Madonna and Brahim Zabat
I've been told by a sheik on TV not to wish anyone a, "Merry Christmas," but I certainly wished it with my mother last night. If you are celebrating Christmas today, then I wish you the best as well.
I have an "Agony Aunt" question from a Non-Muslim mom:
I want to know whether or not you believe a Christian can be happily married to a Muslim man. My daughter has a Muslim boyfriend from Turkey. It seems to be quite serious. They are very much in love. I would not be surprised if they are discussing marriage. I'm not against her having him as a boyfriend but I do worry about them getting married.
I've heard of other Christian girls marrying Muslims who then get very strict with their wives. I don't want this for my daughter. I don't think this would happen with this particular man since he is very well-educated and modern. However, I'd like to know your feelings on it.
First of all, I think it's great that you are open to whatever direction your daughter's happiness seems to take her. You are truly a good mom to allow her the freedom to explore life to the fullest. It is hard to see our children go onto paths which could lead them into heartbreak. I really can relate to that. However, you are not an alarmist about her choices and that's really positive.
Princess Diana and Dodi Fayed
There's an oxymoron we need to deal with straight off the bat. An "oxymoron" is a contradiction in terms. You simply cannot have "a Muslim boyfriend." There is no such thing. Sure, men can allow themselves to be thought of that way but it's not possible. The only person able to call him or herself, "Muslim," is a person who practises their faith. If a man is a practising Muslim then he can't be having a dating relationship with a woman outside of marriage.
My brother-in-law is a practising Muslim. He just got promised to a local woman. Thank God! He really deserves some happiness. I find his courtship of his new lady to be really interesting. He didn't know her. The families knew of each other. My husband accompanied his brother (since their father is deceased) to make their family's interest officially known to her family. The two possible spouses were then allowed to talk to each other. They agreed to marry. Now and only now does my brother-in-law go to her house for dinner on Fridays. They do not go outside of her home. It is a gradual process of about a year. That is Islamic and it has nothing to do with being modern or not. It has to do with being modest.
Obviously, there can be other ways of being modest with a marriage proposal. I'm not suggesting this example from Egypt is the only way. However, dating, sleeping together, taking trips together and living together are not allowable in Islam before marriage IN ANY COUNTRY.
Miss Finland finalist Anni Uusivirta with Mohamed Khalid Tukholmassa
Non-Muslim women wishing to marry a Muslim man should not be that man's dirty little secret. There should be communication with his family; not just him with your family. He should be treating her the way he would want his sisters treated. Would he want his sisters to be sexual with a man before marriage? No. If he is not, "making an honest woman" out of your daughter then he is not valuing her as much as his sisters.
You are classifying your daughter's man as "Muslim" probably more than he does himself. He's from Turkey. Turkey is not really sure if the European Union will allow it to be an actual Muslim country. It's happy being Western and thinking that it's more advanced this way. Is he believing he's Western?
Perrie Edwards with Zayn Malik and his family
Is he a practising Muslim as far as his prayers, Fridays and fasts? Allah knows better than anyone. My guess is that her Muslim boyfriend is not. She hasn't, therefore, really seen or felt what it's like to be together with an actual Muslim man. If they marry and he stays on the same course there isn't a problem for their relationship (though Islamically, there would be a problem for his soul).
Janet Jackson and Wissam Al Mana
Click here for an interesting explanation of who is a modern Muslim man from his own point of view. I think it's good to be very informed; both for your daughter and you yourself. Understand that her man will not drastically change from the the traditions his family holds dear. How much do they practice their faith? As he grows older, he is more likely to embrace the practices of his faith. Do not bet on him converting to Christianity (though it's happened to others, it's unlikely). Do not expect him to meet your daughter halfway.
There are five icebergs ready to sink their relationship
To know them means that she can navigate the waters better.
Papers Yes, he could only be interested in her for papers. That's sad and I'm sorry to bring it up. The truth is that there are a lot of desperate men out there who need a way out of poverty or lack of opportunity. They use their good looks and charisma the same way desperate women have used theirs throughout history. No one is using anyone else; it's simply a trade-off. No one gets hurt as long as it's understood...however it's often not understood by the woman.
Renewed Faith Muslim men feel Islam in their core---even if they deny it for years. This core feeling gets reignited at times of deep pain like grieving a death or experiencing illness. Often, when a non-practising Muslim searches for meaning at times of uncertainty they re-find Islam. If he were to suddenly enter into observance again, could she handle that?
I would recommend she read up on the obligations of Muslims. She should know the five pillars of Islam, what a real Ramadan entails and what a Muslim husband expects from a wife and children.
Children Often there isn't a big problem in a marriage---and I mean ANY marriage---until there are children. Why? Because children represent our highest hopes. Those hopes, once again, emanate from that core of our being. He might seem like a regular Joe but he isn't. He has hopes residing in him from a long line of Muslim family members. Your daughter does not have this in her. There are clashes with most couples when it comes to raising children. It is even more so with cross-cultural, interfaith couples.
She should know that he expects the children to be Muslim. There is no, "giving them the options and letting them decide for themselves later." That's very Democratic but not Islamic. These would be your Muslim grandchildren. Are you ready for that? Even if your daughter gets to name them something Anglo, they would have to adhere to some of his family's deeply held beliefs.
You might not be able to have some of the times you dreamt of: decorating a Christmas tree, having an Easter egg hunt or taking them to church. You might! But be prepared for not being able to have everything you wished for. It would be his right as the father to raise them as Muslims.
She should read and understand what raising a Muslim child is all about. What are the differences? They should discuss options, ideas and ideals BEFORE getting married. If she doesn't agree with him about children then she shouldn't marry and therefore should stop seeing him.
His Family His family might not welcome her. That doesn't mean that they are closed-minded bigots. They simply might view reality differently than you and your family. Being open to new ideas in some cultures is asking for ridicule and harassment. They probably never dreamt of having a Non-Muslim daughter-in-law (and this is doubly true if she's divorced with children from before).
If they had a deal with another family to marry him to their daughter, then be prepared for that to be a burden on him that he might not be able to break. A lot of "starting a family" the Muslim way has to do with strengthening bonds between families not individuals. It starts with the parents' decision and not the children's.
Many Muslim men, like many men in general, fool around before settling down. They have their fun and then have their families pick the mother of their children. No one wants discord or divorce. There is a feeling that a "love marriage" can end when the love fades whereas an "arranged marriage" lasts forever. "Arranged" doesn't mean that the man goes kicking and screaming to the ceremony. Many men view the intervention of their mothers, aunts and sisters to find a bride as a helpful blessing.
Reverting Lastly, I am going to mention what sunk my "Muslim boyfriend" boat. It was increased faith---mine not his.
Once upon a time, AbuBoo was my Muslim boyfriend. I came to Islam independent of him because of my beliefs in Allah. I thought, however, that by me entering into Islam we would become more unified. It had the opposite effect.
Often, women who are drawn to Muslim men are actually trying to find Islam. They get introduced to the faith through faithless men. That's the reality and it's from Allah Subhana Wa Tallah. However, once interested in Islam, these same women research it, explore both the religion and themselves and come up MORE connected to Islam than to their husbands. At that time, the marriage could succeed or fail but it's up to their man to change for the better. Men rarely change for someone else (just like they rarely ask for directions or read instructions). Only a Muslim man who wants to grow in his faith with his more religious, revert wife can hold a marriage together .
For myself, I can explain the six years I had like this:
The first year, 2001, I dated my Muslim boyfriend. It was the big love; the crazy love; the love of my life. He already was getting his American citizenship so it had nothing to do with papers.
The second year, 2002, I reverted to Islam and we married. His family did welcome me. We were now halal in many ways but not all.
The third year, 2003, I was fully in Islam as a praying hijabi. He then made the choice to follow me into a deeper, more meaningful Islam. As much as he had helped me to come to Islam, I also helped him.
The fourth year, 2004, was feeling like our best year together because we were connected to each other and to Allah. We were both working meaningful jobs helping the community. It was at this time that we agreed on having a child.
The fifth year, 2005, our son's impeding birth brought out the Muslim boyfriend from the man I had married. I had lost my Muslim husband even as I was pregnant with his child. His attempt to stay rooted in Islam had failed.
That last year together, 2006, was very painful. It was full of hope for what I wished our lives to be and what was reality. I had to face the fact that my son's life needed me even if I felt I was inadequate to raise him alone. I had to be alone. We had been left to fend for ourselves. That was December, 2006. Six years ago today, I remember being very, very alone in my new apartment with my baby and my faith.
That apartment is six homes ago---and on a different continent no less. That handsome boy is now seven years old. Mashallah. My faith has grown. Alhumdulillah. I am married as a Muslim to another Muslim and "yes" it is easier though marriage itself can be a very difficult gig.
So, to you, the mother of the daughter with the Muslim boyfriend, keep loving your girl. Stay open to her path even if it causes her pain and takes her in directions you never would have chosen. My mother never would have chosen my life for me but she loves who I am in this moment...
and so do I.
I am who I am from a sum total of everyone and everything I've experienced...
including my Muslim boyfriend.