You keep your faith, I'll keep mine?
There are people who abhor the notion of converting for the sake of marriages. Whether or not the party who converted truly believes in his/her new faith isn't relevant here; If it was voluntary and a personal choice, great. If not, that's another issue altogether.
The bottom line is that these people simply do not believe that two people have to be of the same faith in order to get married. That it is far from the epitome of racial harmony and acceptance that others celebrate it to be. To them, it is oppressive, and a prime example of how divisive and restrictive religion can be. They ask: why can't two people be together unless they are of the same faith?
I had the the same question when I was younger and an atheist/agnostic. I didn't get why religion should even matter, considering that it was such a minor part of life. A weekly visit to the church, temple, or mosque. Why should it even matter that much? When a Christian friend of mine told me that her cell leader opposed her relationship with her Buddhist boyfriend, I rolled my eyes.
This isn't just a question for Muslims, it applies to other faith as well. I'm in no way suggesting that I'm an expert in this, but these are just some of my thoughts and reflections having been through the journey of converting and advising others (of different faiths) on the same.
[Disclaimer: I wasn't a Christian before I converted. I identify more as an atheist/agnostic.
Photo credit: colleenday.wordpress.com]
Having the same faith as a couple is incredibly practical.
It saves a lot of disagreements because guided by the same beliefs, a couple of the same faith are likely to be on the same page regarding many aspects of their lives - be it how to raise their children, how they deal with familial or financial problems etc.
There will be a lot of decisions you will have to make as a couple in life. You'll be surprised how different two individuals think, even if they find themselves to be highly compatible. I've argued with Aizat over the dumbest things, like whether having dark soya sauce or kichap would be more important in our kitchen. Or the usual 'how often we got to meet your friends and your parents vs mine' or 'Umrah first or honeymoon first'. These can all escalate to a fight!
When two people have the same goal and follow the same set of guidelines (by subscribing to the same faith), you avoid a lot of that mess. The more aligned you are with your religion and with each other, the less friction. It just makes for seamless decision making at home.
Imagine buying a piece of furniture from IKEA. And it does not come with a manual. He insists on fixing A to B before C, but you believe that C should be fixed to A first, before B. There is going to be a lot of arguments of "Remember how I was right last time?", "I am the smarter one, so listen to me". Sure, you might figure it out eventually together, but egos were bruised and feelings were hurt. You finish building the product feeling frustrated and carrying a lot of pent up resentment.
[Full credit goes to Aizat and my father-in-law for this wonderful analogy. They came up with it while Aizat and I were fixing up some IKEA furniture and semi-yelling at each other]
Things would be different if both of you had a manual that you refer to. Things are laid out clearly and you fix it up in no time at all. Most importantly, you complete it feeling happy and proud of each other. And that manual for us Muslims is the Qur'an and the teachings of the prophet.
This is not to say that couples of the same faith don't argue at all. We still argue. But it happens a lot lesser than it has to. Even when we do, it is easier to move our egos out of the way. In Islam, for example, we are often reminded of the status of our spouses and that does so much to remove the hostility. Every time I argue with Aizat, I am reminded of how Allah smiles upon a couple who looks at each other with love. If that doesn't do it, my anger always subsides after performing a prayer, when I find myself praying for our marriage to be blessed with sakinah, mawaddah, warahmah - absently, out of pure habit. It does so much to soothe and ease my heart. That face I couldn't stand just a while ago suddenly seems so endearing and lovable, pitiful even!
Which is a greater love?
It is naive to think that with love, two people of the same faith can live respectfully and without issue. I would think it is definitely possible if both parties aren't too devout or pious. But as long as one party is more devout in his/her faith, there will surely be friction and disappointment. Put yourself in the shoes of that individual. If he/she truly believes in his/her faith, wouldn't it break his/her heart knowing deep down inside that there will be a chance that he/she will not be reunited with his/her spouse in eternal paradise? If one truly loves his/her spouse, would they do anything in their power to convince them of the path they believe to be true?
To respect the other's decision and not impose on them is true love. But who's to say that wanting what you think is best for them isn't? It's hard to debate which is the greater love when we often find ourselves exclusively in one camp or the other, incapable of seeing things from the other perspective. But we can all agree that it wouldn't be right to dismiss either of them in favor of the other.
The dynamics of each couple varies greatly; there will always be exceptions to every rule and that's the beauty of it. For every story we hear from a couple who shares the same faith, we get another of how couples of differing faiths got by in life swimmingly. And that's awesome! Why is there a need to validate one and put down the other? Ultimately, the decision lies with the couple.It would be nice if we could just celebrate the diversity and appreciate the journey couples have gone through to make their marriages what they are today.
We do not have to make rigid, unyielding stands on what love between couples should or should not be. There shouldn't be a standard for love because everyone loves differently.