Religious Resistance to Interfaith Marriages

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Suggested Reading:  Can a Muslim Woman Marry a Non-Muslim?
A thoroughly researched article and answers the reason and purpose of why there was resistance all these years. http://interfaithmarriages.org/can-a-muslim-woman-marry-a-non-muslim-man/
Mike Ghouse
Interfaith Wedding Officiant

Religious Resistance to Interfaith Marriages

No group wants to lose members of its flock to others. That has been the secret reason for opposition to the interfaith marriages, and its intensity is the same as religious conversions, both the family and the clergy resist.

Although cloaked in religion, compatibility is the given reason for clergy to shun interfaith marriages ‘for the good of the couple.’ Logic and reasoning are not a part of it, but the tradition is. However, they are willing to officiate the wedding if one of them converts to their brand.

Here is a story to narrate the origins of such traditions. Once, a famous Hindu Swami visits Varanasi, the seat of Hindu sages and built on the banks of river Ganges.

There is a belief among Hindus that everyone must take a dip in the holy river, at least once in a lifetime, and cleanse himself/herself from sins.

Indeed, a similar tradition is a part of most religions. The Jews and Christians visit Jerusalem, and the Muslims go to Mecca and Sikhs visit the Golden Temple or Kartarpur, and Haifa is the destination for the Bahai’s.

The ordinary Hindu folks who had gathered by the river to take a dip, notice the great man walking towards the river, and decided to observe his rituals. They believed they could not go wrong following the master.

The Swami picks on a spot to get into the water and leaves his brass water container on the banks, his only asset and walks towards the river.

Neck deep in the water, he realizes that someone may steal the container. So, he walks up and buries it under the sand and goes back into the water. As he started walking into the river, it dawns him that he may not recognize the spot later. So, he goes back and picks a branch from a nearby tree and sticks over his container spot as a marker.

He had the time of his life doing Surya Namaskar and taking multiple dips in the river. He finishes the holy dip and walks back to the banks of the river. He was surprised to see hundreds of tree branches stuck in the ground. Everyone watching this great man had copied him. My friends, this how rituals come into existence, and I am sure you have stories about different traditions in your family.

Rejecting interfaith marriages work in nations and cultures where the woman is dependent on men. The parents want the best for their children and do not want to see their daughter come back home from a divorce. Indeed, that makes it difficult for their other children to get married. The religious men started interpreting holy scriptures to fix the problem and drilled the fear of God into them to listen to their version. Their intention was in the right place, but their interpretation was selfish.

I would have expected the clergy to say to the couples that the reason they should not marry is the incompatibility of their faiths, and the conflicts it may generate.

The clergy needs to realize that the role of religion is redefined as an instrument to create cohesive societies, where people can live with their uniqueness without apprehension. America is a civilized society where most people feels secure with their ethnicity, race, or religion.

40% of men and women from Muslim, Hindu, Christian, and Jewish traditions are marrying outside their faith (Pew Survey). The compatibility of couples from the same religion or different beliefs is about the same, most certainly here in America. Young men and women go to school together, work together, and fall in love with each other, and marriage is a fulfillment of that relationship.

Parents from all faith traditions secretly wish that their kids marry someone from a similar tradition. They want happiness in the family get-togethers. In reality, compatibility is not tied to religion or culture but has to do with their ability to respect the otherness of the other and accept each other’s uniqueness.

“Can a Muslim woman marry a non-Muslim” is a 6000 words well-researched chapter in the new book American Muslim Agenda. It is not necessarily a guide for Muslims, but the general principles apply to all traditions; Hindu, Jewish, Jain, Sikh, Christian, or Muslim.

After all, it is the nature (God) that builds the GPS in each heart to find the other. All that God wants is harmony between two individuals, and what America wants collectively is one nation under God. Interfaith and interracial marriages contribute to those ideals.

We have to shape the future of our nation by fostering understanding, so the couples can enjoy living their lives. I am a licensed minister to officiate interfaith weddings to fulfill the deep desires of the couple to have a semblance of a real marriage they grew up seeing. Sermons will be in both traditions in consultation with the couple.

Welcome to America! The woman is not dependent on man for her livelihood at least in the last 100 years, hell, she could not even vote before 1919. Now, she is independent and can take care of herself. She does not need a husband to take care of her, and she is not going back to her parents either. She has her own life to live, and she can live it as she wants to live.

Dr. Mike Ghouse is an interfaith wedding officiant, author, and a public speaker. His information is at linked in and at www.InterfaithMarriages.org

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