I am married to a sister who is aChristian. She seems to have no interest in becoming a Muslimah, nor do her children that she has prior to our marriage. I come from a Christian background myself but I love Allah, Muhammad (pbuh) and Islam. There was so much conflict in the home about pictures, music, etc. that I decided to separate from her. Was I wrong to do so? How can this matter finally be resolved?
It is really very difficult to comment on whether or not your decision to live a life of separation from your wife was the right one or not. The innumerable number of factors involved in such relations makes it impossible to give a generalized opinion regarding such decisions. Nevertheless, it is my opinion that, as a principle, it should be avoided as far as possible, to sever any interpersonal relations solely due to religious differences, except in cases where maintaining such relations is likely to entice a person into doing something, which is clearly prohibited in Islam1 The reason that I hold this opinion is that a person can only propagate and convince others regarding what he himself holds to be true by maintaining healthy interpersonal relations with others. Severing these relations, in turn, closes all doors of healthy communication with these relations and thereby greatly reduces the chances of effective propagation and da`wah.
I do appreciate that sometimes it can become extremely difficult to tolerate the deviations of our loved ones from the path of our Lord and Creator. I also understand that under such circumstances, one is sometimes greatly tempted to break all interaction with such loved ones, who do not give the required importance to submission to the directives of the Lord and His prophets. However, it is extremely important to remember that our behavior and attitude toward such relations may play a deciding role in attracting them to what we ourselves hold to be the truth and the path of eternal bliss. I have practically seen that sometimes mere love and affection can persuade a person in agreeing to and doing things, which he may otherwise would never have done.
In view of the role that healthy, respectful and affectionate interpersonal relations can play in da`wah – i.e. calling to the way of your Lord – I am of the opinion that a person should always try to avoid confrontation and should always try to find points of common interest and conviction. This would, insha’Allah, not only keep the doors of healthy communication open but would, in time, also create empathy for our beliefs and actions in the hearts of our loved ones2.
In my opinion, therefore, no difference of opinion is big enough to justify the breaking-up of any relations. A person should try to maintain and strengthen his/her relations so that the doors of propagating the truth may remain open and accessible. It is, indeed, a difficult path, but I assure you that a burning desire of saving one’s loved ones from the wrath of God and empathy toward the opinion of others can greatly help us tread it.
Do not forget, my dear brother, that before converting to Islam, you were in, more or less, the same position as your wife now is in. You should not be offended by her disregard toward the directives of Islam. On the contrary, you should try to resolve all the differences in opinion with her in such manners that are most appropriate and that evidence your love, respect and affection toward her and your family. Your love, respect and affection shall, insha’Allah, greatly contribute in developing in her a positive and a more sympathetic attitude toward Islam. You should never give up. The consequences of giving up can be too grave for your loved ones. Pray to God for their guidance. Do not forget that it is ultimately God’s decision as to who deserves to be guided and who does not.
29th July 2000
- As far as the position of music and that of pictures is concerned, please refer to two of my earlier responses to questions on related topics. Some of the pertinent responses on the topic are: “Pictures and Photography” and “About Music and Musical Instruments“. [↩]
- However, such attitude would require you to develop a good understanding of Islam and its directives. [↩]