On dating someone outside my religion

[this is a snippet of my article for Hello Giggles which you can find here.]

At the very start of 2020, I met the love of my life. From the beginning, I knew if the relationship blossomed into something more serious, the journey would be fraught with hardship, guilt, and a semblance of questioning where I stand not just with my culture, but my religion and family, too.

My family is from Bangladesh and we’re Muslim. But as someone who is U.K. born and raised, I consider myself assimilating more to the Western cultural norms and values, preferring the freedom it comes with over that of my own cultural heritage. While arguably, Islam provides similar freedom to Muslim women, it prevents us from marrying outside of the religion. This is because children are supposed to grow up following the religion of their father. Mix that with the South Asian culture, and women are, from a young age; expected to behave a certain way; adhere to every expectation, rule, guideline, and tradition passed on over centuries.

The thing is, my boyfriend is white and he’s not Muslim. But he’s a much better person than any Bengali or Muslim man I’ve ever personally met. However, I knew from the start my parents wouldn’t approve of him, so I kept our relationship a secret.

It’s a warning to not become one of those women who have children before marriage, the women who have the fire and courage to choose themselves, in spite of a culture doing everything it can to stifle them.

Originally published at http://sumaiyaahmed.com on September 21, 2021.

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Aiming to break down the boundaries of cultural stigma and shame attached to mental health and sexuality within the South Asian culture and bring marginalised topics to light.

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Sumaiya Ahmed

Sumaiya Ahmed

Sumaiya Ahmed is a freelance journalist, specialising in sex & relationships, PCOS, and mental health. ko-fi.com/sumaiyaahmed

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