More about marriage

Bismillahi Rahmani Rahim

Salaam Alaikum wa Rahmatullah

I got some feedback from a previous entry I wrote, the one titled “Lonely? Get a Cat”. Two friends of mine, both of whom I respect, offered differing views. One was “right on” and the other was “you were harsh”. Both points of view have merit.

It is not my intention to be harsh to my sisters in Islam. I want all my sisters to fulfill their roles as strong believing Muslim women. I want my sisters to believe that they are beloved creations of Allah and that they have a worth far more than they can comprehend. I want them to believe, to know in the deepest depths of their being, that they are worth being cherished, loved, protected, respected, and admired.

Listen to me well, my sisters. I am speaking to all my sisters, those born into a Muslim family and those who reverted ten minutes ago. I am speaking to the woman who was brought up in a family where your dad beat your mom. I am speaking to the woman who used to do drugs and drink and sell her body for her next fix. I am speaking to the woman who had an abortion, the woman who had kids by different dads out of wedlock, to the woman who spent time in jail for check kiting, the woman who is skinny, fat, old, young, barren, sickly, blind…. YOU DESERVE ONLY THE BEST.

All that stuff, all that baggage, was left behind when you embraced Islam. or when you made taubah and rededicated yourself to your Deen. I am a revert from a fractured background and I KNOW it is difficult to leave the past behind. Truly, we will always carry echoes of our past with us. We are what we have lived, the broken home, the drug use, the sexual abuse, the beating down literal and psychological. All that stuff is there, not to be completely wiped out until that day when Allah grants us Jannah and purifies us and takes the pain away, finally and forever. I know that, okay? But I’m saying you can overcome that and get beyond it. You have to, because that is the only way you can become what you want so desperately to be…. loved.
A lot of women carry their Jahiliyyah with them wherever they go. What do I mean by that? I mean that, for instance, a woman who was from a background where the men were dogs and players carries that information with her when she becomes Muslim. She sees men who are ostensibly Muslim, but who are still playing around, and because that was the “normal” of her previous life she doesn’t realize the grievousness of the brother’s acts. She allows herself to submit to the same type of relationship she was hoping to never have to be a part of again, because the man’s infidelity has the “Islamic” stamp of approval. A man is allowed to marry up to four women, so how can I complain because he is living like this? Well, you’re allowing yourself to forget the details.

A man can marry up to four, but he has to treat the equitably in regards to money and time. He has to support you all. He has to feed you all. He has to clothe you all. He has to teach each of you about your Deen, or if you know more than he does, he has to teach the one who knows less and take your advice in areas where you are more knowledgeable. He has has to be kind to you and lower the wing of mercy to you. He has to fulfill your rights of intimacy and treat you with the dignity you deserve. These are the limits set down by Allah, and it doesn’t matter if you are the first wife or the fourth wife, young or old, cute and dainty or, like me, getting some gray hairs and needing to shed a few pounds. It is your right.

Some sisters told me I was giving the brothers a pass, not making more of an issue of the lack of proper guardians for women, walis and wakils acting for the woman’s best interest. Well, I tell you, that’s a whole ‘nother rant, and inshAllah I can dedicate some serious time to writing about that. I know what the issues are…. men who prey upon new reverts, Imaams who want to marry off women regardless of the qualifications of the brother, the “old boys” network where the men support each other against the women. Lack of support, emotional and financial, for widowed, divorced, or revert women, with or without kids. Lack of education for the women. Yes, sigh, these are big obstacles to overcome. But I’m a woman, and my perspective is that of a woman, and really, I do NOT look to the guys to uphold their end of the bargain in regards to looking out for women, sad to say. This is why I am so strong, perhaps harsh, in trying to wake up my sisters who are in dead-end marriages or who are in danger of entering a miserable state just for the sake of having a warm body next to you in the bed.

Don’t be a victim. If you are not content, make changes. You cannot change your husband; you can only change yourself. I’m not advocating just asking for the khulwa and then heading out the door. Divorce is truly the most hated of the permissible things in Islam and it is always a last resort. But if you are going to try to be content, you have to not be a doormat. I knew a sister who was married for twenty years. For eighteen years, she submitted to her husband’s beatings and stayed with him. Finally, she reached her limit and told him if he ever hit her again she’d leave, and she meant it. She said those final two years before her husband died were the best of her marriage. What if she had had the guts to do that after the first hit? She could have saved herself a ton of misery, and saved her daughters from growing up seeing Daddy hitting Mommy.
I’ve heard the stories of many women. Abuse, mental and physical. Lack of financial support. Secret marriages. Invalid marriages to kaafir women who are ostensibly “Christian”. Sexually transmitted diseases. Child abuse. Drug abuse. Marital rape. Did you leave Jahiliyyah in order to allow this stuff into your life as a Muslim? I hope not. You don’t have to put up with it. If you need to leave, you need to leave. If you don’t know how, reach out and ask. Ask me. Ask a non-Muslim social worker, even if you are ashamed to do so because it may make her think badly about Islam. This is not about how it looks, this is about survival.

“But I’ll be all alone!” Yeah, so? I have news for you…. you already are alone. You are alone in a full house, alone when he is in the same room with you, alone when he is in the same bed with you. Alone because you cannot trust him and cherish him. Alone because you do not respect him and you can’t confide in him. Are the marital relations really that good, to stay with him? As I said before, sex is great, sex is a wonderful gift between husband and wife, but in the absence of intimacy, it ain’t enough, sister. I spent a lot of my twenties alone, avoiding looking at posters of hunky guys with low-slung jeans and six-pac abs , taking cold showers and changing the channel anytime a kissy-kissy scene came on TV. Our bodies make demands on us and sexual fulfillment is one of the perks of marriage. But it’s not all there is, and a sexual relationship without love and respect, well, is it worth it?

Okay, I’ve been going on for a long time and I have a cold and I’m tired and the baby is gurgling at me. I could keep writing but I’m going to stop for now. InshAllah I can marshal thoughts again tomorrow. Do you understand what I’m saying? Do you see the sense in what I’m saying? All I’m saying is, don’t be a victim. Make choices that you can live with and be satisfied. Don’t think you’re in a corner you can’t get out of. As hard as it is to make a necessary change, the only thing keeping you from making that change is YOU.

And for you who haven’t made the jump into marriage, wait a bit. We’ll chat later….

Fi Aman Allah,

Nancy Umm Abdel Hamid