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On Relationships

May 7, 2011

Here it is. The big one. Regardless of whether it’s right or not, it’s a reality. Muslims. Have. Relationships.

Not all of them do. A lot of them are extremely conscientious and want to save the whole thing for marriage. Good for them. But for those who do, it is often in secret. Which is unfortunate. But necessary, given some of the cultural baggage that we drag in with us.

Because we are so closet-y about relationships, however, some dangers arise. For some relationships are done in fun and perhaps are made more to be what they are. They have that “This is so wrong but it feels so right!” vibe, which makes the hormonal rush even more misleading.

Some people argue that relationships help us learn about the fairer/gruffer sex a lot more than we could have learned otherwise. Arguable, but I see their point.

I don’t think I need to get into the complications that relationships pose whether in the realm of Islam or not, and I’m certainly not going tell you, gentle Muslim reader, that you are wrong or right for being in one or not being in one. But the fact that it’s technically a no-no, and the fact that because it is wrong Muslims are repressed in an unhealthy way, paves ways to even further complexities.

I have a friend (who, for the purposes of this story, I will call a relatively ‘conservative’ Muslim) who in spite of doing everything she could not to do so, ended up in a relationship with someone who she really liked and who really liked her. A little over a year later, it ended. She was crushed. We did not see each other much while she was undergoing the initial shock of it, but what she told me later still deeply saddens me. “I’m not saying relationships are a good thing, or that it’s all right to go out with just anyone,” she said. “But sometimes I feel that people who are used to it, who have it as a part of their culture, know how to deal with it better than we do.” She was never a stranger to depression, but THIS, this awful black wave that kept swallowing her, what was it? Was she crazy? Was she being punished for what she did? Who could she ask for for help?

Chick lit gives countless accounts of women who upon being dumped are dragged out by their girlfriends and hooked up to IV drips of wine and chocolate. Because those friends have been there. They know of the horrible, horrible darkness that descends upon realizing that someone you really wanted to be with is no longer there. Since high school, and probably more times than necessary, and probably in relationships that were more dysfunctional than necessary. But they knew that black dog.

My friend knew nobody who knew of this. So she toiled and toiled, with no one telling her that she should keep herself busy in as many different things as possible, that this bad as this was, this would pass, that having come upon a bad day she would now know what a good day is, that she should exercise and eat and sleep well. While pretending everything was fine: to her family because they had no idea what she had been through, to her friends because they could not begin to comprehend what this was doing to her. She had to learn it the hard way.

So she could tell me when my time came.

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10 Comments leave one →
  1. Sana permalink
    May 23, 2011 3:22 pm

    Thanks for sharing. Too often people don’t talk about this reality. I think we need mechanisms within our community to deal with the post-relationship trauma. Even the sort of relationships that, from the get go are categorized as “purely talking for marriage purposes” – can be emotionally burdensome, during and after.

  2. May 23, 2011 3:45 pm

    Thanks for your comment, Sana. It’s indeed unfortunate that other faiths have means of dealing with this particular trauma and we don’t. Even if there aren’t institutional means of dealing with it (yet), the least we can do is be aware of what our brothers and sisters go through if they decide to be open to such experiences. And if we do, we should know what we’re in for should it–God forbid–not work out.

  3. Sana permalink
    June 8, 2011 10:17 pm

    I think the problem is then of judgment. Imagine being a Muslim woman, who wears hijab, and has emerged from a relationship – the ostracization she’d receive, silently or otherwise, would be just ..ugh.

  4. June 11, 2011 12:50 pm

    Well I feel that a lot of societies always have issues with Gen-Y Muslims in one form or another, so it’s not as if such a thing is the sole basis for being shunned. But if such a woman ends up getting the cold shoulder in terms of being part of the MSA or taking on other leadership roles in the Muslim community, then that’s definitely a huge source of concern.

  5. Princess25 permalink
    September 9, 2011 1:40 pm

    I feel bad for alot of sister’s who enter relationships and end up crushed when it doesn’t work out. As for being a leader in MSA or any other public figure it goes without saying that one should not engage in dating relationship publicly or privately, and here’s why: People look up to you. I have worked ith wMSA for a few years in college and it goes without saying that any pre-marital relationships were out of question. Dating on the side is a huge slap in the face to the people who trusted you enough to elect you to a position of authority. Every soicety has it’s sexual moral code. This also went for the brothers of MSA who very carefull not to date while they were in office.

  6. February 20, 2012 1:08 am

    Aloha and Assalaamulaikum, a dude from Canada says this on relationships:

    having monogamous relationships before marriage is: OVERRATED, A WASTE AND A DEPLETION ON YOUR EMOTIONS!! And to those who push soo much into having premarital relationships and prioritize them more than school work and career, well, having such relationships are a DRAG on your emotions and do nothing more but distract you from the more important things in life (ie: school, work, family, career) and Allah forbid you to do this if you ever go to the point of infatuation

    the thing is, there are more important things to life than having premarital relationships. there’s school, there’s graduation, there’s work, and (drum rolls) your wedding day, and then (drum rolls) the day of your first-born. you see, having premarital monogamous relationships before marriage are done only for temporary “fun” purposes with no intentions of making them permanent. and i guess this is the reason why 1/2 of all marriages in the West end in divorce simply because when the romance dies in marriage, couple ends in divorce like a good ol’ breakup.

    ain’t i right?

  7. February 20, 2012 1:10 am

    oh the link I was going to add following “Allah forbids you to do this if you go to the point of infatuation” is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6laGvKtPZYQ

  8. Anonymous permalink
    November 5, 2012 11:04 pm

    I just discovered your blog through a friend’s recommendation and it has proven to be exceptionally enlightening.I can really relate to this particular topic, you address many controversial, yet important topics from an Islamic perspective.I’m really impressed, so much so, that I am considering starting my own blog now! Keep up the great work.

    • November 21, 2012 6:53 pm

      Thank you, you are too kind. I’m so happy when others are inspired to start a blog. You absolutely should do that! Keep me posted, would love to read it.

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