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7 years ago  ::  Dec 04, 2007 - 1:15PM #1
Bayor
Posts: 6
Hello, all. 

First, some background:  My good friend/coworker (a Muslim man) recently married a Christian woman (but I don't know how strictly she was raised in Christianity).  They dated throughout college, starting a year or so after he got to the states.   Anyway, I know the couple very well, have met their families, and my wife and I are now both very good friends with them.  The families met, seemed to get along, but there was some tension from the Christian family because most aspects of the celebrations tended towards the culture from across the pond.  Most "typical" types of American wedding celebrations were discarded.  Other than that, everyone got along fine.

Next, my question:  My wife (raised strictly Christian) is vaguely concerned about the gender roles that are played throughout Islam.  She's not concerned about specific issues, just concerned whether or not there might be issues she should be worried about (if that makes any sense at all).  And I work in a very diverse office and have heard things that my mind has definitely taken note of, even if it hasn't caused concern (i.e. from an Indian man, don't know the religion, to a coworker:  "you talk about business with your wife?" said in a tone that shows he would never think to do such a thing).  And I don't know if that type of thing is cultural, traditional based on religion, etc.

I guess in general, I'd like to know what big problems (either from the religion side or the male or female viewpoint) tend to arise in these situations.  And are my wife's concerns valid enough to warrant further thought?  What should we be concerned with or should we just let things be?

Thanks so much and my apologies for the long post.  The main point is that these are two very good, honest, nice people and I want both of them to be very happy.
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7 years ago  ::  Dec 04, 2007 - 1:42PM #2
GraceSA
Posts: 1,100
Baylor,

I'm not sure why your wife is concerned about these gender issues in Islam. Or why she should feel she should be concerned.  If this is all on behalf of the friend, has she asked for any help?

Of course their can be cultural issues.  And some typical American  women marry alcoholics or manic depressives.  But usually no-one advises them without being asked, or  only if they are very close and see something going wrong.

The friends wife may or may not have made a naive decision. But unless she's confiding in your wife, to be blunt it seems none of her business.  Its good you want them to be happy, but everyone runs their own marriage.

salaam,
Grace
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7 years ago  ::  Dec 04, 2007 - 2:05PM #3
Bayor
Posts: 6
Grace, thanks for your response and I agree with your 2nd and 3rd paragraphs -- we're not intending to "butt in."  And I'll try to explain regarding your 1st paragraph, as I should have done a better job of earlier.

My wife talked quite a bit with the mother of my friend's wife in planning their trip from out of state for the celebrations.  It came up that her mother has seen a lot of changes in her daughter, especially most recently.  She is more quiet, reserved, and "tired." 

What I'm getting at is this:  there is a difference between loving a pet that you keep in the house to feed and protect and loving an equal that you house and protect.  And maybe there is nothing to worry about in this regard, but regardless my wife is somewhat concerned. 

I'm not trying to incite anything here, I'm just trying to learn from a neutral standpoint.
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7 years ago  ::  Dec 04, 2007 - 2:42PM #4
GraceSA
Posts: 1,100
I understand what your saying.  I have seen a lot of these (and other )marriages head south, so it is a possibility.  However, remember the source is the mother.  If the mother is not happy with who her daughter married, she may not be objective.  Awful MIL stories are more prevelant than awful muslim husband stories!

My best advice is just be there for her if SHE needs to talk.  She may be tired etc.  for perfectly normal reasons ( like she's planning a wedding and her mom is being difficult) she chooses not to share with a mother, who she may well know, goes and talks about her with other people.

As to your questions, certainly gender roles can be different in Muslim marriages, but not necessarily.  And there are so many different cultures, that knowing he is a Muslim is not enough to know what the issues may be.

I know if my mother had been "talking" to a friend of mine about "changes" in me etc. while I was trying to plan a wedding, I'd not be too pleased.

I wish them all the best.
Grace
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7 years ago  ::  Dec 04, 2007 - 11:35PM #5
QureshiAbbasAli
Posts: 515
----I guess in general, I'd like to know what big problems (either from the religion side or the male or female viewpoint) tend to arise in these situations. And are my wife's concerns valid enough to warrant further thought? What should we be concerned with or should we just let things be?---

Greetings Baylor

i am an immigrant muslim, married to a Native American, catholic in her up-bringing who accepted Islam way before we even met.

the cultural differences are definately abound, and the severity of it, perhaps i think so within the culture that i have grown up, the Indian/Pakistani Culture.

here are a few of the things that should never, ever be taken for granted

i. gender roles - there are specific gender roles defined within the Culture, which are construed as religious - though there is a fine line between what is religious and Cultural. Islam is a religion and cultures are cultures. within the Indian/Pakistani culture it is expected of a woman to be a home mom, or a home wife (don't necessarily have to have children). it is within the cultural and religious make up, and the conservativeness is also further accentuated by their living in a Western Environment: rather as treating it as an avenue for growth it is an aspect that stultifies ones personality

ii. differences in Culture: the celeberation of specific holidays that are part of the American Experience: whether they be spending time with the family - who are Christian - during Christmas etc etc. many muslims will shudder of this idea, let's even say Thans Giving - but i understand this as a moment of spending quality time with the family.

iii. there are a set of expectations that are expected from the wife - which are implicitly to be agreed upon by the husband, from the mother in law. i simply told my mother to back off, since they don't help us in our marriage - but something to think about. it has cost me quite a lot of grief, but it was to the point of toxcicity.

iv. language - language - language: my wife very feels very left out, dis-respected when discussions happen within a group of close family members where she is not considered part of the discussion, due to the language. she considers it rude, though my incessant translations and the nuances between the two languages makes it even more humourous

v. companion-ship: perhaps the hardest part for my wife. there is very little to no acceptance from the family, or even the religious Community, since i not only married outside my ethnic group, but also a specific sect of Islam (eyes turn around)

vi. and of-course religion. if she is not a muslim, there is always a pressure from the out-side Community directed to the husband that she accept Islam. i have been expressed this many times, since my wife follows a different persuasion within Islam - and honestly, i have kept my-self away from much individuals.

so these are the challenges.

on the brighter side, we have found great friends within the Jewish, the Christian and other ethnic Groups within muslims - particularly Turkey. Turkeys culture is so embracing of the foreign experience, that men or women who accept Islam are treated very differently. there is a very strong sense of brother hood and sisterhood among the various Turkish folks that my sisters has her acquintances with

my social life is rather dull: since there is very little that i can enjoy as a "family", with like minded families. a few here and there and we meet once a year. that is the challenging part. we do what we have.

hope that this helps, ali.q
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7 years ago  ::  Dec 05, 2007 - 5:07AM #6
sazaj36
Posts: 331
Hey Ali

the language thing is a pain...being in a room with a hundred people speaking a language you dont understand pobably feels similar to standing alone on the moon...you cant get lonelier than that. Encourages you to learn quick...but for some language just doesnt come easy so you will always feel somewhat of an outsider to the converstaion...i wish more husbands(and wives) thought about this aspect of a marriage to a person that doesnt speak you language....when considering bringing them home to your country.  Very sad.

I also find it interesting that I know of a lot of american muslims that have closer friendships with non muslims then with muslims...because they feel left out or judged to harshly in the muslim community near them....very sad too.
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7 years ago  ::  Dec 05, 2007 - 9:52AM #7
tired1
Posts: 79
Asalamu Aleikum,
Expereince from a long marraige with a conservative arab I think the hardest issues included the langauge barrier (both ways), the lack of respect my spouse showed for my non-Muslim family and the differences in the concepts of politeness and tmiliness. "inshallah" time just drives me crazy! And the idea that anyone would make promises thay had no intention of keeping just to appear polite ( I said it just to be nice...but didn't intend to do it..so don't hold me accountable) just repulsively dishonest. But it think the hardest issue for me to get over was the concept of work. Having been raised by hardworking parents in a culture that values productivity I found the arab lifestyle concepts regarding what work is suitable to be done by whom hard. I don't like to idea of slavery and it seemed to me that many a guest worker was abused. My spouse tended to think he was too good to do certain types of work, including housework . I'd been taught never to sit down without some kind of work in your hands so I'd go to  social events with embroidery or knitting only to be made fun of. One cultural activity that left me flustered was the long hours spent sitting around either reading Quran or listening to types of Quran. I know these folks had it memorized...even I did and I had the learn the language first...so why not recite in your head while getting  something else done? anyway, in may case there were lots of other issues that eventually drove us apart, but these issues seem prevenlant in the cultural overlap.
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7 years ago  ::  Dec 05, 2007 - 11:03AM #8
taqiyy
Posts: 156
For the most part I have to agree with Grace here.  Everyone runs their own marriage, and it is up to the married couple to find their balance and work in harmony together.

That being said, however, marriage takes a lot of work and patience.  Having a multifaith marriage is going to make that more difficult, because there is now more to disagree on.  Multicultural marriages are also problematic and take extra work.  I remember way back in sociology the instructor presented statistics for marriage failures and how much higher the failure rate of multicultural marriages.

I myself married from a different culture; it didn't work out.

The point of this is that the couple is going to have to work a little harder and take extra time to make sure each spouse is being respected.  They are also going to have to keep in mind they married that person as he or she is, and not how they think they should be.  You can't expect the other person to change.

Hope this helps.
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7 years ago  ::  Dec 05, 2007 - 2:42PM #9
Bayor
Posts: 6
Thank you all so much for your replies (especially Grace and ali.q, but everyone as well).  Through your comments I have come to believe that I am especially interested in the cultural gender roles. 

This is because the more time I spend thinking about it, I can draw many parallels between my strict Christian upbringing and what I'm hearing regarding Islam (in regards to gender specifically, obviously there are many differences in the foudations of their beliefs). 

I'm sure there are other places to research (and I will try) but just per chance does anyone here have experience from the Moroccan culture, assuming Islamic beliefs (either 1st hand or otherwise)?

I really appreciate everyone's responses, they have been very good to think upon.
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7 years ago  ::  Dec 05, 2007 - 2:42PM #10
Bayor
Posts: 6
Thank you all so much for your replies (especially Grace and ali.q, but everyone as well).  Through your comments I have come to believe that I am especially interested in the cultural gender roles. 

This is because the more time I spend thinking about it, I can draw many parallels between my strict Christian upbringing and what I'm hearing regarding Islam (in regards to gender specifically, obviously there are many differences in the foudations of their beliefs). 

I'm sure there are other places to research (and I will try) but just per chance does anyone here have experience from the Moroccan culture, assuming Islamic beliefs (either 1st hand or otherwise)?

I really appreciate everyone's responses, they have been very good to think upon.
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