Who’s Afraid of Aymann Ismail?

What Happened When a Devout Muslim and a Devout Catholic Got Married in Small-Town Iowa

Neither of them converted.

This video is from Season 2 of “Who’s Afraid of Aymann Ismail?,” a series featuring Slate’s Aymann Ismail investigating fears about Islam in America. Watch the entire series.

On a recent Sunday, not long after I landed in Iowa for the first time, I found myself at my first-ever Catholic Mass. It’s fair to say I was the only Muslim there. But I was with someone who’s had a deep connection to Islam for longer than I’ve been alive.

In 1985, Laura Fendt fell in love with a Muslim immigrant from Egypt named Kamal Hammouda. They spontaneously got married that fall. Then they got married again that winter, this time by a priest. It began more than three decades of an interfaith union that many people, Muslim and non-Muslim, still don’t think should exist.

What happens when a devout Muslim and devout Christian commit to each other to build something new—and neither have any intention of converting? Laura and Kamal invited me here to their restaurant and home in small-town Iowa, where they raised grown three boys, to tell me how they did it. —Aymann Ismail

This series is written and produced by Aymann Ismail and Jeffrey Bloomer, and edited by Aymann Ismail.

Watch more:

Who Says a Muslim Can’t Celebrate Christmas?

Wearing a Hijab Is Complicated. So Is Deciding to Take One Off.

Fox News Claimed a “Sharia Law Court” Is Enforcing Islamic Law in Texas. So I Went to See It.

One more thing

You depend on Slate for sharp, distinctive coverage of the latest developments in politics and culture. Now we need to ask for your support.

Our work is more urgent than ever and is reaching more readers—but online advertising revenues don’t fully cover our costs, and we don’t have print subscribers to help keep us afloat. So we need your help. If you think Slate’s work matters, become a Slate Plus member. You’ll get exclusive members-only content and a suite of great benefits—and you’ll help secure Slate’s future.

Join Slate Plus