You've finally found that special someone—they seem pleasant, caring and you have a lot to talk about. The conversation flows easily, they make you laugh, and as a plus, your friends love them. One little problem: they aren't Muslim. Or Christian, or Jewish, or whatever faith it is that you now practice or grew up with. Maybe they're Shiite as opposed to Sunni Muslim, or Catholic as opposed to Protestant. The dilemma here is: I don't share the same faith with this person, but I really connect with them.
What to do? Do you continue a possible relationship? What would be the issues that arise from such a decision? The following are things that both people should think about when contemplating going forward in a relationship: How much does their/your religion matter to you?: Does it define your life? Does your religion strictly forbid the kind of relationship you are thinking about pursuing? Would the difference in religion hinder your relationship in any way? These are vital questions to ask yourself.
In some religions, a person of one faith cannot marry that of another, (for example, Muslim women are not allowed to marry a man outside their faith.) However, there are other possibilities to think about. Would one person be willing to convert to the religion of another, if this is what both would want? This is a very sensitive matter to bring up, no less in the beginning stages of a relationship, but if both of you are looking for long-term commitment, then this should be at least addressed.
Do you share the same values? This doesn't necessarily have anything to do with your faith. Are you on the same page when it comes to the way you would want to raise your children? If you would even want children? What about things that could possibly be forbidden to one of you, but is permissible to the other, such as alcohol? If you don't feel as if you're both on the same page now, then it probably won't get better with time, only worse. Family: Would your family care if you married or dated someone of another faith? This is extremely important in Arab culture, because not only are you marrying the person, but the family as well. So much of the rest of your life depends on how they will react, because family is so integral in Arab culture. Could you handle it if they were to shun you because of your decision on whom to marry? If they are accepting of your decision, and welcome your spouse, then it is a good sign that you will have their support throughout your relationship, however.
And finally, how do YOU feel about them? If you see them as a person that you could spend the rest of your life with, many of the above questions are quickly forgotten. There are times when your heart inexplicably wants what it wants. In the end, it wont be anyone else who's with this person—only you. Making yourself happy doesn't mean sacrificing all of your feelings and emotions for anyone or anything else. It is up to you to find what matters most to you, and since every relationship is different and unique, no cookie-cutter advice will stand for the same two couples. This is about taking everything into account and weighing your options, while at the same time, realizing that sometimes in matters of the heart, nothing is easy or quickly fixed. Life is messy and irrational—you just don't pick who you will or won't fall for—it's up to you whether or not the risks and rewards are worth it.