How to Tell My Arab Parents About Revert Fiancé?

27 December, 2016
Q As-Salamu `Alaykum. I am a 24-year-old Muslim lady, originally from an Arabic-speaking country. I was blessed with meeting my other half two years ago when I went to the US to pursue a master’s degree. I met him on the airplane and felt very comfortable talking to him about a variety of topics. Since then, we both felt very close to each other, despite the fact that he was a non-Muslim American, and obviously our cultures were quite different. Surprisingly, I felt that he was closer to my culture than to his own culture, and he had always showed an incredible appreciation of my Arabic roots and religion. He started reading about Islam, fasting in Ramadan, and he started warming up to the concept of converting. The truth is that our religion is so fascinating that the more he reads about it, the more he becomes attached to it, al-hamdu lillah. Recently, he converted to Islam, after two years of researching about it, and he asked me for marriage according to the Qur'an’ and the Sunnah. I was very happy with that because I really love him and respect him due to his honesty, sincerity and kindness. My problem is that I do not know how I am going to tell my family about him. I am so afraid of their reaction in regard to his request, especially since he is American. They have a negative stereotype of Americans, and also because of the language barrier. He is very honest and serious about his decision and told me many times that he is willing to satisfy my family’s demands, no matter what they are. He is even willing to come to live in our country and leave everything behind, including his family, if my family wants that. Please, help me find a way to tell my family about him. I am so scared of their reaction, but at the same time, I do not want to lose him because I see in him everything I have always been expecting in my future husband. Should I forget about all this and give him up to avoid entering into arguments with my family? Or should I give it a shot?

Answer

Answer:

As-Salamu `Alaykum,

Thank you so much for writing to us. We understand how happy you must be to know that you have discovered your future husband. In sha’ Allah, with the help and guidance of Allah Most High, you will be able to realize your hopes and dreams of marrying this man. Perhaps, your greatest challenge is going to be when and how you will tell your family about this man.

First, we want you to appreciate the fact that parents want what is best for their children. Of course, all stereotypes aside about the fact that this man is an American convert, we are not sure that any family would really be comfortable knowing that their daughter, or son for that matter, had met his or her future spouse on an airplane. Keep this in mind as you consider at what moment in time you want to begin your story.

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In addition, remember that the anxieties your parents will have are justified, in as much as any mother or father want the best for their child. So, do not feel as if you have to prepare for a battle with them. Rather, use the approach of trying to address all or as many of their anxieties as possible.

Second, in order for your parents to accept to even consider this man’s proposal, they must feel that you have been introduced to him rather than that you both met up in the sky. You are not misleading them in any way, but rather modifying the chronology of events to increase their level of comfort with this proposal. We suggest strongly that you either involve family or friends who live in America to help you break the news to your parents. If you do not have family in America, then seek out trusted friends, preferably an elderly couple whose word your parents are more likely to trust and accept. Hopefully, your parents will be comfortable discussing their concerns in their own language, with people who are also Moroccan and presumably understand “our culture.” The people who talk to your parents should get to know this man first and be comfortable presenting him to your parents, in sha’Allah.

Third, you can also help prepare your parents for the discussion on marriage by letting them know that you are considering marriage and would like them talk to some friends who have a particular individual in mind. Let your family ask questions and make notes of those questions. You need not answer those questions yourself, but rather tell your parents that you encourage them to ask your friends those same questions. In the meantime, relay those questions to your friends and help them to prepare responses. Remember, your parents have to feel as if this match is being proposed to them for their consideration and final approval. You should do everything possible to make sure your parents are comfortable at every step in this process, in sha’ Allah.

Finally, we do want you to be prepared for the fact that your parents might meet this man and disapprove. The real question then becomes, what will you do? Will you prefer to obey your parents and work with them to seek out another candidate? Will you struggle hard with your parents and help them to see things your way? Will you go ahead and marry this man without their approval?

We cannot answer those questions for you. We can strongly suggest that no matter what happens, you should always be making the Istikharah prayer (supplication to Allah for guidance) to seek Allah’s guidance and reassurance. Be sure that you are not just taken by the idea of marrying an American, but you are putting his faith in Allah and his character as your first and foremost reason for marrying him. Ask Allah to grant you a pious husband who is a blessing for your faith, your family and your future.

And Allah (saw) knows best.

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Disclaimer: The conceptualization and recommendations stated in this response are very general and purely based on the limited information that was provided in the question. In no event shall AboutIslam, it’s volunteers, writers, scholars, counselors, or employees be held liable for any direct, indirect, exemplary, punitive, consequential or other damages whatsoever that may arise through your decision or action in the use of the services which our website provides. 

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.