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Vatican Warns Catholics Against Marrying Muslims

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Fri May 14, 2004 12:43 PM ET

By Shasta Darlington

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - The Vatican warned Catholic women on Friday to think hard before marrying a Muslim and urged Muslims to show more respect for human rights, gender equality and democracy.

Calling women "the least protected member of the Muslim family," it spoke of the "bitter experience" western Catholics had with Muslim husbands, especially if they married outside the Islamic world and later moved to his country of origin.

The comments in a document about migrants around the world were preceded by remarks about points of agreement between Christians and Muslims but they seemed likely to fuel mistrust between the world's two largest religions.

The document said the Church discouraged marriages between believers in traditionally Catholic countries and non-Christian migrants.

It hoped Muslims would show "a growing awareness that fundamental liberties, the inviolable rights of the person, the equal dignity of man and woman, the democratic principle of government and the healthy lay character of the state are principles that cannot be surrendered."

When a Catholic woman and Muslim man wanted to marry, it said, "bitter experience teaches us that a particularly careful and in-depth preparation is called for."

It said one possible problem was with Muslim in-laws and advised future mothers that they must insist on Church policy that children born of a mixed marriage be baptized and brought up as Catholics.

If the marriage is registered in the consulate of a Muslim country, the document said, the Catholic must be careful not to sign a document or swear an oath including the shahada, the Islamic profession of faith, which would amount to converting.

DIFFERENT APPROACHES

The document highlighted the contrasting approaches the Vatican has taken in recent years toward Islam, which has emerged as a strong rival for souls, especially in Africa.

Pope John Paul has broken ground in dialogue with Muslims and even prayed in a mosque in Damascus. He won plaudits in the Muslim world for his strong opposition to the Iraq war.

But Vatican officials and leading Catholic prelates have expressed increasingly critical views about the spread of Islam and the challenge this poses for Catholicism.

The Vatican's top theologian, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, said earlier this week the West "no longer loves itself" and so was unable to respond to the challenge of Islam, which was growing because it expressed "greater spiritual energy."

The migration document also discouraged churches from letting non-Christians use their places of worship.

This issue arose last month when Muslims in Spain asked to be able to pray in Cordoba cathedral, which was once a mosque. A senior Vatican official said this would be "problematic."

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..............

I know a few Christians (or formerly Christians) married to Muslim men, and the reason they do is because of the outstanding character the man has, mainly due to Islamic teachings. What is this guy talking about...

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Calling women "the least protected member of the Muslim family," it spoke of the "bitter experience" western Catholics had with Muslim husbands, especially if they married outside the Islamic world and later moved to his country of origin.

Have there not been instances where Catholic women have had bitter experiences when they move back to places like Iran? Do these instances have anything to do with the authourity islamic law gives to husbands over their wives? whats the point of this thread? is it supposed to be proof that christians are evil and mean to muslims? thats pretty banal.

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(bismillah)

The point of the article, like any article in the forums, is to start discussions, or to make members aware of what's in the news.

Thanks for giving your opinion, even though, it too, was banal. ;)

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How so? I think its pretty disingenous to suggest that all muslim men have outstanding moral character due to "islamic teachings." I think it pretty sensible and level headed for the pope to warn christian women about the differences between the two cultures, particulary the place of women in society. it might be a really bitter experience to move to a country where you find that your rights are drastically reduced?

Isn't that what THIS, everyone's favourite story about Iran, is about?

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Selam alaycom,

sis roya: quite trite indeed :P

I was a former Catholic, and so were the majority of my friends who became muslim and live here in Qatar. Only about 7 of the almost 200 women have given up and gone home. That's a pretty low percentage. They shouldn't be blaming all of the problems on the husband, it might be the society or other reasons.

It's pretty obvious that the Pope would make a statement like this. He is trying to keep his flock from 'straying'. How many religions do you know encourage their followers to marry people from other religions?

Peace,

Um Ali

Edited by jlainqatar

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Salaam,

I think the article is very true and representative of modern society of muslim men.

Too many young women are being manipulated by so called Muslim men, only to have their children abducted and shipped off to Saudi Arabia, or to have themselves imprisoned in a place they dont want to.

What the article is highlighting is NOT the conversion of a woman, and then her marrying a muslim man, but a muslim man marrying a christian woman (how is that possible anyway?)

What is the need for a muslim man to marry a christian woman (where the permanent marriage is void anyway)?

what reasons could there be out there for a Muslim man to marry a non-Muslim woman in a western society?

And please dont come out with a goal to convert her, because most of the time this isn't the case.

Wasalaam

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BTW .... doesnt the Pope recognise Islam as a rightly guided religion??? I remember reading an article dated sumtime in the 70's that the Pope said Islam is also correct... doesnt this look like double standards??

Ali

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The Vatican warned Catholic women on Friday to think hard before marrying a Muslim and urged Muslims to show more respect for human rights, gender equality and democracy.

(bismillah)

Gender equality - obviously the Vatican havent been reading their Good news bible.

Genesis 3:16

To the woman He said: "I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; In pain you shall bring forth children; Your desire shall be for your husband, And he shall rule over you."

1Corinthians3:3

But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.

And I would like to bring to their attention, their unjust actions towards the altar boys, this isn't a one off thing, this has become a common occurence. :angry:

Wassalaam

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more bitter cynical and racist nonsense from everybody's favourite bitter cynical racist. muslims are all wonderful people and catholics are pedophiles who hate women. too bad the middle east is a festering armpit. go read your quran in the front row of the vatican during easter mass. nobody will bother you.

then try to bring a bible anywhere near mecca.

then compare the two cultures.

They shouldn't be blaming all of the problems on the husband, it might be the society or other reasons.

well at least you admit that "the problems" exist. ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha hah ha hahahahahahahahahaha :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D

Edited by minu

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more bitter cynical and racist nonsense from everybody's favourite bitter cynical racist. muslims are all wonderful people and catholics are pedophiles who hate women. too bad the middle east is a festering armpit. go read your quran in the front row of the vatican during easter mass. nobody will bother you.

then try to bring a bible anywhere near mecca.

then compare the two cultures.

They shouldn't be blaming all of the problems on the husband, it might be the society or other reasons.

well at least you admit that "the problems" exist. ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha hah ha hahahahahahahahahaha :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D

(bismillah)

This is where you are wrong, Muslims are allowed to study other faiths, the best example is simply the fact that most muslims I know are allowed to carry bibles in their home, I have 4 different versions in my book shelf at home, whereas Christians cannot study the Quran, every Lebanese Christian I know that has wanted to read the Quran has had to conceal it from their parents, and if it is found the parents toss it away and chastise their child worse than if they were to find an eightball on them or a 45.

So please dont make any comments on Islam that you yourself dont understand.

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There are some horror stories out there of western women marrying a Moslem man and then moving to Saudi Arabia to then find themselves as virtual slaves. I cannot say how true these stories are, but that is what many Americans hear.

However, I can tell you what happens when a Moslem man marries a non-Moslem woman and they can’t get past the cultural differences. They have to get a divorce, which is all about the division of property and deciding who is going to care for the children. This places the couple in an adversarial position, where common sense mutually agreeable solutions are nearly impossible. Since women get custody of the children most of the time, a Moslem man with duel citizenship will often just take the children back to Saudi Arabia with him. American women have found that State Department has little interest and even less power in dealing with these situations. Some very rich women have even resorted to hiring mercenaries to go steal the children back. Then you get to hear about it because it is great for selling products on TV and trash magazines.

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Bismillah al-Rahman al-Rahim

Salaams to the Believers,

Someone very close to me (my entire family is Christian) married an Iranian and moved to Iran, and she went through hell with him. Needless to say, he was a very bad Muslim (he drank, gambled, etc). I have a very low opinion of cultural Muslims, and this is one of the reasons.

There's a reason why Allah(SWT) called the Arabs of Jahiliyah the lowest people (and I think I'm right in asserting that this extends beyond just Arabs), because they don't abide by Islamic principles, and instead prefer to follow their whims.

I think that unfortunately now, as many Muslim men mix culture with religion, they find ways of making Islamic law an oppressive construct within the family through which they maintain their domination over women. It is true that men are the protectors of women, but the type of subjugation that many women experience at the hands of so-called "Muslim" men is worrying, imo.

As for this being an issue with Islam, I would instantly brush this aside as pure rubbish. I know too many people of other cultures who are devout Muslims and yet do not display any of these negative dominatory inclinations towards women. I believe that the issue here is one of (mainly) propaganda. Insofar as there are many many cases of domestic abuse in the West, but cases in the Muslim world are much more hyped and put into books with mysterious covers that get a lot more press exposure, etc. This could be for politico-religious reasons, perhaps.

I agree that there is a problem with some men abusing Islamic law, but then this is true of any system of law. This said, it is something that obviously must be dealt with as best we can.

We should keep perspective on the overall situation, first and foremost. These evils exist in all societies, it is just a shame that some people choose to distort this fact for whatever gain, at the expense of respect and unity between two great religions.

Wasalaam,

Jondab Ali

Edited by Jondab-Ali

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Selam alaycom,

Srpigleif: the problems with divorce and children can go both ways. I know of several cases when this happened with friends or friends of my husband. This isn't easy to share, since it's going to look bad on the mother/converts. I'll share the cases where it was the husband's fault inshalla later.

I'll change the names, one or two of these is well known, anyway:

Leigh and Abdulla: Leigh (American) married Abdulla (member of royal family in the gulf) She came to the gulf and tried to convert but wasn't convinced. Her husband didn't force her but did expect a certain level of behavior, and clubbing wasn't in it. She had two sons. She tried for a year but didn't like the way of life here. (wanted the party scene and couldn't handle the social 'etiquette' expected of her). He offered to let her start a businees or study, but she didn't want to stay. She got a big settlement and willingly left her kids here, admitting they would be better off. She returned back home to the bar scene and got another arab boyfriend. She has never seen her kids since then (9 years). The husband remarried and his sister who is a widow with no children raised them. I personally know her husband's family, and can't for the life of me figure out why she left him. She could have had one of these lives people dream about. I would like to contact her to see if she regrets her decision or not but I haven't the means.

Kathy and Mohd: Kathy married Mohd mutah. She was Catholic from S. America, studying in the US, he was Shia from Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia, both from fairly wealthy families. Kathy converted to Islam, learned how to pray, started covering. They got permanently married. She had a son. She claims her husband was overly strict with her: throwing out her music cassettes, restricting her movement, etc.... They fought a lot. They got divorced, when he told her her mother was Christian, najis and not allowed in his home. Both were required by law NOT to remove the child from the United States. She somehow got a fake passport and took him to South America, ditching islam along the way. The mother got involved in drugs and the grandparents (who are kind Christian people) are raising the son. The son is a genius. At age 7 he was on 'that country's' national television, telling his story of how is name is 'Carlos" but used to be 'Reda', that his father is muslim living in SA and he will find him some day....... The father hired a 'mercenary' (30,000 dollars) to go get the child, however, the mother's involvement with drugs and gangs and the father's security has the child 'untouchable'. Another brother who is married to a girl from the same country saw him once when he visited. Inshalla he will look to seek ties with his father and return to islam once he is grown up, which will be soon, he's 14. There was an initial investigation, but nothing came of it.

Karen and Mustafa: Karen (American who came from a Pentecostal family, but she herself didn't practice any religion, rather was a bar fly) married Mustafa, a sunni muslim from the gulf. She never showed interest in Islam. She had two kids: a girl and boy. When Mustafa graduated, he went home to the Gulf to work. She refused to go. He sent them financial support and visited twice a year. He made a surprise visit when her phone number changed to find she had sold the house and moved to a bad neighborhood. 'The guys' told him where she relocated. He found his two children, who were like 6 and 3 at the time (maybe 7 and 4) alone at home, with hardly anything in the house to eat or play with. He searched the house and found drugs. As well she was having an affair with an irreputable character. He didn't blow up and freak out or anything. He had the children's passports with him, told her he was taking them to Six Flaggs for holiday, and instead took them back to his country. There was a huge investigation locally, and the FBI came to all of his friend's homes (including ours). Nobody knew that he was taking the kids. They found his rented car at Chicago airport. His wife threw a big stink, although I don't know why, she was a terrible mother and her own parents were trying to get custody of her kids for abuse and neglect. Her mother told us that she was glad he took the kids and that they'd be better off with him. And they are, they live here in Qatar and have been raised by their father and grandmother. The girl is about 20 and the boy 17. They have a good education, nice family and decent home, something she could never give them. I saw her once when I visited the US in 93, she was all strung out from drug abuse and told me: I'm going to marry a Qatari and come get my kids back. She never did........

Tracey and Salim. At age 15 Tracy married Salim. She was a christian, he was sunni from Yemen. She converted to Islam and married him with the help of her mother. Her fathers and brothers vehemently disagreed and disowned/harrassed her. She had 4 kids with him. He was very strict with her, locking her in the house and forbidding her to go out. He sometimes provided the basic necessities, other times he didn't. He took her back to UAE for a bit, but she found it impossible to live with his family (like 9 of them living in a 3 bedroom apt, plus her with her kids). So they moved around the US a bit. Eventually she returned to her hometown, left islam and got divorce. She somehow got custody of the kids, and was living in the projects. The husband has visitation and wants to take his kids back home. He even offered to remarry her after she had gotten pregnant with an illegitimate child. Her neighbors have complained about her going out nights and leaving the children (ages 13-5 alone. Last time I heard, the battle for custody was still going on. In this case, the children are in a no win situation. May Allah help them.

Jane and Abdulla: Jane (American christian) married Abdulla (sunni from Saudi Arabia, very wealthy). She became muslim, very devout. The local arab ladies were seething in envy over this one. How did this guy marry her? He treated her like a princess. She had everything materially and spiritually you could imagine. They relocated to SA. She became involved with dawa work for like 8 years. On a visit back to the US, she told him she wanted divorce and left Islam. Everyone was shocked. He kidnapped his kids before the divorce was final and took them back to Saudi Arabia. In the meantime, she shacked up with one of the investigating officers and got pregnant. I'm not sure if she married the guy or not. She made a big deal about it and it was all over the newspapers for weeks. There was a detailed investigation, but nothing they could do, he was already safely home with his children.

Donna and Haidar: Donna (American) married Haidar (shia from gulf). She was pretty wild, never converted, but they did get permenantly married. They had two kids. When he finished univ. she refused to go back. He divorced her and she got custody of the kids. He supported them financially, but I don't think they visited. He got remarried and died 5 years ago. After his death, his son and daughter (late teens) came here to visit the family. They stayed for quite some time, I don't know if they are still here or not. They blamed their mother for not letting them have relationship with their father. The grandmother was over the moon to have them, since she lost 3 of her sons in the past five years.

In most cases that I have seen, the father would be the best person to raise the kids, since many of the mothers tend to leave islam. Either way, it's hard on the kids.

Peace,

Um Ali

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(bismillah)

(salam)

In a way, I agree with the Pope. However, I doubt that he is aware of Islamic teachings about women's rights. Where I agree with him is that Muslim men need to get their acts together and strt treating woimen the way that we should be treated in Islam.

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However, I doubt that he is aware of Islamic teachings about women's rights.

I bet he's heard it all

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Jlaingatar, thank you for sharing your personal experiences. I agree that there may be a propaganda element to the stories that are passed around here in America, but this is also a capitalistic society and there are no shortage of people who are willing to make a profit on people’s prejudices, ignorance and misery.

Marriage outside of ones religion and culture is a gamble. Their are enough adjustments that a young man and woman have to make when they bond. The cultural and social adjustments make it even harder.

I attended the Military College of South Carolina which had many Iranian students during the time of the Shah. They were all Iranian military students who would eventually become naval officers. Their government gave them a generous expensive account and almost every student was able to afford to make the payments on a Transam sports car by their second year. Many were also able to afford an apartment and an American girlfriend. This did not make them popular with poorer American students who drove beat up 2nd hand cars and had to stay in the barracks. These Iranian students did not make friends with the other non-Iranian cadets. The students from Jordan were not this way.

As a first year student I was paired with a senior cadet as a mentor and his roommate was Iranian. They were good friends and this Iranian did have other American friends unlike most of his countrymen. He was one of the ones with an Apartment and a girlfriend and he invited us over to his place (the woman shared the rent) because she was cooking an Iranian dinner. So I and five other guests came to the dinner. We all eat huge proportions because the food was very good; better then the mess hall food that was my lot. I was also impressed by the host, a beautiful young sandy blond woman who made every effort to impress his guest and show off her mastery of Iranian food. I thought it a great compliment to my senior Iranian friend and told him so. I was shocked at his reply. “Oh, she is a [Edited Out].”

He looked at me and understanding my confusion tried to explain. He said, “Back in my country the woman is picked by my family and I will rule my house and determine how my children are raised. We do not have sex before the wedding; any woman who does so is a [Edited Out]. I looked at him as said, “I think she loves you.” And he replied, “I would never marry a [Edited Out].”

I did not graduate from college and instead enlisted in the Army and had many friends who married Korean wives. I will never forget going home after an exercise covered in mud, feet blistered from humping a 90 pound ruck sac for miles and miles and with no sleep for three days. I sat in the car trying to muster the energy to climb the 3 fights of stairs to get up to my apartment with my military gear. While I sat there a comrade pulled up beside me and tramped up to his apartment without his gear. Two minutes later his wife came running down the stairs to gather up his gear and carried it up to their apartment. She was so tiny that the gear must have almost weighed as much as she. I sat thinking, “an American wife would never do that.” When I finally got up to my apartment my wife made me strip off my dirty uniform at the door.

I commented on this to one of my friends who had been to Korea and he told me that the woman I had seen was in all likelihood a Korean [Edited Out]. Later, I asked my neighbor what his wife did in Korea. He answered the question with steel in his voice, “she was a student” and that ended the conversation. My friend laughed when I told him his reply.

Over the years I got to know many soldiers with Korean wives. Most of them were faithful and good mothers who seemed to have happy homes. A very few were not, they divorced shortly and returned to Korea with half of everything their husband had in the bank account. None of these had a child.

When the Shah fell the money from Iran stopped coming and the poorer Iranian students all had to sell their sports cars. My barracks roommate bought a transam for ¼ the list price. Many of the Iranian students married their American girlfriends who helped support them while they scrambled to find the money to complete their college education. The rich Iranians left their [Edited Out]s behind them when they completed their college. I do not know how many of the marriages that resulted from the fall of the Shah survived. I would like to think they did as good as the Koreans and still wonder if they thought their wives nothing but [Edited Out]s.

Edited by Spriglief

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Selam alaycom,

Spriglief: this is the double standard that exists. If those men had any pride or shame, they wouldn't be caught dead with [edited out]s. Many do 'use' western women as housemaids/mistresses and later leave them. They could have gotten great reward for guiding them to Islam, but instead used them and gave them a bad view of the religion. However, I would expect that from the 'Shah types'. Thanks for sharing your honest opinion of other men.

There are some success stories here. We have over 200 converts living here in Qatar, and I know atleast 100 of them well. From those 100 there are basically 3 groups: the ones who didn't convert (most of their husband's are westernized, don't practice Islam fully) they live their lives pretty much as if they are still in America. They don't cover, they go out, they may drink, their kids are usually in English schools. The second group are those who converted for the sake of their husbands or to fit in here. They live like the majority of the arabs while here, and usually live like americans when they go back home. They follow the basics of Islam: like praying and fasting, but aren't strict otherwise. The last group are the converts who converted out of conviction. Most of them would still be muslim even if they were divorced or widowed, they are devout. They have adapted to the culture: dress like the locals and observe local customs. Most of them have learned Arabic and their kids go to the public schools. Other than being a bit fairer, they are a lot like the Qatari kids. We have had 7 girls give up and get divorced or go back home. One due to drug/alcohol abuse, one due to adultery, the rest due to just not being able to fit in or not liking it/missing home.

Seems the most successful marriages are those who truly converted, or those in the first group who along with their husbands are very westernized. It is hard on the wife accepting a new culture and religion, but it's hard on the husband as well. In the beginning, most of the families are against it. Many members in society look down on men who marry western women, whether they are converts or not. A few bad apples like in the stories I wrote above, give all of us a bad name. The kids even get some flack at school, my daughters have come home a few times crying because of classmates calling their mother 'American kaffir' etc (although I cover from head to toe and they've seen me).

Alhamdulillah most of my friends have been very lucky. Their husbands provide for them and are good fathers to their children. (Some of the girls married to non Gulf citizens have had a harder time financially, but do get by.) A few are over protective/restrictive or expect/don't allow their wives to work. Very few are alcoholic or abusive. I think overall, my friends here have better marriages/lives than my friends/family back in the states.

Peace,

Um Ali

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you reap what you sow

Sowed: genocidal Crusades, imperialist ventures in Africa, the Subcontinent, and the Pacific Islands, thriving imperialist slave trade victimising millions of blacks and indigenous for half a millenium, several hundred years of imperialist wars in Latin America and later the Middle East, imposition of bloody dictators and war criminals on peoples who eleced someone else democratically to lead their country in several bloody and not-sobloody coups.

Reaped: 3,000 dead on 9-11, rising tolls of dead American and foreign servicemen and so-called "civilian" gun-touting mercenaries.

You do indeed reap what you sow. The question is, are you ready for the world's harvest of your crop of blood, oil, and tears?

Edited by abaleada

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If you guys ask me, the Pope did his duty correctly. It's just like us Muslims warning our fellow Muslims not to marry outside Islam. Its true that he singled out muslims, which maybe he shouldnt have done, but they arent Catholics so in his eyes they arent on the right path.

The problem is not Islam, its the Muslims. We Muslims have chosen a path that is very straight and correct, but also blocked by obstacles put by shaytan.

When we are impressed by haram, its shaytan at work. When we ignore each other, its shaytan at work. When we are too arrogant to be humble and kind, its shaytans work,

Islam is definitely the most correct and logical religion in my eyes, and the religion itself is simple but following it requires strong-will and complete faith.

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Jlaneqatar, from my observations the couples that were successful marriages had a good idea of the social and cultural obstacles ahead of them. The decision was not made lightly. Either the man or the woman was willing to adopt the religion of the other and at lest one side had a family that was supportive. For those who had no family, every military post that I was stationed at had a small Korean community that the woman could turn to for help. I am glad that the women who have married into the Moslem faith in Qatar also have a small community of women to help them.

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With all those strange quotes from Ayatollah Khameni going around, why shouldn't the vatican warn catholics about marrying into this kind of culture?

And are those bits in the Quran about "young boys" (Q 52:13-24, Q 76:9-20) true or am I reading a bad translation? Can somebody provide a proper translation of these passages?

Thanks.

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If two people really love each other, religion is inconsequential. They will

eventually find a way to make it work.

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