Will Allah listen?

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.

26 Comments on “Will Allah listen?”

  1. N. Angail says:

    You’ve never blogged before? Seems you’ve got a gift. You should do it more. I agree that a lot of people are more concerned about the look and the label of Islam than the actual practice. It sounds like the “Muslim” guys you met fall into that category. Hope things continue to go smoothly in your current relationship. Hope to read more from you.

  2. Aysha says:

    Thank you for sharing your story. I loved it and want you to know that you are not alone in this. I wish you loads of happiness in your relationship with your sweetie. You’ve got friends and allies (including muslim chics) to support you through this.

  3. aishacsa says:

    One of my best friends read parts of the Quran in college and told me she believed Islam was the right faith. She was scared after having read Surat Fatiha because she felt that it had opened her eyes to the truth but she was not brave enough to take the journey to becoming Muslim. I asked her why she felt this way. “I like wearing shorts. Swimsuits. I drink beer once in a while.” I told her that faith is not about perfection, but sadly we expect that of people when they convert though its never expected of those born into it, no one questions their religious affiliation if their name is Kareem or Muhammad even if Chris or Josh does the same things and prays to the same God. She never converted though she is a better human being and follower of Islam’s spirit than many of those who might pray five times a day.

    Sorry that you’re having a tough time with your parents but kudos to you for finding your way.

    • canadian muslim girl says:

      so true. i myself am inspired by other faiths, like the idea of karma always appealed to me. thanks.

  4. A. says:

    Thank you, indeed for being courageous and sharing this story. You are not alone, and I too, am in a similar situation. It is tough. May Allah bless and guide us, always. Ameen.

    • canadian muslim girl says:

      yes, so many of us are. hard to talk about. no regrets though…
      May your journey be blessed

  5. wsabil says:

    Thank you for sharing. I felt I read myself. I am still single though. May Allah guide and protect us all

  6. fatima says:

    this was a great piece.

  7. am says:

    Thanks to you all for your kind thoughts and feedback. God bless.

  8. Nisha says:

    Salams dear,

    I really liked the way you have told us your story and thanks a lot for sharing it.

    I don’t want to put you down dear, but you do know that you as a Muslim can’t marry non-Muslim guy! Yes, Allah has listend to you and will always do so. Just keep in mind that Allah test us so that we become wiser, and stronger. You may find the guy who make you feel he is Mr. Right but he may not be – it’s hard to face such facts.

    Wishing that you’ll make a wise decision dear, and wish you the BEST!

    • canadian muslim girl says:

      Thanks for the support. I do not know if the debate is as cut and dry. Many are making the argument that Muslim girls can marry men of the ‘Book’, i.e. Jews, Christians, other monotheistic faiths. I know of someone actually trying to become an Imam to do marriages of these kinds.

      I respect your views and appreciate the feedback.

  9. Too may double standards in the Muslim community — too many use the label “Muslim” to hidedysfunction and sometimes abuse. Not always, of course. There are many good Muslim men. But not enough, and that is why more of us are having to look outside of the community for partners. The truth is that some of the most Islamic-like individuals are not even Muslim!

    • canadian muslim girl says:

      thanks, i also commented on a couple of your pieces. nice to find kindred spirits here!!!

  10. Huda says:

    My dearest sister in Islam,
    Your story greatly touched me.
    I am glad to know that you truly believe that Allah listens 🙂
    In Quran Allah told us
    ‘When My servants ask you (prophet peace be upon him), then (tell them) I am near. I respond to the call of one, when he prays to Me;So they should respond to Me and have faith in Me, so that they may be on the right path’. (2:186)
    I am impressed and glad to know that you always protected your honour and alhumdulilah this is the light of eeman (faith) you have with in yourself. This also tells me that your parents raised you as a good muslim girl.
    I can understand your frustation with desi guys and what you did was right that you prayed to Allah.
    I understand that you have found someone who have the qualities you would like to find in someone of your choice.
    Now the same Allah who is telling us that I listen to My servants is telling us to respond to Him (which means obedience to HIm) and then to have faith in HIm (which means that whatever Allah has told us to do is perfectly right/ benefical for us in terms of this world and hereafter).
    Same Allah is telling us this
    ‘And do not marry polytheist till they believe (worship Allâh Alone). And indeed a believing slave woman is better than a polytheist , even though she pleases you. And give not (your women) in marriage to a polytheist till they believe (in Allâh Alone) and verily, a believing slave is better than a polytheist, even though he pleases you. They invite you to the Fire, but Allâh invites (you) to Paradise and Forgiveness by His will, He makes His verses clear to the people so they may heed the advice’. (2:221)

    The problem with the desi guys was that they were perhaps inherited (borned) muslims with little knowledge and practice of true religion of Islam.

    Your current boyfriend as you feel presents a picture of what a man should be like but he needs to do one more thing to be the perfect husband for you and that is the declaration of oneness of God and declaration to testify prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) as the last messenger of God.

    The marrige after that would be according to the obedience and pleasure of Allah, the same Allah who is so merciful and always near to you and me that He says I always listen 🙂
    and He has listened to you before!
    He is our Lord, our creator, our sustainer and the giver of numerous blessing we already possess, don’t He deserve our obedience?

    I agree with you that list of your mom is too strict for now. When prophet (peace be upon him) started to invite his nation to Islam his invitation was just to accept the one ness of God and accepting him as the last prophet. When Eeman (faith) enters the heart, Allah gradually guides you step by step towards His obedience. Its not a one day process, just as a child learns to walk and talk little by litte and then just like we get our university degree in a period of time working towards it little by little.

    I invite you to the book of Allah which is our manual for life. Just as even a small sewing machine have a manual how it should be operated, our loving Creator didn’t just created us and left us alone, He gave us the perfect manual for life,how this human machine should run his/her life. Yes this is the divine book of Allah saved in its original text since 1400 yrs ago!
    This is the true source of guidance/road map to our true destination which is paradise (our final goal). Yes we know this book by the name of ‘Quran’.

    Alhudainstitute Canada http://www.alhudainstitute.ca offers various on Campus and online courses (full time/ part time) where we study this book of Allah, its translation and explaination with in- depth word analysis. Lets look into this book and find out the treasures of this world and hereafter. May be your boyfriend can take this journey with you too.

    I hope and I pray that may Allah help you, help you protect your honour as you have always done before, help you in making the right choice/decision and may Allah always guide you and me towards the right path.

    May Allah reward you plenty
    Your sister in Islam

  11. Human says:

    Dear Sister,

    I will be completely honest with you. I was touched by your story. It’s your perspective on your life’s experiences.

    Let me offer you a little contrast by relating my own predicament.

    I am a someone you would perhaps call a ‘desi’ guy. I am of south asian origin. I am a born Muslim. I’m 23, single, live alone, away from my parents, work and earn my own living. I have a shortish beard and that’s probably the only way someone in the street could perhaps identify me from a non-Muslim south-asian.

    In contrast to the ‘desi’ guys you came across, I have never drunk alcohol, smoked, taken drugs, engaged in womanising, pre-martial sex, etc., despite having plenty of opportunity to do so. Why, you may ask? Not because I am brainwashed, shy, or radical. Simply because I am a logical person, have studied Islam deeply, and everything about Islam and its teachings I find to feel so right, so true, so balanced and oh so breathtakingly real. I really can’t describe it in words. Islam has made me realise with striking clarity that we should leave the judging to Allah. It has made me understand that true peace can only be found in one Being.

    I absolutely love the people around me, and I alwyas want to make others happy. I have a positive outlook towards life. I have a very successful career, being well known at work for my skills and achievements. I have many non-Muslim friends who respect me enormously. I could go on, but lets just say that I have a jest for life, a true life. In many ways I could say I am a very lucky person. Yet there is a greater emptiness. I feel very lonely sometimes. Hence, I am looking for a suitable marriage partner.

    However, I notice that many Muslim girls in my community have this assumption that someone like me must be a hypocritical, two-timing, ‘nice-Muslim-guy’ who probably doesn’t respect women, wants to use them, etc. Shockingly, it seems only Muslim women seem to think such things of people like me. It is these sentiments that absolutely crush me. Yes, I understand that there are some guys like that out there, but what about those of us who are sincere? I was not responsible for their behavior. It absolutely crushes me everytime someone says that there are ‘nicer’ non-Muslim guys out there, that somehow me being born Muslim makes me prone to be a hypocrite, being radical, dominating, abusive etc. Without being too emotional, all I can say is that I feel so betrayed when Muslim girls tend to come forth with this idea that they must somehow be ‘liberated’ from people like me.

    When will we realise that liberation is not just rebellion, not just challenging norms, but actually replacing them with ones that are better? I just wish there were more Muslims women who learned to trust and respect Muslim men instead of being suspicious all the time. Women sadly do not appreciate how much their trust and respect means to their menfolk.

    Yes, I have ranted, but there you have it. If this initiative is about speaking out the truth, then I have spoken.

    • wajahat75 says:

      I totally agree with your comment! It seems like it has become popular to “brown man bash” and use blanket statements for all desi guys. I was born and raised in Canada, and abstain from drinking, using drugs, eating pork, etc. (the aforementioned “criteria” seemed too harsh to adhere to by the blogger). I have been complimented by non-Muslim/desi women on my respectful and chivalrous treatment of women. I pray as often as I can yet still partake in many activities with my non-Muslim friends. I have a blog where I share my thoughts on a variety of issues, most of the time non-Islamic.

      So why is it that I keep reading post after post about this demonic desi guy these women keep meeting? I keep reading about these girls that are educated and liberal, and “open-minded”, yet they have pigeon-holed an entire generation of brown men into this one, insensitive, horny, oppressive dude. It has become fashionable to bad-mouth the brown man…and we’ve been too kind to respond in our defense. We’re such jerks, I tell you.

  12. am says:

    hello my dear little brother in Islam
    you sound like a pretty cool kat. i hope you find some lovely muslim woman. by my post, i did not mean to demonize all muslim men. i have a few good ones in my family and am well aware of others. the post was just to share my experience (and that of many others). please see it as a personal experience, and not a blanket statement. let us hope that we are all able to find people to love, whatever the background. God bless.

  13. Desi chick says:

    I liked this article.

    I feel like I have lived your life, except that desi and non-desi muslim guys were never interested in me. Being a good girl, I just hummed along, working, living on my own, being a decent muslim, etc.

    Then I met The Guy. Just like the one you have met. I was in my late 30s, he was wonderful and perfect. I had always prayed to Allah that if I fall in love with a non-muslim, then He helps me bring him to Islam. So when I met The Guy, I thought it was my answer to all of my prayers. He was everything I wanted in a man.

    But he couldn’t convert, and he would never have agreed to raise our kids muslim. He wouldn’t have given up pork or alcohol either.

    So I gave him up.

    Sometimes love just isn’t enough. Its been a few years, and I do still love him, and there has not been anyone else in my life since then. Not before, not after. So I basically gave up my one and only chance of getting married and living a life with a companion.

    I wish you luck. Just remember: sometimes love just isn’t enough.

    • wajahat75 says:

      But was it true love for him if he couldn’t give up a certain type of meat and beverage(s)?

      You shouldn’t give up hope, and sometimes, if you find the right person, love is more than enough.

    • I am a Christian woman. I fell head over heels for a muslim man.

      We had to have ALOT of chats about the future. More than I would have with a non-muslim. I knew his faith was central to his being and I needed to understand where I fit in the future, if I even fit at all. It was clear future children would be the biggest piece to the puzzle. I was fine with raising muslim children, I would have been proud even. I was sure of one thing though. The marriage (if it happened) couldn’t happen based on whether I chose to convert. He had to love me as I was, not wanting to change me and he had to be at peace with that decision. I’m reading the Qur’an on my own will and studying Islam. I’m very interested in it. I also know that I couldn’t make the sacrifices or live up to the expectations Islam required of me to be a true pious woman and I’m not the type who does things half-assed. That being said, I still wasn’t completely closed off to the idea, just mostly. But I didn’t want to be rushed or pushed into it and I CERTAINLY did not want our marriage to depend on this one factor. Take me as I am or don’t take me at all.

      I realize I was not born into the culture and that it and the religion places a lot of emphasis on woman marrying muslim men, but I stick to my beliefs too: The future is in us being able to cohabitate peacefully not only as friends, but also as lovers. If he allows you to still practice your faith, if he chooses to share and experience in the holidays with you (even though he is not muslim), if he still encourages you to be a better muslim – he may make a better spouse than a muslim man who wears the title but doesn’t walk the walk. If he treats you like a queen, you can’t just walk away from it on religion alone.

      My muslim boyfriend and I have since part ways. He was not treating me how I should be treated. I can’t blame his faith though I’m sure growing up in a segregated society didn’t help. He prayed 5 times a day, went to Friday Jumah, kept halaal meats, etc. We had a non-sexual relationship and I never spent a night at his place because he wanted his wife to be the first. A tall handsome MD he was, super sweet and kind on the surface. Initially treated me like a princess. As time wore on, he was extremely selfish and frequently dishonest. It was never about what I wanted to do, where I wanted to go, who I wanted to see. He would point out obese women whilst eating dinner, making comments about their weight and how they disgusted him so much he couldn’t finish his meal. So although he went through the Islamic motions, his soul didn’t live by Islamic code. What my point is, my heart breaks for the muslim woman who marries him without ever getting the opportunity to get to know him. She’ll be enamored by his exterior, his potential, and how he looks on paper but when it gets real, she’s going to realize she’s met a child and I feel for her. I feel really sad for her because no matter how many times I told him his behavior needed to change, he still did it. He still disrespected me and others.

      The bottom line is that the writer of this article is darn lucky she was brave enough to get to know her (hopefully) future husband before marriage. He also sounds like a heck of a catch (does he have a brother??). Joking! I know its important to honor your parents, but love takes compromises. Not just by your significant other but your parents too. I think you’re doing the right thing with this guy because I sure hate to see you get stuck with someone like my ex. However, I’m sure your parents wouldn’t mind. He is after all a “muslim”.

  14. Mary says:

    Im married to a good heart muslim guy, but im not muslim and Im so unhappy since his pressure to change my beliefs are taking me away from him,Im reminded almost everytime Islam is the truth. I cant drink wine or eat pork, he wants me to be like him. Love should not have to be proven with religion, im just so dissapointed