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Posts Tagged ‘Marriage’

Let’s jump right into the tough stuff, shall we? Here is something I wrote at the height of my stress. No judgement please.

I am feeling pressured.

I am feeling pressured to wear hijab. I am feeling pressured to feel like a more legitimate Muslim. I don’t feel legitimate. I drove around crying the other night because I am trying to comprehend the fact that people don’t see me as legitimate. People pat me on the head and say mashallah but then seem to make it a point to mention that hijab is obligatory in front of me. They don’t bother to ask me my reasoning and they don’t bother to understand that even if I did want to wear it, how it is not an option for me because of my situation with my family. I want my family in my life, and that cannot happen if I wear a hijab. Maybe in the future Allahu alim, but it can’t happen now. As much as I love my religion, I hate it. I wonder what have I done to myself. I wonder what I am willing to give up for my religious beliefs constantly. I wonder if I am willing to give up getting married and having children because I know that realistically, it is a very real possibility for me. I wonder why I was not blessed with being born into a Muslim family so I feel I have to prove myself and I don’t even have the right look to start off with. I know people doubt me all the time when they see me hijabless and not from a Muslim culture. They don’t know that I have actually changed a lot of myself for Islam because they can’t see it.
I am feeling pressured to get married. My family is concerned as to why I have not been looking. They don’t know that I don’t know how. They don’t know that I have had options that I have turned away because of my religious beliefs. They don’t know that even though I jokingly tell their concerned faces that I have no time for a boyfriend, it is actually something I constantly worry about. I know that if I hadn’t made this decision, I could have had a beautiful cathedral wedding with a wonderful Catholic man. I feel pressure from other converts to get married who tell me that I really should because they I could start an actual Muslim family. But I don’t want to end up in their broken marriages or desperately searching for a husband, any husband because (maybe falsely) I put more value on myself than that. When I have mentioned my concern to people, I’ve even been told, “don’t worry, a lot of Hispanic Muslim women are allowing their husbands to take second wives because there is a shortage of husbands for Hispanic converts.” Great, I’ll be someone’s pity wife. If they aren’t turned off by the fact that I don’t dress “appropriately,” which they probably will be. Maybe I could marry a person from a Muslim culture….. oh wait, I’m not a white girl, I’m a dark skinned Hispanic girl. Recently, a friend found a picture of a Bengali bride that looks exactly like me and instead of laughing or admiring that fact that she definitely looks like me, my first thought was, “Lucky her, she looks like me and she managed to get married.”
I am feeling pressured to have sex. I’m feeling a lot of pressure from my friends to go to bars to look for relationships. My friends are also very concerned about the lack of a man in my life (or more so that I am 22 and still holding out when it comes to intimacy). And sometimes I wonder if that’s what I’m good for. Why am I holding out for a community that doesn’t even acknowledge me as legitimate? I know it would be very easy in the community I’m in to have a “hit it and quit it” situation. Getting whistled at or getting your behind grabbed when you walk by. And I know this would be easier, but I can’t bring myself it because of my religious beliefs.
I am feeling pressured to give up my religion. All of Ramadan I was cranky and angry. I slept for 6 extra hours. I know my family was concerned about me. I never prayed (actually the first and only time I have prayed in months was Eid prayer). I fasted out of obligation rather than desire. I feel myself getting bitter towards people. I am tired of feeling pressured. I want to be done, I am not done but I want to be done with all that I got myself into sophomore year. But unfortunately I can’t because of what I believe because it is my religion, my deen.”

After I wrote this, I came across the blog written by the contributor who wrote my favorite Love, InshAllah story, “Hybrid Dance.” When I first read her story, I sobbed. All her fears and concerns are the same as mine. Her blog, “Invisible Muslimah” was so comforting and brought a lot of peace to my soul. I think this girl is forreal my soul sister (unbeknownst to her).
So here, on my teeny little blog, I make a pledge. I’m going to strive to be a better Muslim. I have fallen off for a while and I need to get back on the horse. I hope that when people read this, they won’t see simply my faults and weaknesses but they see someone who is having an inner jihad and struggling. And I hope that if anyone out there is also struggling, that they know that it’s okay. Struggles are real.
This is my pledge to commit to a new beginning.
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A few months ago, I went to a conference for young adult Muslims and mashAllah it was Ah-mazing. I had just recently, like a few weeks recently, converted and I seriously felt Allah SWT presence that weekend (I mean God’s always present but you know what I mean). Additionally, I had an amazing time sharing a hotel room with some of my best friends even though I didn’t sleep much. Sessions/lectures ending at 1 AM, giggly Muslim girls and Fajr at 5 AM = little to no sleep.

So at this conference, there were obviously a lot of young Muslim men and women there. As I walked around, if I made eye contact with someone, I would smile at them, not thinking anything of it. But when it came to the brothers, many times I would either get A) a really weird long stare or a B) he’d quickly look away. I was so confused but then I realized, “OMG, what if I’m doing this wrong?! All these guys must think I’m in love with them and I want to get married!” I told my friends and they laughed and said not to worry about it. But the rest of the conference I went to the opposite extreme and kept my eyes cast down to the floor when I walked by a man.

Now, looking back at this situation, I giggle. I can imagine myself walking around grinning at everyone (I mean come on, I just converted. A girl can get a little excited about that right?) and then later on, staring at the ground like some emo kid. I really don’t think there’s anything wrong with smiling at people. But a few people have told me that sometimes at Islamic gatherings, there are some people who are in a “marriage” state of mind and they are checking people out. So that’s probably what I looked like I was doing, even though that was not my intention AT ALL. I mean come on, I’m only 19, I’m not looking at the moment. But to be fair to those brothers that gave me a weird stare, they were probably walking around in fear of rishta (basically proposal) seekers lol.

I’m NOT AT ALL saying that we shouldn’t be modest, lower our gaze and all that good stuff. But I’m a friendly person, I’ll smile and say Salaam to someone regardless of their gender. And there’s a HUGE difference between that and OGLING at some poor sister or brother. Let’s know the difference between lust and friendliness, yes? Unfortunately as young Muslims we live in fear of the stares, ogling and gossip. And we’re more than a little obsessed with marriage. Read more these things here, here and here (Maniac Muslim always makes me laugh!) A really wonderful Sheikh I heard at the conference said something to the effect of this: Don’t be rude and ignore Fatima if she walks by just because she is a girl. But then again, there is a difference between “Salaam Fatima!” and “Hellooooooooooo Fatima!” *insert creepy stare here*

So next time I smile and say Salaam to you, please don’t think I want to marry you. All I really want to do is say hi to my fellow Muslim and be on my way. Thanks.

This really, really funny comic about how we as young Muslims sometimes freak out a little bit too much about marriage and relationships comes from http://www.ninjabi.com/ Her comics are hilarious I’m sure ya’ll will get a laugh. Check it out!Image Courtesy of: http://www.ninjabi.com/comic.php?comic=20

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I am almost 20 and I have always looked at marriage as something that is far off. But now I see some friends (both Muslim and non-Muslim) getting married and it is a very…grounding experience to say the least. My dad has always jokingly said that I can’t date until I at least graduate law school. And I always thought that I wouldn’t get married until I was like 30. I wanted to be done with my entire education, have seen the world, have survived on my own, etc. And iA I’ll be able to finish all my “single woman” stuff in the manner I have always planned but Allahu alim when my time for marriage will come.

However, as a Latina convert, I have a whole other worry that some Muslim women don’t have: my ethnicity. As I’ve mentioned before, there is no room for racism or ethnocentrism in Islam. But sometimes people seem to forget. From articles and from hearing actual stories from others, it is still present not only in Muslim communities, but just in the whole world in general. The story of the Cuban convert trying to win over his Algerian in laws is incredibly sad and since the author is blunt, I will be too in saying that this is racism. It is scary that this fear that a convert who is not of the same culture is not good enough exists to this day. However, I know I am not completely innocent in this either. I know I am guilty of thinking, “I just want to marry a good Latino man” or “I think I want to marry a Latino because this would make life so much easier.” This is something that I, and we, as an Ummah, need to work on. And I know in my heart that it is Islamically wrong if someone does some day discriminate based on my ethnic identity. But for us convert girls who don’t belong to a traditionally Muslim culture, there is that fear, what if my in-laws don’t think I’m “Muslim enough” because I’m not Arab, Persian, etc. iA, I’m worrying about nothing and my future in-laws, whoever they may be, are wonderful, accepting Muslims who know their son is marrying a woman of faith. I have also seen beautiful intercultural Muslim marriages so we know that it can be achieved InshAllah!

Given that I haven’t met a Muslim boy who I consider a marriage possibility at this point and I’m not yet 20, marriage is not just around the corner. So maybe I shouldn’t worry about these things. But seeing friends and family who are close to my age getting married and having babies is a reminder of what I should at least think about before that time in my life creeps up on me….

ADD ON: I recently remembered that a friend and I came across an Islamic marriage contract that we both liked a lot on HijabMan‘s blog. Here’s the link to his blog entry and here’s a link to the PDF, in case anyone is getting married soon, or even if you just want to check it out for future reference. Heck, just check out his blog too, it’s awesome 🙂

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