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Why religion matters in relationships

08 April 2015, 16:58 Shakila Alivitsa

Nairobi - I come from a home where we have two religions in play; my father is Muslim while my mother is a Christian.

It is always confusing for me to try and describe my affiliation because my name plays me false. Abdallah is not a name you can describe away. Abdallah is my father’s name but at the end of the day it is printed on my ID. 


For a lot of people, it normally is just a distinction of churches but at the end as long as it is Christian you can easily move from one church to the other. Now when it comes to two completely different religions it is a lot harder to shift from one to the other. Like in my parents’ case. I can imagine my mother trying to convert into a Muslim. The beliefs, taboos, what you wear, what you can or cannot do and even the place of a woman in a Muslim household. Or of my father tries becoming a Christian. That would not even work because as it is popularly known according to African tradition it is the woman that follows the man and not the other way around.


I once saw my mother in a buibui, once and that was that, I never saw her in it again. Muslim tradition is quite hard to transition to and it cannot be done overnight. I think my parents just decided to let it be and each of them stuck to what they came into the marriage as.


The problem comes in when you have children. It is good if the both of you respect each other’s religion but now whom are the children meant to follow. In a bid to let sleeping dogs lie neither of my parents ever mentioned to us which religion we were meant to grow up with. We had Muslim names and never ate pork in our house but when Friday came we were not at the mosque and when Sunday came, mother went to church while we were left at home. She would just ask, ‘who wants to go to church?’ Whoever wanted to go went, whoever wanted to remain stayed at home and that was the end of it.


Each of us is something different. There was a point our last born was Muslim, up until she had her first taste of Ramadhan and opted out. She loves to eat. Then there was a time the second born had a rosary and was Catholic, even I had my phase as a Catholic (some boarding school I went to). Then in high school, I was a Seventh day and it just stuck up until now. So when you are a Seventh day and your last name is Abdallah you can just imagine the weird look someone has as you try to explain the doctrines behind your fellowship.


My parents created a losing situation when they decided not to talk about what would happen when it came to their children and religion. If not for school we would be atheists. If you are thinking of marrying someone outside your religion even culture, these are some of the things you should address. The both of you might have worked it out by sticking to what you know but you also need to figure it out for your children too. Not having them confused like sheep running in all directions.


Love will not erase inbred ways of doing things and someone’s tradition. Sit down and have the talk. Have the disagreement now and figure out whether you can do without that person and their beliefs or you will have to embrace them. One of you will have to lose out because the children will have to be under one banner.

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