Laa ilaha ilaa Allah
Al Baqarah, 2:221
Yusuf Ali: Do not marry unbelieving women until they believe; a slave woman who believes is better than an unbelieving woman even though she allure you. Nor marry (your girls) to unbelievers until they believe: a man slave who believes is better than an unbeliever, even though he allure you. Unbelievers do (but) beckon you to the fire. But Allah beckons by His Grace to the Garden (of Bliss) and forgiveness, and makes His Signs clear to mankind: that they receive admonition
Dr. Mohsin: And do not marry Al-Mushrikât (idolatresses, etc.) till they believe (worship Allâh Alone). And indeed a slave woman who believes is better than a (free) Mushrikah (idolatress), even though she pleases you. And give not (your daughters) in marriage to Al-Mushrikûn till they believe (in Allâh Alone) and verily, a believing slave is better than a (free) Mushrik (idolater), even though he pleases you. Those (Al-Mushrikûn) invite you to the Fire, but Allâh invites (you) to Paradise and Forgiveness by His Leave, and makes His Ayât (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.) clear to mankind that they may remember.
وَلاَ تَنْكِحُواْ ٱلْمُشْرِكَاتِ حَتَّىٰ يُؤْمِنَّ وَلأَمَةٌ مُّؤْمِنَةٌ خَيْرٌ مِّن مُّشْرِكَةٍ وَلَوْ أَعْجَبَتْكُمْ وَلاَ تُنْكِحُواْ ٱلْمُشِرِكِينَ حَتَّىٰ يُؤْمِنُواْ وَلَعَبْدٌ مُّؤْمِنٌ خَيْرٌ مِّن مُّشْرِكٍ وَلَوْ أَعْجَبَكُمْ أُوْلَـٰئِكَ يَدْعُونَ إِلَى ٱلنَّارِ وَٱللَّهُ يَدْعُوۤاْ إِلَى ٱلْجَنَّةِ وَٱلْمَغْفِرَةِ بِإِذْنِهِ وَيُبَيِّنُ آيَاتِهِ لِلنَّاسِ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَتَذَكَّرُونَ
Wa Lā Tankiĥū Al-Mushrikāti Ĥattá Yu'uminna Wa La'amatun Mu'uminatun Khayrun Min Mushrikatin Wa Law 'A`jabatkum Wa Lā Tunkiĥū Al-Mushrikīna Ĥattá Yu'uminū Wa La`abdun Mu'uminun Khayrun Min Mushrikin Wa Law 'A`jabakum 'Ūlā'ika Yad`ūna 'Ilá An-Nāri Wa Allāhu Yad`ū 'Ilá Al-Jannati Wa Al-Maghfirati Bi'idhnihi Wa Yubayyinu 'Āyātihi Lilnnāsi La`allahum Yatadhakkarūna
O Muslims, Do not marry idolatresses, disbelievers, until they believe; a believing slavegirl is better than an idolatress, who may be a free woman; this was revealed as a rebuttal of the idea that it was shameful to marry a slavegirl and that it was better to marry an idolatress free woman; though you may admire her, because of her beauty and wealth: this provision excludes the womenfolk of the People of the Scripture (as indicated by the verse [Q. 5:5], [lawful to you] are the chaste women among those who were given the Scripture). And do not marry, off believing women to, idolaters, until they believe. A believing slave is better than an idolater, though you may admire him, for his wealth and good looks. Those, the people of idolatry, call to the Fire, because they invite one to perform deeds that merit this, and for this reason one should not marry with them; and God calls, through the voice of His prophets, to Paradise and pardon, that is, to the deeds that merit these two, by His leave, by His will, so that His call may be heeded by marrying with His friends; and He makes clear His signs to the people so that they might remember, [that] they [might] be admonished.
Tafsir ibn Kathir:
(221. And do not marry Al-Mushrikat (idolatresses) till they believe (worship Allah Alone). And indeed a slave woman who believes is better than a (free) Mushrikah (idolatress), even though she pleases you. And give not (your daughters) in marriage to Al-Mushrikin till they believe (in Allah Alone) and verily, a believing servant is better than a (free) Mushrik (idolator), even though he pleases you. Those (Mushrikin) invite you to the Fire, but Allah invites (you) to Paradise and forgiveness by His leave, and makes His Ayat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.) clear to mankind that they may remember.)
The Prohibition of marrying Mushrik Men and Women
Allah prohibited the believers from marrying Mushrik women who worship idols. Although the meaning is general and includes every Mushrik woman from among the idol worshippers and the People of the Scripture, Allah excluded the People of the Scripture from this ruling. Allah stated:
﴿مِنَ الَّذِينَ أُوتُواْ الْكِتَـبَ مِن قَبْلِكُمْ إِذَآ ءَاتَيْتُمُوهُنَّ أُجُورَهُنَّ مُحْصِنِينَ غَيْرَ مُسَافِحِينَ﴾
((Lawful to you in marriage) are chaste women from those who were given the Scripture (Jews and Christians) before your time when you have given their due dowry, desiring chastity (i.e., taking them in legal wedlock) not committing illegal sexual intercourse.) (5:5)
`Ali bin Abu Talhah said that Ibn `Abbas said about what Allah said:
﴿وَلاَ تَنْكِحُواْ الْمُشْرِكَـتِ حَتَّى يُؤْمِنَّ﴾
(And do not marry Al-Mushrikat (female idolators) till they believe (worship Allah Alone).) "Allah has excluded the women of the People of the Scripture.'' This is also the explanation of Mujahid, `Ikrimah, Sa`id bin Jubayr, Makhul, Al-Hasan, Ad-Dahhak, Zayd bin Aslam and Ar-Rabi` bin Anas and others. Some scholars said that the Ayah is exclusively talking about idol worshippers and not the People of the Scripture, and this meaning is similar to the first meaning we mentioned. Allah knows best.
Abu Ja`far bin Jarir (At-Tabari) said, after mentioning that there is Ijma` that marrying women from the People of the Scripture is allowed, "`Umar disliked this practice so that the Muslims do not refrain from marrying Muslim women, or for similar reasons.'' An authentic chain of narrators stated that Shaqiq said: Once Hudhayfah married a Jewish woman and `Umar wrote to him, "Divorce her.'' He wrote back, "Do you claim that she is not allowed for me so that I divorce her'' He said, "No. But, I fear that you might marry the whores from among them.'' Ibn Jarir related that Zayd bin Wahb said that `Umar bin Khattab said, "The Muslim man marries the Christian woman, but the Christian man does not marry the Muslim woman.'' This Hadith has a stronger, authentic chain of narrators than the previous Hadith.
Ibn Abu Hatim said that Ibn `Umar disliked marrying the women from the People of the Scripture. He relied on his own explanation for the Ayah:
﴿وَلاَ تَنْكِحُواْ الْمُشْرِكَـتِ حَتَّى يُؤْمِنَّ﴾
(And do not marry Al-Mushrikat (female idolators) till they believe (worship Allah Alone).)
Al-Bukhari also reported that Ibn `Umar said, "I do not know of a bigger Shirk than her saying that Jesus is her Lord!''
﴿وَلأَمَةٌ مُّؤْمِنَةٌ خَيْرٌ مِّن مُّشْرِكَةٍ وَلَوْ أَعْجَبَتْكُمْ﴾
(And indeed a slave woman who believes is better than a (free) Mushrikah (female idolators), even though she pleases you.)
It is recorded in the Two Sahihs that Abu Hurayrah narrated that the Prophet said:
«تُنْـكَحُ الْمَرْأَةُ لِأَرْبَعٍ: لِمَالِهَا وَلِحَسَبِهَا وَلِجَمَالِهَا وَلِدِينِهَا، فَاظْفَرْ بِذَاتِ الدِّينِ، تَرِبَتْ يَدَاك»
(A woman is chosen for marriage for four reasons: her wealth, social status, beauty, and religion. So, marry the religious woman, may your hands be filled with sand (a statement of encouragement).)
Muslim reported this Hadith from Jabir. Muslim also reported that Ibn `Amr said that Allah's Messenger said:
«الدُّنْيَا مَتَاعٌ، وَخَيْرُ مَتَاعِ الدُّنْيَا الْمَرْأَةُ الصَّالِحَة»
(The life of this world is but a delight, and the best of the delights of this earthly life is the righteous wife.)
Allah then said:
﴿وَلاَ تُنكِحُواْ الْمُشِرِكِينَ حَتَّى يُؤْمِنُواْ﴾
(And give not (your daughters) in marriage to Al-Mushrikin till they believe (in Allah Alone).) meaning, do not marry Mushrik men to believing women. This statement is similar to Allah's statement:
﴿لاَ هُنَّ حِلٌّ لَّهُمْ وَلاَ هُمْ يَحِلُّونَ لَهُنَّ﴾
(They are not lawful (wives) for them, nor are they lawful (husbands) for them.) (60:10)
Next, Allah said:
﴿وَلَعَبْدٌ مُّؤْمِنٌ خَيْرٌ مِّن مُّشْرِكٍ وَلَوْ أَعْجَبَكُمْ﴾
(. ..and verily, a believing servant is better than a (free) Mushrik (idolator), even though he pleases you.)
This Ayah indicates that a believing man, even an Abyssinian servant, is better than a Mushrik man, even if he was a rich master.
﴿أُوْلَـئِكَ يَدْعُونَ إِلَى النَّارِ﴾
(Those (Al-Mushrikun) invite you to the Fire) meaning, associating and mingling with the disbelievers makes one love this life and prefer it over the Hereafter, leading to the severest repercussions. Allah said:
﴿وَاللَّهُ يَدْعُواْ إِلَى الْجَنَّةِ وَالْمَغْفِرَةِ بِإِذْنِهِ﴾
(...but Allah invites (you) to Paradise and forgiveness by His leave) meaning, by His Law, commandments and prohibitions. Allah said:
﴿وَيُبَيِّنُ آيَـتِهِ لِلنَّاسِ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَتَذَكَّرُونَ﴾
(...and makes His Ayat clear to mankind that they may remember.)