The caste system
Fatwa No: 89098

  • Fatwa Date:27-12-2004 - Thul-Qi'dah 16, 1425
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Question

I would firstly like to thank you for the great website that you provide to Muslims around the world. May Allah reward you for this good achievement (Ameen). My question is what does it mean when Allah says I have separated you in tribes and nations so that you can recognize one another? Is this talking about the caste system (where caste has been referred as tribes) that many people believe in today’s world? There are many young Muslims in the UK who take great interest in their religion but are very confused about following and believing in the caste system. Many families have fallen apart due to the strong belief many parents have in their caste. This problem arises more often when looking for a spouse for marriage. I have become conscious that parents strictly find it necessary that their children’s marriages should not occur outside their own caste. Does Islam separate Muslims in different groups and does not allow marriage connections with one another?
As far as I have practiced Islam, Muslims should seek a righteous spouse for marriage. Religion and good character should be the top concern of every Muslim when looking for a spouse. Should parents take family and caste as their top priority? I am aware that parents have the right in the involvement in their children’s marriage, but is it wrong and against Islam to ask your parents to get you married to who you believe is a better suitor (more religious) than who your parents have chosen? Young Muslims like myself would like to follow Islam the best we can and have the blessings of Allaah and on the other hand keep our parents happy and have the blessings from our parents.

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allaah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allaah, and that Muhammad is His slave and Messenger. We ask Allaah to exalt his mention as well as that of his family and all his companions.

 

The verse that you are referring to is the saying of Allaah (which means): {O mankind! We have created you from a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know one another. Verily, the Most honourable of you with Allaah is that who has At-Taqwa (God's fear)}[49:13]. This verse affirms that all mankind are equal, and that Allaah does not look to our race or colour, but to our piety and righteous actions. Being of a different race or colour is only in order to know each other. That's why according to the most preponderant opinion of the scholars may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  them what has to be taken into account as a characteristic for the suitability of marriage is religion and good moral character. The Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) said: "If a person whom you are pleased with his religion and moral character proposes to you for marriage, then you should give her in marriage." [At-Tirmithi] So if a given society does not apply this principle, corruption will be widespread and the number of spinsters will increase. Therefore, it is not permissible for parents to refuse qualified and suitable men who seek to marry their daughter. It is also not permissible for a guardian to oblige his pubescent virgin daughter to marry someone she does not want to marry, according to the most preponderant opinion of the scholars may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  them. There is no harm if the sons suggest to their father whoever is more suitable and qualified to be an accepted fiancé. 

Allaah knows best.

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