Can a Sunni and Shia Marry?

QA sister has asked: AOA, I want help in a very serious matter? Plz can u tell me about Sunni and Shia. Can they marry? If a girl is Sunni and a boy is Shia. Plz tell me about this. I shall be very thankful to you.

ABismillaahi walĥamdulillaahi waŝŝalaatu wassalaamu ‘alaa rasoolillaahi
According to the teachings of Islam, a person should decide about marrying another person on the basis of his or her Deen. Using Deen as the criterion of marriage means that the person should have the correct Islamic ‘aqeedah and the right Islamic paradigm. In addition, his or her actions and lifestyle should reflect that ‘aqeedah and paradigm. For that purpose, appellations such as Sunni, Shia, Salafi, Sufi, etc. are not the best way to evaluate the Deen of a person. Rather, such a decision should be based upon an individual’s personal faith in, attitude towards and practice of the Deen.

From that perspective, one should marry a person:

  1. Who believes in the following:
    1. Allaah Subĥaanahu ea Ta‘aala as the One and Only Lord, Master, Creator, Worthy of worship, Ruler, Sovereign, Protector and Provider -- Who is Infinite and Absolute in every attribute He has mentioned about Himself; to Whom we must submit readily and willingly in slave-like obedience in all aspects and matters of life, throughout our life; Who is the only One that can listen to and respond to our du‘aas (ad‘iyah) and provide us help in supernatural ways; and Who is so Majestic and Exalted that even those who are closest to Him from His creations can never demand something from Him or intercede for someone without His permission and pleasure. Hence we must rely only on Him, repose our trust in Him and seek only His pleasure.
    2. Muhammad ŝall-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam is His last Prophet and the last Messenger who taught us and demonstrated for us the proper and balanced way of obeying Allaah SWT in our life and whose Sunnah is the perfect model for us to emulate in obedience to our Lord Allaah SWT. Other than the Prophet himself, there is absolutely no one who is perfect enough to be right all the time and whose words or actions could be followed on his own authority, without strong support form the Qur-aan and Sunnah.
    3. The Holy Qur-aan is the final guidance from Allaah and is perfectly preserved in its complete and total form and perfectly relevant to all matters of human life in all ages until the Day of Judgment. All the personal and collective matters of our life must be conducted according to the guidance of the Qur-aan.
    4. Angels are real creatures of Allaah SWT who are assigned different roles by Him. They carry out their assignments precisely, exactly and without compromising or making any mistake.
    5. We will be raised and held accountable for our worldly life on the Day of Judgment and rewarded and punished according to our performance in this world. Only the personal faith that exists in the depths of our psyche (heart), and the right actions performed with sincerity and pure intentions for Allaah’s pleasure will avail us that day. While living in this world we must prepare for the life Hereafter instead of worrying too much about this temporary life.
  2. Whose religious paradigm is the following:

    Islam is a complete way of life that is designed to develop personal excellence and superb behaviour, ethics and dealings in individuals and to establish the most superb global community that is characterized by peace, justice, graciousness, care and loving environment. The five pillars of Islam provide us the structure and foundations to help us attain our individual and collective excellence, which is built upon that structure and foundations by practising the rest of the Deen. We must continuously work hard on a daily basis in an organized and planned manner for attaining personal excellence and as well as establishing the Islamic society of excellence for the pleasure of Allaah and the success in the Hereafter.

If a person testifies to have the abovementioned faith and his religious outlook corresponds to the abovementioned paradigm, and his personal lifestyle and conduct testify to the truth of these assertions, that is the person with Deen and that is the best person to get married to.

January 20, 2004

Bismillaahi walhamdulillaahi wassalaatu Wassalaamu ‘Alaa rasoolillaahi
Some people have written back and raised further questions about this topic. Many people are used to verdicts or rulings in response to a question. I have, instead, provided a powerful criterion that one can use in any situation they encounter and evaluate from Islamic point of view if the other candidate for marriage is good from Deen point of view or not. All statements in that criterion are based on the verses of the Holy Qur-aan. The beauty of this approach is that it takes people away from parochial or sectarian feelings and perspectives and tunes them to the significant principles taught by the Qur-aan. It also takes people away from the discussion of who is Muslim or not. But it is comprehensive enough to enable them to deal with any people.

For example, another sister asked if a girl can marry an Ahmadi (Qadiani) man. The matter is simple. Anyone who does not believe in Prophet Muhammad ŝall-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam as the last prophet and the last messenger will fail the test mentioned in the point A-2. Also, anyone who follows another human being on that person’s own authority (whether a haazir Imaam, or a ghaaib Imaam, or asaint or a mujaddid) will also fail that second test, because only the Prophet can be followed on his own authority, none after him.

Similarly, criterion of paradigm is also very important. The paradigm suggests that practise of Islamic obligations and commands must results in personal excellence. If it does not, then the person is not practising Islam in its true spirit. His or her claim to belief in Islam is spurious. Naturally, a person who excels in morals and conduct will not be disrespectful or abusive to an ordinary Muslim, not to speak of the companions of the Prophet who were the best of all the generations of Muslims.

Please re-read and reflect on the above-mentioned criteria again.

January 22, 2004

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