Interfaith Marriages in Islam: A Case Study of Christian Wives of Muslim Rulers

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Bibliographic Information
Journal Al-ʿILM
Title Interfaith Marriages in Islam: A Case Study of Christian Wives of Muslim Rulers
Author(s) Perveen, Koser, Muhammad Sultan Shah
Volume 1
Issue 1
Year 2017
Pages 1-31
Full Text Crystal Clear mimetype pdf.png
URL Link
Keywords Interfaith marriages, Christian wives, Muslim rulers, state affairs, harem, life partners, conversion, marrying, interfaith harmony
Chicago 16th Perveen, Koser, Muhammad Sultan Shah. "Interfaith Marriages in Islam: A Case Study of Christian Wives of Muslim Rulers." Al-ʿILM 1, no. 1 (2017).
APA 6th Perveen, K., Shah, M. S. (2017). Interfaith Marriages in Islam: A Case Study of Christian Wives of Muslim Rulers. Al-ʿILM, 1(1).
MHRA Perveen, Koser, Muhammad Sultan Shah. 2017. 'Interfaith Marriages in Islam: A Case Study of Christian Wives of Muslim Rulers', Al-ʿILM, 1.
MLA Perveen, Koser, Muhammad Sultan Shah. "Interfaith Marriages in Islam: A Case Study of Christian Wives of Muslim Rulers." Al-ʿILM 1.1 (2017). Print.
Harvard PERVEEN, K., SHAH, M. S. 2017. Interfaith Marriages in Islam: A Case Study of Christian Wives of Muslim Rulers. Al-ʿILM, 1.


Religion and marriage are two vital components of an individual’s life. Major world religions have guided human beings not only in theology but also in the matter related to marriage. Islam recognizes the need of its adherents for having matrimonial relationship with the women of the people of scripture in a pluralistic society. It has permitted its males followers for getting married with Christian females and vice versa is not permitted. In history, Muslims have been practicing such interfaith marriages and some of Muslim rulers also availed this relaxation. This paper discusses the marriages of Muslim rulers with Christian ladies enumerating various married couples. Among such rulers are included Umayyads caliphs, Spainish amirs, Ottoman sultans, Mughal emperor and some contemporary rulers. The effects of these interfaith marriages have also been analyzed.

Marriage between two individuals belonging to different religions is called interfaith marriage. Interfaith marriages are universal phenomena; they were a part of human civilization in the past, are a vital reality of present and will remain an imperative constituent of future. The study of history demonstrates that mixed marriages remained a tradition in almost all religions of the world and also in Semitic religions i.e. Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

Jews are very rigid about their race and nation. There are a number of the Biblical injunctions and references from Talmud that prohibit marriage between Jews and gentiles[1], but still in the past as well as in present interfaith marriages have taken place in Judaism[2]. There is no explicit prohibition of interfaith marriage in Christianity but the priests always remained against the marriage of a Christian with a non-Christian on the ground of religious pride[3]. Canon law allowed the continuation of interfaith marriage if it had taken place but with the restriction on Christian spouse to bring up the children in his/her own faith[4].

Islam, the most comprehensive religion for the whole humanity, springs up the lesson of forbearance; it is considerably diverse from Judaism and Christianity in the matter of interfaith marriages and made distinction between marriages with various types of unbelievers and set up three rules for interfaith marriages of Muslim males and females:


Prohibition of marriages with non-believers. [5]
  1. Permission to marry the people of scripture. [6]
  1. Prohibition of Muslim women to marry the people of scripture. [7]

Sir ‘Abd al-Rahῑm explained the supra-mentioned rules in these words:

“There are again obstacles to inter marriage of a temporary character. For instance, radical difference in religion, such as between Islam which is monotheistic religion and polytheism is a complete bar to inter marriage, but when both the man and the woman are followers of some revealed religion, the disability is only partial. Hence a Muslim cannot marry a polytheistic woman but a Mohammedan man can marry a Christian woman or a Jews lady, though a Christian or a Jew cannot marry Muslim woman. ”[8]

Yohanan Friedmann has described three categories of interfaith marriages in a lucid way as follows:

“The Qur’ān deals with the question of mixed marriages in three verses which have become the basis for the development of the pertinent Muslim law. The first verse clearly prohibits Muslims from wedding polytheist women (mushrikāt), as well as giving Muslim women in marriage to polytheists. The second, though using the term kawāfir rather than mushrikāt, The second, though using the term kawafir rather than mushrikāt, is understood in the same manner. The third verse allows Muslims to marry “virtues” or free (muhsanāt) women of the people of the book.”[9]

Historical Background:

The phenomenon of interfaith marriages is not a modern one; its history dates back to the beginning of Islam. Anywhere in the world where different cultures and religions exist together, social, economic and religious differences are inevitable. In all societies marital relations are always of a great importance and in the history of Islam, Muslims and non-Muslims had established these relations according to their social circumstances.

Interfaith marriages had started at initial stages of Islamic history and marriages were contracted between Muslims and non-Muslims. But after the revelation of verses of Surah Al-Baqara (2:221) and Surah Al-Mumtahina (60:10) all such marriages were prohibited and separations were made compulsory in such early marriages. Umar bin Khattab had two non-Muslim wives and he divorced them. [10]‘Ayād Ibn Ghanam had married a non-Muslim, so he also divorced her.[11] Similarly, Ṭalḥa, the companion of the Prophet Muḥammad (upon whom be peace and greeting), also divorced Irva, the daughter of Rabiyyah. [12]

Period of Rightly-guided Caliphs:

After the demise of the prophet Muḥammad (upon whom be peace and greeting) there started the period of rightly-guided caliph Abū Bakar Ṣiddῑq (may Allāh be pleased with him) that was mostly the period of initial problems relating to non-payment of “zakat”, claims of false prophets and the strengthening of nascent Islamic state but in the caliphate of ‘Umar the Islamic kingdom expanded with the conquest of Syria, Palestine and Egypt. Islam came into direct contact with Christian and Jewish communities. Since it is lawful to marry the women of the people of the book, the Muslims did not hesitate to marry these women but this act was not desirable among the common Muslims. Although ‘Umar forbade his governors to marry the women of the people of the book, still there are some examples of interfaith marriages in that period:

The commentator al-Jaṣṣāṣ has pointed out these marriages in his commentary al-Ahkām al-Qur’ān:

Talha bin ‘Ubaid Allah married a Jewess and Hudhaifah has also narrated that he married a Jew lady. [13]Of course, ‘Uthman married Nailah bint Al-Furafisah al-Kalbiyah and she was a Christian among his wives. [14]

Imam Shāfiʻῑ has narrated on the authority of Jābir Ibn Άbdullah who said:

When he was asked about the marriages to the women of the people of the book, he said: "We married them during the time of the conquest of Kūfah along with Sa‘d ibn Abi Waqas because we could hardly find any Muslim woman there. When we returned (from the military expedition), we divorced them. [15]

Ibn Qudāmah al-Maqdisi has pointed out:

Al-Khallal narrated with his isnad, that Ḥudhayfah, Ṭalḥah, Al-Jārūd ibn al-Mūʻallā and Udhaynat al-‘Abdῑ all married women from among the people of the book. [16]

Imam Malik ibn Anas has narrated in his book al-Mudawwanah:

Ibn Qāriz married the woman of the people of the book. She gave birth Khalid ibn ‘Abdullah ibn Qāriz. [17]

Although all these marriages had occurred in that period but ‘Umar disliked such marriages and ordered his governors to divorce the women of the people of the book. In his exegesis, Imam al-Tabari states:

Ṭalḥa ibn ‘Ubaid Allāh married a Jewish woman and Ḥudhayfah ibn Yamman married a Christian lady. ‘Omar, the caliph (May God be pleased with him) was annoyed at it and intended to punish them. They said “O Amῑr al Mūminῑn! don’t be annoyed, we will divorce them”. ‘Umar said, “If it would be legal to divorce them it would also be legal to marry them. I am separating them from you due to disgrace and humiliation.”[18]

‘Umar ibn Khattāb, harshly threatened Muslims who intended to enter in interfaith marriages, even though the practice of these marriages was widespread during that period. ‘Umar’s argument challenging these marriages seemed to be a fear that no Muslim men would marry Muslim women. His anxiety could be sociologically and politically understood, since if this practice was to be continued, Muslim women would face serious problems in finding partners.

Period of the Umayyads and ʻAbbasid Caliphs:

After the caliphate of rightly-guided caliphs, the Umayyads and ʻAbbasid caliphs came into power, they rapidly expanded their state boundaries where non-Muslims also resided. As Islam has granted permission for getting married with the women of the people of the book, hence, the Muslims had established marital relations to the women belonging to the People of Scripture.

Though interfaith marriages have been contracted before Umayyad period, yet their number was too limited. The marriages with the women of the People of the Book increased considerably during Umayyad dynasty. Its major reason was Muslim conquests and consequently interaction with the non-Muslims. A number of the Arabs took their abode in the conquered areas, where they were highly overtaken by the charming beauty of non-Muslim women, so they married these ladies. Another reason was that they did so to increase the Muslim population. Some of these ladies who got married to the Muslim Arabs embraced Islam while others adhered to their original faith.

Andalus (Spain) was a far off region and when Muslim established their control over it, the Arabs population mostly comprised only men. They had settled in the west and it was not possible to come back for the purpose of marriages to their native lands due to lack of means of communication. Secondly, the Muslims were above country and regional prejudice, and the Muslim rulers and commanders used to live there: so they married in local population of Andalus which resulted in strong marital and social interaction with the non-Muslims. Not only soldiers, but commanders and rulers also got married with the women of the People of the Book. Such marriages had become common practice in Spain.

List of Muslim rulers who tied the knot to Christian Ladies:

In Islamic history the following rulers married Christian ladies:

# Mú āwiya, the First Caliph of Umayyad Dynasty

  1. Yazid son of Mú āwiya of Umayyd Dynasty
  1. Άbd al Άzῑz ibn Mūsā, the ruler of Andalus
  1. Uthman Lakhmi, the Ruler of Spain
  1. Abdullah, the Ruler of Spain
  1. Muhammad son of Abdullah, the Ruler of Spain
  1. Άbd al-RahmanIII, the Ruler of Spain
  1. HakamII, Umayyad Amir of Spain
  1. Al-Mansur
  1. Muhammad ibn Abu 'Amir al-Mansur
  1. Sultan Muhammad Oz-Beg or Uzbek Khan of the Golden Horde
  1. Urchan, the son of Othman, Ottoman Sultan (1326-59)
  1. Sultan Murad Khan (1359-1389)
  1. Sultan Bayezid Yilderim (1389-1403)
  1. Sultan Murad II (1421-1451)
  1. Sultan Muhammad II, the Conqueror (1451-1481)
  1. Sultan Bayezid II (1481-1512)
  1. === Sultan Solyman I, The magnificent (1520-1566) ===

  1. === Murād III, the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire ===

  1. Saif al-Din, al-Malik al-‘Adil, of Ayyubid Dynasty
  1. Emperor Jalauddin Akbar, the Great Mughal King
  1. Sir Firoz Khan Noon, the Former Prime Minister of Pakistan
  1. King Hussein of Jordan
  1. Yasir Arafat, the Former Chairman Palestine Liberation Organization
  1. Sheikh Abdullah, the Former Chief Minister of Occupied Jammu and Kashmir
  1. Dr. Farooq Abdullah, the Former Chief Minister of Occupied Jammu and Kashmir
  1. Dr. Ashraf Ghani, the Current President of Afghanistan

Christian wives of Muslim Rulers:

1. Mu‘āwiya, the First Caliph of Umayyad Dynasty:

Maysūn was the daughter of Badal ibn Anīf Al-Kalbī. She was the wife of Mú āwiya and the mother of Yazīd. She was the Arabic poetess and died in 80AD. [19]It is said that Maysūn remained consistent on her forefather’s religion.

Philip K. Hitti says:

“Maysūn was a Jacobite Christian like her predecessor Nā’ilah, ʻUthmān’s wife, who also belonged to the Kalb tribe. ”[20]

But Muslim historian Ibn Kathr narrated: “Mú āwiya married Maysūn, the daughter of Bahdal ibn Anīf bin Daljah bin Qanafah al-Kalbī. There was no parallel of her in beauty and wisdom. She was religious minded. ”[21]

Mu‘āwiyah maintained good relations with the subjects of Syria. They were still Christians. They were glad at his rule and brought their disputes before the caliph for settlement. He rebuilt the church at Edessa, destroyed by earthquakes. He employed Christians in his service. The Arab Christian poets attended his court. [22]And Arab tribes were also included in them, e. g. Ghassānī etc. which inhabitants of Arab before the advent of Islam. Yazīd who succeeded his father was the son of Maysūn, a Bedouin woman who Mu‘awiya married before he rose to be caliph. The luxury of Damascus had no charm for her wild spirit, and she gave utterance to her feeling of home sickness in melancholy verse:

A tent with rustling breezes cool

Delights me more than palace high,

And more the Clock of simple wool

than robes in which I learned to sigh.

The crust I ate beside my tent

was more than this fine bread to me.

The wind’s voice where the hill-path went

was more than tambourine can be.

And more than puir of friendly cat

I love the watch-dog’s bark to hear:

And more than any lubbard fat

I love a Bedouin cavalier. [23]

Mu‘awiya annoyed by the contemptuous allusion to himself, took the dame at her word. She returned to her own family and Yazīd grew up as a Bedouin, with the instincts and tastes which belong to the Bedouins---love of pleasure, hatred of piety, and reckless disregard for the laws of religion. [24]

Mu‘awiya also married another lady from the tribe of Maysūn whose name was Naila bint ‘Ammārah al-Kalabiyah. According to Muslim historian, she was the cousion of Mu‘awiya’s first wife Maysūn. After sometime Mu‘awiya divorced her. [25]

2. Yazīd I of Umayyad Dynasty:

Yazīd was son of Mu‘āwiya and his wife Maysūn. As he was brought up in Christian tribe Banū Kalb, that is why he was the first confirmed drunkard among caliphs and won the title of Yazīd al-khumur, the Yazīd of wines. [26]According to Philip K. Hitti he drank daily. [27]In Christianity wine is openly consumed without any hesitation. Due to his long stay in his maternal tribe Banū Kalb who were Christian, he had developed in him this habit. He liked Christian atmosphere and had Christian friends like St. John of Damascus. Hitti writes about their friendship as: “The grandson of this Mansūr (ibn Sarjūn) was the illustrious St. John (Yuhanna) the Damascene, who in his youth was a boom companion of Yazīd”[28]

According to Hitti “The Umayyad poet laureate, al-Akhtal, another boon companion of Yazīd, belonged to the Taghlib Christian Arabs of al-Hirah and was a friend of St. John. [29]

Nicholson states about Yazīd “From our unprejudiced standpoint, he was amiable prince who inherited his mother’s poetic talent, and infinitely preferred wine, music, and sport to the drudgery of public affairs. [30]

Like his father he was also married to a Christian lady. [31]Hitti states: “Yazīd, whose mother, Maysūn, belonged to kalbites of Yamanite party, contracted a marriage with a Kalbite woman. ”[32]

3. Άbd al-Άzῑz ibnMūsā, the ruler of Andalus

‘Abd al-‘Azīz, the son of Mūsā, who acted as Viceroy on the departure of his father for Syria, appointed a Dīwān or council for adapting the Islamic laws and institutions to the requirement of the country and for promoting the fusion of the two people. By his wise statesmanship and mild and beneficent government he reconciliated all classes. Like the first Mogul sovereigns of India, he encouraged intermarriages between the conquered and the conquerors, and he set the example by marrying the widow of Roderick named Egilona, [33]called by the Arabs Umm ‘Asim. [34]Egilona was the wife of the last Visigothic king, Roderic, in the early years of the 8th Century during the Muslim invasion of the Iberian Peninsula. When he died in the Battle of Guadalete.She was captured by the Moorish leader ‘Abd al-‘Azīz ibn Mūsā . As per the Muslim tradition the king married the widowed woman, and in 717 she became his wife. [35]

Akbar Shāh Najībābādī observes:

Amīr ‘Abdul ‘Azīz married himself with the widow of Larzeeq, Al-Jelona, by name and let her remain embracing her religion of Christianity. Following the Amīr, other Muslims also started marrying with Christian ladies. The Muslims adopted residence in those Christians houses which have been rendered vacant and deserted due to absconding from and being killed in the battles. The Muslims started living in cities and towns jointly. Amῑr Abdul Aziz not only granted the religious freedom to the Christians but also appointed the Christian as the administrator of the cities and towns. Tadmeer, the ex-commander in chief had already been granted the authority to the province of Marsiah. The Christian wife of Abdul Aziz, Who had also been called Umm-i-Asim very soon, overcome the temperament of Amīr ‘Abdul ‘Azīz and started intervening in the affairs of the kingdom. This fact the Arab chiefs felt unpleasant but they considered the obedience of their Amīr as essential. They could do nothing but see the ruled and dominated Christians with similar status and rank. [36]

He further states:

“In these very circumstances, the news came that the khaleefah Sulaiman bin Abdul Malik had involved Musa Bin Nusair in respect of the demand of the balance of the land revenue and did not appreciate the new land conquests at all. It is evident what effect this may have had on Abdul Aziz; but he could not utter even a single word against the khalifah. Al-Jelona and other Christian officials did not lose any chance in taking benefit in these circumstances as their attachment and sympathy with the person of Abdul Aziz had been enhanced. As Abdul Azīz had been shocked by having the news about his father, he hurried in planning how to strengthen the Christians through al-Jelona and liberate Andalus from the rule of the government of Damascus. Amīr ‘Abdul ‘Azīz sent an enormous amount of money and presents to khalīifah Sulaiman, in order to make him lenient towards him. The khalīfah had become aware of the plans of Amīr ‘Abdul ‘Azīz through his reporters. The people, who had taken land revenue and gifts this time from Andalus, apprised the khalīfah of the dangerous intentions and improper behavior of Amīr ‘Abdul ‘Azīz. ”[37]

4. ‘Uthmān Lakhmī, Ruler of Spain:

‘Uthmān Lakhmī (Ayub ibn Habīb al-Lakhmī[38]) had also ruled over Andalus for five months. The Duke of Acuton who had been occupying and controlling a major part of France and had been the king of the Gath nation had the desire to make himself powerful against Charlse Martial, the king of the northern part of France and defeated him after winning the sympathy of the Muslim ruler. Thus, he established the foundation of friendship and compromise through correspondence and gifts. Gradually, the position reached to the stage that he married his beautiful daughter of world fame with ‘Uthmān on the stipulation that she could continue to profess the religion of her parents i. e. Christanity and ‘Uthmān would not force her to embrace Islam. In lieu of the daughter, the Duke of Acuton also got him to write a covenant that ‘Uthmān would never use his army against the Duke. [39]

5. ‘Abdullah, the Ruler of Spain:

Onneca or Iniga, was a Navarrese princess. She was the daughter of Fortun Garces of Pamplona who had spent two decades as a hostage in Cordoba. ‘Abdullah was the ruler of Spain. [40]He married the Onneca. Onneca’s son Muammad married a Christian girl named Maria and she was the mother of the enlightened sovereign ‘Abd al-Rahmān III. [41]

6. Muammad son of ‘Abdullah:

Onneca’s son Muammad, married a Christian girl named Maria between 275/888 and 277/890, and she was the mother of the enlightened sovereign ‘Abd al-Rahman III. [42]

7. Caliph Άbd al-Rahmān III:

He also availed himself of the possibility to seek matrimony outside the Muslim community. Akbar Shah Najībābādī indicated:

“He got constructed for his Christian wife, Zahra, by name, a grand palace in the atmospheric valley of Jabal al-‘Aroos at a distance of four miles from Cordova. It has been so vast a building that it has been called “Madeenah-Al-Zahra or the city of Zahra instead of Qasr Al-Zahra or Zahra palace. ”[43]

Intazam Ullah Shahani elaborated:

“Caliph Abd-Ar Rahman III’s mother, named Mariam was the daughter of a rich Christian family”. [44]

8. akamII (915 –976):

Following the tradition of his forebears, Caliph Άbd al-Rahman III’s son, al-akam II also married a Christian woman known as Malikah Sabah. She was the mother of Hishām ibn akam.

Najeeeb Abādi:

“She was the Christian wife of akam II and the mother of Hishām ibn akam. In the reign of akam II she tried to interfere and had some control over state affairs. Caliph akam liked her more than others as she was the mother of next king to the caliph and also very clever and intelligent”. [45]

Ibn Hazm has written that the Caliph loved her blindly[46] and due to excessive love of her husband, she had influence over state affairs.

Salma Khadra Jayyusi observes:

Following the tradition of his forebearers, his son, al-akam married a Navarrese girl. Her name was Aurora, or Subh, the mother Hisham II, and, according to Ibn Hazm, he loved her blindly. [47]

9. Al-Mansur:

In 383/993 Vermudo II of Leon (982-999) sent his daughter Teresa to al-Mansur who received her a slave. He later released her in order to marry her but she remained a Christian and retired to a monastery in Leon after her husband death in 392/1002. [48]

10. Muhammad ibn Abu 'Amir al-Mansur (ca. 938-1002):

In 992, he married the daughter of the king of Navarre, who bore him a son pointedly named Abd al-Rahmān, but equally or better known as Sanjul or Sanchuelo (after his maternal grandfather, Sancho, king of Pamplona). [49]

Salma Khadra Jayyusi observes:

“Another king of Navarre, Sancho GarcesII (r. 971-994), offered his daughter in marriage to the self-appointed ruler of al-Mansur (r. 370/980—392/1002) and she subsequently became a fervent convert to Islam.” [50]

11. Sultan Muhammad Ōz-Beg, Known as Uzbek Khān of the Golden Horde:

Sultān Mohammed Ōz-Beg better known as Uzbek Khān (1312-1341) became the longest reigning Khan of the Kipchak Khanate or the Golden Horde. He was converted to Islam and made it the state religion in the Russian Provinces. [51]He was married to a Christian lady. In this regard, Peter Jackson writes:

Michael’s son and successor, Andronicus II, gave daughter both to Toqto’a and his successor Uzbek (1312-41). ”[52]

John Meyendorff mentions this marriage as follows:

“The third wife in Uzbek’s harem was the daughter of the emperor of Constantinople (possibly an illegitimate offspring of Andronicus), that she was surrounded in Sarai with a staff of Greek servants and travelled to Constantinople to give birth to her first child”. [53]

Ottoman Turks:

Ottoman was the first ruler who is regarded as the founder of the Ottoman Empire and because of his name Turks who ruled the empire, call themselves Osmanlis. Ottoman Turkish had very good relations with their non-Muslim subjects and they had tradition of mutual marriages. This custom was found in aristocratic class, nobles and kings and in common masses as well. But it is inevitable to say that consequences of such marriages were not pleasant religiously as well as socially. Commonly, Christians, after being defeated in war with Turk kings, offered the kings to marry their daughters and sisters for reconciliation. So, in this period some examples of interfaith marriages of Ottoman kings with the women of the people of Book exist.

12. Urchan, the Son of Othman (1326-59):

Urchan married the daughter of Emperor Cantacuzene despite the difference of creed and age. Lord Eversley writes:

“Cantacuzene offered his young daughter, Theodore, in marriage to Urchan in return for the aid of six thousands ottoman troops…. Urchan at the age of sixty-two married to the young Theodora, who was to be allowed to remain a Christian. ”[54]

The earliest certain reference to the marriage of an Ottoman ruler appears in the Byzantine Chronicle by Emperor John VI Kantakouzenos, who records, in his version of the story, how Orhan requested his daughter Theodorain marriage, promising Kantakouzenos that he would be ‘as a son and place his entire army under Kantakouzenos’s orders’. The marriage took place in 1346 and, following the ceremony, Orhan did in fact supply his father-in-law with troops which were a factor in his seizure of the Byzantine throne in 1346. What the marriage had done was to establish an alliance between the two families. [55]

According to Colin Imber Orhan continued to support the Kantakouzenosamily, sending troops to Kantaouzenos’sson, Matthew, in his unsuccessful attempt to wrest the Byzantine throne from John V Palaiologos. This emperor’s solution to Ottoman aggression was to try to link his own family to Orhan’s. In 1358, he betrothed his daughter Eirene to Orhan’s son Halil, with a request that elderly Orhan appoint Halil as his successor. Again, he hoped that a family alliance would result in Orhan’s sparing his territory and supporting his throne. The plan failed: the marriage never took place and Halil did not succeed Orhan. [56]

13. Sultan Murād Khān (1359-89):

In the period of Amurath (oriental name, Murad), Sisvan the king of the Bulgarians, preferred to obtain peace by giving up his daughter in marriage of the conqueror. [57]Stanley Lane-Poole writes:

“At the same time a further addition was made, in a peaceful manner, to the Ottoman dominion in Asia. Murad seized the opportunity of a period of tranquility to solemnize the marriage of his son Bayezid with the daughter of the prince of Kermiyan, one of the ten states that had grown out of the Seljuk kingdom. ”[58]

According to Colin Imber the practice of marrying into foreign dynasties was to continue under Orhan’s successors, Murad I, but with an important difference. Orhan’s marriage to Theodora had made him an equal or, if one is to believe John Kantakouzenos, a junior partner in an alliance. By Murad’s time, marriage had become an instrument of subjugation. Some time after 1371, Murad married Thamar, the sister of the Bulgarian Tsar Shishman of Tarnovo. [59]

14. Sultan Bayezid Yilderim (1389-1403):

Bayezid Yilderim who ascended the throne in 1389, has conquered many regions of Christians after the death of Sultan Murād. He followed up the war against Servians with success. Stephen, the king of Servia, gave the Sultan his sister Despina to wife into a treaty. [60]

Early in his reign he adopted a much bolder attitude toward the Christian Powers of Europe than Murad had thought prudent. To a deputation from Italy asking for a renewal of commercial privileges, he replied that when he had conquered Hungary he intended to ride to Rome, and there give feed to his horse with oats on the altar of St. Peter’s. His treatment of his Christian subjects was much harsher than that of his predecessors.

Marriage with princess Despina did not prove beneficent on moral side. Because according to western historian the lady Despina soon came to exercise a great influence over her Turkish husband and she allured Bayezid to drink wine adopting a luxuries of life. Knolles said:

“Of all his wives he held her dearest, and for her sake restored to her brother Stephen the city and castle of Semendria and Columbarium in Serbia, she allured him to drink wine, forbidden the Turks by their law, and caused him to delight him in sumptuous banquets, which his predecessors never did. ”[61]

Akbar Shah Khan said:

“If the story of drinking wine and immorality of Bayazeed Khan Yaldaram is considered true, the same had also been the result of the Christian kings and their secret plans because the Christian kings had started the chain of their princess in the palaces of the Ottoman Sultans, from the very beginning. There were the Christian princesses who invited others to the drinking of wine in the palace of Bayazeed Khan Yaldaram also. All his predecessor kings had remained aloof from the satanic relations and the Christian wickedness due to their religious bigotry and faith power; But Bayazid khan had defeated even the most powerful enemy, had been dominated by the delicate and soft enemies in his palace. ”[62]

Colin Imber thinks that Bayezid I’s marriages were similarly instruments of political domination. The first of these took place in late 1370s, when his father married him to the daughter of Yakub, the lord of the neighbouring Anatolian principality of Germiyan. The reason for the arrangement was clearly territorial gain, since the girl brought with her as a marriage portion the capital of Germiyan, Kutahya, and other town in the principality. In1394, when he succeeded to the throne, Bayezid married the daughter of the Countless of Salona, a Frankish principality to the east of Ethens. With the bride, he acquired half of her mother’s county. Both these marriages were, in legal term, peculiar, since Islamic law does not require the bride to bring a dowry, as these ladies clearly did. These acquisition of land through marriage seem, therefore, to have been cases of Ottoman sultans adopting, to their own advantage, the custom of their Greek and Latin neighbours. Bayezid’s other marriage was more conventional. Probably in 1392, he married Olivera, sister of Stephen Lazarevic of Sebia, an arrangement which reduced Stephen to vassalage, with an obligation to provide troops and tribute. In return Bayezid could offer Stephen protection, particularly against the ambitions of the King of Hungary. [63]

15. Sultan Murad II:

Murad II continued the practice of marrying into foreign dynasties. In 1423, the lord of Kastamonu, Isfandyaroghlu, attacked Murad’s lands, provoking the sultan into successful counter-attack. Isfandyaroghlu sued for peace and, as a condition of Murad’s non-aggression, gave the sultan his infant daughter in marriage, and agreed each year to provide troops for his army. Murad’s second marriage, in 1435, was to Mara, the daughter of the Serbian Despot George Brankovic, whose alliance was essential for Murad in securing frontier with the kingdom of Hungary along Danube. [64]

16. Sultan Muhammed II, the Conqueror (1421-51):

Muhammed II, entered in Constantinople as conqueror and he conqueror also married a French girl. E. S. Creasy observes:

“It was said the natural ferocity of Mahomet was goaded on by the malevolent suggestions of a French renegade, whose daughter was in the sultan’s harem, and was at that time the object of his passionate fondness. ”[65]

According to Colin Imber The marriage of Murad II’s son, Mehmed II in 1450 to Sitti Hatun of Dulgadir had a similar function of securing his eastern frontier in Anatolia. [66]

17. Sultan Bayezid II:

Mahammad II’s son Bayezid II was married to Ayshe Hatun, daughter of Alaeddevle of Dulgadir, whose lands adjoined the province where the prince was a governor. [67]

18. Sultan Solyman-I (1520-66):

Solyman was still young, a Russian girl in his harem, named Roxalans had influenced over him by her beauty and liveliness.

E. S. Creasy writes:

“She had persuaded Solyman to enfranchise her and to make her his wife, according to the Mahometan ritual. ”[68]

19. Sultan Murād III:

In the harem of Murād III, a Venetian maiden of the noble family of Baffo, who had gained an almost unbounded influence over him. E. S. Creasy writes:

“The fair Venetian so enchanted Amurath that he was long strictly constant to her, slighting the other varied attractions of his harem, and neglecting the polygamous privileges of his creed. ”[69]

Most part of Turkish Empire consisted of Christian subjects; therefore practice of intermarriages was common. Most of the Muslim men married Christian women but sometimes it went vice versa. Christian priests were very against these marriages because the women who got married with a Muslim usually embrace Islam or her progeny would follow the religion of their father.

W. M. Leake in his travel guide has written after mentioning it as follows:

“In some villages, Mahometans are married to Greek women, the sons are educated as Turks, and the daughters as Christians; and pork and mutton are eaten at the same table. ”[70]

Due to marriage with Christian, Islāmic civilization was affected adversely in more than one ways and many non-Islāmic customs and values infused in the society.

20. Saifud Din, al-Malik al-‘Adil, of Ayyubid dynasty:

In the reign of Sultan Salah al-Din Ayyubi, Richard proposed that his sister should marry Salah’s brother, al-Malik al-‘Adil, and that the two should receive Jerusalem as a wedding present, thus ending the strife between Christians and Moslems. [71]Syed Amir ‘Ali observes:

Priests raised an outcry against the idea of a Christian princess marrying a brave And chivalrous knight like Saifud-Din; they played on the religious fears and superstition of the ex-queen of Sicily. [72]

21. Emperor Jalaluddīn Akbar, the Great Mughal King:

It is well-known historical fact that one of Akbar’s queens was an Armenian, known as Mariam Zamanī Begum. A well-known Indian historian Henry George Keane in his Sketch of the History of Hindustan, says: “Akbar subsequently married at least two other foreign ladies, an Armenian and a princess of Marwar. Preserving unmolested in the palace their Chapels and their Chaplains, these ladies would necessarily have their share in promoting Catholicity of the emperor’s mind and predisposing him to regard with favour Hindus and Christians. ”[73]

William Hunter, a great authority on Indian history writing of Akbar’s wives says, in his Indian Empire, that “another of his wives is said to have been a Christian. ”[74] Louis Rousselet, says in his India and its Native Princes: “Near Akbar’s mausoleum beyond the enclosure, stands a vast ruined cenotaph enclosing the tomb of the Emperor Christian wife, the Begum Maria. [75]De Laet who wrote his Empire of the Great Mughals in 163, mentions in his description of the palace “one set belonging to Mary Makany, the wife of Akbar”. [76]Henry Blochmann, in his translation of the Ain-i-Akbarī mentions in one of his notes that there is not the least doubt of ‘Akbar having an Armenian wife. ”[77] Fanthome, the author of Reminiscences of Agra, says: “I believe that there is great deal of truth in the assertion that Akbar had a Christian wife who name was Mariam. ”[78] In the deserted and ruined city of Fathepur Sikri, twenty two miles away from Agra, founded in 1568-9, there still exists the beautiful palace of Akbar’s Christian wife, known as the “Armenian Princess’ Palace. ”[79]

22. Sir Firoz Khān Noon, the Former Prime Minister of Pakistan:

Firoz Khān Noon, the seventh Prime Minister of Pakistan married a European lady known as Vicky. She was an Austrian by birth and origin, and was born as Victoria in July 1920. She participated in the Pakistan Movement. After her marriage she converted to Islam, and renamed herself from Victoria to Viqār-un Nisā Noon. [80]

About his marriage Sir Firoz Khān writes in his memory:

“My wife and I met while I was High Commissioner in England. We were married in 1945 at Bombay, in the house of my friend, Sir Rahimtullah Chinoy, while I was a member of the Viceroy’s Cabinet. ”[81]

Lady Viqār-un Nisā Noon served Pakistan in various capacities advisor to President on Tourism and Chairman of the Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation, the Ambassador of Pakistan to Portugal etc.

23.King Hussein of Jordan:

Hussein bin Talāl was King of Jordan from the abdication of his father, King Talal, in 1952, until his death. [82]He also married a Christian lady named Lisa Najeeb Halaby. After her marriage to king Hussain renamed Queen Noor al-Hussein on her conversion to Islam. [83]The American beauty was born to an American-Arab father of Syrian roots and a Swedish mother. [84] 

On June 15, 1978, Lisa Najeeb Halaby became the first American-born queen of an Arab country, taking the name Noor al-Hussein or "Light of Hussein. " She and King Hussein married in a traditional Islamic ceremony at the Zaharan Palace, where Queen Noor was the only woman present. Although the Jordanian people expressed discomfort about King Hussein's choice of a non Arab-Muslim bride, they soon warmed to the union when they witnessed Noor's genuine interest and commitment to Jordan and her conversion to the Islamic religion. [85]

24. Yasir Arafat, the Former Chairman Palestine Liberation Organization:

Mohammed Yasser Abdel Rahman Abdel Raouf Arafat al-Qudwa (1929-2004) betterly known as Yasir Arafat also married a lady from Christian family whose name was Suha Daoud Tawil (b. 1963).

Arafat first met Suha in 1985 at al-Wuhdat refugee camp in Jordan, when she was in her early 20s. Arafat was 58 then. They developed a working relationship when Suha became Arafat’s assistant and interpreter during his meetings with French officials and politicians. In 1989, Arafat married Suha, but the relationship remained a secret. It was known only to a few Palestinians who acted as witnesses to the wedding. After marrying Arafat, Suha converted to Islam and moved to Tunisia to be close to Arafat since the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) had relocated its headquarters there. Arafat and Suha’s marriage became public knowledge only in 1992 after Suha visited Libya to inquire about Arafat’s fate after his plane crashed in the Libyan desert. On July 24, 1995, Suha gave birth to a girl. Arafat named the baby “Zahwa”, in honour of his late mother who died in 1933. After Arafat’s death, Suha lived in Tunisia for a while, and was granted the country’s citizenship. [86]

25. Sheikh Abdullah, The Former Chief Minister of Occupied Jammu & Kashmir, India

In 1933 he married Akbar Jahan, the daughter of Michael Harry Nedou, the eldest son of the European proprietor of a chain of hotels in India including Nedous Hotel in Srinagar, and his Kashmiri wife Mirjan. Michael Harry Nedou was himself the proprietor of a hotel at the tourist resort of Gulmarg. [87]

Abdullah writes about his marriage in his autobiography:

“In 1933, he married Akbar Jahān, the daughter of Michael Harry Nedou. My father-in-law was a European proprietor and heir to certain hotels in India. ”[88]

26. Dr. Farooq ‘Abdullah, the Former Chief Minister of Occupied Jammu & Kashmir, India

Dr. Farooq Abdullah is the son of Sheikh Abdullah who has served as the Chief Minister of Indian Jammu & Kashmir on several occasions after his father’s death in 1982. He has married a Christian lady named Molly who was a nurse of British origin. About this marriage his father Sheikh Abdullah observes:

The eldest son of mine is Fārooq……. He got married an English woman. ”[89]

Nora Chopra states about this marriage as follows:

“Mix marriages are common in ‘Abdullah family. Fārooq Abdullah had married a British lady. ” [90]

27. Dr. Ashraf Ghani, the President of Afghanistan:

Dr. Ashraf Ghani the current president of Afghanistan is also married to a Christian lady. His wife Rula Saade has been given Afghani name as Bibi Gul. She was born and raised in a Christian family in Lebanon, Rula met her future husband while studying political science at the American University in Beirut. She had previously studied at Sciences Po in Paris where the1968 student riots helped ignite her political zest. She married in 1975 and spent the next couple of years in Afghanistan. [91]Dr. Ghani comes from a conservative Muslim Family while Roula Saade’s family is Greek Orthodox Christian from Beirut. Their two children---Mariam and Tariq-say that their mother did not convert to Islam upon her marriage and that, on the contrary, their father often accompanied the family to church when they lived in the United States. [92]

Impact of Interfaith Marriages

The permission to marry with the women of the People of the Book is manifestation of open-mindedness of Islam. The main reason for the prohibition of marriage with polytheists was the risk of conversion of Muslims to the religion of their wives. Therefore, Islam prohibited marriage with polytheists (infidels). On the other hand, one reason for the permission of marriage with the women of the people of the book was that the women having faith in earlier scriptures might be impressed by Islam and accepted it as their religion and in this way Islam may flourish. According to scholars if there is a risk of damage (lost) of religion such a marriage with the women of the people of the book is abominable. As it is said that interfaith marriages have expedient impact if the Christian wives embrace Islam but this may not happen in all interfaith marriages. In history there are many examples of conversion from other religions to Islam but there are also fewer cases of conversion from Islam to other religions.

Christian Wives’ Influence in State Affairs:

History is full of such instances where the life partners of the Muslim rulers were not Muslims. Sometimes, the result of these marriages was very dangerous as is obvious by incident of Άbdul Άzῑz ibn Mūsā, the ruler of Andalus. His Christian wife’s interference in government affairs proved a disaster for him and he could not maintain balance between love for his wife and the government, and his imbalance attitude resulted in his murder. Secondly, it is said that he became a Christian, and then his soldiers killed him. [93]

Hisham’s mother named Malikah ʻArūrah tried to poison Mansūr for the sake of her son’s caliphate. [94]Ottoman Turks impressed their Christian wives and became tyrannical for their subject and they indulged in immoral vices. [95]

Muḥammad II the conqueror had a French wife and because of her, he took many cruel steps in the initial years of his supremacy. [96]

In the same way Sulaymān who was a very powerful Ottoman ruler had a Russian wife Rokhselena. She had overpowered in such a way that the sultan had killed his own greatly intelligent and capable son Mustafa because Rokhselena wanted to make her incapable son Salim, the next king of Ottoman Empire. [97]

In the harem of Murād III, The Venetian princess for the sake of her son’s khilafat instantly put his nineteen brothers to death and seven female slaves respectively. [98]

Despina soon came to exercise a great influence over her Turkish husband and she allured Bayazid to drink wine and luxuries of life. [99]

Ottoman Rulers were very open hearted people; they married the Christian women and made them a part of their lives. But sometimes the families of these women marry their daughters to the Muslim rulers in order to make conspiracies against the Islāmic state. No doubt, apart from these interfaith marriages in the coming 10 generations Ottoman family gave birth to brilliant rulers who were not only great conquerors but also excellent administrators. Until the time the Ottoman rulers used their intelligence and wisdom and were active and alert, these Christian wives were not able to damage the state affairs, but after 10 generations slowly and gradually these Christian wives were getting power over their Muslim husbands who were the rulers of the time. So it is said that these interfaith marriages had badly damaged the Ottoman Empire in the later period of incompetent rulers. [100]

Fārūq ʻAbdullah chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir married a Christian woman. Due to her influence, the whole family has started wedding to not only the People of the Book but also in Hindu families. One event has been stated in the Daily Nawai-Waqt:

“The daughter of Fārūq ʻAbdullah, ex- chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir has married to Sajan Piolet, son of Rajish Piolet. Fārūq ʻAbdullah has disowned her daughter from property. Unblemished it that Rajish is the ex-chief minister of India and religiously a Hindu. It is not all over, rest of his progeny also married to non-Muslims”. [101]

Pointing out these issues, the author of Tafsir Nʻaῑmῑ quoted:

“Scripture women has given loss of nation and religion to Muslims. ”[102]

Amῑn Ahsan Iṣlāhῑ narrated:

“The history is full of the examples of great changes in religion, social values and civilizations that are the result of interfaith marriages. By studying the history of Bani Israel it comes into knowledge that a great number of vices related to faith had become a part of Bani Israel’s life, these vices spread in them because of the women they married from the tribes of idol worshipers. ”[103]

Saifullah Rehmānῑ writes:

“By marrying the women of the people of the book Islāmic state had faced many fatalities; it greatly affected the moral values of Muslims”. [104]

The Holy Bible has underlined:

“Marrying the women of other religions leads towards faithlessness and refrain from worshipping God”. [105]

Ibn Qudāmah says:

“When you marry the women of the people of the book, there is a danger that you may indulge so deeply in her love that she may lead you towards negative acts”. [106]

There is a danger that the woman of the people of the book may try to lead her husband and children towards her own religion and moral values.

Sheikh ‘Abd al-‘Azῑz says:

“Because of these dangers it is better that you should be careful and don’t marry the women of the people of the book”. [107]

Christian Wives’ Conversion to Islam:

There are many examples that mark positive impact in the case of marriage with the women of the people of the book and they might accept Islam. For example, Caliph ‘Uthmān’s wife named Nā’ila who accepted Islam. [108]There are many examples of interfaith marriages in the present time in which women married to a Muslim husband accepted Islam. In Europe and U. S. A many Muslims married Christian women and later on, the wives had accepted Islam. Another positive impact of this conversion was that through the wife Islam got introduced into the wife’s family as well and in certain cases some other family member of wife had also been impressed by Islam and accepted it.

Lessening of Mutual Hatred:

One of the results of Muslim rulers’ marriages to Christian was lessening of hatred between the rulers and the ruled. Mu‘awiya’s marriage in the Christian tribe Banu Kalb helped to lessen the hatred between the Christian subject of Damascus government and they were willingly enlisted in his army. He mostly relied on his Christian troops. Hitti observes:

“Mu‘awiya relied mainly upon Syrians, who were chiefly Christians, and upon the Syro-Arabs, who were mainly Yamanites, to the exclusion of the new Moslem immigrants from al-Hijjāz”[109]

According to Dr. Mahmood ul-Hasan “Banu Kalb established relationship with the Umayyads on the basis of mutual cooperation and harmony. Thus Banu Kalb became allies of Banu Umayya and some men of this tribe were appointed on important military and civil posts”[110]

Better Understanding of Life Partner’s Religion:

When the adherents to different religions are wed-locked, there is a better understanding of the religion of life partners. The marriages of Muslim rulers with the Christian wives also resulted in the better understanding of each other religion. It led them to interfaith harmony and interfaith dialogues. These Muslim rulers become more liberal and granted more religious freedom to their Christian subjects.

Evolution of Mixed Culture:

With the marriage of Muslim rulers with the Christian wives a mixed culture was evolved. Certain things from Christianity entered in Islamic culture and became its integral part. Muslim rulers started celebrating birth days like Christian. The Islamic mysticism was also affected and asceticism was borrowed from the Christians.

Hereditary Changes:

The marriages between the people belonging to different races proved very healthy on genetic level. Such marriages resulted in mentally and physically healthy progeny. Marriages within same gene pool produce weak offspring as the geneticists say. Children may be blind or dumb or due to Consanguineous marriages. So, Ottoman princes inherited good qualities of heart and soul from both parents and ultimately they proved good ruler on ascending the throne.


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