Freedom from the Forbidden

All things gender and Islam. No bigotry is allowed in this feminist territory. #DeathToPatriarchy

Seeking participants for a study on Muslim women’s marriage to non-Muslims

Beloved readers,

Some of you know I’ve been working on a research project on Muslim women’s marriage to non-Muslims for the last some years. (It was a chapter in my dissertation and my favorite one, and I’ve written on it on my blog – see this one on interfaith marriage in the Qur’an and a follow-up reflection on the responses to that post.) I’m interested in both textual traditions and the application of those texts/scriptures, their interpretations, how humans negotiate with texts to find meaning in them and extract meaning from them. The first part of my project, ultimately a book, is therefore a textual/scriptural analysis. The second part is ethnographic, involving conversations and interviews with real, actual Muslim women who have been in interfaith marriages/romantic relationships. And this is where I need y’all’s help!

What I need / who qualifies

I’m looking for Muslim women (18+ yo) who are married to, now or ever before, or have ever been in a serious romantic relationship with a non-Muslim person. Their partner can be of any religion (not just monotheistic), gender (not just man), race, sexual orientation, etc. If the partner had to nominally and/or officially, legally convert in order for the marriage to be accepted legally, you still qualify.

I usually say it’s U.S.-focused, but including women who live in or are from countries where such marriages are officially illegal makes the study so much more richer! I’ve been hearing from Muslim women located in or who got married in Muslim-majority countries where their partner was required to convert, and they have some powerful insights to share.

And I love complexities, so if you’re not sure whether you or someone you know qualifies because of some complicated case, hit me up! You can comment on this post or email me for any questions you have or if you’re interested in participating in the study.

My (the researcher’s) qualifications

I’m an assistant professor of Religion at a university in Georgia, United States. I teach courses in religion, gender, and Islam. I earned my PhD in Islamic Studies in 2018, and my dissertation involved textual and ethnographic research and has a chapter on interfaith marriage as well. I have a YouTube channel that some of y’all have been following (thanks! :D). So, ya, I know what I’m doing!

How to contact me

  • You can comment on this blog (if you don’t want me to publish the comment, let me know!)
  • Email me: whatthepatriarchy@gmail.com – this is my public email address.

Why this study matters

Muslim women’s interfaith marriages are significant religiously because the majority scholarly view, both historical and contemporary, holds that Islam permits men to marry some monotheistic non-Muslims (Christians and Jews) but prohibits women from marrying all non-Muslims. Contemporary Muslims do not universally accept the claim that such marriages are prohibited, but some Muslim-majority countries do officially prohibit Muslim women from marrying any non-Muslim while allowing Muslim men to do so. As a result, and as my other research on the subject shows, the consequences for some Muslim women who marry non-Muslims can be dire, including rejection from family, ostracism by the broader Muslim community the women are attached to, and even threats of physical violence. If they are connected to a Muslim-majority country where such a marriage is illegal, issues such as inheritance claims (theirs or their children’s) and child custody become relevant as well, as they can be deprived of both. In the process of getting married, they often struggle to find a religious leader who is willing to officiate and bless their marriage, which is important for the religious and social validity of their marriage; they therefore have to provide the intellectual, spiritual, and emotional labor for their families and communities when seeking legitimacy of the marriage. And, yet, some 10% of Muslim women in the United States alone are married to non-Muslims.

And check this out! (Source of image here. Some interesting stuff here regarding gender and interfaith marriage as well.)

To Have and To Hold: Interfaith Marriage Just as Common among Muslim  Americans as Christians | ISPU

What are the possible benefits of this study?

You will receive no direct benefit from participating in this study (at this point, unless I receive a grant for the project, there’s no financial compensation); however, your responses can help increase broader understandings about how Muslim perceptions of marriage affect women’s choices to consider interreligious marriages as an option as well as the struggles that Muslim women face when considering or going through with a marriage to a non-Muslim. Since Muslim women’s marriage to non-Muslims has received very little academic attention, you will be providing insightful data that can be used to better understand the lived realities of women as they negotiate with existing and dominant, often patriarchal, religious interpretations of gender, marriage, and religious authority.   

Some important points:

  • Confidentiality and anonymity guaranteed. Participants get pseudonyms.
  • The interviews will be audio recorded, and only I will have access to these.
  • The interviews may take up to an hour (the length varies depending on how much you’d like to share).
  • You can withdraw from the study at any point; you’re not obligated to participate, as this is fully voluntary.
  • I’ll gladly answer any questions you have!
  • The study is IRB-approved. (For folks who don’t know what this means, it means that I’m obligated to follow a certain set of rules of conduct while talking to humans, and a group of people at my university had to review the project proposal before letting me pursue it.)

Thank you so much! Please feel free to share this post in your networks.

Shehnaz

Categories: Death to patriarchy

2 replies

  1. Can Muslim women in live in relationships with non-Muslim men participate? Not all Muslim women subscribe to the institution of marriage and are happily living with their non-Muslim boyfriends for several years which is the equivalent of a marriage.

    Like

    • Thanks for your comment, King! Right, as the description above notes, Muslim women in romantic relationships with, not just those married to, non-Muslims can participate, yes.

      Like

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