Wife's conversion puts marriage on the rocks

DUBAI — Renosh Roy Rajan, an Indian Christian and a resident of Dubai, has alleged that his marriage is on the rocks because of his wife’s sudden decision to convert to Islam after arriving here a few years ago.

By Meraj Rizvi

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Published: Tue 7 Mar 2006, 10:03 AM

Last updated: Thu 2 Nov 2023, 9:10 AM

According to him, she is pressurising him to also embrace Islam against his will. “But, how can I convert myself completely after having been born into a Christian family in India,” says Rajan, disclosing that both he and his wife, renamed Nimmy Shahnawaz Khan, were Christians at the time of their marriage eight years ago. The two had married in a court in Kerala.

“Although her father was a Muslim, Nimmy’s mother and my mother, who are sisters, are born Christians. It is only after arriving in the UAE and after Nimmy took up a job with a private firm here that she started to change and became a practising Muslim wearing hijab etc. She threatened to leave me and our five-year old daughter and seek a divorce if I did not convert to Islam,” Rajan complained, adding that religion cannot be imposed on anybody and should not become a bone of contention in any marriage.

Nimmy, who had filed for divorce on the ground that her husband was not a practising Muslim in a Dubai court in 2000 lost the case, said Rajan, pointing out that in order to save the marriage and protect his daughter’s future, he also embraced Islam.

A source at the Dubai Department of Islamic Affairs and Charitable Service confirmed that Rajan had embraced Islam, “but continued not to practice it, unlike any good Muslim. Since he works for a hotel, he continued to indulge in vices like drinking etc,” the source said, however, condemning that the couple were using Islam as an excuse to settle their domestic scores. “Both Rajan and Nimmy are looking at ways of getting out of this marriage because of lack of compatibility, and I believe they are dragging religion into their problems, and as an excuse to get out of their problems.”

While Nimmy, who has left her husband’s house, denied that religion had anything to do with the break-up of their marital relationship, she blamed Rajan for not being a good husband and a good human being, and alleged that he had forcibly taken custody of their only child, Erene Erika Roy. “I just want a divorce and custody of my child,” said Nimmy, saying that even if he now wants to reform himself and embrace Islam, I will still want the marriage to end. There is nothing between us to give this marriage a chance to work.”

Rajan expressed the hope that his wife will return to him someday, and whenever she does, “I will accept her despite what has happened between us. I want my family back and I want to lead a normal life in the interest of my daughter who is being currently looked after by me.” He said: “It is not easy to bring up a child as a single parent because I have no place to leave my daughter while at work. My colleagues have been very cooperative, but how long can this continue,” questions Rajan, who said that at one point of time in his life, he even went to the extent of embracing Islam against his will, but in the interest of his family.

"Yes, I embraced Islam out of compulsion and to save my marriage,” Rajan said, “but I have not been able to come to terms with the new religion, and therefore, cannot practise it from my heart. I have my family pressures also,”he said, pointing out that his parents and his extended family does not approve of his conversion to Islam.

“I was born a Christian and want to remain a Christian, while I have no objection if my wife continues to practise Islam,” said Rajan. “I just hope that we can remain good human beings and respect people and the institution of marriage, rather than dragging religion into our personal problems and drifting apart. No religion teaches us to abuse the institution of marriage,” Rajan noted.

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