|Before a Muslim man steps into an inter-faith marriage, there are numerous
issues that he must understand himself and discuss with his non-Muslim
wife-to-be. Some issues are:
COMMUNITY AND SOCIAL ISSUES TO CONSIDER FOR AN INTER-FAITH MARRIAGE:
Here I will discuss the issues considering social and practical implications
that can generally affect an inter-faith marriage. These issues will
include religious compatibility, relationships with non-Muslim relatives,
friendships circle, religious celebrations, food, social gatherings,
acceptable dress code, cultural awareness and religious tolerance, charity,
Before a Muslim man steps into an inter-faith marriage, there are numerous
issues that he must understand himself and discuss with his non-Muslim
Given the western environment so resentful and inconsiderate toward Islam,
its always better to have peace in the "home." The family life will be
much worry-free and harmonious if both spouses belong to the same religion
and agree on same theology esp. if cultural differences also exist. Islam
allows marriage to a Christian or Jew woman, but only under certain
conditions. As described earlier in the first portion, the inter-faith
marriages are permissible only in an Islamic society.
It is always better to introduce the woman to Islam and encourage her to
become Muslima BEFORE marrying her. It will allow the woman to realize if
she can take Islam as her religion and raise kids as Muslims; or if she has
any innate notions against Islam or unwillingness to follow Islamic way of
life. Most probably it will become self-evident to the man that what type
family life can he expect from her as a wife.
RELATIVES & FRIENDS AND THEIR INFLUENCE:
Certain situations when dealing with non-Muslim relatives and friends may
occur and can lead to unanticipated misunderstandings.
A non-Muslim woman is not bounded by Islamic values regarding dressing up,
mixed parties, eating non-halaal foods and consuming alcohol. She MAY avoid
all such items voluntarily to make family life pleasant or as a goodwill
gesture to please her Muslim husband, if he doesn't like them. Otherwise,
she is under no obligation to avoid what is allowed to her by her religion.
By getting married to a non-Muslim woman, the husband should realize that
he has already agreed to her being a non-Muslima and should not expect a
woman to behave like Muslima if she is not one.
A Muslim should expect that the family will be invited to certain parties
and dinner where all non-halaal items may be served. He may want to shun
away from enjoying all the non-Islamic items, but the non-Muslim wife may
want to consume them.
Personally I don't like participating in meals where Non-Muslim relatives
and family friends offer prayers in the names other than Allah at their
dinner tables and show no consideration for other people. It will be
difficult to make kids not to eat certain non-halaal items while the
non-Muslim mother enjoys them. Again, it is upon the woman's discretion to
avoid all or some of the non-permissible items in Islam.
Often the problems with non-Muslim relatives arise with the birth of a baby.
Most christian grand-parents attempt to test the waters by giving the
new-borns baptism or celebrate other religious ceremonies. In that event,
unless the non-Muslim wife makes sure her side of family understands her
husband's reservations about such celebrations, the situation may get tense
at such a joyful occasion and may leave bitter memories.
Grandparents and other relatives may also want to celebrate (religiously)
Christmas and, above all, Good Friday- a true christian holiday
commemorating the Friday of so-called Jesus's death on the cross and his
rising from the dead on Sunday.
Non-Muslims friends will also invite the family on their religious events
and the non-Muslim wife may want to participate and take the kids with her
to such celebrations and festivities. At such instances, it may be
difficult to participate in their ceremonies and esp. in telling the kids
what not eat and whom not to pray to.
The family has friends from both faiths and it will be unfair that you have
only Muslims friends. But sometimes certain outside non-Muslim influences
in the marriage and esp. on the kids are to be avoided.
Islam prescribes the dress codes for man and woman. Not many Muslim men
and women, either living in secular Muslim countires or the West, today
follow the dress code perfectly. However, most Muslim women still do not
go around normally in sleveless shirts, shorts or bikinis. If the
Muslim man is trying to follow his religion then he will obviously prefer
his wife and kids to be dressed properly. If the wife is non-Muslim then
she is under no obligation to follow a strict Islamic dress code. But she
may choose to dress up in proper manner again to please her husband, not
to offend him and to guard her beauty from other men. But, then again, it
will be her choice which may fluctuate with her relationship with the
There are certain western customs that may not be acceptable for a Muslim
husband. Mixed parties usually include dancing and drinking. Hugging and
kissing cheeks of male and female friends is another practise which is
not permissible in many Islam. The Muslim husband may have to clarify these
issues with his non-Muslim wife.
RELIGIOUS TOLERANCE IN THE FAMILY:
If a Muslim man marries a non-Muslima, either practising Jewess or Christian
(a sharaii requirement), then she probably will continue to practise her
religion after the marriage. If she does, then she will demand the liberty
to attend, contribute, volunteer and work for her religion.
Since, the advent of Islam in the West has caused tumult in the western
religious institutions, esp. the churches and christian seminaries, their
efforts are now focusing on esp. proseltyzing Muslims more than ever before.
The church-going women are more prone to fall to the propaganda against
Islam by the missionaries prepared specifically to "reach out" to Muslims.
The ongoing propaganda at churches depicts Muslims "persecuting" christian
minorities in Sudan, Egypt, Iran, Jordan, Pakistan, Nigeria and other
Muslim countries. The religious differences, augmented under this
environment, may damage the peaceful life at home.
The non-Muslim wife may want to volunteer and contribute financially to her
religious institution and its activities- 10% of the income is to be given
as "tithe" donations to the churches. It is usually disturbing too see
your money support the exact religious institutions whose major goals now
include defaming and sabotaging the religion of Islam and converting Muslims
using monetary resources in poor countries.
RAISING MUSLIM KIDS:
The foremost thing to understand here is that most of us who were raised
in Islamic environment, even if it may have been a secular govt. such as in
Pakistan, Egypt, Bangladesh, Turkey, Indonesia, etc. The environment and
society was mostly responsible for our learning and understanding of Islam.
Right from the beginning, we learned Islam in bits and pieces at home,
school, through radio, TV and even through our praticipation is Islamic
students/political parties. In combine families, the grandparents and
relatives helped our parents teach Islamic values to the kids.
In the West, it is a totally different environment. In most cases, the
parents are probably the only "bridge" between Islam and their kids. If only
the husband is a Muslim, then that bridge is even narrower. If the father
himself is not very knowledgeable in Islam and doesn't participate in or
mingle with Muslim (not social) community and activities in the West, then
the kids will grow up virtually ignorant to Islam. In general, to them,
Islam is a foreign religion.
A man usually doesn't have much time to spend with the kids and if the
wife is non-Muslim too, then there is not much kids can learn about Islam
even at home. Dressing them up in cultural/international clothes, feeding
them cultural food and taking them to Masjid once or twice a year doesn't
teach them any Islamic values or religion at all. If we assume the kids
will learn Islam values LATER, the question arises: From WHO?
If the kids have a non-Muslim mother and she doesn't respect Islamic dress
code and eating habits, ie. she wears shorts, skirts, bikinis and eats
non-halaal meats or drinks, then how in the world can we expect that our
kids will not do the same. How diificult it will be for the husband to
teach the kids to avoid these "NOT-OK" things while they're okay for their
respected mother. Will he be telling them that their mother doesn't have
"good" moral values?
In an inter-faith marriage, where both parents practise their respective
religions, often kids are grown to be confused in religious matters. They
have sympathies to both religions. But due to opposing views, they are
usually unable to "make up" their mind. Most do not want to reject either
If Kids are drawn by mother and father to their respective worship places
and to participate in their religious activies. What would a Muslim husband
tell his kids if they want to go to church on Sundays with their Mom.
Similarly, what will a non-Muslim mother say to her kids, if they go to
Masjid on Fridays and on Sundays for taa'leem. The clildren need a single
religion preached and taught to them.
Marriage is a critical decision in not only our life, but for our kids and
their and our hereafter. Let's be real careful about it.
And those who pray, "Out Lord! grant unto us wives and offsprings who
will be the comfort of our eyes, and give us (the grace) to lead the
righteous." [Surah 25:74]