As appeared earlier in the New York Times, Myra Farooqi, a Pakistani Muslim girl fell in love with an Indian Hindu (let’s call him Raj) from San Francisco. They had a romantic relationship for 9 months that included drinking, dancing, kissing, and more.
Farooqi writes with pride, “the rules about marriage (in Islam) are stubborn, and the onus of sacrifice lies with the non-Muslim whose family is presumably more open (meaning willing to convert) to the possibility of interfaith relationships.” Apparently, she believes it is a privilege for a non-Muslim to marry a Muslim. Farooqi may have assessed that Raj is vulnerable enough to sacrifice his Hindu heritage.
On the fifth date, the naive Hindu man was told, “you need to understand that the only way forward is for you to convert.” Apparently, Muslims are expecting all Hindu lovers to understand Islamic fundamental expectations for marriage:
Koran 2:221: You shall not wed pagan women unless they embrace the faith. A believing slave-girl is better than an idolatress, though she may please you
Koran 60:11: Do not maintain your marriage with unbelieving women (no zina)
Above verses are for Muslim men, however the Koran is silent on marriages of Muslim women to Jewish and Christian men, but the principal schools of Islamic jurisprudence all agree that under no circumstances may a Muslim woman marry a non-Muslim man (ref).
Under the influence of white wine and out of ignorance about Islam, Raj agreed to the (fake)conversion. Probably the Hindu was taught “Isvar Allah Tero Nam” (One God, different names). Further, Raj may have thought he has so many Gods, what is the harm in adding one more?
Even though there was no match for the nation (Pakistan vs. India), culture or language, Farooqi’s Karachi-born mother accepted the relationship when she learned that the Hindu had pledged to convert for her daughter. Farooqi was happy to learn that her mother is progressive-minded and adds, “I saw that her strict framework was ultimately less important than my happiness.” Her mother’s approval was entirely predicated on him converting, however.
Unfortunately for Farooqi, Raj’s Hindu parents requested him not to change his identity for the girl. Later he told her, “I will never convert to Islam. Not nominally, not religiously.” Farooqi ended the love relationship in a heartbeat.
Most would agree to her statement, “Many will say it’s selfish and incongruous that a non-Muslim must convert for a Muslim.” She added at the end, “I have since watched Muslim friends marry converts.” Will Farooqi try her luck again with someone who, in her words, “share a love so endless that it can overcome these obstacles”?
My survey found 45.2% of Muslim girls marry outside their faith in the USA. I am wondering if most of these non-Muslim male partners were able to “share a love so endless” (meaning willing to convert) that Farooqi is looking for? How will Farooqi feel when someone asks her to convert out of Islam for marriage? Why can’t true love be more important than conversion? Why not let a rose be a rose and a carnation be a carnation?
Unlike Farooqi’s mother, why did Raj’s mother not think of converting (Muslim to Hindu) her future daughter-in-law before the marriage?
Farooqi claimed to clearly understand Islamic expectations about interfaith relationships. If so, she must know that Islam forbids a Muslim girl to date interfaith, even with People of Book. Why then did she date multiple Muslims and non-Muslims in the past, drink, dance and enjoy romantic times with boys? Why did she ignore Koran 24:30-31?
- Koran 24:30: Lower your gaze. Enjoin believing men to turn their eyes away from temptation and to restrain their carnal desires
- Koran 24:31: Enjoin believing women to turn their eyes away from temptation and to preserve their chastity; not to display their adornments; to draw their veils over their bosoms and not display their finery except to their husbands, their fathers, …
Apparently, Farooqi knowingly ignored Allah’s messages, especially Koran 24:30-31, but still wanted the Hindu man to convert to fulfil the requirements of Koran 2:221 and 60:11. Ignoring Koran “as is” shows that she is not a true Muslim.
Because Farooqi did not disclosed the expectation of religious conversion for several months into their romantic relationship and instead waited for the right time when Raj was blindly-in-love, one has a right to question—is she a Love-Jihadi? To ask for religious conversion after months of the romantic relationship is an ugly form of love-proselytism.
It is unfortunate that this 1400-years old orthodox practice of “religious conversion for marriage” is still alive and well today in the most progressive city like San Francisco. It is sad that for some Muslims, humanity and true love by a Hindu are secondary criteria, conversion the ultimate goal.
Here, practically thinking, it is not people like Farooqi to be blamed, but the Hindu parents who failed to educate their children. Muslims are conditioned from the past 1000 years of relationship outcomes where the Hindu intended-spouse(s) easily converted for the marriage. Further, probably most Christians and Jewish contemporary adults in a similar situation may have converted or agreed to raise children in Islam only. These have to be the main reasons this practice is alive and well today.
Such articles and practices could potentially create Islamophobia when it comes to Muslim-non-Muslim relationships. Progressive Muslim parents and leaders should speak out against such orthodox practices to minimize Islamophobia.
It is time to end the practice of religious conversion for marriage and learn to respect others.
Feedbacks: The author is available to discuss and answer any counter-views or concerns shared at https://youtu.be/LX3q88-Extc and below.