Westminster Interfaith: Promoting Dialogue Between People of Faith

The agency of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Westminster for Interreligious Dialogue

Westminster Interfaith Newsletter

Issue 64 – November 2009

Muslim-Christian couple relationships

Ten thoughts

1. When we met we both felt we had so much in common. The way that Muslims and Christians are seen as being so separate just made me feel closer.

2. Arguing isn't a bad thing, so long as you learn to manage the damage and use it constructively. An honest argument is part of getting to understand each other better.

3. If you've got to compete, try competitive listening. Which of you is better at hearing and reporting back the other's point of view? Needs lots of practice!

4. Instead of being angry, tell your partner what you are scared of. Ask them to do the same.

5. Everybody needs to feel close and connected sometimes, and sometimes separate and independent. In a long-term relationship you need both. The thing is to recognise that your needs are the same but not always at the same time.

6. It's a balancing act: family, partner, community, all pulling different ways. I've found it helps if you tell people what that feels like, and that you don't always get it right but that you're trying.

7. Remember what brought you together in the first place?

8. Imagine your relationship is a shared project. Try drawing a 'Mr and Mrs plc' building site plan. What bits of the project is your partner taking care of already, (anything you hadn't noticed?) What's being done by outside contractors? What details would you each like to add?

9. Draw each others' last three generations of family tree. What patterns are there?

10. Sometimes the way we see identity is more about holding a position than about belief. If the position I'm holding doesn't work so well, can my beliefs help me shift to a more useful position?

Inter-Religious Marriages among Muslims - Negotiating Religion and Social Identity in Family and Community.
Editor: Abdullahi An-Naim. Publisher: Global Media Publications, New Delhi. Year: 2005. Pages: 302.

This book brings together three studies of Muslim male and female intermarriage with non-Muslims in different contexts: metropolitan Mumbai, Senegal and Istanbul. As An-Nai'm says in his introduction the fact of marriages taking place against received rules of normative shariah suggests that Muslims who enter into such marriages have their own, alternate understandings of Islam, which need to be explored.

In an increasingly inter-connected world, such cross-community marriages are on the increase, and this calls for new, contextually relevant understandings of shariah on the subject to be developed that, contrary to traditional notions, are firmly rooted in gender equality and a more accommodative approach to people of other faiths.

You can read a more detailed review at http://www.qantara.de/webcom/show_article.php/_c-478/_nr-453/i.html

Extracts from the Muslim-Christian Newsletter, November 2009

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