For example, Christmas is very important to me and it came up in conversation that it is not allowed in Islam to celebrate Christmas, obviously I don't expect him to take part in any religious aspects such as going to church but the decorations, the dinners, gifts and family events are part of my life and I would expect anyone I marry to be a part of those things. If it is permissible for a Muslim man to marry a Christian woman then is it not permissible to allow her to celebrate Christmas in her home?
One other issue I have is that I have 2 young children who are baptised as Christians. I am very open to my children learning about other religions and choosing their own path when they are older. But when I discussed what would happen with our future children it was made clear that they would be brought up in Islam. Would it be unacceptable to teach about both Christianity and Islam and let the child choose their own path when they are ready?
I don't want to ignore these practicalities and then end up with problems in our marriage. Thank you in advance for any guidance on these issues.
Short Answer: When a Muslim man marries a believing woman from among the People of the Book (Christians and Jews), he should not try to prevent her from practicing her own faith. It would be inappropriate in a Muslim household to have icons of Jesus or other religious figures. But aside from that, he needs to bear in mind that he is choosing to marry a woman of a different faith.
Assalaam alaykum – Peace and Blessings of God be upon you
Firstly, I would like to thank you for submitting this question to us. You are absolutely right that you should be thinking about these issues ahead of time. It is always sensible to confront potential issues before marriage, to make sure you are on the same page and to make sure your possible match is viable. It makes much more sense to do this, rather than to ignore potential issues that may blow up at a later time.
When a Muslim man marries a believing woman from among the People of the Book (Christians and Jews), he should not try to prevent her from practicing her own faith. It would be inappropriate in a Muslim household to have icons of Jesus (peace be upon him) or other religious figures. But aside from that, he needs to bear in mind that he is choosing to marry a woman of a different faith.
I tend to agree with you that it would be disrespectful of your potential future husband to not participate in your family gathering. He should remember that, as long as he is not participating in religious aspects of the holiday, or doing anything that is forbidden outright (for example, drinking alcohol), there is no harm in spending time with family. It would be encouraged, even, in order to strengthen family ties. (link for evidence: https://aboutislam.net/counseling/ask-the-counselor/self-issues-ask-about-counselor/stuggles-revert-muslim-christmas-time/)
Many Muslim men expect their wives – whether Muslim or non-Muslim – to participate in their family. But it is equally important for him to participate in hers, as well. There is no Islamic rule saying that one side of the family gets priority over the other.
A Family of Mixed Faith
In the second chapter of the Quran in verse 256, Allah said:
“There shall be no compulsion in matters of faith.” (2:256)
In a certain sense, that does indicate that one’s children should be left to choose their own faith and follow the path they see most fit. No one can force a person to be Muslim.
However, Muslims are obligated to raise their children as Muslim.
It is in the area of parenting that interfaith marriages become most difficult. Unless one party does not feel strongly about bestowing their faith upon their children, there will inevitably be a clash. About Islam has published articles about this before, and I do suggest you take a look. (https://aboutislam.net/counseling/ask-the-counselor/self-issues-ask-about-counselor/stuggles-revert-muslim-christmas-time/)
Ultimately, your children will end up deciding for themselves. As all adults make a conscious decision on how to navigate the world. But it would be wise to go into this potential marriage bearing in mind the obligation of your future husband. It is his duty to raise his children as Muslims.
It is good that you are considering these issues beforehand. If there are no dealbreakers for you, then I truly wish you a blessed and happy marriage. If there are compromises that you cannot abide, then it is best to part ways before committing to a life together.
As you are a religious woman yourself, I counsel you to pray about it.
Allah knows best.
I hope this helps.
Salam and please keep in touch.
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