Conversion for Marriage

Conversion for Marriage April 17, 2023

The intolerant practice of religious conversion for love and marriage should have no place in today’s pluralistic society. Instead, youths should be taught to share and respect with equality in an interfaith marriage.

Segregated Societies

Communities used to live in their own silos. They mingled with like-minded people, ate the same kind of food, and followed the same faith. However, with modern advances and social media, bridges are being built between these silos. Interfaith marriages will lead to changes in today’s society and its practices much faster.

Increase in Interfaith Marriages

For a long time, people married people of the same faith. Those norms are now changing. According to Pew and in Dr. Amin’s surveys (38% Hindu, 45% Muslim), about 40% of Christians, Jews, Hindus, Muslims, and others marry interfaith. However, many scriptures restrict such interfaith marriages. The “interfaith” restriction is solved by converting the intended spouse.

This article is written against the practice of religious conversion as part of the marriage ritual. The one who asks for religious conversion is sometimes referred to here as the perpetrator, while the one who is persuaded to convert is described as the victim.

Three Examples of Jewish-Christian Marriages (Video)

Chelsea Clinton, a Christian-Methodist, married Marc Mezvinsky, a Jewish man. Here, no one has changed his faith, and the couple leads a happy married life.

Ivanka Trump converted to Judaism and married Jared Kushner. Here, apparently, the couple lives a happy married life. The reason for Ivanka to change her religion for marriage is not clear.

Joseph Reyes married Rebecca Shapiro, got circumcised, converted to Judaism and agreed to raise his children in the Jewish faith. However, Joseph Reyes later changed his mind and baptized his daughter against the wishes of his Jewish wife. This led to a legal dispute between the couple and ended in a painful divorce. In a more ideal world, Joseph should not have allowed himself to be converted for appearances, even under duress, in order to please his beloved.

A Prenuptial Agreement is a Must to Get Married in a Catholic Church (Video)

The Catholic faith requires that the non-Christian party convert to Christianity or sign a prenuptial agreement that the children will be raised only in the Catholic faith. Many other Christian faiths also have varying restrictions on interfaith marriages (see Maya’s experience).

This message was given at Western Institute for Social Research, Berkeley, California.

Conversion is a Must to Marry a Muslim (Video)

Expectations are based on the Koran and Hadith:

  • A Jewish or Christian woman does not have to convert to marry a Muslim man, but the children from that marriage must be raised in Islam
  • Muslim women cannot marry a non-Muslim man
  • A Muslim cannot marry a Hindu (exceptions)

Let us look at the experience of Myra Farooqi, published in the New York Times. She is a Pakistani woman who had a romantic relationship with a Hindu man in San Francisco for 9 months.

On the fifth date, she said, “You (Hindu) need to understand that the only way forward is for you to convert (to Islam).” Apparently, she assumed that everyone knew about the teachings of the Koran:

  • Koran 2:221: You shall not marry pagan women unless they accept the faith. A believing slave is better than an idolatress, even though she may please you. (for men only, does not apply to woman)
  • Koran 60:11: Do not maintain your marriage with disbelieving women (no zina)

The couple kissed, danced and drank. She also had several previous relationships. Obviously, she conveniently ignored what she should not do as a Muslim woman.

  • Koran 24:30: Lower your gaze. Admonish believing men to avert their eyes from temptation and restrain their carnal desires

Eventually, Hindu refused the conversion request and Farooqi ended the relationship in a heartbeat. Apparently, conversion was the priority, not love for each other.

Conversion is Mandated by Law or by Society

According to a Freedom and Marriage survey conducted by Hiddush, a respected U.S based education and advocacy partnership between Israel and the Diaspora, there are “strict restrictions on marriage” in Israel. Similarly strict marriage restrictions were also present in most Muslim-majority countries (62%, 33/53; “freedom of marriage” in only 6%, 3/53). A few Christian (7%, 8/120) majority states, but no Hindu/Buddhist (0%, 0/14) majority states, had such strict restrictions.

Severe marriage restrictions in Muslim (33/53; freedom of religion in only 3/53), Christian (8/120) and Hindu/Buddhist (0/14) majority nations

In Malaysia, if a Hindu wants to marry a Muslim, he/she must convert to Islam under Malaysian laws (see details). In countries like Pakistan and Bangladesh, there are no laws against interfaith marriages but a Pakistani friend told the author that one would not find a single “Hindu”-Muslim couple in the whole of Bangladesh and Pakistan. And even if such an interfaith couple were found in these countries, they would be hunted down and killed.

The author has found that almost all (more than 90%?) Muslims expect religious conversion of the intended spouse. This rate is much lower among Christians. Apparently, Islam is far from the necessary reform in terms of tolerating interfaith marriages.

Marriage of Equality and in-Equality

The author has been married for 45 years and has found that trying to dominate your spouse leads to painful situations, but if you truly respect your spouse and are equal, the relationship will blossom like heaven on earth. The author wonders how dominating a spouse (who requires a religious conversion for marriage) in an interfaith relationship can bring eternal joy in a married life. In the case of Joseph and Rebecca , the results were disastrous.


Unfortunately, in most cases, the expectation of religious conversion is not disclosed in the early days of getting to know each other. When it comes to true love, it is imperative to disclose this expectation in the early stages of the relationship. Ideally, people should learn to respect their future spouse for who they are and not use the romantic period to love-proselytize. Let a rose be a rose and do not try to make it a carnation.

The Downside of the Conversion Practice

Usually, the most intolerant and rigid party wins by converting the tolerant and pluralistic spouse. It is wrong for society to reward the intolerant.

The conversion practice causes resentment in the families of the victims and in the society. The author learned of a case where a Hindu asked an Abrahamic to convert to Hinduism. When the author was asked about this new practice, he was told that it is tit-for-tat; if they can do it, why cannot we? The perpetrator parties (tit) should not instigate the victim communities (tat).

What is a need for conversion for the wedding ritual? This conversion “practice” is not good for society.

What if Both Agreed to the Conversion? (Video) 

Generally, the question is asked: What if both parties agree to the conversion; is there anything wrong with that? Usually, the author asks these questions to the victim party (who is asked to convert):

  • Before you met your beloved, did you think of converting to his/her faith?
  • If that person decides for whatever reason not to marry you now, will you still change your religion?
  • If there was a divorce after the conversion and marriage, would you still keep your new (converted) faith?
  • If the lover never asked you if you wanted to convert, would you have proactively converted to his/her faith?

In most cases, the answers to all these 4 questions are NO.

The author has found that most people do not want to change religion because of the wedding rituals, but only to save the love relationship.

In short, there is indirect compulsion and coercion to convert. The helpless victims are lured into the trap of conversion.

De-link Conversion to Marriage

The author recommends decoupling religious conversion from the marriage ritual. Promise less, but produce more. Tell the lover that you are going to get married now and that after a few years of marriage I may think about conversion.

In most cases, conversion is prescribed by some religious institutions. The solution is to find another institution, an imam, rabbi, priest or pundit, who is more tolerant. If none of these institutions are available, it is good to have a civil marriage.

Think About the Legal Situation Before the Conversion (Video)

Marriages are made in heaven, but divorces are painful, especially after the birth of a child. Any child rearing prenuptial or conversion for marriage could have serious negative legal implications during child custody battle after divorce. Ideally, for legal reasons, dating people should be smart to get in writing that

  • there will be no conversion for marriage and
  • the interfaith children will grow up in both religions.

Not Against Religious Freedom (Video)

There should be liberty and freedom to practice a religion, including the freedom to change it at will. However, the author thinks the “practice” of religious conversion for the wedding ritual is wrong.

In most cases, the author noted that young people in love want to respect the faith of their future spouse and have no intention of asking their lover to change their faith. However, it is the religious institutions that turn their original plan upside down. The youth should be empowered to decide their future, not the religious institutions.

In the case of Joseph-Rebecca, and in many other cases the author has consulted, conversion is done primarily to save the marital grid-lock. There should be no coercion or duress to convert. Ideally, conversion should be detached form the wedding ritual to ensure that the prospective spouse is not a religious fanatic.

It is Good to Have One Faith in a Marriage (Video)

Some people who indirectly promote conversion in marriage argue that it helps promote harmony of religious beliefs in a marriage. If the goal were harmony and only one faith in married life, then these intolerant people should not enter into an interfaith relationship in the first place, unless the goal was love proselytism.

If the perpetrator party made a mistake in falling in love and later realized the need for harmony and felt that there should be only one faith in marriage, the perpetrator can always convert to the tolerant faith of the spouse to achieve harmony!

If you are concerned about a child becoming confused growing up in TWO faiths, why not-convert the spouse to solve the problem but instead teach the interfaith children to be true pluralists? Learn from the life experience of former President Barack Obama, he is not a confused person even though he grew up in two religions.

The solution to a harmonious married life is not conversion but learning pluralism. One should learn to respect others as they are.

Atheists and Agnostics

If you are an atheist or agnostic, the same should apply to you as to religious people. An atheist should not impose his/her belief on the religious life partner and vice versa. Atheists should

  • Refrain from religious (sham)conversion and
  • The couple should write down agreements about raising children in writing

Pain and Suffering of the Victims

If anyone is still not convinced that the compulsory practice of religious conversion in many religious institutions must be ended, one should think of the pain and suffering of the victims of love-proselytes. The author has comforted many broken-hearted people after their failed love. They suffer from depression, feel that their life is ruined, feel devastated and even have suicidal thoughts. Why should society ignore the pain and suffering of the victims and reward the love-proselytizers?

No Legal Remedy

If a boy has crush for a girl and touches her hair, he can be arrested and prosecuted. Our society has clear laws against this. However, if the same boy plays a game of lies and deception and falsely falls in love with the girl, she may open up much more, only to find out later that it was a trap. Unfortunately, there is no legal remedy for being deceived in love because the relationship is considered consensual.

The Case of ADITI

Aditi, a Hindu girl, left home for college to study and enjoy freedom. Unfortunately, in her first month of study, she fell in love with a love-proselytizer and eventually ruined her four-year life by listening to her lover’s religious sermons. Eventually, their relationship ended. Now, after 30 years, she feels guilty for falling into the trap. She feels stupid for not realizing he was a love-Jihadi and why she wasted her golden 4 years in college. And worst of all, there is nothing she can do about it!

Summary Message

We should not forget the pain and suffering of the victims and work to end the “practice” of religious conversion for the marriage ritual. Instead of rewarding religious supremist, exclusivist ideologies, pluralism should be encouraged. Society should promote sharing faiths and respecting relationships with equality.



Share your experience below if you suffered in your love relationship due to an intolerant religious institution or a practice.

Also read:

Christian-Hindu Marriages

Muslim-Hindu Marriages

Jew-Hindu Marriages

About Dilip Amin, Ph. D.
Dr. Dilip Amin is a Director of the Peninsula Multifaith Coalition of the San Francisco Bay area and a certified speaker at Islamic Networks Group. He is a Dharma Ambassador and on the Advisory Committee at the Hindu American Foundation. He is a jail chaplain. Dr. Amin has co-authored the book Hindu Vivaha Samskara. He founded the web forum and guided 1200 youths and summarized his experiences in the book--Interfaith Marriage: Share & Respect with Equality. He is also the founder of You can read more about the author here.
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