Dear Love InshAllah,
There’s something that I haven’t been able to talk to anyone about, but I need to talk to someone about this. It’s about our views of purity, and whether we can start our lives fresh if something terrible happens. In our society, we’re told from the time we’re little girls we should save ourselves for our husbands. I want to get married and have a family, and raise my children in a safe, caring environment. I only wish I was so lucky. From the time I was 12, a relative started to abuse me. It started gradually, but it became sexual. Over the next few years, I didn’t say anything. I knew if I did my family would fall apart. Alhamdulillah I was finally able to stop him. I went to college far away from my whole family. I haven’t dated at all in college. I’m waiting to meet a good man, a man I want to spend my life with. But I can’t get over this feeling of guilt, that I’m somehow not worthy of being happy because of everything that’s happened. I wish I could just start my life fresh. I never wanted this to happen. He’s a sick man who should have never done this to any little girl. But I know that many people would judge me if they knew my state, and maybe they would say that I’ll never be able to be a good wife or deserve a good husband anymore. I think this is so unfair. How can our entire life be judged by something that we didn’t even want to happen to us? I was hoping you could tell me what I should do, and how I can lead a good life now. I want to have a normal, happy life, but will any husband accept me if he knows what I’ve been through?
Praying for a fresh start
Miss Sunshine replies:
Many single Muslims enjoy getting to know potential spouses over dinner and coffee dates. This process can be exciting and invigorating especially if the conversation and chemistry is good.
But it’s extremely easy to get infatuated with a person and ignore red flags. This is why it’s important to seek more information before getting too attached.
Here are some tips from my own search on how to get to know someone better. (Note: I highly recommend using your wali (guardian) or a close friend throughout this entire process. Not only is it required in Islam but it allows you to keep a balanced thought process.)
Bookstores are my turf. They’re my territory, where I live and breathe. I’m intimately familiar with all aspects of it: from the selling of books (bookseller, two years) to the buying of books (lifetime member of Bookaholics Anonymous, which, like most things, is a figment of my overactive imagination), from the writing of books to the reading of them. I will devour any word on any page.
And yet…there is a part of this kingdom I’ve refused to go near: the fashion and beauty magazines. I ventured into this exotic and dangerous area a few years ago. I looked to my left, looked to my right, stepped gingerly in. The array of lipsticked, perfectly coiffed, exquisitely dressed women both bewildered and terrified me. I skulked for a bit until someone else started perusing the section, at which point I hightailed it back to my political journals section with unseemly haste. Back on solid ground.
Here is where the Venn Diagram of nerd girls and Muslim girls intersects: there is something inherently shameful about a woman paying attention to her own body. One of my favorite blog posts of the year perfectly captures the strangely contradictory dichotomy that both Muslim girls and nerdy girls face. We are simultaneously desexualized and hyper-sexualized by the societies we find ourselves in.
I fear I’ve double-whammied myself on this one.
Our love today to the incredible, inspiring and unstoppable Ameena Matthews. Ameena, a community activist and violence “interrupter” with the Chicago-based organization CeaseFire, recently received BET’s #BlackGirlsRock Community Activist Award.
Learn more about Ameena and the BlackGirlsRock award, here.
Dear Love Inshallah,
I have been dating a man for a few years now and we’ve been discussing marriage. However, he is of a polytheistic faith. Although he is liberal in his practice, he has a strong belief in God. We have not had any problems with faith interrupting our relationship, since we have the same morals and values and we have been blessed to be very compatible and loving towards one another. He is also very active in taking part in my religious activities, since he is quite aware that I am a practicing (semi-liberal) Muslim.
We have agreed on a nikkah (in addition to other South Asian cultural events). He has also agreed to “convert”. This is where the problem starts to occur. He wants to be able to practice both religions, but will always have his way of worship in his heart, even when “practicing” Islam with me. We have also decided that the children will be taught to practice the Islamic faith in our home. Therefore, is there really a point in him taking the shahada? Isn’t it still zina after marriage, since the marriage is not seen as “valid”? And will he be seen as a shirk, which is said to be completely “unforgivable” in Islam?
I have been lucky enough to have had exposure to different religious events (i.e. church services, pujas, etc.) growing up, so I have no problem attending and respecting his family’s customs and beliefs. I know God is the most gracious and merciful, but are we going down the wrong path?
In Love with a Polytheist
Shy Desi Boy replies: