By Paul Salahuddin Armstrong
As we live in secular societies, a natural result of this, is our children will date whoever they fancy. We cannot watch over them forever. The only option available to us, is to make sure we’ve given our children a good religious education, the tools they need to help them make good choices.
If our faith means something to our children, they will wish to preserve it and pass it on. However, if our children do not believe in our faith, what difference does it make if they intermarry? In the latter situation, of more importance is the character of their partner. Even if they married someone of our faith, they still wouldn’t follow it.
I know many Muslim families who don’t really follow Islam or it’s religious laws. Although many cultural Muslims do follow certain aspects of Islam, such as eating halal meat and observing Ramadan, they do not practice Islam all year around.
People who convert to Islam or decide to start observing Islam, often do so after a period of reflection or some form of spiritual experience. The difference between these Muslims and cultural Muslims is like chalk and cheese! Such individuals have something they can pass on to their children and their children often do remain within the fold. The people I find most concerned about their children marrying out or leaving Islam, are ironically usually those who are not practising themselves!
Parents are the role models for their children. How you live will ultimately affect how your children live. If they see you’re not observing your faith, why would they? If they see your faith has little importance in your life, why would they see it as something to uphold? People who understand their faith’s importance and relevance in their lives will not compromise this – even if they intermarry.
I married a non-Muslim Chinese lady, who has very good character, she had started to believe in God, though didn’t observe any religion. I promised her, I’d never pressure her or our children to follow my religion. However, I would teach our children about my faith and other faiths, as this is part of my duty as a father. Within the first year of our marriage, my wife embraced Islam entirely of her own accord. She is now trying to explain to her family and friends the importance of faith in our Creator, eating pure food and living a clean life.
Marrying out is not a bad thing, so long as one is sure of one’s faith and marries a good person who they’re compatible with. Indeed this is one way faith communities have always expanded.
The real problem, is that today the prevailing culture that influences people of all faiths, is too materialistic and shallow. People are often only looking for cosmetic beauty, rather than really understanding the person behind this mask. Such marriages are doomed to failure from the start. In a prospective husband or wife, we need to look for someone of good character and virtue with a compatible personality, looks being far less important. But, left on their own, many young people will be easily enamoured by prospective partners, for their handsome or beautiful appearance. Yet, they may not be so beautiful inside…
Only by helping our children understand their faith and that which is truly important in life. Only through showing them a good example, can we trust they will make good decisions and have a bright future.