Dear Marwa,

I’m a 27 year old girl with a very complicated situation. I belong to a religion that I don’t believe in anymore. Irrespective of the reasons, I’ve secretly converted to another religion many years ago. Only some of my close friends are aware of that, but surely my parents know nothing yet. As a consequence, when it comes to relationships, I chose a guy from the religion I now believe in.

Now I’ve been with this perfect guy for over a year; he adores me and I’m completely crazy about him. I can say that our relationship is getting serious, and even though he is aware of my complicated situation, we’ve lately been discussing our future and marriage. My problem here as you can well imagine is that I don’t know what to do regarding my parents. 

I’ve got two scenarios here. First, I can come clean about it all (maybe only the marriage and not the conversion part). I guess it would be less shocking for them to know that I only want to get married to a guy from a different religion and not that I also converted. I’m certain they will totally disapprove and I can’t even begin to predict their exact reaction or the magnitude of our dispute and how the situation might unfold after that. Second scenario is to proceed and only inform them after I’m already married. I know that’s a harsh option, but it’s the more guaranteed one. I’m really apprehensive of their reaction if I ever told them before the marriage.

I know that there is no easy choice here, and I know that whatever I do I may lose them for good. But I also know that this is my life, I have the right to choose the religion I believe in and the guy I want to spend the rest of my life with. This is not selfish of me; it’s one of my basic rights.


Dear Convert,

Your situation is very difficult indeed! Before I give you any advice, I need to ask you if your family found out that you have adopted a new religion, and actually converted, would your life be in danger? Would they kill you? Would they physically hurt you? If the answer is yes, then do not tell them that you have converted. I would also advise you to start looking for job opportunities abroad, so that you can practice your new religion without having to lead a double life.

On the other hand, if your family would try to reason with you, ask you to sit with men of your previous religion, get upset but eventually support you, or leave you alone, then I would encourage you to tell them. Choose the wisest, calmest, and most open-minded person in your family to start with, and then ask him/her for support while telling the rest of the family.

As you notice, I have intentionally started my response to your question with a special focus on telling your family about your new beliefs. This step is more important than telling them about your boyfriend. Changing your religion is a huge step and there is a lot of paperwork that needs to be done to make your step official.

If you had stated that you relinquished religion, that you are no longer following or practicing any religion, there would have been no pressing need to tell anyone. Many people live like that, and the paperwork that was done when they were born, does not affect their lives as non-believers.

As for your relationship, after you come out of the religion closet, it will only be natural for you to get married to someone from your new religion. Once your family is aware of your current status, whether they approve or not, it would be normal, and expected, for you to introduce your guy. If you start with telling them about the guy, they would assume that you converted because of him. Their focus would be on separating the two of you, so you can get back to your senses.

This would be my advice, but this is not your only option.

I have known a couple, who were of different religions, but they were in love and they respected their differences. In front of his parents, she claimed to be Christian, and in front of her family, he claimed to be Muslim. Their relationship lasted for 7 years, and they planned on leaving Egypt, getting married abroad, and continuing their lives abroad. The families were not supposed to know the truth.

They broke up for other reasons. I have always wondered about death; what would happen if one of them died? In which graveyards would they be buried? How would the families react when the truth was revealed.

The decision to leave Egypt forever, to convert officially abroad, and to get married and live in another, more tolerant, country is a big step and many hearts will be broken in the process. This is why I would urge you to consider my first advice, and to tell your family about your beliefs – unless, of course, your life would be in danger, then your only option would be to find another home country, and start your life there.