Short Answer: You could say to your parents, Mum, Dad, you know if a Catholic person wants to marry a non-Catholic it is best and expected that the non-Catholic will convert to Catholicism. Well, I’m not going against your upbringing, I really appreciate the way you have raised me, thank you. However, I have found something else as part of my life. Don’t get upset, wait and see how I turn out because I want to become a Muslim. This should come after your parents have agreed to your marriage.
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We are happy to hear that you are becoming a Muslim, may Allah bless you and make it easy for you.
Straight away you start to run into problems, but with Allah’s help they will be overcome. The first step is to ask Allah for His help and guidance. Then, if you compare the situation to a non-Catholic marrying a Catholic you might get some ideas as to how to tell your parents.
For instance, you could say to your parents, Mum, Dad, you know if a Catholic person wants to marry a non-Catholic it is best and expected that the non-Catholic will convert to Catholicism. Well, I’m not going against your upbringing, I really appreciate the way you have raised me, thank you. However, I have found something else as part of my life. Don’t get upset, wait and see how I turn out because I want to become a Muslim. This should come after your parents have agreed to your marriage.
I had two older brothers, raised in the Church of England, and both wanted to marry Spanish Catholics. Both brothers embraced Roman Catholicism and their children were raised as Catholics. So, it would seem your parents would not object too much to there being one religion in your family.
Also, it seems your parents know your husband-to-be is a Muslim, and they have no objection. If they haven’t asked you about changing your religion, it is quite likely they have discussed this among themselves, possibly putting off finding out your decision. I think you have a convincing argument that it is better for any family to all follow the same religion, after all, this is the Catholic position.
In my own case, I embraced Islam in 1970 and married in Pakistan in 1973. I brought my wife back to the UK with me. One condition was we would have a civil ceremony, Register Office wedding soon after. All my family were invited, and they all came.
My wife and I wore the same clothes we wore in Pakistan for our marriage. Incidentally, my family’s attitude was, “if you think it’s right for you then do it, But it isn’t right for us,” I had no real problems for some 18 years with my family. I would take halal food when we visited and my relatives would cook it. The bigger problem was visiting during Ramadan, Sorry, can’t eat until 10 pm or, Sorry we have breakfast at 4 am. And, of course, during the daylight hours we couldn’t eat or have anything to drink with them and they felt it.
I mention my case as I wonder, since marriage in a Catholic Church is a No! No! Whether some form of civil ceremony or reception would be acceptable? This could be discussed with your parents. You could bring a religious aspect to such a gathering by having an address; e.g. advice to the bride and groom and also maybe take a passage from Surah Maryam and have a scholar explain it, taking care not to emphasise the differences between Muslims and Catholics, but emphasising the similarities between the two religions with respect to Mary raa and Jesus a.s. Again, talk to your parents about a reception etc. don’t leave them out of such discussions.
Also, if you have brothers and sisters, and even close friends, you could discuss these ideas with them and see if you can find an acceptable approach.
Personally, I believe that since they know your husband-to-be is Muslim, from their Catholic background they should not be surprised if you wish to become Muslim (the same religion as your husband). I believe they will be disappointed as they probably had dreams of you being walked down the aisle on your father’s arm and a Church wedding. So, it is necessary to handle them gently and compassionately.
Try to explain to them that they are not losing a daughter; yes, it is different, but they are gaining a son-in law at least. One example, my wife’s younger sister came to me after our marriage and before we left Pakistan and said, I am very upset with you. You are taking my sister from me. I said, Look at it this way,. you are not losing a sister, you are gaining a brother.
I pray this helps you to clarify your approach to your parents. Each family is a group of individuals and while guidelines can be and are given, there is no ideal way. It is a question of looking to see the starting positions, what you can build on and is there anything to avoid.
Above all, a loving and gentle approach is required together with understanding. May Allah bless you and make it easy for you. And may He keep the family united. May He bless you and your husband and grant you health, happiness and prosperity, Ameen.
And Allah knows best.
I hope this helps.
Salam and please keep in touch.
(From Ask About Islam archives)
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