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Raise My Children As Muslims!?

Questioner

H (32-female-US)

Reply Date

Jun 06, 2017

Question

My finance, and soon to be husband in six weeks is a Muslim. I was raised as a Christian. I agreed to raise kids, if we have them as Muslims. We have different ideological ideas about religion, namely that I do not believe Islam is the only way to God, but it may be the best way for him and others. I respect the beliefs of all people, while I do not have to follow them. He says that this one ideological difference is why he thinks that we cannot raise Muslim kids (before he said it was because I am not a Muslim, but now he realizes that it is not because of Islam). Generally, he does not want kids. He was willing to have them in order to please me. He thinks that it makes life complicated and that they are such a big responsibility. He also questions if my country is the best place to raise kids (while this is where I grew up and we have intentions to stay. I do believe that raising kids to be Muslims in a place where a daughter cannot pray in a mosque is also unacceptable. Plus he says that our genes make it more likely that our kids will have emotional issues (we have depression on both sides of our families). Since we are permitted to mary, is it haram for us to have kids if I believe in something that he doesn't? Does he have the right to deny me children if I agree to raising them as Muslims when my justification to my children will be that I am not Muslim (that people believe and follow different spiritual paths to God)? We are so frustrated with this topic and we have agreed that no matter what, we are not going to give up "us" as an option.

Counselor

Answer


Muslim

As-salamu `alaikum,

One can appreciate the intentions of you and your fiance, that is ” … we are not going to give up “us” as an option”. Your attachment to each other is in a current state of intensity disregarding all the obstacles that you are aware of, but might choose to ignore. It was a respected Persian philosopher, Bardesan ( a Christian) who wrote (c. 473 A.D.) the following:

“A man asked: ‘How is it that God did not so make us that we should not sin and incur condemnation?’–if man had been made so, he would not have belonged to himself, but would have been the instrument of him that moved him; and it is evident also, that he who moves an instrument as he pleases, moves it either for good or for evil.

And how, in that case, would a man differ from a harp, on which another plays; or from a ship, which other guides: …freedom has been given to him in greater measure than to any of those elemental bodies… Who, then, is the man that is too weak to avoid stealing, or to avoid lying, or to avoid acts of profligacy, or to avoid hatred and deception? For, lo! all these things are under the control of the mind of man, and are not dependent on the strength of the body, but on the will of the soul.

For even if a man is poor, and sick, and old, and disabled in his limbs, he is able to avoid doing all these things. And, as he is able to avoid doing these things, so is he able to love, and to bless, and to speak the truth, and to pray for what is good for everyone with whom he is acquainted; and if he be in health, and capable of working, [7] he is able also to give of that which he has; moreover, to support with strength of body him that is sick and enfeebled–this also he can do…

For would not the judge be unjust who should censure a man with regard to any such thing as he has not the ability to do?… Perhaps, however, someone will say that fools also are pleased when they do abominable things… For the pleasure which is experienced in a healthy state of the soul, with a good hope, is one thing; and the pleasure of a diseased state of the soul, with a bad hope, is another. For lust is one thing, and love is another; and friendship is one thing, and good-fellowship another; and we ought without any difficulty to understand that the false counterfeit of affection which is called lust, even though there be in it the enjoyment of the moment, is nevertheless widely different from true affection, whose enjoyment is forever, incorruptible and indestructible.”

For lust is one thing, and love is another; and friendship is one thing, and good-fellowship another; and we ought without any difficulty to understand that the false counterfeit of affection which is called lust, even though there be in it the enjoyment of the moment, is nevertheless widely different from true affection, whose enjoyment is forever, incorruptible and indestructible.”

What is the point of the above? “… For lust is one thing, and love is another, and friendship is one thing, and good-fellowship another…”. Let us put this thought aside for a while.

Besides the fact that there is not much difference in what Bardesan shares with his student and the Qur`an, there is also not much difference in the original intention and purpose of marriage in Christianity and Islam. We as humans have been given the gift of choice by our Creator, but ‘to choose’ involves the faculty of the mind, not the obeisance of the emotions, which is what directs you. It is a common attitude that marriage is about the love that ignites a relationship, that is to say, it is about the couple.

Once married, and children ensue, the marriage is still about the couple and the impact on the children is never seriously considered. When the relationship between the husband-wife turns sour, the only thing on the couple’s mind is divorce, disregarding the impact on the children. Was it ever really love, for the love that binds is unconditional, and unconditional love is about possession, owning/belonging to the other. Or is the attachment born out of something else? Only you and your fiance can answer this, but all the same, the question needs to be asked honestly, which probably might involve a little time away from each other. The obstacles you mentioned include the following:

*Your fiance, does not want children and is practical in listing the reasons why

*Your fiance, will have children because of you, but he wants them to be raised as Muslims and in all truth, you do not

*Neither of you are settled as to where is the best place to raise children

*There is a history of depression on both sides of the family

*You refer to the yet to be conceived children as “yours”

Using the God-given gift of the faculty of reason (i.e. the mind), there should be no other debate between the both of you. You are both well educated and can rise to what is being demanded of both you right now. For instance:

1-If your fiance does not want children, this assumes that he will not be involved in the raising of “your” children”. If your fiance is not involved in the raising of ‘your” children how can they be raised as Muslims by someone who is not a Muslim?

2-If your fiance as your husband is not involved in raising Muslim children, what will be your support mechanism to raise these children as Muslims?

3-Your fiance does not think that your country of birth is the best place to raise children, which implies there will be a lot of do’s and don’ts that neither of you will agree on as to what the children will be able to do.

4-If the children belong to the both of you then both of you should be involved in the raising of the children as much as possible because it is the involvement of both of you in their lives that will be the primary and most fundamental role model that will dictate to the children the nature of the relationships that they will have when they grow older.

In Islam, marriage is a precious institution whereby two people mature enough to take on the responsibility of raising balanced children who will benefit society, not disrupt society. When a husband and wife fail to learn reciprocity, compassion, mutual understanding, and respect, it is the children who provide us with these lessons in the context of unconditional love.

Islam works towards the development and the benefit of society as a whole, of which no one is excluded. It is only when a society is ailing as a result of children who become adults have not been raised in a balanced way that the individual for the sake of the whole, hence Allah (SWT)/God/Creator can decide what is best:

“For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God” (1 Timothy 3: 5)

Our Book of Guidance, the Qur`an tells us to:

“O mankind! Be conscious of your Sustainer, who created you out of one living entity (nafs), and out of it created its mate, and out of the two spread abroad a multitude of men and women. And remain conscious of God, in whose name you demand your rights from one another, and of these ties kinship. Verily, God is ever watchful over you!”  (Quran Nisa 4: 1)

A blessed marriage, is the one least burdensome, so until you can come to a mutual understanding of your marriage through and honest discussions,  your marriage will risk becoming burdensome, because you are looking at your relationship to the exclusion of daily life and what is required to build a sound family. This is one of the main reasons why in Islam, when two people want to marry each other, the parents/guardians/representatives from both side are the ones that meet (not the intended couple), to allow the mind to take center-stage and not the emotions when thinking of planning a life together.

It is possible, that you are not happy with what has been said, but neither will you be if you proceed on the sole intent that you “… are not going to give up “us”, when us has been reduced to a series of ‘wants’ and ‘not want’, without settling fundamental problems. Remember, it is human nature to want to pass on the values and ambitions that one holds to ones children, so if you do not want to spend the rest of your marital life fighting over what the children can and cannot do, then it is imperative that the issues between you are resolved from now.

Salam

***

Disclaimer: The conceptualization and recommendations stated in this response are very general and purely based on the limited information provided in the question. In no event shall AboutIslam, its counselors or employees be held liable for any damages that may arise from your decision in the use of our services.

 




About Hwaa Irfan

Late Hwaa Irfan, may her soul rest in peace, served as consultant, counselor and freelance writer. Her main focus was on traditional healing mechanisms as practiced in various communities, as opposed to Western healing mechanisms.

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