Why is this news? Because Islamic law forbids a non-Muslim man to marry a Muslim woman, although a non-Muslim woman may marry a Muslim man. Because the law assumes that a woman will join her husband's household, this law is designed to ensure that the Islamic community is always increasing in size, while dhimmi communities are declining.
In the modern West, however, there is a great deal of pressure from cultural Muslims to bend or discard this rule, and this imam has given in to that pressure. Does this represent genuine Islamic reform, and a sign that other laws -- particularly those involving jihad and Islamic supremacism -- will one day be set aside by imams in large numbers? That is unlikely for two reasons: this is just one imam, not a large group, and he is already under pressure from hardliners who disapprove of his stance. Such is always the case with any deviation from traditional Islamic strictures: those who hold to Islamic law in its authoritative formulations denounce those who deviate as apostates, heretics, etc. Few wish to take this kind of heat, which can be lethal.
"Imam bridges a wedding divide," by Fran Bardsley for the Oxford Times, June 6 (thanks to Ayeesha):
MUSLIM women and their Christian fiancés from across Europe are travelling to Oxford to get married because imams in their own countries refuse to perform the ceremonies.
Dr Taj Hargey, chairman of the Muslim Education Centre of Oxford, said he had performed about 36 marriages in the past two years between Muslim women and non-Muslim men.
More imams are happy to marry Muslim men to non-Muslim women.
Couples from Spain, Germany, Sweden, Ireland, France and Norway have all come to Dr Hargey after failing to find someone locally prepared to carry out the service.
Most had spent months looking for an imam, and many found Dr Hargey after contacting American Muslim leaders via the Internet.
Dr Hargey, who believes he is the only imam in the UK who openly performs the mixed marriages, said: “We do it because there is no prohibition in the Koran.
“Islam allows Muslim men to marry non-Muslim women and such marriages are common, but I am one of the only people who will do it the other way round.”
He said couples had to sign up to five non-negotiable conditions protecting the woman’s faith, and agree to counselling before he would perform marriages....
Dr Hojjat Ramzy, a trustee at the Muslim Iqra School in Oxford and an Islamic registrar, said such marriages were not permitted in Islam.
He said: “It is not allowed under any circumstances for a Christian man to marry a Muslim woman, it is not acceptable.”