Another Interlove Story

I am posting this not to shame anybody but to reveal another side to the beautiful religion of Islam that I love.

Jinan and I fell in love and have lived together for a long time. She has developed a relationship with my son. Every night she feel asleep, smiling, with her head on my shoulder. By all accounts, our relationship was one of unique passion, courage, and love.

Jinan wanted to celebrate our relationship by posting our story on the Interlove project. You can read the story that she wrote here:

In that story she celebrates our love and writes that she hopes that her family and friends will some day accept our relationship and that our story might inspire others going through the same struggle to, in spite of obstacles, hold onto love.

Three days ago Jinan went to visit her parents. She never returned.

We left happy, with no relationship problems and we were satisfied with our love and planned to be together forever. She accepted a promise ring from me and wore it to her parents house.

Last night her father stole the phone from her daughter and screamed curses at me. He told me that he would like me to kill myself. In the background, her mother screamed the same. Jinan, when she could get to the phone, whispered and hid in another room. She declared her love for me, declared her wishes to live with me, and to be in a relationship with me. She told me everything I knew to be true. However, she began to repeat the things her parents were saying the background about our relationship: ‘I am not a proper muslim! I am not married to her!’

This morning her phone number was abruptly changed and her Facebook account was deactivated. She can no longer be reached by me. She left myself and the relationship she developed with my five year old son, without so much as a proper goodbye or discussion.

She wrote in her “Interlove” page that she is worried that she will either lose her parents or lose me, and that it saddens her that she is forced to choose when she really wants all of us in her life.

She was forced to choose. And she lost what by all standards appears to be true love.

This is the other side of Islam. This is the dark side of Islam.

I want the reader to understand that I am not writing this as an attack on Islam. I am writing this because I also care deeply about Islam, so much so that I hold it to the standard of being accountable to the words which are written in the Koran. For example, the Surah 24:32, which states that you shall encourage – and not repell – those who are single to get married. They may marry the righteous among your male and female servants, if they are poor. God will enrich them from his grace. By all means, I have always been ready to do that.

Not so long ago, I started a fundraising effort and raised more than $110,000 in funds to help restore a Mosque in Peterborough that was attacked out of hatred and intolerance. Jinan also helped me with that project. After that occurred, I met many Muslims who have become my friends. These Muslims understand and accept the relationship of Jinan and I. And they, I believe, would have helped us to overcome our obstacles.

Last night I called Kenzu Abdella, the President of the Kawartha Muslim Religious Association, for his help. I pleaded with him and begged him to help me find a solution. It is with great regret that I must say that a solution could not be found.

It is my unshakable conviction that what happened to me, so suddenly and without warning, is not Good, and is not right. It is not Islam, and it is not ethical.

Yesterday, my son cried to me: “Where is Jinan? Why is she not here with us? Why did she leave.” My friends, tell me, what is it that I am to tell to my son if the truth is that I can not understand the reason myself, except to say that evil still lives in the most holy of minds.

During my last brief contact with Jinan I learned that her parents purchased for her a ticket to Lebanon. I can not pay her rent for her, and she has moved out – effectively leaving my son and I without a stable home. Jinan will be graduating from Trent University with a degree in Forensic Science and Toxicology. While with me she became increasingly interested in Women’s Studies. She describes herself as an Arab and Muslim Feminist.

She will be leaving for Lebanon shortly after her graduation.

My friends, there is a discourse of tolerance which sustains our faith in the ability of people from diverse backgrounds to unite together in a common struggle and purpose. I am a proponent of this discourse. However, it is precisely because I am a proponent of this discourse that I must state that it also makes possible the concealment of an altogether more insidious fanaticism.

Jinan will now be forced to say all sorts of things to defend her parents beliefs. But this is not Jinan. If you want to know the real Jinan look over all of the memories and letters and artifacts from our relationship, from the time before three days ago – and you will find only love, endless love, and no relationship issues whatsoever. This is a girl locked inside of an apartment, afraid to leave it, and afraid to lose her parents if she does. Her parents have not only locked Jinan’s body inside of a room. They are now locking her mind inside of it as well.

Jinan, who has always loved me and has never claimed to have wanted to be away from me – but who, still when i talked with her two days ago, wanted to live with me and be with me, has disappeared. And for the sake of all that is good and right in this world, I am sharing this story of my intense pain with the world – as Jinan would have wished: to inspire others to hold onto love.

Goodbye Jinan.

[I am sharing this story far and wide, and with the Interlove Project, and others. Because that is what Jinan would have wanted, and because it, right now, is my only source of strength. I am removing comments from this story because I can not bear it..]