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Participants reported more openness to dating than marrying a non-Muslim, although the pattern of results was similar for both.
As expected, stronger religious fundamentalism and stronger religious identification were predictive of less openness toward interfaith dating and marriage.
But as their numbers grow, some organizations are reaching out. The advice on religion could apply to many issues in a marriage. According to Islamic law, Muslim men can marry Jewish or Christian women, considered "People of the Book," as Islam recognizes Moses and Jesus as prophets and the Torah and Gospels as revelations from God.
At a weekend conference in Chicago starting Friday, the Dovetail Institute for Interfaith Family Resources, a group that supports Catholic-Jewish marriages, is offering a small seminar on Muslim intermarriages. The presumption in such marriages is that the children would be raised as Muslims.
Harold Vogelaar, a Lutheran School of Theology professor, will lead the discussion Sunday with help from his Muslim wife."Intermarriage is such a hot-button topic," said Mary Rosenbaum, Dovetail executive director. This seminar is an experiment for us, but the perception is that [Muslim intermarriages] are growing fast."At the Islamic Society of North America, based in Plainfield, Ind., interfaith marriages now account for 30 percent of yearly marriage ceremonies performed there, said Sayyid Syeed, the secretary general. But non-Muslim men who want to marry Muslim women must convert, scholars say, and people who do not follow the rules can face ostracism.
For such couples, questions can range from how to orchestrate a marriage ceremony--should a Muslim bride of Indian descent wear a traditional red sari to her Christian wedding? When Asma Ali, 28, announced her engagement to an Episcopalian, her father didn't talk to her for a year.
Conversely, stronger identification with mainstream Canadian culture significantly predicted more personal openness toward intimate interfaith relationships with a non-Muslim.
Married eight years and still practicing their separate religions, the south suburban couple are raising their daughter Catholic and likely to raise their son Muslim."There may be 100 different ways" to make such a complex partnership work, said Anne Aboushousha. Worries keep some silent Reactions to such relationships can be strong, especially after Sept 11.
Talk about how the children will be raised ahead of time," Vogelaar said.