Love. It’s supposed to be beautiful, magical and breathtaking when you finally get to experience it. Sure, it has its obstacles here and there. Couples argue sometimes but it’s all part of a cycle of growth as they become accustomed to each other’s needs, wants, and personalities. In the end, they come out stronger, more mature, after they are able to resolve their issues and understand each other.
Sometimes, external factors, however, take a toll on a relationship. One of the toughest external factors is religion. Most times, we can’t help what religion we are born into. We automatically follow in our parents’ and ancestors backgrounds and beliefs—though some people fight this, believing that one’s faith should be discovered and truly appreciated instead of something we blindly follow. Religion, when done right, is also supposed to be beautiful, magical, and even breathtaking. When religion muddles love, however, it leaves a bitter sentiment—resentment almost—in the hearts and minds of those in love.
Critics here will say that there is no love greater than God’s, and that everything one does should be for Him. I agree. God is love in its purest, most unconditional form. How then, could one believe that God would ever spite His children for an act as unconditional, as uncontrollable, and as pure as falling in love just because they are of different religious backgrounds? In my heart of hearts, I don’t believe that. And I don’t think it’s committing fitna to believe so. I understand why people are so wary of interfaith relationships—they are difficult. But in this day and age, what we need is religious and cultural tolerance, acceptance, and love. To me, nothing is more beautiful than the weaving of several backgrounds to form one beautiful masterpiece. Why would anyone want to tarnish that?
God is love in its purest, most unconditional form.
My boyfriend is a second generation American “mutt” whose bloodline can be traced to several different parts of Europe: Russia, Hungary, Spain… His grandparents were raised as Orthodox Jews but his family now is more loosely Jewish though they still hold fast to their traditions and cultures. He was Bar Mitzvah’ed and went to religious class growing up. Eventually, however, he grew up and didn’t like the fact that religion was forced upon him rather than being something that he sought and embraced and fully practiced of his own volition and dedication. Today, he loosely identifies with being Jewish but believes in God in a more personal, spiritual way and has disdain for how mankind has interpreted and twisted religion throughout history to fit their needs.
I was born in a Muslim country and came here as a little girl. My whole life I was taught to fear God. In all honesty, I wish my parents raised me to love God more than to fear Him. I think if they had, then I would have possibly been more inclined to “stick to my own kind” when it came to dating and love. Of course, I can’t blame my parents for my choices, nor do I want them to be responsible when it comes to judgment and religion. I’m sure my parents’ (and most Muslim parents of blushing daughters) worst fear was me rejecting my Muslim male counterparts and instead falling for someone outside of Islam. They don’t want me to be so assimilated.
I understand their fear—they don’t want my culture and tradition to fade to the background.. They don’t want me to be so assimilated that my children don’t even think twice about the food, music, culture and more importantly family that we physically left behind but always keep within us. But what I wish they would understand is that each time they close themselves off to my boyfriend, each time they use religion as their basis for being unable to accept MY personal choice, they make my heart feel just a tiny bit more disdain for religion. And that is a terrible feeling. I don’t want to hate religion—I don’t want it to leave a bitter taste in my mouth and harden my heart.