Your Guy/Girl or… Your God?

I thought of writing this as a follow-up to Kee Man’s guest post on Beyond The Religious Borders: How Love Can Transcend Faith And Beliefs. When it comes to a topic with so much depth, I couldn’t resist contributing my two cents for the blog.

First and foremost, however, I would like to apologize to anyone who thinks that this issue is case-sensitive, and is offended by anything I am about to write. Religion has always been a touchy topic, so for those of you who are not happy by this article, I am really sorry. Furthermore, I am in no way insulting any one person, country, or law. For that matter, this isn’t meant to be in the negative. I just thought I’d get that out of the way and make it crystal clear.

It’s not as easy as ‘will you marry me?’ anymore. These days, especially where a Muslim is involved, it’s a question of whether you’ll ‘convert for’ me. I don’t dare generalize this to all Muslim countries, but where Malaysia is involved, it is normally required for non-Muslim partners to convert into Islam if they wish to marry a Muslim woman.

According to Sharia law, Muslim men can choose to marry non-Muslim women, but a Muslim woman cannot legally be married to a non-Muslim man (Council on Foreign Relations, 2009). However, this has not stopped the act of converting for women who are non-Muslim in order to be married to the men of this faith. On that note, let’s assume that it is mandatory for both sexes to have to convert before being able to marry someone of Islam.

Asking someone to give up their beliefs for yours in order to get married is a big deal – for most people, it’s a really, really big deal.

For example, if you were born and bred a Christian but so happen to fall in love with a Muslim; will you be willing to give those years of your faith for another person? If you are, how do you think you’ll feel about it 20 years down the line? How do you think your parents will feel about it, right then and there? How do you think it’ll turn out, if you’re not willing to go that far?

Then there’s the part of the Muslim person involved. If conversion is out of the question, is that the end of the relationship? Will they engage in marital acts without actually being married, willing and able to face the consequences? Is it alright to ask so much out of someone, simply because religion insists so – will you put your loved one through the wringer, or will you compromise with yourself and your faith instead?

On the flipside, to what extent will you allow religion and faith to dictate how you live your life and who you love? There are so many things to consider and so much at stake – how do you go about it without having to compromise too much of one side or the other?

Earlier today, I had the pleasure of meeting one of my Grandmother’s friends, and ironically, she was just talking about interracial marriage. Of course, the talk of conversion was a little unnerving, but luckily for her children, both her and her husband have resigned themselves to whatever makes their children happy. She’s a relatively religious woman who has brought her kids up according to her faith, but if they find that it is necessary to convert to be able to be married, their parents won’t exactly be hitting the roof.

That’s considerably lucky, because for a lot of other people, family members won’t necessarily be pleased to hear you’re getting hitched if it means you’ll be headed to the mosque instead of mass from then on.

For many Malay families, the thought of marrying someone who won’t convert into Islam is unheard of. Expecting other people to adhere to their beliefs without an inch of compromise is, in my opinion anyway, a tad bit too much. I understand that it’s mandatory – trust me, I understand to every nook and cranny – but that undoubtedly restricts the options you have for life partners.

What if the Malay girl would rather be with her Chinese boyfriend than a line of potential Malay husbands her parents reckon are better suited for her?

At the moment, I am in a relationship with someone who isn’t Malay, and on that note, definitely isn’t Muslim. Granted, I am far and away from even considering the thought of a lifetime together, but for the sake of this article, I figure it’s a safe haven to allow my imagination to roam free for just a little while and to take a closer look at my options.

Honey, there’s no need to freak. This is JUST because it’s within the context. :)

See, now if I were seeing a Muslim Malay guy, I’d have no qualms when it comes to a relationship in my early twenties. Best case scenario, we wind up blissfully happy for the rest of our lives. In this case, however, I don’t know how much of emotions I dare invest now because I don’t know where this will head. Let’s face it, I’m no longer in my teens, and come a couple of years, family members will be asking when I’m planning on getting married at every reunion I’ll attend.

Now I don’t plan on dating this guy only for a certain amount of time, and I don’t see myself not going out with him at all. Where does this leave me?

A while more and I’ll have to start thinking about where this is going. I dread when I’ll have to start considering religious matters, on top of everything else.

While I’d love to believe that love does conquer all, I’d hate to be the one to ask him whether he’s thought about this, and even more so, what he plans to do about all of it. As far as I know, there are only two options about this, and while one has me apprehensive because I’ll be asking for too much, the other would just mean that the time I would have spent with him will have gone to waste. How now, brown cow?

“Above all things I believe in love. Love is like oxygen. Love is a many-splendored thing. All you need is love!”

(Ewan McGregor in Moulin Rouge, 2001)

As much as I would like to believe in all that, I don’t know how I would do, having to give up my faith for someone else. Having to put my beliefs aside in order to be with someone – the religion in which I grew up with and was brought up upon – well, I don’t know how far I’d be willing to go. At the same time, however, I’d hate to have passed up on the chance at, and a promise of, a happy ending – something solid, and real, and what a lot of people spend their whole lives searching for.

I don’t know what I’ll do. Would you, if you were caught between the two?

On that note, I’ll leave you to think about it. :)

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  1. Personally for me, I may give up my parent’s selfless love for my lifetime partner… but I definitely wouldn’t give up God’s unfailing love for humanly love.

    Love is not necessarily God, but GOD IS LOVE.

    Jamie’s last blog post..language or translation?

  2. If you don’t mind, I would like to correct your statement on Muslim men being able to marry non-Muslim women without these women converting. It is actually only applicable between Christianity, Judaism and another one that I can’t remember. These are the religions of the four original bibles – Quran (Islam), Torah (Judaism), Bible (Christianity) and Zabur (can’t remember what religion, sorry). So yeah.

  3. Oh, okay. Thanks for the correction, and sorry. My source must not have been descriptive enough.


    Anya’s last blog post..four cents on fidelity.

    • @Anya,

      A great follow up to what i have shared. Indeed, inter-religion relationships require a lot of patience and understanding unless of course either side or both didn’t bother about religion at all.

      P/s: Shalia is right on her info. It’s amazing how the four major religions of the world can be so closely connected yet so distantly preached.

  4. great story..very informative loved reading it ..

  5. i think a girl is always emotional when it comes to, they would actually convert.but a guy,they always trying to be Malaysia,not really many guys convert.i know my ex-boyfriend wont.he said everything in Islam is against who he really is.but,he’s an atheist.i guess it’s true.sometimes it’s hard to accept my religion if you don’t really know it.he was so convincing at first.telling me he will accept everything just to be with me.but he didn’t.i guess some people breakup because of religion even though i never heard of it.lols

  6. I like your theme, did you buy it or is it original? I’m in search of something similar to this for use on my web site.

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