I’m born into a mixed religion household because of parents in opposing ones.
I am a mixed-religion child where my Chinese father practiced Buddhism and my Malay mother practiced Islam. They were star-crossed lovers because even though they were so in love, no one approved of their union.
As a result, my father converted to Islam so that he could marry my mother, but he’s not practicing. As for me, I was born a Muslim. Similarly to my father, I chose to not practice the Muslim religion. However, my mother is a strict Muslim and always nags at me to be more devoted and faithful towards our God. Obviously, she also wanted me to marry someone of the same religion.
My fiancé is a practicing Catholic
I met my fiancé almost a decade ago and now, we’ve been together for almost 8 years. He’s a Catholic so religion wise, we’re worlds apart. He does believe and practice his religion, but never forced me to give up mine. We’ve always made it clear that none of us will convert for each other because we respect each other’s religion.
We didn’t want to end up like my parents.
I felt that if he converted just for the sake of doing so, then it’s meaningless. He’ll just be Muslim by status. Does it still mean as much if he doesn’t even understand or believe in Islam? Likewise, if I just switched over to Catholicism for the sake of it, then am I really a child of God?
Furthermore, I didn’t want him to resent me for forcing the change on him decades into our marriage, just like my father feels towards my mother now. Honestly, it’s sad because in the heat of passion and love, anything seemed possible… until it’s not. Their lives are so different that they just started to live separate lives. I didn’t want that to happen to me and the love of my life.
Judgment from my own religion and community
My mom told me, “if he really loves you, he will convert for you”. To me, that’s pure emotional manipulation. It’s equivalent to your secondary school boyfriend telling you, “baby if you really love me you’d have sex with me”. It is so wrong on so many levels. The Quran states many times, “there is no compulsion in religion”.
But like my mum, some people of my community continue to ostracise and shun us because my fiancé is not converting. If you convert it should be because you appreciate the religion and chose to accept it wholeheartedly, not because of the reasons for love or marriage. That’s not love nor religious piety.
Right Leg or Left Leg?
It’s been such a crazy rollercoaster ride. Things have cooled down for a bit but I’m sure it’ll pick up again when the wedding date is near. I’m still adamant in my decision for us to not convert just for each other. At this point, I’ve also kinda accepted that I can only choose love or family. If I choose love, I’ll have to live with my mother’s disappointment and disapproval for at least the next 10 years of my life. If I choose family, I won’t get to be with my best friend, my muse, my partner-in-crime and I will lose the only chance I want to take for happiness.
It’s not easy, though. It’s like asking me to choose between cutting my right leg or my left leg. Despite our differences, my mother has always been an amazing parent to me. As much as she is important, so is my wish for a lifetime of happiness.
Are You in The Same Boat?
I know inter-religion and inter-racial marriages or relationships are getting more and more common in Singapore. I’m proud that we’ve managed to get this far because I know it’s not easy. Despite how “forward” Singapore is, the superiority religions and races have against each other is still very much prominent.
I want to acknowledge your efforts in navigating through this tough journey and from experience, it is not easy. I really hope you’re able to find your way through this. If you’re struggling, please take some time for yourself and relax. Weigh your pros and cons, think about your end goal in life and maybe that will bring you closer to a decision.
Are you dating someone from a different religion? How do you navigate past these challenges?