22
Oct
09

So Now that you are Muslim, you should probably think about getting married….

I’ve had the opportunity to meet a lot of converts to Islam in my life. Most of them face a series of challenges as they seek to adjust to their new lifestyles respectively. Today I was reminded of one of my favorite experiences with a friend who is a convert from about eight years ago.

A young woman had converted in our community and the usual excitement was in the air. A large group of people had welcomed her at her conversion and then a smaller group of people began to teach her the basic things she needed to know. I thought things were going well for her but a few weeks later I noticed she was kind of down. When I asked her what the problem was she said she was concerned about how to find someone to marry. I thought for a moment and then told her that she was only 19 years old. Then I reminded her that she had been Muslim for only about three weeks and maybe she should finish learning how to pray first before thinking about the lovely hardship in a young Muslim’s life that is called marriage.

To show how much we’ve grown as a community, today, eight years later, a young woman entered into my office looking for some advice. She had been told by many of her friends that she needed to start thinking about marriage because she was getting older. She became a Muslim about a month ago.

Are you kidding me?

**Sigh**

Marriage itself seems to plauge most Muslims’ minds across the world. The desire and pursuit of companionship most definitely becomes a critical factor in most peoples lives, making it all the more frustrating when it doesn’t happen as easily as one would like it to. For a convert though it becomes a substantially more frustrating experience, as they at times have to deal with everything a person who has been born into a Muslim family has to deal with and even more. Its important for those of us who were born into Muslim families to reflect on the experience of a convert so as to not cause undue hardship on someone for the simple reason that we didn’t think where they were coming from.

Those of us who are not Muslim should really imagine what it would be like to be a part of a non-Muslim family. For most it becomes quite the struggle, as you are trying to learn the religion yourself while at the same time be a spokesperson for it to people who don’t know anything about it. Whether the family is accepting or rejecting of the conversion, it can still be a very stressful situation where one is expected to know the answer to everything. This becomes a problem when our help of those who are converts stops 10 minutes after we’ve given them a hug the day of their shahada. It becomes an even bigger problem when those of us who decide to give advice start off by saying things like “you should probably think of getting married now”. Can you imagine if you are a 19 year old girl and you come home to talk to your parents’ about your newly found religion and then tell them that you were told you have to get married soon? When I was 19 years old I told my dad I wanted to get married and he told me I was stupid and to stop saying stupid things 🙂 and my parents are Muslim alhamdulillah.

Another factor thats key to understand here is how hard it can be for a convert to find someone to get married to. I participated on a panel in which one of the speakers stated quite matter-of-factly that parents always know whats best for children and when it comes time to get married, one should fully rely on their families to help them find someone. Afterwards a young girl came up to me quite concerned, stating that not only is her family not Muslim, but they don’t even like Islam. So how can that be the way for her to get married? The cultural norms that dictate “proper” ways to get married can be quite confusing to many Muslims, not just converts. There is no expectation of someone to commit a cultural apostacy upon embracing Islam. Rather one should be able to infuse their Islam within their own cultural dynamic, allowing for even further evidence as to how truly beautiful this deen is that it can be applied anywhere and at anytime for any person or people. Yet our attachment to “our ways” can be more detrimental than we even realize.

I met a young Chinese girl once who approached me asking questions about Islam. Usually when I speak to someone who is interested in converting, I ask them what issues they have with the religion, so as to not waste time speaking about things that already make sense to them. After meeting with me a few times, the girl told me that she did have one issue with Islam. She couldn’t understand why if she became Muslim she would have to marry someone who is Chinese. I asked where she got that from. She said her friends’ parents tell them quite often that they can only marry people from their own cultural background, and if they don’t they are bad Muslims. That is what kept her from becoming Muslim.

A final point of importance would be to realize that there is a good chance that prior to entering into Islam, a person who converts might have had a relationship with someone that makes it that much harder for them to deal with the hardships of marriage after. If you’ve dated someone, been physically engaged with someone, it can become that much more of a struggle to be alone because you’ve felt what its been like to not be alone. Here its also important to realize that if someone has been in a physical relationship prior to their embracement of Islam, its not something that we should hold against anyone after they’ve become Muslim. Especially for women who are unable to cover up sexual experiences from their past, the consideration should consistently be there that they are not lacking in any way because they are not virgins. Its not for us to define someone based off of our relative definitions of whats “good” and whats “bad” when Allah has decided that these people are so good that He erases from their records anything wrong that they’ve done up until that point and keeps only that which is good.

Sorry if thats a lot of rambling. I might finish this later inshallah

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40 Responses to “So Now that you are Muslim, you should probably think about getting married….”


  1. 1 poet91
    October 22, 2009 at 6:59 pm

    ASA,
    Wow! mA, this was a very thoughtful piece. It’s amazing how people often miss the whole point of no nationalism in Islam when they mix culture and religion. I hope you do finish this post, iA!
    Hope you don’t mind if I quote you on this: “Its not for us to define someone based off of our relative definitions of whats “good” and whats “bad” when Allah has decided that these people are so good that He erases from their records anything wrong that they’ve done up until that point and keeps only that which is good.” but I thought that was an AMAZING part!
    haha, this post reminded me of Baba Ali and his marraige videos…that and his convert vid (http://www.youtube.com/user/ummahfilms#p/u/2/nQlhU47kLgo)
    Anyhow, hope this topic is continued.
    Take care and wassalaam,
    ur sis in faith and humanity!
    “poeT91”

  2. 2 Nada
    October 22, 2009 at 7:14 pm

    Great post. I’ve had this discussion with a lot of people, and its definately something worth talking about. First off, as “ethnic” people born into Islam, we know how obsessed our cultures can be with marriage. And because for a lot of our parents and grandparents generations, religion and culture are one big mush, it makes sense for them to want us to marry within our ethnicities/culture. Its been an interesting conversation in my family, which spans the liberal/conservative gamit. An aunt of mine insists on finding a Sunni, Hyderabadi Pakistani Syed. Honestly if thats the case, my cousin might as well marry my little brother, cuz thats a little too specific. Alhumdullillah, my mom has always said to me “just marry a good muslim.” Of course parents believe marrying within your own culture will make life easier. What we don’t realize is that most of us have grown up in America, and our culture is our own “american” culture. Regardless of our backgrounds, we tend to have more in common with our American-Muslim counterparts. I don’t know why some people thing the mail-order-bride from the mother land is a better idea than partnering with someone who relates to u and your experiences. Haha I know this is a counter ramble, but my point is that we don’t live in our parents worlds, and so the rules of matrimonials don’t necessarily apply. I have a friend who has considered converting, and marriage is a real concern to her too, mainly because she forsee’s slim pickins for a white muslim convert in a world where people stick to their own. So watdyu think we we as a community can do about this?

  3. 3 A.A.
    October 22, 2009 at 7:24 pm

    seriously! that’s all I hear!

  4. 4 A. Abdul Lateef
    October 22, 2009 at 7:25 pm

    Great read, Jazaaks for posting

  5. 5 Shaan
    October 22, 2009 at 7:26 pm

    hey just read your latest post bro, very nice, keep hitting us with knowledge insha’Allah.

  6. 6 Jay
    October 22, 2009 at 7:27 pm

    “Its not for us to define someone based off of our relative definitions of whats “good” and whats “bad” when Allah has decided that these people are so good that He erases from their records anything wrong that they’ve done up until that point and keeps only that which is good.” … Profound.

  7. 7 A.A.
    October 22, 2009 at 7:27 pm

    I love this! and actually one of the things that kept me from converting sooner was the fact that I think I’m never getting married.

  8. 8 Diallo
    October 22, 2009 at 7:28 pm

    Masha’Allah. What a insightful read!
    Jazzak’Allahu Kairan.

  9. 9 Yasmine
    October 22, 2009 at 7:30 pm

    “There is no expectation of someone to commit a cultural apostacy upon embracing Islam. Rather one should be able to infuse their Islam within their own cultural dynamic, allowing for even further evidence as to how truly beautiful this deen is that it can be applied anywhere and at anytime for any person or people.”

    -I wholeheartedly agree. … Allah did not make a mistake when he made you! Stay black, white, latino or chinese when you become muslim…no need to adopt an arab accent and trade in all your clothing for salwar kameez sets! and for God sake please don’t change your name…your mother went through great pain to bring you into this world and named you with love! Paco, Li Wen, Tawanna and Alice are beautiful names!

    • October 24, 2009 at 3:36 am

      MashaAllah! I like what you said too!!!! “Allah did not make a mistake when he made you! Stay black, white, Latino or Chinese when you become Muslim…no need to adopt an Arab accent and trade in all your clothing for salwar kameez sets! and for God sake please don’t change your name…your mother went through great pain to bring you into this world and named you with love! Paco, Li Wen, Tawanna and Alice are beautiful names!”

      wow so true! I am always reminding myself and everyone else be who you are! I love praying Isha after throwing down on some “milanesa tacos (thinly cut sandwich steak breaded and seasoned than fried-think like fried chicken but steak meat instead) and arroz(mexican orange fluffy rice)” or a cheeseburger and fries.

      Being Muslim is believing in Allah, praying, feeling that closeness that way of life and being a better person, it’s not changing you’re culture!

  10. 11 Lis
    October 22, 2009 at 8:37 pm

    Great article mashallah:) I think the larger issue here is the emphasis on marriage in general that causes someone to tell a convert to think about marriage. In the defense of those who tell converts that…i think it’s because they’ve been told that their entire lives and really believe it and actually think they are helping 🙂 Obviously, marriage has great importance islamically, I’m not going to get into that. However, the obsession of it really makes many people (females especially) lose focus of other aspects of their lives. I think to some extent, there should just be more lectures and teachings on living a single life while you’re single and still making the most of your life, deen, etc. Now nearing 27 years old myself, I find that so many of my friends of similar age are really becoming obsessed with it and losing confidence in themselves over it. And they will give me advice to be more focused on it because they think it helps..but in actuality, it really causes a lot of doubt. They are constantly asking themselves “why wont anyone marry me?” “maybe its because I wear hijab and maybe I should remove it?”. “perhaps its because i’m a doctor”..”whats wrong with me”,etc. And they start doubting there religiosity and careers. I think the reason converts are hit with so many of these marriage questions and become anxious and concerned over it is because as a community, females are taught to be anxious and concerned about it.

  11. 12 H N
    October 23, 2009 at 2:58 am

    as usual, this is an excellent post

  12. October 23, 2009 at 3:10 am

    Well put! Yes, as a convert it’s a pretty difficult spot I’m put in in terms of marriage, and many families often don’t want you to marry a Muslim, period. May Allah make it easy for everyone.

  13. 14 hala
    October 23, 2009 at 3:23 am

    I really agree…

  14. 15 Zeerak
    October 23, 2009 at 11:38 am

    “Perhaps some may consider me naïve to think that the sheer power of knowledge and the spoken and written word can turn the tide on this brazen attack on our sisters, and keep us from drowning in their blood and their tears.

    I however rely only on the Creator for this inspiration for the first word revealed in the Quran was “Iqra” ( Read) . And this word changed the world, brought a society steeped in darkness of ignorance into light of knowledge. This word changed a society that dehumanized women to cherish women as Mohshinas ( fortress of goodness). “O humankind be careful of your duty to your lord. Who created you from a single soul and from it created its mate.. Be careful of your duty to Allah in whom you claim your mutual rights (Qura’an 4:1)” – Sister Shahina Siddiqui http://www.issaservices.com ( from her note : Ocean of tears)

    Salams and Jazulkhair to all, that strive to learn and attain knowledge. May Allah SWT bless us all with the strength to seek knowledge from cradle to grave. InshAllah- Ameen!

    Brother Khalid, I believe that the issue your recent blog makes one realize is that- regardless whether it is a convert or an individual who was born into Islam, we need to realize that the “URGENCY/EMERGENCY” of marriage is doing more harm to our women than helping them.

    Instead of saying to us, ” you will not get married when you get older, because men like younger women!” –why is it not told to us that we should DEFINE our personalities and strive to realize our purpose as a muslim women. Instead of telling us that ” you can get all the education and schooling you want, but you know your end job is to be a wife and mother!” —why is it not told to us that, you can be a balanced individual who will realize the challenges, responsibilities, beauty & hardship of having a spouse & children. With your knowledge you will be able to raise children with a positive Islamic attitude that will change the world. Instead of crying tears of sadness at our marriage and telling us that ” our hardship begins now, keep your husband & his family happy” why don’t you welcome me, with tears of happiness and tell me ” Congratulations on entering marriage may the next chapter of your wonderful and blessed life lead you and your husband to the gates of Jannah!”

    I strongly believe that marriage is vital for all muslims. However, I also believe that instead of giving marriage a negative connotation by infusing these kind of thoughts/ideas of EMERGENCY and URGENCY of marriage in our women , we need to EMPOWER our women and make them realize that marriage will be beautiful and smooth when you are most ready- When you have realized the rights, purpose, and creation of your existence, when you have DEFINED yourself and understood yourself, you will be able to CONTRIBUTE to the life of your spouse, and InshAllah to the life of your family.

    Women need to be realized the power of influence and strength they have, instead of being told that while they are young they MUST get married as soon as possible. Telling someone that there is a fire and then showing them the EXIT door will not allow them to THINK, REFLECT, and DEVELOP their personality. If we have women with invisible personalities, we will raise an invisible Ummah.

    May Allah SWT forgive me if I have said anything offensive or wrong, and may we all remember that “before we show mercy to others, we must show mercy to ourselves.”

    Salams

    • October 24, 2009 at 3:39 am

      MashaAllah! Very well said so true it is up to us to share this way of thinking with Ummah

  15. 17 Zeerak
    October 23, 2009 at 11:47 am

    spelling error: muslim woman

    Instead of saying to us, ” you will not get married when you get older, because men like younger women!” –why is it not told to us that we should DEFINE our personalities and strive to realize our purpose as a muslim woman.

  16. 18 Joanna
    October 24, 2009 at 1:21 am

    Asalaamu Alaikum

    Jazak Allah khayr for your entry. It covers many relevant and accurate points about marriage and converts. As a New Muslim, I can say that I have given marriage thought, mainly due to the classic ‘half our deen’ phrase I’ve heard many a time. I love that family in Islam is so important but I am in no rush to start one. I know that first I need to work on my iman and ‘defining’ myself (as Zeerak mentioned in the comment before mine).

    What I think would complete your entry (you wrote ‘might finish this later’), is some advice, insha’Allah. Now that you’ve recognised the issues regarding marriage, what steps should one take to be successful in it? For example, where do you suggest we meet potential spouses and how can we be sure they are right for us when traditional ‘dating’ that we’re used to is not allowed? Some born Muslims have the help of their family but where do converts get this? Where can we read more about marriage contracts and the roles of husband and wife in Islam?

    Wasalaam

  17. October 24, 2009 at 1:54 am

    hello, I have a question/concern about Islamic marriage..

    what if you’re a Muslim woman who loves her husband, and then her husband says “I want another wife” or “I want to marry 3 more women to be your co-wives”. In this day and age, we women are made to believe that one man and one woman with their kids is the ideal family unit. I personally have a hard time thinking about my husband spending time with 3 other women (if I were married, which I am not, I’m too young). The woman may ask “What, am I not enough for you? All the cooking, cleaning, and devotion I have given to you is not enough to respect my feelings?” The husband will say “Islam permits it, read Surah 3.” What should someone who feels this way do? The Muslim woman loves her religion and loves Allah swt, but just this one aspect of it bothers her so much. That’s one of the many reasons why marriage seems a bad idea to me. I don’t want to feel comfortable with a man and then one day out of the blue he comes home with three other ladies snuggling around him and says “Honey,I’m home, come meet your new co-wives!” Are you kidding me??

  18. October 24, 2009 at 3:44 am

    Asalaamu Alaikum MashaAllah very awesome blog- So true there is so much ill placed faith in marriages as if being married made one perfect! Actually speaking from experience marriage takes a lot of work and dedication so marriage should NOT be the new Muslim or Muslimahs concern as there is so much Islam, life, and learning to do.

  19. October 25, 2009 at 5:44 am

    Alhamdulillah this is spot on. I’m a convert and knowing my own experience of easing into the deen, I am strongly against getting converts hitched right away. It took me over a year to start working on my character, before that I was just getting used to doing the prayers.

    And you change so much in the first year or two – your idea of a good spouse would become so much different just after a year. Imagine getting married and then a year later thinking you’d rather have a different spouse. It’s horrible.

  20. 22 Smile-Allah-loves-you :)
    November 8, 2009 at 12:57 am

    Salams,

    This website is amazing MashAllah–there are SOOOO many eBooks online for every topic possible.

    Ninjasareawesome– there is a book on Polygamy

    Joanna–this website is great…its got everykind of book on how to be a great muslim spouse! inshAllah!

    fyi : reading all these books on marriage etc. may make you feel overwhelmed because
    1) there is so much to learn ( Alhumdullilah)
    2) the books will make one realize that there are many things one needs to change or..simply just looked at with a different perspective.

    But of course, Knowledge is a blessing-and Islam is not just a religion, it is a beautiful way of life!

    I also highly recommend EVERYONE to READ( and spread the word) about the following two amazing books:

    1) Don’t be Sad by Ibn Al Qarni ( click on the BOOKS link)
    2) Enjoy your life

    AMAZING BOOKS MASHALLAH!!!

    http://www.kalamullah.com/

    the specific link to click on once you get to this website is : SISTERS or the FAMILY and SOCIETY …but please do look at all the knowledge available to you…so you can help someone in need. InshAllah! 😉

    Salams

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Who is doing the thinking


My name is Khalid Latif. I work as the Executive Director and Chaplain for the Islamic Center at New York University as well as a Chaplain for the NYPD, New York City Police Department.

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