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Islamic Studies

Marriage Caste System in Islam?

Assalamu Alaikum,

I had a quick question Imam Suhaib.

According to everything I’ve read on the spirit of Islamic Law and Islam, there is no caste system or seperation between races. “The most honored amongst you with Allah is the most pious of you”, the last sermon of the Prophet, etc.   However, when I look at one of the more prominent classical legal manuals and other statements that I’ve read over the years, there seems to be a little-talked about idea that Arabs are superior to non-Arabs, the inferiority of certain races, non Arabs and Muslim men with a Muslim father and grandfather superior in marrying a Muslim woman to a Muslim man without a muslim father and grandfather and a hyper sense of patriarchy?  I have alot of trouble reconciling this with the statement that Islam came to wipe these things out (which we’ve heard many times).   wa alaikum assalam

Asalamu alaykum,

You will constantly run into these type of things when dealing with legal presumptions founded in the classical period. One should read these with one eye open; understanding that they are merely presumptive recipes written to deal with certain social phenomena that existed.

In the 1960’s South African Ulema felt that there was nothing inherently wrong with apartheid practices as the ruling body did not disturb the Muslims “prayers” nor “other ritual acts of worship.” Now, if we were to take their contention and those mentioned in your question, apply them to the general principles of Shar’iah, as well as our own common sense, there is no way we could justify, nor accept, their postulations. In others words, honor the tradition, but don’t hold it as holy.

From this we can garner the need and obligation for tajdid [revival] of Islamic law and our need, as Western Muslims, to take proprietorship of it, at least its presumptive elements; translating it according to our contexts and understandings. That in itself should make obvious to us all, the danger and failure of traditional, centric movements who cling to such presumptions as though they are definite in their applications and fitting for every age to come. What is clear cut from our authoratative texts we must respect, what is based on speculative legal discourse is fair game for the qualified.

SDW

About the author

Suhaib Webb

Suhaib Webb is a contemporary American-Muslim educator, activist, and lecturer. His work bridges classical and contemporary Islamic thought, addressing issues of cultural, social and political relevance to Muslims in the West. After converting to Islam in 1992, Webb left his career in the music industry to pursue his passion in education. He earned a Bachelor’s in Education from the University of Central Oklahoma and received intensive private training in the Islamic Sciences under a renowned Muslim Scholar of Senegalese descent. Webb was hired as the Imam at the Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City, where he gave khutbas (sermons), taught religious classes, and provided counselling to families and young people; he also served as an Imam and resident scholar in communities across the U.S.

From 2004-2010, Suhaib Webb studied at the world’s preeminent Islamic institution of learning, Al-Azhar University, in the College of Shari`ah. During this time, after several years of studying the Arabic Language and the Islamic legal tradition, he also served as the head of the English Translation Department at Dar al-Ifta al-Misriyyah.

Outside of his studies at Al-Azhar, Suhaib Webb completed the memorization of the Quran in the city of Makkah, Saudi Arabia. He has been granted numerous traditional teaching licenses (ijazat), adhering to centuries-old Islamic scholarly practice of ensuring the highest standards of scholarship.

Webb was named one of the 500 Most Influential Muslims in the World by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Center in 2010 and his website, www.SuhaibWebb.com, was voted the best “Blog of the Year” by the 2009 Brass Crescent awards.

Suhaib Webb has lectured extensively around the world including in the Middle East, East Asia, Europe, North Africa and North America. Upon returning from his studies in Egypt, Webb lived in the Bay Area, California, where he worked with the Muslim American Society from Fall 2010 to Winter 2011. He currently serves as the Imam of the Islamic Society of Boston’s Cultural Center (ISBCC).

32 Comments

  • Assalamu Alaikum,

    I just wanted to say Jazak Allah Khair for this response. It’s really refreshing to hear someone say this, especially when you find people in the 21st century, still clinging to these opinions, as “holy.”

    Thanks again!

    WS.

  • Assalamu Alleikum

    I am from a sunni sayyad shah family and i was curious and eager to find out whether my nikaah would be accepted if i got marriad to someone from a different caste as i have been told by numerous people that it would not be accepted.

    Please could you tel me what Islam says about this

    Jazakallah Khair

    • allah says in quran in surah baqrah;
      says every human being is born from single payer that is ADAM(as) and hawwa
      every muslims is equal to another one
      and our prophet muhammad(pbuh) said at the time of hajjatul wida(khutba e hajj) in the mount of arafat—arab is not better than non arab ,non arab is not better than arab
      black white poor rich all are equal to other.
      muslim girl can get marry with any boy, but must be a muslim.
      you should fallow only qu’raan and sunnah.
      rest of things allah knows best
      khuda hafiz

    • Asalamualaikum sumera…im also from a syed family, sunni as well. this is a gross error that is being purported as truth, pay no attention to it.

    • humera im facing the same prblm n unluckly im soon going 2 b engaged wd a person of my family’s choice. i cant take my own decission bcz im threatened by my family…. :(

  • Assalamu Alleikum,
    thanks to all of you for this preeching.I lost my love and could not get married just because I was told that i belong to lower cast than her.
    I went to a famous mufti to consult for our nikah but he said she is from upper cast (quraishi) and you are from lower cast (shah) this nikah will be void if girl’s father sue you.
    You peope deceive the other relegions saying Islam does not follow castiesm.Yes there is such kind of disese among muslims.If it is, why dont you accept it gladly why you give millions of justifications.
    Sorry it did not mean to hurt you.but fell my pain of being alone,feel the pain when your own brothers say that you are lower cast muslim.
    Allah is the best judge.
    Wassalam

    • Assalamu alaikum brother Imra, I know that I am not supposed 2 answer you…. but I wanted 2 tell you these muftis or maulvis cannot always b right? Allah subhana wo taalah has promised us to protect the Quran Shareef from distortion, so u will get the correct answer only from Quran Shareef… der is nothing like caste system in Islam n dis is just started by the so called human beings like us. all r equal before Allah….

  • asslaamu alaikum
    i am also from syyed family sunni as well. Can you tell me
    what is the caste system in our society and islam? Can we do the marriage in other caste if he belong other back ward caste but he is perfect boy in islam? And can we go against our parents if they are not agree???

    • First of All, there is no caste system in Islam but unfortunately it exists in South Asian muslims due to some notorious muslim preachers. Don’t address yourself as sayyed and yes you can marry any muslim as per your choice but there should be a wali( guardian) from your side if you are a girl.

  • Aslam o Alikum! i am muslim n my caste is khokher n i want to get marry with a boy who belongs to Arain caste,there is no caste issue in my family,boy should be a muslim.But in his family they are very strict n serious about caste.his father is not allowing us to get marry,even his father said that he will shoot himself if his son get marry out of cast,we love eachother n we r sincere.
    plzzzzzzzzzzzz when there is no caste system in islam then why muslim parents are doing unjustice with their children by saying this that caste is important then the wish,happiness or even the life of their children.Should we obey such kind of parents.Plzzzzzzzzzzzz help us and take some steps on national level to aware people about ‘Marriage cast system in islam’ i request u plz do something on national level in such a way that uneducated people can understand it easily

  • assalam wa alaikum to all, i also agree that there is no caste system in islam, i only know that all r equal in front of ALLAH and those persons are higher in front of ALLAH who offers 5 times namaz, and follow our HOLY QURAN and the teachings of prophet MOHAMMAD (may peace be upon him). if someone asks me What Are You? i just reply I’M Mohammadan and follow our the teachings of islam, again if that person ask what is your caste i just reply there is no caste in islam why are you asking this…..but nowadays i feel very awkward when the other religion people use to say ” your religion also has caste system” Brothrs and Sisters join hands and remove this misconception from the mind of every people….allah hafiz..

    • Rashid bhai iam totally agree with you .There are lots of honour killing are doing in name of casteim. We are muslim and its our responsibility to stop it.

  • salaam i ant to marry a guy but hes not from the same cast, hes a sunni sayyed and im a raja. Its really hard because we have to get married in the caste. I think that is wrong as he is a very good islamic guy and we really want to get married. I dont know how to talk to my family as this would really upset them. But i know it ill be good in the long run inshllah. Is there anyone who can help me.

  • regarding caste system my dear brothers i am going through the same problem i have found a perfect match for me the girl has a perfect understanding with me moreover she is daughter of my fathers friend …. my parents have started opposing her proposal just on the basis of caste which i think is totally wrong as far as our islamic teachings are concerned i require all of your help to give me quranic and sunnah references so that i convince my parents …… asking help from all of you muslim brothers because there will be many more like me suffering from this delimna ….

  • Am glad to hav found out about this site.
    There is a saying that goes,a mother in law forgets she was once a wife.
    our parents or sheikhs or any other human being can do and say wrong,no one is perfect,but whats more painful is the ability of our parents changing wat their parents did not allow them to do,for the happiness of their children,but they wont.
    So many things are being justified in the name of religion,but then religion is all in the holy Q uran and hadiths…read them for yourselves n see the truth.

  • There is no caste system in islam but it is found amongst the muslims.ALL OF THOSE SUFFERING JUST QUOTE QURANIC VERSES AND AUTHENTIC HADEETH INFRONT OF THEIR PARENTS.IF THEY SAY ABOUT TRADITION THEN THERE IS A VERY FAMOUS VERSE “THAT IF TRUTH HAS REACHED YOU ,EVEN THEN WILL YOU FOLLOW YOUR FOREFATHERS?

  • assalamu alekum dear brother it is true that there is no concept of caste in islam. it is proved in our holy quran that every person is equal to other

  • Let us Inshallah learn from our parents mistakes and change this meaningless tradition that only causes hurt and pain. when we have children of our own be sure to only follow what the Quran says. This is because only we can be the change we want in the world. God willing people will realise the truth and our children and grandchildren will never follow this.

  • “There is no difference between an Arab and a non-Arab” is the famous golden saying of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be to him). But unfortunately the concept of kufu, which works like a caste system, has crept into the Muslim society somehow or the other.
    A section of the Ulema is responsible for it. They believe and preach in total disregard to the Islamic values that we must follow some rules and principles in matrimonial affairs to maintain and strengthen the family system and save it from chaos and disintegration. Thus they have framed some rules based on ancestry, financial background, occupation, etc. This is against the very letter and spirit of the Holy Qur’an and Ahadith and a blot to the fair name of Islam. They have not quoted the Holy Qur’an or Ahadith for these rules of kufu.
    The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be to him) has said that if a man of good faith and character seeks alliance; give your daughter in marriage to him. Even in many states in India inter-caste marriages are encouraged by giving awards to the couples of such marriages. It is here we see the Islamic light.
    The proponents of the kufu concept say that equality is a sine qua non between the couple for a good and cordial marital relationship as otherwise their life will be miserable and lead to marital breakdown due to incompatibility. This does not seem to be the case at all.

  • The Holy Qur’an and Ahadith say that the differences we see among the people of the world are just for the sake of identification and the best among us are only those who are pious and God-fearing. We cannot underestimate or consider any section of people lower or inferior. Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be to him) not only preached equality among the people, Arabs and non-Arabs, but also actually practised and implemented it in his innumerable actions and deeds. Everyone still remembers and gets inspired how Bilal, a black slave, was liberated and elevated to the high position of Muazzin in Makkah and how revolutionarily the Prophet arranged the marriage of his cousin, Bibi Zainab – a Quraish lady – with Zaid bin Haritha – his liberated slave and his “adopted” son.
    Islam also made history when Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be to him) and his companions migrated to Madinah. How the Muslims in Madinah came forward to sacrifice everything for the migrated Muslims is something unprecedented and unheard of in the annals of the world history. The Muslims, spread the world over, are to a great extent a beautiful community of multi-cultural heritage. The religion of Islam which has embraced the whole world under its catholic and universal codes of brotherhood cannot and does not give importance to any sectarian or caste consideration.

    • I agree with u Sofia I also like a girl whose caste is superior than mm.bt wot could we do against the will of our parents.our parents will is more important than our will becoz if our parents is not happy with our decision then Allah will not happy with us.

      So to demolish caste system by roots in Islam we the youth should not do with our children…..
      This will automatically comes to an end. Bt if we repeat the history wot our parents do with us then it will practise till the judgement day.

  • sofia….em totally….igree with you…..
    there is no concept of cast system in islam…..becoz islam is the relign of equally ,brotherhood and no one is superior in front of ALLAH just becoz of their high cast,, all r equal in front of ALLAH ..ur prophet muhammad(pbuh) said at the time of hajjatul wida(khutba e hajj) in the mount of arafat—arab is not better than non arab ,non arab is not better than arab
    black white poor rich all are equal to other.
    Everyone still remembers and gets inspired how Bilal, a black slave, was liberated and elevated to the high position of Muazzin in Makkah and how revolutionarily the Prophet arranged the marriage of his cousin, Bibi Zainab – a Quraish lady – with Zaid bin Haritha – his liberated slave and his “adopted” son.our islamic history tells us that every muslim is equal and there is no cast system in islam…

  • No caste system in Islam, Mashallah lots of people I know have Anglo Asian marriages and they are very happy, especially in the west, more and more Muslim men and women are marrying people of a different culture, Indian and german, Pakistani and Irish, both for men and women etc. And so long as they have a good understanding of the deen, they are succeeding in having a prosperous marriage.

  • It’s amazing how people are going through the same problem. I’m an awan the person who I want to marry is raja. His mum is awan but his dad is raja . I’m trying to get out parents to know each other before he gets his mum to ask for our rishta I don’t know if my mum will agree as she said awan must marry another awan.

    • plzzzzz tel me can i marry to a girl she is salmani
      n m siddique..bt i know perfectly that there is no cast system in islam ol are equal…n i know she is a muslim
      …i just want him..plzz tel me can we be together..

  • assalam wa alaikum my dear bro n sis nice 2 meet u in dis site bro/sis .I’m Muslim me 2 a gift of my Allah .I follow my holy Quran n my prophet says.I ain’t hav any caste I’m “Mohammadan”we all all are human beings n we all d gift from my Allah.I love a girl who belongs 2 Hindu religion .she seeing our religion variations…can I marry her? if she got means I think my life is success.so plz my bro/sis pray for ur bro asif.n suggest ur reply 2 me bro

  • assalamu alekum my brother and sisters. I have a problem and would like to know if I can get married to the person I love.I have known him for nearly five years and want to marry each other. Well I have two problems one is the caste which I do not believe in but my family is making a big issue of his caste and second since we been together it has never been a problem from his side of family its alway been mine. I have spoken to my family about my own choice of person several times and have tried my best my self very clear to my family this is the person I want to spend my rest of life with. But never seemed to get my message through to my family and alway been ignored or been lied to give us time 1 week, 2 months and emotional blackmailed and etc this has been carried out for the past few years. Now its coming to that stage where we strongly agree we both should just get married without family’s wills and because it causing lot of arguments between us both. Please advise your sister and please do dua for me and him.

  • Hi, guys n girls..my major problems is that i m in love with a girl for last five years,n she is also in love with me and she is very passionate for it as well but the main concern in our caste,,,my caste is pathan and she is siddiqui,,even my parents are agree for that but her parents are saying that i didn’t belong to her caste which is the major problem,,she asked her mom regarding me and straightway her mom asked my caste and there is undone is going on,,,,i m truly upset because i am afraid of that her family member can wash her mind,,,and i love her soul,,i knew she also but now she is favoring her parents,,,So please let me know that is there any way which can help me to convince her parents regarding that. My life is gonna curtail if i’ll not be getting her,,i am dam’n sure,,,suggest me guys what should I do.

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