Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Kitabia Definition:

Muslim law: women who qualify for marriage with Muslim men as belonging to acceptable religions for this purpose.

Related Terms: Muslim, Dhimmi, Miscegenation

Also kitabi for men.

Of the book as in a revealed religion; usually in reference to the Old Testament of the Bible. It is from the pool of persons of these faiths that a Muslim male is allowed to choose a wife or wives.

According to Muslim law jurist Hussain:

“The Quran (Koran) prohibits marriage with polytheists, it permits a Muslim man to marry a woman from the people of the book which is usually interpreted as being a woman from the Jewish or Christian communities. Such women are called kitabiyyah.”

Similarly, Mulla writes:

Kitabi means a male who believes in Christianity or Judaism. Kitabia is a female who believes in either of these religions.”

Verma suggests:

“As to what constitutes a kitabi religion has not yet been finally settled. It seems to have been conceded by a general consensus of opinion that it covers the case of Christians and Jews....

“It is unlawful for a Mohammadan woman to marry any man who is not a Mohammadan, whether he is a kitabi or not.

“A Mohammadan male may marry a non-Mohammadan woman if she is a kitabia but not a woman who is an idolatress or a fire worshipper."

Sometimes used as a synonym for dhimmi.


  • Hussain, J., Islamic Law and Society (Sydney: Federation Press, 1999), page 61
  • Mulla, D., Principles of Mahomedan Law, 14th Ed. (Bombay: The Eastern Law House, 1955), page 234
  • Verma, B.R., Islamic Law-Personal Being Commentaries on Mohammedan Law in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, 6th Edition (Allahabad, India: Law Publishers, 1986), pages 88-89

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