Istaghfarallah. Boy problems?! We don't have such thing in Islam!
How dare I write about something so provocative, right?
If I wanted to write about things that hint vaguely at matters then I wouldn't have bothered to establish this blog in the first place. We've covered topics from marriage proposals to racism to other realities within our Muslim communities and we're not about to stop there. We're here to discuss those issues that others pretend don't exist. And this one is important and here's why:
Our sisters are going through a crisis of control when it comes to "finding" their spouse. With individualism and value of personal independence rising for the Muslim woman, she slowly begins to harness control in her life matters and if I must say, does an awesome job at it. Us women succeed in many areas in the social and professional world when we try hard enough. Yet, when it comes to marriage, Muslim women are expected to "wait" for "him" to come. This frustrates many women and so they seek indirect ways of showing interest and getting the ball rolling.
Unfortunately, that doesn't always spell halal. This is ultimately a personal choice and it's not up to me to dictate to you, or women in general, as to how they should go about this process. What we will try to cover, however, is areas where we are either 1) compromising our basic principles and values in this quest to find "the man" or 2) reading into a man's intentions in a different manner than they were intended. And frankly, I am tired of healing my fellow sister's broken hearts. I'm sure we all are.
Our good intentions do not justify the means.
I feel my purpose as an anonymous Muslima blogger, is to bridge worlds and offer insight where needed in our communities. Addressing these issues might enlighten my sisters (and ultimately is a reminder to me as well) on the answers to common questions they desperately crave, yet cannot find on other sites. Again, I give my perspective and opinion and at the end of the day it's up to you. You can take it with a grain of salt or you can take it and run.
In order to offer a holistic perspective as much as possible, I answered these questions alongside a dear friend, she is referred to in this article as Your_fairy_God_mother.
Here's some of the most common questions Muslima's face in the quest to find "The One":
1. He's trying to talk to me online and we've never met or talked to each other before. What do I do?
Random Rants of a Muslima:
Well, perhaps before thinking of what you should do, first think of what you want to do. If you're asking yourself this question, chances are you're interested in him (otherwise you would have totally ignored this stranger) and if he's taking time to try and start small talk with you and get personal when he doesn't have to, chances are he's also interested. Whether or not his interest is based on good intention will not be known unless he tells you directly what his intention is. And even then, you can never be too trusting or sure. There's nothing wrong with sharing an interest but here's where you gotta be careful; the online experience doesn't compare to the real deal. When a man is truly interested in a woman for marriage, his first instinct is to make sure he doesn't lose this woman to anyone else (I call it the dibs theory). So this means he will look for a way to let you know as soon as he can. And if he can't find a way to you in person, he may do it online (especially if he lacks confidence in this field). However, if he can't get through to you online and has solid pure intentions, he'll find another way don't you worry. So if you want to be sure of his intention, I suggest steering away from online communication since it can also lead to fitna; not to mention, when you post online it stays in the web forever. Don't worry about him, he'll be okay. You won't hurt his feelings I promise (no I can't really promise but it doesn't matter cause pleasing Allah should come first and foremost).
I’m about to sound like your mom for a second BUT: First, be very, very careful when speaking to ANYONE you have only met online, regardless of gender. Never release any personal/private information you wouldn't be comfortable having the general public knowing, and always ask a parent or someone you trust if you are unsure whether someone looks sketchy or you feel unsafe by something the person said. Pay attention to your intuition, as your gut feelings about someone may be more correct than you think. Second, pay attention to the legitimacy of this person online. Which website is this person using to try to reach you? For example, if the guy messages you on your profile on a legitimate Muslim Marriage site, it seems much more authentic then him poking you on Facebook or inboxing you “wIlL U Mak Ze FrIenDSHip wIIzzZ mEe?” Third, consider what the person is saying to you? If he is keeping it all halal and formal, and is messaging you respectfully to ask for your father’s contact information, that might be okay. If he is asking you whether midnight behind that (insert local coffee shop) works with you as a meeting location.. uhm, RUN! Fourth, ALWAYS get a mahram or parent involved. DO NOT KEEP ANY SECRETS. Have your family read over all messages that are being received, and have them help you along the way. In conclusion, sometimes online meetings do end up being useful tools to meet a future spouse, but be sure to always keep it halal, use extreme caution, trust your gut feelings, and get your parents involved asap!
Random Rants of a Muslima:
Ooh, you're in a tough position now. Cause you gotta be the fair middle man, don't you? You know both parties and now you feel obligated. But let me tell you something: if you don't feel fit to do this, then don't do it. There's two ways to go about this and I can't be the one to tell you the right from the wrong way, but you can either 1) introduce them briefly and connect them and leave it at that or 2) do your research and invest your time and energy in the two first. All I can say is this comes with an immense responsibility. The responsibility lies not in making sure the two have a rosy picture of each other and fall in love, marry and live happily ever after. From where I see it, the responsibility lies in ensuring no one's rights are transgressed and that everyone feels comfortable with everything. This means consulting both parties on how they would prefer to be arranged before going about it yourself. It's very easy to follow through on your own timeline and manner because your friends (on both ends) might be ones you've know for quite some time now; which can give you the idea that you've got some flexibility with the process. But you don't. The truth is, people vary widely on how they would like to be connected to someone that even years of friendship cannot always give you proper insight on their preference . And ultimately, people change their minds as well with the passing of time. What you can do, which is what I would do for myself if I was in your position, is to speak to both parties on the subject of marriage as a whole and whether they feel ready to pursue someone seriously and take some time to investigate; are they ready to ultimately start a family and take on the responsibility of being a father/mother? It's not up to you to hold anyone back if you feel they aren't ready, but you can guide him/her and give your advice to the other party of the status of the proposee (can I call them that?) by keeping careful to maintain transparency and honesty. Honesty is the best policy when handling these situations. Make sure to inform both parties of the steps you will take (based on their preference) and to take on each step at a time. Then comes another question; when will your job be complete? This really depends on the situation really. Bottom line is, make sure you know your boundaries and that will be based on what their preferences - so it's key to consult them. Another important thing to keep in mind is to always keep the sister in question dignified. Our culture assumes that the man will pursue the woman, so your job would be to guide him to her family, rather than to do all the exploring of the woman's profile yourself. This way, you ensure no one's rights are transgressed and that the line of information is discrete, direct and accurate.
First, this is a responsibility you have been given. Be sure to keep all information about your friend’s interest confidential, and be very respectful of your friend’s inquiry. Second, let the person being pursued know of your friend’s interest (respectfully and maturely), and urge them both to get their parents involved asap!
3. I've got a reputation for being too reserved. When is it time to let down my guard?
Random Rants of a Muslima:
Congratulations. That's an awesome reputation to have. It means you're a proper woman who is comfortable and accepting of her boundaries with the opposite gender. Now whether or not you feel the need to change this, it's really up to you, I can't be the one to tell you how you should live your life. With regards to letting down your guard, it really depends on your definition of guard. If you feel that your shyness is impeding your movement and stopping you from pursuing your goals then perhaps you can practice slowly exposing yourself to more nerve wracking situations to lower your anxiety in the long run. The best way to go about this is to practice public speaking. Truth is, many of us cannot just deny the existence of men around us. We see them at work and almost every place which requires social interaction so we must learn how to go about our day and fulfill our purpose without letting anyone stand in our way. But please do not allow anyone to enforce their standards upon you, it is ultimately up to you and what makes you comfortable. Those who speak of your reservation negatively are not the folk who hold the same values for you as you do for yourself, so don't worry about them. Letting down your guard will come naturally to you once you marry and that all depends on Allah's boundaries for us as women. This applies to men as well.
Having a reputation for being reserved is NOT necessarily a negative thing. Just make sure it is not inhibiting you from being an active member of society, or is making you seem unapproachable. In our present time, it has unfortunately become the norm for girls and guys to be extremely open, loud, and to mingle freely with one another. Anyone who doesn't conform is wrongfully labeled as “reserved, cold, or weird.” This is in fact untrue as the standards for what is normal behavior with the opposite gender have been completely pushed beyond the boundary of what Islam finds acceptable. In fact, being reserved with the opposite gender is the way we Muslims are supposed to conduct ourselves, as modesty should be practiced as a part of our character, and is not only meant to be symbolized as a piece of cloth on our heads. However, although being reserved and modest with the opposite gender is in fact a very positive thing, just be sure it doesn’t disable you from being active in your community. You CAN work with guys RESPECTFULLY and have healthy, halal relationships that allow you to contribute to your community and grow as a person. Dealing with guys respectfully is a very important skill that is important to learn and develop to enable you to become a strong, well rounded woman. My recommendation would be to join an organization that has a safe, respectful working environment, in which you are able to contribute to society, and remain comfortable at the same time.
4. Can I maintain a friendship with a guy?
Random Rants of a Muslima:
Friendships with men are selfish. Truth is, if a man is taking an ample time from his day to involve himself personally with you, to him this is an investment in the possibility of a future together. Or in some cases, just his play-time really, let's be frank here. Maintaining this friendship implies that you're okay with making exceptions to your standards and overstepping the boundries that Allah (swt) set between men and women for your own selfish desires to fulfill a hole in your life that this man brings. If you truly want what's best for this man you consider a friend, then end it for his sake before he falls in love with you or you fall in love with him and someone in the end is bound to get hurt. Women around the world, make no exceptions on your standards for anyone, no matter how trusting you think they are. There are ultimately things happening behind your back that you will not be aware of. For example, he could be telling his friends of this relationship of yours and bragging about how much you're into him, regardless of whether you are or not. Bottom line is, sooner or later you'll regret this friendship when you marry, but the social networks and its damage would have already happened. Another thing to keep in mind, if you feel like you need his friendship, then this is an indication of something missing in your life, so find it. Let me give you a hint, He's always there and wants to hear you out and give you all that you want, at any time of the day.
Easy answer: Don’t.
Let me elaborate here:
You can definitely be a FRIENDLY, pleasant human being to be around, but to be FRIENDS with a guy is much trickier. Friendship is an intimate relationship. Even if it starts off as innocent, and you feel confident with your boundaries and limitations, with time, these boundaries will slowly come tumbling down, and suddenly your friendship will progress like any other into a stronger, more dependent, intimate relationship. You will begin to know each other very well, enjoy and miss one another’s company when you aren’t around one another, and with time, feelings of attachment will begin to develop. This is only natural. It is inevitable that either you or the guy will start to develop feelings for one another, leading to confusion and awkwardness between you both. If you hopefully choose to end your friendship before it becomes on the verge of being a haram relationship, it will naturally cause you feelings of heartbreak and pain over losing a very important person in your life. If you choose to let it develop into a haram relationship, it will obviously only lead you down a wrong path. In the end, it will most likely end in a sticky, painful mess.
We are given a code of conduct to abide by in Islam, and it involves dealing with the opposite gender in a formal manner, rather than forming close friendships, I suggest we stick to that.
5. How do I know he's interested for marriage and not just playing around?
Random Rants of a Muslima:
Sometimes it's hard to tell. But most Muslim men won't play around when they're interested in something serious. Or at least won't prolong this matter. Here's why; most men think of only one thing when they set their eyes on that girl who could be The One; which is that "I gotta make sure she doesn't end up with anyone else." So they will make the move pretty quickly and won't necessarily show any signs. Don't read too much into his actions you won't end up with the right conclusions. They will explain their true intentions pretty quickly either through a friend or to you directly. Now if he's been talking to you for months now and hasn't committed or told you why he's spending his time on you, then get out of it quick! You don't have the time to waste and you want to invest now for your future. He's just holding you back otherwise.There are certain signs, here are a few:
1. He does not flirt around with other girls, and he does not flirt with you – but instead, is formal and follows the Islamic conduct with all female interactions.
2. He has approached your parents to formalize the relationship.
3. He is trying to stabilize himself financially.