Archive for the 'Muslim Issues' Category

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

14
Oct
09

Like One Body: A Muslim’s Responsibility to the Ummah

Imam Zaid Shakir and Shaykh Yasir Qadhi will be at NYU this Thursday speaking at an event sponsored by one of our student groups, the United Muslim Association.  More details are below.   Do come by if you are in the area.  Dinner will be served and all proceeds go towards Islamic Relief’s Orphan Fund inshallah

10
Oct
09

Real Men Don’t Hit Women

I’ve been traveling a lot in the last few years of my life speaking to different communities both in the United States and abroad.  In at least the last two years of my travels, there hasn’t been a lecture or event that I’ve participated in that hasn’t introduced me to at least one young woman (and usually more) that has been abused in some way during her life and, subsequently, doesn’t know what to do about it.

Rape, molestation, beatings, verbal abuse, emotional distress, the issues continue on end.   In most instances, the hardest part of it all seemingly stems from the young woman being unable to find someone to speak to about it.    And so she will follow suit unknowingly to those who came before her and experienced similar abuses, left to talk only to herself.    Critical questions of why it happened to her in the first place now take on the form of self criticism, and in most instances the young girl will begin to blame herself for everything that has happened.    Why did my husband hit me?  Why did my uncle take advantage of me?  Why did my husband cheat on me?  Why did that boy end up not marrying me after having an intimate relationship with me?  Perhaps it is my fault and I deserve it.

As a Muslim man, I can say its already difficult enough to understand how to be Muslim in the context of the United States.   I think its also important for us to acknowledge that most of us haven’t grown up being taught how to be men.   If you are a man and you are reading this, at no point in time should you ever think its ok to hit a woman.

I spoke at the University of Pennsylvania on the topic of Dealing with Domestic Violence in the Muslim Community a couple of weeks ago.   You can hear some of my thoughts on the subject matter in the videos below.  Please do share with others if you think its worth it.   I’ll write something more in depth in the future.

26
Aug
09

Living the single life…..**sigh**

About two months ago, I had the opportunity to speak with Shaykh Faraz Rabbani and Sister Dania Ayoubi on a panel at the ISNA conference in Washington DC entitled Living the Single life: Benefiting from Your Time Before You get Married. It was recorded and I was debating as to whether or not post this video during Ramadan but I figured it probably https://i0.wp.com/www.psychologytoday.com/files/u45/sad_man.jpgwould make more sense to do so now rather than wait til afterward, as during this month of introspection it would serve many of us well to realize that there is nothing wrong with us if we are not married.

More often than not it becomes very hard for a person to make a critical sense as to why they want to be married so badly, but yet they aren’t married for whatever reason.   In the short time that I was allotted on this talk, I wanted to convey to the audience that it is hard to deal with the emotions that come from being single and wanting companionship, and how we need to learn to deal with those emotions constructively.   Please do share with others if you think there is benefit in it.

Thanks to Fatih Alev from Denmark for sharing the original video.   Fatih runs a group called Muslims in Dialogue that focuses on integrating Islam in a European context.  You can visit the MID website here and see the original video in its entirety here.

I’ve also posted Shaykh Faraz’s and Sister Dania’s talks as well as our Q&A session below.   Be sure to check out Shaykh Faraz’s response to the question on being obedient to one’s parents in the first part of the Q&A at 3 minutes and 15 seconds.   The entire Q&A session is pretty good so try to listen to the whole thing.

You can visit Shaykh Faraz’s blog here and check out the online classes that he teaches along with many other notable individuals at Seeker’s Guidance here.  I am going to look for an online resource for Dania Ayoubi and update this post if I find one inshallah.

I’m sure I’ll write up something more on this topic in the coming months. Please feel free to share with others




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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