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Child with parents with differing religions

(22 Posts)
WhoKnewReally Sun 26-Jun-16 17:26:10

I have been asked this question by a teen family friend.
He said 'Dad says I am a Muslim, am I?'

At the time of his birth
-his parents were unmarried (never married) but living together.
-Father self defined as Muslim (seemed to be non practicing in an outwardly visible sense, he may have converted I don't know, though was from a non-Muslim background himself prior).

-Mother was/is not religious or might define as a non practicing C o f E Christian.

-Child brought up by mum from toddlerhood with little input from dad until later teen years.
-Teen is not practicing any religion and hasn't to date.

If you can let me know how to find out the answer or indeed the answer and why it is such, it would be much appreciated.

peachpudding Mon 27-Jun-16 00:13:39

I will probably be reported and censored by MN for making a genuine comment.

The answer is: "That is something you will decide for yourself when you get older".

pearlylum Mon 27-Jun-16 06:31:40

All children are born atheists. Religion is something that some parents force on kids.

BertrandRussell Mon 27-Jun-16 06:38:40

Surely the only answer is "I don't know. Are you?"

LifeIsGoodish Mon 27-Jun-16 07:20:54

Some religions consider a child to be born into that religion, no matter what happens later. Personally, being a member of such a religion myself, I see it a bit like the gender/sexuality issue: you may have been born physically Z gender (or Z religion), and may later choose to change the way you identify, and even make physical changes to your body to support this, but it does not change the fact of your birth.

Some religions do not accept that you can make this change, just as some people do not accept that you can make this change to your gender.

I also have an atheist/different faith DH, and we tell our dd slightly different things: I tell them they are Z faith because they were born into it and because I am trying to bring them up in it, that fact will never change, but ultimately they will make their own choices as they grow older. Dh tells them just the last phrase.

pearlylum Mon 27-Jun-16 07:24:02

Some religions consider a child to be born into that religion the religions may consider this but it doesn't make it true.

Babies are born without religion, they have no concept of deity until adults infect their mind.

LifeIsGoodish Mon 27-Jun-16 07:25:46

The question is not "is religion bunkum?" The question is how to help a child understand their parent's view of religion.

BoxofSnails Mon 27-Jun-16 07:27:15

Some children have made their own choice by 13, but I'd ask what he/she would like to be. What do they know about God, and would they like to know more? And take it from there.

buffyajp Mon 27-Jun-16 07:40:27

All children are not born atheist at all as that is a active disbelief in God so if they are not old enough to decide for themselves then they can't decide whether F they believe in God or not.

pearlylum Mon 27-Jun-16 07:44:02

Atheism can be an active disbelief in god, but it can also be an absence of belief.
Babies have no concept of god therefore are atheist.

BertrandRussell Mon 27-Jun-16 07:46:19

Atheism is not necessarily an active disbelief in God. It is simply an absence of belief in God. Babies are by definition atheist.

My understanding is that there is a belief in Islam that everyone is born Muslim. Those who convert from other faiths are called reverts. I may be wrong so someone with more knowledge would have to confirm that. This may be where the teen or his dad in the OP has got this idea from.

pearlylum Mon 27-Jun-16 08:39:42

It may be a belief greenheart but it doesn't make it true.
Like having a belief in god doesn't make him actually exist.

orangebird69 Mon 27-Jun-16 08:39:49

greenheart totally correct.

BertrandRussell Mon 27-Jun-16 08:59:30

That belief may make other people think he is a Muslim. It does not make him a Muslim if he does not choose to be one.

WhoKnewReally Mon 27-Jun-16 09:56:14

I'm so pleased to see your responses, thank you. [at work, taking brief break] Not able to name check all but have found all responses very useful.

I basically said that I had't thought of him as Muslim, not brought up or taught that way. I also said that his DF had been able to choose his own religion as an adult so what you were at birth (if indeed he was born Muslim) isn't necessarily set.

Teen doesn't have religious leanings at this point, not sure if he will in the future.

TBF he caught me out with the question and I'd like to go back with a more considered response and be a sounding board for him if he needs one. I myself am not religious but can be fairly neutral on the subject.

greenheart thank you that would indeed explain it I guess and was exactly the information I was hoping for. Is this regardless of the fact his parents were unmarried and his DM not muslim?

peachpudding Mon 27-Jun-16 10:19:39

My understanding is that there is a belief in Islam that everyone is born Muslim
Does that mean in Islam, even a child born of Christian parents is considered Muslim?

WhoKnewReally you would have to ask a Muslim to get an answer to whether your son would be regarded as a Muslim under those conditions. I suspect that in some quarters the answer is yes as everyone is a Muslim by birth but I am aware that there are different opinions within Islam.

It sounds as if your teen is exploring some stuff about identity which may or may not be ultimately linked to faith. If he does want to explore the faith side of things then there are plenty of resources out there. is good for the Christian perspective and assumes no prior knowledge. I'm not familiar with resources for people exploring Islam but I'm sure someone else on here can offer ideas.

hotdiggedy Fri 01-Jul-16 20:50:53

Yes, he would be considered to be Muslim even if his mum isn't. however, in this case I don't think he could be considered Muslim (unless he wants to be) as his dad has taught him nothing, not been around etc etc and he has had no input from anyone Muslim either.

FloraTheTutor Tue 09-Aug-16 19:56:13


'Babies are born without religion, they have no concept of deity until adults infect their mind'

Your use of the word 'infect' here is negatively loaded. Many children are persuaded of things by the adults in their lives, which do them no long term harm, belief in Father Christmas or the Tooth Fairy or the Gruffalo for that matter.

My understanding about religious faith is speaking as an RE teacher with a degree in comparative religion and as a Jewish woman, where DH is not.

Most religious communities want to encourage parents to immerse children in a community and encourage them to learn about a faith so they can make a decision for themselves from a position of knowledge when they are at an age where they understand what that decision means.

For those parents who encourage and immerse children in supporting a football or rugby team, the immersion is very similar.

Would you see this secular immersion as negative, too?

JeSuisLeLoup Tue 09-Aug-16 20:41:09

To be a Muslim he would need to understand the shahada. This is the first pillar.

If he is interested to learn more I'm sure the local mosque will have classes. They are there for his questions. They should have open days too where he can go and have a look round.

Does he know any Muslim families he could speak to and spend time with?

pearlylum Tue 09-Aug-16 20:46:30

Not sure how you can immerse a child in a non- activity.

I don't collect stamps. Would you call that my hobby? Would you suggest that I am immersing my children in non- stamp collecting? After all we do it every day.

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