In Episode 17 of the I Am Multicultural podcast is the story of an Indian-Pakistani woman Annum, who as a Muslim wasn’t allowed to date, but fell in love with a South African Jewish man Jordan and how together as an engaged couple, they’re figuring out how to make their Indian – Pakistani -South African interfaith relationship work.

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We discuss:

  • Starting an interfaith relationship with someone who has dramatically different cultural and religious background, even though as a Muslim you are not allowed to date
  • Figuring out if your interfaith relationship would work by discussing negotiables and non-negotiables about your different faiths
  • Facing your immigrant parents’ reaction to your interracial, interfaith relationship
  • Using food and cooking to help your families bond together when you are in an interfaith relationship
  • Planning how to raise your children in an interfaith relationship
  • Exposing one another to your different cultures and participating in each other’s faiths in an interfaith relationship
  • Facing and overcoming religious obstacles and making each other stronger in your respective faiths in an interfaith relationship
  • Planning an interfaith wedding ceremony

Muslim Jewish interfaith couple Indian Pakistani South African Annum Jordan I Am Multicultural podcast

We talk about why it took them so long to find an Imam (Muslim priest) to marry them.

Muslim Jewish interfaith couple Indian Pakistani bride wearing Anarkali outfit South African Annum Jordan I Am Multicultural podcast

They share how they both make each other stronger in their respective faiths.

Muslim Jewish interfaith couple Indian Pakistani South African Annum Jordan I Am Multicultural podcast

Annum’s best surprise is when Jordan proposed with a Beyoncé “Love on Top” dance flash mob in California

Muslim Jewish interfaith couple Indian Pakistani South African Annum Jordan I Am Multicultural podcast Muslim Jewish interfaith couple Indian Pakistani South African Annum Jordan I Am Multicultural podcast

Muslim Jewish interfaith couple Indian Pakistani South African Annum Jordan I Am Multicultural podcast Muslim Jewish interfaith couple Indian Pakistani South African Annum Jordan I Am Multicultural podcast

As I was listening to their conversation, I was reminded of Maya Angelou’s quote: Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.”

Annum + Jordan share

  • 18:08 – Food brings people together.
  • 21:23 – I want to make sure that our children get a healthy dose of both cultures and both religions.
    22:35 – I would like to make sure that although my children get a sense of community, whatever community they grow up in, it doesn’t ever make them feel like less than human than the people around them. I just want them to feel equal to the children that they play with and that they grow up with. I don’t ever want them to feel like second class compared to those they’re being raised around.
    24:53 – To find similarities in someone else’s religion and in someone else’s culture that for years you may have thought so differently of is enlightening.
    • 29:37 – He makes me stronger in my own faith and makes me feel like I’m closer to God and that’s how you know that this is the person for you.
    32:23 – I would argue that what keeps me stronger in my faith is seeing how strongly he’s attached to his faith. I think that mutual respect for one another is key here. It’s most important to know that egos get tossed out the window, and there is never a hierarchy. There’s never: My religion is better than yours, and this is why this is better than that. Instead of that, we have the all or none rule. We respect all the cultures and traditions, religions, languages, and each one must be respected and included without compromise. That’s our goal from the start.
    38:35 – We’ve been so blessed with everything. I really want to make sure that as we start our lives together as one, we’ve started off surrounded by positive vibes, positive energy, and people that have love for our kind of love because it’s definitely a unique and special kind of love.

Indian Pakistani Muslim Jewish interfaith couple Annum Jordan I Am Multicultural podcast

She’s Indian – Pakistani & Muslim. He’s South African & Jewish.

  • 40:24 – We’re always a united front. That’s one thing that we’ve always talked about. If we don’t have the answer to something that’s OK, but we’re always going to talk to each other and figure it out amongst ourselves before we’ve given an answer to someone else who’s asking about some things that we may not have even signed on. So we’re always a united front. He’s my best friend, and I couldn’t imagine making a major life decision without him.
    43:09 – The first step would be to have the conversations. It’s not something that you can just kind of suppress. You can’t just pretend like this dynamic between you doesn’t exist. It’s definitely here, and it’s alive and well. Recognizing it and having that conversation and being able to navigate through what your future looks like is very important.
    43:53 – The other thing is to approach the conversation not as: Hey, here’s the problem and we have no solution for it. It’s more of like: Well, we’re here. Where do we go from here and how are we going to get there?
  • 44:25 – Figure it out. If it’s worth it, you always find a way. Make it work.

Indian Pakistani Muslim Jewish interfaith couple Annum Jordan I Am Multicultural podcast

Annum wearing a traditional Anarkali outfit. Photo Credit: Wesley Yen

  • 44:55 – You just have to balance for the health of your own relationship. You’re equals. You always got to express how you feel, to express what you guys want to do. Never hold back on your feelings.
  • 45:10 – Have that respect for one another to hear out each other’s feelings and realize that your feelings are not more important than the other partner’s feelings.
  • 45:26 – If you’ve figured out each other and you’ve decided on what you two want to be, don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t be that. Don’t take no for an answer. Realize that as long as you two are on the same page, you can overcome obstacles.
  • 48:13 –  Just get comfortable with being uncomfortable.
  • 48:17 – Remember that you have each other and the love that you have for each other and that’s all that matters. That conquers everything.

 

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COMMENTS

Thank you for creating this space in the world, where topics concerning being multi-cultural can be discussed. I am multi-cultural myself and seriously dating a muslim man as a Christian woman and I really appreciated hearing episode 17. Again, thank you so very much for being a positive resource.

Katie McHugh Akbar

Hi Janai,

Saw your comment and wanted to share something with you. Muslim Christian Interfaith Families is a USA-based grassroots organization comprised of individuals who identify as part of a Muslim/Christian interfaith relationship or family.

We help support couples/families with navigating extended family, planning weddings, raising children, sourcing supportive religious leaders and marriage/family counselors, and creating community with in-person events. This might be something you’re interested in! We only started it in March 2018 but it’s grown to 300+ members since then.

Closed Facebook group for interfaith families:
Muslim Christian Interfaith Families (MCIF)
(https://www.facebook.com/groups/MuslimChristianFamilies/)

Public Facebook page for all supporters: Muslim Christian Interfaith Families (www.facebook.com/MCIF.org)

Janai, thank you so much for listening & replying. I’m so happy that their story was helpful to you. I know it would mean the world to them to know that.

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