keeping the faith (extended version)

somehow, word press is not emailing me the comments people make on my blog,
so, today, when I looked at my blog and found the comment by neo which
asked me to share some specifics, I wondered how much more specific I
could get.
then, I realized that my post was cut.
I don’t know if my email client did it or what, but here is the rest
of the post.
(and I’ll double check to make sure that it posted correctly. if it
doesn’t, I might have to have an “really extended version” — smile).
… each family has their own picture of what “interfaith family”
should look like). I
do wish that DH would analyze himself and write responses — or blogs
— about our journey, as well. I think that it would give readers a
rounded prospective. I don’t want to sound like I am complaining, but,
I think in this post, I am! — Sorry!
DH doesn’t like to think — much less write
about such issues. So, … .. … I’m all you’ve got! Hopefully I can
be unbiased enough to present some of DH’s valid points.
Objectively speaking, I think about and seem to “care” about being
“interfaith” much more than DH does. He just wants to “be” without
labels, etc. Maybe some of my desire to analyze and discuss
“interfaith” comes from a desire to “belong” somewhere or to some idea
which others also share. so, while I am relishing the label, he is
shrinking from it. Maybe he just wants to avoid the entire sometimes
messy issue. It is just too overwhelming, sometimes for him and he
would rather stay in the world of electronics and economics. all
that said, (Trying to be objective), I also find that he is a bit less
compromising than I am. OK, as tempting as it might be, I am not
going to drag out all of the compromises I have made and list them so
you have sympathy for my plight. (smile) And, I am not going to list
his so that we can see which list (his or mine) is longer — Can I
just say “mine” and be done with it? (smile). But, I am going to say
that when talking about our newborn baby, It does seem that I am
compromising a bit more than he is when it comes to “faith.”
Let me explain.
Our son’s name is a combination between The Quran and the bible.
Notice that I am not calling it an “Islamic” first name and “Christian
” middle name. After some thought, I agree with a friend who has
pointed out that any name can be christian or Muslim, because it is
not the name, but the character. So, Jane and Kyle can be perfectly
wonderful Muslim names and Ali and Aisha can be perfectly christian.
… … anyway, the first name can be found in the Quran and is a
respected name held by many Muslims. It means “Call to prayer,” in
Islam. I actually like the sound of the name very much. I thought that
we should find a name that is pretty popular in Pakistan, but maybe
not so much here. It took us a while to find a name and agree.But,
finally, we have. The middle name is the Angel that told Mary about
her impending pregnancy and the birth of Jesus. Of course, this angel
is also in the Quran, but we took the spelling that the bible offered.
Yet, when DH is asked: “what is his name,” DH rarely speaks the middle
name. he thinks middle names are stupid. I like the middle name and
say: “His full name is _____ _______.” I am not sure if DH just
doesn’t like middle names — or doesn’t want to admit to anyone (esp
his friends) that his son has a name that is found in the bible — and
worse yet, is also known and maybe used by Jewish people, as well.
(those views and discussions are for another post). DH was afraid that
my family would use the baby’s middle name and not first. In fact, my
family did threaten to do this. But, I told my family that our son
would/will not answer to anything but his first name. So, I felt that
I supported this choice — the least he could do is to support the
middle name!
Yet, when our son was born, DH spoke the prayer in his ear, we agreed
to circumcize (against my desire) and I agreed to have his head
shaved. We have already discussed the significance of this head
shaving, Remember??? but, lest anyone be new to reading this blog,
it is highly recommended in Islam. some schools “recommend” and others
“mandate,” but the least of a “recommendation” is good enough to
follow. DH feels strongly about these issues.
While I agreed that we would circumcize (Islam mandates it for
cleanliness purposes, but Christianity says that there is no need), I
wanted to do it on the 8th day. No, I am not Jewish. No, there would
be no Bris. But, medical studies have proven that pain indorfins(did I
spell that correctly) and Vitamin K (which helps clot the blood) are
at very high levels on the 8th day — moreso than any other day. The
medical community already knows this because, most often, they give
your child a vitamin K shot at birth to prepare for the circumcision
that will be done within the next 48hours. sure, they could wait for
the Vitamin K to kick in on the 8th day, but … … Well, it is just
too inconvenient for all involved, so they give a Vitamin K shot so
that they can circumcize before leaving the hospital. I wanted it
done when Vitamin K was naturally at a high level in his system. But,
we had a problem with the pediatrician and midwife and could not get
it done until the twelth day. Consequently, the hospital had to give
our little Baby Boy two dissolvable stitches because he kept bleeding.
It was almost worse for me than the baby! The point is that, even
though my stipulation was not met: “the 8th day” I still honored my
commitment … … and even more, supported it when talking to family
and friends. I am not trying to boast or keep count: but, facts are
I wanted to get the head shaved when we did the circumcision, but we
could not find someone who knew how to shave it. I want to get it over
with. I realize that this is important to DH and I have committed to
respecting this practice. but, I will grieve for the hair loss (that
cute fine baby hair) and will shutter at the shave. I know it. I do
have issues with cutting hair. … … not that I won’t cut boys’
hair, it is just that I hated when my mother cut mine (I had some
really short boy styles) [which is why I don’t cut it now, I like it
long], and wanted to wait a bit before cutting my own child’s hair.
And, I don’t find his hair, as it is now, in the least bit “unclean.”
and, I have to explain this practice to family. Now, this is where it
gets tricky. I don’t agree with the shaving thing. I don’t think that
it makes the child “cleaner.” But, I have said “OK” and must support
my decision. It is difficult for family to understand these unusual
(to them, at least) practices. And, to make things worse, DH is not
trying to get it done Quickly. while he wants it done, he doesn’t seem
to be in a hurry. In fact, I am the one who had to find and schedule
the circumcision. I am the one who went with the baby, while DH was at
work. Yet, it is his practice. Sometimes I can hear the absolute
conviction in his voice that these things “must be done,” I think that
he really believes that the baby is not “clean” unless these rituals
(Can I use that word and still be Faith sensitive) are performed. but
he is slow with his actions. This just makes it worse for me. I want
to get it over with quickly. Shouldn’t the one whose faith is being
practiced take a more involved approach in getting said practices
accomplished? Now, some might be saying, “just let it go.” But, I
can’t because I know that DH will eventually have it done —
especially if he runs into someone who says: “I can do it and I’ll do
it now.” but, I don’t want to be surprised and I just want it over
with. I know that this will be a very proud moment for DH, yet inside
I will find it futile and hate that my baby’s head had to be shaved.
some say, it is just hair, no big deal. But, it is for me. Yet,
most people tend to give advice like “get over it,” or “don’t do it.”
both of which are really not helpful. Sometimes, though, compromises
are not “great.” You don’t just get over a compromise. It helps when
the other spouse understands that, for you, this is a compromise.
Compromises (at least the good ones) aren’t those that you could care
little about. The ones that are the hardest are the ones that you have
convictions about. Giving up pork, for example, is not a huge
compromise for me because I rarely miss it and can see the health
benefit of not eating it. While DH did compromise by moving to Indy,
it is not a huge compromise because he found a job and had a ready
made house. He was going to have to move from college, anyway. It
still is a compromise, but not a large one. For the huge
compromises, It helps when the spouse understands your feelings and
thoughts on the subject. Large compromises are those which you really
“sacrifice” something that you care about.
Many people view Islam as the more strict of the two religions,
however, there are some points of Christianity that are more strengent
than Islam. Let’s take the commands about giving. Most christians,
myself included, adhere to the tytheing $10% of one’s income. In
Islam, you are to give 2.5% of your savings, (for Zaqat) once a year.
These are the manditory commands to “give.” There are some others in
Islam, I think. I am a bit fuzzy on these because, well, (sheepishly
admitting), DH is not very excited about the “giving” commands, thus,
they surface as discussion points only when I bring them up. In any
case, I was ready and willing to tithe my customary 10% when I was
working. However, since DH saw no need for such a practice, my giving
was not supported.
The other thing is that “Faith” in itself, is not logical. when one
believes that a certain thing should be done a certain way, no amount
of statistics or feelings can convince them that they are not right.
In fact, in some cases, they don’t see how you can think otherwise.
where does DH compromise? There is always Music in the house. I
play music often and tend to sing now even more when the baby is
born. I change the words to songs to fit the Baby. I also listen to
christian/inspirational music. DH never objects. He considers this
more of a compromise than mine because it is continuous. “Great is my
Faithfulness,” “It is well with my Soul,” “turn your eyes upon Jesus,”
etc. Once, just to make my songs look better: I put on Marvin Gaye’s
“Sexual Healing,” and reminded him that I could be listening to far
worse. Yes, occasionally, DH will listen to Ghazals, sufi songs and
Punjabi music (not the Hindi movie kind), but that is rare. He does
not like music because he says that Music instigates temporary
emotions. Music can be held responsible for encouraging sex and
drinking. OK, we have talks about “where to put responsibility.”
but, still, He does not think that high levels of emotions are good
things. … …
dominika listens to Country Music, so Rascal Flatz and Sugarland. I do
have to ban most of Kyler’s music from the house — even I have my
standards: “no cussing, illegal activity or immoral propositions.”
Anyway, there is christian music (Selah, Nicole C. Mullen, Acappella,
Take6, Ben Tankard, Kathy Tricoley, etc);
Kids music (Putumayo Playground, Sesame Street, Joe Scruggs,
Schoolhouse Rock, some of Walt Disney);
Punjabi music;
Hindi movie songs (sonu Nigam, Shreyah, Atif Aslam, A R Rahman)
old 80’s (Whitney, Celine, Boyz II men, Mariah)
and soundtrack music (Mulan, The Music Man, Fiddler On the Roof,
Hurculeese, Aladen, Remember the Titans, Lion King, Prince of Egypt,
Couples Retreat, Slumdog Millionaire, Little Mermaid, etc…. … ).
Recently I told DH that the “call to prayer” from Egypt was better
than the ones from Mecca or some of the other cities. It is more
melodic and I can hum it while I am doing dishes. [Whoops, should I
have admitted that I actually can “HUM” the “Call to prayer?”). I
like this one better than any of the others for that very
characteristic, it is more “singable.” . And, if that wasn’t
blasphemy, I am certain that I commited such a sin when I suggested
that a woman “sing the call to prayer!” Hey, that might encourage
more men to come to the Mosque. But, I just went way too far for DH’s
comfort level. (smile) Just the thought that the “call to prayer”
could be considered a “song” was enough for DH. although, he did have
to admit that different men “called” in different ways with different
tonalities, inflections and pitches and… … “some”
tonalities/inflections/pitches might be a bit more pleasing to the ear
than others.
I think that it bothers me, (more than DH) that we still can’t find
an interfaith community. We don’t even fit into a monofaith one. If
individuals can get past our disabilities, they stop at our
‘interfaithness’. .. and visa-versa. I do admit that sometimes DH does
not make it easy. He is not that sociaable: I have to drag him to
Pakistani events and he still displays a mistrust of people. and,
maybe I am just “too talkative” and “too open.” but, an Interfaith
community which understands my disability and will assist me when I
have difficulties in either participating in worship or in any other
part of communal activities would help tremendously. Also they would
help DH and I navigate the sometimes very mirky waters of this
interfaith relationship. They would rejoice in our celebrations and
give us support in our differences.


One Response to “keeping the faith (extended version)”

  1. Mills Says:

    This is such an interesting post for me as I’m married to a Pakistani Muslim and have just found out I’m pregnant. I am not Muslim and would describe myself as Christian although perhaps not a practising Christian. We’ve discussed all the things you’ve mentioned and the thing we’re finding it hardest to find a compromise for is names. I am happy with circumcision but have said absolutely no way to shaving the hair which my husband is OK with. It’s just the name thing we’re arguing over! I’m sure we’ll sort it out though. Really enjoyed reading this post and congratulations on your new addition!

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