Can a Shi’te twelver man marry a Su...

Egypt's Dar Al-Ifta

Can a Shi’te twelver man marry a Sunni woman?


Can a Shi’te twelver man marry a Sunni woman?


Shi'ism is a Muslim denomination. The difference between Sunnis and Shi'ites is limited to a few issues, the most important of which is that of the imamate [leadership]. Sunnis believe that the issue of the Muslim imamate is one of the ancillary branches of religion and that Muslims choose their leaders through election and consultancy. They also believe that, unlike prophets, a leader is fallible. On the other hand, Shi'ites believe that the imamate is from among the fundamentals of religion and that the imam is not chosen by the majority but his imamate is explicitly stated in legal texts [the Quran]. They moreover believe that he is infallible.

The Shi'a sect is divided into many extremist and moderate groups. The Ithna 'Ashriya [Twelver] and Zaydiya groups are an essential part of the Muslim community and the difference between them and between Sunnis is only minor. The schools of jurisprudence followed by these two groups are not only taught in the noble Azhar but are sometimes resorted to in issuing religious edicts.

Based on this, it is permissible for a Shi'ite man to marry a Sunni girl if he is from among the moderate Shi'a groups referred to above. This is because both of them share the same beliefs even if they differ over some subsidiary issues and rulings upon which there are differences of scholarly opinions. However, marriage between a Sunni and a Shi'ite is subject to environmental, social, and intellectual considerations that, in some cases, might not be compatible with those of others. We recommend that you take the above into account. You must also ascertain that the prospective spouse does not have strict ideas and opinions that disparage the Companions or doubt the fundamentals of the religion.

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