What It's Really Like to Date a Muslim
Intercultural dating almost always incites curiosity among those outside the relationship, especially when a Muslim is involved. There are always questions; about the couple, their families, their future, etc. It’s one of those topics that a majority of us are curious about but would never ask an intercultural couple face-to-face. So without further ado, here are a few first hand accounts from people who are dating or have dated Muslims…
“Where Do I Start?” - Humphrey, 29
For the most part, our relationship was like any other but there were a few experiences that I think were quite unique. Firstly there was her mother who would constantly change her mind about me. One day she’d love me and want her daughter to have me convert and marry her, and the next she was telling her to stay away from me. But that was probably a mum thing more than a Muslim thing.
Other than that, it was people’s perception of me. When I would visit her village for Eid, I felt like an outsider and a little bit shunned for being a non Muslim. The women weren’t bothered so much at the fact that I wasn’t Muslim, the men however, wouldn’t give me the time of day. Again, that was probably a small village thing.
Then of course, there are the different rules we had to live by. Two occasions I can think of have to do with alcohol consumption. The first was when I tried to take her to a restaurant that served alcohol. They wouldn’t allow her in because she was Muslim and we were in Malaysia. The second was when I was meeting her Muslim friends for lunch. I ordered a beer and got death stares...Probably should have gone for a pepsi in hindsight.
“Different Types of Muslims” - Jasmin, 25
I’m a Muslim myself but I’m not practicing; so that means I don’t pray, don’t fast, I drink alcohol, etc. When I was seventeen I dated a very religious Muslim boy. Safe to say we were always butting heads.
We had very different views of the religion and it’s rules, mostly because the way we learnt about the religion as well as the way our families practiced the religion were very different. His whole family prayed five times a day and all his sisters and his mother wore the hijab. In my family on the other hand, only my mother and my brother prayed.
When it came to actually being together, our religious differences caused quite a bit of grief. From my end, it was mostly because he was trying to turn me into something I wasn’t. He wanted me to start praying and wearing the hijab even when I told him I wasn’t ready to do those things (not that I was completely closed off to them). And I kept wanting to open his mind up to different, sometimes opposing ideas about life and religion. I wasn’t trying to make him less religious, I just wanted him to become a bit more open minded.
At the end of the day, we were young and we both had this idea of who we wanted to end up with but we were too stubborn to realise that it wasn’t each other.
“Getting New Perspectives” - Elle, 23
I guess the cultural differences is one thing. Experiencing Eid was eye opening for me and I realized that muslims keep in contact with all their relatives way more than the Chinese. Based on my observations anyway. And it's cool to see them bust out their traditional wear every year because you don't really see that during Chinese New Year anymore.
Also, I actually kind of lessened the amount of pork I eat. Because I felt that it was a little weird for me to be consuming pork and then possibly sharing drinks or whatever with him. I don’t know. I felt somewhat guilty.
There are definitely some clashes on how we view certain things in life. Especially when it comes to religion. Like I don't get why dogs are unclean to Muslims, but that is to be expected since we were brought up differently. I guess that's also another unique thing because we can have these kinds of discussions and try to understand things from a different perspective.
Other than the expectation of me becoming a Muslim one day if I continue this relationship, I think everything else is pretty much just like any other relationship.
*The names and ages of interviewees were changed to respect their anonymity.