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What's wrong with inter-racial marriages?

Monday, 11 January 2010

In the name of God, Compassionate, Merciful بسم الله الرحمن الرحيمِ | Peace be with you السلام عليكم

In the name of God, compassionate & merciful بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمنِ الرَّحِيمِ | Peace be with you السلام عليكم

This thought's been in my head for years. Inter-racial Marriages. Why are they so... inter-racial? Why can't they be... normal? What the flop does that even mean? Two smarties came together - one red and one yellow - and decided to inter-racially get married =  Did they turn orange?


I grew up seeing an accepted practice of segregation in communities. For children this wasn't an issue, you played games with every other child without thinking twice. Yet the adults have this strange terminology that grows mental separation in children's heads. Whiteys, pale-faces, Kafaras (for black people), Injins, Immigrants, Mirpuris, Bathani, Gori, Kori, Kali, all used to racially denote that 'they are not like us, and we will not like them'. And God forbid that you ever had the misfortune of marrying one of 'them'. Inter-racial marriages would take place from all faith backgrounds and a silent tutting would spread the streets. Eventually the children would name each other with 'vanilla' and 'chocolate'. (Anyone seen {Corrina Corrina?}) "Half Cast" is one of my favourite age-old racist terms. I know it's racist. People saw a 'white' woman holding the hand of a 'black' man and remarked on how 'good looking their half caste kid' was. Note the discrimination disguised as a compliment.


Half caste? What's that then? Was Prophet Adam casted in halves? Was he half casted from half a mould from half the clay? It does strike attention when you see two people with varying skin tones, it's inevitable, our eyes have been duped into judging the exterior first. What is the fear though? Will the 'white' woman gain a West Indian accent and sing loudly at festivals? (see, I'm being racist there) Or will the 'black' man suddenly gain a skin disease and become paler, losing his beautiful ethnic roots? (another line of racialism). Differences scare us, we think there will be bloodshed. Perhaps the fear is that their child will become a mixed colour and have no identity at all. How horrific. To be born from all colours like the first man. Shocking.


Then there's the other cultural ruling of only marrying 'one of your own'. This translates into non-racial language as 'marrying a person who isn't different to you in any way because you are a full human, and they are not'. At what point in human history did the apes say to the baboons, 'you can't pro-create with my son, he's looking for a darker shade of brown?' Oh, now I know where the Half Cast term originates from - CASTE SYSTEMS. Remember them? You had to marry a person who was born from the same class, with the same surname, with the same lineage and the same skin shade. If you struck gold and found a paler shade of marriage you were 'handsomely blessed' and if you were struck with bad 'kismet' as the darker coloured person and fell in love with a diluted nationality you were just 'lucky' to have been married at all.


The moment a Chinese woman marries a Pakistani man, everyone raises their eyebrows with questions of 'will that work? how will they survive together? are they too different? will they start a cultural mutiny and destroy all other races?' (is race a discriminatory word?) I mean, seriously, come on! They are people first, people! Human! She isn't from Venus and he isn't from Mars, they're both Earthlings. They both eat, laugh, cry, believe, shout, love and learn. Of course there are differences in our language, in the shape of our facial features, in the way we walk, talk and cultural foods and in the styles we live. *Duh* of course he's not going to understand your native tongue completely at first and you're not going to fully comprehend his cultural clothing, that does not mean you don't try. That's primarily and ONLY the nature of our planetary population, which I add is becoming more diverse and globalised. I look forward to purple people, they're gonna get it baaad (racism).


Allah placed darker skinned people *here* with deserts and sun, and placed lighter skinned people *there* with mountains and rivers, covered the whole earth in sunlight and said in wisdom = 'marry'. He didn't throw everyone on the earth and command us to 'marry one that's from the same country, who looks like you, no not the darker person, no, don't cross continents, don't be stupid, marry one that looks just like you because they're superior, they'll get you better and you'll be happier'.


Also nationality. How I hate thee, nationality. Who invented that? Tribes I understand, and clans, for you come from a group of people, you have the same surnames and so on in indigenous societies, respecting one another and "inter-marrying" for honour. But I want someone to direct me towards that insipid being who stamped each country with a name, bordered them up, called everyone who was born on that land after that country and refused to let 'anyone else' in on accounts of being 'aliens'. Recently I filled in loads of forms for work and that charming statement arose: State your race______________ and a list of nationalities followed. Was I 'British - White'? I am sort of whitish, I have white hands. Was I 'British - Asian'? Well, yes, I have Asian heritage... but I don't look Indian... I don't wear a bindi. (discrimination). Was I 'African' - Yes. Was I 'European' - Yes. Where was the HUMAN selection?


Back to inter-racial marriages. I know they are potentially imbalanced because either those individuals have the thought of 'difference' in their minds and wish to adapt to each other's culture, it's part of social change - or people from outside prod and poke with whispers of 'you two are not the same'. Tell me, which two people are the same? Instead of looking to the exterior WHICH ALLAH DESIGNED what happened to the old fashioned looking to their inner character? Does my skin speak louder than my actions? Really, tell me, I can always replace it.


That C word again - CULTURE - destroys the spirit of Islam through discrimination. I've seen racist Muslims too and they are worse for representing that 'all equal' lifestyle, yet refusing to befriend the non-Muslim neighbour because he's Polish... and not Muslim... and therefore inferior... and not worthy of human interaction. The last lines of the Prophet Muhammad were to delete superiority based on skin and nationality, to delete superiority altogether. But again the cultural divide in inter-racial marriages is so strong. Why? It is arrogance, pride, a superiority complex or insecurity? Shall I blame the media for its promotion of fair = beautiful and dark = pretty, but still different? Maybe we haven't integrated enough with other races and therefore feel more comfortable with our own. Maybe there aren't enough "inter racial" marriages visible for us to see it as a norm. Or is it the Devil? He is evil, that one. May Allah protect our souls from that racist fiend.


Prevent assumptions that marrying 'one of your own' is better.
Resist the temptation to see 'differences' before character.
Avoid labelling everyone. We're all from the same multi coloured lands, we all drink rain and cuss when we're mad.
Think about the root meanings to your phrases such as 'them' and 'us' and re-evaluate your intentions. Someone could interpret your accepted term as racism and vice versa.
Let the Bengali man marry your daughter. Stop getting excited over rich Greek-looking Arab royalty.




Right then, what's wrong with inter-racial marriages?



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Nawal said...

Salams,

Nothing is wrong with them. Just the people that have a problem with someone else's marriage need to get a life. Just my tw cents.

Safyiah said...

nothing wrong at all =) i'm a Muslim (convert) Portuguese woman and married a Muslim Egyptian. although my family was against it and their excuses were, of course, "his culture is so different", or "maybe he doesn't have the same view as you when it comes to religion" (this coming from my parents that think i'm an extremist). but after all, we got married and we live together very well. we learn each others' culture step by step (i'm living in Egypt, btw). i also came to know that his family was opposing the idea of marriage at first because i come from Portugal, which is a non-Muslim country and they were afraid i wouldn't be a good Muslim, etc. the point is, i got shocked when i saw my mother-in-law and one of my sisters-in-law shaking hands with non-mahram men. yup... and maybe i'm not a good Muslim, but i think that's haraam. lol

aneebaba said...

Brilliant post Sr. Zaufishan!! This is something that's been on my mind in general, in recent times. Reason being though there has always been diversity among Muslims (as we see every year on a large scale during Hajj), even more are joining our Ummah from different backgrounds, though reversion, as Sr. Safiyah above (love what you wrote by the way Sr. Safiyah - ma'sha'allah sounds like you have a great marriage).
I have ot admit, my family elders's speech is rife with the comments you mention Zaufishan - the whole "dark vs light" debate is always an issue when we here of a marriage in the Indo-Pak-Muslim community or even when one of us children is getting ready to take that next step.
On the contrary, one thing that I am very proud to see is that the next generation and maybe a few from mine, though I feel like I'm in the middle somewhere (more on that in a moment), are now, thankfully, putting Islam first, rather than culture. I think it's our grandparents and parents that have this mindset basing other Muslims on their skin color and the like, when it comes to marriage; yes, of course, there is the issue of differences in lifestyle, habits, language, food, clothing, etc, but that doesn't mean a marriage between individuals of two very different cultures will not work out. If they have discussion everything and know what they want in life and how they can help each other attain that through the beautiful partnership of matrimony, then, parents should give their Blessings and let them go for it. Additionally, as Sr. Safiyah pointed out, it so happens that she is putting into practice an aspect of Islam that the older generation doesn't really follow (an aspect I'm also trying to make improvements on, so it trickles down). In fact, that is something I am very afraid of, that the culture will be 3easily be passed down to our children, thus diluting or even completely ridding the family of the Islam that we have claimed, yet that we are taking for granted in reality.
As I mentioned earlier, where do I stand on this personally? I think it will still be around two years before "my time" comes, at the very least (Allah Knows Best of course!), but the thought of the background of a potential spouse might be has occurred to me. Yes, I would prefer someone with a South Asian background (Indian or Pakistani) as I have recently improved my Urdu over the last few years, both because it became convenient when I started my graduate studies and also because it was a language I definitely wanted to learn somehow. At the same time, I also want someone whose Islam is also at a good place (I know I can't expect someone who will have reached a very high point in their Deen, though some of us get "lucky" and find such a person, when we oursleves have a much longer way to go), where we can learn from each other throughout our shared lives. Since I'm a Bro, there is that reputation that we can have "fun" and we still want that nice, innocent girl who has been pure in every sense of the word.
In summary, I just hope, regardless of race, that I can find someone that I can respect and despite knowing my faults, etc, will be able to see that there is some hope to make a good life together, with some Help of course!
Wishing all the unmarried ones out there all the best, both in finding their partner and that battle with the family!

Ma'salaam!

Is-za Jelass said...

Greatly needed. We all need to perpetuate this dialogue on the ridiculousness of our community when it comes to race and marriage.

Here was my attempt: http://afterthenikah.blogspot.com/2010/05/getting-married-as-muslim-racial-bias.html

My mother (who is indian) married a black American Man and was exiled for it. My whole life race has been an issue and a deeply loved subject of study (race relations in college). I know why you are irked sister, there is so much ignorance and fear on the part of the community that its despicable. What is worse is not that people just disapprove and stare...think of the families who threaten and drive their children away. We don't address those real situations it seems but I hope to write something about it one day.

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