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:
- Will both of your religions be displayed on your Australian Marriage Certificate?
- 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…”.