Worth the Risk: A Mormon-Muslim Marriage
Mohamed: As a Muslim-Mormon couple, we share a lot of things. For instance we don't drink and smoke. In addition we respect each other's beliefs. Sylvia buys my tea when it is needed, just as I pay for her pork dishes when we go out.
How do you make decisions about where and how to worship?
Sylvia: I am more active in my church than Mohamed is as a Muslim. He accompanies me to church social events, and I help him celebrate major Muslim holidays such as Eid. We also have our own traditions; for example, on Christmas Eve, Mohamed reads the Mary chapters of the Koran, which is very close to the account in Luke.
Mohamed: I go to the mosque during the major holidays in Islam like the last day of Ramadan. I visit Sylvia's church when there is any social event (for food).
How have your respective faith communities embraced (or not) your decision?
Sylvia: We are lucky to live in Washington, D.C., but even when we were in Little Rock, AR neither of us encountered any negative comments or experiences. In fact, I was touched that in my congregation in Little Rock a gentleman came up to me and said he'd heard that I was married to a Muslim, and that he was a butcher and knew how to perform hallal slaughters. I also feel fortunate that I have met other Mormon-Muslim couples, and an annual Mormon-Muslim Ramadan dinner. The LDS Church does a lot of outreach to Muslim communities, and also financially supports Islamic Relief in its humanitarian work, so I feel that I am also supported institutionally. However, I still feel that interfaith marriage resources are primarily concentrated on Jewish-Christian couples.
Mohamed: I greatly appreciate Sylvia's church community for being very welcoming to me.
If you have children, how do you raise them within a multi-faith household?
Sylvia: This remains to be seen!
Mohamed: As a parent, I believe that the kids have to know both traditions by bringing them to church and the mosque and allowing them to make their decision when they grow up.
Where do you notice your faith "difference" the most? The least?
Sylvia: Probably most in certain doctrinal aspects, such as the divinity of Jesus Christ, but that does not come up in everyday conversation.
Mohamed: I notice that the main difference is in how we view Jesus. In Islam we believe in Jesus as a prophet like others. On the other hand, Christians in general don't believe in Muhammad as a prophet. The common point is that each believer hopes to go to heaven.
How did you blend your religious rituals and customs in your wedding?
Sylvia: We had civil ceremonies in both Morocco and the U.S., and so we successfully sidestepped that issue! If I had known, we should have gotten married in a mosque in the U.S. so that we'd have a marriage certificate that's American and also recognized in the Muslim world, instead of two separate marriage certificates.
Have your basic beliefs regarding matters of faith changed since marriage?
Sylvia: I like being Mohamed's guide to the Mormon world, and I feel responsible for how my testimony reflects in our relationship, and how I have to be an example for him. I think it also helps that I don't expect him to convert.