In this counseling answer:
• Ensure his practice of Islam aligns with your personal values as a Muslim.
• Determine if you will stay with him or leave.
• Sit down with your parents and speak very honestly.
• Encourage your parents to have a sit down with him and his family.
• Make lots of duaa and pray istikhara.
Thank you for writing in and expressing your concerns to us, sister. I know this is a difficult time that is pulling on your heartstrings. It is my understanding you’ve been in a long-term relationship with a man who wants to marry you, waits for you, and his parents approve.
However, your mother disapproved the marriage due to him being from a different sect of Islam. Although you want to fight for this marriage, you are nervous to do so and don’t know which way to go. You also mentioned your parents seem occupied in arranging a marriage for you, but they don’t listen to your preferences regarding this.
Dear sister, you have a lot of culture and tradition working against you right now, but the good news is that this is only culture, it is not Islamic ruling. Please understand I am not a scholar, so my opinions reflect my thoughts as a counselor coming from an Islamic perspective, not an Islamic jurist.
I want you to ponder on something and really think about it. How would you feel if your parents forced you to marry a man you do not love, and you had to turn away from the man you do love? Imagine when the time comes to consummate the marriage with him, how would this impact your mental health? Really think about this.
I want you to think about it because in shaa’ Allah it can motivate you to speak up to your parents. You need to act before it is too late. I am not advocating for you to upset them or get angry with them, but to speak with them maturely, respectfully and honestly.
Let them know that you have a man you want to marry, and that his parents have already agreed.
While the Quran tells us to be dutiful to our parents, and we should, it does not say they have a right to deny you a lawful Islamic marriage.
Actually, a well-known Mufti named Mufti Menk, who often speaks about marriages, has said many times in his lectures that: “the denial of a halal marriage by parents is not justified and those two should get married or else they will be very tempted towards sin and whomever they do marry may actually suffer.”
This is a profound and true statement, if you married some other man just because he is Canadian, he may be miserable with you because you didn’t want him in the first place. This could lead to a divorce.
Sister, your emotions are not surprising. You are trying to suppress and hide your heart from your parents. I have no doubt you want to make your parents and your boyfriend happy as well as yourself, but it can’t happen if you hide this.
Imagine that you took a piece fruit and locked it inside of a box hoping no one would see that you have the fruit. Over time, it will start to turn brown and wither even though it was locked away securely.
Your emotions are that fruit, sister, and you are suffering because you keep trying to lock them away and hide them.
The only way to solve those is to either be honest with your parents and work towards marrying this man or leave him forever and cut all ties. If you choose the latter, then you will need time to grieve as it will take a long time to heal your heart.
You will also need to cut off all contact with him or else you may not commit to it properly. If you cannot do so, then now is the time to step up as a grown woman and be honest with your family. You might be surprised and find they respect your strength to speak so truthfully.
This is a delicate topic, dear sister; many Muslims feel very strongly on this while others do not. I will share some inspiration with you. I know a sister who identifies as Sunni and is married to a man who identifies as Shia. They are very happy and raise their children without any issue. Looking at them, you would have no idea they were different sects.
In order to marry someone from a different sect, you should clarify a few things. Firstly, you two may practice some things slightly differently, therefore he must respect your choice to practice how you feel best aligns with Allah SWT, and you must respect his choices too.
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Typically, those differences are very minor. The most important question you should ask is: does he follow the 5 pillars of Islam? This includes the shahada; does he see Allah (SWT) as one God with no others and he respects Prophet Mohamed (peace be upon him) as his messenger?
Does he offer his daily prayer, give charity, fast Ramadan, and have the intent to make the pilgrimage one day? If you answered yes to these then masha’ Allah, he sounds like a great Muslim man.
In the end, no matter what label we attach to it, if we do all those things, we are all Muslim, and we are one ummah. I suggest you discuss this very case to your parents. Additionally, ask your intended husband to sit down and have a religious discussion with your parents so they can feel assured he will help you with your faith.
Your mother wants to protect you and is worried this man could pull you away from the straight path. It would help if they can all speak together and even greater if his family comes with him so they can interact with the entire family.
Talking to Parents
Some key points to remember when speaking with your family.
Keep a calm and respectful tone, even if they raise their voices. Your father will be surprised and possibly upset if he knows his wife knew about this already and hid it.
Acknowledge their emotions. You can use statements like “I know this worries you and you only want what is best for me, I am sorry for waiting so long to talk about this” or “I understand you want to avoid me struggling, thank you for caring so much”
Be very clear and honest. Make it known in a gentle way that you will marry this man and it would make you so happy if they would be a part of this.
Inform them you don’t need to marry a Canadian resident for you to be able to sponsor them. If you are a legal citizen, you can petition for your family and if legally married your husband can be the financial provider for that petition. That being said, immigration should never be the reason for marriage.
Actively listen. Don’t interrupt them or become confrontational. Let them speak, repeat some of their statements back so they know you were listening.
Ask them to please give him and his family a chance. Invite them over for a sit down. If you can get your parents to agree to meet him and his family, then alhamdulillah you have done very well. Do not push it beyond that, say thank you and show them gratitude. If this man is as good as you believe he is, they will see that goodness during a sit down.
Make duaa before this conversation and after. Make duaa as much as you can.
Dear sister, the fact is, you have been his girlfriend for a long time. You two are already committed to one another, and after 12 years it is very likely things have been said or even done that should not have before marriage.
The longer you wait, the more this grows. I highly suggest you sit down with your parents very soon and do not delay marrying this man if you intend to stay with him. How much longer will you remain a girlfriend?
It is your choice if you choose to stay with him or seek to marry a man whom your parents arrange for you, but you need to make this decision soon and act on it.
To summarize your steps moving forward.
- Ensure his practice of Islam aligns with your personal values as a Muslim
- Determine if you will stay with him or leave
- Sit down with your parents and speak very honestly
- Encourage your parents to have a sit down with him and his family
- Make lots of duaa and pray istikhara
May Allah (SWT) heal your heart and grant you a prosperous marriage, no matter whom the man is.
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.