The love between Anwar and Julie: it is complicated

When he does voluntary work in a nursing home in Arnhem, he meets the 21st of July 2016 Julie Droeghaag. A sober Dutch woman. Love begins simple, but becomes more serious, the more complicated. 

Julie: “When we got to know each other I did a writing course in Arnhem. I lived as a student in a nursing home. Anwar loves the elderly, he came across the floor to walk with Arabic-speaking elderly people. We got a relationship. He soon started to talk about a marriage. I found that too fast, it was absolutely no option for me.”

The two see each other regularly. Even if Julie moves back to her birthplace Sittard. Although in Syria the status “in a relationship” does not exist, Anwar agrees to do so for the time being. Not engaged, not married, but together.  

Anwar: ,,I soon saw the benefits of the ‘Dutch way’ that men and women interact with. You do not have to get married right away, you must get to know each other first. Even on vacation together. I like it well. I also have no problems that Julie is not faithful. She may be as good as a Muslim.”

Julie: “Years ago, a friend of mine asked me or I believed somewhere. My sister answered directly from the living room with: ‘No. We are heretics. “I was not baptized and not faithfully raised. I came alone in the church with Sinterklaas and with carnival. When my classmates made the communion, I was one of the seven exceptions from two full classes. As a “replacement assignment,” I made a paper about another faith. I chose Islam”.

Anwar: “For me, faith is important. I believe in God and want to do what He asks of me. Now I am in the Netherlands, I no longer think that believers are better people than unbelievers, because here I see many people do good things while they do not believe in God.”

Spotless: As long as there are no future plans on the table, the relationship goes smoothly. Julie is deep in Syrian culture and Anwar is learning the Netherlands through Julie. Together they celebrate Christmas in Sittard, New Years with Dutch friends in Germany and carnival in Limburg. Then Julie will be the first to live together in the new school year. 

Julie: ,,Anwar accepts the unmarried relationship we have now. Now that I threaten to live together in the future, it starts to creak him again. He has learned for 26 years that he must first marry before he can live with a woman.”

Anwar: “For me, living together without being married is not an option. I do not have to marry the church, I’m not saying anything. An imam must connect us in real life. Then it has the approval of God. But then it will be complicated.”

Julie: “Muslims, Jews, and Christians can only marry women of the book. An unbelieving wife can not marry. We only know that syndrome. An imam will not really connect us. I’m not unbelieving. It just has no name. I believe there is more than just the earth and that things do not just happen, but if everything is settled by a man in heaven, I do not know.”

Anwar: “Maybe I could live together without being married, but if I already know that there will never be a marriage, it’s actually useless. I could never do my parents to stay married forever. Against God, I find it wrong. Maybe we find a liberal imam who wants to marry a Muslim with an “unbeliever”?”

Julie: ,,I do not know what I think about it. My thoughts have been a little war in my mind for months. That marital deduction seems a little trouble, but at the same time, it seems disrespectful to think so lightly. Nor do I know if it’s honest and sincere to marry a belief that I do not adhere to and whether it’s not too early.”

Anwar: “Now that I’m in the Netherlands for a long time, I notice that I do not want to stretch my boundaries any further. I want to change myself, but I do not lose myself and my faith either. I notice that there has been a boundary on the point of unmarried living for me.”

Julie: “It’s like, so often in the past year, a search for who has to adapt to the other person, I or he. Most of the time we find a golden middle way. It’s going to be stuck somewhere, but I do not know.”


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