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Cultural Confusion

Asalamu Alaikum,

Allah (SWT) has guided you–culture and all–for a reason. What Allah asks of us as Muslims is that we examine our actions, intentions, and refine our manners. That’s it. He doesn’t ask us to change our culture for another. 

The thing is that there is so much cultural diversity among Muslims. There was even diversity among the companions of the Prophet (PBUH). It is not exactly conceivable that a certain culture is more endorsed by Islam than another. It takes diversity to make a healthy, functioning society.

However, if you find that there are some bad manners you have adopted from your culture (and certainly there are some in every culture), then Allah asks you to leave the bad. If there are some good manners that you have adopted from your culture (and certainly there are many in every culture), then Allah asks you to keep the good.  

When we come to Islam, this is our priority after learning to pray. When we get married, this process is sped up because as converts we are now under the microscope and our cultural habits are being examined in contrast to another culture. Many heritage Muslims (those raised as Muslim) never have to go through this process of examining their culture in relation to Islam because it is taught to them as the same thing even though sometimes it is not the same thing.

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Husbands from Muslim majority countries often expect a newly converted wife to change her culture to his, to be more like his idea of what a Muslim women should be. But really, he wants her to be like what he thinks a woman “back home” should be like. The fact that you are coming from a non-Muslim majority country might be compounding this issue in his mind.

That being said, it is vital for you to learn from the sources of the Quran and Sunnah what exactly is expected of you as a Muslim. If it doesn’t come from these sources, then you can feel free to discount it, or better yet, discuss it with your husband.

Marriage is work and intercultural marriage is extra work. That doesn’t mean it is impossible. You just need to know what Islam says, what his culture dictates, and what you are not willing to do or change. All this will take time so have patience and wisdom.

Also, check out this article on the cultural baggage many new Muslims encounter, and this article about intercultural marriages for more info. 

I hope this helps. May Allah bless your marriage and increase you in beneficial knowledge.

Thursday, Jan. 01, 1970 | 00:00 - 00:00 GMT

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