Girl you know it’s true – Updated

Some things Muslims love to talk about, especially in internet land.

Marriage is one, gender issues another and a combination of the two scoffs bandwith like a hungry wolf.

So on to the issue of Muslim women marrying non Muslim men. I have a variety of thoughts on the issue itself and the debates surrounding it. 

It is only human to question and questioning leads to deeper understanding. I feel that true worship only comes with understanding.

People have definitely twisted Islam to suit their own purposes. Those people have generally been men, those who’ve suffered as a result have been women. This means that women may not trust certain ‘traditional’ interpretations without further examination.

What we do and what it is. Some sins are bigger then others, in the eyes of others. Brothers can get up to various deeds and still get a place in the front row of the masjid, whereas a sister will be made to choose between the deed or her family, community, etc.

That being said, I wonder what this drive to make something seen as Haraam, to Halal serves. Should we not just admit that what we are doing is wrong, but it happened and we hope Allah forgives us? I know some people will be clutching their pearls at that and I’m not taking sinning lightly, just pondering changing an interpretation which would effect the Ummah as a whole vs viewing something as a personal matter, with personal circumstances.

The trouble with Muslim men? In the items I’ve read about this, the focus has not been about being swept away by Mr DreamyNonMuslim, but by failing to find a partner within in the community. I’ll win no prizes for originality here, but there is a disconnect between brothers and sisters and the fondness UK brothers have for Back Home wives is really not helping.

So we need to be taking sisters seriously. The sisters talking about this are not enslaved to their desires/brainwashed by the West (whatever that means). They are woman who are keen to marry and have looked to their community for a spouse and been found wanting. No one is saying “Woo hoo yaani, it’s a non-Muslim man for me”.

Sami Yusuf and the nasheed akhis. When Muslim women do  profess…appreciation of a Muslim man, oh the outrage! We all remember the fuss when it appeared that some sisters got a bit too excited at a Sami Yusuf concert.

Muslim men face many negative perceptions. One, is the wider demonising by non Muslim society. The second is that some of them use their culture to treat women appallingly.  So if Muslim women are able to look past this and actually find Muslim men desirable, then that is surely a good thing.

So teenage girls sighing and dreaming of marrying Sami Yusuf, is no bad thing.

Girls should view marrying a Muslim man as a want to, not a My-Parents-Will-Kill-Me-So-I-Have-To.

I need to elaborate on this. No where in the Quran will you find anything  like this:

“So if a son does commit zina, best to hide this and never speak of it again, even if they carry more diseases then a sewer rat or continue tarrying after marriage. If a daughter even looks at a man you do not deem suitable, then it is the most abhorrent thing in existence and her life must be made miserable until she does exactly what you say.”

That obviously is not in the Qur’an, or in any hadith, but that does not stop many sisters living in a climate of fear, where they have to marry who their parents find suitable or else risk losing their family.

This kind of coersion is ultimately counterproductive. How can any positve feelings develop in such an atmosphere? A women may indeed find herself more at ease and able to connect with non-Muslim men and may think it’s the non-Muslim part that’s causing this, when actually it’s the absence of parents breathing down your neck and making you act like a performing monkey in front of dozens of young men and their mothers. 

 White blokes are better? Sorry to say this, but in some of the conversation on this issue, there has been a definite whiff of White men being idealised as these perfect men with no cultural baggage. Stating the obvious here, but that’s not true and folks could do with unpacking exactly why they think a white guy would be so much better.

More then the wedding. This is a frequent frustration of mine. Muslim consideration seems to be all about finding the spouse. Once you’ve found them, now what? There’s the odd cliche laden lecture (usually aimed at women) about marital harmony and that’s it. We need to be examining what makes a successful and happy married life.

When discussing interfaith marriages, the conversation doesn’t move past permissibility. I think people need to consider what their daily life with their spouse will be like. I do think that if you are practicing it would be very difficult to live with someone who wasn’t. On the other hand, there are plenty of people who do, like in the case below:

If nobody knows you’re not a Muslim. A while ago I met a (insert ethnic group here) who was married to a practicing Muslim woman of his ethnic group. He did not keep any of the five pillars (and yes, that includes pillar number 1, belief), drank, etc. Do you think anyone was declaring their marriage invalid, or saying they should divorce? Or course not and so I can understand the frustration with closeted atheists being ok, but not monotheists from a different background.

Thus ends my ramblings for now. I would love to hear your opinions.


22 Responses

  1. Assalamu Alaikum,

    Great post!

    I’m fighting selfishness in my daily life, while realizing that I can only see things through the lenses I’ve built with experience.

    That last point you made was particularly on point. If a man follows every pillar but one, why is he less acceptable than someone completely incompatible who doesn’t follow anything from Islam? I fail to understand this.
    Some people seem to think that ‘religion’ or ‘faith’ is an aside when it comes to life; those are the ones around me that I worry with. An older relative told me he had someone he thought would be perfect for me (and he did sound perfect!) but then said, ‘oh, well, he believes certain things that you don’t’- code for being Christian. My thing is, would he like to hear about Islam? Because you make it seem as if he’s perfect in outer aspects only.

    Here’s the deal. I’ve worked pretty daggone hard to make sure that my life conforms to Islam in every way I can think of. I’m still working on that. Why would I want to live together with someone who might be at odds with that? And, (ignoring all the rules/hadith/laws on how Muslim women should mary Muslim men) if I find someone who’s WITH me on that, why would I turn him away? Especially when finding a spouse is not the cakewalk we’d want it to be.

    Thanks for the post!


  2. Good reaction.

    I find interfaith marriages a failed idea for both genders, personally.

  3. Assalamu alaikum, hmmm, not sure what to say. My understanding is that Muslim women can’t marry non-Muslim men, the whys and wherefors I’m not really able to articulate at this time, though, unfortunately, but it’s something alone the lines of the children taking the religion of the father? However from a personal standpoint, I don’t think I’d want to marry a non-Muslim man anyway, that is if I ever was on the marriage market again, and if I were going to marry a Muslim man, then he’d have to be kinda on the same level of practice, etc., as I am. Or at least we’d have to be in agreement with each other’s level of practice. And while I may not agree personally with marrying a non-Muslim man for myself, I just don’t have the knowledge or tact or good manners it would take to refute another Muslim woman’s choice, if she chose to marry a non-Muslim. Basically, while I may not think it’s permissible, based on my understanding, I don’t feel it’s right for me to say anything on what anyone else does with their personal life.

  4. There is definitely the idea that White guys are better. They don’t have those Arab/Desi/Muslim mothers and like you said, all the cultural baggage that a lot of Muslims mix up with Islam. White guys are supposed more helpful around the house too. It’s really a shame that Muslim guys have gotten such a bad rap, but all stereotypes come from some truth. Thankfully I got one of the good ones but far too often, I hear horror stories about Muslim guys. Probably we don’t hear about the good ones.

    Good post and thanks for getting Milli Vanilli in my head.

    • Salaam Alaikum,

      Mona – you found me out! 😉

      Great comments to so far. I think it’s interesting that even if people don’t necessarily agree with marrying out, they can see why it happens and those reasons are often different for women compared to men.

  5. I agree with your points whole heartedly. They are really a social criticism of our accepance of BS of Muslim men, though, and not truly about Muslim women marrying out. It is treading into murky waters once we suggest that maybe it wouldn’t be so horrible for a Muslim woman to marry a non-Muslim man. In my head I can see why it could be bad for her and bad for Muslims. In reality though I know Muslim female/non-Muslim male couples. The women aren’t religious. But they are just living their lives. They are decent people. Their husbands are decent guys. I have my inner Mullah on my shoulder whispering ‘This is not nikaah, they are not really married.’ But really, these women are nice women and don’t deserve my judgement…should I add in some gloomy line to counter my tacit approval of their haraam existance…let them wait for Allah’s judgement? I just don’t know. I don’t know why a religious Muslim, male or female, would marry a non-Muslim anyway.

  6. Salam alaikoum
    awesome post. Marriage is the logical conclusion of the brothers get to do whatever and yet girls have toe the line argument. I am so tired of people bringing down the mixed marriage argument to “show me the daleel” when in reality, like all things, it is all about personal choice ( see: hijab).
    marrying within the religion should be important- I hope- to people who are practicing. In other words, what is or isn’t permissible is not even something I will get into because my choice is made. Some girls may not care about being with a Muslim dude or not. To each their own. Sadly brothers and their baggage and their preference for young girls, new
    converts and the like mean that my choice of only marrying a practicing
    Muslim man condemns me to being a divorcee forever at 32, or being pressured to accept p, or a dude with no papers, and so on.

    But I am ok with that. As the French say, better to be alone than in bad company.

  7. As-Salaamu ‘alaikum,

    I tried leaving a comment yesterday, but clicked Submit and it just disappeared, but anyway …

    The whole issue of interfaith marriages involving Muslims is fraught with problems, and no Muslim, male or female, who is serious about their religion would entertain the idea (Muslim men who were already married when they converted excepted, of course). Surely Muslims want a spouse who shares their beliefs and values, who will not bring haraam food or drink or entertainment into the house, who will have no problem bringing the kids up Muslim, and so on. Anyone who has lived with a non-Muslim family will know what I mean here.

    Even Muslims from different schools of thought or whatever have problems marrying – consider a brother from a strict Deobandi background and a sister from a more liberal Egyptian one, let alone a “salafi” and anyone else (not that I suspect this would happen). Interfaith marriages work best when neither party is particularly religious, or when the differences are minor anyway. Marriage between a religious Muslim and anyone else in modern society is pretty much a guarantee of problems.

    I wouldn’t actually recommend to a non-Muslim woman to marry a man from a Muslim background as they would expect entirely different things from them than what they are used to, even if they come across all romantic to begin with. There have been so many cases of such marriages breaking down and the fathers abducting the children to Egypt, Libya or wherever and the mothers never seeing them again after these marriages break down (it has happened sometimes when the wife is a Muslim also).

  8. so you’re basically you’re justifying marriage to non muslim men which is clearly haraam, because you think that some muslim men are not good enough

    • Salaam Alaikum anonymous person with the fake email address.

      There is a difference between justifying something and examining the reasons why it might occur.

  9. Totally off topic, but I’m still seeing the Milli Vanilli chest bump! I still remember those extensions, biker shorts, and horrible jackets!!

  10. margari stole my comment.

  11. but seriously this post makes me happy to have the husband that I do….made me feel such a deep sense of appreciation. wheeew. I often wonder what would have happened to me had I accepted Islam alone and then had to navigate the marriage thing by myself. *shudder*

    My mind doesn’t even want to go there.

    And who ever said white boys don’t have cultural baggage…LOL…no one is a “blank slate” everyone carries in something to the game. White boys have issues just like everyone else.

    But I can see how Muslim girls get desperate enough to the point of delusion.

  12. I think the problem is equating non Muslim men with having no cultural baggage, which isn’t true. Cultural baggage doesnt simply apply if you are only from the ME or SE Asia. They are the “idealised other” when the issue is more about compatibility and the level of religiousity (if you are a religious Muslim man/woman you most likely would not marry a non-Muslim)

    But for those who are in r’ships with non-Muslims – it happens, best to admit it rather than trying to brush it under the carpet

  13. Assalamua’laikum to all,
    Well, the issue with Muslim men here is quite interesting. I guess it also applies to some men whether their Muslims or Non-Muslims, some of them do not have the respect towards women. It probably because of their culture or the way they have been brought up. I am from East Asia and both of us (myself & hubby) are Muslims. However, I am blessed to have him that is not shy to do house chores (cook, laundry, baby nappy change etc) and he is not the only one here doing these. I think, if these men are being brought up the right way and not bias with what Prophet Muhammad SAW has taught about women’s right, they will accept us women as their equal which is what Allah said in the Quran. Having discriminating and abusing women is not following the teaching of Islam, but more on the culture. What a shame!

  14. Assalamu ‘alaikum!

    Brilliant post — so many layers. You could do an entire series on this topic! Rawiya, another fabulous muslimah blogger wrote a heartfelt guest post, discussing some of the personal reasons why muslims might marry out.

    There’s a slew of research being done in North America regarding this trend. And most of it is simply pointing to the idea that it just might be easier to marry a non-Muslim or someone from a different sect / level of belief / what-have-you.

    “Back home” there’s usually a huge network of family that can hep find you a mate. In the North American diaspora, more often than not, families are separated, isolated from familiar cultural groups or even from actively participating in the masjid. Then you have the movement of economically mobile muslimahs who are postponing marriage to work on their careers… or as was mentioned, divorcees who are now up against ageism. Both groups face the stereotype that younger is better, and that higher education = liberal thinking. So for some, it’s easier to find a mate from a group who doesn’t have these hang ups. Especially if that mate can respect the faith of the other — and who may even be open to learning about Islam or even practicing it.

    Thanks for introducing yourself BTW! I’m looking forward to reading more!

  15. Salaam alaykum,

    lol, gender issues are always a sure-fire hot topic. I’ve been reading up on the issues surrounding Muslim women marrying non-Muslims, so many double standards and taboos at work, irrespective of whatever one considers to be the proper fiqhi opinion.

  16. another side of this coin is the problem of finding a Muslim man who wants to marry a Muslim girl. In the U.S. most of the high school and college age Muslim boys (at least 90% in our community, are already dating any non-Muslim girl they can get their hands on. The community and their parents discreetly look the other way, hoping that when they are ready to “settle down” they will find a suitable Muslim girl (not happening either).
    This leaves the girls with the fabulous choice of marrying someone from “back home”, which almost always leads to disaster. I know one girl who was seriously considering suicide over her engagement to a boy from her parents village back home. These Muslim girls are educated and smart and they don’t want to settle for a FOB who needs a green card and a wife that is content to serve his every need, or a beautiful villa in a desolate village of 150 ppl., with electricity on alternating days.

  17. If many foreign-origin muslim men in “the west” seek to marry brides from “back home” you have a gender imbalance. Those western-raised muslimahs want to marry SOMEONE, and if large amounts of their counterparts are not available, what do people expect?

    The drive to partner is a strong one.

  18. Hi Safiya,

    I feel I can’t really comment because I’m not a Muslim woman and therefore don’t know firsthand what it’s like to ponder marrying a Muslim man vs. a non-Muslim man. However, I can relate to inter-cultural marriage.

    I think there is an improved chance for compatibility when the main values, beliefs and practices you have in your life are shared by your spouse. Typically, it’s easier to find a “match” when you look within your own cultural group, religion and/or nationality, however not at all true 100% of the time.

    It just so happens that Ricardo (a Brazilian) and I (an American) have more in common with each other than we do with our previous girlfriends/boyfriends who were our same nationality/religion.

    I think each person – regardless of gender or religion or nationality – should have the right to seek out and eventually marry/form a partnership with the person that is their best possible match, even when there is pressure from families or society to conform to different standards.

  19. who is sami yousef?

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