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But there are practically no pastoral resources for Christian-Muslim couples in the United States, despite the fact that according to many estimates, there are now more Muslims in this country than Jews.The few print resources available to pastors and couples are either outdated or written for a non-American context.On a blustery weekend this past February, 26 people met at the Cenacle Retreat House in Chicago to reflect on the religious dimensions of marriage. What was unusual about this gathering was that it brought together Christians and Muslims who are married, engaged or seriously considering marriage.Attendees hailed mostly from the Chicago area, but also from Valparaiso, Minneapolis, Rochester, Minn., and Seattle.Yet all wrestled with the same concerns: different religious understandings of marriage (sacrament versus sacred contract, divine versus human institution), greater family involvement in mate selection and marriage, Islam’s proscription of dating, potential legal problems in countries with sharia (Islamic law) in force, greater cultural differences (and more difficulty distinguishing the religious from the cultural).While addressing these topics with Christian and Muslim experts was necessary, couples agreed that one of the best aspects of the weekend was the chance to discuss their concerns with others in the same situation.
One Lutheran-Muslim couple said that they did not pray salat (ritual prayer that includes specific movements) together because doing so may be considered a credal affirmation of Islam.
“But in the end, neither of us was willing to give up our faith.
It’s the core of our existence and identity,” they said.
One man even cut short a trip abroad, at his wife’s behest, to be present.“Mixed marriage,” the canonical term for marriage between a Catholic and a member of another Christian church, is a fact of life in America’s religiously plural society.
But many may not realize how prevalent it is among Catholics.
One married couple hadn’t prayed together “because we never had the chance.” Another couple (engaged) hadn’t prayed together either, but because of a conscious choice.