Properly in lovePosted: May 8, 2012
“How many times have you been properly in love?”
It’s a question that Piers Morgan, British host of CNN’s Piers Morgan Tonight, is famous for asking each of his guests. The first few times I heard Piers ask this question, it forced me to look deep inside to seek the answer for myself. How many times have I been “properly” in love?
Well, let’s see … as with all things in my life, there’s a pre-Shahadah answer, and a post-Shahadah answer.
Pre-Shahadah? Discounting flings, flirtations, marriages, tricks, shack-ups, crushes, Sugar Daddys, affairs, and all other kinds of “relationships” that masqueraded as love, looking back, I’d have to narrow down being properly in love to twice.
The first time was with David, a man who by all accounts was “above me,” a man who out-classed me in every way – socially, economically, educationally … but, it was the early 1970s, and we were left-over hippies. So, our differences didn’t interfere with our love. But in the end, addiction equalized us, and it eventually leveled us.
The second time I was properly in love, pre-Shahadah, was with Jorge, a chisel-cut featured Latino who could have been a model for a men’s magazine. He was gorgeous. So what was the problem with him? For starters, no American citizenship, and he was gay. That didn’t stop us from getting married though. I loved him so much, even though I knew I could never “have” him. I was desperate, and had low self-esteem. I was willing to have any part of him he was able and willing to give me. Him? He loved me, too – like a sister and a friend. We used each other to fulfill our individual needs. In the end, addiction likewise equalized us. Me? I got sober. Him? He died from complications of AIDS.
Post-Shahadah, I’ve been properly in love once. Once. Despite the fact that I’ve been married as a Muslim three times (you’ll have to read Love InshAllah for details!). One time properly in love. To my current husband, Habeeb.
My love for Habeeb has been different from any kind of love I ever thought I had. It’s also different from any love I was ever told I had. Like the time one of my “loves” professed his undying love for me while asking for forgiveness after punching me in the face and putting me through the living room bay window. Like the love my uncle whispered in my ear while he was putting his hands where they didn’t belong. Is it any wonder that love was a source of confusion for me?
The love I have now is based on love for Allah t’ala. Because Habeeb and I have love for the sake of Him, we get the benefits from our marriage that Allah t’ala describes in the Qur’an:
“And among His Signs is this, that He created for you wives from among yourselves, that you may find repose in them, and He has put between you affection and mercy. Verily, in that are indeed signs for a people who reflect.” (الروم سورة, Qur’an, 30:21, Muhsin Khan)
I do reflect. Often. Writing for Love InshAllah has helped me put everything in perspective. I feel so grateful to Allah t’ala for a second chance with my Habeeb and for the opportunity to know what “proper” love is. It hasn’t been an easy journey, but every experience along the way has been worth it.
Sharon (Safiyyah) Jihad Levine is a Muslim prison chaplain and is on the Executive Committee of the Pennsylvania Prison Chaplains Association in the USA. Safiyyah is a freelance writer, and has been published in magazines, journals, anthologies, and online venues. She is currently working on writing a series of booklets for the benefit of incarcerated Muslims, and enjoys indoor and outdoor gardening, photography, digital art, and jewelry making. She is also a principal and teacher at the Sunbury Islamic Center weekend school and is dedicated to masjid interfaith activities. She blogs at Shaalom to Salaam.