Arab Diaspora: Shall I Marry a Non-Arab?

Arab women living in diaspora have hard questions to answer. Should they marry non-Arabs, non-Muslims or converts to Islam? Palestinian blogger Mona, who lives in Canada and blogs at Rebellious Arab Girl, opens a can of worms when she asks these questions in a post, which has attracted 162 comments so far.

Mona writes:

There is a question that I don’t have a real answer for, but it is the most asked question that people ask me. This question is mostly asked because people think that the Rebellious Arab Girl is such a crazy odd girl who will do anything and everything.
Mona, why don’t you just marry a non-Arab? What’s wrong with marrying a convert? Mona, if you don’t like the Arabic culture, why not just marry outside of it and spare us your complaints?

She explains:

My answer is simple. I was raised a certain way, and I don’t want someone to get accustomed to the way I was brainwashed by the family and arabic culture, and I don’t have to get accustomed to his. However it is my choice.

She further adds:

Many Arabs marry non-Arabs. It is known throughout history. A lot of people are against it, and I don’t know why. If it effects you directly, then go ahead and be angry about it. All I know is, that each person is held responsible for their own actions. Let them do what they please. Arab male or female, let them be.

Inter-racial marriages, notes Mona, have their share of misery:

I know there are so many problems with interracial marriages, especially the way Arabs perceive it, but what can you do? Arabs are so picky sometimes that they want their sons and daughters to only marry an Arab. However, this Arab has to be from the same country, speaks the same dialect, and is from the same village. What can you do? This is their mentality. Accept it, or leave it.

And she adds:

I believe that it is logical for an Arab to marry another Arab. If some Arabs think negatively of it, then maybe one day they will see the upside of the whole thing. If those Arabs really want things to change, then maybe they can start by the way they want to live their life, and raise their children in a more modern Arab lifestyle.

In the comments section, the debate is raging.

Moroccan Hajar Benlahmar notes:

if i have to choose between marrying an Arab and non Arab, i would pick the non Arab even I’m an Arab.for one simple reason, i cant bear the Arabic men mentality, which is dogmatic, racist, sexist … just name it
…and any successful woman cant deal with such behavior because an Arabic man cant accept a woman as partner in life, he want her to be under his control following his wills and denying her existence…I don’t wanna generalize, but the most Arabic men are not looking for wife to share life with, but they are looking for domestic servant…My cousin is married to french converted to Islam. they passed their holiday in morocco with day i woke up to find him ironing his and her cloths, then he changed the diapers of their daughter,and he even washed the dishes… he helped in everything…My brother found him cooking dinner he told him ” dude are you crazy!!! she is the one who got to do that, then why you married her” he said with an innocent face ” i married her cus i loved her” lol

Seventeen-year-old Bahraini-German Mariam weighs in, adding:

Marrying an Arab or non Arab doesn’t matter to me, but since my mom is a German convert and my dad is an Arab and I’m a child of a mixed marriage I thought I might let you know the advantages of mixed
marriages. We can speak more than one language; we understand more than one culture, tradition and religion even though we don’t agree totally with it. We are able to change people’s minds from both countries and
traditions because we are related while some stranger isn’t able to. We wipe away prejudice. We are more open minded. And we bring people together.Those are just a few examples.

And Desert Shark shares the following story:

My sister is engaged to an american muslim-convert. It originally caused a lot of distress for my father, who has slowly gotten used to the idea. There was no arab guy who can handle a well-educated, independent and financially secure woman like my sister, the way most arab guys are raised they can’t handle that kind of mentality. So it was no surprise that she found an american guy who can handle being with a woman like her. The idea of arabs marrying non-arabs isn’t easy, I think most see it as going against their own culture. But sometimes you have to follow your heart and be with the person you want to be with.

And finally Najma supports the status quo:

I personally think everyone should stick to their own culture and background. Arab should marry Arabs and so on. It saves alot of trouble, hassle, family conflicts and disagreements. You say some people rather not deal with Arab in laws who wont leave you alone, says who other in laws arent trouble and they wil leave you alone. Honestly alot of problems does occur marrying someone else with other background. If not sooner it will effect you later on, althou their are alot of people I kno who married other backgrounds and are happy. So you never know, but I rather not!


  • azmat

    Women must be loved and respected
    All you young Arab hotties complain about how your Arab husbands/boyfriends mistreat you as a mere possessions, control you and kick you around, put their foot on your skinny necks till you scream Allah hu Akbar for mercy. You girls say Arab men are sexists, abuser of women’s rights and dignity. It is true, all of it, but in reality all men can be sexist and stupid if given the chance. But what are you going to do about it? Its time to take some action. Its about time to give men the taste of the same medicine they have been demonizing women with for thousands of years. I beleive our culture and beleif systems have molded us men this way. I think its about time things change, to make a marriage equal and more dignified. God didn’t create women just to be worthless xerox machines for babies, to be insulted and demoralized. They have a higher purpose in life: to be loved and respected. Women play a greater role in sustaning and nurturing the human race more than men will ever understand. Arab men should also remember that these very females they mistreat represent our mothers, grandmothers, sisters, cousins, and aunts. The wives should demand the same respect as free human beings not as servants. This kind of subjugation or slavery must end. Its up to muslim women to rise up and change things around. They are the most discreminated humans on earth. You just can’t simply say, oh well I was born in this culture and so be it. All you women out there have a capacity to change things around, whats stopping you? you are in majority everywhere. Start telling yourselves first that you have grace, beauty, and inner strength. And you are truly God’s wonderful and inteligent creatures.

  • Lee

    Thanks for linking this blog discussion. It’s a tough issue, especially for the younger generation caught “between worlds”. It’s an issue every ethnic group in Canada has had to come to terms with at some point in their histories.

  • Weird. She evidently is from the Machreq, Sham yes. They seem particularly afflicted with that tribal understanding of Arab.

  • Joe Green

    I would tell any woman I know never marry an Arab or anyone who following Islam. Islam does not respect Women and they are just property for men to do what they want with them.
    In Islam, if anyone in the family tries to leave the religion, that person has dishonored the family and that person will be killed, in most cases
    I have been told by a former member of Islam that if his family or former friends, in Islam, could find him, they would kill him. He had to leave his home town, in the middle of the night, change his name and get a fresh start. He says, he can never contact or see his family again. Is this the religion of peace? NO!

    • azmat

      Thanks brother Joe
      You have spoken the truth and revealed the true nature of Islam. I also have many muslim relatives who have converted to Christianity, who are banned for life from their loved ones, the fatwa (a decree of slaughter) is out against them, if they are found or seen they are to be killed immediately in the name of Allah the most unmerciful idol god. According to Islam, there is no toleration for apostates or non-muslims. Quran boldly teaches it followers to “kill ’em where you find ’em” (Christians and Jews).

  • go ahead set an example others are bound to follow you can become a trend setter

  • Marry the man who treats you and respects you as his equal. Obviously these people who comment about Islam but who no nothing about Islam are tragically misled. The Koran states that you may marry who who wish as long as they believe in the God of Abraham. The Koran tells us to respect the “People of The Book” and treat them as we would our own family members. There is no such thing as a “Fatwa” for marrying someone of another faith. What nation are you from that you claim relatives are forbidden to marry non-Muslims? What Surah of the Koran tells us this? My father is Muslim and he married my mother,a Sephardic Jew. I suspect the devil is here spreading his lies again. A lot of people don’t separate the Koran from “hadith” which are prone to error and individual interpretation.Most of these people are not Muslim. How can Yeshua (Jesus) be one of the revered Prophets,but those who believe in is teachings are “Haram”(forbidden)? Excuse my crudeness, but you idiots are talking out of your anal orifice.May Allah bless your ignorance and show you the true path to enlightenment.

  • Jennifer Mc Cleary

    I think what’s being lost in this discussion is a true and unbiased understanding of what Islam represents and what bias represents. I doubt highly, that interracial/inter-religious couples have to fear for their lives. These comments sound like American/Fundimentalist rhetoric, and as an American, I know what this sounds like. I believe that marriage between people of differing religous backgrounds is a good idea. Not only will it define the differences between us, it will break social and politically driven stereotypes about people of different religions. As slavery has taught us, breaking stereotypes and societal norms is never easy, and it definitely doesn’t happen over night. A greater understanding of others beliefs can only be improved through understanding and love, however difficult and unsavory some people may find it. My response: Deal with it!

  • Ismail

    I am an American Revert to Islam. I have a read the comments and although some see a bit odd, I understand.

    I think life and marriage can be as simple as we want it to be. Family and friends are great; however, if they prevent your happiness due to their ignorance, the choice should be easy.

    Do what makes your heart happy and marry only for love. Your family might not like your decisions but they will always love you.

  • […] many of the stories seem personally relevant. For example, I felt close to the many voices in the discussion in the Arab diaspora over whether one should marry a non-Arab because Chinese-Americans face a similar struggle within families and within […]

  • Thank you brothers and sisters for your comments regarding mix marriages with different cultures , societies , belived and traditions.

    Generally, women have to be respected in any circumstances. she is a human being like a men. But those who are willing to marry non arab have to know their partners very well before getting involved, otherwise you will end up by critising those who have a happy marriage with their beloved wife. all marriages are based on happiness and happiness is the key to success. women are the most powerful in this world. for example, look around you? beside every successful men then there will be a great women who are the highest decision makers in the society but she is beside her husband.

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