1. Zarifa and Mikhail (Muslim/Orthodox) – 38 and 50 years old. Together for 18 years. St. Petersburg
Zarifa and Mikhail. Personal archive
Zarifa: All of my family is Muslim, despite the fact that this religion was prohibited in the USSR. They know little about Islam but they memorized the main prayers during their childhoods.
I have believed in Allah for my entire adult life and our marriage hasn’t changed anything. I have visited about a hundred different churches. But even when I’m looking at Donatello’s works in the Basilica di Santa Croce, I don’t forget to say: “Glory to Thee, great Allah, for giving me the chance to see such beauty!”
My marriage to a Christian was a catastrophe for my parents. But over the course of time, they got to know Misha [Mikhail] better and liked him. My parents understand that my husband doesn’t discourage me from following my religious beliefs.
Mikhail: When we met, I wasn’t baptized but I wanted to become Orthodox. I was indifferent to Islam. I only knew that some Muslim movements justify violence, but this has nothing to do with my wife.
As time passed, we shared our cultures with each other – for example, I learned the word “suublyk,” which means a small good deed on the occasion of joy or mourning.
Zarifa: I don’t try to change my husband’s religious views. He was baptized after the age of 30 and had been preparing for it for a long time. Still, we argue about religion. I try to convince my husband that Islam is a fair and unselfish faith, while in the Orthodox Church even asking for a prayer costs some money. Misha says that in the name of Allah people commit terrorist attacks. But it is no use to discuss such fanatics–they don’t understand the true essence of religion.
On religious traditions
Zarifa: We celebrate both Orthodox and Muslim holidays. I help to paint the eggs on Easter, and I set the table after midnight so that Misha can break his fast. On Muslim…