let them marry whoever they want, and accept that their children are Muslim by name. We don’t evaluate their “Muslimness.” I think this is where the freedom of choice is left to the believer (as I quoted Ramadan in the article). At a certain point, once you are an adult, and able to make your own decisions, you know right from wrong, and if you are firm in your belief you will make decisions accordingly and ensure your faith is followed regardless of the situation.

  • edabdalghafur says:

    NadiaM,

    I think you make some good points in this article.  Some of the reasons that may have made the prohibition on Muslim women marrying non-Muslims self-evident, no longer hold, or at least, not to the same extent, such that we might ask the questions you yourself are asking in this article. 

    But, I find that what guides you here is an a priori commitment to establishing a sort of equality in marital options for men and women.  But that commitment to me is not self-evident either.  I think the interest of preserving Islam is of a higher priority. 

    You ask, why we don’t scrutinize the choices of Muslim men when they choose to marry non-Muslim women.  Well two things here.  One, in the community I come from, thats not the case,  families and communities don’t like it or prefer it and people accept it only because there is a scriptural permissibility, and that typically after a good deal of resistance.  So for men, its not its just a matter of personal choice.  Maybe, its closer to what you describe if you are living alone and without a family to have its own expectations and demands. 

    Also, while the traditional prudential arguments given against Muslim women marrying non-Muslim men don’t have the same force as they once did when women were less independent, its not the case that those arguments have no validity.  Men are often the soft partriarchs of families though the dynamic has indeed changed.  But, if anything these changes should make us more cautious about men marrying non-Muslim women, and I’ve seen this translate into fatawa that prohibit such marriage based on precaution. 

    In any case the best argument in favor of Muslim women marrying non-Muslims, I think, is basically in cases of dire necessity.  When Muslim options are obviously not available and when not marrying poses unbearable harm.

  • tucompay1976 says:

    Edabdalghafur: “When Muslim options are obviously not available and when not marrying poses unbearable harm.”

    Perhaps one could add a stipulation that inter-religious marriages between people of the book must require a legal contract in which the religious identity of the children will be Muslim and that the non-Muslim spouse will contribute to the development of the children as members of a Muslim community.

    I’ve seen this in a case where a Muslim woman married a man who converted upon their marriage.  Whatever the sincerity of the conversion (Allah knows best), the wife’s family drafted a very detailed contract in which the husband was obligated to promote the Islamic upbringing of the children by (1)teaching them how to pray, (2) taking them to Friday prayers, etc.  This could be extended to marriages between Muslims and non-Muslims.  It seems to me that it would ease some of the most basic concerns that make such marriages frightening to many people.

    Such a contract provides a binding framework in which a Muslim woman can protect her rights as a Muslim wife and ensure that her children remain within the faith.

  • OmarG says:

    As a convert, I find such a contract to be highly offensive. He must have been real p——whipped because any self-respecting man would tell them to shove that where the sun doesn’t shine. If he converted, then they cannot immediately assume he would refuse to raise his kids as good Muslims. That’s a very negative expression of mistrust by the in-laws towards their new son-in-law and a very poor basis to start a marriage on. But, its quite typical of how immigrant uncles and aunties treat us.

  • tucompay1976 says:

    Omar: “He must have been real p??????whipped”

    Actually, I find this expression incredibly sexist and offensive.  By this sexist logic, the only way a man can agree to terms set forth by his wife must mean that he is “whipped” by her sexual prowess and, consequently, that he is a weak man.  This is unbecoming language for altmuslimah contributors and comments are a contribution.

    Since you don’t know the details of their marriage, you might reconsider your poor assessment.  The contract was meant as an assurance so that both he and she had a clear understanding of expectations for the children.  It clarified what the wife and her family wanted as far as the children were involved.  You can view that however you like, but the husband was not offended by it nor did place him in an inferior position vis-a-vis his wife.  It was an expression of his commitment to fulfill an important request that his wife and family asked.  He could have disagreed.  He could have changed the stipulations.  He didn’t because he saw it as a reasonable commitment.

    Omar: “That???s a very negative expression of mistrust by the in-laws towards their new son-in-law.”

    By this logic, any specifications of rights within a marriage should be considered an expression of mistrust.  Muslim men and women often choose to specify/assert particular rights in marriage contracts not because they don’t trust one another, rather because they want to set forth clear expectations.  There’s nothing mistrustful about that.  It’s actually a healthy exercise for soon-to-be spouses since it allows them to think about the future in ways that many soon-to-be spouses don’t. 

    Second, Muslim laws pertaining to marriage are designed to clarify rights and duties.  This is not a reflection of mistrust; it’s an awareness of the complications that can emerge when certain things go unspecified. 

    Your reaction is understandable but unfair.

  • OmarG says:

    This has nothing to do with the wife’s rights, it was about their shared childten. Its a quite offensive insinuation that he had to be *made to understand* that they would raise the kids Muslim and detailed out just how he had to do that.

    You and me both know that a born-Muslim would never be asked to agree to such items in a **Marriage** contract.

    And, truth be told, few men think deeply about the terms of a marriage contract when those terms are far into the future. Everyone feels warm and fuzzy at the wedding, but the first day when he can’t take the kids to Jumah because he has to meet with his boss, he’ll be in material breach of the contract. What if they both agree later that the Islamic school in their community is crappy and would probably harm their kids’ spiritual development? Obviously not a great deal of practical thought was made about this! Its merely something mommy and daddy can throw at him later in his life.

    I’ll add this one to my “Groom, do not do this!” list for my younger brethern. Men should never be taken advantage of by their in-laws. Its an injustice and an oppression and has absolutely nothing to do with women’s rights whatsoever.

  • zulu2 says:

    Can contracts forsee future problems? I don’t think so and that’s the problem. In the end we know who gets the blame….the non-muslim! Put this way, would a muslim agree to a contract with a non-muslim spouse? I doubt it….This whole contract issue just leads to more trouble and I think it has no place in the trust of marriage.

  • tucompay1976 says:

    Zulu: “Can contracts forsee future problems?”

    Actually, contracts are important precisely because they can clarify matters in ways that avoid future problems.  Contracts are also what can protect spouses in times of trouble.  When old hubby runs off with his young secretary, the contract may be the difference between an abandoned wife with no alimony and an abandoned wife with alimony.  It might mean the difference between child support.  The fact is that, like it or not, contracts can (although not always) make matters easier.

    OmarG: “You and me both know that a born-Muslim would never be asked to agree to such items in a **Marriage** contract.”

    Recall that the article we were originally discussing concerns the question of Muslim/non-Muslim marriage.  Within that context—one wrought with all sorts of complications—I presented the example of a couple I know.  The point I was making was that, if the concern is that the children of the Muslim woman/non-Muslim man won’t be raised Muslim, then a contract stipulating such terms could be a solution.  Like it or not, it is one possible solution.  Is it oppression?  That depends on the circumstance under which the parties agree.  In the case I referred to (one you know nothing about), they are all very happy today and the husband has no issues with the contract.  Like it or not, that’s the truth.

  • ma2010 says:

    A contact does seem a tad offensive, and furthermore becuase the groom had already converted he was in fact already a believer, and no longer a non-muslim,(in your described scenario) so it calls into question his converting and does imply a general distrust of converts, which should be un-Islamic.
    Outside of that I’m not sure a that such a contract, even if it were followed would ensure Muslim children, I was raised in a Muslim household, with two Muslim parents, we prayed, learned how to read Qu’ran, fasted during Ramadan, my father often told us anecdotal stories about the Prophet (pbuh), all in all we were like many other Muslim families and yet neither of my siblings are practicing Muslims. Faith isn’t as simple as jumah’s and knowing about Islam it’s about choosing it, and a contract can’t make the children choose Islam.

  • tucompay1976 says:

    ma2010: “A contact does seem a tad offensive…”

    I agree.  My suspicion (I don’t know for sure) is that the parents wanted to make sure that the groom understood that raising the children as Muslims was part of the marriage. 

    ma2019: “I???m not sure a that such a contract, even if it were followed would ensure Muslim children”

    I don’t think any reasonable person believes that a contract will determine the outcome of the parties’ behavior.  If it did, then we probably wouldn’t have volumes concerned with contract law.  The contract, as in most cases, is presented as a set of expectations between the agreeing parties.  It is also meant to provide a framework for resolving certain issues should a divorce occur.  Again, NO ONE really believes that a contract will determine the behavior.

    What I find curious about this entire debate is the fact that no one (neither Omar, Zulu, or Ma2010) has commented on the basis for the example I presented.  This entire scenario concerns the larger issue of non-Muslim men marrying Muslim women.  The general idea is that this is prohibited.  That, for some reason, has received less attention that the case I presented.  Moreover, considering that Muslim women are largely prohibited from marrying non-Muslim men, my example suggests that a contract might be (however offensive to certain sensibilities) a way around it.  This point has also been lost in the conversation.  Instead, the focus has shifted to this one incident.

    Contracts, Zulu, can be a piece of paper.  They can also be documents of immense social and legal worth.  Consider the Quran itself. It’s literally a bundle of papers. Yet, as a Muslim, you give it great significance.  In the case of marriage, contracts can matter as much as the parties involved want it to matter.  For some, it’s paper.  For others, it’s a clear set of expectations and, in the worst case, a possible resolution to outstanding issues in a divorce.

  • zulu2 says:

    Well said ma2010!! It’s a piece a paper the way i see it.

  • p4rv3zkh4n says:

    It is not permissible for a Muslim woman to marry a non-Muslim from any other religion, whether from among the Jews or Christians, or any other kaafir religion. It is not permissible for her to marry a Jew, a Christian, a Magian, an idol-worshipper, etc.

    The evidence for that is the verse in which Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):

    “And give not (your daughters) in marriage to Al‑Mushrikoon till they believe (in Allaah Alone) and verily, a believing slave is better than a (free) Mushrik (idolater), even though he pleases you. Those (Al-Mushrikoon) invite you to the Fire, but Allaah invites (you) to Paradise and forgiveness by His Leave, and makes His Ayaat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.) clear to mankind that they may remember”

    [al-Baqarah 2:221]

    Since jews and christians reject Muhammed as the last messenger of Allah swt, they are unbelievers.

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