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6 Interracial Couples That Prove Race Is No Barrier In Islam

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Nabillah Roslee  •  Jun 14, 2018

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[UPDATED 12 May 2021] As couples embark on a journey in marriage, it's inevitable that they start learning new things about each other - especially so in interracial relationships! Be it through ibadah, cultural practices or differing meals for sahur/iftar, Ramadan is one of the biggest milestones these couples encounter in their matrimonial endeavours towards Allah. Read on for these interracial couples' stories on how they spent their Ramadan together and how they've grown from the obstacles faced since then! 🤗 Disclaimer: The interviews below took place in 2018 and 2019 before the pandemic situation happened in their respective countries. Some of the answers below have been edited to reflect the current time period. 
Jesse and Liyana (Chamorro-Malay, Saipan/SG)
Credit: Shahromey Bakri 1. Tell us a bit about how both of you met and your journey together thus far!  It was a traditional Muslim courtship with friends acting as liaisons between us. I was in New York while my wife was in Singapore. We corresponded mostly online, phone and text until we finally met in person and met our families before finally getting married. It was a 9-month process. We have learnt a lot about each other since then and have grown more in love with each other, Alhamdulillah. We've celebrated Ramadan together for a few years now. 2. What was the biggest cultural difference when experiencing Ramadan together for the first time? When we spent our first Ramadan together in 2018, we were still pretty much newlyweds, we were still learning about each other. Firstly, our diets differed culturally, with my husband preferring light meals like dates, honey, yoghurt and water for sahur while I grew up eating rice, lemak chilli padi, fried omelette and sambal belacan for the pre-dawn meal. The biggest challenge was balancing work, home life, and love life. When we were single, all we had to do was worry about ourselves.
3. What's the most valuable thing you've learnt about each other from this experience?  We both have a desire to be better Muslims and truly observe the religious and spiritual sanctity of Ramadan. We have grown from this experience. Alhamdulillah, this Ramadan we have applied more effort in our acts of worship than last Ramadan. Through this, we were able to grow closer to Allah and each other. We really learnt to plan our Ramadan and make sincere intention - to change our usual routines and steer it towards worship for the month of Ramadan. 4. What advice would you give to other Muslim interracial couples out there? We realize that the differences we have in our cultures don't really matter at the end of the day as we strive to please Allah and fulfil the obligations of a Muslim. Islam truly breaks down all cultural barriers. Patience/ Sabr is very important because some days the hunger and thirst will make you easily annoyed with your spouse. Make sure to read the Quran together and pray together. Remember Allah together.
Fadhilah and Kim (Malay-Korean, Malaysia)
1. Tell us a bit about how both of you met and your journey together thus far! We knew each other in UTM Skudai where Kim had an exchange program for a year. I was assigned as a buddy to him and another Finnish student. From that program, we hung out, attended events together and became close to one another. Alhamdulillah, we have been married for a few years now. To be honest, it's a challenging yet amazing journey as an interracial couple. Just like other married couples, I think 4 years went by really fast yet we still learn new things about each other every day. Despite our differences, we love travelling so we travelled together whenever we had the chance and I think we learnt more about a lot of things and ourselves through the journeys. Hopefully, that's what we will continue to do in the future. 2. What was the biggest cultural difference when experiencing Ramadan together for the first time? How has Ramadan changed for you now?  First of all, Kim converted to Islam in 2013 while studying at UTM. Even before converted, he was interested in Islam because he has many Muslim friends while studying here that he even tried to fast when he knew I was fasting. The first time we did it together, he managed to complete his fast even though he found it challenging to not being able to drink anything, especially water and coffee. Since Koreans are known to love their Americano, I think that was his main concern at that time. Besides that, his first Ramadhan after he converted was a bit overwhelming when he learned to do terawih. Other than these, I can't forget how excited he was when we went to Bazaar Ramadhan together for the first time and explaining what are the foods that can only be found during Ramadhan. Since being married, Ramadhan becomes a month where I deepened my understanding of the religion through tadabbur of Quran. I used to pushed myself to only khatam in Ramadhan but with him, we read Quran translation in Korean and English, try to understand and discuss the meaning - one of our moments I cherished the most. 3. What's the most valuable thing you've learnt about each other from this experience? Though we might have totally different opinion and ideas about many things, we managed to find peace and love in between. Truth be told, there are times when we found it hard to understand each other but we learnt to accept those differences and choose to live happily and go through this marriage together. On top of that, the most valuable thing that I learnt isn't really about us but about our religion and the Creator. I'm grateful He gives him the guidance (hidayah) and chooses me for him to be a part of this journey. 4. What advice would you give to other Muslim interracial couples out there?  I'm not sure if I'm qualified to give advice since we're still considered as newbies in this 'marriage club' but for all I know, patience, communication, commitment and tolerance are the keys in ours if not in every marriage. I mean LOTS of them. Whenever things get tough, talk it out and go back to Him for guidance. 
Fatima and Mamadou Thioune (Pakistani-Senagalese, USA)
Mamadou and Tima were acquainted through Sunday school, middle school and high school, often discussing topics that were of great impact on their lives, one of which was a marriage! After having realised that they were a perfect match for each other, they decided to get married - unfortunately to the disapproval of Fatima's traditional Pakistani family. She was seen as 'betraying the family' and they were largely concerned about how she would be viewed by society. On 17 December 2014, Mamadou asked for Tima's hand in marriage. Though it was a joyous event, it was also one of grief as Tima's family kicked her out of the house and didn't keep in contact for nine months after their marriage on 23 December 2014. However, Tima and Mamadou braved through the financial and emotional struggles that followed, and her family has accepted Mamadou with open arms. They now live only a few houses away from her parents! 😊  1. Tell us a bit about how both of you met and your journey together thus far! So, we were actually featured on the Muslims of The World Facebook page and our story was featured there. It tells you how we met and our journey together so far! Currently, we have taken the opportunity to spread love, laughter and positivity being a Muslim Interracial couple. So we started a YouTube channel to show people that you can live a normal life being an interracial couple while having that balance with our religion. You can subscribe to the YouTube channel here! 2. What was the biggest cultural difference when experiencing Ramadan together for the first time? For me (Tima) I would say the biggest cultural difference during Ramadan is the food. I was in the habit of eating Parathas, hearty omelettes, and traditional Pakistani cuisine for suhoor and other things that are SUPER heavy. But when Mamadou's family eats, they eat super light! Like croissants, fruit, and dates. Which I came to find works much better with your stomach. And I don't seem to get hungry at all during Ramadan, so I learned the trick 😊 3. What's the most valuable thing you've learnt about each other from this experience?  You only have one life here on this earth. Leave your mark and impact as many people as you can. Helping others is a way of helping yourself more, so do as much as you can for the sake of Allah (SWT)! 4. What advice would you give to other Muslim interracial couples out there? Don't be afraid; live for yourself and not for others. The reason why we say this is because so many people we have encountered live in fear of what OTHER people are going to say about how they live their life. Living that way has destroyed so many families and so many people's lives. My advice would be don't live for others. Live for the sake of Allah and have the purest intentions to please Allah.
Jinghan and Aizat (Chinese-Malay, SG)
1. Tell us a bit about how both of you met and your journey together thus far!  Jinghan (JH): We met during a Youth Expedition trip to Borneo. There was a night when we were sleeping in the jungle and it suddenly rained. The canvas that sheltered me collapsed onto my hammock. So I went to the main gathering area to ask for help, but all the guys pretended not to hear me and went to sleep - except Aizat and his friend! He said, “You sleep in mine la, I can sleep here on the ground.” I thought that was very gentlemanly of him. Aizat (A): To be honest, I only offered my hammock because I was lazy to help her fix hers! Hahaha! But we did help to fix it in the end, under the rain. When we came back to Singapore and had a meetup session, she gave me a key chain for helping her! I was kind of touched because usually, girls don’t give me anything! So yeah, that was when my heart opened up to her! JH: He asked my friend for my number to thank me and we started chatting. He made me laugh a lot over text. We texted till about 2 AM - 3 AM the morning despite having to catch a plane at 6 AM. And the rest is history! 2. What was the biggest cultural difference when experiencing Ramadan together for the first time? How has Ramadan changed for you now?  JH: Our first Ramadhan together while we were still dating was quite a shock for me because prior to Ramadhan he would be so accommodating in meeting me and having dinners with me. But once Ramadhan came, it was like a flip switched and his religion came first. No dating, no dinner beyond a quick break fast before he had to go to the mosque. No compromises, no excuses. I was still learning about Islam at that time and it was a tough pill for me to swallow; that I was secondary to his faith. But I now realise that it was exactly what made him the perfect guide for me. A: After marriage, it was a lot easier, we could have our iftar at home with my parents, and my father would drive the entire family to the mosque for Ishak and terawih. I would leave her with my mothers and sisters without having to worry that she’ll feel alone or at a loss of what to do. 
3. What's the most valuable thing you've learnt about each other from this experience?  JH: That he took his role as a guide for me very seriously. And it showed through all his actions. From accompanying me to attend classes at Darul Arqam, to shopping for Sahur and Iftar meals with me and messaging me in the early mornings or evenings to remind me of the timing of when I should stop eating or when I could eat. So I never felt alone! A: There are times when I feel that the guided has become the guide for me! Occasionally I might get lazy to pray and want to perform my prayers at the last minute! But Jinghan has always been there to remind me of the importance of praying early! Likewise, during Ramadan, there are days when I just get too lazy to wake up for Sahur and want to sleep through it instead. But Jinghan would always be there to give me dates and water while I'm still on the bed to ensure that I at least perform the sunnah! 4. What advice would you give to other Muslim interracial couples out there?  You’ll realise that once the non-Muslim embraces Islam, it makes life a whole lot easier! Because you are now both aligned in almost every aspect of life. But marrying cultures is a whole different ball game - we actually find it a lot harder to reconcile our differences in culture. JH: Aizat once made me cry because he made fun of me for not knowing what dhal looked like. I excitedly exclaimed that the “vadai with corn” tasted really good and upon realising I was referring to dhal, he burst into laughter. A: We’d also always argue about whether iconic food dishes originated from the Chinese or Malays? Like Laksa or Nasi Lemak... Obviously all from the Malays. Or which version of certain food tastes better? Like Bak kwa vs Deng deng. Or Tutu kueh vs Pitu piring. JH: Obviously Bak kwa and Tutu kueh. A: Not fair because they are not halal and I can’t comment. But whatever it is, we promise you - it’s going to be an illuminating journey for the both of you - the guide and the guided. 💕 P.S. Follow Jinghan on her journey as a Muslim revert on The Radiant Muslim! You can find her Facebook page here. 😊
Mahdi and Sagal (Syrian French-Somali, Canada)
1. Tell us a bit about how both of you met and your journey together thus far! For an entire year, she (Sagal) was none other than my student. I (Mahdi) was teaching Arabic classes. After a year of teaching, we quickly discussed our goals and family and that’s when a spark of interest ignited.

 The following year, we found ourselves in the Arabic lessons again and we decided quickly to walk side by side... in this life and hereafter inshallah. 

2. What was the biggest cultural difference when experiencing Ramadan together for the first time? How has Ramadan changed for you now? We concentrate on what unites us. Alhamdulillah, for us, Islam and our cultures have been compatible. We live our life according to Islam.

As for Ramadan, time management is key now that I have two kids. It has made me appreciative of the time and has enormous respect for mothers out there who fast and pray all night and still wake up in the early morning to take care of their kids.

This Ramadan, it has been challenging with a husband who is an imam, that spends the majority of his time at the mosque due to work but also grateful to have the health and energy to take care of the kids. Alhamdulillah, a hadith that came to mind every time I felt overwhelmed that allowed me to keep going was “Allah does not burden a soul with more than it can bear”.

3. What's the most valuable thing you've learnt about each other from this experience? That being in an interracial marriage is like any other marriage, once people get over our exteriors. We are united because of Islam and our values and we face the same problems that many couples face - but with patience and determination, we can defy any hardships.

4. What advice would you give to other Muslim interracial couples out there? A piece of advice I would give to other couples is to focus on one's principles and values.

 Cultural differences are a bonus - it’s an enrichment, a discovery.  An open mind and respect are what makes our spouse different. It is the diversity that makes life interesting and beautiful. 

Keiko Soeda and Yacob Hussain (Japanese-Malay, SG)
1. Tell us about your journey together thus far Keiko Soeda (KS): Our journey has been a blessed one, alhamdulillah, by the mercy of the All-Mighty, but we have had our fair share of ups and downs as any normal couples would experience. That’s normal. We are really fortunate that we can talk things through if we are met with challenges or disagreement. 2. What were some cultural differences that you both faced in the first few years of marriage and how did you overcome them?  We attended so many Malay weddings when we first got married as my hubby has a very big family and many relatives. Our weekends were packed with either helping (cutting potatoes and carrots!) or attending weddings whom I had no idea whose wedding it was! I was really exhausted and I remember telling my hubby enough is enough. But now, I am like, there’s no wedding this weekend? As time goes by, I learn to adapt, go with the flow and realise when to let go. When I was young, I went all out to blend in with my hubby’s side as I wasn't sure what we should be doing or whether I was doing it correctly. Eventually, I get exhausted but with time, I learned to be myself in any situation and above all, get used to it. 
3. What's the most valuable thing you've learnt about each other from your experience? Communication is the key in interracial marriages. You should not assume or keep certain feelings to yourself as it may cause unnecessary stress or frustration to yourself and your other half. Marriage is a union of two cultures, so we are bound to have differences. We need to respect each other’s cultures and in the process, not going against our religion. Any questions about religion should be dealt with without being overprotective or too flexible. It's also important to ask for help or suggestions from those in similar situations. It's also essential to pray as a couple and family as much as possible because it really strengthens the relationship and it has blessings within it ❤️ 4. Any advice for young couples who are going through the same obstacles?  In the Qur'an, it says that after every difficulty, there is ease. Every relationship is different and some succeed and some don’t, but you should go all out and try to overcome the obstacles one by one together knowing that there will be the ease at the end. God Willing. If you don’t try, you won’t know right? 😊 [P.S. Read more about Keiko's journey as a Japanese-Muslim revert and her heartwarming journey to Islam]