“He introduced himself as Jamie from Italy,” said W.L. Cati, a prominent speaker and one of the leading US experts on Islamic marriages, as she recalled her initial acquaintance with her husband-to-be. “Only some time later did I learn that his real name was Muhammad and that he came from Aleppo, Syria,” she added.
Blaming her youth and naivete, Cati notes that the first deception was not enough to alert her about the dangers that would lie ahead and ultimately be recounted in her books, “Vow of Deception” and “Married to Muhammad."
“Back in the 1980’s, I knew little about Syria and even less about Islam,” she explained. “I didn’t care where he came from. He was charismatic, spoke very good English and struck me as a reliable person who wanted a family, so I fell into the trap,” she told Israel Today.
After dating for a year, the couple got married in a mosque. “Since the ceremony was conducted in Arabic, I didn’t understand a word. Only upon leaving the place did I find out that my name was changed to Zena, and that from that moment on I was a Muslim,” she stated, admitting that she felt Christian despite the conversion.
What followed was twelve years of troublesome marriage. “My husband went into the real estate business and money started flowing. Our income went from a combined total of forty thousand dollars per year to about one hundred thousand a month,” Cati said, adding that their improved financial fortunes had a negative impact on their relationship.
“Muhammad started drinking more often,” she explained, stressing that her spouse had never been a pious man, even though he did fast during the month of Ramadan. “I sensed that he was cheating on me, but couldn’t catch him red-handed. His mother started frequenting, snooping in our domestic affairs and causing a lot of tension,” Cati recalled.
Yet, despite the difficulties, Cati opted to stay married, justifying the decision with her strong love for the man who had swept her off her feet years earlier. In 1992, however, a major change happened. “I went to visit Syria. There, in one of the mosques of Damascus, I declared myself a Muslim and decided to wear the veil ‘full time,’” Cati explained, adding that the decision to convert was dictated by her readiness to accept her husband's religion. "That was a trap, because conversion meant that I couldn't escape," she continued, expaining that the abuse from her husband and his mother only escalated following her move.
According to Cati, during the years of her marriage she and her children experienced constant verbal, mental and physical abuse. Unable to take it any longer, Cati finally filed for divorce, but then changed her mind following Muhammad’s reassurances that he would change. He never did.
Seeking answers to what went wrong, Cati started questioning Islam, but said that she could find neither answers nor peace. “At some point, I realized that I had made a mistake by converting,” she said. “That’s when I decided to reject Islam and go back to Christianity. A year later, he divorced me, starting numerous battles over financial issues and our kids,” she continued.
After enduring years of a matrimonial nightmare, Cati is now counseling others on how to avoid her mistakes, but says she has no hard feelings for Muslims. “Not all of them beat their wives,” she said, concluding that domestic violence exists in every culture and religion.
This is part one of a four-part series on Christian women marrying Muslim men from the Middle East. Stay tuned for the next installment.