Thursday, June 28, 2007

When an intercultural marriage goes horribly wrong

Why Molly ran

When 12-year-old Molly Campbell disappeared from her Scottish home last year, it was feared she had been kidnapped by her father to be married against her will in Pakistan. But, like her name, the truth wasn't quite as it seemed. Cathy Scott-Clark and Adrian Levy report

I've been following the Misbah/Molly story on and off for quite some time now, and this article definately provides a lot of much needed background.

But even more than being the sad story of a broken family, it speaks of the difficulties that intercultural/interfaith couples face. This marriage started out between a nominal christian/secular young white british girl, and a nominal muslim/secular young pakistani british man. Where as the usual m.o. is that the husband will practice more and become more conservative as he grows older, in this case the wife feels drawn to Islam. Maybe it was a way to feel connected to and accepted by her husband's family and culture, but for whatever reason, her embrace of Islam draws her husband back to practicing the faith. While I can't tell for sure what was going on in her mind from the article, it seemed like she longed for acceptance, but didn't really have Islam in her heart. Islam can seem oppresive if you don't embrace it with all your heart, and from the article, it looks like Louise was crushed by it.

Women who embrace Islam through their relationship/marriage with a muslim man are often subjects of suspicion. Did they convert because their husbands influenced them? How will their faith hold up if things go south with their husbands? Heck, even those who were muslim before marriage are still viewed under a cloud of suspicion. Alhamdulilah, I've seen women become increadbly devout in their practices, content with Islam as a way of life. And unfortunately, I've seen women be crushed far too often for my liking.

When an american woman marries a muslim man, she will inevitably be told to watch Not Without my Daughter. We roll our eyes, sigh and try to change the subject. We're intellegent, independent, and think we know what we're getting ourselves into. Unfortunately, we often times don't.

So, I propose that american women who want to marry muslim men read this article. We've all heard the nasty things muslim men can do to western women. But how often do we examine ourselves and ponder on the problems our issues may create? Here now is an (extreme) example of what western women can do to themselves if they're not prepared for an intercultural/interfaith relationship. inshaAllah ta'ala, nothing like this will befall myself or any of my friends in similar situations, but one never knows

Also, on a random side note, either Louise or the article messed up a wee bit on the hajj thing. Hajj isn't during Ramadan. You don't (have to) fast during hajj. Maybe they made umrah during Ramadan, but umrah ain't hajj.


Anonymous said...

What a horrible, horrible story! I feel so awful for this broken woman. It's clear that she was damaged entering her marriage, that she'd had her trust broken and her emotions trampled on again and again, and no wonder she fell apart. I do think it's good her kids don't have to be living in that situation trying to make sense of it and find their own stability-- I agree the intercultural issues made life much harder, but I do think it's worth noting that she obviously entered the marriage in a fragile state.

rahma said...

That is a very good point. I don't want to make sweeping generalizations about american women who marry muslim men, but from what I've seen, a lot of us have a ton of emotional baggage as well. The intercultural/interreligious conflicts just exasterbate an already fragile person's problems.

Anna said...

Interesting point. Some people think that through travel and/or marriage that another culture or country will solve all their problems. I really feel for the woman in this article--she was just trying to be happy...

Blindly jumping into an intercultural marriage can have such devastating effects...In my case, after 10 years, my husband and I are very happy...But it nearly broke us by year 3. (I am a Western woman, and he is from a country that borders the Middle East.)

Laneris said...

Intercultural marriages are difficult in their nature.
For a successful marriage, partners from different cultures should be flexible, compromising, and committed to their relationship. Commitment refers to an intention to maintain a relationship in spite of the difficulties that arise. If these three ingredients are in use, then couples will often find ways to make their relationships work.