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Marrying a Revert with a Different Understanding of Islam

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Reply Date

May 09, 2019

Question

Assalamualaikum wa rehmatullahi wa barakatu. I have been talking with a new Muslim girl who accepted Islam a year ago after studying Quran. She is very nice girl. Personally, I liked her. She is kind and compassionate towards the needy. She has a wali who is an Imam of Islamic center. The Imam advised me and my father over the phone to go slow on her about Deen. Don't overwhelm her. I acted exactly what was advised by the Imam. However, very soon I started to realize that she thinks differently.

I realized that our understanding of deen are different. She does not believe that the nail polish can invalidate the wudu and hence the prayer because there is no mention of nail polish in Hadith. I tried to explain her giving references from Hadith but nothing worked. She says she doesn't have to believe someone just because he is a scholar. She says, because there are no direct references of nail polish in the Quran and Hadith, what scholars have to say about it is their own interpretation. And she has her own interpretation. She says, she will learn the deen based on her understanding of the Quran and Hadith not as per the understanding of the Ulema.

She says music is not declared forbidden by Allah, it's only people who interpret the actual texts to more conservative meanings. I don't know what to do. I want to help her through marriage. She needs help and attention.

She is very lonely and has history of depression. Her family does not care for her. She is physically handicapped too that makes her difficult to lift slightly heavy objects. She earns minimum and needs an expensive surgery. Her life is hard. And marriage can make a lot of difference to her well-being.

I consider myself as a practicing Muslim and believes that Islam should be understood how the sahaba understood it. It shouldn't be modernized. Because of stance on nail polish, music, dance and tight-fitting clothes with hijab, she said, I come from a conservative culture which is harsh, ignorant, conservative, oppressing, strict, etc. which I think I am not. I won't stop her from listening to music if she wants. But I don't know if I can let her pray with nail polish on while she is doing wudu. She already dresses modestly.

Should I marry her in the hope that after marriage her thinking will change as Imam is convinced?

Counselor

Answer


Marrying a Revert with a Different Understanding of Islam

In this counseling answer:

You should go slow with her when it comes to giving her all the information about Islam.

She needs an exceptionally good amount of emotional support from individuals in the community to feel empowered as a Muslim.

She can change and become a better Muslim, but it can’t be done with force and restrictions.

Give her time, and be patient.


As-Salam ’Aleikom,

Thank you for writing to us, we appreciate it. I will try my best to give you the best advise, In sha’Allah.

First of all, there are a few things you have to understand about new converts to Islam. She converted only a year ago and is still very new to it. Converting to Islam is the biggest decision in people’s lives, and each person will respond differently to these situations. The imam is right when he said that you should go slow with her when it comes to giving her all the information about Islam. It can be overwhelming for her, and the natural response can be to be defensive.

Marrying a Revert with a Different Understanding of Islam - About Islam

She is still learning the basics of Islam, and it takes a long time to be able to have a consistent foundation that’s strong enough to feel any amount of comfort in the religion. This process is similar to moving to a foreign country, not knowing the language, customs, or environment that surrounds us.

You are, ma sha’Allah, lucky to be born into Islam and have a benefit of having a foundation with your parents and family. You have been brought up with Quran on the bookshelf, Arabic words mixed into the conversation, and in an environment that provides a reference point for looking at the world.

A convert experiences the total opposite. She doesn’t have any sort of religious connection with her family, and there might be a backlash from parents and extended family about the decision to become a Muslim. After reading about her physical disability, depression, and lack of family care, I believe, she needs an exceptionally good amount of emotional support from individuals in the community to feel empowered as a Muslim.

She may change her thinking later in life, but there is no guarantee for that. It is not so easy to change someone so easily, and it needs a lot of patience and time. Are you willing to do that?

All of us wish to change the people we like and care about, but no matter how hard we try, we find it impossible to change someone, unless they really want to. Change always comes from within. This means that unless a person becomes 100% convinced that change is important and good, he/she won’t change. She can change and become a better Muslim, but it can’t be done with force and restrictions.


In this counseling video:


Our behavior is highly controlled by our self-concept to the extent that we will strive to prove our existing self-concepts. What do you think what happens if parents keep encouraging their child by telling him that ’’he is brilliant at math’’? If the message is repeated enough times, the child will develop a self-concept of being good at math and will do his best to maintain this status. This child might study more, concentrate more on math classes, and play less just to maintain his self-concept.

I am giving you this example to make the point that if you keep on telling and encouraging her that she is a good Muslim and is doing the right thing, then she might try to improve herself and seek more knowledge.

Unfortunately, there are limits to what you can change about another person without their cooperation unless someone is willing to really commit to a new goal and make plans that will help them achieve that goal and turn it into a habit. You can tell her that you care about her and are ready to support her in any way you can. After that, you have to give her some space to decide whether she wants to change.

While you are at it, take some time to look at your own life. The sad fact is that it is often easier to try to fix other people’s ’’problems’’ than our own. So, as you start to learn about principles for making changes, practice by applying them on yourself. Nobody is perfect, and we should not judge other people.

I can’t tell you to marry her or not; it is a decision you have to make yourself. Whether she will change or not after marriage is unknown to us. If you decide to marry her, then you have to give her time to change and be patient with her. Encourage her and support her. Don’t forget that she has just converted to Islam and that for things to sink in properly takes time. You could do istikharah if you are confused and see how it comes out.

I ask Allah (swt) to give you the righteous wife who will make you a better Muslim, In sha’ Allah.

JazakhAllah,

***

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:

When Reverts Marry – Stories of Common Marital Conflicts

New Muslims: Marry a Born-Muslim or Revert?

The Challenges Muslim Converts Face When It Comes to Marriage




About Aisha Mohammad

Aisha received her PhD in psychology in 2000 and an MS in public health in 2009. Aisha worked as a Counselor/Psychologist for 12 years for Geneva B. Scruggs Community Health Care Center in New York. Aisha specializes in trauma, depression, anxiety, substance abuse, marriage/relationships issues, as well as community-cultural dynamics. She is certified in Restorative Justice/ Healing Circles, Conflict Resolution, Mediation, and is also a certified Life Coach. Aisha works at a Family Resource Center, and has a part-time practice in which she integrates healing and spirituality using a holistic approach. Aisha plans to open a holistic care counseling center for Muslims and others in the New York area in the future, in sha' Allah. Aisha is also a part of several organizations that advocate for social & food justice. In her spare time she enjoys her family, martial arts classes, Islamic studies as well as working on her book and spoken word poetry projects.

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