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Archive for April, 2013

A frequent question set to me in the last few years is, ‘you are really nice… why aren’t you married yet?’ As if I had some horrid character trait or hidden secret that was keeping the myriad of eligible bachelors at bay. These well-meaning but very annoying people sound like they expected me to be an awful person so they could justify why I was not yet married. Because there couldn’t be any other possible reason right? I couldn’t WANT to be single? Never!

The truth is … I did not want to get married. There. I said it. And when you pick your jaw up off the floor please continue reading. For the longest time I did not want to get married because I wasn’t ready. I wasn’t ready to give up my freedom, share my life, take on responsibilities and learn how to cook and clean and actually cook and clean on a regular basis instead of when mum yelled at me. When I thought I could potentially do this marriage thing, I realised I was too immature. With my immaturity came stubborness and hypocrisy. I knew that I was a hyperactive, crazy drama queen who dreamt big dreams and yet I expected Prince Charming to come along who would be everything I wanted him to be and nothing he wanted me to be or nothing I should be. I was stubborn in my insistence that there was a heap of things I couldn’t do because marriage would get in the way. Study, travel, career progression, charity work… the list was endless. And I was hypocritical in that I expected men my age to have their stuff together and be ready to be Prince Charming whereas I was still finding my feet.

These uncompromising ideals of mine took me happily through my early twenties. I had planty of time and there were plenty of fish in the sea. What I didn’t realise was despite both these factors – what I had failed to take into consideration was the Goldilocks Problem. A term coined by a friend of mine, this problem arises when you have too hot, too cold but not just right!

goldilocks

This was my problem when I finally decided to address the issue of my singledom. While there were very many very nice, handsome, charming, religious men out there… some wanted the hijab off, some wanted the niqab on, some wanted me to quit work, some wanted  me to move overseas.. just right was nowhere to be found.

So I began to consider that maybe it wasn’t me or the guy that was the problem. The problem here was compatibility. But what was compatible with me? The first thing was how committed the person is to Islam. Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu alayhi was sallam) said,  “A woman is married for four things, i.e., her wealth, her family status, her beauty and her religion. You should marry the religious woman (otherwise) you will be a loser. “(Bukhari). The same holds true when looking for a husband. The problem here was that I was not ready! Even if I had completed my degree and found a good job and had a nice car, till Allah swt deemed me worthy of the beautiful act of marriage – I would remain single!

And so my goldilocks problem has a simple solution. Improve my deen. Strenthen my ties with God and my religion and I would mature into a person worthy of the spouse I seek. To love is not to love the way you wish but to love the way the object of your affections seeks to be loved. If God wishes for us to prostrate and ask of Him, then fulfilling the worldly requirements of marriage will not result in marriage. So for all of you who ask, ‘Why are you not married yet?’ My aswer is. Ask God.

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This post arises out of a question asked of me. ‘Should guys limit how close they are to girls who are in relationships and vice versa?’ To keep my scenarios simple I am going to speak about a guy who is friends with a girl who has a boyfriend. But the genders can be swapped here as the situations work both ways.

I think in every relationship when you are with someone they will initially be wary of all your relationships with other guys (to some extent – some guys are more possessive than others) until and unless those guys make a concerted effort to placate your boyfriend that it’s all good. The girl in question needs to provide emotional security to her boyfriend/husband/partner and he needs to trust her.

The friend needs to realise that the girl is in a relationship and that will change the dynamics even if slightly and respect that:

  • problems arise when said friend chats into the early hours of the night ignoring their partner
  • the partner gets suss or jealous or abusive or all of the above
  • friend refuses to accept a new factor in the dynamics of the friendship and continues as they were

Superwoman puts it all into perspective in this hilarious video. And it also highlights the cultural nuances that affect gender relations. Desi (Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi) people have very traditional and conservative outlooks on gender relations which leads to inter gender friendships being a common cause of rumours and scandal. As we progress further into the 21st Century though, this taboo is being smashed by those living in the west as well as those back home who embrace a globalised and western culture and see inter gender friendships as just another element to society. But in doing so – the confusion of normative lines of acting and being single and friends becomes continuously blurred and recreated into new rules and regulations which are again pushed and tested and recreated.

Add to that religious guidelines on gender relations or ‘freemixing’ as we Muslims like to call it and its a complicated scenario. Islam makes it simple (even if some people say harshly so). Free mixing is not condoned unless it is for the purposes of marriage or charity or hajj and even then it has to be with a mahram or a guide (wali). Allah says: “And when you ask the ladies for anything, ask them from before a screen. That makes for greater purity for your hearts and for theirs.” [Surah al-Ahzab: 53] In contemporary society with our kind of western lifestyle it is very hard to maintain this. But the emphasis should be on our intention to try.

At the end of the day, like my friend says, ‘Well it’s all intention and transparency. My girlfriend knows 100% well that this is how I talk to people I know. Now if I was hiding something and not having good intentions then if I’m not close to my friend I can still be at fault.’ And this is what Allah says: “Say to the believing men that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty: that will make for greater purity for them.” and says: “And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty.” [Surah al-Nur: 30-31]

It does not matter whether you are a virgin amongst drunks, a friend with a companion of the opposite sex or a friend of your friends’ partner. What matters is what is in your head and heart beacause that will dictate how you act and react to what is going on around you. And it is only when you can self reflexively conduct yourself in a manner which bears no reprimand from others that you can have a friendship without boundaries. For the boundaries of self conduct must be within you. Set by your own sense of self and worth.

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