My girlfriend is a beautiful, funny, and intelligent young woman and I’m very lucky to have her in my life. We met in college, we know each other’s families, and are each other’s best friends. I’ve been with her for almost two years and I would like to start a life with her. There’s only one issue—as a Muslim, I feel my future wife has to believe in God. I’m not the strictest of Muslims, I occasionally drink and don’t follow everything written in the Quran, but my girlfriend is an atheist. She says she’s open to believing, but that is a requirement in order for our marriage to be valid within Islam and so that we can marry in a mosque. I want that not only for religious reasons but because it’s a cultural and familial tradition. We’ve talked about her converting but it’s usually ended up with us brushing it aside or with her being hurt because she says I can’t love her for who she is. Of course I love her and want to be with her but I also want my future marriage to be validated by my religion and accepted by God. But I don’t want to pressure her into converting, either. What do I do?
Hang on, Prudie, I got this one.
Dear Feeling Lost,
Religion is all of these combined. It appeals to your sense of normalcy (phrases like “good Christian” don’t just assume the person’s morality, it also implies they’re familiar and trustworthy), it appeals to your sense of individualism (You don’t say, ‘I follow the Islamic faith,’ you say ‘I am a Muslim,’ it’s part of your self-identity.) and it appeals to your sense of responsibility as your question displays “I also want my future marriage to be validated by my religion and accepted by God” You love this woman, but you’re being irresponsible for not clearing it with God, even though you love her and the way you feel isn’t changing, you feel compelled to ask some kind of permission to accept the way you already feel. (Sidenote: Just curious if you’re aware of what God does to Muslims who marry atheists or other non-Muslims. If you guessed “nothing because there is no God,” you’re correct!)
See, Islam wants to wrap itself around important life events so that you keep coming back, a loyal customer. Like a smoker. When tobacco companies started facing advertising regulations, they upped the addictive chemical ratio in their products in order to keep their customers coming back. Religion arranges itself around the important milestones in people’s lives to keep you coming back. Births, puberty, weddings, funerals, and of course holidays. They’re times you’re compelled to visit the institution out of some misplaced guilt your parents instilled when you were young because it was instilled in them and so on and so on and turtles all the way down.
Want my advice? No?! Well, fuck it, I’m gonna give it anyway. Break the cycle of addiction to a corrupt institution bent on dominating people’s social structure and abandon Islam altogether. Be a humane parent and allow your children to grow up without the terror your parents and their religion imposed upon you and I know you’re terrified, because your question basically demands something unreasonable, that your wife lie to a deity (by saying she believes it when she obviously doesn’t) who you can’t even be sure exists, for whom you have so little faith exists that you disobey the rules he supposedly laid out (because you drink and shit). Asking for your wife to pretend to be a different woman to appease your superstition shows your weakness as a critical thinker, but it’s not to late for you. Step one: Never set foot in a mosque again. Step two: Throw your qu’ran away. Step three: Ignore other religions, they’re the same shit with different labels. (You can’t swear off Marlboros and start smoking Kools and tell people you quit smoking) Step Four: Enjoy freedom.