Updated: Aug 27, 2021
I was born in a rural town in Washington state in 1986. My dad came to the United States in the late 1970s and worked in the food service industry. My now-wife Kamalpreet was born in India (Punjab) and came to the US shortly after her father established himself.
We met at an Irish bar on St. Patrick's day. I told Kamalpreet I wanted to get to know her better. She made me pinky promise that I would text her the next day, and that's how our relationship began. We started dating in 2013.
My mom found out about our relationship through Facebook at the end of the year and wasn't happy. She is a devout Muslim and comes from an Urdu-speaking community in Pakistan. My dad is ethnically Bengali and isn't religious at all. Between the two of them, my mom was most resistant. Initially, she said she would only accept my wife if my wife converted to Islam. From the very beginning, I was explicit with my mom about protecting my wife from the pressures of converting. To add to the problem, my parent's communities largely knew little to nothing about the Sikh community.
In my experience, most of the time, my community thought Sikhs were Hindus. So, there was a lot of education to be done. After two/three years of mulling back and forth with my mom and educating her about my wife's culture and religion, she agreed to meet my wife around 2016. After meeting, my mom loved her and stopped pressuring her to convert. Over several years, my mom and wife developed a healthy relationship.
Around the same time in 2016, my wife told her mom about me. Her mom was against the relationship, primarily because I come from a community that doesn't have a positive perception in the historical and contemporary Sikh narrative. I've been in rooms where Sikh people didn't know I was Muslim, and generally, many of them associated Muslims with tyranny, oppression, misogyny, and practitioners of sexual grooming. So these were the types of stigmas that were associated with me.
Fortunately, my mom helped coach my wife in getting her parents to get on board with our relationship. Like my mom, my wife's parents were very concerned about community perception. Their common fears ended up being a means for our moms to bond and build their relationship.
By 2017-2018, my wife and our moms worked together to get marriage talks going and win over reluctant family members. It was an awesome thing to see because this became the foundation on which our parents built the union of our families. This year was a big year for our families, and it's been amazing to see our parents come together as a single-family, despite their differences.
We recently married in 2021. In May 2021, we did the Islamic marriage ceremony, and in July 2021, we did the Sikh ceremony. In terms of our future, neither of us are religious. However, we will give equal exposure to our respective religions and let our children do what they want. Additionally, we plan to give our children cultural names that fit both religious communities, have them keep Singh/Kaur as their middle names, and take my last name (Rahman).
The most important things that got us through this journey were our compassion and empathy for understanding our parents' perspectives and the patience to help them accept our relationship.
We're on the lookout for stories of Hindu x Muslim or Muslim x Sikh couples who got married without either partner converting. If you know of any couples like this, I would love to be connected. firstname.lastname@example.org
Find out more about Kamran and Kamalpreet's story