Like a virginPosted: July 25, 2012
One of the most meaningful aspects of Islam for me was the rule about no pre-marital sex.
I came from a non-religious household. While my non-religious parents tried to non-religiously raise me with Judeo-Christian values, my total rejection of religion made futile any attempts by my mother to curtail raging teenaged hormones.
Fast forward many years, many men who dumped me, many broken hearts and many relationships that might have worked out had I not been so willing to have sex right away. Eventually I reached a point, actually I reach many points where I put my foot down and said, “I will never put myself in this position EVER again.” My determination was cemented further after living in a Muslim-majority country for several years. I noticed that while Muslim women suffered heartaches too, the practicing ones managed to avoid these brutal fuck-overs that happen when you meet the man of your dreams, give yourself over to him after the third date and then watch as he magically poofs and disappears.
I envied these Muslim women who got courted, who drove their suitors so crazy that these love-sick young men would pull together the $20-30,000 required for the dowry, wedding party, dress, furniture and jewelry. This process could take years. And then I found myself wondering, “How come no one falls for me that hard?” It wasn’t about gaining material items, it was about the dedication and commitment that these material items symbolized. It was about making a man work for what he wants, rather than handing it to him on a silver platter. These woman seemed to know something that I, in my Western liberated arrogance, didn’t and I wanted to know what that was.
The first time a guy proposed to me was in this Muslim-majority country. He was a Muslim and he honestly wanted to do right by me; he wanted to wait until we were married to have sex. But I was not yet Muslim at this point and I didn’t get it. I was horny, he was hot, I wanted to screw. I pressured him into having sex with me (he was a virgin). The relationship ended in tears (mine, not his).
It took me reading The Rules about 20 times (I’m serious) to learn not to give myself over so easily. It took living in a Muslim-majority country to see that Islam has The Rules built into it. Islam has rules that protect women from the terrible heartbreaks I went through while dating. This was one of reasons I decided to become Muslim.
A year after converting, I met a Muslim man who expressed interest in me and I in him. He asked me, “What kind of a relationship do you want to have?” I summoned up all the courage I had and told him, “I have chosen to remain celibate until I am married.”
I had rehearsed this line over and over in my head since becoming Muslim. It was really scary. I thought it would be a sure-fire way to lose a guy. But the first guy I used it on was the one I ended up marrying.
Azra al Qamari is the pen name of an artist and writer born and bred in the San Francisco Bay Area. A former atheist, she converted to Islam two years ago.