Thank you for writing to us. We understand how difficult it is to make sense out of arguments that are rooted more in cultural and individual preferences and less in religious and moral principles. Review some of the points we present below so that you can come to some decision as to how you want to handle this matter with your parents.
First, while in certain schools of thought a Muslim woman must have the permission of her wali (guardian) to get married, there is strong agreement that a Muslim man can marry without the permission of his parents. We want to say at the outset, however, that we are in no way suggesting that Muslims disregard the central role that parents can and should play throughout the marriage process. However, as in your case, the parents are insisting on a certain point of view that is clearly not supported in Islam, i.e. refusing a candidate for marriage based purely on racial and cultural considerations.
Second, based on what you have written, we believe that your parents might not only be focusing on race and culture, but they might have some other valid concerns as well. Try to understand the situation from their point of view. Let’s begin with your own admission that you are “not a perfect Muslim.” We are not sure how you are using the word “perfect,” and it is possible that you and your parents also differ on how “perfect” a Muslim you are. Since you are trying to marry a woman who is now Christian but is intending to revert to Islam, your parents might also be concerned that your religion will suffer since you are not “perfect” in your practice now and she will be just getting started in learning about the religion.
Another possibility is that your parents are inextricably linking Islam with Turkish culture, i.e. being Turkish is equal to being Muslim. Again, they are not alone in doing this because many people of different cultures have similar notions. The idea is to help your parents realize that people of every racial and cultural background can and do become Muslims. Such reverts are required to only give up those aspects of their cultures that are expressly forbidden in Islam, i.e. drinking alcohol, consuming pork, and ancestral worship just to name a few. All other aspects of their culture of origin can and should be retained as long as they are in line with Islamic teachings. Your parents might feel threatened that your future children will not be taught Turkish culture since their mother is not Turkish.
Third, we urge you not to characterize this issue you are facing as an either or, i.e. either you commit a sin by disobeying your parents and marrying this woman or you commit a sin by “blindly” obeying your parents and not marrying this woman. The reality of this situation is that you will be held accountable for all of your actions and how you carry out those actions. The issue of obeying your parents is a valid one, but you are a mature adult and will be held accountable for your actions. Islam affords you the right to marry a righteous Muslim woman without having the permission of your parents, while it is strongly recommended to have your parents’ blessing as you move ahead with the marriage. You should never consider breaking off all relations with your parents just so that you can marry this woman. You do have an obligation to uphold family relations and therefore, you should do everything in your ability to come to some mutual understanding with your parents about this issue.
Finally, you should do everything you can to keep clear lines of communication with your parents so that they can understand that you do not intend to abandon either Islam or Turkish culture. They need to hear from you that you have this goal in mind. Help them to realize that you and your future wife will strive not only to be good Muslims, but that you will do everything possible to maintain the Turkish culture as well. Perhaps, you could delay marrying this woman for a few months so she can make the decision to become a Muslim and even begin practicing the religion. As a Muslim, if she can have consistent interaction with your parents, perhaps that might help your parents to become more comfortable with their future daughter-in-law. Make lots of du’aa (supplication) to Allah (swt) and Istikhara (prayer for guidance) and seek His (swt) ssistance as you make your final decision. And Allah (swt) knows best.
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