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Good Advice Before You Enter an Intercultural Marriage

06 August, 2018
Q Assalamu Alaikum. I am from Egypt and I love a sister from the US. We are thinking to get married. I'm almost 27 and she is almost 22. The story starts when she was a random Facebook friend of mine. One day, I sent her an eBook about Islam just as I did to other people. Few months later, she told me that she said her Shahadah and asked me not to tell anyone. I congratulated her and that was all.

Few months later, I started teaching Arabic online and was looking for students who might be interested to learn. I offered the opportunity to her, but she said she can't afford it, so I offered to help her for free. She thanked me and we started a conversation: she told me about her moving to a new place and I asked about her family for which she said she lives alone. I told her that inshaAllah she will find a good brother to marry and live with him. After one week, she messaged me and said that she wants to tell me something. She said that she is having dreams about me almost every night. I asked her what she sees. The dreams included me and her married and having 2 boys and a girl, and I'm praying Islamic prayer with them. She said she didn't want to tell me, but she finally had to because the dreams were repeating themselves and started to be annoying. I trust her and I believe she told me the truth because I know her as an honest person.

This happened over a year ago and since then we have been talking to know each other more and eventually decided to get married. Only due to the financial situation, we kept delaying it. Although, this year we had lots of misunderstandings because of the cultural differences, we could successfully get over them. She graduated last Friday and since I can't get a visa to the US, we decided to meet in December in Egypt to get married. My family knows and accepted her and her family does the same. We have great love for each other and can't wait to meet. Please, give us some advices to have a successful marriage, Insha'Allah. Sorry for the long story. Jazakum Allahu khairan.

Answer


In this counseling answer:

• It is best to start your marriage to this woman on a good footing by asking Allah’s (swt) forgiveness.

• Engage in Islamic studies together.

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• Make clear from the very start your expectations of her.


As-Salamu ‘Alaikum brother,

May Allah (swt) grant you a happy marriage together.

The first thing I would advise now as you are about to enter marriage to this woman is to ensure that you are not randomly friends with any other sisters online (or in real life) that you could not be a mahram to. You can see in your situation how something seemingly innocent like sharing an e-book resulted in you eventually having conversations with her which have to lead to a relationship and now marriage. I know this sounds like a bit of a negative start, but engaging in conversations online can lead to haram relationships as likely as can they face-to-face. In the eyes of Islam, there is really no difference as you see there are many stories reported when people have had extramarital affairs after meeting online, so Shaytan can still be a third person when chatting online.

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It would, therefore, be advisable that you begin by seeking repentance for your haram relations with this woman before getting married. This may sound a bit harsh, but it is best to start your marriage to this woman on a good footing by asking Allah’s (swt) forgiveness. Alhamdulilah that due to the distance you were obviously unable to consummate this relationship, so not all boundaries were crossed, but you can do all you can from this point to ensure that they won’t be. So, you can begin with asking Allah (swt) to protect you from Shaytan, keeping close to Him (swt) by engaging in as many acts of worship as you can, and abstaining from free mixing and being alone with other sisters (online or in person).

Beyond this, keep in mind that you are from two different cultural backgrounds and sometimes this can lead to misunderstandings between the couple. Therefore, make sure to learn and educate each other about your cultural heritage so that you may respect each other’s preferences and understand each other’s mannerisms that you might otherwise find unusual. In particular, you might pay attention to what she expects from a husband and what role she feels you should play. Likewise, you should do the same. Make clear from the very start your expectations of her. What you think is acceptable and not. This way, you avoid typical problems that frequently occur in marriages by making these things clear right from the very start. You could even do this by writing contracts and sharing them before the marriage even takes place so you have these things in mind.


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A very useful thing to do as a couple, especially given that she is a revert to Islam, could be to engage in Islamic studies together, whether this is you teaching her or starting a new course together. Perhaps, you could even study the fiqh of marriage together in order that you are both clear on the rights of each other from an Islamic perspective that’s not bound by your cultural expectations, but by the expectations of Allah (swt). This way, you will have in mind right from the start the best ways to behave with your spouse that is pleasing to Allah (swt). This is something that’s often missing in marriages today which leads to future problems due to this lack of knowledge about each other’s rights. You can grow in knowledge together and strengthen your faith which will also nurture your love for each other, too, as you support each other in your studies.

You will come to develop this underlying respect for each other, and most importantly, you will be seeking Allah’s (swt) reward. Engaging in this, perhaps, more subtle type of worship will lead you to have Allah (swt) consistently in mind. By having Allah (swt) in mind, you will also act in ways to please Him (swt) and, therefore, ensure you treat each other well in line with Islamic values. This will provide a strong basis for your relationship. You are in a good position to ensure that you don’t fall into the same problems many marriages face due to this lack of understanding.

May Allah (swt) bring you happiness and contentment in your marriage. May He (swt) make her the coolness of your eyes and grant you many successful years together.

Salam,

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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.

Read more:

Overcoming Cultural Differences in an Intercultural Marriage

Cultural Baggage in a Multicultural Marriage

Communication Problems in My Intercultural Marriage