How is a woman to be punished if she marries a Christian? How often is it carried out and in what countries is it most common?
Praise be to Allaah.
It is not permissible for a Muslim woman to marry a kaafir (non-Muslim), whether he is Jewish, Christian or an idol-worshipper, because the man has authority over his wife, and it is not permissible for a kaafir to have authority over a Muslim woman. For Islam is the true religion and all other religions are false. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“And give not (your daughters) in marriage to Al-Mushrikoon till they believe (in Allaah Alone)” [al-Baqarah 2:221]
“And never will Allaah grant to the disbelievers a way (to triumph) over the believers” [al-Nisaa’ 4:141]
And the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Islam should prevail and should not be prevailed over.”
If a Muslim woman marries a kaafir when she knows the ruling, then she is a zaaniyah (adulteress), and her punishment is the punishment for adultery. If she was ignorant of the ruling then she is excused, but they must be separated, and there is no need for a divorce because the marriage is null and void. On this basis, the Muslim woman whom Allaah has honoured with Islam and her guardian must beware of that and must adhere to the limits set by Allaah, and they must feel proud of Islam. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“Those who take disbelievers for Awliyaa’ (protectors or helpers or friends) instead of believers, do they seek honour, power and glory with them? Verily, then to Allaah belongs all honour, power and glory” [al-Nisaa’ 4:139]