Muslim women in interfaith relationships
By Muneebah Dawson
2nd year UCT Social Science degree Student
We are living in a world where religious peace talks are prominent. The walls of gender inequality are encouraged to be broken down. Tradition and culture is evolving. However; in the Muslim community I still find that women are struggling to find gender equality. Women are frowned upon when they enter into interfaith marriages. Love does not ask what religion you belong to. Following is my project and its findings on Muslim women in interfaith relationships and how they feel about the inequality of Muslim marriage rights in Islam.
Rationale for Research and Research Questions
I am a Muslim woman in an interfaith relationship and due to this; my father has turned his back on me. The reason why I will be addressing the topic of interfaith marriages, where Muslim women marry non-Muslim men sometimes in clear violation of what is generally accepted as Shari’a (Islamic Law), is around the fact that Muslim women are discriminated and most times denounced when marrying a non-Muslim man however; Muslim men are respected and encouraged for marrying a non-Muslim woman of the book or from the Abrahamic faith. Muslim women live in multi-cultural and multi-religious societies with varying degrees of social cohesion. Despite the equality, dictated in the written word of the Quran (Islamic bible) between men and women in Islam, this assignment will be addressing the practical inequality. My main question and focus is to find out how Muslim women in interfaith relationships deal with the discrimination against them and to seek the truth of what the Quran says about this matter. Literature Review
The literatures I have drawn on are two journal publications; ‘My Wife, the Muslim’, by Robert A. Rosenstone, ‘Can Islam Change?’, by Ziauddin Sardar, and one book; ‘The Position of Women In Islam’ by Mohammad Ali Syed.
The basic plot of ‘My Wife, the Muslim’ is a love story. It is the harsh reality of a Muslim woman originally from Afghanistan and a Jewish man who met in California. They travelled to Europe in search of a legal marriage officer who would perform their wedding ceremony, wedding them to each other without any of them having to change their religion. The journal tells of the discrimination they faced regarding their individual faith and culture around their interfaith relationship. Rosenstone describes the inequality of both Judaism and Islam around interfaith marriages as well as the stigmas attached to them; mostly around his Muslim wife. They do eventually marry, in Japan by a Buddhist Priest who usually performs ceremonies after a Japanese person has been cremated, at the funeral. This proves the length people will go to so they can marry. They were forced to cut ties with their families and live their married life in Japan where his Muslim wife kept their interfaith marriage a secret from her family.
‘Can Islam Change?’, by Ziauddin Sardar’s main argument is that Islamic law originates from medieval times and some countries like Indonesia, Morocco and Pakistan had taken a serious look at these laws and made changes especially around women’s rights in Islam and family law including marriage. In certain countries the changes took place with the cooperation of Muslim scholars and Muslim women. An international conference took place in Kuala Lumpur around these changes and certain Muslim writers and thinkers present responded warmly by saying, “It is certainly time,” said one participant, “to change gear and concentrate on the humanistic and progressive aspects of Islam.” Furthermore Sardar writes, “Muslims worldwide are acknowledging the need for fundamental change in their perception of Islam. They are making conscious efforts to move away from medieval notions of Islamic law and to implement the vision of justice, equality and beauty that is rooted in the Koran.” All of these changes were in line...
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