Double-post day! Hope y’all don’t mind…
Today this one is primarily for the brothers out there.
I will admit, it is not the nicest topic I could write about (and plenty of people are probably going to get angry about it), but after a particularly sad conversation with a friend the other night I began to reflect on a trend that I have been seeing amongst born-Muslim men that I am acquainted with, and that is affecting some really great women that I know. After stewing over it for a night and all morning, I needed to get it out of my head and into the world.
And just to clarify, when I am writing to the “brothers” in this post, I am not writing to all Muslim men or even a majority of them, I am writing to those very small few who I know personally have done this, and those even smaller few others who may be reading this and are thinking about this kind of marriage.
So, brothers: stop trying to marry white/Christian/Jewish/Western women just on the hope that you will convert them.
Marry for love, marry with respect, marry for happiness. And then, once you have established a solid base of love and respect, talk to her. Don’t pressure her-have a conversation. Don’t just lay down the rules; introduce her to the sweetness of faith slowly.
And then if she still persists in not wanting to accept Islam, back off.
“There shall be no compulsion in [the acceptance of] religion.” Qur’an 2:256, Sahih International Translation
I have seen two different relationships of friends recently go through awful, heartbreaking problems, mainly because a man took a “Western” woman and tried to stuff her into an “Islamic” mould without any respect for her own background and culture.
The first time involved a man telling his new wife that if she loved him she would convert, if she was a good wife she would put on a hijab. That she has to stop drinking now, she is not allowed to smoke (thought some of these things brothers do not practice themselves!)
There are so many problems with this attitude, within the relationship and society at large. The idea of a “good wife” converting for her husband is ridiculous-if she converts because of you and not because of God her faith will mean nothing. As you come and go so will her faith, because it is based on a man and for a man, not the Divine. And whatever she finds to dislike in you, will be reflected in her dislike for the faith.
Also, and this is my own extrapolation, I think one of the underlying issues here is the unwillingness to work on oneself. I think a lot of these men are of the mentality that if they find a white woman and turn her into a perfect Muslim, they will go straight to heaven. But really, the only sure way to heaven is to work on yourself; start praying five times a day, fast often, stop smoking, turn inwards, supplicate for guidance.
Gambling your salvation and someone else’s is just not worth it.
You know why? For all this man’s efforts to turn this woman into a perfect Muslim wife, he turned her farther and farther from Islam. Now whenever I talk to her she tells me, “you are really nice, but this religion, it is just bad. I will never follow this religion.”
How sad is that? And nothing I try to tell her can change her mind now.
The second instance was much the same, with different details. Man marries a European woman, she willingly converts, and then he uses this as an excuse to be overbearing, controlling, and lazy.
Much the same rhetoric: You can’t see these people now that you’re Muslim, I don’t like you talking to this person, you have to do the cooking, you have to do the cleaning, I don’t want you going out without me, Islam says you have to listen to me.
Much the same outcome: she never returns my salaam anymore, she doesn’t want to talk about faith or other convert-y things that we used to talk about, he walked out of her life and she sent Islam right out the door with him.
She was halfway there, she had converted. And now she has left Islam, why? Because of your ego? Because of your made-up rules, based solely on your cultural notions of Islam?
Narrated by Aisha, the Prophet (pbuh) said, “The best of you is he who is good to his family, and I am the best to my family.” al-Tirmidhi 3252
I thank God every day that my husband was so open and supportive throughout my conversion process. He often tells me that he “felt” it even in the beginning, that I would convert, but I never knew that while I was thinking about it. He never once told me that I “should” do this or I “have to” do that. He supported me when I needed it, answered my questions when I had them, but otherwise left me alone to make my decision. And now I am so happy with that decision, I would not trade it for the world.
Because all of my decisions regarding Islam are for God, not for any person on this earth.
So before you go marrying women (or vice-versa!) for the sole purpose of racking up the converts on your scale of deeds, ask yourself, am I ready? Am I presenting the best representation of Islam that I possibly can? Am I doing this for her, because I love her, or am I doing it because I want a wife that fits my ideals? Am I practising what I preach, and I am preaching it in a kind and supportive way instead of just handing her the law book?
And most importantly, am I ready for the consequences if this woman turns away from Islam because of my conduct?