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Marriage in a Church

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I am a Christian woman engaged to a Muslim man. We have discussed the fact that we both have a different religion and I have agreed that if God gives us children, they would be Muslims. I am very interested in learning as much as I can about the Qur’an because I believe that children should have the opportunity to receive answers to their questions even from a non-Muslim, provided that they get the correct explanation. Our relationship is based upon respect of each other’s religious practices.

My question is as follows: I know that a Muslim man can marry non-Muslim woman. What I don’t know is does the Qur’an forbid that the ceremony takes place in a church or a celebration is conducted by a priest. I suppose if such a marriage is allowed, the religious ceremony can take place in a church. If not, the Christian’s marriage is not valid, and the person is not considered married and commits the sin of fornication. A civil marriage is supposed to be followed by the religious ceremony; otherwise the Catholic church does not consider the union as valid.

We both practice our religion and respect one another’s beliefs, and feel very concerned about the matter. Indeed, if a Muslim is not allowed to celebrate his union in a church, then we must end this relationship, since committing the sin of fornication (getting married without God’s blessing in a church) is not acceptable for me. I agree to have my marriage blessed by an imam, but my fiancé and I do not know if he is allowed to do the same in a church, in order for me to have my marriage blessed.

I will finish by adding that I asked a priest if such a marriage could be celebrated and he said yes, telling me the church does not reject anyone. My fiancé says that of course it is possible for us to receive blessing from an imam since a Muslim man is allowed to marry a Christian. I suppose for him it is an obligation, just like for me at church

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In Islam, going to a church or a mosque is not a condition for a valid marriage. A Muslim must seek blessings directly from God and only from God, and he must never seek blessings from priests, imams, or any other created beings.

I have two pieces of advice to offer on this matter:

The first is for the questioner. I sense from your question that you are intelligent and that you have a love for purity and decency. My sincere advice to you is not to demand to have the marriage performed in a church if that can at all be avoided.

My second piece of advice is addressed to your Muslim fiancé. Though he should do his best to convince you not to go to a church for the marriage if it can be avoided, he must allow you to attend church thereafter according to your wishes. He must teach you about the Islamic faith in a kind and understanding manner. He must show you Islam through his good and morally upright conduct more than through words and books.

I also say to him: If she insists on contracting the marriage in a church and regards the marriage to be invalid otherwise, then there is no problem with you going together to the church for that purpose. However, this is under the strict condition that you as a Muslim believe firmly in your heart that your going there does not bring about the validity of the contract in any way and that this act on your part is solely that of carrying out a civil procedure that for you as a Muslim man has nothing to do with the lawfulness of the contract with God.

And Allah knows best.

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