BETWEEN MUSLIMS AND NON-MUSLIMS
by Arif Khan
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,
a Muslim man steps into an inter-faith marriage, there are numerous
issues that he must understand himself and discuss with his non-Muslim
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.
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.
FRIENDS AND THEIR INFLUENCE:
situations when dealing with non-Muslim relatives and friends may occur
and can lead to unanticipated misunderstandings.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
prescribes the dress codes for man and woman. Not many Muslim men and
women, either living in secular Muslim countries 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 Muslim husband.
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.
TOLERANCE IN THE FAMILY :
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.
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.
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.
MUSLIM KIDS :
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.
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.
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:
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?
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 religions.
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.
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]