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Mar. 3rd, 2011 | 09:56 am
mood: depresseddepressed

My youngest daughter got married last night. Am I happy? Well, no. Not really.

My daughter has converted to Islam and was married in an Islamic ceremony.

Let me hasten to say at this point that the religious aspects are not my main issue with her marriage. Nor is it particularly with her new husband, who obviously is quite in love with her and is actually a pretty nice guy.

Being born a Christian and growing up in the USA during all the momentous social changes of the last 60 years, I regard the position of women in Islam as unfortunate. I know that in most Islamic majority countries, the equality of women is guaranteed by law, but just as is true in the USA, the law does not guarantee acceptance of this fact by men. Even in the USA and other Western countries, there is still social inequality. And many many women took part in the recent protests in the Middle East.

I'm the first to admit that I'm no expert on Islam, although I'm familiar with its basic tenets. I know that 99.9% of Muslims are law abiding, good providers, loving parents and children, just like people in other religions. I don't let the work of a tiny majority of fanatics color my opinion of an entire culture.

The ceremony, Nikka, I believe it's called, was very alien and unsatisfying to my way of thinking. The bride and groom weren't even in the same room! Now, her husband told my wife afterwards that the Imam had said that if no other men were present, they could have been together and my wife and my sister, who had unexpectedly shown up, could have participated in the ceremony. However, a large number of the men stuck around after the evening prayers ended and so the women had to stay behind the curtain that separated the Masjid from the women's area.

All that being said, it is not the religion that is at the core of my unhappiness over this marriage. It is actually how it came about.

My daughter met her husband at Cedar Point, a large theme park in Ohio where they both worked in the summer of 2009. At this time she was engaged to a man she'd gone to college with. He was a nice enought guy, but suffered from social anxiety disorder and she had worked hard for three years to draw him out and make him more comfortable.

In any case, after the park closed for the year, they lived in Akron and seemed to be getting along alright, both having jobs, although he quit his after a few months due to his uneasiness over some of their business and financial practices.

Then she was contacted by her Japanese professor from school and told of an opportunity to teach English in Japan for two years and she jumped on it. Her fiance seemed alright with it and was working in Dayton, but after she was in Japan for a month or two, she ended the engagement and returned the ring.

She told all her Facebook friends about this and her new husband started writing her and confessing that he very much liked her, but since she had been engaged when they were working together he had not regarded it as proper to try and make any advances on her.

Their 'courtship' if you will was carried out entirely on Skype, except for a week last September when she came home to see him. We saw her maybe 24 hours out of the entire week. It hurt, but well, that's love for you.

She converted to Islam while in Japan, there was a large Islamic community in Gifu which is where she was teaching. She's adopted Islamic dress, head scarf, shawls and all the other trappings.

Again, it's not her conversion that's the main issue, it's the manner in which the two of them decided that they could make a life together.

I'm hoping for the best and of course wish them well. My wife is not anywhere near so sanguine about it, though. I'm in for a rough few weeks.

If anyone else has had a child marry under analogous circumstances I'd love to hear how you've come to terms with it or haven't, if that's the case.

I realize that I've rambled, but I'm still rather confused and sad over these events.

My daughter's husband is a talented liguist, just as she is, but he's currently working at a gas station in New Jersey. She is looking for work in International Education Administration, since she doesn't really like being a classroom teacher, although she seems to do well at it. If anyone knows of a job opportunity for either of them, please let me know.

He's from Tajikistan in Central Asia and speaks Russian, English, Tajik, Uzbek, and Turkmeni. She speaks Japanese, French, and some Russian.

Thanks for listening.

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Comments {3}


(no subject)

from: mollywheezy
date: Mar. 3rd, 2011 04:22 pm (UTC)

I don't have children so I'm no help there. But when I was in high school I knew these girls whose mom had converted to Islam when she married their dad. They were very kind people and seemed to have a good marriage (at least from what my teenage self could tell). Their children were well-adjusted and kind. Neither the mom nor the daughters wore head scarves or other cultural trappings unless they were going to the mosque or if it was a special Muslim holiday.

I have a good friend who is Muslim, and she and her husband dress in American clothes as well unless it's a special occasion in their faith. I was at their wedding, and I agree, how it worked was very different. They didn't have the male/female separation, though, but they weren't married in a mosque which might account for the difference. I'm not sure . . .

Weddings are always a huge adjustment for a family even when there isn't all the extra complication and uncertainty. I will be praying for you and your family that this all works out.

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(no subject)

from: katwoman_68
date: Mar. 3rd, 2011 11:16 pm (UTC)

I wish the bride and groom a happy marriage, but I do understand yours and your wife's concerns.

That being said, I don't really have any advice or experience to offer.

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(no subject)

from: thepastperfect
date: Mar. 4th, 2011 12:42 am (UTC)

I don't have children either, nor do I have much experience with family members in my generation getting married (yet). But I do think that if it's the wrong thing, or if this is a bad match for either or both of them, your daughter will make the right decisions for the right changes eventually. If you are supportive, she'll know she has the resources to make those decisions, if she needs to.

In the last year, one friend and one friend's sister have gotten divorces, which is tough, of course, but absolutely the best decision for both of them. But then, I know that's not the right thing for everyone. And you may be happily surprised by how it turns out.

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