Despite the inherent diversity within the Muslim American community, these community social spaces tend to remain segregated. The South Asian and Arab communities that immigrated in the 80s and 90s have established themselves in various professions in the US as doctors, store owners, engineers, taxi drivers, and so on. As more people from the same ethnic group gather and form a community, they eventually start to raise money and build a mosque, which serves as a primary space of gathering for those within this specific ethnic community.
Various other ethnicities attend these mosques as well for their spiritual fulfillment.
Yet, despite the mixing of ethnicities at the mosque during prayer, the social groups that form outside of the mosque are quite homogenous. However, the same post-mosque social group separation is not as apparent in second generation Muslims compared to first immigrant Muslims. Perhaps because of a more shared American identity, or perhaps because of more interaction and inclusion in college spaces, but social gatherings today are not as divided along ethnic lines as they were in the past. Therefore, you find more interracial dating and marriage within second generation Muslim Americans that was not as present in with first generation immigrants.
Yet, the ugly truth is that certain interracial marriages are more accepted than others. Within the South Asian community, there is strong association with whiteness and beauty.
From the casting of very fair Bollywood actors and actresses to advertisements for the infamous Fair and Lovely skin whitening cream, to parents who implore their sons and daughters to avoid spending too much time in the sun to avoid becoming dark, there is a not-so-subtle message that white is right. This preference for lighter skin tone is also present within Arab and other non-Black Muslim communities, but perhaps it is not as blatant as within the South Asian community. Yet, what is common among nearly all non-Black communities is a general dislike of Black skin, and by association Black people.
However, these same parents get excited by the prospects of their son or daughter marrying a white convert, or even a very fair Arab. Yet they revert to the culture excuse in order to save face when the prospects of a Black person is presented. I am fortunate enough to have friends from various ethnicities within the Muslim American community, and I think each individual has the right to date or marry whoever they want.
If people choose to prioritize marrying someone of their same ethnicity because of language, cultural similarities, love for Bollywood or something else that they have decided is important to them, then they should certainly proceed in this manner. In a hilarious twist of irony, a friend, who is a white Muslim convert that is very involved within my local community and a very trusted individual, discussed on Facebook the issues with this racial hierarchy, which he sees first hand.
Often, people will come to him frustrated with the prospects of finding a spouse and ask him to introduce them to good Muslim men or women for the purpose of marriage. As a litmus test to assess their openness, he often starts by stating that there is an amazing Black brother or sister in the community that he thinks would be a great fit.
Situations like these make me wonder whether or not parental resistance had anything to do with an aversion to such an introduction in the first place.
Moreover, I wonder to what extent these excuses are actually a cover up for subconscious racism that has been allowed to fester in the name of cultural preservation, which involves worshiping white skin. Yet the reality is that we live in an imperfect world and racism is alive and well within our community. Friends have told me tales of their parents giving them the Romeo and Juliet ultimatum when presenting someone to them of a race they did not approve of.
Specifically, they had to choose between a romantic interest and keeping ties with their family. This is an unfair ultimatum that often puts the one deciding under immense psychological and emotional distress. Regardless, in order to move forward and make progress in expelling racism from our own communities, we need more people to choose love over complicity with these racist demands.
We crossed our fingers and hoped we would be able to work out how to do life together as it came at us: Eight years, three kids, and one beautiful marriage later, that strategy seems to be working. We are not alone. Interfaith relationships — as well as the pairing of a secular and a religious partner — are on the rise.
We often get questions from people who assume there must be major problems — ones unique to interfaith couples. And, perhaps most importantly, how do we raise our kids? No doubt there are some unique challenges to interfaith relationships.
But some problems are unavoidable when two people — of any background — come together. On the other hand, there are some advantages in interfaith relationships. There are studies that show that interfaith couples are better at communicating with one another than same-faith couples. In particular, they are better at communicating effectively and coming to an agreement about important issues. Perhaps this is because interfaith couples recognise from the start that they will have to negotiate their religious differences, and so they quickly learn how to carry this skill into other aspects of the relationship.
But doctrine should not be confused with faith, or even with religious affiliation. Many believers disagree with the official views of their respective religious leadership. Even those who share the same religious affiliation do not necessarily share the same opinions on important issues. So the assumption that two people must share the same religion to really understand each other is flawed.
In our case, it has been the opposite. Despite our different religions, we share a common understanding of God, and what belief means in our day-to-day lives. We are very lucky in that both of our families love and accept us. We know this is rare.
We speak with couples all the time about their struggles, and the pushback they get from family and friends. In the end, those who make it work choose each other over all else. What about the kids? Our philosophy on this comes from something the Buddha said. To this point, we want to give our three young sons depth.
Even those who share the same religious affiliation do not necessarily share the same opinions on important issues. When there come to you believing women refugees, examine and test them: Situations like these make me wonder whether or not parental resistance had anything to do with an aversion to such an introduction in the first place. October Learn how and when to remove this template message. In faith, as in love, we leap. Just look at the stats. Interfaith marriage , traditionally called " mixed marriage ", is marriage between spouses professing different religions.
We aim to give them the tools any believer needs to practice their faith, so we pray together, sing songs, meditate, read and reflect on sacred texts. We do this together at home and in churches and other places of worship, near and far. But depth is not the only goal we have for our children. We want to help them become religiously literate citizens, giving them breadth as well. So, we read the Bible and the Ramayana.
We sing gospels and chant mantras. We talk about the Buddha and tell folk religion origin stories. We build sukkahs and release our clay Ganeshas into the ocean.
We decorate our Christmas tree and light our menorah.