Tag Archives: conversion

The question of conversion

While I made it apparent to my now-husband on our very first date that I had no intention of converting, it would be a lie to say that it never came up as an issue later on in our relationship.

To be fair, it wasn’t much of an issue at all. My husband’s Mum simply told my husband that Islam is a beautiful religion and that I should consider converting. She then went on to elaborate that it might be easier for the both of us later on in life we both have the same religion and raise our children with one religion rather than three. I asked my husband to tell him Mum that my parents are of different religions and neither one of them converted and that I grew up with two religions and didn’t find it particularly difficult. Unintentionally, my mother-in-law to be had hurt my feelings. As soon as she understood she had caused me pain, she apologized profusely and explained that she only wants what is best for me and never intended to hurt me. She never mentioned the subject again.

Conversion is not at all important to me, because actions speak louder than words, including the written words on a formal document. As I have previously mentioned, my husband and I intend on raising our children with three cultures (being Australian, Russian and Iranian), three languages (English, Farsi and Russian) and three religions (being Russian-Orthodox, Islam and Judaism). To me, this kind of exposure and upbringing is worth so much more than having a piece of paper that validates my child belonging to a particular religion.

My in-laws are very open-minded and progressive people. This is particularly significant because they live in a country whose government is doing its best to keep its people conservative and closed-minded. The majority of the questions my in-laws asked my husband and I were not due to intolerance, but due to genuine inquisitiveness and concern about our future. When you live in a theocratic country, it’s hard to envisage how a secular state runs. These are the two main questions my in-laws asked my husband and I:

  1. Will both of your religions be displayed on your Australian Marriage Certificate?
  2. Do you have to state the religion of your children on their Birth Certificate?

These are both legitimate questions from people who don’t know how things roll in Australia. The answer to both of these questions is a “no”, and that’s commonsensical to me because I live in a secular state. It wasn’t self-explanatory to my in-laws, however because in their country, any Government-related document is inherently connected to Islam including marriage and birth certificates. As soon as my husband and I explained the secular nature of these documents, my in-laws’ concerns were put to rest.

As one of my cousins pointed out to me, on the whole, my husband’s family has been more tolerant towards me than my family has been towards my husband. This is particularly interesting, given that popular belief regards Islam as a very strict religion and the prerequisite of marrying into Islam is an obligatory conversion. So there’s another myth busted I guess.

~

Although I am new to the blogging world and am completely incompetent at using technology (I only recently learned how to make hyperlinks), I believe that my message of peace and tolerance needs to be heard. To learn a little bit more about my background please read my post titled “A little bit about myself…”. To learn more about why I started this blog, please read my post titled “Introduction…”.

“Which one of you had to convert?”

Image- http://ssje.org/sermons/wp-content/uploads/2010/02/Conversion_Wordle.jpg

As well as having to answer the “Not Without My Daughter” question (refer to my previous post titled “Not Without My Daughter”, I have also faced some other gems for questions including:

“Which one of you had to convert?”

My preferred response is “We flipped a coin for it” making the stupidity and primitive nature of my answer aptly reflect the stupidity and primitive nature of the question.

I mean it’s just wrong on so many levels, that I don’t even know where to begin. At school I was taught that you could always find the answer, or at least part of the answer to your question in the question itself. So, the person asking this question had already answered some questions for themselves- that either myself or my husband had converted AND that this conversion was obligatory.

This offends me. It offends me due to the  fact that my Mum is of Russian Orthodox faith and my Dad is a Jew and neither one of them converted to the other’s faith. Surprisingly, their decision didn’t bring about the end of the world.The concept of converting for marriage has always been a bit foreign to me because my parents didn’t feel the need to do it, so naturally I didn’t feel the need to it either. Even if I did feel the need to do it, it would have been by choice and not by obligation. I’m going to make myself clear and say that I have nothing against people who choose to convert to their partner’s religion. It’s totally cool, however it’s just something that I was not prepared to do myself, or ask someone to do for me.

I made it very clear to my now-husband on our very first date that I am what I am- a daughter of an Orthodox Mum and Jewish Dad and that I intend on staying that way. Take it, or leave it. I told him that if he has an issue with that or can envisage his family having an issue with my faith/(s) that he should tell me now so that we could walk away from the table as friends. I also let him know that it was nothing personal and that it had nothing to do with him being Muslim (this is actually the case, this isn’t another example of my intolerance).

Had I been dating a Jew, who later told me to revoke my Orthodox faith, I would have told them where to go- somewhere nice, but far away from me. Had I dated a person of Orthodox faith who asked me to denounce my Judaism, they would have joined the Jew who disagreed with my Orthodox religion. Prior to marriage,  my underlying message to potential suitors was as follows: if you want to change my religion- don’t date me. It’s that simple.

Before I answer “Which on you had to convert?” let me start off by first reframing the question: “Did one of you need to convert to make your relationship work?” No. Thank you for asking.

~

Although I am new to the blogging world and am completely incompetent at using technology (I only recently learned how to make hyperlinks), I believe that my message of peace and tolerance needs to be heard. To learn a little bit more about my background please read my post titled “A little bit about myself…”. To learn more about why I started this blog, please read my post titled “Introduction…”.