A Specific Case of Sunni-Shi’a Marriage

A Specific Case of Sunni-Shi’a Marriage


I am a female doctor, who follows the Hanafi Madhab, and I need your guidance in the following matter:

I wish to marry my classmate whom I know for the last 13 years (including the last 7 years since we have decided to get married). He is a Shi’a and due to this reason my parents and brothers are against this marriage. I was aware of the problems that his being Shi’a could create for me. So I tried to find as much as I could about the religious views of shia- sect, in general, from his and our books of fiqh. I then asked him directly what his beliefs were.

He does not have any such beliefs that constitute Kufr (e.g. he does not think that Hazrat Ali is god or he should have been the last prophet or that there are alterations in the Holy Quran etc.) He does however believe that Hazrat Ali should have been the first caliph, for which he gives reference of the event at Ghadir Khum. But at the same time, he has never shown any disrespect for the other 3 caliphs or Sahabah & has a personal view that if The Prophet (P.B.U.H) had declared Hazrat Ali as the first caliph in his life, it would have been an indication of bias. I have found him to be thoroughly well mannered, devoted to his profession and listens to reason and logic. I have seen that if he is convinced properly he does not keep following something blindly. He offers prayers 5 times a day, instead of combining Duhr-Asar and Maghrib- Isha prayers.

His parents share the same religious views and they added that my colleague’s paternal grand mother was Sunni and remained so after her marriage. Their family has several Shia – Sunni marriages. They do not believe in self beating/using chains and knives. They have never attended Muharram processions, but they regularly attend majlis (lecture) on 9th/ 10th Muharram. They also re-assured me that I will have complete freedom to follow my own Sunni Hanafi Madhab.

I have been trying to convince my family to agree to this marriage since 7 years. My father concerned several local religious scholars to sort out this issue. But some said that this nikkah will be valid and some said otherwise.

My brother told me about your website. He showed me a reply from you to a question regarding marriage with Shi’a. You have regarded such a nikkah to be valid, but at the same time cautioned to be careful when the matter is of marrying a sunni girl to a shia. I believe that majority of cases require an individualized approach, as I believe that not all shia are extremists or deviants. I have seen the same individualized approach in your answers regarding various issues and not just this one.

Can you please advice on whether this marriage is allowed? I put my trust in you to guide us in this matter, as I genuinely believe that Allah Has Blessed you with an objective vision and your opinion in this matter is pivotal to me and my family.


In the name of Allah, Most Compassionate, Most Merciful,

If it is true that he does not hold any beliefs that constitute disbelief (kufr), which include (and is not limited to) believing that the Qur’an was altered, accusing Sayyida A’isha (Allah be pleased with her) of committing adultery, denying the Companionship (suhba) of Sayyiduna Abu Bakr (Allah be pleased with him), and the other things you have mentioned in your question, then technically your marriage with him will be ‘valid’, meaning that the marriage contract will be recognized in Sunni law, and you will not be guilty of living in a unlawful relationship. However, if he does hold beliefs that constitute Kufr, then the marriage will not be considered valid; hence, even if you were to marry him, you will be considered living in an illicit unlawful (haram) relationship. This was explained in detail in a previous answer posted on our website titled: ‘Marriage with a Shi’a’.

The Sunni position on marrying a member of the Shi’a community who does not hold beliefs that constitute Kufr is that even though the marriage may ‘technically’ be valid, it is still best avoided due to the many stances of Shi’as being considered as deviation by Sunni Muslims. The gravity or otherwise of taking this step also depends on the exact nature of beliefs held by the person in question.

You state that the brother whom you wish to marry believes that ‘Hazrat Ali should have been the first caliph’ but ‘he has never shown any disrespect for the other three Caliphs or Sahaba’. This is very significant. If you can be fully assured and convinced of the fact that he has the utmost of respect and regard for all the Companions (Allah be pleased with them all), and that he considers the other three Caliphs to have a higher status than Sayyiduna Ali (Allah be pleased with him) in the order of: 1) Abu Bakr, 2) Umar, 3) Uthman, 4) Ali (Allah be pleased with them all), then I believe you may marry him.

In other words, the only differences between him and Sunni Muslims are the following:

1) Sayyiduna Ali (Allah be pleased with him) should have been the first Caliph of the Muslims, but this does not mean any of the other Companions (sahaba) were guilty of any wrongdoing, rather they are all forgiven by Allah, and Allah is pleased with all of them and they are all pleased with Allah. They are the highest of people after the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace), and the highest in Maqam is Abu Bakr, then Umar, then Uthman and then Ali (Allah be pleased with them all).

2) He attends lectures on the topic of the martyrdom of Sayyiduna Husayn (Allah be pleased with him) in the month of Muharram, but does not believe in self beating, etc.

Other than the above two things, if there are no issues, then you may go ahead and marry him, but it will still be somewhat disliked to do so. The reason for this is that according to the beliefs of Sunni Muslims, one who believes that Sayyiduna Ali (Allah be pleased with him) was the worthy first Caliph is also misguided. (See: Al-Aqida al-Tahawiyya with its commentaries) As such, marriage should be avoided in normal situations and whenever possible.

Another aspect worth considering is whether you will be free to practise Islam as a Sunni, and whether your children will also have a chance to be Sunni Muslims.

And Allah knows best

[Mufti] Muhammad ibn Adam
Darul Iftaa
Leicester , UK

Question #: 5504
Published: 26/07/2010

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