Friday, July 11, 2008

The Bachelorette

Over the past few weeks, I happened to read a few different articles or blogs of women complaining about the dearth of available men who fit their criteria for marriage--which was basically a high education and commitment to Islam. After finding themselves set up with some variety of men who failed in either department they were a little frustrated with their predicament.

Now seeing my own engagement kind of go up in smoke (poof!), I'm a little more sympathetic. I still think maybe people's standards are too high. But then again, I don't know them or their situations so it's not really my place to say.

Although, I do know what women are supposed to be looking for in a Muslim spouse. And it might surprise some people, but it's actually not a PhD. Or an MD for that matter, or any assortment of abbreviations which one might append to his name. Okay maybe that's not surprising. It's also not cash in the bank or a ripped set of abs. But two things, only, namely his Islam, and his manners. I actually have notes somewhere with a hadith to this effect, but since the move I haven't found a lot of my stuff.

I remember a few years ago, about a year or so after I officially converted to Islam, I finally admitted (for the first time) that I was willing to get married. Before Islam, marriage was not really a high priority for me (in fact it's not a priority for a lot of girls that age). I was focused on school, and career, and then if I got married it was supposed to fit into that mold somehow. Some of you might know I had a rough go of things for the first few months after converting and wasn't even interested in practicing Islam. In fact, I was on the hadith-rejection path and really didn't have much true respect for our Prophet (saaws). So it was pretty remarkable that after a year I not only admitted that I kinda sorta wanted to get married, but that if I did marry, it would have to be to someone who truly and sincerely wanted to emulate the Prophet (saaws).

Even then, I could see that the Messenger of Allah, Muhammad (saaws) treated his wives the best, and that any good man, who would be a good husband, would want to be like him in all respects--not just marriage.

I have, personally, had some bad experiences with Muslim men, and I know others who have as well. I realized that just because a man said he was a Muslim, Islam didn't necessarily have any part in his life. Imagine a Muslim man, for example, who thinks that it's actually okay Islamically for him to sleep around with women, as long as they aren't Muslim women. Twisted, right? I started seeing that yeah, some Muslim men do have a really low opinion of women... but alhamdulillah, I also could see that it wasn't because of Islam, but really a lack of faith in Islam in the first place.

At that time in my life, when I did finally admit that marriage was an option, I knew that a man had to be a good Muslim, and that it meant trying to follow the model of the Prophet (saaws). Because there are even some well-intended Muslims who don't act properly. What was shocking at the time was that I wouldn't consider a man who seemed more liberal or lenient on matters of Islam. There are some of those too--who don't want to be too quickly identified as Muslims, maybe they don't really like the hijaab. But for me, if someone wanted to change Islam at all, if he wasn't happy with it just the way it was revealed, then that was a red flag.

So basically I was looking for these two things--strength in deen, and good manners. The first is demonstrated by taqwa, consciousness of Allah and trying to keep what Allah has commanded and avoid what He has forbidden. The second is through following the example of Muhammad--who said he came to perfect good conduct.

I know of so many brothers who are having such a hard time finding a wife--and they want a Muslim wife!--so they end up marrying a non-Muslim. And on the other end of the spectrum, there are women who are marrying already-married men! I just can't help but think the guys are getting the short stick on this marriage thing. Why all this trouble? I really wonder.

I haven't really given this particular issue too much thought from a personal standpoint, but now I guess I need to. So I ask Allah SWT to make this easy for me, as He has made so many other things easy for me, alhamdulillah.

5 comments:

Faraz said...

I don't think there's a shortage of good Muslim men out there, nor is there a shortage of good Muslim women; somehow, we're just not having much success finding each other somehow.

Before I got engaged, I had an idea of what I was looking for in a wife, and wasn't taking anything too seriously if the prospective sisters didn't meet those basic criteria. As I grew up, I began realizing that I was trusting too much in my own judgement, and not putting enough trust in Allah.

I realized after that most people out there are good people, and it's up to us to make things work (with Allah's help, of course). We can't just expect that someone will pop up who meets all of our criteria with no compromises; rather, we need to learn how to accept people for who they are, and work together towards a loving marriage even though there may be areas where one party or the other is not the "ideal". We can't just expect everything to be perfect from the beginning with no effort from ourselves, but making that effort together is what makes the relationship that much stronger.

It's an interesting journey getting there, but insha-Allah it will work out for the best for yourself, and all single Muslims/Muslimahs out there.

Amy said...

Salaam Faraz!

I totally agree with you!!

"We can't just expect that someone will pop up who meets all of our criteria with no compromises; rather, we need to learn how to accept people for who they are, and work together towards a loving marriage even though there may be areas where one party or the other is not the "ideal". We can't just expect everything to be perfect from the beginning with no effort from ourselves, but making that effort together is what makes the relationship that much stronger."

Very, very, very well said! MaashaaAllah. :-)

ibnkhalil said...

Assalam o alaykum! A very good post mashAllah. I want to add to this that it is not easy to get married in America. I am going through such a hard time to get married a good muslimah. Like you said deen is very important.Someone who understands deen will understand everything. The Prophet(SAW) said: ‘The whole world is a provision, and the best object of benefit of the world is the pious woman.’

Sahih Muslim Hadith 3465, Narrated by Abdullah ibn Amr ibn al-'As
Under the circumstances all we can do is just make dua that Allah ive us that righteous spouse that we can enjoy and vice versa. Jazkillah khair for the post.

Dahlia said...

I think the issue is how to find someone who is compatible in an islamically appropriate way. It is very difficult to find a proper way to meet other single muslims. If you live in a small town with no other muslims around- this problem increases exponentially. It would be great if all of us single people could find a way to regularly gather for the purpose of finding a spouse, but weed out the people who are just trying to find a place to hook up.

Amy said...

Salaam Dahlia -

For many Muslims, that is part of the problem. For the brothers, they might not have their parents or family here to help them. And while I think to some extent it's less common for sisters to be here in that same situation, that also occurs. In addition, there are many converts to Islam who don't have anyone to help them. The Muslims who do have family to help often might be looking for qualities in a spouse that their parents don't understand.

But at the Islamic conferences (ICNA, ISNA) I know they have specific matrimonial activities, for brothers and sisters looking to get married (and not just hook up.) I haven't ever tried them, but I think that might be an avenue for some people to pursue as well--which ought to be pretty appropriate Islamically, given the circumstances. Thanks for your comment.