Islamic marriage advice and family advice

Marriage and ethnicity

Cross cultural Muslim marriage between a Caucasian man and Asian woman

Cross-cultural marriages are common in Islam and no one should be rejected on the basis of ethnicity alone

There is a man I would like to get married to, but his ethnicity is causing my parents to reject him.

Of course, Islam is a religion that should break all barriers between races. But cultural traditions and expectations are considered important in my country ("back home"). This is stopping me from getting married to him. My parents have cursed him and abhor him to a great extent because of the country he is from. They threaten me by stating that if I do not fulfill their wishes of marrying someone of my own country origin, nothing will turn out well in my life only because I will be displeasing them therefore displeasing Allah (swt).

This is a cultural issue going outside of Islam, yet a family issue that needs to be paid attention to in Islam. What are my choices?

- Fathima

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4 Responses »

  1. Sister Fatima...

    It is so sad that Islamic law abolishes all barriers created by colour, caste, age, language; yet out families cannot see past their own prejudices. We call ourselves Muslims, but we want to pick and choose which rules we live by.

    Yes, the cultural issue is one that is directly answered in the Quran so we can work around that one eventually; because it is clear:

    "O Mankind, We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know each other. Verily the most honored of you in the sight of God is he who is the most righteous of you" (Quran 49:13).

    But as you said, the family issue is one that needs to be paid attention to aswell. If we choose something that is halaal but in doing so we risk displeasing our Parents - do we incur Allah's Anger? Would Allah prefer us to leave that option and choose something that is halaal and also pleasing to our Parents?

    I would be glad if someone could answer this one too.

  2. Cultural mix is a difficult subject with our parents and some are not willing to hear the other person out and see for themselves that people from other culture are good Muslim; I've come to understand from my experiences that they are scared of change and believe their own society will mock and point fingers.
    But in Islam we must not judge on which country the person comes from instead look at if the person in question is a good Muslim and the only way parents can do this is be willing to meet the person and his family before giving their final answer on the subject.
    At this present moment I'm going through the same problem where I have approached my family about marriage but they insist I should marry someone from my own culture in Pakistan, even though I have strong feeling for another person who is an Arab and but parents have rejected him without giving me any substantial reasons. I don't want to hurt my family but I strongly believe they are more concerned with cultural issues and how society will look at them rather than the welfare of their daughter and most of all when they say to you will never be happy with the person is immorally wrong of them.
    They are parents and they want the best for us so we must obey them, but in Islam we have the right to question us what is wrong with the choice's we have made, if they can give reasons and they are right then we must obey, but if they cannot give any reason and say he's not from our culture and we cannot communicate with them people they are wrong in my eyes, I ask the question have they tried? From so far what I've seen is No, instead I get the guilt trip that I have hurt them and I have no respect for them.
    In Islam we must not judge but we also cannot make them like the person we have chosen, I can understand their anger but I cannot take this big step without them and they know this and I pray to God that they will come round and understand, but one thing I am sure of is that marriage is lifetime commitment and they cannot rush me into make a decision and get me married to someone else until I am emotionally ready.
    I hope someone can advise if I'm in the wrong or I have valid reason to question my family in this matter and not agree to marry someone from my own culture.

  3. Bismillahi Rahmani Rahim

    Salaam Alaikum wa Rahmatullah

    You are facing a difficult decision. If you obey your family and marry someone from your culture, then you risk marrying someone that you will resent for the rest of your life because he is not the man you wanted to marry. This would be unfair to you, and unfair to the prospective groom.

    If you go against your family, you risk having them cut you off due to their anger at your "rebellion". This is a very large issue, because your family is supposed to be a source of love and support for you. You could grow to resent your husband if you came to see him as the cause of your family's cutting you off. Also, you must have the permission of your wali (in this case your father, if he is living) in order to marry. If you seek to have his position of wali invalidated due to the fact that he will not allow you to marry a suitable man, this will also cause a lot of stress and anger.

    Here is what I recommend that you do, in order to satisfy yourself that you are looking at this man in a correct light. Write down on paper all of his good qualities, the qualities that you consider will make him a good husband, not just for this life, but for the life to come. Does he pray five times a day, pray the congregational prayers in the mosque whenever possible? Does he go to the Friday prayer? Does he fast? Give zakah? How does he act towards you? You and he are not mahram for each other, so you are not allowed physical contact such as touching, kissing, or more than that. Does he respect you by not pressuring you for a physical relationship? Does he have a job that does not involve forbidden things, like taking interest, or selling alcohol or pork? Does he respect you and your goals in life, such as education and having your own career if you choose? Does he expect you to work after marriage, or not, and do you agree with that? Basically, is he a together guy that you can envision spending the rest of your life with, building a marriage that is pleasing to Allah?

    If the answer to these questions is negative, then you should consider that your emotions are leading you, rather than your intellect, and that despite your attraction to him, he may not be the right man for you as a Muslim woman. If you have a positive answer to these questions, and you feel he really is a strong believer who will help you complete half your deen, then Islamically there should be no barrier to you marrying him.

    You must continue to be kind and loving to your parents, and tell them that you do not wish to go against them, but that you have found the man you want. If, over time, they continue to revile him, you have the right to seek someone else as your wali, as their condition of a husband being from your culture is not valid. Then you can marry this brother. You must be prepared for the ongoing anger of your family, and consider if you can live with that, and not make it a source of tension between you and your husband. Go into the situation with your eyes open and having considered all the options. Then, pray the istakhara prayer and if you come out with a positive feeling, move forward.

    If you do decide to marry, and this causes your family to reject you, still you must be kind to them and never return a harsh word to them. Keep the five prayers, fast, pray in the night, and make du'a for Allah to soften their hearts. Send them e-mails and letters, and let them know how well your husband is taking care of you. Time is a great healer and inshAllah they will come to accept your decision.

    I had a friend from Malaysia who married a tall, dark, African-American convert Muslim. Her family was initially shocked, but over time he won them over with his correct practice of Islam and his kind manner with his family. I also knew a Pakistani man who married an American girl, and his mother did not talk to him for three months because he married outside his culture. In time, she became reconciled to the marriage and grew to love her daughter-in-law. InshAllah, if you make an honest assessment and decide to marry this man, over time things will improve. I will make du'a for you to be guided to the correct decision in this matter.

    Fi Aman Allah,


  4. Assalam-o-alaikum sister Noorah,

    in your post you've said that a person can seek to have the father's position of wali invalidated if he doesnt agree for his daughter to marry a suitable man. I would like to know a little more in detail about the basis for doing this

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