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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 us.one 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!

24 comments

  • Luis Soto

    hi my name Luis Soto and this women ive been seeing for a year from palestine and her mom believes in her only marrying an arab and must be from palestine. i love her so much at times i see myself crying because this may never lead anywhere. it sucks for me being a catholic that i cant be with her but if we kept on going and we led to marriage i would learn about islam and convert.

    • geoerge

      hi there, we have the same situation…what happened to your and your arab palestinian girlfriend ? did it worked out ? have you considered reverting to islam ?

  • yyy

    I am a western woman and I suppose I would marry a non-religous arab. I believe that inter-racial marriages are ok, I have seen many inter-racial marriages that work well, however – the issue here is not the inter-racial problem or even the problem of different cultures but the belief that most arab men have that you must SUBMIT to their way and to the way of Islam. I am a Catholic woman and I would never convert to Islam and I would never raise my children as muslim. The only condition I would find acceptable is if we were both to teach our children about different religions and allow them to choose for themselves. But most muslim men do not agree with even this kind of compromise – they believe that their religion is superior – just look at the koran and you will see many statements about the moral inferiority of “dhimmis” Islam is currently the most intolerant religion in the world – if 500 years ago people feared the spanish inquisition – today we all have to fear the islamic inquisition!!!

  • Ismail

    I am an American. I believe the media drives the negative stereotypes that Westerners seem to have. The transgressions of the media are not only a western problem but a global problem. Unfortunately hate and misery sell.

    Islam is perfect and has no extremes because this is Allah’s (God’s) Will. Unfortunately, it is its followers that are imperfect, sometime extreme, and intolerable. Like Christians, Catholics, Jews, and other groups, we can be weak.

    Respect and tolerance is the key. Not only the key on a global level but in our own lives. The mere question of “Shall I marry a Non-Arab” is interesting. The Qur’an was given to us so we don’t have to ask questions like this. In our imperfection, we choose to challenge Allah’s Will which is haram (sinful). Muslim Men can marry any woman of the book, descendents of Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham). A Muslim woman can marry any Muslim Man, no matter his ethnicity/nationality.

  • Kristy

    I think that human beings should marry for love, and keep fidelity to that love. Most of us believe in only one God… regardless of what the religion is called. Perhaps we follow different Prophets, but at the end of the day, there is only God, and only God can decide who marries whom. I agree to one thing-if a Muslima wants to marry outside of her culture, it should be only to a Muslim. Whether that Muslim man is converted or “born” Muslim, that is between the wife and the husband.
    Other than that… let marriage be for love. Marriage is a man’s way of showiing his devotion and love, as well as respect to the woman he loves. Marriage is a decent and good way to live and have a family. Any relation outside of marriage really leads to nothing good.
    I wish the best for everyone. You may or may not agree with my opinions… but what I am saying is based on religious principles and moral principles.

  • veronica

    Iam looking for my husband Ahmed s Alneaimi.can’t get you out of my mind I was wrong I listen to opinions of others.i miss you so much.cultures and religions should not matter but respected.follow your heart.

  • geoerge

    many times we are put into trials and challenges of love and with these inter cultural, inter racial relationships takes further and further as the new generations see thru it. In my opinion, follow your heart, follow where it leads you. in the first place it is your life. Consider all aspects if you have to revert to islam for the love of it, so be it, thats love, if you have to do what is best. But never settle down of what you are afraid of. That is what future can it bring both of you.. Future is not seen but what is important is the present and both of you can make the best out of it

  • I’m with you in all what you said about Arab men , but it’s just result of how is Arabic women… Arabic women raised focus on only one idea (How to get marry), they also don’t care that much to get good education or to look for their future … most Arabic women have so narrow vision about currently crisis and events around them , they just put their dreams on men and most of them depend on men not depend on themselves .. that make men look at them as they are so weak and brainless .. that make men sexist and non respectful to them … I’m just asking all Arab women to care about their brains and educations more than how they care about getting marry and they will get best man .

    • Ismail

      Assalam Alaikum Everyone,
      Br. Malik I realize it is okay to have an opinion. On the other hand, it’s a terrible thing to stereotype all Arab women or anyone in general.
      I live in the US where most Americans know very little about Islam or the people that practice; therefore, their baseline for information is different.
      When you or anyone post negative comments about Muslims or Islam (although I’m sure you mean well) it isn’t understood in the way you want your message delivered.
      You are adding more fuel to their fire.
      I think the thought you were expressing could fit anyone that has been oppressed, whether male, female, Muslim, or non-Muslim. We (humans) have a tendency to put our faith in everything except what we are supposed to.

      • W alikum El-Salam,
        Mr.Ismail thanks for you reply and I appreciate that . first thing that you should know I’m an Arabic and Muslim and I won’t ever say anything bad to put my religious down … here I live in our Arabic world and I met so many girls here and I got a lot of female friends .. there’re many things we couldn’t ignore in our Arabic world because we did that till it became huge problems … here most of girls as if you talked to them you will find them with no idea about anything , they are beautiful but they had not even opinion about many things .. that wasn’t in Islam dear , but they raised to care about their beauty the most as that’s their wealth … their reason in that they will get good husband .. as I said before they care about that the most , that husband should have everything like apartment and car or any other financial stuff (whatever a lot of guys in Arab world couldn’t even find any job) that make that guys feel like he buy a girl that her family sold her to who pay the most .
        that shown the rate of divorce is increasing … girls don’t even handle love stuff because think love won’t make them marry and their families won’t agree to marry some one with no apartment at less … girls here in Egypt still ask for Gold .. is that was in Islam?!! … the point I wanna say if the guys here in Arabic world are bad that is cause of girls and they helped them to be like that and that’s not related by Islam

        • Ismail

          Assalam,
          I understand. Forgive me if I wrote anything that cam across as judgmental. Your experiences are your experiences. I would just say that Muslim women aren’t alone in this behavior. I know of many women and men that have preconditions for their potential spouse.

          I’ve learned the hard way that when talking about Islam know your audience. This blog is a mix. There are many Arab and/or Asian born people that refer to themselves as Muslims but are not. They were raised in Islam and as adults have wondered away. They no longer practice the faith and make us that do look extreme to Westerners.

          Allah Khair,

          Ismail

  • Dee

    This is not about Arab men being disrespectful or this idea that all Arab men mistreat their women. This is about a woman choosing and having the right to be with the man that she wants, the man that she is in love with or a man who she knows will be the perfect person to live with for the rest of her life.When he is willing to change his life and convert to Islam for her, that means that he is willing to sacrifice anything for her.

    The problem is that our society looks down upon Arab women marrying non Arab men. People will start pondering about why is she with a “white guy”? They’ll gossip and make their own excuses, each worse than the other.

    I am one of those women, I’m in love with a Kiwi convert and he is the most amazing man I have ever met. When i confronted my parents they tried to drift us apart by making me move cities, now they are trying to make me move countries. My father has spoken to him and enjoyed his company and realized what a great person he is but still since my sister has been recently engaged and cause of the Arab society that lived around us they seem to have it plastered in their minds that this is a bad idea. Also they seem to be extremely worried about the chances of divorce only since he is Kiwi and I am Arab, but isn’t it the same if i was to marry an Arab man???? In fact I am sure there are more cases of divorce between Arab marriages than between cross culture marriages!!! In fact my auntie is an example herself!!

    I will keep fighting though, this is the new generation of Arab women, and I will fight with whatever stands in my way. Marriage is not just about reproduction. It is about being able to live with an individual, love and trust them for the rest of your life. Being Arab or non Arab…

  • lili

    hi dear Amira,
    i think it’s depend on the girls because arabian some of them are not muslim, if she willing to non- muslim , is nice, if she no choice to be muslim ,her family so strict in religion ,so there is really no choice to be muslim,, and you should know arabian are hard marry non- arabian, some of them ,they accept it, some of them ,are not, and you should accept your bf if he left you what was the reason…
    And if he will accept ,that mean he sacrifice for u

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