An open letter to Muslims considering an interracial marriage

noor-darius

Breaking cultural barriers through marriage seems to be the new boogie monster. It is a deviance that is often spoken about but almost rarely executed. Tales of being disowned, dishonored, and doomed are oftentimes the climactic focus of such unorthodox behavior. Undeniably, such horrific tales do evidently exist, however the outcome is not always so disastrous.

As a 22-year-old Lebanese/Syrian Muslimah that is currently ever so happily married to an African American Muslim, I will be the first to testify that breaking cultural barriers through interracial marriage is actually a beautiful “deviance.”

I met my husband Darius at the age of 21. At the time, he had been a part-time employee at my local gym and was working as an opera singer at the cathedral in Washington, D.C. Darius was a devoted apostolic Christian and had come from a very strong religious background with little to almost no knowledge of Islam. The only exposure he had with Islam was through media and few distant, formal interactions. His experience was so limited that it never grasped his attention until a slightly traumatizing interaction changed his fate forever.

As a fitness enthusiast, I am always at the gym. Coincidentally, I happened to train at the same gym Darius worked at and though I never paid him much attention, it was ironic how Allah had destined for us to meet. It was a late night and the gym was almost empty. My best friend Tatiana had decided to bring her volleyball with hopes that we would find the basketball court empty for us to play in. The odds were in our favor and Tatiana and I rushed to claim the basketball court before a stampede of men could attempt to do so.

“Great, my ball is deflated,” Tatiana growled when we finally finished setting up. “I’m really not trying to go up there and ask to pump it,” she huffed slightly eluding for me to go do it.

I rolled my eyes and walked to the front desk and there Darius was, eyes locked on his phone paying me no attention and overtly neglecting his job as though he was just begging to get fired that day.

“Excuse me,” I impatiently waved. “Would you mind pumping this volleyball for me?” I asked.

He calmly looked up at me, got up, got the pump from under the desk then proceeded to figure out how to pump it. We had an awkward moment of silence that was quickly broken by the soft murmur of “So, what are you working on today?”

Darius is a very soft-spoken man and contrasting to my crazy and loud self, it was extremely hard to make out the words he was saying at the moment. As obvious confusion painted my face, I replied with a high-pitched “Huh?”

My loud voice seemed to have frazzled him as he replied with an even softer “Never mind.” Being the sassy annoying person that I am, I suggested that he enunciate more so that his speech would have more clarity and in the midst of my obnoxious suggestion a loud “BOOM” almost thrusted me to the ground.

My face was flushed as shock overcame me, the few faces at the gym were giggling as they saw what had happened. In the midst of our meaningless conversation, Darius had managed to forget that he had been pumping the volleyball and consequently over-pumped it until it popped in my face!

Luckily, I wasn’t hurt. But I was traumatized. Today, Darius and I laugh about it and often joke about how nervous he was speaking to me for the first time. But had it not been for such a dramatic interaction, I would have probably never looked toward Darius or even tried to get to know him.

I mean, think about it, what interest did I have as a Muslimah, to try and speak to a random guy that worked at the gym whom I knew absolutely nothing about, was evidently not of my culture, and surely wasn’t Muslim?

As I was leaving the gym later that night, Darius had stopped me one more time to apologize for causing such a scene and as my trauma began to wear off, I smiled and told him to be more careful next time.

I was just about to exit the gym when he inquisitively asked me: “Why do you always cover your hair?”

This was the conversation that had set the stage for what was to be our destined future. I sat back down and explained to him hijab and as we dove deeper into the conversation, I realized how little he knew about Islam. I explained the basic philosophy of Islam and tried to link it to Christianity, and though he had very deep conviction in his belief system at the time, he had naturally gravitated toward the conversation and became curious about Islam.

I had to cut the conversation short and as I was leaving, he asked me to give him a Quran and if I would be interested in reading his Bible. Despite explaining to him that I was well-versed in the theological aspect of Christianity, I still respectfully took it and gave him a Quran the next day.

A few months had passed since our conversation and on November 27, 2015 at Friday prayers, I learned that the same man I had spoken to a few months ago was taking his shahada.

I was overcome with joy and shock as I could not believe what I was seeing. I recited “SubhanaAllah” throughout the entire ride back home as I could not grasp how Allah had set the stage to guide this man through something as trivial as popping a volleyball in my face.

A few months later, that same man approached me and asked to speak to my father, and though I was extremely timid about a non-Arab man asking for my hand, I became very much interested in Darius. He prayed istikarah and I did as well, and despite my father’s doubtful preconceived notions, he LOVED Darius for the sole reason that Darius loved Islam and grew very knowledgeable in his conviction in Allah SWT.

Fast-forward a few months later, we got married Islamically through the same masjid and our journey has been nothing but bliss. Now, this is not to say that everyone who attempts an interracial marriage will have the same outcome, but I hope this does inspire you to allow the opportunity for interracial marriage despite cultural barriers.

Marriage is a beautiful thing and if you assess the most crucial aspects of your potential spouse on worldly things such as culture and wealth, you are truly missing out on having a gem that will take you to Jannah, God-willing. Always set your standards high in terms of deen and character and be more lenient with the things from this dunyah — such as culture and wealth — as I can truly testify to the fact that Allah SWT does bless a union that is done for the sake of Him.

For the Muslims trying to marry outside their culture but are dealing with tenacious family members, I will give my most blunt advice: If your union is being denied in the name of culture, and not deen, then the fault is not on you if you proceed with the marriage.

Often times, we are guilted with the concept of pleasing our parents in Islam that we are told we are doomed if we disobey them when it comes to marriage.

“We are guilted with the concept of pleasing our parents in Islam that we are told we are doomed if we disobey them when it comes to marriage.”

A hadith by Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) states that no man can ever enter Jannah with even an atom’s worth of arrogance in his heart. This means that by assuming a culture is superior to another, our families are committing a grave sin and we should be the first to correct it by normalizing interracial interactions and marriages.

Islam teaches us that no race is superior to the other and that does not exclude marriage whatsoever. The Prophet himself married from different tribes and ethnicities and if he is the most superior and beloved of all mankind, what makes you and me so worthy to only marry exclusively from one particular region?

Yes, treat your parents first and foremost with the utmost kindness and respect, but recognize that even they are not infallible. Nevertheless, make sure that the union you are about to sign off to is worthy of such a battle, make sure that his or her deen is the focal point of your union, and lastly, make sure that the beautiful deen manifests in the character of the individual so that you may raise righteous children that can also combat the bigotry and racism we battle with every day in our cultures.

You will inevitably deal with demonizing stares and empty chitters of hurtful gossip and hatred, but I promise you, that if your union is truly for the pleasure of Allah, you will not be affected by any of the bigots in your way.

Be confident in your union and positive energy will transcend all the negativity. It is truly infectious when a couple loves for the sake of Allah and even those who once demonized your union will feel the love and mawadah.

“The only way racism will end is if we allow for the new generation of our offspring to embody and love different cultures and ethnicities.”

The only way racism will end is if we allow for the new generation of our offspring to embody and love different cultures and ethnicities.

Love hard, love deep, and allow for beautiful interracial unions to destroy the ugly institutions of our cultures.

Sincerely,

Noor Kabbani 

18 Comments

  1. Beautiful ending. May Allah bless their marriage life and all Muslims who want to get married for the sake of Allah and are considering interracial marriage.

  2. Super happy for both of you; may you be blessed with health, wealth, and happiness eternally! :)

  3. Abdulrahman

    Nice to hear such stories but the reality is the vast majority of such marriages never last long. Reason is cultural differences. Just look at the stats.

    • Can you show the stat ? I’m Arabic married to an Indian. It’s been 7 years now and inshaallah many more years to come…

    • I am Lebanese and my husband is a half Jamaican/half Panamanian black man born in NY…..

      We’ve been married for 13 years and have 5 beautiful children (one of which we jist found out on Monday Feb. 6, has a brain tumor. She was operatwd on bur hasnr woken up, so please we ae asking everyone for prayers).

      My point is: how long is long, especially when ive seen 75% of the same culture marriages around me last 5 years or less…..

      UmQasim

      Gofundme.com/ruqayyahsrecovery

  4. Hi! I really enjoyed reading this – especially the second half of your letter. I’m curious to hear your thoughts on interfaith marriage and if you’d consider writing a piece on that as well because I know that that’s another issue many young Muslims face today, wondering if it’s acceptable in Islam & if they should sacrifice a meaningful relationship because of traditional parents. Let me know what you think!

  5. Abu Saeed Tim Abbott

    Great article… Two points:

    1. Suitability really is important. The fact that he had a well mannered background and is your opposite in personality is very important to the narrative. I’ve been married to my non African American wife for almost 20 years and while we have immense deen I connections, without the personality connection it would be hard to make it work.

    2. Get ready for increased scrutiny and it’s beautiful if his laid back pleasantries rub off on you and your tackle the world and write intriguing blog posts rub off on him. He will benefit from your business savvy and you will benefit from his serenity.

    Good luck and may Allah increase your love for each other and service to the deen… ameen

    Abu Saeed

  6. If we treat each other as Muslims, according to the Quran and the Sunnah, then no culture will ever matter.

    Happy for you guys. My wife and i are from two different cultures. But since we fear Allah (Subhanahu wa T’aalaa) in all our actions as Muslims, our marriage is beautiful alhamdulil Allah.

  7. So go ahead with the marriage against their will if you can accuse your parents of racism. Idiotic advice and an easy way to add a pious twist to your selfishness.

    • Really? Why name calling? Can you not disagree without being rude

  8. Ibrahim Sunday

    Ma shaa Allah ,mai Allah bless you am also interested in marrying a pious lady from outside Uganda ie those ends of Arab countries. Mai Allah make it easy for me

  9. Joe Dobson

    Salams.

    Someone referred to “stats” above. I’d be interested in knowing what “stats” exist in relation to divorce and mixed marriages within Muslim communities in the west and mono cultural marriages within these same Muslim communities. I doubt there are any comprehensive “stats” in existence.

    The article does imply that marriages between one partner who has converted would be typical of inter cultural marriage. yet there are far more black “born Muslims” than recent converts.

    I do think though that the cultural differences between those of different ancestry can be huge and a challenge to marriages even where families are supportive.

  10. Badaruddeen Aliyu

    Ma sha Allah! A very beautiful story, i hope this changes some peoples perceptions towards inter racial marriages.

  11. Mashallah your story is amazing i wish you to the best in the future.

  12. I’m south african part indian part irish…shes russian …at under 35 she proposed to me at over 55…..the saying that love is blind is not correct ….is sees better brighter but without prejudice….

  13. Nice article, but the interpretation of the hadith you mentioned is very incorrect. The hadith is “no man can ever enter Jannah with even an atom’s worth of arrogance in his heart” applies to all types of arrogance. The way it is written infers that it only applies to culture is incorrect and pushes an agenda that is not the meaning of the hadith.

    To all readers, interracial marriages require a great deal of tolerance and patience between the couple as well as the families involved, mainly because of differences of opinion and cultures. This applies to the times before and during marriage.

    When you are going to oppose your parents, remember to do this with the greatest of respect. The worst thing to do is that in the quest of “love” you end up breaking ties for the people that raised you.

    This article is a success story and describes success, but the reality is that this is an outlier and a minority story. My main problem is that it only offers advice until the Nikkah, but no advice for during marriage. I am not 100% sure about this, but the writer seems to be married for less than a year. This implies that the writer is still in “honeymoon” mode. Therefore, this article is not representative of what is going to happen after marriage, which is what marriage is really all about.

    This article is also written in such a way that you need to “oppose” and “prove people wrong”. All you need is to be patient, have taqwa and know that if your intention is correct, Allah will always be with you. If people oppose you, don’t just ignore them, make dua for them and yourself because that is the better thing to do.

    I do wish the writer the best in her marriage.

  14. Interesting points, But it is important to remember that alot of these same issues between spouses come up between identical cultures as well. All marriages require a great deal of patience and tolerance. I was introduced islamically to many different African American sisters over a period of 6 years of trying to get married. We were just incompatible. Allah blessed me to meet my wife. Do we have disagreements, yes this is part of life. The great error here is thinking that race and compatibility are mutually exclusive. That is the core and erroneous argument that this author tackles quite well. Because once married the cultural love bond will not stand up against the individual personalities, and quite obviously the uprightness, goodness or evil of characters involved. Like someone said above fleeting love will perish. Guess what, so will cultural bonds, wealth bonds, physical attraction bonds will all run out. And what you will be left with is how to be a good husband, a good human being, a good Muslim. Its really easy, but because it is so the mind is repelled.

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