Children Follow the Father
Carmen raised the issue of interfaith marriages in Islam on her blog here and here.
In response, some of the commentators have stated that one reason that Muslim women can't marry outside the faith is that chldren follow the father's faith.
Well, I find that very interesting, given the fact that I know several families with Muslim fathers & non-Muslim mothers, where the children don't even speak the father's native tongue or know the first thing about Islam and are infact very much more into the mother's faith.
It's the MOTHER who raises the children, people, and who is naturally more influential. Most men, especially in traditional, patriarchial societies like our Muslim one, believe raising children is women's work. The husband(Tarzan) goes out to work & makes money & the mother(Jane) sits home cooking & washing & having and raising children. So what makes people so sure that the children would follow the father's faith? What exactly is the guarantee?
Personally, it was my mother who shaped our attitude to faith as we were growing up. Most of the time, it was her nagging at us to pray, eat with our right hand, say Bismallah & Alhamdullilah & Mashallah when we're supposed to. She was the one who decided when we were old enough to start fasting in Ramadan. And as a result, she was the one we went to with our faith-related questions and dilemmas.
Sure Baba would be the Imam when we'd all pray together but that was just a ritual. And while I always loved to hear him recite the Quran because he does it so beautifully with an amazing voice - it was my mother who helped me study it day after day for school. She was simply around a lot more than he was.
And my mother wasn't even a stay-at-home Mom. She is a doctor. If she didn't go out to work, I'd imagine that her influence would have been even greater.
My first memory of talking faith with my father was when I was about 14 or 15. The age at which I thought I was the smartest person in the world and knew better than everyone else & I was just beginning to question what my parents told me - as opposed to just accepting their word as Divine Wisdom. My father loves arguments & debates. So I got to know his views on faith while debating them with him - same way I'd get to know anyone else's views on anything else.
If I was ever indoctrinated or pre-disposed towards my faith, then it was definitely by my mother and not my father.
I don't know. Maybe I am letting my personal experience affect my understanding too much. Maybe it's different for everyone else. So how about it, everyone? Whose influence on your faith was greater? Your mother or your father?