My relatives boycotted my wedding

“Hun, when you’re free can you call me?”

It was a text message from my cousin. I was suspicious. We don’t do calls. We barely do texts. Why was she calling? Her mum had called last week and grilled me about the wedding. Hadn’t that been enough? I contemplated the possible reasons over the next couple of days. We tried calling but kept missing each other, as you do. I was visiting my parents when we finally got in touch. I think we talked for about 10 minutes. In hindsight, I’m sure I’d known the reason, I just didn’t want to think too deeply about it, y’know? Why think the worst of people?

Anyway, I went to the living room and told my parents.

“None of them are coming to the wedding.”

My mum showed her shocked face but my dad hid his. He was the first to speak.

“This is a life experience for you.”

Dads. Apparently, it’s a life experience. I levelled up in wedding drama and family betrayal. It’s certainly an experience when 60 members of your family decide to boycott your wedding because the groom is not Muslim. On the plus side, they had given me 2 months’ notice and we saved a lot of money on catering and decor. Silver linings, eh? Every cloud my friends, every cloud. I wanted to rant about it at the time, but I’m not a fan of putting my rage out into the world. Yet, I’m still feeling pissy. But also my wedding was a month ago so the drama is over.

I decided to put it to rest. The months went by. Then, today, I got another text from my cousin.

“Nice haircut Sophia, it really suits you. X”

And I felt kerfuffled. 

This is good because it means I have overcome the “MAY THE BRIDGES I BURN LIGHT MY WAY!!!” stage of this whole thing and have begun entering the “blaarghh” stage. And I have no problem putting that out into the world. Remember when I wrote about my inner conflict with having too many people at my wedding?

… Yes, yes, egg on my face.

So what do I text back? Do I text back? Do things go back to normal? Do we address things? Does resentment build…?

I need to feel like I have learned something from all of this so I can move on and send a reply.

“What does your mother think?” I had asked. This was back during the phone call. She had just told me she couldn’t come to my wedding because it goes against her values, sets a bad example to her daughter etc.

“I think she’s going to send a letter,” was the reply.

Three pages of pulling zero punches. It arrived a few days later. In summary:

  1. Why isn’t he Muslim yet?
  2. It’s easy to become a Muslim. (She had written down the steps)
  3. If he’s not Muslim, your union isn’t Islamically “legal”
  4. If it’s not Islamically “legal”, then celebrating it is a sin
  5. If we come to your wedding, we are sinning
  6. If he converts, we can come!

So, I sent a much shorter letter back.

  1. He’s a big boy, he can make his own decisions
  2. We’re still family even if you don’t come
  3. Peace and love

The vibe was tentative, polite, clear… No drama. Just sensible letter writing. Although, I certainly did my share of pillow screaming in a healthy release of pure emotion.

The thing is… I shouldn’t try to win here. Islam is a part of my life but I’m a moral relativist. My relatives, however, need Islam to interpret the world. They need Imams to tell them what’s “right” when they experience conflict. For them, it’s how they get to Heaven. For me, it’s like talking to a brick wall.

But they tend to pretend I’m like them and simply losing my battle for my soul. Which is kinda condescending isn’t it? Ordinarily, I’d smile blankly and be careful with my words and we carried on in an awkward peace. But then I married an atheist and took a sledgehammer to that peace. So the jig’s up. I have to have a more honest relationship with my cousin. I look at the text again.

“Nice haircut Sophia, it really suits you. X”

That’s a capital kiss. And my haircut is super cute so she’s not lying, she’s reaching out. Maybe we reach a new normal? I can’t change my family or their beliefs. But maybe I no longer need to edit who I am to fit in with them. I am tolerant of them. Maybe they can be tolerant of me?

I mean… they won’t. They didn’t come to my wedding. That’s not tolerance. How can you be tolerant if one side is fundamentally intolerant? You can’t. How do you cope with the fact that you are considered a bad influence on all the kids?! I mean…Okay, I’ll be honest, that’s kinda cool. I might actually invest in a leather jacket and some piercings.

So, what have I learned from all this? I have learned that my relatives and I are glaciers drifting apart. And I can’t stop it. But I can be nice.

“Thanks! It was a post-wedding gift to myself. I hope you’re both doing well. Xx”

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