Marriage is a holy union of two individuals instituted by religion to establish a bonafide family unit in the eyes of God. Interracial marriage is a union of individuals who are of different races.
Today, the world is a global village. We appreciate the variety of food that represents a country or culture, which in turn makes us appreciate the native ingredients used to make that masterpiece. However, when it comes to people, we are less appreciative overall. You can be rich, poor, Muslim, Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, a Democratic or Republican voter, all of which can contribute to and influence your thinking and character. These characteristics can be found in anyone of any race, creed, or culture. But it seems that there are many people who are less concerned with character, more with the skin color of any given individual.
In the United States of America, interracial marriage has increased from 5% to 18% from the 1980s to 2010s (1). However, we are still dealing with people who are more concerned about the race than about the person him/herself. Let us suppose someone is looking for a wealthy individual; it puts many races, such as the Black, Asians, and Minority Ethnic (BAME) groups at a disadvantage. This is because more than 10% of people are likely to fail to earn the same rate as their white counterparts (2).
There are advertisements that showcase a lighter skinned individual being more successful than a darker-skinned individual. This also creates a delusional thought in the minds of the masses that Black is not beautiful. What is interesting is that people tend to have a problem with the levels of melanin, a pigment that is responsible for absorbing light and protecting from harmful UV rays of the sun. This means that Black people can be likened to a crystal prism capable of releasing various colors, i.e., the founding race of all other races. This is evident from the fact that all nations diverged from Africa (3).
All skin colors are beautiful, but if someone believes otherwise, perhaps genetics would help. For example, genetically brown eyes more prevalent in the BAME group contain high melanin, whereas hazel, blue or green eyes are formed by variably low amounts of mel-anin together with brown pigmentation, giving a specific color (4). In genetics, brown eyes are more dominant traits, or perhaps we can say the successful ones. However, natural selection and evolution have placed the recessive genes to be dominant in certain regions of the world, meaning that the physical features of a person only represent a shield for it to survive certain physical environments. These physical features that form to protect humans do not shield them from the mental and spiritual attacks by the evils of society.
Attraction to other individuals is often based on physi-cal characteristics, and the decision is made to form a union. This is apparent from many online marriage sites as well as in the personal bio-data of people specifying a “tall, fair” woman or man. However, we do not realize that we are often limiting ourselves to something good that can be best for us and could be found outside these specific features. It is often the same as someone specifying social class and caste as well, all of which are baseless in Islam. A saying of the Prophet Muhammad (sa) states:
“A woman is married for four things, i.e., her wealth, her family status, her beauty, and her religion. You should marry the religious woman (otherwise) you will be a loser” (5).
When an individual is looking to get married, they should be looking at a potential father or mother of their children, and whether they are mentally and spiritually capable of taking on that responsibility. You are also looking at an individual who will be a new child to your parents, a new sibling, a new friend, and so on. Family background is also important to consider since you want to know what kind of environment and teaching was involved in your potential spouse’s upbringing. But this should not be confused with family status, financial assets, etc. As emphasized in the earlier Hadith which clearly states the importance of piety in a person as that will greatly motivate a person to exhibit their duties and be inclined to fulfill your rights. The Holy Prophet (sa) said the following on seeking a wife:
“The whole world is a provision, and the best object of benefit of the world is the pious woman” (6).
This is also true for seeking a husband as the Prophet (sa) said:
“When someone with whose religion and character you are satisÿed asks to marry your daughter, comply with his request. If you do not do so, there will be corruption and great evil on earth” (7).
This Hadith is a great reminder to those individuals and families who do not go forward with a potential proposal based solely on physical features, especially of race and skin color, despite the person showing a good character. People often do not want to show that they are open to marrying someone they like for their character, and due to their skin color and society’s views and stereotypes on it, they show even more hesitancy. Sometimes it is seen that there are instances where individuals marry certain races for status symbols or as “trophies.” This again goes against the teachings of Islam and is also a way to cheat oneself of finding good.
There are also cases where individuals who have had an unsuccessful interracial marriage due to their own character traits rather than the race of their partner will often persuade others to not delve into marriage with another race. It is true that the Holy Qur’an states:
“He has created wives for you from among yourselves that you may find peace of mind in them, and He has put love and tenderness between you. In that surely are Signs for a people who reflect” (8).
This indicates that familiarity is an easier path as, indeed, it can be more difficult to adapt to living with a family or a partner that is of a different race. For example, a Bangladeshi man marrying a Chinese woman or an Indian woman marrying a man from the Caribbean will mean that their staple diets are different and, therefore, may mean those food choices might clash. But this is very trivial and can be overcome with exploring and accepting the good. The fact that the genetic pool is so diverse shows that humans mixing and creating huge diversity is for the health and survival of humans in the long run.
The following Hadith point out that there is good and bad in all nations and that we must seek the good for ourselves, including marrying the person of the best character to create peace and love in our homes.
“And marry not idolatrous women until they believe; even a believing bondwoman is better than an idola-tress, although she may highly please you. And give not believing women in marriage to idolaters until they believe; even a believing slave is better than an idolater, although he may highly please you” (9).
Allah also states in the Holy Qur’an:
“The adulterer (or fornicator) shall not marry, but an adulteress (or fornicatress) or an idolatrous woman, and an adulteress (or fornicatress) shall not marry but an adulterer (or fornicator) or an idolatrous man. That indeed is forbidden to the believers” (10).
This again emphasizes the importance of piety to build a person’s character over the importance of their physical features. Islam promotes diversity and marrying individuals of unblemished character.
When an interracial marriage occurs, some family members and even relative strangers may speak ill and point at the skin color as a flaw. This is because family members often wonder what others would think, but they do not realize that they are stopping themselves from keeping their homes as sanctuaries and unwisely filling it with worries and thoughts of others’ opinions instead of remembrance of Allah.
“Aye! It is in the remembrance of Allah that hearts can find comfort” (11).
This means that we must make sure our homes are not under the in°uence of society’s racism, and we do not let the Media or other individuals impact our thoughts more than following Islamic teachings.
Sometimes we also tend to forget that certain races, especially of African descent, are less celebrated for their achievements and contribution in the world. In the West, they often are part of an intellectual group despite not being promoted or widely recognized, but in the East, racial diversity is often ignored, thus contributing to their regression. This is also very apparent due to their racial insecurity, too, and the high sales of “making skin fair” creams. People slowly recognize that race has nothing to do with greatness or superiority. Allah has made everyone equal as the Prophet Muhammad (sa) said:
“All mankind is from Adam and Eve, an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab, nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over a black, nor a black has any superiority over a white, except by piety and good action” (12).
The rank of an individual only becomes higher due to their goodness and that too only in front of Allah. Thus, as the Promised Messiah (as) said:
“I do not like the words of those who limit their compassion to their own ethnicity. I advise you, again and again, to never ever restrict your sphere of compassion.”
He also said:
“You should extend compassion to all of God’s creations as if you are their blood relative, just like mothers are with their children. One who does good with natural passion like that of a mother can never be ostentatious” (13).
When we look at longevity in marriages, the majority of those that last are due to overlooking the physical features of a spouse and accepting them as they are. A house can make two dishes but cannot worship two different Gods or hold different beliefs. If ideologies differ, we are likely not to unite, and unity is an important thing for the peace of any home. Beauty attracts, but character holds, that is, physical beauty may attract you to a person, but it is the character that will either break the relationship or make it a saga of lasting love.
This article appears in the Fall 2020 issue.
1. https://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2017/05/18/1-trends-and-patterns-in-intermarriage/ [Accessed August 10, 2020]
https://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/ethnic-minorit y-pay-gap-uk-bank-of- england-research-bame-a9165071.html [Accessed August 10, 2020]
3. https://qz.com/africa/1739319/scientists-say-the-birthplace-of-human-kind-was-in-botswana/ [Accessed August 10, 2020]
4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Melanin [Accessed August 10, 2020]
5. Sahih al-Bukhari, 5090 Book 67, Hadith 28 Vol. 7
6. Sahih Muslim, 715 Book 17, Hadith 76
7. Sunan al-Tirmidhi, 1084
8. The Holy Qurían (30:22)
9. The Holy Qurían (2:222)
10. The Holy Qurían (24:4)
11. The Holy Qurían (13:29)
12. Last sermon of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (sa); https://www.alislam.org/book/muhammad-seal-prophets/farewell/[Accessed August 10, 2020]
13. Mirza Masroor Ahmad, Friday Sermon, May 9, 2014; https://www.alislam.org/articles/prerequisites-rightly-guided-khalifa/%5BAccessed August 10, 2020]; https://www.alislam.org/friday-sermon/printer-friendly-summary-2014-05-09.html [Accessed
Last modified: December 2021