Two Cultures Under One Roof


It is no secret that the older generations were often strict with their requests on who their children should marry – these often included someone within the same culture/background/town/cast. Sadly, some families still do this, when of course, the focus should be on deen. However, more and more these days, we see people becoming open to the idea of their children marrying outside their own ethnicity.

This is how our Ummah should be, as Allah tells us in the Quran “O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know each other” (Holy Quran, Chapter 49 verse 13)

A couple may have both grown up in the same country, but their families can be from different parts of the world, and hence their upbringing may be very different. When a  couple is newly married and trying to deal with the (many) compromises that come along with a marriage, a difference in culture is yet another compromise or understanding that must be approached with care. So here are some tips we’ve put together to help with the transition:

* Having respect for each other’s culture is key, as neither is better than the other. The Prophet (saw) said “All mankind is from Adam and Eve, an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over black nor a black has any superiority over white except by piety and good action.” We must remember this at all times, especially with our in-laws. If they do things differently to what you are used to, this is no reason to disrespect them.

* If your spouse speaks another language, why not both go the extra mile and take classes trying to learn their native tongue? Or, just ask them how to say certain words that you use everyday? Especially terms of endearment for your spouse, like “my love” and “sweetheart”. This will be very much appreciated by your spouse, your inlaws, and being an individual who is bilingual is always a bonus.

* Be the mediator between your parents and your spouse. If you notice that your spouse is being left out of conversations/practices then kindly yet subtly respond to your parents in a language or way that your spouse and your parents understand.

* Don’t take things to heart. It is expected that there will be certain cultural gaps that maybe difficult for us to understand. Take everything with a grain of salt and give your new family the benefit of the doubt. Talk to your spouse about this and prepare for it ahead of time.

* Remember that your spouse is not going to cook the same meals as your mom. Have an open mind and an open palette and appreciate them for their efforts on cooking.

* If possible, take a trip to your spouse’s native country. What a great way to learn and understand more about your spouse and in-laws than to see where they grew up first hand.

* Encourage your children to learn both languages. Some parents tend to dominate and request the child only speaks their language, or only teach the language of the country they live in. However, children are like sponges and can pick up much more than we give them credit for. A multilingual child is a blessing, so encourage them to learn each other’s mother tongue.

The most important tip of all, seek the guidance of Allah and continue making dua to him to bless your marriage and family relationships with understanding and patience.

Allah knows best.


Add yours
  1. Enchantedhijabi

    FYI: For those who are so against marrying outside their culture..please state simply that you are adamant about marrying within your culture…and please don’t use higher diction to allude others in thinking rest of us are committing a crime.

  2. Enchantedhijabi

    1, 2, 3, and START!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Okay, excuse moi! I have a huge rant coming up! I understand how the older gen can be so closed minded and what not. It’s a given in my books and TOB, I don’t see a point of ‘enlightening them’ or trying to change their ways either. However, what is rather sickening to my stomach is when I see folks my age (in their early or late twenties) who are closed minded as their parents or their grandparents! Well, HELLO! We are in the 21st century. gotta be more open minded than that.

    Sure, some folks have preferences for their own cultures and ethnicites and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. However, it is rather wrong to blindly dismiss a good compatible prospect under the parental pressure saying, “HELL NO”! Now, that’s clearly not the sunnah of Prophet sallahu alyhe wasalam. The sunnah is to marry for the deen..and having the same skin colour or sharing the same cuisine or same dialect does not guarantee a successful marriage. So, please brothers and sisters (especially all those good desi brothers!!) PLEASE RISE UP and don’t fall for this trap. At the end of the day, its just gonna be you and your spouse..looking for those core qualities and traits that would make your relationship work..not be so superficial. inshaAllah. Allah knows best.

    This reminder first goes to me than anyone else.

    barakullah feek

  3. Waqar

    I and my girlfriend also coming from two different cultures. I think this section is much more important for us to understand eachother more and to lead a happy life.
    Thanks for sharing such beautiful information.

  4. AbdulRaqib

    Assalamu alaikum, Baba Ali
    This post tells more about the situation after marriage. But I want to know what things need to be compromised or discussed explicitly or kept in consideration before finalizing the decision to marry. because sometimes when we like someone for some good reason and we try to ignor/forget many upcoming issue based on different culture/country). Is it possible to post a list of possible questions and possible best answer. so that it helps us to choose our best spouse, bijnillah.

  5. Saida

    I’m all for marrying outside my culture and race, I’m actually quite facinated with it, my family is a big fruit salad, we have people from various cultures and countries, Alhamdulilah.

  6. Grace

    Great post…thank you.

    I think tolerance is something that needs to be practised, rather than just a concept that we just “talk” about.

    As long as there is compatibility and adherence to the Will of The Creator, then it shouldnt matter what culture a person was born into.

    No one controls what nationality or race they are born into.

    And we shouldn’t be discriminated against for something that we have no control over.

  7. Peter F Rosen

    me and my spouse are from two very different cultures but were both raised here in Canada.

    My parents (Iraqi decent) are very backwards when it comes to accepting other cultures and would only be happy if I had married a women that is from:

    my same country (Iraq) –> same religion (Islam) –> same sect (shi’sm) –> same area (karbala, Iraq) –> People who’s parents they think are acceptable.

    I’ve just grown to accept that they’ll never accept anything else.

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