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Stressful Muslim-Christian In-Law Relations

Questioner

Anonymous

Reply Date

Jun 15, 2017

Question

As-Salamu ‘Alaykum. Alhamdulillah, I am married to a caring and very loving man who always puts my needs before his own. We are happy together. However, we face problems with the in-laws - both mine and his. My parents are Pakistani Muslims and his parents are African Christians. he is a revert Muslim. The problem is that my father did not support our marriage on racial grounds and also because my husband's family is Christian. This has filtered through to my younger siblings who also dislike my husband even though they do not know him. Now, they are coming of age to get married, and my father is picking out Pakistani girls and boys. I sometimes feel jealous,\ because he is happy for them but not for me. We are not welcomed in my father’s house at Eid or any other occasion. When I bring up this issue, he says I need to deal with this isolation because I chose it. He made me begin to wonder if I really made the right decision. My husband’s family is divided - some support his decision of converting to Islam and some do not. His mother doesn't, and initially, she was angry at him for converting. However, she doesn’t really bother us to be honest. I am feeling confused; it has only been a few months since we got married, and instead of feeling joyous, I am always wondering if I made a mistake by not considering families before I got married. I would appreciate your view on this matter.

Counselor

Answer


Stressful Muslim-Christian In-Law Relations

In this counseling answer:

It is far too frequent that one will find judgments made according to one’s culture and not according to Islam. But once others can see that the marriage is based on strong foundations, then with patience, mutual spousal consultation and determination others will begin to respect what you have.


As-Salamu ‘Alaykum Wa Rahmatullahi Wa Barakatuh my dear sister,

It is so good to hear about two people who are happy together, especially through the testing phase of the first two years of marriage. Why do the in-laws have to spoil everything?

First of all, my dear sister, I am sure you are aware that these are trying times in which we live. Insecurities abound and with that comes a tribalistic mentality towards one’s own. Parents are less willing to see their grown children get married to anyone who is not of the same race, of the same religious background, or even of the same country. Then we have the issues of status and income. This, of course, makes choices limited for their children no matter how old they may be. As a result, there seems to be a higher rate of divorce amongst inter-racial/cultural/religious marriages because there is less tolerance than there was approximately five years ago.

It is far too frequent that one will find judgments made according to one’s culture and not according to Islam. We become selective about what aspects of the Qur’an and the Sunnah we choose to relate to because it does or does not fit one’s cultural values or lifestyle. We forget:

“O mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed, the noblest of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you. Indeed, Allah is Knowing and Acquainted.” (49:13)

We get disturbed as Muslims afflicted by Islamophobia, yet we cannot go beyond our own prejudices that make us now better than those who do not like Muslims. We take their hatred of Islam personally, but we do not take Islam personally.

In Islam, ‘asabiyyah (prejudice) is classified as a disease of the soul. However, there is commendable `asabiyyah, when one supports one’s people and friends for the sake of defeating injustice.

This means that `asabiyyah is a matter of intentions. However, when the intention behind `asabiyyah is to extend negative influence, to control, to manipulate, to exploit, or to oppress a person/persons, then it is considered an abomination that spreads injustice throughout the society.

It is not `asabiyyah to love one’s nation. However, if one helps his nation in committing oppression, then it is `asabiyyah.

For you, my dear sister, you have to really consider deeply why you married your husband who, you say, is very loving and caring, and who thinks of you before he thinks of himself. It happens too often that two people who want to marry each other do not really consider all aspects of marriage, including the children. They only consider each other. Even if they only consider each other, they do not consider if they have the strength of loyalty and commitment to take them through difficulties.

In an intercultural marriage, the anchor is Allah (swt) because by allowing Allah (swt) to guide you through Islam, one can overcome many trials and challenges as it takes you outside of your own personal perspective. Once others can see that your marriage is based on strong foundations, then with patience, mutual spousal consultation and determination others will begin to respect what you have.

The question is: do you have that patience and determination? Do you have the ability to not get upset when your family says something against your husband? Do you have the ability to smile and spread a little humor in order to help them see how trivial their perceptions are?

“Whosoever of you sees an evil action, let him change it with his hand; and if he is not able to do so, then with his tongue; and if he is not able to do so, then with his heart – and that is the weakest of faith.” (An Nawawi)

Your husband probably knows better than you about `asabiyyah, so make Istikharah and let Allah (swt) guide you on this matter before you regret whatever decision you make.

Salam,

***

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About Hwaa Irfan

Hwaa Irfan serves as consultant, counselor and freelance writer. She is focusing on traditional healing mechanisms as practiced in various communities, as opposed to Western healing mechanisms.

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