I want to present a Muslim's response and after that my own reponse to this question of marriages between Muslims and Christians. These two postings were written at the occasion that this question was (again) asked on the Islamic newsgroup.

 Newsgroups: soc.religion.islam
Date: Mon Jan 15 13:29:04 EST 1996

** ... in love with a woman. This woman was the kind of person you've been
carefully looking for. She cares about you, is smart, funny and mature
enough. But she is christian which is not a problem in the first
instance from an islamic point of view. **

According to the Qur'an it is permissible for a Muslim man to marry CHASTE
women of the book. I have heard one scholar emphasize that not all
christians are lawful -- only those who have never fornicated and who
guard their modesty are lawful.

I would suggest that you reevaluate your criteria for a wife: rather than
looking for someone who "cares about you, is smart, funny and mature
enough", seek the most Allah-conscious individual you can find and marry
her if this seems appropriate after praying the guidance prayer.

I would predict that, unless the woman you describe accepts Islam, you
will either compromise your Islam or endure significant hardship,
particularly with regard to the children. Of course you should explain
the importance of Islam to your children. Naturally, what you explain
will be in direct contradiction to what your wife explains. You will be
left with no alternative but to compromise the message of Islam and face
the consequences or live with great tension.

I believe you are making a huge mistake in considering marrying this woman
unless she accepts Islam. For whatever it is worth, I am an American who
accepted Islam. My wife was Christian and accepted Islam, masha Allah.
We have children, and there was great tension during the period in which
she was still Christian. My brother also accepted Islam, but his
Christian wife did not. The difficulties, particularly with children and
in this society, are difficult to exaggerate.

Many of your Muslim sisters are seeking marriage. Marry one.

You asked for advice. That's all this is. It may very well be worth no
more than its price.

Wassalam.

And I was following this up with:

From: Jochen Katz 
Date: Tue, 16 Jan 1996 13:58:22 -0500 (EST)
  
  In article <4de6dg$38j@usenet.srv.cis.pitt.edu>, abuanm@aol.com (AbuAnM) writes:
 
...
  
  I believe you are making a huge mistake in considering marrying this woman
  unless she accepts Islam.  For whatever it is worth, I am an American who
  accepted Islam.  My wife was Christian and accepted Islam, masha Allah. 
  We have children, and there was great tension during the period in which
  she was still Christian.  My brother also accepted Islam, but his
  Christian wife did not. The difficulties, particularly with children and
  in this society, are difficult to exaggerate.  
  
I agree completely with this response. Though not yet married myself, 
I do know a few people who are in this situation of a Muslim-Christian 
relationship.

And it very difficult. In the time of first romantic love you may overlook
or underestimate the force of different basic convictions, which will 
eventually kill your relationship (at least with a high probability).

Why? Well, if one of the spouses at least is nominal and doesn't take 
his/her religion seriously it might work out, but if both are devout and
pious, this spells disaster. 

And exactly the issue of children will be the greatest hurdle. Both faiths
expect their followers to raise their children into a strong faith and
educate them with their religious values. 

And the problem is the following: Whoever is the successful one, i.e. the one
whom the children eventually will follow in religion, will unavoidably make
the other parent a failure in his own eyes and in the eyes of his/her religious
community. Can you see the bitterness develop? "You are the reason that my
children will go to hell..." and all of that. Would you be happy if your
children turn out Christians? Would your girl-friend be happy if your children
turn out Muslims? And that is nothing you have trouble with for a season,
that will stick with you for the time of your life. 

Also, it is important that parents are of one purpose in most things of the
education of their children, otherwise the children will be real quick to
learn using one parent against the other to get their will. 

How do you spend your common money in respect of giving to charity etc?
How happy will you be about any money that goes to Christian missions?
How happy will your wife be about the money you want to give to the Mosque?

And I could go on in many areas of life. 

My advise would be: End it now. It has no real future in happiness. You will
either fight until one submits to the religion of the other or you will fight
all your married life and you will not be the joy to each other that you are
supposed to be.

And even children [whether they are already born or just the topic/thought of
them] will be a curse to your marriage instead of a blessing from the Lord,
as they are intended to be. 

I have seen to many tragedies of this sort. And, I think any one of them
is one too much, and with some pondering of the issues could have been
avoided. I know it is very hard to seperate from a person you love, but
believe me, it is much easier than later live with a person you grow to
'hate' because of your constant disagreements. 

I hope these thoughts were helpful. 
And by the way [some think that is good but] I do NOT believe in 
spreading any religion by marrying "un"believers [in the sense of my religion].
I do not have any guarantee that the partner will indeed change, but I will
have nearly a 100% guarantee that it will bring much grief. 

Warm regards,

Jochen Katz

I only talked about the relationship between a Muslim man and a Christian woman here since that was the original question and this is also the most common constellation. But obviously the same holds for a Christian man and a Muslim woman.

If you are in such a situation - and I know it is very hard - please do not hesitate to contact me. I have contact to other couples who have either been in this situation or still are. It might be helpful to you if you can talk it over with some other people who have experience in this situation.

You may do so by sending an email to dialog@answering-islam.org .


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