Answered by Shaykh Muhammad ibn Adam al-Kawthari
In the name of Allah, Most Compassionate, Most Merciful,
It is not permissible for a Muslim to marry a Hindu girl unless she accepts Islam. Allah Most High says:
“Do not marry unbelieving women until they believe. A slave woman who believes is better than an unbelieving woman, even though she allure you” (al-Baqarah, 221).
The above verse of the Qur’an is clear in that it is unlawful for a Muslim man to marry a non-Muslim (other than a true Christian or Jew) woman. The Qur’an says that even if the girl attracts and appeals to you, marriage can never be considered. There is absolute scholarly consensus about this matter.
However, if the girl converts truly to Islam, then it will be permissible for them to marry. Therefore, marriage (nikah) will only be valid if it was contracted after her conversion Islam.
As far as the marriage being contracted according to the Hindu rituals is concerned, firstly, this would not be considered a valid marriage according to Shariah unless it is also in conformance with Islamic guidelines.
Secondly, to attend the Hindu place of worship and contract the marriage according to the rituals and customs of their religion is something that cannot be considered by a Muslim. If the boy does not renounce Islam with his heart, then although he will not apostatize, it will be considered an extremely blameworthy act and can never be allowed.
Imam Abd Allah al-Baydawi states in his exegesis of the Qur’an:
“The reason why the wearing of a cross, etc is considered disbelief (kufr), because it indicates disbelief, for the one who believes in the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) can never dare to do this outwardly, not because these practices are Kufr in them selves” (al-Baydawi, Anwar al-Tanzil, 1/23).
Imam al-Haskafi (Allah have mercy on him) states regarding those who involve themselves in the customs of other religions:
“He will be ordered to seek forgiveness and repent and renew his marriage” (Radd al-Muhtar, 3/414).
Therefore, it will not be permissible to contract the marriage according to the Hindu custom, especially if it involves acts of disbelief.
As you mention that if this is not done, then they would contract their marriage according to civil law, then there is nothing wrong in doing so. A civil marriage may be contracted after which a formal Islamic ceremony is performed. In this way, there will be no violations of Islamic principles. The girl can remain a Hindu before the marriage according to civil law, thereafter accept Islam and contract the Islamic Nikah.
And Allah knows best
Muhammad ibn Adam al-Kawthari, UK
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