Question: Salaams sisters,
Ok I think I have a topic for your blog. What is your take on interreligious relationships/marriages? Whether it's Muslim/Christian, Muslim/Jew etc. and whether the person is male or female. Do you think they work? What do you think the pros and cons are in these relationships?
Nad says: Salaams dear,
Yes, you definitely do have a topic. You hit on a big one. I know a lot of people are wondering about this. I've seen these relationships go horribly, and I've seen them work out beautifully. I have two answers to this question.
The short answer: I think it's better to stay in your own religion, because religion is a big part of a person and having that in common can be a huge benefit to a relationship.
The long answer: Love and relationships are complicated. They don't always fit in neat little, pre-prepared boxes. I know this is becoming more of an issue for Muslimahs that are waiting, waiting, waiting on Muslim men that don't seem to be appearing. Meanwhile, they're getting older and watching other people get married and trying not to be depressed. It's real out there. It really depends on what you know you need in your life. If you need someone that you can go to religious services with, celebrate holidays with, pray with, then it probably wouldn't work to be with a person of another religion.
If all you need is a spiritual connection that isn't specific to any one religion, you may be able to work it out. Successful interreligious couples tend to be more open minded to seeing the beauty in all religions. This open mindedness can also benefit other parts of the relationship. However, it can create more room for contention when certain differences come up. One parents wants a Christmas tree. The other doesn't. One parent thinks the daughter should wear hijab. The other isn't as concerned. One parent thinks 16 is a good age to start dating. The other is ready to fight. (You know Muslim get hype on this topic.) These are the types of issues you're more likely to agree on when you're with a person of the same religion. Either way, relationships are hard, but interreligious relationships require some extra work. Mina, come get in on this.
Mina says: I like Nad's answer...I like it ALOT, I was gonna approach it from a different standpoint...but I'll just say that it DOES get really hard because many times you feel like there's no one out there for YOU in your particular religious circle, and you may be meeting all these wonderful potentials BUT...they have another path. So as Nad said, you have to be really clear (or at least 51% clear lol) about what you can see in your future...because reality is...there can be some added drama in the interreligious recipe, so it will require extra energy!
I was in a similar situation at one point where I really liked/loved someone that wasnt Muslim like me--and it was HARRRD. But when I thought about my kids, and the type of family I want to raise, the legacy I'd like to have, I def. couldn't see it not being Islamic--if it was just about me (and him) in the moment, and not thinking about a shared future, I probably could have done it--but in thinking about not having someone to call the adhan to wake me and the kids up, or lead us in salat, or fast during Ramadan together. it was just too difficult to fathom, for me personally. But the BIGGEST conflict came in thinking about standards and limitations...I just felt that if we didnt share the same Book, we would be looking to a different standard in deciphering and solving conflicts. So I'm thinking, "relationships are hard enough to keep intact, we need a lil something to work with!"...and so, I had to step out on faith, and simply believe that if this is what felt sensical to my soul and mind, this is the situation that God would make available for me...and I was relentless in this belief, I simply knew that the right person was out there for me who shared these fundamental charachteristics...the long/short of that story is--me and my honey did end up together =) (yaaay!), and were able to do so partly because he actually DID ascend down his own spiritual path that led him to Al-Islam, and God worked it out! praise The One.
So the point is--be smart and real about what you want and can deal with and stick to it--you will ultimately deal with the consequences of such a decision, so think very intelligently about the life you want to craft. The positives of such a religiously diverse union is that there is probably an underlying theme of oneness in all things, in a truth that transcends titles, in tolerance and diverse flavors...(it sounds beautiful actually) but the difficulties probably center around the more practical aspect of such unions--and as I said before, the lack of a shared common standard can make it difficult when issues arise...Its hard because Union is about being unified, and seeing a commonality in many things, sharing life, etc.etc, but of course, you're not going to be unified in everything, no matter how beautiful a relationship is, so ask yourself "how extensive and far reaching (into all aspects of my life) is my religious expression? If it affects most of what I do, having a union with someone of another path is probably going to be more difficult...if not, it may not pose as much of a problem."
What I learned from my sistuation is...trust. As hard as it is, when you're on you're path and trying to adhere to truth, even if its not what you want to do in the moment, God will open up a way and you will be blessed. Trust that!