Category Archives: Anonymous Posts

Approaching a Girl Part One: The do nots and the more do nots

*Disclaimer: author’s identity has been kept anonymous.

I remember volunteering at a recent community event, a rather prominent one as well, and was standing and conversing about an important task we were about to do with one of my close friends when he abruptly stopped and paused, mid-conversation. It was an important conversation as well, since we were attempting to make sure the event continued to run smoothly, so the pause caught me off guard. But I knew why it had occurred. You see, he was facing the entrance to the venue, and had just seen a rather (how to put this in a Halal manner) “MashaAllah” girl walk in. This of course elicited a pause as his brain immediately shifted gears from an intellectually heavy conversation to one of the all-time sticking points between males:

How do I best approach this woman?

I quickly curtailed the topic of conversation, much to the annoyance of the organisers, to observe my friend’s thinking process in this situation (I was planning to write this article for a while, but was awaiting some form of inspiration, so it was perfect timing). His brain began to whizz as it ran through the many methods of approach, and his experiences with each. Which one has worked in the past? Which one had failed miserably and embarrassed him? Which one had he seen work before that might apply here? What kind of method would best suit this situation, as well as this girl? Would she react differently to other girls from his past experiences and observations? Did he need to come up with an entirely new approach method for her?

Now in situations like these, it’s essential to keep in mind the “Halal” factor. That is, a guy’s need to make sure he approaches a woman in a way that balances Halal-ness with his own style, whether it be the brazen approach, the friend-zone-lite approach or the on on-the-haqq approach (each will be explained in time :). I watched my friend decide on his plan of action, and prepare himself to say something as she approached, flanked by her friends. He opened his mouth to offer his seat when…nothing. She had turned away just as was about to say something. The moment was slipping through his fingers as she wandered further and further away, but his confidence had begun to slide the moment she turned away. That burst of determined confidence was gone, replaced with a blubbering mess who had forgotten his prepared speech for her. He opened and closed his mouth more than once as he attempted to will her to look at him, but to no avail. Slumping back, he looked on sheepishly as I roared with laughter. (I can be a mean friend.)

Nonetheless, it was an interesting moment to witness. Because although most guys will come across as brazen and confident, they can quickly turn into a blubbering mess if the moment fails them. But it also brought to my attention the magic to the “Approach”. I’m talking about the initial contact, anywhere, anytime. It could be at a cafe, an Islamic event or at her house. The initial point of contact has long been argued over amongst guys’ circles. Because usually, most “approach methods” fail miserably, with only very few actually working.  And most guys can’t work out which one that is.

So I have decided to compile a guide to the approaches I have so far witnessed amongst Muslim youth. These can split into the Brazen Approach, the Friend-zone-lite Approach and the On-The-Haqq Approach.

Anusorn P nachol, c/o of http://www.freedigitalphotos.net

Anusorn P nachol, c/o of http://www.freedigitalphotos.net

The Brazen Approach

This would have to be the quickest and most brutal way to approach a woman. Just straight to the point, no fluffing around, no beating around the bush. Just straight to the point. To be able to pull this approach off one will need to have skyrocketing confidence.  This could be the result of a range of factors, none of which I’ll list here for fear that some (read: most) guys will be offended by my dissection of their false sense of confidence built on shaky ground. Nonetheless! False confidence or not, it has to be there. Without confidence, this method will surely fail, because it basically involves spotting that one woman that you find interesting, and without a single ounce of knowledge about who she is or what kind of person she is, approach her with interest. Without said confidence, you wouldn’t be able to pull off the “sweeping off her feet” moves needed to complete this Approach. It’d be pointless to just come in all confident and smooth and not have a plan to wrapping things up. That would just lead to endless pointless conversation, leaving most of your waiting friends in snoozing behind you.

So the guy approaches the girl all confident and brave, ready to sweep her off her feet. That may be to just directly say, “Hey, you, me, we could work. Waddya say?” or it could be over complimenting her or whatever.

Clearly, this is not my forte. All I know is that it’s a mixed bag in terms of success-rate, much like the rest of the Approaches. Although most guys may sing of their great brazen triumphs, it can bomb horribly. If the woman isn’t swept off her feet, the guy is usually left in a precarious position where the woman can either let him down easy (boring!) or take a swipe at him, kicking him while he’s down (far more entertaining). That usually results in leaving the guy a blubbering mess, embarrassed and bitter, as well as leaving his friends in fits of laughter around him. Hilarious stuff, I kid you not. Which leads me to the final key factor: friends. DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT attempt without your friends murmuring annoyingly behind you, encouraging you loudly or just lingering. They are your support group, where you get an indication that your moves are working ( not from the girl, of course not), and when they aren’t. They’re the ones who’ll bail you out just as social destruction is about to be laid unto you and are the ones you’ll cry to/vent to about how much of a failure you are/she is. Essential stuff.

A Muslim’s Guide to Surviving Heartbreak

*Disclaimer: Author’s identity has been kept anonymous.

Sometimes in life you meet someone who makes you smile from the inside out. A person who you may never want to imagine a life without. Someone who ticks all of your boxes, makes you happy, makes you think about what you would both name your children and whether they’d have the eyes of their father or the smile of their mother. It’s beautiful when it lasts. We humans were made to love. Love our families, friends and our soulmates when and if we happen to meet them. As easily as we may begin to have feelings for someone, circumstances can present obstacles. Each moment that follows can make the difference between whether this special person becomes a part of your life permanently or not.

Recently I was considering someone for marriage quite seriously. A person whom I was sure was the one for me. I had placed all my hopes into one basket and was ready to submit fully to the winds of love in order to make our feelings an Islamically sustainable reality-marriage. Things didn’t work out, and when we had to part ways it was a very deep cut. It felt like someone or something had died. A concept died. The idea of ‘us’ that we had imagined and dreamed left this world and ceased to exist anymore. It was therefore a matter of immense grief and sadness.

This is only natural, and feeling a sense of loss over someone who we care deeply for is a part of life we cannot always escape. People come into our path for a reason and we cannot delete them from the hard drives of our lives like we delete a file from our computer. It is a much more delicate process than that. The following tips I believe have helped me to come to terms with heart break in my life and move on.

1)      This is the decree of Allah.

Let this mantra be the answer to every time you question, “Why?!”. If you have consulted Allah during the process, then there is khayr (good) in all sequence of events. If you have reached out to God when you were in such a vulnerable place by praying to him, making istikhara (guidance prayer) and had the right intentions in pursuing someone, then you must know that God is on your side and He will never let you down.  There are a whole host of reasons why Allah may have taken this person away from you. It may be a way for you to have learned and gained life experience and wisdom. It may also have been saving you from a greater difficulty.  He may want you to turn to Him so that He may deliver something which is actually better for you as an answer to your prayers. Your duty is not to find the answers to why, your test is to accept His divine decree and in the depths of your grief respond with “Alhamdulilah”. Be sure that your sacrifices for the sake of God will never go unacknowledged. I came across this passage of the Qur’an during the sadness I was experiencing. It reminded me of trying to see the bigger picture,

“Allah amplifies and straitens the means of subsistence for whom He pleases; and they rejoice in this world’s life, and this world’s life is nothing compared with the hereafter but a temporary enjoyment”

(Ayah 26, Surah Al Rad)

2)      Let go of Hard Feelings

Just let all the animosity go. It’s all wasted energy, I promise. Be civil with each other and try to end things on good terms, it helps you both move on. (Unless the person was an abusive nutcase, then yes, be angry and report them to relevant authorities!)

It is the case that people will hurt you. They may have said or done a few stupid things, but holding onto hard feelings against them is not going to do anyone any favours, especially yourself. The easiest way to relieve yourself of the pain is to forgive the person for whatever ways they may have wronged you. Accept that, like you, they are also human, and susceptible to making mistakes. People often hurt others even if it was not their intention to do so. It sucks, but it could have easily been you doing the same thing if you were in a different situation.  It is wise for you to ask for forgiveness yourself, especially if this person has expressed their hurt to you. Sometimes it takes time to front up and do this, but when it comes out, it can really bring a sense of closure. Pray for good things for this person as often as you think of them.

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3)      Find space and time to heal

The hardest thing about heartbreak can be the sensation of being completely alone again. Loneliness is often something we are afraid of, but we only feel it because during the time that we have someone else in our life, we are conditioning ourselves to happiness or validation in the presence of their partnership. Un-condition yourself. Shift this paradigm and make it all about you again. Sometimes after we have given so much of our energy to someone else, and especially when that has gone under-appreciated, we really need to find ourselves again. We need to build back our self esteem within the seemingly intimidating world of singledom and brave the currents to re-establish our self confidence. This task can seem very difficult when we are often left swimming in an ocean of personal insecurities after heartbreak. These feelings are completely normal, but you must not let them overcome you and drown as the circumstances can be very harmful. Give yourself the time and space to heal and be easy on yourself. There will be difficult days and more easier days, times when you know you have to take things one day at a time.  Indulge in the activities you have always personally known and loved and just work on taking care of yourself better.

Don’t feel the need to jump into anything new without feeling completely ready, it’s not fair on yourself or any other parties involved. If you give time for yourself, it will put you in a safer place to open your heart to the right person at another time in your life, God willing.

Everybody’s journey is different, and you may think of a million different ways to deal with heartbreak but I think the best thing we can take out of these experiences are the kinder memories. All the people that have ever mattered to you in your life will shape you and impact you, ultimately adding to the person you are. People we have encountered in heart break are not just people you either marry or don’t marry. These people are souls in and of themselves, experiences, lessons and moments of mercy that Allah has placed in our lives, even if you can’t see it. Don’t try and eradicate them completely from your hearts, but understand and appreciate their place in the greater scheme of things. If marriage is what you want, know that that is a noble ambition, it is the Sunnah of the Prophet (s.a.w) and a means for you to draw closer to God should you have the correct intentions.

You may come across further trials in your search for the right person as it is not a necessarily smooth ride, nor is the journey of life in general. One day you are going to find the Man or Woman who raises you up and helps you place all your past experiences into perspective. Try your best to be the most healthy and strongest person you can be for them when you find them, so that you may also raise them up. And never forget to keep loving, even when the world turns upside down around us and love seems like it causes more pain then relief, there is the impenetrable love of The One who created both love and heart break. And He is The One who beautifully mends our hearts at the times when they were meant to be broken.

How I Met Your Brother (in Islam) #2

Ah, university Muslim Students’ Associations, where would we be without you? A lot of us would be single, no doubt. Here’s the story of yet another cross-cultural MSA couple, enjoy! 😀

*Disclaimer: author’s identity has been kept anonymous.

1.) How and when did you first meet your husband? What were your first impressions of each other?
We were both on the MSA shura at uni (how original) and worked on a project together so got to know each other that way. I actually used to confuse him for one of the other guys on the shura at first so it took me a while to remember his name lol! He was very focused at the time which was something I liked but it took quite a while for me to actually think of him as anything other than a friend. His first impression of me was apparently of someone who was really smiley and just a little bit ditzy. Hey, opposites attract!

2.) How did you guys commence getting to know each other?
We were working on a project together at the time so had frequent meetings and got to know each pretty well pretty quickly. It definitely wasn’t love at first sight for me but friends were telling me all the time that he was interested- I just couldn’t see it. Eventually we had a bit of an awkward conversation online where we both sort of admitted that we liked each other in a very roundabout way and it kind of went from there. Needless to say, meetings got pretty awkward after that!

3.) How did you get to know each other? (i.e. phone, email etc)
We were friends first so we used to catch up when we were at uni to get to know each other, phone calls, emails etc. Our parents knew that we were getting to know each other so it wasn’t in secret or anything like that. They were pretty flexible about it and knew it was inevitable given we were at uni and on the shura together.

4.) How long did you get to know each other before you got married?
Our relationship was slightly complicated given we both came from different cultures, we were both at uni and he moved interstate for work while I had to stay here to finish my degree. We knew each other for 3 years before we got married and were engaged for about 2 and half of those years. I cant say it was a particularly pleasant time given the length of time but it gives you the opportunity to really get to know someone before tying the knot.

5.) What were the main obstacles, if any, as you got to know each other?
We came from very different cultures so accepting the “way things are done” between each others families was a bit difficult. We were very fortunate though in that neither of our families had an issue with the culture thing- it was more an issue with age and having the financial ability to setup house that caused us to take so long to get married ( and the fact that he was living a thousand km’s away for a year or so!).

6.) When were you certain that you wanted to get married to each other?
Right away really. As I said, we already knew each other before even considering marriage so it was easy to go from friends to “ hey…so lets get married!”. There’s always fluctuations in a relationship where you second-guess and wonder whether it will really work but you need to trust your gut really. At some difficult stages in the relationship, people around us would tell us its best to break it off but it really does boil down to what you think is best.

University events provide the perfect opportunity to meet a partner.

University events provide the perfect opportunity to meet a partner.

7.) Did you have a social engagement before your wedding reception? (i.e. some kind of party/exchange of rings)
Yes, we had a fatiha at home ( which they don’t do in his culture so it was a bit of a surprise for his parents!) where he gave me a ring and a katb ktab (nikkah) party around a year later.

8.) Did you do nikkah (Islamic marriage ceremony) before your wedding reception? If yes, then what influenced your decision to do so? If not, was there any reason you decided to leave it until the wedding reception?
We had our nikkah done around a year and a half before we got married and just before he moved interstate. We had been together around a year and a half before that and it felt right to do it. We were seeing each other often and were aware of the Islamic considerations in this situation. Also, he was moving interstate and we wanted to be able to visit each other and remain within Islamic boundaries.

9.) Do you have any advice for single people on the process of meeting someone/getting to know someone?
Trust your instinct. If it doesn’t feel right, don’t push it. Don’t be too picky- look for qualities in a person that you know will see you through a lifetime. It’s not about his financial status, car or career prospects- those come later. And boys, her looks will fade so judge your future wife by her personality not the size of her waist. Ultimately you need to be able to look at that person and be comfortable knowing that they will be the mother/father of your children. When it comes time to dowry/wedding/rings etc, be humble and stop at your limits. I’ve seen countless great couples break up because of stupid materialistic things. If he cant afford a massive wedding or dowry, make do with what you can afford. There will not only be more barakah (blessings) in your marriage but he will appreciate you more for it. Definitely don’t go into debt for a wedding- that’s a disaster waiting to happen!
Boys, understand that there’s a lot more to a relationship than physical attraction. Yes, it’s important but it’s marginal. Look beyond the exterior. You’ll be surprised by what you might find.

“I don’t want to be single forever.”

*Disclaimer: author’s identity has been concealed.

There’s nothing glamorous about being a 30-something singleton in this community.

Don’t get me wrong. I’d never want to be a part of any other faith based community but when you’re nearing 30, professionally successful and foreseeably single, assumptions are made.

The thing that irritates me more than the other things that irritate me is when people assume I’ve chosen career over a family. I love what I do. It brings me great pleasure and I’m obviously in my element when I’m working but I’ve never once actively chosen my career over a relationship or a potential relationship.

In fact I remember very clearly an instance when I made an active choice to put my career on hold to make a relationship work. Try as I might, it never worked out and Allah knows best.

Naturally as we grow older, we begin earning our own money and following our own dreams, we become more independent. I agree that this might make it harder to meet someone. Not because you try any less than you did when you were a fresh faced 19 year old, wide-eyed and rosy cheeked, ready to take on the world, but because what you need or who you need becomes far more defined. It is harder to be ‘flexible’ when you’re older. You’re less malleable, more set in your ways. But this can also be a good thing.

It means you’re less likely to entertain someone who practices Islam so very differently to you or someone whose goals in life do not match your own. You’re able to filter through the mismatches much quicker and with less emotional scarring.

But the whole process takes a toll on your own sense of worth.

The thought that women who have successful careers, earn lots of money or have generally done well for themselves, must have chosen all this over the relationship of their dreams is absolutely idiotic.

I look around at the girls in our community who are single and I’m shocked at their caliber. All vibrant personalities, obvious beauty, sound knowledge of deen and dunya and yet they’re single and sometimes I can’t help but feel that something, somewhere has failed them (us).

We’re not allowed to admit that we’d like to get married. Not out loud. When we do we’re reminded of the number of men who’ve been interested in us and accused of being too picky.

I often wonder if people know that most of us spend hours praying istikhara, begging for the answer. I eventually realized the hours of prayer are less about praying to Allah to guide us in the right direction and more a way of praying to Allah that the men we know are wrong for us, somehow become good. We’re praying out of frustration, out of concern, begging for a reason to continue hoping.

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I don’t want to be single forever and I don’t know anybody who does. It doesn’t make me desperate or clingy or obsessed with marriage but it does make me human. Sometimes it feels as if people forget that as girls we have needs too. They focus on the needs of men, mostly sexual, because it has been ingrained in us that they have urges they can’t control.

We live in a highly sexualized society and those temptations are just as real for girls. But more than that, the only relationships permissible in Islam are marriages and outside of that I can never kiss a boy or experience a moment of passion. And I want to experience intimacy, passion and everything else that comes with relationships.

I want to know what it feels like to care enough about someone that you’d put their needs before your own. I want to have kids one day and I want that to be with someone I respect and admire and I know for certain he feels the same way toward me.

I don’t want to go through life on my own, reaching goals with nobody to share them with. I don’t enjoy being asked why I’m single and I’m quite over the experience of ‘looking’ for a spouse.

I want to share parts of myself with someone who’ll appreciate them. I want to enrich somebody else’s life and have them enrich mine. I do not want to come home to an empty bed every night.

But to say these things is completely taboo. It makes people think I’m loose, immoral, inappropriate and lacking modesty.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being single but nobody should be judged for wanting a relationship.

Girls shouldn’t be told to ‘get over it’ or asked to ‘stop talking about it’. Nobody has ever showed us what a life is like without marriage. For almost all of us, our parents were married (at least at some point) and everyone we know who is Muslim is married to their partner. We have never seen demonstrated a life that is without these things.

We might be the first generation who experiences this is in vast numbers and if we are, then isn’t it a community responsibility to make this transition easier for us?

We know it’s naseeb, we know it’ll happen when the time is right and when we’re venting our frustrations we don’t seek your pity or necessarily your advice, we’re just airing our concerns and our heartache and nothing about that makes us desperate.

Post-breakup Boundaries

I received this anonymous post which reflected a question I’ve actually been thinking about: who ‘owns’ a space after a breakup? The Muslim community is so small that if both parties are active in the community, it can be almost impossible to avoid each other. I’ve seen couples negotiate this in a very professional and dignified manner, but I wonder if they’re secretly dying inside every time they see the person at some community event. If the split was particularly messy, it may be easier just to avoid places you know they might be. But unfortunately, there’s no place you can retreat to where the Muslim grapevine doesn’t extend to, as the author of this piece found out the hard way!

*Disclaimer: author’s identity has been concealed.

If any of you are avid Gossip Girl fans (guilty as charged), then you no doubt recall the numerous break ups of Blair Waldrorf and Chuck Bass.

Now, life might not be as dramatic as the fictional take on the Upper East Side of Manhattan but one particular scene did stick out to me as one way too familiar; the Waldorf Bass Peace Treaty.

Play from 0:13 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wiiC5hkHFPU

Break ups are a messy affair – even for Muslims. You can label it an amicable parting all you like, but whether your relationship ended in tears and heartbreak or a rueful smile accompanying slumped shoulders there is one thing to which every break up has common claim.

Major. Awkwardness.

“Let’s stay friends!” some parting couples say, in an attempt to diminish hard feelings.

But what happens when you see your “friend” with a new partner? Even if you’d truly moved on, it’s not the greatest situation to find yourself in.

And so we draw lines. Boundaries, if you like. We mark our territories. The suburb he was from? Never step foot in it again without a burqa. Her favourite café? You suddenly develop an allergy to their coffee that you swear will make your beard hairs fall on entry.

But what happens when people start to prod those boundaries? In a tight knit community, it can be hard to avoid an ex who moved in the same circles. Inevitably, you will find each other coming out of exile to coincidentally attend the same event… and there are only so many corners you can hide in for an entire evening.

Especially if you accidentally both choose the same corner to lurk in. Ensue awkwardness.

Or perhaps some well meaning old friends who haven’t heard of your break up will ask you loudly at a social gathering for mutual friends, “So… When’s the wedding?!”

Hello beetroot face, it’s been a while.

Is coexistence possible?

Is coexistence possible?

But the very worst encroachment that I’ve not witnessed – or rather, experienced – to date was this:

Too soon after a messy break up of my own, my close friends ran into my former in-laws. Being familiar with each other, they said their hellos and had a quick catch-up chat.

And then the mother of all shattering statements was dropped.

“My new sister-in-law is the sweetest! We HAVE to introduce you to her soon – you will love her… Let’s set up a date!”

Now hold on just one second there, please! Pick up the red paint and splash a boundary line RIGHT. THERE.

Friends are the ultimate no-go-zone. Suburbian exile is tolerable. Café zoning is bearable. But the tug-of-war on friends just makes you radiate the kind of desperate dislike that has you screaming inside, “Take anything, take it ALL! Just don’t take my friends…”

Okay maybe that was a tad too melodramatic. But what’s a heartbreak without the drama?

So tell us, friends. What’s your take on territory lines? Are they worth the pain, or would you rather risk the run-in with the ex over putting yourself into exile?

A Brother’s Guide to the MSA (‘Matrimonial Services Association’)

*Disclaimer: Author’s identity has been concealed.

I have been involved in the MSA (Muslim Students Association)  for several years now and, by and large, it has been a thoroughly rewarding experience. If you are reading this as a Muslim uni student not yet involved with your campus’ MSA, I can’t recommend enough that you get involved with it. Huge spiritual benefits of doing your bit for da’wah and maintaining brotherhood and/or sisterhood on campus.

In saying that, there have been plenty of instances during my years of involvement at MSAs which more than raised an eyebrow. I am speaking, of course, about the peculiar nature brother-sister interactions on campus and the often unspoken baggage that comes with it. Now, this blog has already talked about a myriad of issues and quirks when it comes to marriage and how young Muslims approach it. Naturally, at some point, MSAs had to come into it, given their notorious reputation as a “Matrimonial Services Association.”

Whether we like to admit it or not though, the matrimony tag has some truth to it, at least from my own experience. Personally, I know of three individuals who, after extended interaction at the head of an MSA, ended up meeting the person that would eventually become their future wife. It’s certainly not as uncommon as some blushing brothers and giggling sisters make it out to be. Something to consider as I run through of my observations during my time involved in a university MSA.

When it comes to marriage and the opposite gender, we – as guys – don’t really talk about it much. It might come up in jocular conversation like: “Are you married yet or what, bro?” but, by and large, it’s not something that is discussed in depth, or at least not as much as I am told the sisters discuss it. It’s a bit of a taboo to even speak of individual sisters as “marriage material,” so marriage and its machinations are often spoken of in very vague terms. I’ve found it’s often their body language that tells you a lot more than their casual “Oh nothing much is happening at my end, bro” response.

Marriage is only approached in a serious manner amongst ourselves in one of several occasions:

1) If a brother needs sincere advice on a potential marriage endeavour and naturally will seek the wisdom of his experienced confidantes. This is quite common, as you would expect, and is indicative of level-headedness and maturity, to some extent.

2) When some guys become a little bit too friendly with a sister, either online or in real life, and it might make things quite obvious to inconspicuous onlookers. Rumours spread quite quickly and the brother involved can sometimes be inundated with nosy questions, wink face emoticons, and suggestions that he should “fear Allah.” This blog has, in the past, referred to the Muslim community as “incestuous”. I don’t disagree. Do yourself a favour and don’t start clicking ‘like’ on her Facebook selfies, no matter how nonchalant you think you’re being; it only raises eyebrows.

3) Then you have the so-called “secret couples.” Note that I use the word couple sparingly here as I am not referring to the haram phenomenon of boyfriend/girlfriend. Unfortunately there is a lack of a better term to use in this instance. In any case, this is when a brother and sister are at an advanced stage of, let’s say, knowing each other, but they’ve hit a road block on their path to marriage. Perhaps their parents don’t approve and they’re lobbying (read: twiddling their thumbs in no man’s land), or they’re waiting to finish uni first. Whatever it is, they’re doomed to be stuck in limbo in an unofficial relationship indefinitely and cannot afford to make it public just yet.

Alternatively, you also have “public couples”: those who are well known to be in cahoots with one another, and are either close to marriage, or happily ‘engaged’. They’re perhaps the worst off, as their relationship is out in the open with everyone’s prying eyes upon them. They’re condemned to walk a veritable tightrope in their public actions while they await officialisation in the form of marriage.

4). Rivalry and competition is a notoriously common theme of the MSA circuit, but it’s rarely spoken of. You’ll definitely know when you’re in one, though. If you’ve got your eyes on someone, you begin to watch every move made by those from your own gender. That trendy Arab guy that she attended the Syria protest with? He’s a threat. The funny guy that keeps bantering with her on Facebook? He’s a threat. The young shaykh-in-training who is a friend of her family? Oh, you better believe he’s a threat. We’ve all been through this phase: one seems to develop a sixth sense when it comes to potential rivals acting suss, or if something else is amiss. Naturally, the sinister implications of such a threat require a heightened sense of awareness. It becomes all the more intensified when the threats are coming from people within the MSA, ensuring that you’re embroiled in a gargantuan struggle – a proverbial arm wrestle, if you will – that nobody else knows is taking place.

Before closing this post (which can scarcely be called a coherent blog reflection and more a serious of haphazard observations and musings), I must mention a few of the situations within MSA environments that I always found amusing. Have you ever wondered why there never seems to be any brothers around when it’s time to set up the da’wah stall or the hall for Friday prayers, but there seems to be – mashallah, mashallah – an abundance of brothers ready to help out with the BBQ, whether it be cooking the sausages, collecting money, or just standing unnecessarily close to the sister’s side of the table for no logical reason.

"Pass the tomato sauce, sister."

“Pass the tomato sauce, sister.”

You don’t need to be member of Mensa International to work out why that is. Everyone seems to be looking at each other and then quickly looking around at the ground or somewhere else. You can cut through the tension with a knife… or a tomato sauce bottle.

Moving right along to your input: have you noticed any peculiar incidents from your time being involved with MSAs? How many of the above scenarios ring true for you or people you know?

How I Met Your Brother (in Islam)

Every couple has a story. It begins with a meeting, whether by chance or by design. It continues due to mutual interest and culminates in marriage if that interest proves to have staying power. I’m fascinated by the journey of each and every couple I meet. I often want to bombard them with a million and one questions on how and when it all began, but can’t in case I seem like a total creep. But through this blog I finally get to indulge my creepiness and share it with the world :p

Reading about how other people met and got to know each other could impact singles in two ways. It could potentially depress the hell out of you, inevitably resulting in the consumption of copious amounts of icecream. (I recommend Connoiseur’s Cookies and Cream for this purpose.) The other impact it could have is to give you some hope that you too will meet Mr/Ms Right, and maybe even give you some ideas about how to go about it. I’m hoping it’s the latter, because this is only the first of many ‘How I Met Your Brother/Sister’ posts to come iA.  Enjoy!

*Identities have been kept anonymous at the interviewee’s request. Drawing was also kindly provided by the interviewee!

1.) How and when did you first meet your husband? What were your first impressions of each other?
We met because we both volunteered at a detention centre. I met his best friend and partner in crime, who thought I was strange and thus good for Reginald (yes, this is the absurd fake name my husband has chosen for this interview). Then the friend organised a lunch with a group of people and we both came. I thought he seemed interesting and funny. A disclaimer: I had no idea then about his predisposition for choosing ridiculous fake names.
2.) How did you guys commence getting to know each other? (I.e. who expressed interest and how it was conveyed)
I guess we were lucky in that we had an easy setting through which to meet appropriately, that being the detention centre. Not that we were volunteering specifically just to hang out with each other, but we would generally say hi and have a chat if we were there together, and often I would use Reginald to translate for me if the detainees didn’t speak English. We hung out a lot in groups of friends. Reginald eventually was kind of like, so shall we get married? I was at the time holding a toy monkey called ‘Screamy’ because it screamed when you catapult it. It wasn’t exactly the most romantic moment in history. I immediately turned bright purple as I am wont to do when feeling nervous, and mumbled yes.
3.) How did you get to know each other? (i.e. phone, email etc)
Both phone and email, and hanging out with friends, family and, when we were engaged, going out for coffee. I went on holiday for two weeks while we were getting to know each other and we emailed a LOT. We did endless amounts of those online Muslim marriage quizzes, which are really good because they make you ask hard, practical and revealing questions that, when you’re in a tizzy of romance, you tend to brush over. I highly recommend them.
4.) How long did you get to know each other before you got married?
Between engagement and marriage? Two and a half months. And from meeting to engagement, seven weeks, so all up that’s three and a half months (ish?). My parents were like, wut? And to be honest if my sister met someone and married that fast I’d tell her she’s a majnoonah (the perfect insult as she would have no idea what it means and thus wouldn’t beat me up) and to hold her horses, but I knew, inshallah, it was right and it was.
5.) What were the main obstacles, if any, as you got to know each other?
Meeting up with each other and getting to know each other in an Islamically appropriate way, I guess. It was a major concern for both of us and honestly it’s REALLY hard if you don’t do the nikkah within 20 seconds of initial meeting. Of other married people I know, this was a major issue for them, too. If you’re not doing the tea and coffee circuits, it’s really hard to get to know someone well enough to know you’re interested in marriage, without crossing the lines. It’s a constant balancing act and we talked about it a lot, and I’m sure we got it wrong sometimes. But we did our best and overall I’m really proud of how we stuck to the restrictions and boundaries that are necessary to be in the clear Islamically.

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6.) When were you certain that you wanted to get married to each other?
This is super sappy, but the first time I ever met Reginald, I thought to myself that I could see myself married to him. That sentence sounds so ridiculous with his fake name. Over the course of getting to know him, I only became more and more certain. I prayed about it a LOT. When he proposed there wasn’t a single bit of doubt in my mind that this is what I wanted.
7.) Did you have a social engagement before your wedding reception? (i.e. some kind of party/exchange of rings)
No, I don’t think that was either of our cup of tea. We were pretty cavalier about the whole thing. We had a family meet and greet and left it there.
8.) Did you do nikkah before your wedding reception? If yes, then what influenced your decision to do so? If not, was there any reason you decided to leave it until the wedding reception?
We did our nikkah at the wedding reception. This is because my family are Christian and I wanted my wedding to be something they could enjoy and understand as a wedding. We spoke about this with the sheikh who did our marriage and he agreed that it was important to respect family and was happy to do the nikkah at the reception, and give a bit of a speech as well. I think it was a bit unusual for everyone there, but we loved it and so did our families, which is all we needed really.
9.) Do you have any advice for single people on the process of meeting someone/getting to know someone?
– If you have married friends, ask them if their husbands have any single friends. Ask your (blood) brothers, if you have any. (If it’s not completely embarrassing, that is. I would probably have preferred to die surrounded by cats than to consult my brother. He would have had way too much fun. Married friends are definitely the way to go).
– Volunteer. Join MSA or whatever, any Muslim volunteer organisation. Or not Muslim- just something you’re interested in and passionate about and maybe you’ll find other Muslims there who are interested in the same thing. This is how I met Reginald (obvs). Aside from possible snagging yourself a spouse, volunteering is a great thing to do for yourself.
– There are great new initiatives in Sydney for people looking for marriage, like the Mission of Hope ‘The M Word’ program. It seems like a pretty great way to get straight to the point, and in an Islamically appropriate setting. You can find that one on Facebook and sign up there.
– Pray. Make dua. Stress less because you know that your life is guided by the best of planners.