Interfaith Marriages


I routinely talk with the parents of the bride and the groom, over 500 such calls to bring everyone on the same page, it is not easy.

Cultural translation is difficult. I officiated a wedding in Los Angeles, the father of the Hindu bride skipped the wedding because I was going to recite in Arabic for the Muslim part of the wedding. He was a Dean of a major University in India. Before the wedding, he bragged he was “Broad-minded” but chickened out to attend, even for the sake of knowledge. His daughter was disappointed, and so was I. In the weddings I officiate, the parents always sit next to their daughter and son. It was ok for him for the Pundit to recite Mantras in Sanskrit, that was what the parents of the groom said. I heard from the couple recently that their parents visited each other’s families. I am so happy to hear that.

In a majority of interfaith marriages, I speak with parents beforehand to get them on board, a handful of them don’t attend, some join reluctantly, but most of them join cheerfully.

A Christian father of a groom refused to attend the wedding because the Hindu bride would not convert, I asked him to join, and I assured him that I would start and close the ceremony in the name of Jesus. He came and was standing outside the door, and when I closed the ceremony in the name of Jesus, he dashed in. That is all he wanted to hear.

A Jewish mother would not attend the wedding because her daughter was marrying a Baha’i (Pagan to her) and the Baha’is wanted the father or mother to give away the bride, so I became the father and gave away the bride. I was not the officiant in this marriage.

Last week a mother of the bride came down from upstairs at the insistence of her daughter, then went back up again. After the ceremony, she was down again and made a point to thank me. I feel for her, she was relieved, but she was tense, and not sure her daughter could marry a non-Muslim, she was worried about what her friends would say.

What their friends would say is the most common bottom line, I always say, it is your daughter’s happiness. Societies are formed wherever you go, they are transitory. Your daughter or son is permanent. My late wife used to tell me, to go to a new town and invite the people you meet for dinner, and there is your society again.

Two of the most difficult parents were Afghan and Saudi fathers to marry a Christian and Hindu groom to their daughters respectively. Their logic was, “My Imam tells me this, who are you to tell me otherwise.” I literally had to go through the verses of the Quran that they had difficulty with. Finally, they came around. Yet, there was another Afghan who did not attend but listened to me a year later. I keep up with most of the couples and their parents.

Resistance from parents is cultural, even though they pose it as religious. I love these kids, they fully understand the dilemma of the parents respectfully differ with them, and handle the situation delicately. I have a 99% success rate with parents joining the 400 weddings only 5 were difficult. I will eventually write a book about all these difficult marriage ceremonies that we have overcome and bring them to happy ceremonies.

Drs. Fatima and Mike Ghouse

Interfaith Wedding Officiants

Officiants for Muslim Marriages


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