Russia’s Muslim Spiritual Administration (DUM RF) is facing internal controversy after its Ulema council (advisory body of Muslim scholars) issued a decision banning believers from marrying followers of other religions. The decision — which has no legal implications — has provoked mixed reactions from other Muslim organizations, as well as within the leadership of the DUM itself at both the national and regional levels. While some Muslim jurists maintain that this prohibition has always been in effect, others describe it as a flexible appeal to individual believers.
On November 10, the DUM RF published a decision from its Ulema council on its website, stating that Muslim men should not marry non-Muslim women. As it turns out, this theological conclusion was reached during a meeting that took place a year ago, in November 2019. The decision states that inter-faith marriages “are possible only in certain isolated cases according to the decision of a local mufti, who considers and takes into account all of the circumstances of the particular case in question.”
The reasoning behind the decision is attributed to the belief that spouses ought to have common life values, including “similarities on questions of religion and spirituality.”
Commenting on the decision, the Ulema council’s Deputy Chairman, Mufti of Moscow Ildar Alyautdinov, said that the decision was adopted “to preserve national and religious identity, as well as to reduce the number of divorces.” “Often this [marriage to non-Muslims] leads to misunderstandings between family members, children do not receive a proper religious education, and the spiritual foundations of the family weaken,” the Mufti explained. At the same time, he stressed that if a woman is “close to Islam and she respects its cannons,” there are no obstacles to marriage and, moreover, she can even retain another faith.