From the comments and the articles around “South Asian style” arranged marriage on Love, InshAllah and AltMuslimah, one thing seems quite clear.
We all want to be heard. We all need to be loved.
And because of that need, we’re angry. In pain. Afraid. We want to get what we think we deserve–at the expense of our fellow Muslim and human being.
At some point in our lives, most of us, male or female, encounter what I like to call a “love desert.” Society, even our families, turn their backs on us. We struggle to be wanted, needed, loved, heard, yet very little of that critical provision reaches us.
This “love desert” might occur for a lot of reasons. Pregnancy (or lack thereof), marriage (or lack thereof), careers (or lack thereof), mistakes, life choices, financial situations.
The many South Asian women I’ve spoken to encounter this “love desert” when they start looking for a life partner. I certainly did.
My mother said all manner of astounding things to me. The kind of grasping, fearful sentences I’d never heard her say before. “You’re getting old.” “All the good ones will go.”
As for my getting old – I was 22 at the time. Hardly menopausal. You don’t need a doctor to tell you that many childbearing years lay ahead of me.
In the course of this debate, many gentlemen in the comments section have said that a young woman is more “pliant”. I know many headstrong women in their early 20”s who are the opposite of “pliant”, myself at that age included. I also know many “pliant” women who simply “go with the flow” and end up making dreadful mistakes that their children have to live with.
By that same token, I know many older women who are much more comfortable with themselves and, because of that comfort, are much better at making room in their lives for a mate and a family.
“All the good ones will go.” This one particularly stunned me. Of the 15-20 brothers I met, many could not speak proper English – a barrier for me, because I grew up outside of my home country and couldn’t speak my native tongue. Many were “mama’s boys” – I got the feeling that their mother would always be the third in our marriage. One particularly gruesome fellow took great pleasure in telling me about his porn-watching habits and the dirty thoughts he thinks when girls pass him on the street.
Worst of all, only one or two brothers were conscientious about their salaat (daily prayers).
These were the good ones?
The years went by. I turned 23 years old. 24 years old. 25 years old.
The rhetoric became nagging. The nagging became vitriol.
There’s no greater pain than knowing your parents can’t stand the sight of your face.
Around this time, in search of some comfort, I began to seek out Islamic knowledge on how to deal with difficult times.
I also began to indulge my passions for screenwriting, filmmaking and stand-up comedy. My parents, of course, hated this. At the time, I felt I had the right to find validation wherever I could.
But the fact is, the barakah (the fruits, or results) from those activities was stolen because I knew I was disobeying my parents. Besides, however much I made other people laugh, I would still return to a hostile environment.
Around this time, I stumbled upon this saying of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). I had heard it many times before, but this time, it was different. Through a saying of the Prophet: Allah, the Most High, has told us:
O son of Adam, so long as you call upon Me and ask of Me, I shall forgive you for what you have done, and I shall not mind.
Has anyone ever spoken to you like this, arms open wide, inviting you in? Have you ever felt such unconditional love from anyone in your life?
The words “I shall not mind,” reverberate for me even today. He is always Loving. He is always Forgiving. He is the only One who can truly validate my existence.
We mere mortals, we’re not always good at love. We mind. My parents “minded” that I wanted to be a comedian and a screenwriter. And they showed it. They “minded” that I was single. They showed it. They “minded” that I’d been made redundant and they showed it. But when I turn to Him and Him alone, Allah (SWT) does not mind.
Eventually, miraculously, I found my husband. And he is more than I hoped and prayed for, Alhamdulillah!
Yet even now, there is fear, pain, grasping. You see, I don’t really have a home without this man.
Something a reader said in the comments on Mezba”s article particularly upset me. That my husband, though he seems to fully support my professional ambitions, might be lying. That one day, it might become intolerable for him, and a divorce or a second wife might be his solution. Maybe he too one day will “mind”.
I wept my eyes out at the thought of being in another “love desert.” But then I realized: my husband is only human. And only Allah (SWT)”s love is unconditional. He is the only One whom I can always turn to, no matter what. He is the only One who, until my breath is at my throat, will never mind.
Who knows, maybe it is in our Qadr for my husband and I to be separated.
And yes, that would break my heart.
And believe me, I do have a heart. Why is it so easy for brothers and sisters to forget that they are talking to human beings, with hearts that can be broken? Brothers, that sister is so much than her vital statistics and her cooking ability. Sisters, that brother is so much more than his paycheck and his car.
These people are going to be the parents of our children – shouldn’t we try to find out who they are at their core? If not for the sake of our children, at least so that we can be certain we’re not marrying a pervert like the guy I described above?
I’m sorry I disobeyed my parents. I am still asking forgiveness from them and from Allah (SWT).
I’m sorry for what I did. But I’m not sorry for what I felt. I only wanted to be loved.
I know now that the only constant source of love is Allah (SWT).
SG is a screenwriter & comedian with a high tolerance for humanity.
Image credit: FarazKhanArtStudio.com