A Muslim woman who was married to a Catholic man narrated that they wanted to have children, but were confused on how to nurture the children, as she wants them to be Muslims and her husband wants them to be baptized in his religion as Catholics. Can she raise them as Muslim (fasting, praying etc…) as well as baptize them in the Catholic religion?
Islamonline in its attempt to the issue replied as follows:
It’s very certain that the sister is not alone in this dilemma, as it seems to be less uncommon for a Muslim woman to marry a non-Muslim, although in Islam this is not allowed. The reason it is not allowed is because of the reason which she expressed. It is not always that love should be reciprocated, because in Islam we are not born for ourselves alone, but for the society which we in our participation will inevitably contribute to in one form or another. Because in Islam, man is the breadwinner, the responsibility falls on the wife-mother to nurture the child, a child which is born upon a fitrah. That inner knowledge bequeathed to us by Allah (SWT), is our natural radar between determining what is right, and what is wrong in the world. We are born in submission to Him (meaning of Islam), it is the ‘aqd (contract) with which we come into this world upon. This may all seem like theory, but here you are sister presenting a problem whether to raise a child as a Muslim (i.e. one who is in submission to their Creator), as a Catholic or even both Muslim and Catholic.
It could be that when the couple decided to marry, that she never considered how a child would be raised – she only considered each other. In Islam, we should be able to move past the mundane actions, and consider the consequences of our actions. Here, a child is involved, and while you as a Muslim mother want to raise your child as a Muslim, the husband wishes the child to be raised in his religion. The question here, what is a fair resolve for the child, considering that the child will grow out of the home into the wider world where the child will face many challenges, and some of those challenges will be harsh.
Baptizing a child as Catholic will not make her/him Catholic, and neither will calling them a Muslim make them a Muslim, how they are raised and taught to practice will make the child one or other. Even if there is a merger in child rearing practices between Catholicism and Islam, what will the child consider her or himself to be, and how will that child be able to carry forth this merger of religious practice into their lives once they attend school?
Yes, there are fundamental things in common between Catholicism and Islam, but how will the child cope with dichotomies like:
One God vs. the three in one, i.e. Father-Son-Holy Ghost?
Issa/Jesus as God’s son in Catholicism, and as a prophet in Islam?
The punishments that is unforgiveable in Catholicism vs. the mercy in Islam?
Added to this, the mother in question was raised as a Muslim and as the mother would be the significant role model, assuming that her husband works away from home. Surely the main influence will be from the mother. How then will the husband react if he finds that the child is more Muslim in practice than Catholic?
These and many other issues the Muslim mother will have to face living in a secular country with a strong Catholic heritage. If the child is a girl, then additional issues are at play, so in this matter the sister needs to have a long heart-to-heart discussion with her husband once she is familiar with what the Muslim scholars have to say on this issue.