We can no longer be together. My parents will never accept you because you are Muslim. Those words are difficult to hear. Yet, I am sure we have all been in a similar situation or know of someone who has.
Religion seems to play a very important role when deciding whether or not we want to spend the rest of our lives with someone. And when family is involved, it makes it all the more difficult to choose from the heart it seems.
I remember going through this tough time and confiding in a friend about it. She told me: “You are Muslim, he is Christian…read Half of a Yellow Sun and you’ll understand why his parents are reacting this way”. So of course, I bought the book and did not put it down until I had read every last page. Once again, Adichie did a great job in describing the effect of the Biafra war on Nigerian society. I loved the way she focused on one family and described the way the war brought some together and tore others apart.
Did it answer my question as to why I’d been rejected because of my religion? Unfortunately not. I was a bit disappointed about that. Here I was thinking I would finally get it and be able to move on but instead I had more questions running through my head: do people really think all Muslims are extremists? Will we all ever be able to forgive each other someday and live in peace? I am cognizant of the fact that after the dust has settled (and in some cases not even) it is very difficult to put the past in the past. We lose family members because of wars over ethnicity, religion, resources, land and that is hard to forget. Then I think of Rwandans and the whole strategy that was set up after the genocide in the 90s to allow Hutus and Tutsis to work together towards forgiveness for the atrocities that were committed at the time (even though this can prove to be a difficult thing to do in situations where the fighting continues).
I understand that some of us would rather be with someone who shares the same beliefs. You want to be able to relate to someone at all levels. Isn’t it easier? You don’t have to worry about what religion your children will be, whether or not you will celebrate Christmas or Eid el Adha, or whether you will be disappointing your parents. My father would be the first to advocate being with a person from the same background. It’s just easier, he says. I grew up in a family where both my parents were Muslim yet my mother never let us miss Christmas with gifts and a tree! A family in which my siblings and I ended up defining our own personal relationships with God, not necessarily believing in the same things our parents believed in.
It all starts with how WE deal with things. I can read all the books in the world and I will still have a hard time understanding it. One thing is for sure, we should stay open minded, TOLERANT and never use stereotypes when it comes to something as personal as religion because in the end, we all have the same God.
What do you all think of interfaith marriages and the impact religious wars have had on them?