Tag Archives: interrace

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.

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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…”.

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Having faith in interfaith

Image: http://lifehopeandtruth.com/change/faith/

Although my husband and I have different backgrounds in religion, culture, language and nationality, none of our arguments have ever related to any of those differences. That’s not to say we never fight – because we do, our fights just don’t ever get political.

We are one of very few couples who not only get along with but also adore each other’s parents. My husband’s parents are crazy about me and I’m fairly sure my parents love my husband more than they love me. Furthermore our respective sets of parents share a love for each other. The fact that they live in different countries doesn’t stop them from contacting each other on a regular basis. Additionally, my Mum calls my husband’s brother and sister her son and daughter (respectively), and they in turn call my Mum their Mum too. The sort of relations my husband’s family has with my family can only be seen in fairytales, and even then our ‘Happily every after’ is better than that of any fairytale.

I have several friends and acquaintances that share the same nationality and religion as their partner, but their families can’t seem to get along. That puts a great strain on the functioning of their relationship and prospective future of their partnership. My husband and I are truly blessed, that despite all our differences our families get along and they get along well.

I can’t imagine the difficulty of an interfaith marriage of which one or both sets of parents disapprove. Thus, the small hardships that my husband and I have faced (and are likely yet to face) from the outside world, cannot in any way be compared to the sorts of hardships other interfaith couples experience whose parents disapprove of their union. I can’t really comment on those hardships because, luckily, I myself have not had to endure them. What I can say, however, is that my husband’s family and my family have set a pretty damn good example of how things should be with regards to interfaith marriage and marriage in general. Other interfaith couples’ families should seriously take note and follow suit.

Parents want what is best for their children, but sometimes what parents think is best for their children, isn’t want the children think is best for themselves. Furthermore, parents who are scared about their child marrying into a different culture or religion because they might lose the culture and religion they were born into, have unfounded fears. You don’t lose your identity to your partner when you marry them, so why would you lose your culture and religion? Anything is possible; it’s simply a matter of choice. If the families of a couple comprising of one Russian-Orthodox Jew and one Iranian Muslim could unite despite their differences and figure it out, I’m sure other families can figure it out too.

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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…”.

Listen to your Heart Chakra

It’s truly amazing how what we say and do can effect those around us. I will never forget a conversation I had with one of my best friends in a cafe called “The Little Prince” (the cafe is named after my favourite book of all time by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry).

My Bestie and I were trying to decide what to eat, whether or not we wanted to share one meal or share two meals or eat a meal individually. I don’t really think we were paying too much attention to our surroundings or the effect that our conversation could have on other patrons of the cafe. After a long moment of pondering, my Bestie turned and said: “Seriously, what are we going to eat?” and I responded with:

“What does your Heart Chakra tell you? Let’s listen to that and find an answer”.

I’m not really sure if I was being serious, or if I was joking. To be fair, in the context of my conversation with my friend it was irrelevant. To the both of us it was a typical comment about keeping your attention in the present moment and being mindful of what your heart, mind and body wants. I can’t say that the comment was all together insignificant to us, but it wasn’t really eye-opening either.

It was, however, eye-opening to someone else. There was a lady sitting on a table next to us, who had overheard our conversation and expressed how it had deeply moved her.  She repeated the words “Listen to your Heart Chakra” and smiled to herself and said that she will do her best to listen to her heart in her everyday tasks, when doing something as simple as choosing a meal. She thanked us profusely several times.

After the lady on the table next to us left, my Bestie and I realised that we had just shared a truly beautiful moment together. We had helped someone remember how to listen to their heart.  We achieved that by doing nothing other than simply being ourselves. At that moment I realised how important it is to stay true to yourself and to stay positive, for yourself and for those around you. I learned that everything you say or do leaves an imprint on the lives of others and how important it is to leave positive imprints. In simply being your positive self, you can have a positive effect on the person next to you.

In simply being myself and telling people about my background and the background of my husband, hopefully I have left and will continue to leave positive imprints in the minds and hearts of all the people who surround me and interact with me for whatever reason.  When I go about my everyday activities such as going to work and university, getting my hair and nails done etc. I talk to people- some are my friends, some acquaintances, some are people I am meeting for the first time. Usually I tell people that I am married (or if the conversation was prior to the wedding, that I am engaged).  They would ask me about my other half; how we met each other, how he proposed etc. One way or another the topic of nationality would arise and I always tell people the truth.

At first people look a bit shocked when they hear about a union incorporating bits and pieces of Russian, Iranian and Australian cultures, as well as Jewish, Orthodox and Muslim religions. Sometimes people tell me that I’m brave for what I am doing. I would usually pull a face and ask: “Brave for doing what? Falling in love? Getting married?” Usually at about that moment, the penny would drop. What someone had once thought to be impossible, unlikely or improbable had become not only probable, possible, but also kind-of normal and okay.

Just by being myself, being in love with my husband and sharing my story, I am  able to show to at least one person, that it’s okay for cultures, religions and nationalities to intertwine. Hopefully the people I speak to will go ahead and share with their friends and family a story about a Russian-Australian-Orthodox-Jewish girl they once met who got married to an Iranian Shia Muslim boy. That it is possible. That it is normal. And that it is okay.

Hopefully, I can continue to plant seeds of hope and peace in the minds and hearts of the people I interact with and by a chain reaction they can plant the same seed in the minds and hearts of the people they interact with. As my Dad told my husband and I on our wedding day: “You guys are spreading the message of world peace, one family at a time”. I only hope that it is received with love and interpreted positively… and I am sure it will, in so far as people choose to listen to their Heart Chakra.

~

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…”.

A little bit about myself..

I am a Russian Orthodox -Jewish-Muslim.

Isn’t that a mouthful? Is that even possible, I hear you say?

Allow me to elaborate…My father is Jewish and my mother is of Russian Orthodox faith. I was baptised and am , to some extent, a Russian Orthodox.  Traditionally the Russian Orthodox faith is passed down along the father’s line, which complicates my situation given that my father is a Jew.  Judaism, on the other hand, is passed down along the line of the mother. Given that my mother is Orthodox, I also can’t really call myself Jewish. Ironically, I have parents of two religions, and I technically belong to neither even though I embody both.

Amongst my mother’s side of the family, I am known as “the Jew”, and amongst my father’s side of the family, I am known as “the Christian”. Similarly, given that I am an immigrant from Russia, I am considered a “Russian” in Australia and an “Australian” in Russia.

Just getting that down on paper has made me question how I haven’t yet had an  identity crisis/nervous breakdown in my life. But wait-because that wasn’t confusing enough, the plot thickens…My husband-dearest is an Iranian Shia Muslim.

Personally, I can’t wait for my children to start posting on this blog, because their stories will probably be even more unconventional than mine, given that they will embody three religions that, generally speaking, can’t seem to agree on anything other than a war. However, given that my husband and I are only at the “practicing” stage of the baby-making process, you- dear reader, will have to make-do with my stories.

Love and Light ❤

Image- http://blog.ccbcmd.edu/rpurimetla/files/2012/04/coexist_happy_700w.jpg