Question: At the present time, is it permissible to marry a Jew or a Christian?
It is not permissible for a Muslim woman to marry a man who is not Muslim. She becomes a renegade at the moment she makes up her mind to marry a non-Muslim man. (Endless Bliss)
Because there are no dhimmis (non-Muslims living in a Muslim country and under Islamic laws) today in the world, it is makruh tahrimi--that is, close to haram--for a Muslim male to marry a Christian or a Jewish female. It is not permissible and is a sin.
Marrying a non-Muslim woman involves disadvantages in terms of the children they will have in the future. In the past, children were able to safeguard their religion under the influence of their environment in Islamic states. However, it is very difficult, maybe impossible, today for a Muslim man who gets married in a Christian country to protect his children from the influence of their environment. Even if he lives in a country inhabited by Muslims, it is next to impossible at such a time as this to bring a child with a non-Muslim mother up under an Islamic education. There is no sin graver than bringing one's children up as disbelievers. He, together with them, will go to Hell. It is declared in hadith-i sharifs:
(All of you are like shepherds of flocks. As a shepherd protects his flock, so you should protect your households and those under your command from Hell. You must teach them Islam. If you do not, you will be held responsible.) [Muslim]
(Many Muslim children will go to the Hell named Wayl because of their fathers, for their fathers, being seized by the ambition of earning money and making merry and running after worldly affairs only, did not teach their children Islam and the Qur'an al-karim. I am far removed from such fathers. And they are away from me. Those who do not teach their children their religion will go to Hell.) [Endless Bliss]
How difficult it is to teach Islam to a child whose mother is a Christian. It is stated in the hadith-i sharif above that if a father does not teach Islam to his child for any reason whatsoever, he, together with his child, will go to Hell.
One should marry a good person
Question: Is there racial discrimination in Islam? Is there anything wrong with marrying a Black, a German, a Japanese, a Gypsy, a Sunnite, an Alewite, a Christian, a Buddhist, or an atheist?
You have not mentioned whether you are a male or a female because the answer to it differs according to sex. In Islam, it is permissible, though being makruh tahrimi, for Muslim males to marry the females from among the People of the Book [Christian and Jewish women]. However, it is not permissible for a Muslim female to marry a male from among the People of the Book. She goes out of the fold of Islam at the moment she intends to marry him. Both a Muslim male and a Muslim female cannot marry a Buddhist or an atheist. If they marry, this act takes them out of the fold of Islam.
There is by no means racial discrimination in our religion. There is religious discrimination. Being a Gypsy or a Black is a racial issue. There is no religious obstacle to marrying him/her if he/she is a pious Muslim.
A Muslim woman can marry a Muslim German or a Muslim Japanese. What matters is that he must be pious. He must perform five daily salats and abstain from forbidden things.
The most important qualities that a man must look for in a woman he will marry are that she must perform five daily salats and comply with the Islamic code of dress for women. If a woman who claims to be a Muslim does not perform five daily salats and does not observe the Islamic code of dress, it is a sin to marry her. Similarly, if a man who claims to be a Muslim does not perform five daily salats and does not abstain from forbidden actions, such as drinking, committing fornication, and stealing things, it is a sin to marry him. As a matter of fact, it is declared in the hadith-i sharifs written in the book Shir'at-ul Islam:
(Whoever marries his daughter to a fasiq, his supplications and acts of worship will not be accepted.)
(Whoever consents to marry a fasiq man, the statement "She despaired of Allah's mercy" will be written on her forehead when she rises up from her grave.)
(Whoever wants to get my shafa'ah [intercession], let him not marry his daughter to a fasiq.)
[The word fasiq is used for a person who commits sins flagrantly. For example, a person who does not perform salats or who does not observe the Islamic code of dress is a fasiq. It is not right to marry a fasiq, that is, someone who sins openly. Marrying someone with a corrupt faith in particular is in no way right.]
A Muslim male should marry a female who has manners, modesty, and good moral conduct, sufficient Islamic knowledge, is committed to Islam, and covers herself compatibly with Islam when she goes out. He should look for a girl who has chastity and who cares for her religion. Wealth and beauty should not be his priorities. He should not opt for wealth, beauty, race, or color at the sacrifice of chastity and piety. It is stated in hadith-i sharifs:
(One marries a woman either for her wealth or for her beauty or for her piety. Choose the one who is religious. A person who marries a woman because of her wealth will not be able to possess her wealth. A person who marries a woman only for her beauty will be deprived of her beauty.) [Muslim]
(He who marries a woman for her beauty and wealth will be deprived of both. However, both wealth and beauty will be given to him who marries a woman for her piety.) [Tabarani]
The person one will marry, whether a male or a female, must avoid forbidden actions, perform acts of worship, and have good moral qualities. One who values only physical appearance and who does not listen to the advice of experienced elders will suffer the bad consequences of it both in this world and in the world to come.
When one chooses a spouse, the criterion to be used is that the spouse should be a pious Muslim. His or her race and color is not important.
Does a person change after marriage?
Question: Is it proper to marry a person who does not perform salat or a woman who does not cover herself compatibly with Islam in the hope that he will perform it or she will cover herself in the future?
It is not proper to marry such a person until he performs salat or she covers herself compatibly with Islam.
Enmity toward Sunnite books
Question: Is it proper to marry a Muslim girl who has not affiliated herself with any religious groups but at the same who has not read correct Sunnite books?
Her not having read correct books is not all that harmful. What is harmful is to read other corrupt books and thus to bear hostility toward correct Islamic books. If she possesses other qualities that are necessary for marriage and if she does not display enmity toward Sunnite books, there is nothing wrong with marrying her.