Interracial Marriage: Is It Worth It?

By somayya | August 5, 2011

By Aisha Faiz from New York

In the name of Allah, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful.

Marriage is one of the most important decisions in one’s life. How are you supposed to know whether someone is “The One,” or if you are just blinded by her beauty, akhlaq (manners), status in society, or you are just plain ole tired of waiting so long that you are infatuated with the idea of a “special someone,” no matter who that someone might be? That is a tough question. A potential spouse cannot be compared to a suit, or the new iPhone that is out in the market. You cannot “choose” a partner, then “return” her if you see that you two do not get along very well. Although divorce is a permissible yet disliked (by Allah) option, let’s hope that we do not marry with the thought that if anything goes wrong, we can always get a divorce. A few characteristics should be looked for in potential mates.

Deen Comes First

In Islam, we are all equal to each other except for those who have a higher level of taqwa (faith in Allah). As such, a man should not discriminate against a potential spouse because she is from a different country, has fewer (or a greater number of) degrees than him, or if she is not as wealthy or as beautiful as he wishes her to be. There is a hadith which states, A woman is married for her deen, her wealth or her beauty. You must go for the one with deen, may your hands be in the dust! (if you fail to heed)” [Muslim]. This hadith applies to both men and women. We should not be preoccupied with how a person looks or how much money s/he makes per month. Beauty is important as you must be able to feel some sort of attraction to your partner. Wealth is as equally as important since you must be able to spend on your family and zakat. Nevertheless, deen comes first and should be the most important factor when choosing a partner. Beauty fades, money comes and goes (and eventually runs out), while a good person’s character gets richer by the day. It is important that we do not fool ourselves by judging a book by its cover. Just because a sister wears hijab and a brother dons a beard (perhaps because he looks quite handsome with it as opposed to having no facial hair) does not mean that they are doing it out of religiousness. It is your duty to ask around, or ask your elders to find out about this person’s habits and qualities.

Does Ethnicity Matter?

 

There may be a sister who abides by the deen, exhibits good behavior, has a good education, and is beautiful too…except she does not come from the same cultural background as you. Now what? I believe you should go about the matter as you would with a potential spouse who is of the same ethnicity. Allah (S.W.T.) says:

O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female and made you into nations and tribes that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise each other). Verily the most honored of you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) the most righteous of you. And Allah has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things)” (49:13).

Therefore, it is clear that cultural differences should not stop us from marrying a partner of our choice. Allah does not care if I marry someone of the same race, or a different one, so long as we strive to keep each other on the right path. Allah will judge us for what is in our hearts, not our outward appearance. Nevertheless, we must be realistic about interracial marriage and its consequences.

Cultural Differences

Cultural differences are perhaps the number one reason why some people are afraid of marrying outside of their culture. What language will we speak? Maybe English, but what about our grandfathers who do not understand a word of it? What type of food will we eat? Which customs will we incorporate into our wedding—his or mine? What language will our children speak? Which culture will our children marry into—his or mine? Yikes. The list goes on and on, though the last question shouldn’t matter to such an open minded couple. The point is that interracial marriages can be very complicated. They can also be as simple as you make them. The husband and wife can teach one another his/her respective language. Though it is not a quick solution, it is possible. For the time being, if English is a common language, they can speak that. Language is nothing but a means to communication. Children can be taught both languages as children’s minds are like sponges that are ready to absorb knowledge. As a child, I was spoken to in Dari and Pashto as my mother is from Kabul, while my father is from Qandahar, Afghanistan. It was not difficult for me to learn Pashto, Dari, English, as well as understand Hindi just from watching Desi serials on television. Anything is possible as long as the couple and their families are willing to cooperate with one another.

Expect Many Stares

It seems that people are either fascinated by, scared of, or just curious about interracial marriages. Expect people to stare at you as though you have five heads and just landed from the UFO that came from Mars. You will have to learn to adapt to it. Sometimes some people may think to themselves, or even come up to you and ask, “Couldn’t she find a person within her culture? Is that why she degraded herself by marrying a ________?” People are inconsiderate but that does not mean you should disregard a potential spouse.

Convincing Your Parents

Some of us are blessed with parents who have knowledge of the deen. The rest of us, however, are not so fortunate. Some parents are stuck with the old ideology that one should marry within the race as opposed to ruining their “pure” (insert appropriate ethnicity) bloodline. This sounds more like Hitler’s logic in that he did not want the “superior” ethnicity to be lowered through marriage to someone of an “inferior” culture. We should point out Qur’anic verses and Hadith regarding the believers’ equality before Allah and how one’s level of deen will matter on the Day of Judgment. Our skin color will not matter, neither will our superstitious manmade customs, ideologies, and “status” in society. Many parents, though aware of the deen, will not allow their children to marry outside of their race for fear of what “society will think.” Some questions I would pose to those parents are:

1. Do you live your life for yourself, or to please others? Is your whole life a façade, such as a staged play in which your family members’ every action is controlled?

2. Have you forgotten the purpose of your life? Allah (S.W.T.) says, “I have only created jinns and humans to worship Me” (51:56). That is the purpose of our lives, but marriage is a blessing. It is half our deen as our partners help us stay on Siraatul Mustaqeem (the Right path).  Please stop obsessing over how your child’s spouse should be an engineer, doctor, or lawyer.

3. Ultimately, does your child’s happiness matter to you, or your selfish desires of having him/her marry within the race merely to please society?

Please, do not turn down a potential spouse because of something like ethnicity, or the person’s profession. Granted, s/he should be able to earn a decent living, but deen is of utmost importance, and it is possible that you may not find a person who is religious and meets your other standards while also being of the same background. If your parents do not heed your proof from the Qur’an and Sunnah, then ask an Imam to help. Regardless, remember to be kind to your parents even if they do not agree at first.

I hope that this article can benefit some of our brothers and sisters insha-Allah.

This article was written by Aisha Faiz.

15 Responses to “Interracial Marriage: Is It Worth It?”

  1. Sami Says:
    August 13th, 2011 at 9:09 pm

    Salaam sister,

    this is a very well written article and very true. Some of us find amazing people to spend the rest of our life with but cannot marry them because of the reasons above. Our parents aren’t okay with just because of their ethnicity, or their social status.

    Insha’allah this article will change some minds, as some people forget that our deen comes first.

    Jazaka’allah khair for this.

  2. Aisha Faiz Says:
    August 13th, 2011 at 11:12 pm

    Wa Alaikum Ussalam,
    I am glad you’ve liked the article. I hope this really does get to some of the parents out there because it truly is a sad situation when someone is discriminated against for reasons over which s/he has no control.

  3. Haq Islam Says:
    January 5th, 2012 at 5:47 am

    Jazakallah for this excellent article.
    Would you please consider linking to my blog, as I think it would benefit your readers, especially the stories.
    Wasalam

  4. zaYn Says:
    January 22nd, 2012 at 5:33 pm

    Salam.

    This is very inspirational. At some extent everything you said makes sense. Because this is our religion, its stated in the Quran, its simple. and beautiful. people tend to over exaggerate and think up themselves which brings us to vanity, pride. Its haram. May Allah swt guide us all through the right path. Ameen. Jazakallah kheir

  5. daughter of adam Says:
    February 16th, 2012 at 10:15 am

    AsA – this was really refreshing to read. what Allah says in Qur’an, it really is THAT simple.

  6. Aisha Faiz Says:
    March 3rd, 2012 at 7:02 pm

    Wa alaikum us salaam,
    I’m glad you’ve liked the article!

  7. Saba Says:
    March 4th, 2012 at 4:20 pm

    Really well written article!

    Although I understand your reasoning, I cannot bring myself to agree with interracial marriage. Most people don’t realize how much work it takes to sustain a real relationship, and entering into a partnership with the added challenge of understanding and compromising with another culture tends to be too much for most. I’ve worked in divorce law, and about 30% of cases I saw had to do with individuals not being able to work with other cultures.

  8. somayya Says:
    March 4th, 2012 at 4:56 pm

    Wa alaikum as salam Saba. I understand your reasons, but you can’t tar every relationship with the same brush. I myself am the product of an interracial marriage that has lasted almost 30 years now. I have a Libyan father and an English mother. It can work if both parties are open to other cultures, otherwise it could be doomed from the start. I actually want to marry someone exactly like myself, as I don’t want to be a risk taker in marriage, I feel only my culture/s suit me, but if someone is open to change, then why not? It can work!

  9. Aisha Faiz Says:
    March 4th, 2012 at 6:28 pm

    Salaam Saba,
    I understand how you feel. Like Somayya said, not all relationships are alike, but I definitely agree with you that maintaining a relationship in itself is difficult, and having people from different cultures d

  10. wael Says:
    March 4th, 2012 at 7:56 pm

    Saba, that doesn’t prove that interracial or intercultural marriages are bad in principle. It just proves that people need to learn to be more tolerant and accepting of each other.

  11. Secret Says:
    October 25th, 2012 at 6:40 pm

    What an great article.

    I agree with most of your opinions though… And actually have this type of marriage myself, it works great alhamdulillah.

    I tried commenting on the hoor al ayn article, but it got deleted or blocked. If someone notices this, here is my response:

    “Mohammad – That was their words, not mine. I have read the entire 300+ comments. Not everyone feel that it is a blessing if something is forced on them, and people say it is forced because according to the mainstream interpretation, you don’t have a choice.

    And I do not understand your comment about wanting quanity. Why is it so hard to accept that not all women/men want to be polygamous even if they could? Some don’t want children, why would they want 100’s of them even if they didn’t have to go through labour and raising them and all hardships of parenthood?

    We all have different likes and dislikes….

    BTW why are my comments disabled? I wrote several but they didn’t appear. I don’t think that’s fair game.”

  12. Aisha Says:
    October 25th, 2012 at 6:52 pm

    Mine didn’t show up on the other article either… Lol, maybe it’s taking a while or they blocked comments? I’m not sure. I agree, money can’t be compared to relationships. I know Mohammad was just comparing the two, but marriages are a bit more complicated than money. Everyone wants money, but not everybody has the same preferences when it comes to marriage/lifestyle. Thank you for your comment, and Alhamdulillah that you have such a beautiful marriage that you were talking about in the other article. 🙂

  13. Secret Says:
    October 28th, 2012 at 8:47 pm

    Aisha: Don’t be afraid of marriage. Look for someone with similiar views as yours, and you won’t be disappointed later on InshaAllah. I am sure you would be able to find a good muslim husband who share your views and understanding of Islam, if you just look carefully enough. Yeah, my marriage is wonderful at times alhamdulillah, but like every couple we have our disputes too. No human is perfect! But we can always strive to get better.

  14. UmmNadia Says:
    December 22nd, 2012 at 7:35 pm

    JazakahAllah khair for this article. Marriage takes work regardless of the race/ethnicities of the people. My husband and I couldn’t be more different. He a born muslim of Berber origin. Me a revert muslim of African-American origin. Our children are mashallah a mix of the two…still very young so their only identity is what we tell them (muslim). I cannot support the idea that it’s better NOT to marry interracially or interculturally simply because they may have cultural differences. Sometimes those cultural differences are what makes them stronger as they blend the two. The foundation for any successful marriage should be the religion of Allah subhana wa ta’ala and the example of His Messenger salla alahu alayhi wa salaam

  15. Ibrahim Says:
    January 4th, 2016 at 12:12 pm

    jazakumulahi khairan

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