It is absolutely the main verse that states a provision on marriage with a category of non-Muslims. These invite to the Fire, and Allah invites to the Garden and to forgiveness by His grace, and makes clear His revelations to mankind so that they may remember.
It is also worth reminding that polytheists were belonging to an aristocratic class of obscene wealth and indecent conduct, and whose lifestyle was reconsidered by the new social values of fairness and equity of Islam. The verse seems to urge Muslim men and women to choose the modest believing slaves over the rich arrogant polytheists even if the latter would look more attractive than the poor slaves.
By getting married to slaves regardless of their social hardship, Islam encouraged Muslims to value people on other basis than their social class, and henceforth; find a balance between the differences established by the ethnic-tribal system at that time. The purpose was to absolutely avoid the marriage of Muslims to polytheists who made every effort to stand against a religion that was defending the most vulnerable people on earth. Muslim men and women were, therefore, encouraged to get married to those who believe, like them, in one God symbolizing a monotheism purified from all other divinities and injustice.
Does it refer only to people who have just embraced Islam? Or does it imply the act of believing in its broad meaning, believing in One God and a monotheistic Revelation, which includes obviously believers of other monotheistic religions? Obviously, the said verse is open to interpretation. Yet, none of the different Islamic exegeses allude to this. Besides, all of the classical interpretations focused on the first part of the verse which is addressed to Muslim men.
Most of the classical and contemporary exegetes carried out an in-depth analysis of the first part of this verse addressed to Muslim men, while they gave less importance to the second part that concerns Muslim women on the same issue.
Christian or Jewish women who are considered by the majority of the same commentators as believers. Most of the exegetes defend their opinion by referring to another verse that legitimates the first verse and proves that Muslim men are allowed to marry Christian or Jewish women who are not included in the concept of disbelief or Kufr  as stated by other scholars.
He added that the concept of polytheist is not clearly defined though he agrees with other scholars in giving authorization to Muslim men to marry Christian and Jewish women . For the second part of the said verse that seems to be addressed to both Muslim men and women and to grant both of them the same authorization, we can affirm that Muslim scholars and jurists unanimously agree on the fact that marriage of a Muslim woman to a non-Muslim man, whether he is polytheist, Christian or Jew, is strongly prohibited.
Ibn Achour assumed the inexistence of a religious text that allows or forbids the marriage of Muslim women to Christian or Jewish men. Yet, other commentators tried to justify this prohibition by providing another verse that assumes the following: Allah is best aware of their faith. They are not lawful for them the disbelievers , nor are they the disbelievers lawful for them. The revelation context and the general meaning of this verse are not, however, associated with the case of marriage to non-Muslims.
The classical interpretation states that this verse was actually revealed when two polytheist men from Quraish asked for their sisters to be back, Oum Kelthoum and Bint Aqabah, after they had converted to Islam and migrated to Medina in order to join the Muslim community . It is worth reminding that the Prophet signed at that time an agreement called Al-Hudaybya Treaty with the opposing tribe of Quraish to stop the war for ten years. This agreement stipulated, among others, that any Quraychit woman who would join the Prophet in Medina without the permission of her legal tutor should be sent back to Mecca.
Oum Kelthoum, who was the only one to convert to Islam in her family, and who escaped from one of the most hostile environments, begged the Prophet not to repatriate her to her tribe so as not to be exposed once more to their unfair treatment .
The verse above mentioned was then revealed to prevent the extradition of women who converted to Islam and avoid the vengeance of their respective families. For this reason, the Prophet refused to send back the exiled women to the enemies, while the agreement was maintained for men.
How can we consider, in the same Christian or Jewish community, that men are disbelievers while women of the same communities are believers? In fact, the argument is not convincing because if the said verse forbids the marriage between a Muslim woman and a Christian or Jewish man as it is unanimously interpreted today, so such marriage is also forbidden for the Muslim man.
The question raised in this regard is how can we today, in the current conceptual, cultural and globalized situation, categorize people according to their faith, religious or cultural backgrounds? How can we recognize a person to be Muslim, believer, Christian, Jew or polytheist? What can we say about those people who do belong to a religious culture, many of whom are Muslims, yet still admit to be atheist or agnostic?
What can we say about people from the same Muslim culture who are married together but who, religiously speaking, inherit no more than the family name and some cultural customs?
However, this concerns all marriages, but the most important is to have a common interest at the intellectual and spiritual levels strengthened mainly by mutual respect.
This article is not meant to encourage young Muslim women, who wisely would like to preserve their family spiritual inheritance, to disregard traditions, but rather to overcome the taboos and the hypocritical social practices that turn out to be sometimes unfair.
It is high time to have the intellectual courage to tackle such topics while debating Islam to avoid the moral suffering and the feeling of guilt experienced today by many young Muslims, mainly, those who live in the West and are more likely to meet non-Muslim partners in their personal life. At the moment of choosing a partner, young Muslim men and women have to do it under their full responsibility with serenity, clarity and wisdom. Such debate is missing in our contemporary Muslim societies where unfamiliar ideas and the social conformism replaced the intellectual and spiritual honesty.
Therefore, we should no more hide behind an unconvincing bastion of identity, but rather face the reality and admit that the world has deeply changed. We should also know that to preserve the spirituality of the heart, it would be necessary to override the hypocrisies and the social duplicity that eroded our current way of life. Allah is the Best Knower. Muslims are compelled to believe in these books since they were revealed by the same Creator. See Attabari in his interpretation of the verse 2: