Convert Wife Doesn’t Practice Islam: I’m Worried

16 March, 2017
Q I am stuck between my parents and my freshly reverted Muslim wife. I married a Christian woman for the sake of visa (which was wrong), but I didn't think much that time as I was too far from my religion. We just went to the local magistrate office and got married. My wife has a Christian family and she also belonged to a church. I repented shortly after our marriage and I feel I am back to Islam, Alhamdulillah. My wife first took her name off from the church and accepted Islam a year and a half ago as she started realizing that it's difficult to manage without her being Muslimah. She says she did not accept Islam due to my pushing but for the sake of Allah. She also uses this as an excuse not to go to the mosque to learn. If I ask her something about religion, she can get mad. In 1.5 years, she has learned ghusl (ritual bathing), bismillah, alhamdulillah, and some very basics stuff. I have been patient, but as you know, the environment in the West is difficult, I mean for the kids. Right now, I honestly do not know what the future of our kids would be if we have them, as I think, without a practical Muslim wife in the West, kids can be troublesome and cause chaos. Only a few months ago, I told my parents about my concerns. Since then, they have been pushing me to divorce her without even asking/knowing anything about her. She is improving, but very slowly. You know the bottom line is to raise the kids in Islam, and right now I am not sure if that will happen in our case as my wife doesn't pray or read Qur'an. Shall I divorce her as my parents wish? They also have the same opinion about the unsecured future of my kids as Muslims. Since I have disclosed the news to them, they have stopped any kind of contact with me and have been asking other siblings to do the same. What do you say about that? We have been married for more than 4 years; is it still OK not to think about kids? I am 33 now, and I think it's time to start considering that as it is one of the reasons you marry. I was not pushing her first for a year, but now I have started pushing a bit as time is running out. How long shall I wait before taking any decision? When I ask my wife to go to a mosque or meet some Muslimah, she is not willing to do that due to the negative image of Muslims. I am not sure what she thinks in her heart. Has she accepted Islam for me or for the sake of Allah? Jazakum Allahu khayran.



As-Salamu ‘Alaykum,

Of all halal matters, divorce is the one most disliked by Allah (swt). Your wife is a Muslim regardless of her reasons for converting. If she says she converted for Allah (swt), then you must take that on face value and remind her of that.

Your first duty is to your immediate family — your wife. If she is not in the same place as you right now spiritually, then you must be patient with her and encourage her — rather than threaten her — to practice Islam. Just because she does not want to practice at this point does not mean that she does not see the benefit in it; it is not speaking to her heart. Threatening her is not going to help. You must provide a model for her with your patience and gentleness, and you must care for her well-being.

Make Islam so attractive to her that she cannot refuse and will realize that her heart is between the hands of the All-Merciful. The heart will respond to the beauty of Islam, but you must make it beautiful for her and put your trust in Allah (swt). Remember, you did not marry under the most ideal of circumstances. Nevertheless, it is your duty now to make the most of the situation and work through it. Don’t bail out on your wife just because you think she is not “as good” a Muslim as yourself. She may have other strong virtues that you are not even aware of.

I think it is important that although you must respect your parents’ opinions, you must help them understand the situation and that you cannot simply leave your wife because they are not happy with her and they fear for any future children. This is an opportunity for you to explain to them that this is your responsibility and trust, and that you wish to see the matter through. We can’t simply bail out of situations just because we don’t like them. Allah (swt) manifests everything in our lives for a reason and its purpose is for our own growth and spiritual maturation.

If you really think you’re such a good Muslim now, then prove it! Show your Islam through patience, perseverance, love, kindness, and struggle. Perhaps you should see this as YOUR test rather than your wife’s. Maybe your parents need to understand that even though you married this woman for less than ideal reasons, you made your bed, and now you need to lie on it. Follow through; view this challenge not as a test for your wife, but as a test for YOU from Allah (swt). See it as an opportunity to grow closer to Allah (swt) for everything in life is ultimately about our relationship to Allah (swt).

I urge you to be patient with your wife, to exemplify Islam in a way that will make it attractive for her to embrace it so that she will see the benefit in it for herself. She must see the essence of Islam in your character, in the way you do everything. Islam is not just salah (prayers) and going to the mosque. It should define your entire being and how you do everything.

Your wife needs to see that. If she says she converted to Islam for Allah (swt) and is serious about being a Muslim, then you must be patient with her and gently encourage her. To do this, she must see how it has benefited you. This is an opportunity for you to take stock of yourself first, to figure out what a life in Islam has meant to you, and then share that with her through your words and deeds. Threats and fear will not transform the heart.



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About Abdul-Lateef Abdullah
Abdul-Lateef Abdullah, an American convert to Islam, obtained his Bachelor’s degree in Political Science & Economics at the University of Delaware, his Master’s degree in Social Work from Columbia University, and recently completed his Ph.D. from the Institute for Community & Peace Studies, Universiti Putra Malaysia, in the field of Youth Studies.
He has worked as a Program Assistant for the Academy for Educational Development (Washington, D.C.); a Social Worker at the Montefiore Medical Center (Bronx, New York); and the Director of Documentation and Evaluation at Community IMPACT! (Washington, D.C.). He has also worked with the the Taqwa Gayong Academy (New Jersey, U.S.A./Penang, Malaysia) for troubled youth, both Muslim and non-Muslim. As a recent (1999) convert to Islam, he spends much time writing about his experiences as a Muslim-American convert.