Russian Muslims are prohibited from interfaith marriage, unless given permission by the local mufti. This follows a ruling by the Council of Ulema, which concluded that marriages with Jews and Christians are inadmissible.
The Council of Ulema is a group of clerics and scholars, part of the Spiritual Administration of Muslims of Russia.
Although passed in November 2019, the council’s theological decision was only published online this week. The conclusion states that marriages with “representatives of the people of the book [Jews and Christians]” are only possible with agreement from the local mufti.
According to the published document, the council believes that “interfaith marriages are characterized by the emergence of a number of problems,” including difficulties with raising children in the spirit of the Islamic faith, and the likelihood that the marriage will lead to the child not becoming a Muslim.
Following the decision, believers willing to marry from outside the faith can receive permission, but only under certain conditions. In particular, the body decided that non-Muslim women willing to “follow the precepts of the Holy Quran” can wed a Muslim man. However, it is unacceptable for a Muslim woman to marry a non-Muslim man, regardless of his views and beliefs.
On Wednesday, Salah Haji Mezhiev, the mufti of the majority-Muslim Chechen Republic, noted that the prohibition is not controversial, and is something “everyone knows” is forbidden.
Despite the Council’s theological conclusion, in practice, marriages between Russian Muslims and Christians are likely to continue. According to Roman Silantyev, an Islamic expert, there are four schools of law in Sunni Islam, and just three of them prohibit interfaith marriage. The one which doesn’t have this rule, Hanafi, is the most popular in Russia.
“It turns out that the theological conclusion of the Spiritual Administration of Russia contradicts the school to which almost all their believers belong,” Silantyev said. “The late Valiulla Yakupov [deputy mufti of Tatarstan], he had a Christian wife, and a number of Muslim leaders have wives who have not changed their religion.”
Islam is the second biggest religion in Russia, behind Orthodox Christianity.
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