Imposing a straightjacket of cultural and religious conformity on a marriage by laying down such conditions is indeed the work of over-zealous bureaucrats who often embrace misogyny to prove the sincerity of their faith.

When modern Muslim women choose a non-Muslim for a marriage partner, they are not abandoning their faith; rather, they are integrating their faith into a broader family bond that respects and cherishes Islam.

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The impact of those medieval religious wars is still ingrained in the Muslim psyche.

In societies where the past reigns over the present, words such as honour are taken literally.

Such relationships could help build bridges between communities in our tense, polarised societies, and temper the tidal wave of suspicion and hatred that is often a by-product of intolerance and misunderstanding.

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Those easy “conquests” resulted in the importation of Christian women as slaves into the lands of the Muslim conquerors. Very few Muslim women ended up as slaves in Christian countries.

Muslim leaders always tried hard to avoid such a nightmarish scenario, which considered capture by Christians as a disgraceful loss of honour.One night was particularly distressing when a well-educated, senior medical colleague of mine (a doctor) volunteered, “to educate me” about how God would punish me if my husband stopped performing his Islamic duties.This colleague then said, with no small degree of condescension: “I repeatedly questioned why Muslim societies are happy to accept their men marrying non-Muslims, but firmly deny their women the same right.The Syrian passport control officer glared at me after I crossed the once peaceful Lebanese-Syrian border seventeen years ago.He shook his head, and interrogated me with a fusillade of awkward questions after I had submitted my passport.That's why our new email newsletter will deliver a mobile-friendly snapshot of uk to your inbox every morning, from Monday to Saturday.