Will Allah listen?Posted: March 29, 2012
I am a thirty-something Pakistani Muslim girl living in Canada’s capital. I have never written for a blog or any online site. I loathe futile Facebook status updates. My emails are in lowercase and rarely require a screen scroll.
Yet, I am here, perhaps because I just added another notch to my worn thirty-something belt. Birthdays are not just for cake eating, but quiet reflection.
Upon graduating with a Master of Arts in the precarious subject of Political Science (not exactly the Cadillac of degrees), I had the opportunity to work for the federal government. I moved to Ottawa, with my parents’ pride in my accomplishment and blessing, but also trepidation and worry. No single woman on either side of my family lived on her own before marriage. Even the girls I grew up with did not have this opportunity. Clearly, an angel was looking down on me, where I could show ‘them’ that we were just as competent and intelligent – tanned skin, weird names, and all.
More importantly, having grown up working class, my dad knew that such an opportunity did not come often to people like us. He opened my letter of offer with eagerness and pride. It seemed to fill him up, like a rejuvenation of sorts. My parents worked towards this, in the best of their hopes. And it happened. Their efforts were not in vain. Allah was listening, then.
Oh, if they were so reassured when it came time for their little girl to pick a life partner!
When I moved to Ottawa in my mid-20’s, I realized that my career picked up at just the time when I should be (culturally) focused on finding the right desi Muslim guy for a husband.
So, I tried. I met desi guys who pressured me into sex early into the relationship, once realizing that I lived on my own in an apartment. One kept talking about a girl we knew in common, although she was married and pregnant at the time. Another never called me to let me know he was no longer interested, although his actions pointed otherwise.
I also met Muslim guys from other communities. Not much luck there either. One lied to me and drove us to his home, expecting that I would comply to his disgusting demands. I refused to leave his car and demanded he drive me home. I stood my ground, so he reluctantly drove me home. God is great.
So one night, I felt so defeated that I resorted to prayer. Although I did practice Islam in small ways, I was not the best at it. I always thought God had better things to do than listen to me. After all, we live in a world of fear, suffering, hunger and struggle. I was lucky. I had a job, family, friends, a roof over my head (that I owned) and enough to eat and clothe myself with. Allah had already listened to me, right? Like he listened to my parents who prayed for me, right?
But being that sad and low does things to you. I prayed to Allah. I prayed that he send me a good guy, Muslim, or dare I say it, non-Muslim. I prayed like a small child, before going to bed. Seems like Allah listens more carefully at night.
And then, I met my current boyfriend. He is non-Muslim (Allah has good ears). He is kind, sweet, honest and has never pressured me into anything. He introduced me with pride to his mom and dad. He buys me thoughtful gifts. He never puts me down. We laugh together. We are best friends.
My parents, so faithful that God gave them a ‘good’ Muslim daughter, seem to feel betrayed. They are not keen on my relationship, although my boyfriend swears and gossips less than I do. And speaks highly of their little girl.
But this does nothing to dispel or fade the non-Muslim label.
He has been encouraged to convert after having met with a cool local Imam who is good with marrying us if he takes Shahadah. My mother, having become an Imam(a?) after my going public with my relationship, has a laundry list of clichéd Muslim behaviours he must ascribe to – no drinking at all, no pork, getting circumcised, etc.
Seems like a test few could pass – let’s face it, would a lot of Muslim guys pass this test? Are they even asked about this? Or is the response just a quick Mashallah and engagement announcements?
Having grown up working class, I was never one for labels: fashion, religious, or otherwise. But if I was, my boyfriend fits the Muslim label better than me.
Seems like it’s time for another prayer to Allah. I hope he listens to me twice.
The writer is a 30-something Muslim woman living in Ottawa and working as a federal civil servant. She hopes that this story reaches out to people who need to hear it and helps create a sense of community.