Monday, 7 January 2013

Interfaith marriage problems? Join the debate:

The Christian Muslim Forum last month published the 'official guide' to interfaith marriage, launched at Westminster Abbey.

"The Wedding" by James Hunter

A few weeks ago, British station Radio Asian Fever were fined by Ofcom after they broadcast an Islamic discussion show in which controversial remarks were made about interfaith marriage. 

Presenter Rubina Nasir, 'Sister Ruby', said: "Listeners! Marriage of a Muslim man or woman with a mushrik is the straight path to hellfire."

Mushrik in Islamic terminology means those who commit shirk, the worship of more than one God. Nasir went on to say: "Where the filth of shirk is present, where the dirt of shirk is present, where the heart is impure, how can you remove apparent filth. How many arrangements will you make to remove the apparent filth? We are saying that mushriks have no concept of cleanliness and uncleanliness.'

Nasir also condemned the children of interfaith marriages. "Have my sisters and brothers, who live with people of bad religions or alien religions, ever thought about what would become of the children they have had with them - and the coming generation," she said. 

Nasir's views are not necessarily representative of the wider Muslim population. The UK's 2001 census found more than 21,000 marriages between interfaith couples. The number of Muslims living in England and Wales has since rocketed to 2.7 million, 2011's census revealed, and with Muslims now the second largest faith group and almost 5% of the population, it seems likely there are now many more interfaith couples. 

© 2013 All rights reserved. New Religion
Last month, the Christian Muslim Forum responded by bringing Christian pastors and Muslim imams together to publish guidelines on interfaith marriage. The 16-page booklet spoke out against forced conversions and promoted greater acceptance. 

Most Muslims agree the Quran prohibits any compulsion in religion and permits Muslim men to marry Christian women if they so choose. Yet Sheikh Ibrahim, a Leicester based imam, admitted there are some social problems. Speaking to The Independent he said, "In reality Christian and Muslim couples often face very challenging scenarios where there is not enough tolerance or the right pastoral care and that can lead to a very damaging and negative experience for them. It's clearly already an issue and something that will become more and more common."

What do you think? Can interfaith marriages between the two largest religious groups in the UK work?

Leave your thoughts below.

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