Introduction of the Book: Interfaith Marriage

Book: Interfaith Marriage: Share & Respect with Equality

Chapter I. Introduction

This book is written to promote interfaith marriage with equality. It highlights complexities of interfaith relationships for the benefit of interfaith couples and their parents. Using interfaith marriages as a tool, the author wishes to promote religious pluralism and tolerance in this world.

This book is more than “Interfaith Marriage for Dummies.” It provides relevant texts from scriptures, historic perspectives, practical issues, laws governing interfaith marriages, and real-life experiences from hundreds of youths.

As the world is getting smaller, there is greater personal interaction between people with diverse backgrounds. This results in an increasing number of interfaith marriages, and, this trend is expected to increase over the coming years.

Most interfaith conflicts appear only a few months before marriage or in worst cases, just a few days before the birth of a child. The objective of this book is to help educate new adults so that they make fully informed decisions before committing to long-lasting married life.

It is easy for a religious leader to give grand sermons on interfaith harmony but quite difficult in the day-to-day life of an interfaith couple to find middle ground between conflicting religious beliefs. Unfortunately, most interfaith dating couples don’t have sufficient knowledge about the intended spouse’s faith, or even about their own faith. Further, in the early dating period, it is difficult to bring up sensitive topics like religion for fear of disturbing the fragile romantic relationship. However, couples would be better off discussing critical issues sooner rather than later. Relevant guidance and talking points are provided in this book.

Historically, interfaith marriages between Dharmics (Hindu, Jain, Sikh and Buddhist) and Abrahamics (Christian, Jew and Muslim) were rare, but now they are becoming common and increasing in numbers. Table 1 shows the important differences between the belief systems of Dharmics and Abrahamics. The author’s marriage survey in 2009 found that 38% of Dharmics got married to Abrahamics in America. About the same percentages of interfaith marriages have been reported for Christians, Muslims and Jews.

Table 1: Abrahamic verses Dharmic Faiths*


The main focus of this book is to help navigate a Dharmic-Abrahamic couple from conflicting religious issues. However, the author would like to warn interfaith dating readers and their parents that the journey is not going to be easy.

It is not the objective of this book to criticize any particular faith or religion, but to highlight potential conflicts and major differences. The author expects readers of this book to be educated intellectuals and thus be able to objectively navigate through the difficult-to-swallow information provided in this book. It is hoped that the readers will appreciate the objective of the work in promoting the equality of partners in an interfaith marriage.

Ideally, it would be better if an interfaith couple believes that religious scriptures were written by apostles/sages in earlier times and should be interpreted within its context. However, if one member of the couple believes that the scripture is a direct message from God and must be followed literally, then the other member should know how that will impact their planned married life.

It is fashionable to talk of being secular and tolerant in colleges, and thus not always easy to recognize an exclusivist. To help readers learn to spot exclusivist thinking in the intended spouse, simple lists of questions are provided in this book.

For the most part, Abrahamic faiths are monotheistic, exclusivist and believe in the superiority of their faith over each other’s and others’. Dharmic faiths, on the other hand, are relatively more pluralistic. Abrahamics are expected to identify themselves by clear association with their religious institution and must “formally” accept a particular faith by certain religious ceremony, like Baptism, Bris, bar mitzvah, Shahadah, sunat, khitan, etc. (referred to in this book as “BBS”) These exclusivist ceremonies have certainly created problems for even interfaith marriages within Abrahamics, because dual ceremonies (like baptism and bar mitzvah) for a child are not accepted by either of the two faith leaders. Such religious labelings are also present in Dharmic faiths, but are not enforced as much by religious institutions or the Dharmic communities.

In most cases, it is not the couple’s religious scriptures, but what that person has learned from it is important. It is hoped that this book will help discuss critical topics that a Dharmic-Abrahamic couple may have overlooked and will help them achieve an ever lasting and loving marriage with clear understanding. Although it may be uncomfortable to read certain chapters, it is hoped that interfaith dating couples will read this book together to gain maximum benefit.

Everyone likes to have equality in many aspects of life. Religious equality in an interfaith marriage should not be any different, though it is difficult to define. Further, tolerance toward religious differences may be high during the dating period but these differences may become a major point of conflict later in married life. The author’s objective here is not to define for readers what is right and wrong, but to provide dating couples with talking points to help them make fully “informed” decision. The author wishes you all everlasting happiness in your inter-faith or within-faith married life, irrespective of how you define equality.

While guiding the interfaith couples during the last 9 years, the author wrote many articles (covered in Chapter II) based on common questions raised by youths in love. Other chapters (Chapters III–XI) are directed to couples from two specific faiths. Chapter XII covers conflicting points among scriptures. Eighty-one real life experiences out of more than 900 youths that the author consulted are also described in this book.

In author’s experience, initially, most youths were tolerant and accommodating to their intended spouse’s faith but later changed their minds to please their parents and religious institutions. In the end, the author felt, most couples were not ready for an interfaith marriage with equality.

With this book, the author is hoping to raise awareness about the potential conflicts due to religious exclusivity, which may lead to pain and suffering among dating and married interfaith couples. It is author’s wish to promote religious harmony and pluralism.


Video message
Introduction
Read first 37 pages of the book free, click “Look Inside”
About author
Authors Presentations and Travel Plans
Facebook
Twitter
Media coverage
Endorsements of the book
Publisher Mount Meru
How to purchase the book
Contact
Return to book home page

Return to InterfaithShaadi.org. To share your experience, read.

Comments are closed.