The response to our post, “Arranged” Marriage, was overwhelming. We heard from hundreds of readers expressing sympathy and concern for the writer forsaking the man she loved for another due to family pressure.
The post left us curious to hear a man’s perspective, especially as we edit our upcoming anthology Salaam Love: Muslim Men on Love, Sex, and Intimacy (Valentine’s Day 2014, Beacon Press). We’re publishing one male response we received, below.
My name is “Fuz,” and I loved a woman who married someone else. She claimed that she loved me until the day of her marriage.
Why did she marry someone else if we loved each other? The usual suspects: family, honor and, most of all, religion.
The principal problem, she says, was my religion.
I am a Muslim, and always have been. Her family thought otherwise. My sect of Islam was not acceptable to them. Because I could never fully understand their hate for my religious convictions, I might be inaccurately portraying their disapproval. I don’t know, but it didn’t make sense to me.
They didn’t approve because they thought I was a kafir and my nikah (marriage) with her would not have been jaiz (permissible).
Your Mother Needs a Foot Massage
"Heaven," Muslims say, "lies at the feet of mothers." But dear mothers, I have seen your bare feet, blackened by the parking lot as you fetch your sandals after salat. Your whole lives in India and Pakistan, in the Middle East and Africa spent shoeless, walking through deserts and jungles, gravel roads, across river beds to scrub laundry in the rapids. And the damage is severe: the chipped dry skin of your heels flake like old wood infested with termites— the scales of your feet like crushed lizards— the dark soles like tires after a drag race across broken glass. Read the rest of this entry »
‘Love InshAllah‘ editor Ayesha Mattu writes a love letter to Muslim fathers on Father’s Day. Originally published by The Huffington Post.
For every stereotype about Muslim women, there are as many about Muslim men.
Muslim men are boxed in between the angry terrorist and rampaging, honor killing father with no space in between for nuance or celebration. And yet, there is a disconnect between these extreme depictions of Muslim men and what I — and most other American Muslim women I know — have experienced directly.
All of my life, Muslim men — from my father to my uncles, from my cousins to my friends — are the ones who have nurtured, supported and protected me. They’ve cheered every success, inspired me to push higher with my personal and professional ambitions, and believed in me even when – especially when — I did not believe in myself.
I’m married to an utterly irresistible Muslim man who makes me laugh, respects and cherishes me as an equal partner. I’m the mother of a Muslim son whom we are raising with the Islamic values that will make him a strong advocate of women’s rights, just like his father and the other Muslim men in my life.
So this Father’s Day, I’m writing a love letter to Muslim fathers.
Our love this Friday for Takin’ it to the Streets – a Muslim-led arts and music festival on Chicago’s South Side taking place tomorrow, Saturday, June 15th. Streets is produced by the Inner-City Muslim Action Network (IMAN), a globally recognized organization that aims to change, serve and inspire by working on social justice issues, delivering a wide range of direct services, and cultivating the arts in urban communities.
Love, InshAllah editors Ayesha and Nura will both be at the festival – make sure you find them and say hello!
For more information about tomorrow’s festival, including schedule and line-up of performers (Black Star! Yuna!), visit http://imanstreets.org/2013
Dear Love Inshallah,
At the age of 25, I am fairly new to the world of Muslim dating (or dating at all). I’ve always internalized messages from my community telling me that “dating is haraam” and have stayed away from men for the most part. Over the last few years, I began speaking with suitors, mostly via phone or email, and always with marriage as the end goal. I would always end things early if I didn’t see things working out (sometimes before I truly knew the gentleman).
For the last couple of months, I have been speaking with a new gentleman, and due to distance, our exchanges have been electronic (phone, email, FaceTime). We have set a date and place to meet in person, but this will require him to spend time and money to travel and meet me.
I have many doubts about whether he is right for me. He is older and has more experience dating, including dating women without marriage as the end goal. This was many years ago and he now is looking for marriage. His history has been weighing on my mind, and I wonder if we are too different because of our perspectives on the Islamic rules of engagement. I know there are double standards for men and women when it comes to this stuff, but I don’t want to be the “nice, virginal girl” that a man settles down with after sowing his wild oats.
Given my doubts, should I still meet him? Is it fair of me to ask him to come so far when I am unsure? I have definitely also considered that I may just be scared and looking for reasons to back out of this.
Miss Sunshine replies:
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A “Wasat Girl” embraces being in-between multiple cultures, because this transcultured space is globalism living out loud. It was where culture happens, the place of power, that middle space – “wasat” culture.
Being a wasat girl is a cultural force, but there is a unique type of Third Space reserved for the overweight, the fat girls. If you grow up large, your life may be like crouching in a crevice, like in a fat roll, where you assume a type of invisibility even while knowing that people notice far more of you than they do the smaller folk. You are both inside and outside of public space: there is the sexual invisibility, the social biases, and sometimes, there is internal self-loathing because you feel that you will never measure up to Pretty Girl Space. You know that your girth enters the room before you do.
During the first few years of my marriage, there was a trip to Nairobi for an international conference. A large Maasai woman came up to me during an evening reception. She had remembered our first meeting at another reception in Washington, D.C., a few years prior.
On this African night, the Maasai woman, a Kenyan landmine activist, approached me and said hello again. She recalled that I was freshly married the last we met.
As she took my arm, she proclaimed, “Oh my! You’ve gotten so fat!”
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