Muslims In Love

Young Couple in Cairo
(Above is a common site in Egypt, young secondary or college age couples walking hand in hand)

Tariq wrote another timely post on Muslim marriages. I’ve read the Washington Post article and it raises a number of major issues of Muslims finding partners in the US. I’ve heard a number of the issues tossed around, often in private intimate discussions.

Contrary to some of the commenters on Tariq’s blog. Many Muslims believe in love between spouses and emotional and spiritual intimacy. Those who choose the traditional route in finding a spouse clearly don’t have Harlequin Romance versions of marriage. Muslims often have romantic views of love and their particular set of needs can vary from person to person, as much as culture to culture. And in many Muslim societies, love has lived on, as evidenced by the large body of poetry and belles lettres dating back before Islam and spanning across 1400 years. And yes, rulers loved their wives and their wives loved them back. And so did average everyday men and women experience love and heartbreak and even at times fulfilling lifelong relationships. Marriage is half of their religion. Through the joys and challenges, triumphs and tests of marriage, they become fully human. For many Muslims their love for their spouse and is a way of connecting with the Divine.

For most American Muslim women, finding that one is like a miracle. It doesn’t come easy. But with hope, moments of despair and trembling, and then a leap to faith, it happens for many of us. And unlike the guys, us sisters don’t get promises of houris al jennah. Instead, we will see our husbands in the afterlife (I am sure he will be a new and improved version of his earthly manifestation). This is why you hear many Muslim women talk about naseeb. Our choice needs to be a good one.
And Muslim men are also seeking emotional fulfillment in their relationships. Many see women as human beings, and marriage is not simply reduced to a contractual relationship that simply allows a man access to a woman’s sexual reproduction.

While a growing number of Muslims are rejecting stranger marriages, time and time again I have heard Muslim women advocate for more structures to be put into place to facilitate matchmaking while safeguarding women who are often vulnerable to predatorial or irresponsible men. Sure, we can get a Wali (guardian who looks after the interest of convert or women without male relatives). But many of the walis do not act as true guardians and protectors. And the proof in the pudding is in the treatment and care they give to their own daughters compared to the women they are supposed to look out for. Convert women are often left in a lurch when it comes to arranging the courtship and if they want chaperones, forget about it. Most walis are too busy for that. And many new converts are often married without anyone but their husband’s friend acting as their wali and signing off on the contract.
On a positive note, the search for love has sparked the creative juices of some Muslim writers and filmmakers. I’m going to leave you with this link to the work of a young Muslim director, Zerina Usman, titled Muslims in Love


Film Synopsis:

How do you find a mate when you don’t date? ‘Muslims in Love’ shows us the trials of devout Muslim youth as they practice the Islamic means of pursuing of love in modern American society.

In a culture where people choose to date, live with a significant other, and move from relationship to relationship to find the right fit, Muslim Americans often need to clarify that their alternative isn’t the stereotypical arranged marriage. In “Muslims in Love,” Mohammad and Ferdaus tie the knot with the aid of friends, family, laptops and cell phones. Yet, the issues are complex. Michelle, a convert to Islam, frets over the slim pickings of Muslim men. Jameelah, an African American, clashes with racism and double standards. And Zahra, a law student, avoids drama at all costs. She leaves Mr. Right to fate. For better or worse, this generation of Muslim Americans walks a tightrope between faith and modernity in the quest for their heart’s desire.

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20 thoughts on “Muslims In Love

  1. As Salaamu Alaikum Margari:

    I think it all boils down to what individuals want and what their circumstances are. As western women, we have a tremendous ability to choose and be more active in our quest to find a mate. We also have seen the other side of the coin in regards to dating due to living in western countries. Just because two people date and then get married means no more success then the way that Muslims traditionally get married. Because at the end of the day you aren’t really going to know a person until you have lived and ate with them. Most dating situations people live apart and just visit one another. They value having a relationship but having their own space. Then after marriage they begin living with each other and the expectations change because now the gears must be switch from “dating” to “marriage”. It is not the same thing and it never will be. This is what causes a problem for non-Muslims and Muslims as well. You know, that grass is greener on the other side thing. You can still have all the freedom in the world and to choose a mate and it still may not work out. I don’t think there is anyone out there from a westernized country that can say they have never seen this in action. I think Muslims get so wound around the axel about what non-Muslims are doing. We need to concentrate on ourselves. We need to focus on what is beneficial for us.

    Whatever a person seeks they will find it but it all depends on their intentions. If a person intended to get married just for sexual fulfillment ect, then they cannot get angry when other elements which actually do make a good marriage are non-existent. You got what you wanted so now what’s the problem? A person in this position cannot blame their bad choices on Islaam or the way that Muslims traditionally marry.

    How many times have I heard of sisters who had an active and caring wali just bring him on board when they have gone out there to “find a man on their own”. They only used the wali just for the nikaah not for anything else. So they essentially dated their husbands and still the marriage doesn’t work?! Li matha? Sometimes even when a pious Imaam has advised sisters not to marry particular brothers they just go to another masjid and get married anyway. This is all under the “I’m grown” pretense. When the marriage doesn’t work out, then they want to come back to the original Imaam for him to get her out of a sticky situation. Is that fair and just? If you are “grown” enough to do what you want to do and not fear Allah in regards to your OWN affairs then you are grown enough to deal with what comes after that. I don’t feel sorry for people who do these things because Allah gave us a tremendous thing called free will. We freely choose who we want to get involved with. Especially western women are not forced into marriage. We may be ignorant of a few things which could be a detriment to us later on but we are definitely not forced. So what’s the problem then? Most likely the problems lie within the individuals themselves.

    And who says you have to marry a stranger off the street? Does that make any kind of sense? Do we see people who were raised as Muslims doing this? Or do we see them finding potential mates for their youth and trying their best to guide them? We are just looking at things incorrectly. We are to go and see our potential spouses. In that “seeing” each other we will talk right? There really hasn’t been a set time limit, that I have ever read of, in the Sunnah of how long communication can go on. I think it should continue in a halaal manner until the two have felt they have discussed all matters they hold important and have clearly understood what their potential spouse needs, wants and intends to do in the future. It doesn’t have to be months or years but it can definitely be more than half an hour. This isn’t haraam and no one can force another person to get married. So if a person makes the decision to get married and it doesn’t work out, then this is from the qadr and it maybe that they will be blessed with someone better. In fact, this happens all the time.

    I definitely don’t agree with people getting married after a thirty minute sitting. But hey, some people have had happy and productive marriages after such a meeting and some haven’t. That’s the way the world works. Some things work for some people and not for others.

    I think we all need to be more educated on what Allah wants from us and what the Prophet, sallahu ‘alaihi wa salaam, command us with. No where in the Sunnah does it say that we have to marry someone we aren’t comfortable with, someone we do not know ect. We have to find a middle ground. And I wholeheartedly agree with having marriage counseling prior to marriage. I think through this A LOT of people will truly come to understand themselves and if marriage if for them in the first place let alone with that particular individual.

    I think the communities need to be more involved and more programs set up to help Muslims who want to get married. I think it would help a lot of people make better choices. Will it guarantee success? No, it can’t because we don’t have knowledge of the unseen. But it is definitely a good start.

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  2. Marrying somoene after 30 minutes is a risk, whether it has worked for some or not is not the issue. We cant compare love to arranged marriages, many couples in arranged marriages live a miserable life due to the stigma of divorce. Regardless of how you do it, you have to KNOW the person (his past, his family) and compatibility is crucial as well.

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  3. I think this is a big part of the problem we face today. How can a person marry a man after just seeing him for 30 mins? When you have an arranged marriage usually the parents know the family very well and usually boths families have something to lose when and if the relationship breaks up……thier family honor. In the state we do not have that. Usually or family name does not mean anything to anyone but us. BUT in these countries it means something. Not only do the husband and wife work hard at keeping the marriage together but so do the families.
    We do not have that in the states. All we have is the brothers word. He and his friends say he is a good brother but do we really know?! It is common knoweledge that these men lie for each other and even the imams cover up the trail of lies. So who can a woman trust? How can a woman even think of going into a marriage on the word of strangers? What can you tell about a brother in 30 mins? This is why we have so many people married 3,4,5,6, or more times. It is a sad thing……
    I am not saying arranged marriages are the answer. Nope, I could not do that one either. What I am saying is we need honest men, and wali’s that do their JOBS! Imams that do not fall prey to the ole boys club, but instead teach men to be men and not only teach them the rights of a man but the rights of a wife! Then maybe we will have sit downs that are more productive and honest. Maybe we will see people going into marriages knowing who and what they are marrying. Maybe a woman wont be pawned off to man after man ….Love should not only been seen on the pages of a book. We should see it and experience it in our own lives.

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  4. ASA

    A liitle common sense never hurts, whatever you do find some trusted individuals (Wali’s etc.) to help. It’s complex and will always be to find comaptibility and a love intrest, but miracles are easy for Allah and difficult for man. If we’re honest we’ll agree that most of us receive the relationship we were prepared for, if we want better we must become better ourselves.

    Man/Woman in the mirror type of a thing and stop the victimization crap!!

    MaSalaam

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  5. as salaamu alaykum,

    Not all Muslims believe that a woman will only get her husband in jennah. What if he was abusive or she had more than one? Shi’a believe that women will get to choose their mate in jenna just as men. What kind of reward is it to get some “improved” version of a man you hated in the dunya?

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  6. As one speaker said recently, sexual purity is being emphasized at the expense of building solid, well-balanced relationships.

    I, personally have come to believe that by dating, at least I get to learn about the opposite sex. There’s all this hoopla in Muslim circles, that dating can lead to inappropriate behaviour etc. Well, I don’t think its as bad as its being made out to be.

    Yes, perhaps there is some pre-marital physical activity going on, but lets look at the contrast here. There are people doing the temporary marriage thing, and others who are doing the marriage thing and then divorcing a couple of days later. Yet others are so devoid of contact with the opposite sex, they’re resorting to sodomy (I’m looking at you Saudi Arabia!). Now I’m thinking that a young couple who’s been dating for 6-12 months who have decided to indulge in physical intimacy are at least committed to each other, and there’s a solid relationship between them.

    And no, I don’t think the woman in the relationship is ‘ruined’ (how come the guy is never ruined?).

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  7. As a black woman, I think that black muslim woman should not worry what people think about her marrying a man from another race and the double standards. They need to take their time, be honest and pick a muslim man of quality, whatever he’s colour. If Allah, thinks it is good, and the others don’t, well I afraid, the comdemmer work for work for Satan. There are passages in the Koran telling us how beautiful we are and we must hold that in our head, say it aloud, over and over, praise God for our husbands and our children. For all people, Christian, Muslim, Jewish it is difficult getting a husband, because we live in an increasing secular society, which has no control, no boundaries, do what you want, God is not there, because they know that have to be accountable for God at judgment time. We say God’s words over our situation. It does not matter, what the media says, what the statistics say, and they like to say that non-black men are not attracted to black women. Ladies, this is a biggest lie going around to destroy God’s finest beauties. Ladies, once you are sincere, you are pleasing to eye, in spirit beauty shines through into the physical, you will get a man of muslin man of quality, whatever colour. God bless you Ladies

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  8. Assalaamu Alaykum, Sister I am a black woman who was a new convert when I married. I did not know my husband well when I married. I had a Wali that was the Imaam at a Masjid he is from Morococo. My husband grew up in the US and he had only been a Muslim for 5 years at that time. However I made an Istakahrah before I married him and I did not ask for a large dowry. My husband told me he was poor and that he did not have a lot of money. He did not have a lot and he lived with me, I was patient with him. I knew my rights because he gave me a book on the Rights of the Believing woman and I read it cover to cover many times. I gave up some of my right for a period of time in order to marry him. I went through being pregnant, homeless, living in a Masjid then a hotel then a nice apartment Meshallah. Within a year from marrying him he was able to fulfill all my rights as his wife. Alhamdililah! Allah increased his risk because he had a family to support. I loved my husband before I married him. He was my brother in Islam and I loved him for the sake of Allah. I was patient with him and Allah increased his risk. It is permissable to marry for Deen and that is what I did. I would rather have a man that is poor and righteous than a man that is rich and less righteous. Getting married is part of your deen. It is not difficult if you ask Allah to make it easy on you. We must have faith and before entering into a marriage make an Istakahrah. May Allah guide us Amin. Wa Alaykum Salaam Wa Rahmantu Alayhi Wa Barakatuhu

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  9. I was in love with my dh when we got married and still in love with him today masha’allah. There are ways of courting that can be sweet and romantic and not be haraam.

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  10. Well ummibrahim i am glad it worked out for you, however its better to be cautious than sorry, i wouldnt recommend anyone to marry someone they didnt know well. If you dont know someone well, how do you know they are righteous? My friend married through her wali to a man she didnt know well, he looked pious, wore a thobe, quoted hadith and quran all the time, now they are divorced because he is in jail for sexual assault of another woman.

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  11. Little Sis: where are you? how are you? I’m still living hajj-style, almost 3 years later. Allahu Alim.

    I’ve changed computers twice & can’t get to my addresses.

    please email me.

    By the way, I think WE will be the houris…Al Hamdulillah!

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  12. Ummiabrahim,
    If I ever marry, (which in truth I do not desire it at the moment)that is the type of wife I want to be: supportive and loving. These days, people want to make marriage seem like an easy thing and they want the easy way out.As you have said that you and your husband had been through some hard times, but the both of you have persevered.That is what marriage is about and hopefully, if it’s meant to be I would want to be like that and( and vice versa)

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  13. This is for Kalimaat, it is unfortunate that your friend had such a hard time. Allah knows best, did your friend make an Istakahrah? Allah knows best, I know that you would not recommend anyone to marry someone they didn’t know well, but how well can you know someone until after you live live with them. You can have your wali ask the people in the community he is part of how often he makes Fajr prayer, does he attend classes, how often does he go to the Masjid.

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  14. I think the marrying-after-30-min idea was received a little off the original comment by Imanubillah, and I think I would like to reiterate her point as I see it.. Firstly – if you CAN tell about the potential spouse in 30 min, great. The point was it is *recommended* to keep the interaction to a minimum. When you know what you need to know about them, what else do you need?

    Also, nowhere does Islam require one to marry someone without knowing them. In fact, it is not even a matter of choice, the fact is you are SUPPOSED to see each other before marriage, to judge them for yourself. (It goes without saying that this meeting is “halal” of course.) Apart from that, Islam recommends marriage to people at the same level – social class/educational/etc to minimize clashes/differences.

    Arranged marriages in Muslim countries have the advantage of family seeking out information about the potential spouse from everywhere possible, including friends, past and present workplace, colleagues, schools etc. I honestly think these avenues are better indicators of a person’s honesty, integrity and personality then direct interaction, because people will naturally try to be at their best behavior before marriage.

    In any case, love or arranged marriage, marriage is ALWYAS a gamble. Also, as Imanubillah said – dating and marriage are so different. I fail to see how can we still think it’s important to date or actively choose to be in love before marriage when the divorce rate in western, dating-oriented cultures is so high.

    This is not to say of course, that noone might fall in love before marriage. However, as in sister ummiibrahim’s beautiful story, we should seek Allah’s help and guidance, make Istikhara, have faith, keep things halal and Allah will make things go in the direction of our heart if it is good for us. If it is not, Allah will bring us better options and give us contentment. Istikhara is a Sunnah and especially in such momentous decisions of life.

    There is no such thing as trusting Allah on something and doing things correctly for His sake and then Him breaking that trust.

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  15. Ummibraahim

    Tha matter is not whether she made istakhara or not, we are thankful to God but at the same time i am sure God does not want us to be passive individuals who are devoid of common sense and make unwise decisions. Marriage is risky and what your wali tells you is not enough, because the wali is not a friend or family of your husband. Each person knows in their own way how well they know a person, but a simple guide is meeting each other’s family, close friends, checking history/background, whether you are compatible, any criminal conviction, taking STD and Aids test and taking your time in getting to know each other.

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  16. salams
    I liked this post much and I am agree with most of what u wrote though just wanted to comment on one thing. finding right man is really next to impossible, equal to miracle no matter if one chooses wester style or traditional. I know what I am talking about. it took me 28 years till i got my match
    regards from Poland
    amina

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