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Muslims and Jews: Intermarry!

Sima Mobini | Aug 15, 2014

The views expressed in our content reflect individual perspectives and do not represent the official views of the Baha'i Faith.

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Sima Mobini | Aug 15, 2014

The views expressed in our content reflect individual perspectives and do not represent the official views of the Baha'i Faith.

In recent weeks, I – like many other people around the world – have felt extreme concern and even frustration with the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. My own concern and frustration has been intensified by the fact that my 24-year-old son has lived in Haifa, Israel for almost two years–and like many others who have family and friends in that part of the world I am worried for his safety.

We’ve all seen scores of articles and YouTube pieces in social media, most of them advocating for one side or the other. We see lots of name-calling, hate mongering and efforts to show the other side as purely evil.

That’s what saddens me the most. I wonder why people seem so incapable of seeing each other as human beings, rather than enemies and targets. I am not naïve, and I completely understand that politicians and extremists often try to practically brainwash people and promote hatred toward others for their own ends. However, I am sure the majority of us realize that no parent – regardless of belief, ethnicity or nationality–wants to see his or her child get killed. So, setting the politics aside, I believe that a strong sense of fear of the unknown in the middle-east continues to cause such hatred and violence.

Jerusalem

Jerusalem

You see, I am a Baha’i with a Jewish background. My great-great grandparents on one side became Baha’is in the late 1800s, and my grandparents on another side became Baha’i’s in the early 1900s. My ancestors were touched by the progressive nature of this Faith, and based on their knowledge of prophecies in the Torah, became Baha’is. I have many Jewish cousins, relatives and close friends whom I dearly and utterly love and respect. I grew up observing and celebrating many Jewish traditions with my extended family.

On the other hand, my husband is a Baha’i from a Muslim background. His grandparents became Baha’is in their youth, probably for the same reasons my ancestors did. His extended family includes many fundamentalist Muslims who would not associate with him and his family because they were considered untouchable.

Both of us grew up in the Baha’i community of Iran, where from childhood we learned the oneness of humanity, unity in diversity and elimination of all kinds of prejudices. Therefore, when we decided to get married, no one in our immediate families even thought about whom our ancestors were, what background or culture we came from or what types of animosity existed between our forefathers.

I should mention that the Baha’i teachings encourage Baha’is to marry people of different races, ethnicities or nationalities. These unions happen because the Baha’i teachings about the oneness of humanity delete the fear of the unknown from our hearts and brains. I often think if it were not for the peaceful education we had, I would have never given myself a chance to know this amazing man who happened to have a different background from me!

In our case, when we got married some of my older Jewish relatives looked at my husband suspiciously and dealt with him very cautiously. For centuries the Jewish people in Iran were deeply afraid of Muslims, and on the other hand, Muslims stereotyped the Jewish community and had negative views of them, as well. However, after a couple of years of marriage my husband’s open heart and loving kindness toward all of them completely turned them around to the extent that I believe they love him more than me now!! The beauty of our union has included a happy surprise for both of us–learning about and seeing the commonalities in the Muslim and Jewish traditions through our relatives.

So, how is this related to the middle-east crisis? Intermarriage means that families can set examples for communities, and communities can be role models for the world. Israelis and Palestinians have been fighting for almost 70 years. The hatred has intensified and multiplied as more and more innocent people die. The feeling of vengeance among both groups (and Muslims and Jews around the world) is at an all-time high. If vengeance, hatred and war could have resolved this conflict, it would have done so by now.

Instead, if we try to get to know each other and intermarry like my family did, we may actually learn to see beyond old ancestral prejudices, learn to like each other and appreciate the beauty of all cultures.

O Thou kind Lord! Thou hast created all humanity from the same stock. Thou hast decreed that all shall belong to the same household. In Thy Holy Presence they are all Thy servants, and all mankind are sheltered beneath Thy Tabernacle; all have gathered together at Thy Table of Bounty; all are illumined through the light of Thy Providence.

O God! Thou art kind to all, Thou hast provided for all, dost shelter all, conferrest life upon all. Thou hast endowed each and all with talents and faculties, and all are submerged in the Ocean of Thy Mercy.

O Thou kind Lord! Unite all. Let the religions agree and make the nations one, so that they may see each other as one family and the whole earth as one home. May they all live together in perfect harmony.

O God! Raise aloft the banner of the oneness of mankind. O God! Establish the Most Great Peace. Cement Thou, O God, the hearts together.

O Thou kind Father, God! Gladden our hearts through the fragrance of Thy love. Brighten our eyes through the Light of Thy Guidance. Delight our ears with the melody of Thy Word, and shelter us all in the Stronghold of Thy Providence.

Thou art the Mighty and Powerful, Thou art the Forgiving and Thou art the One Who overlooketh the shortcomings of all mankind. – Abdu’l-Baha, Baha’i Prayers, pp. 101-102.

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Comments

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  • Aug 16, 2014
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    How my heart bleeds for those who suffer from the arrows of bitterness and estrangement. Surely the love of the spirit of Bahá is the true healing balm for all mankind. What is seen as courage is merely the love we have for all and the desire to see our family living on accordance with God's all sufficing will.
  • Aug 16, 2014
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    Your family is living proof of the power of unity! What a lovely article.
  • Aug 16, 2014
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    Sima - What a wonderful example of unity in diversity. Your family is very special and a model for us all to strive to emulate.
    • Aug 16, 2014
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      as long as they study Kabbalah the world can be redeemed.
  • Aug 16, 2014
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    I share your sentiments, thoroughly, ( my parents and I both have inter-religious marriage) I would like to mention that most Israelis and Palestinians that I know are utterly tired of all these animosity and bloodshed, pointing to politician and their self-righteous egos are valid and worrisome, fanaticism is another angle, of this conflict, to pay attention to and hope for existing solutions which requires open mindedness and love of humanity coming from within but when one grows up with teaching of hatred the work is hard and the vision far and beyond reach!
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