The joys of immigration and Islam. via Muslim women in a marriage bind | Vancouver Sun.
Due to high immigration, Islam has recently surpassed Judaism to become the second-largest religion in Canada, according to Hassan Hamdani, a Muslim who is also a Statistics Canada researcher. Islam has more than 400,000 adherents in Canada (about 10 per cent of them in B.C.), while Judaism has about 360,000 adherents.
But Canada’s Muslim population remains a small fraction of the world’s 1.2-billion Muslims – who range from a minority who emphasize individual liberty, including freedom of religious practice, to the large majority who more rigorously adhere to sharia, or Muslim law.
Simon Fraser University Islamic history professor William Cleveland says it would be hard to find an immigrant Muslim woman from the Middle East who would marry a non-Muslim. The only Muslims in Canada who would dare intermarry are Canadian-born or from countries, including some in Asia and Africa, that interpret Muslim doctrine less absolutely.
Alexandra Bain, who teaches Islamic art at the University of Victoria, says the pressure to marry a Muslim man creates an additional danger for Muslim women in Canada. Desperate for a Muslim man to marry, they look offshore for husbands. That leaves them vulnerable to being taken advantage of by men who marry only to gain landed-immigrant status, says Bain, a Canadian of French descent who converted to Islam when she was a teenager
Bain says her marriage to a Muslim man from Eritrea ended up on the rocks – not necessarily because of immigration issues, but because he was too bound by his culture’s strict interpretation of Islamic law, including those regarding women.
“I love the religion with all my heart, but I don’t like that the women don’t have choice,” Bain says.
Muslim women face conflict with their religion, families and Canada’s multicultural ethos because of this devastating formula:
1. Islam expects all Muslims to marry.
2. Muslim women cannot marry non-Muslim men.
3. Muslim men can (and do) marry non-Muslim women.
4. Therefore, there is a shortage of unmarried Muslim men. That means many Muslim women don’t marry at all, which is against the teachings of their religion. Or they marry non-Muslim men, which Islam judges a grave sin.
Professor Yvonne Haddad, a prominent Islamic scholar at the University of Massachussets, says that Canadian census figures, which are far more detailed than U.S. census data, reveal the extent of the marriage threat to North America’s roughly two million Muslim women.
Statistics Canada census data shows that roughly 30 per cent of Canadian Muslim women marry non-Muslim men, says Haddad.
About half of those women marry non-Muslim men who either convert or, like Ali’s husband, suggest to mosque imams they intend to, but don’t follow through, Haddad says.
The other half marry non-Muslim men, and live with the consequences.
“That means 15 per cent of Canadian Muslim women, and probably a higher percentage in the U.S., are living in sin,” says Haddad.
“In the Middle East, a woman who does that might be killed. There have been cases. People pretend it doesn’t exist, but it’s a reality.”