Saturday, December 4, 2010

Book: LIOL: Marrying A Believer - Asia Sharif-Clark

Asia is a born Muslim woman who was raised by a single parent - her mother. Her husband James, who she met while attending college was also raised by his mother. But James is not a Muslim. He 'considers himself neither Christian nor Muslim but simply a man who fears God.'

Asia considers herself privileged to share her life with a man who 'understands my commitment to my Lord, my marriage, and motherhood.' They are designing their own concept of marriage as they go.

'Most Qur'anic exegesis agrees that regarding marriage, a Muslim man can marry a "believing" woman ("believing" meaning one who is Muslim or a monotheistic Christian or Jew). Conversely, a Muslim woman can only marry a Muslim man. The reason given is that the woman would be subjected to and adversely affected by the laws and customs of her husband.'

I even have a book that's supposed to be a guide for new convert Muslimah's that instructs a woman if she is married that she has to leave her husband immediately unless he has converted with her. Their marriage, according to this book, is not valid at all.

Asia and James met while attending college. They had mutual friends and saw each other often while in these groups. During a group get together a friend explained to Asia that James was interested in her. She was surprised and certain that there was some sort of a mistake there. She had given him no reason to show any interest. They knew each other, but not well. Asia felt herself to be at a disadvantage - during the group gatherings James had managed to find out so much about her, her views and ideas, but he spoke little and listened so much that she hadn't learned about him.

Over the winter break they began to see a lot of each other and for the first time in years Asia began to listen instead of speaking. She learned more about him in two weeks than she had in a year. Over the next year Asia and James really got to know each other - they discussed marriage, children, Christianity, Islam, their goals, everything. James understood how important it would be for her to raise her children in Islam even though he had no interest in converting. With her major concerns addressed and with no fear, 'I called James at work one evening and asked him if next Wednesday would be a good day to get married. He said yes, and on March 7, 1993, we were married.'

Asia says that her family embraced him with ease. Her mother has always been a people person - she developed connections with others with ease no matter their backgrounds, religions, politics or anything else. It was no different when she met James. 'My mom got what she wanted - a son-in-law who believed in God, feared God, and was good to me. She has never been disappointed, and our families and communities supported our desire to create a lifelong partnership.'

Asia says that their getting married required arrangements, but staying married required strategy. They both made some mistakes early on. One of hers, she says, was expecting James to fall into the role of the traditional Muslim husband. She explained Islamic etiquette and gave James all the mechanics and procedures so he would fit in, but she didn't give him time to get comfortable with the faith. She was overly zealous in many areas and came off as pushy. So there were many times when she would show up for juma prayer or Eid celebrations with her sons and no James. It wasn't until a friend pointed out to her that 'Allah has blessed you with a wonderful husband who adores you.' that she realized just how happy and lucky she really was and that she was pushing too hard for James to fit into this imaginary ideal that she had.

'Awakened to my gratitude for James, I realized that Allah wanted me to be true to myself and true to Him. I reminded myself that I signed on for this relationship, with this man. What I had done was change the rules. I wanted him involved in Islamic activities to make me feel better, and that wasn't fair to James. He'd given me exactly what he proposed, and he'd been honest from the beginning.'

'I am grateful to Allah for so many reasons. As a child He gave me a mom who made me believe that anything was possible for me, and today I live life without limitation. As an adult, Allah gave me a dad who's taught me to practice Islam with sincerity and consistency. As a woman, Allah gave me a husband who works, struggles, and laughs with me. Allah gave me children whom I protect like a lioness protecting cubs. I thank Allah for the opportunity to care for others, and I awake each morning saying, "In the name of You, Allah, thank you for allowing me to wake up and work for peace and productivity." Each day, I make a conscious decision to live Islam through motherhood, marriage, and work. I've been blessed for too long, and been given too much, to deny the favors of my Lord.'


  1. It's nice reading happy stories like this! I'm really glad their marriage is working out for them. Mutual acceptance and appreciation of each other's differences goes a long way.

    I'm enjoying these stories. :)

  2. I'm really enjoying them, too. So glad to finally see a happy one!

  3. Susanne & Heather,

    Yeah, hers has been one of the few purely happy stories so far. Some of them turn out well but there's angst first and a lot of unhappiness especially with marriages which makes me sad. So it was nice to get one where despite the odds being against it was just nice and happy and working out for all the people involved.

    I'm glad you two are enjoying these. :)

  4. This is such a great post! I can totally relate. I was raised in a Christian/Baptist family. My husband is Catholic. While there have been struggles in the beginning (brought on mostly by me and my pushiness) I, too, am grateful for the husband I have been blessed to marry. He believes in God and His role in our lives and the rest is between us and Him. I wish you and your family well. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and experiences with us ;).


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