Based upon the following details, will the Nikah be vaild or not and will Kufu' - suitability - invalidate the Nikah?
1) A Christian middle-aged woman of one ethnic background wants to marry a Muslim man middle-aged of another ethnic background. She has agreed to go through the Nikah ceremony.
2) She is one year younger
3) Both are single, no children, never been married and work at the same job and make roughly the same amount of money
4) She is not orthodox
5) She has no desire to marry someone of the same ethnic background as herself
6) Her father is deceased; her mother is 85 years old, her family members are spread out – some in U.S., one in Middle East and the rest in the motherland.
7) The girl in question is the youngest child and completely independent from her family. She will proceed without their consultation as one of her siblings married a Muslim Arab Bahraini and did not announce the marriage until after it had been conducted.
8) She has agreed that the children will be brought up Muslim.
9) The desire to convert has not entered her and has not been presented.
10) The Muslim man in question did not desire to marry a Christian woman, but over time has become inclined towards her and is determined to perform the Nikah.
11) The man has had no luck with women of the same ethnic background as himself as not having a degree has become a disqualifying factor.
If possible, please answer according to Hanafi Fiqh.
Assalam u Alaikum Wa Rahmatullah
Kafa'ah (compatibility) is acceptable in men for women only. Based on what you have mentioned in your question, the Nikah will be valid between the Christian woman and Muslim man if the Christian woman can be proven as proper Christian. She should be introduced to Islam and enlightened about the teachings of Islam. If Muslim women are available for marriage then it is better to marry a Muslim woman.
And Allah knows best.
Mufti Ikram ul Haq
Fatwa Center of America
وأما بيان من تعتبر له الكفاءة فالكفاءة تعتبر للنساء لا للرجال على معنى أنه تعتبر الكفاءة فى جانب الرجال للنساء ولا تعتبر فى جانب النساء للرجال لأن النصوص وردت بالإعتبار فى جانب الرجال خاصة
بدائع الصنائع للكاسانى ج2 ص629ط دار إحياء التراث