Following are excerpts from a lesson given by Sheik Yousef Al-Qaradhawi, which aired on Qatar TV, on March 12, 2006.
Sheik Yousef Al-Qaradhawi: A Muslim in Europe or America can marry a Christian woman or a woman from among the People of the Book, under four conditions:
The first condition is that she is, in fact, of the People of the Book. In other words, she must not be a heretic - for example, a communist or a Bahai. She must be a believing woman from among the People of the Book.
Some people say a woman is Christian because her father is Christian, while she does not believe in any religion whatsoever. She doesn't believe in God, in the prophet, in Judgment Day, in any values, or in worshipping God. Such a woman is not Christian, even if she is regarded as Christian. We have to make sure that she's really of the People of the Book.
The second condition is that she must be chaste, in other words, honorable and pure - not a woman who sells her body to any man.
Is there a single honorable, chaste woman left in these countries? Don't they reprimand a girl who is still a virgin at the age of 14? They say: How can this be? She becomes undesirable. Where are her boyfriends?
The third condition is that she must not belong to those who are hostile to Islam. That is why I say a Muslim is not allowed to marry a Jewish woman from Israel, or from among the Jews who support Israel.
Therefore, [one must not] marry a Jewish woman, unless she belongs to the Jews who are hostile to Israel.
In London, I have seen Jews who say Israel will annihilate the Jews. They believe that [Israel] runs counter to God's desire to disperse the Jews, as punishment for their sins.
With the exception of these, a Muslim is not allowed, these days, to marry a Jewish woman, because he would be marrying a spy. He would be bringing a spy into his home.
The fourth condition is that this marriage would not cause harm to him, to his children, or to Muslim men and women. Sometimes, he is personally harmed, because she influences him. If one is weak in his faith, he might agree to have alcohol in his home, to have pork eaten there, to have moral depravity there, and then he might be affected without realizing it. This is dangerous for him.
Sometimes it is his children who are at risk. His children receive a non-Islamic upbringing, especially if he is preoccupied with his work or studies, and returns home only at the end of the day, and the wife does what she wants with the children. In this case, the children are lost, their faith is lost. They are not brought up as Muslims. This is dangerous.
Islam permits marrying a woman from the People of the Book, or a Christian, so that she will enter the Muslim family and society.
There is also a danger to Muslim women. Some religious authorities in Muslim communities have forbidden Muslims to marry out of the Muslim community. Why? If a Muslim marries a non-Muslim woman, and since a Muslim woman is only allowed to marry a Muslim man - who will she marry? If all the men go off and find themselves Western blondes to marry, our own daughters - Fatma, 'Aisha, and so and so - will find no one to marry.