interfaith discussions (Part I)

I must admit that I had many challenges to grapple with when it comes to Interfaith. In this regard, Imran has always been more optumistic than I. After hearing all of the crying Christians who married a madman Muslim and were perpetually the victims of abuse and unfair treatment, I was on the search for couples that had overcome their challenges in the context of religion. There were resources for christians (Prodistants) and Catholics, Christians&Jews, but hardly any between Christians and Muslims. Note:
Do’t read “Not without my daughter,” by Betty Mahmoody or “Inside the Kingdom,” by Carmen Bin Laden. I did not read the latter, former manage to finish the latter. Here is part of the resource packet at http://www.interfaithmarriage.org.co.uk and it began to express all of the things that I had thought about in my mind. There are not many interfaith email groups or listservs out there.
I found a site, but it is based in the uk, so even their meetings are not open to me.
The site is:
http://www.interfaithmarriage.org.co.uk
and it was quite helpful.
They offer a free resource packet as well as some online discussion forums.

Here are some of the questions that were posed.
**discussion questions:
(Each person should fill these out and be as specific as possible.
1. What do you believe about God? Is God one person or many? Is God categorized more by love or punishment? What is God’s function: to condemn, to spread love, to punish sinners, etc?
What does God command us to do: How can we share and witness without trying to convert, or are we suppose to convert?
2. What role does God play in your life? How often do you pray? What symbols of God do you have around your house? How many programs do you listen to that are about God? How much of your time, money and thoughts are given to spiritual things?
3. In your everyday life, how many of your friends are of the same faith? Would you welcome close friends of another faith?
4. do you pray? How? When? What are the parameters of prayer? Is that the only way to pray? Would you be open to other ways of praying?
5. What celebrations are important to you? describe them in detail.
6. How has God shaped your beliefs about marriage? Specifically, what do you believe that God tells you about Marriage? Do you believe that he says that interfaith marriages are wrong?
7. What roles has he ascribed for marriage partners?
8. When is it ok to divorce?
9. What does God expect of you as a person, marriage partner and member of a faith community?
10. What do you believe that god expects of your marriage partner?
11. How does your Holy Book instruct you to raise children?
12. Name some things that are abominable in a marriage.
13 How does God tell us to handle our struggles and/or those things that we find unacceptable?

more thoughts:
some important subjects might be:
Do you feel that you are torn between your family and your fiancee or
is it more between your desire and what you believe is “right according to God?”
If you inherently feel that it is wrong….. … BUT, I love him/her anyway, then, you are always going to be at odds with your faith.
The roles in marriage acording to God — men’s duty, women’s duty, power and submission.
What (that your partner might do in his/her faith) Would be unlawful to you acording to your religion?
In what ways might you support your partner in his/her faith without compromising your own?
How might you handle those overzealous people from your own religion who try to convert your partner?
How might you handle those who are from your partner’s religion? How might you like your partner to address such issues?

***Questions to ask yourself:
Do you like to work out your journey through life for yourself or do you enjoy being a
member of your faith group and family?
Are you generally comfortable ‘living outside the box’ and not being typical? Or do you like to know that you fit in and that you are absolutely at the heart of what’s going on in your community?
If approval of community matters a lot to you, it’s likely to affect a range of choices you make –
from where you feel most comfortable living, to how you see your marriage and your
partner.
Do you like your partner’s identity to back up your own?
How do you react in circumstances where your marriage and the compromises you have to make for your partner are seen as shameful?
Might you keep quiet about it, or would you be happy
presenting your difference positively?

Some people are like explorers, drawn to the unfamiliar and curious to
experience different cultures. If this describes you, the choice of an interfaith marriage
may feel natural. Sometimes a restless person can gain a real sense of ‘coming home
at last’ by immersing themselves in the new world of their partner’s culture. If you
approach religious difference like a spiritual explorer, swapping conformity in one
culture for conformity in another may not be a viable long-term option for you. This is
something you might want to consider as you plan your future, especially if your
partner’s approach to change and exploration is different. People in interfaith
relationships are not necessarily rebels, leaders, bridge-builders or explorers, but you
may sometimes find yourself playing some of these roles some of the time.

Some groups to help:
Support groups for interfaith and culturally mixed couples: Groups like these
offer emotional support, affirmation, and provide a sense of normality – showing that
other people face these issues and respond in similar ways.

Inter Faith Marriage Network http://www.interfaithmarriage.org.uk
Muslim Christian marriage support group: http://www.mcmarriage.org.uk
People in Harmony http://www.pih.org.uk/
MixTogether http://www.mixtogether.org

The resource package at the interfaith Marriage network is a comprehensive document and I recommend it for anyone who is thinking about being in an interfaith relationship.
note: women are more likely and willing to read and process the information.
Guys don’t as a rule, like to talk about such things for long.
But, if you are a clever woman, you can find small ways to discuss these issues with your mate.
Again, go slowly!

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