There are many stories on my travel blog but rarely do I discuss religion. Religion can be the cause of heated debates, unfriendly attitudes, biased judgments, and preconceived ideas.
But religion is also the source of incredible art, unbelievable architecture, touching music, and a belief system that is the basis for most high morals.
I was raised a Christian girl. And I raise my children as Christians. I’ve always believed that Jesus is the Son of God and I like to think I try to live a life based on most Christian principles.
I thought most Christians were good, kind people and I grew up believing that other religions were inferior and some, very dangerous.
Perhaps I stopped my therapy too soon, but my judgment on being with a ‘good Christian man’ died the moment the judge banged his hammer and announced me officially divorced.
After that pronouncement, I went to a café, ordered myself a donut and a chai and I cried. Something in me had died, not my faith, never that, but my faith in a “Christian man” certainly did.
My Father is a great Christian man. My Father-in-law was a great Christian man. I know so many great Christian men, but was it the religion that made them great? Or were they just genuinely nice people following their choice of faith?
I was no longer in search of a Christian man. All I wanted was a good man.
And along he came.
But. He was a Muslim man.
So many preconceived ideas and to be honest had Ahmet not been Jake, when I first met him, maybe my preconceived ideas would have prevented our meeting.
But our couple pairing is a whole other story.
How did a Christian woman end up dating a Muslim man?
What Is The Difference Between A Christian & A Muslim?
A Christian believes that Jesus is the Son of God. We believe in the Trinity and regard the Bible as our religious text. We believe in a personal relationship with the Creator. Christianity is the largest religion in the world with an estimated 2.1 billion followers.
A Muslim believes that while Jesus was real, he was a Prophet. Then after Jesus another prophet came, Mohammed. They do use the Bible as a secondary text, but their main text is the Quran. There are an estimated 1.5 billion Muslims making it the second largest religion in the world.
Are there Similarities in Both Religions?
Christianity and Islam have more in common than most people know — they are both monotheistic Abrahamic religions (meaning one God), and Jesus Christ is an important, revered figure.
We both have similar beliefs in guidelines, like the 10 Commandments.
Both Muslims and Christians believe Mary was a virgin and that Jesus was born miraculously.
Both religions believe in judgment day where people will be judged for the lives they led on Earth.
Muslims and Christians believe in hell and heaven.
Family is a foundational part of both Christian and Muslim life. Both believe the family has a critical impact on society.
What are some difficult differences in an interfaith relationship?
The biggest argument that came from our perspective of religion was Ahmet’s view on Pork. While Christians believe what Jesus said in the New Testament Mark 7:19 “…Whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him, since it enters not his heart but his stomach, and is expelled,” declaring all foods clean.
Muslims are only supposed to eat halal foods, meat prepared a certain way, and pork is forbidden.
I could not understand why a man who does not follow every Muslim rule, like drinking or abstinence, would feel so strongly about pork. My conclusion is this:
While drinking and abstinence are generally not taught until later in life, 15, 16, 17, 18. At this stage, an individual has already decided in their head what they are doing with their lives and how they want to live them. Usually rebelliously.
The pork denial however is taught from birth. They don’t eat it ever. So much so that Ahmet found the smell of pork sickening.
And while I respect his religion and I certainly don’t want him feeling ill at the dining table. I also didn’t understand if I chose to eat it away from him, as I had my entire life, but he still had an issue with it. And this led to many serious arguments.
Finally, we had to compromise. We have more of a “don’t tell” policy now. Respectfully I would never eat it around him or cook it in our home. And respectfully he would not question my eating habits when I eat out without him.
How Does Ahmet Feel About Your Religion?
Ahmet has been very respectful. He has never once asked me to convert. He has never been upset that I was a Christian. His acceptance was quite humbling. It has never once been an issue.
How Do you Feel About His Religion?
I must admit I had a lot of judgment when I found out Ahmet was a Muslim. And while there are some judgments he confirmed, there are many he blew out of the water. I have now met many Muslims and like any religion, there are many good people with good hearts.
What Does Ahmet’s Family Think About You?
I have never felt unwelcome in Ahmet’s family. I asked Ahmet a few times if his family was okay with him dating a Christian and he said, “Not even an issue, they love you.”
When I met Ahmet’s grandmother in Turkiye she mentioned to him in her thick Turkish that I was not covered and asked if I was Muslim. Ahmet’s father answered her, “She is better than any Muslim woman I’ve met.”
Like most things Religion doesn’t make a person who they are. In my experience Religion in most cases can intensify whatever is in them. Sometimes that’s rules and unforgiveness, some people it’s genuine kindness and love. What faith they believe is just one intricate detail of a whole person.
Can I blame all Christian men to be like my ex-husband? No. I needed to look deeper.
What Does Your Family Think About Ahmet?
It was as much a learning process for my family as it was for me. But Ahmet comes to Christmas now! A Christian holiday.
Do We Argue About Religion?
Not as often as you think. We have had some pretty heated debates on a Virgin birthing God and Mohammed riding a horse to heaven. But for the most part, our discussions are revealing instead of annihilating.
What Would You Teach Your Kids?
The biggest religious argument in our relationship was this very question. I raise my children Christian, and Ahmet raises his Muslim. Ultimately, we could not see a future where a child we had together would be either very confused or one parent determining to place their religion ahead of the other. Therefore, the easiest solution was we would not have a child together.
This was easy since he has two and I have two. And while ultimately, I was willing to have a child to bring the blended family together, I wouldn’t do so if it was going to cause distance instead of closeness.
Will You Convert?
Never. Ahmet has never asked me to, and I never would. Despite learning about the Islamic faith, I am still convinced of Christianity.
Will He Convert?
When I asked Ahmet, his response was the same as mine, Never.
I believe Ahmet is free to choose what he believes, so I have never asked him to. Would I be excited if he shared my faith, well yes, I would, but is it a make-or-break deal? Not one bit.
Have you attended each other’s Services?
No, Ahmet hasn’t been to Church, nor have I been to mosque. But on vacation, we do visit ancient Churches and ancient Mosques alike.
Will you ever get married?
Well, what kind of question is this? That’s a bit personal. 😀
I would gladly be married again. I believe in love, and committing your life to someone. Even after all the hurt and pain that belief brought me the first time. But, at the same time, I’m not in any hurry.
Ahmet? Well, I guess we will just have to wait and see.
Do we have any interfaith marriages reading this? I’d love to hear about your experiences.
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