Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Keepin' It Real with Muslim Men: What We Muslim Women Want and Need


By Ayisha Karim


This photo was taken within the first three days of Ramadan. My summer vacation as a high school teacher was in full effect, and I’d come to terms with the fact that my two young children, Aasiya and Hasan, would be spending most of it with their father. So, I think subconsciously, I was coping with the reality that I’d be at home alone most of our holy month of Ramadan--a month which had previously been spent deepening family bonds and cherishing early morning and evening meals with family, which served as a buffer between ourselves and the physically trying fast from food and drink during the daylight hours. I must’ve told myself that I could manage by having another living organism in the house with me, even if it was in the form of a plant, as seen in the photo, ironically in my almost five year old son’s carseat.
For single Muslim women, Ramadan is a critical time: 1) We become acutely aware of our singleness (and remember, I’ve only been single for 3 years), and 2) considering that “the gates of Hell are closed,” miracles are likely to occur, and prayers are easily answered, we spend great periods of time praying for an ideal mate. Well, let’s just say I wrote the core message of this post, which follows below, in the last ten days of the month. Perhaps it was my last plea to the Universe to expedite delivering my ideal mate to me. Just kidding.

Lastly, I’ll say that the peculiar dynamic existing in the African American Muslim community is the backdrop to the message below. Considering that many of the African American, single Muslim women that I associate with, and myself first and foremost, are already financially ‘ok’ as professional, salary-earning women, we are not hard pressed or inclined to desire and look for a mate who will solely be a financial provider. We’re looking for other traits in treatment and maintenance from our men. I argue that we’re often primarily looking for a mate who will protect and maintain the purity of our hearts, or at least assist in that process, as we seek entry into Jannah. Please, enjoy the following, and stay tuned for co-writer of HagarLives blog, Jamillah Karim, who has more to say about singlehood of Muslim women in particular.
June 20, 2017 (Ramadan 25, 1438)
**Important Message for Muslim MEN, married and single (and their wives, and the women who love, support and seek them out)

Bismillah,
I'm sharing now what's been on my heart recently and which recent events have made more pressing and relevant: the ROLE of Muslim men & what we, women, need (crave, desire, and hope to receive) from you.

1. God, in our Holy Book, has already instructed you to be the “providers/maintainers and protectors of women.” Many of you (and your wives) focus on the “providing” part of that: material provision. Yes, that's important. BUT realize that God created you with that already in your very essence and nature. Thus, you WILL do that in your own way, using your allotted material means to provide for the woman/women in your care. Plus, society reinforces this definition of male “provider.” BUT THAT'S NOT ALL. What are the women looking for in the MAN?

2. I believe that times are calling for us to return to this ayah and God's assignment for MUSLIM MEN. Particularly, I want to focus on the PROTECTING and maintaining part: both the physical and, maybe more so, the spiritual/emotional/psychological part. If we don't focus on ALL aspects of this CRITICAL role of Men, as ordained by God, then there will continue to be a harmful imbalance in our communities.

*SO, to MY STRONG, WONDERFUL, STRIVING Muslim Men: We, women, need you to PROTECT both our physical bodies, and right along with that, our emotional, spiritual bodies and lives. Furthermore, we need you to protect our HEARTS! After all, if so much of our faith revolves around the constant PURIFICATION OF THE HEART, what better way is there for a man to *provide & protect* for his women than by familiarizing himself with the matters of the heart and the nature of women, and doing all in his power, in his God-given male makeup, to serve, provide, protect, and cultivate that essence? Ameen.

Should I be more explicit? Well, for starters, in more worldly terms, stop with the games!! There is a time and place for strategy. Let God's Word guide and dictate your actions more than your EGO! Don't be greedy! And if you're considering polygyny, come correct!! Do so in a way that includes, honors, and protects your wife, children, family, and community. **We, women and children, are watching. We’re wiser and more in tune with our spirituality than you think. We SEE the inconsistencies in your thinking and method and the weaknesses in your heart.

3. “HOW does the male go about doing this?” you might ask. "How does he best equip himself to fulfill such an honorable role?" First, by constantly striving to purify his OWN heart by SIMPLY, sincerely submitting his will to God, i.e., acting like a “Muslim”:
Say: I am Muslim, I believe, and thereafter be UPRIGHT! Study God's word, Qur'an. Next, study the Sunnah, character and way, of our beloved Prophet (saws)!! Alongside that, read up on and explore his relationships with the women around him, particularly, his wives, the Mothers of the Believers.There are some beautiful stories, books, out there. Be taken by, and fall in love with, the ways in which he honored and protected and invested in the woman around him...and NOT just his wives, but ALL of the women in his community. Hmmm... <3

4. And WOMEN/Ladies!! Let the men carry out their God-ordained roles in PEACE!! With all due respect, sometimes we either restrict or try to control how our men navigate their role as provider and protector (married women in particular). OR we gradually weaken their inclination to do so by NOT demanding that they act honorably with us women, in general, and single, seeking women, especially.

LET ME SAY THIS and clarify with examples: Married women, your husband does NOT belong to you! He belongs to God. Let his relationship with God, his striving to reach and please Him, COME BEFORE his relationship with YOU! (Feel me?) And don't worship, believe in, and seek to please your man MORE THAN you strive to please God.

TRUST your husbands when they go beyond the marriage bond and seek to honorably engage with other God-fearing women in the community. Don't let jealousy and Satan's whispers drive you to insanity, paranoia, and the weakening of the sacred bond that you have with your husband. Although it may be difficult, try to get away from this "MY MAN" mentality. (Note to self too.) Trust me, I sometimes struggled with this very thing when I was married. And funny, even now, when I find myself attracted to a man, I feel that POSSESSIVE spirit kicking in, I seek refuge, and remind myself that these men don't and never will BELONG to us! Yes, we have rights over them, and they over us, but the moment we start thinking we own them as our husbands, we begin to lose that FREEDOM and salvation from the Hell Fire (on earth) that God has intended for us. (And by the way, since this message originally began to the men, your wives do not belong to you either.)

Single women (myself now included): DEMAND respect. Yes, and trust me, I know this is not always as simple or cut and dry as others make it seem. But we must encourage men to be men, honorable men. If we allow men to disrespect us, they are likely to disrespect themselves, the wombs that bore them, and other women later on. WE ARE BUILDING COMMUNITY; WE ARE KHALIFAH. We gotta keep it tight; our survival and success as a community depends on it.

Don’t let us be the ones who contribute to our men losing their rightful place in Heaven (on earth). Instead, let's encourage one another to hear & obey. **I know, I know, it's hard. It's not easy or fun living the single life, but let us be patient and know that God's promise is true. And lastly, let us step aside and give our men space to choose and get to know their future mates. May we want for our sisters what we want for ourselves. Let us be dignified and honorable. I'll stop there. <3

Oh, Allah, give us Allah in all that we do, in all that we seek and strive for, and in our relationships and marriages. Ameen.

Oh, Allah, God, please, let not my writing this prolong my search to find my mate :-). Instead, bless me and my sisters with mates that are a comfort to our eyes and hearts. Bless us with mates, in whose very makeup and essence we see You, O God. Let them possess many of your divine qualities on a human scale. And, let us recognize and welcome them when they arrive.

You are the Most Merciful of those who show Mercy, Ar-Raheem; you are the One who provides, Ar-Razzaaq; you are the One who protects, Al-Muhaymin; you are the One who Loves and places love & mercy between our hearts, Al-Wadud; you are the most Wise and Know what is Best for our lives, Al-Hakeem, Al-Aalim; and you are the One who will carry us on this path with gentleness and ease and with a patient spirit, Al-Lateef, As-Sabur.
Ameen!