To marry a relative or to marry outside of the family and tribe? Is race a factor?

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In the name of Allah, Most Merciful, Bestower of Mercy.

As for the one who says that marrying among relatives or within the tribe is warned against in the Islamic Sharee’ah, then that is not true – there is no such warning in the Sharee’ah against marrying a relative such as a daughter of an uncle or aunt, or from one’s distant relatives or tribe. Some of the wives of the Prophet (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) were from his tribe, Al-Quraish, such as Umm Salamah, A’ishah and Umm Habeebah – all were from Quraish – so there is nothing wrong with that. Also, ‘Ali Ibn Abi Tālib (radiyallāhu ‘anhu) married Fātimah (may Allah be pleased with her) the daughter of the Prophet (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam), and she was his cousin. Likewise, ‘Uthmān married Ruqayyah, and after her death, he married Umm Kuthoom, both daughters of the Prophet (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) – and Al-‘Aas Ibn ar-Rabee’ married Zaynab, the fourth daughter of the Prophet (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam). And all of them were related.

As for non-relatives, and people from different families, tribes or races, then the scholars of Islam and the Sunnah have agreed that this is permissible. The scholars also agree that a Muslim man can marry a woman from the Jews or Christians, even if she is a non-Arab, so long as she is chaste, not a loose woman, or taken as a girlfriend.

The proofs for this are plentiful in the Qur’an, Sunnah and the sayings of the Salaf. Allah said in His Book:

يَـٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلنَّاسُ إِنَّا خَلَقْنَـٰكُم مِّن ذَكَرٍۢ وَأُنثَىٰ وَجَعَلْنَـٰكُمْ شُعُوبًۭا وَقَبَآئِلَ لِتَعَارَفُوٓا۟ ۚ إِنَّ أَكْرَمَكُمْ عِندَ ٱللَّهِ أَتْقَىٰكُمْ ۚ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ عَلِيمٌ خَبِيرٌۭ ١٣

“O mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of Allāh is the most righteous of you. Indeed, Allāh is Knowing and Aware.” (Al-Hujurāt: 13)

So, Allah made clear in this verse to His servants no one has superiority over another or virtue over another in the sight of Allah (the Most Perfect) except in Taqwā, piety and dutifulness: ‘Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of Allāh is the most righteous of you’. The Prophet (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) was asked who the noblest of people are, so he responded: ‘The most pious of you.’ (Bukhāri, no. 3353) So, this all shows the permissibility of marrying outside of the family, tribe and race.

The Prophet (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) was from Banu Hāshim, and was best of them and he married Zaynab bint Zahsh and she was from the tribe Banu Asad Ibn Khuzaymah – she was not from Quraysh. He married Umm Habeebah bint Abu Sufyān and Hafsah bin ‘Umar, and Juwayriyah bint al-Hārith, and Sawdah bint Zam’ah, and Umm Salamah, and Ā’ishah – they were not from Banu Hāshim. The Prophet (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) married Safiyyah bint Huyayy and she was from the Children of Israel (a Jewish tribe).

This all shows that the Messenger (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) and his Companions (may Allah be pleased with all of them) did not care about tribes and lineages if the religion of the one they were marrying was firm and steadfast, and the character and manners were good and pleasant.

The Prophet (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) married Usāmah ibn Zayd to Fātimah bint Qays – she was a Quraishi woman and Usāmah was a freed slave of the tribe of Banu Kalb. Similarly, Hudhayfah ibn ‘Utbah ibn Rabee’ah ibn ‘Abd Shams married the daughter of his brother to his freed slave whose name was Sālim – she was from Quraish and he was a freed slave. Abu Bakr as-Siddeeq (radiyallāhu ‘anhu) married his sister to al-Ash’ath ibn Qais – and Abu Bakr was a Taymi Qurayshi while Al-Ash’ath was Kindi, a Yemeni from the tribe of Qahtān. And Abdur-Rahmān ibn ‘Awf az-Zuhri (radiyallāhu ‘anhu) married his sister to Bilāl ibn Rabāh – she was a Zuhriyyah and Bilāl was an Abyssinian.

So, the people of Sunnah should proceed upon this mindset and attitude when seeking a partner for marriage: Religion, Sunnah, character, piety and manners.


Ibn Bāz, Fatāwā Noor ‘alad-Darb 20/81.
Ibn Bāz, Majmoo’ Fatāwā 20/401-403.

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