Intercultural Marriages: A Quranic Reflection
August 8, 2022
In Islam, the concept of diversity and tolerance is found many times in the Qur’an and hadith (records of the words of the Prophet ﷺ, peace be upon him). We find diversity in all our mosques and Islamic functions, with Muslims from different parts of the world, and of different cultures and backgrounds. Accordingly, as Muslims in America, it is only natural that we have inter-cultural marriages in our respective communities. However, it is unfortunate that many brothers and sisters that would like to get married to someone of another culture experience many hardships. The following is a Qur’anic reflection from Surat Al Rum (Qur’an 30) I had while reading a few verses pertinent to one of the signs of Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala (exalted is He): marriage.
Among His signs is that He created you from dust; then, suddenly you were human beings dispersing [throughout the earth]. 21. And of His signs is that He created for you from yourselves mates that you may find tranquility in them; and He placed between you affection and mercy. Indeed in that are signs for a people who give thought. 22. And of His signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth and the diversity of your languages and your colors. Indeed in that are signs for those of knowledge. (Qur’an, 30:20-22)
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Verse 20 reminds the reader of one’s origin, that we were all created from dirt.
Verse 21 is a verse quoted oftentimes during a marriage ceremony, or found on a wedding invitation. It is an extremely nice verse.
Verse 22 highlights that the creation was given different colors and tongues (i.e. skin color and languages).
Many people focus on love in Verse 21. But we see that this verse comes in the middle of two verses: a verse that reminds us that we are not better than one another, regardless of our backgrounds, since we are all from simple dirt (verse 20), and a verse that explains the blessings of Allah (swt) creating us all different, with varying looks, colors, languages, perspectives and cultures (verse 22).
When I read these three verses, I think of the society that we are in today; where cross-cultural marriages are discouraged or even forbidden in some of our Muslim households. Why? Because some families may think they are of a higher class than other families, or their culture is better than another, or their language supersedes all. It is a very arrogant and ignorant outlook, one condemned by Islam.
But at the end of verse 22, Allah (swt) distinctly mentions that these verses are for people of knowledge, people who think, and people who reflect on the signs of Allah (swt).
Therefore, it is a sign (ayah) of Allah (swt) that people from different ethnicities, backgrounds, and cultures get married and live their lives with a new person. A relationship is formed between two families that do not have the same language or skin color, but have the same origin (and of course, have the same faith too insha’Allah, God willing).
I think these three verses speak to our society today – where brothers are having a hard time getting married, largely because of the ignorance rooted in the cultures of some Muslims. I am sure it is just as hard for the sisters as well.
We have a beautiful religion. One aspect of it is the institution of marriage. But as Sh. Suhaib Webb says, “marriage is the easiest chapter in the books of fiqh, but the hardest chapter in our society today.” This is because of the barriers, conditions and requirements many Muslim families put forth that are Islamically baseless. In my humble opinion, these verses refute such mentalities that complicate our youths’ marriages at a time where our youth are clinging on to their religion with their fingernails. Unfortunately, there are several cases of practicing and guided brothers and sisters that have left their religion behind after being denied the opportunity for marriage based on the cultural ills of our Muslim society.
May Allah guide us all to the correct understanding of Islam, protect our youth in the Muslim community, and allow us to live and breathe the sunnah (tradition) of the the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ in all aspects of life, including marriage.
Indeed, putting a verse about marriage in between two such verses is not spontaneity on the part of Allah (swt). Allah is Most Wise.
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