Assalaamu Alaykum Wa Rahmatullahi Wa Barakatuhu,
I’ve been going through a period of introspection lately, as I often do, every few months or year or two but this time it’s been much deeper and broader in scope than anything I’ve probably done since I said my Shahadah nearly 16 (lunar) years ago and indeed has lasted months not the days or weeks it has before.
Normally I pause, I reflect, maybe do a bit of research and ask people I trust around me and I correct my course slightly but still moving onward and upward again in the same direction more or less but this time it I find myself unable to move on again, I am frozen in place, and think I must choose a different path to what I’ve been on before.
Do they not think deeply about themselves? Allah has created not the heavens and the earth, and all that is between them, except with truth and for an appointed term. And indeed many of mankind deny the Meeting with their Lord.
Quran translation, Surah Ar-Rum, 8:8
I’ve come to realise the image of myself I have in my head, which in some ways is a reflection of what others think of me in the community and that I’ve taken their word for is not actually true. It is not me as I know me truly or a accurate reflection of how I feel in my interactions with others and I am not being honest with them, or my family or myself to continue this lie, and it is a lie in part at least.
Until now I thought myself in some ways a deep thinker, an activist, a Da’ee, a caller to the truth, the community reformer, even if only on a very modest scale but the truth is I am far from these things, I barely have mastery of my own household and it’s development or reform, or indeed of myself which is where the heart of this problem I think comes from.
Like many other reverts, almost since I said my Shahadah I’ve been pushed into this role, and that’s not to blame others, I’ve relished it, and ran with it from the beginning, and the mistake of faking becoming this thing I am not, of fooling myself is my own and no one else’s.
This has really hit home this ramadhan and especially last night at a community iftar meal, when I was speaking to an elderly brother who I know thinks a great deal of the work I do in the community. We spoke about family, and also homeschooling and he made mention how it must be good for the kids to benefit from a father who is able to teach them so much in terms of the deen and life.
I had to be truthful, tell him straight up this is not me, I do a little, but barely anything in terms of my kids Islamic education, or indeed other educational needs other than offering words of advice as any father would, that such lessons are taken up by my wife, my children’s devoted mother who has in her efforts to become a better home-schooler educated herself in ways I have not over the years.
This conversation, though brief prayed upon me all night, stopped me sleeping even the little hours I had to sleep, though the migraine which came in the middle which jammed the on-switch on my brain probably didn’t help, but this discussion played over and over in my mind summed up neatly my thoughts through many wakeful nights these past few months.
I know my own weaknesses, I cannot allow the assumptions of others that I am someone good or great at what I do to hide the truth, at least to myself that I am not that person they think I am. Allah knows the truth, I know the truth and I am not really helping anyone, least of all myself to continue to pretend otherwise.
In the past I’ve fooled myself I would change, become this person as time went on as I lived it, but looking back to my recent past this has just not happened, and I think for the past few years I’ve known this and hidden it deep within myself.
“It is in the nature of the human being to seek a justification for his actions.”
– Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago, 1918-1956: An Experiment in Literary Investigation V-VII
I am only child in the fields I dabble in, fundamentally lacking in anything more than basic knowledge and so unable to enact change in anyway like the effectiveness I wish I could achieve.
My self development over the years has been severely lacking, forget learning arabic I am still struggling with reading the Quran fluently after 16 years of Islam and though languages is the one major area of learning I struggle with, I’ve allowed this difficulty to stop me even trying in anything like a meaningful way.
This Ramadhan has been the first time in years I have regularly prayed my sunnah prayers, rather than just the fard ones, my practice and knowledge is severely lacking yet the classes, the access to knowledge and skills was out there, I allowed myself to be distracted by being busy, but in an ineffectual manner.
In other fields I have a cursory understanding and knowledge, and being the one eyed man I’ve allowed myself to be setup as a ruler or at least and adviser among the blind when I know I can be, and should be far more.
In every aspect of my life I am falling short, deeni and other education, health and fitness, character and moral fibre, family and home, community and social life, career and wealth.
I am spread thin, running from area to area, helping this person or that project at an individual or small scale yes, but failing to build systems which could help enact change on the level on which it needs to take place.
It’s just not enough. I need to withdraw, reeducate myself, strengthen my being, redefine who I am internally and then have that reflected externally, so I become the man I know I could be, which others now wrongly think I am.
If I don’t the alternative is to know I ultimately fail in life. Myself, my family, my community and ultimately Allah who has the parameters of my being and how far I could truly go if only I pushed myself as I should and who knows how short I fall in reaching those limits.
So I am not running away, not exactly. I cannot stop everything which I have been doing, the need is too great and others are not yet willing to pick up those burdens but I am over the coming months going to be withdrawing from some activities where I can, taking up less new projects, freeing up the time I need, the space I need to grow and learn and become who I know I need to be.
I need my space each month, my time away in the cave of Hira, relaxation and reflection and not to be so busy with life and activism that I am stuck in being the role rather than becoming the man who can truly fulfill it as it needs to be filled.
For those worried about such things, I am not burned out, far from it, I am more determined than ever but I know continuing the way I have been for so long would ultimately lead me to that end, I’ve seen enough activists fall over the years to see the warning signs in myself and to take steps to avoid them if Allah wills it.
Writing is also something which I have neglected and I’ll probably be blogging more over this time also, I find I need to vent, and find the truth in what psychologists say, that far from thinking before we speak, instead giving word to my innermost thoughts helps me clarify what is true and good for me and others. I need to hear the words, or see them written to see the truth in them or not.
It is my sincere hope, that if Allah wills it, I can come back in a few years as a better man, someone people can genuinely look up to but I am not willing to keep living right now as someone I am not and if not at least I will have tried.
Assalaamu Alaykum Wa Rahmatullahi Wa Barakatuhu,
“What we’re seeing on the streets of Birmingham and tower hamlets has not come out of the blue. It’s been building for generations. When we have drug dealers in our communities poisoning children the community turned a blind eye, some glorified them, others praised their mansions in Pakistan, the mosques happily accepted their money and prayed their funerals. When they acted out violence on the streets, we gave them respect and reverence, we looked up to them and we stayed silent. Then the younger generations saw them as their role models, we praised them fighting dogs, didn’t question where their money was coming from, the drugs, the fraud, the extortion. These criminals posed with local councillors, supported them and sometimes were from their extended families.
We were quick to take the moral high ground about atrocities around the world but remained silent on the thugs among our midst.
What we are seeing now is what we have been complicit in for years. Harsher sentencing and tougher policing won’t solve this. The solution must come from the communities where these people live and act unashamedly.”
~ Assed Baig
Assalaamu Alaykum brothers and sisters,
I saw the above image on my facebook feed and it really struck me as being totally true and the answer to so many of our problems in life, whether with others or even ourselves.
Yes, often people are stuck in terrible situations they just cannot get out of, either ones they’ve made themselves, or been trapped in by others, and in such situations sabr is the solution alongside turning to Allah in du’a and other means.
But too often, when we are looking at a problem objectively it not becomes clear there are opportunities along the way to stop the abuse, or evils taking place, to actively remove a harm but that the victim’s sabr in the face of problems actively contributed to it’s continuation or even makes things worse.
Advising sabr in such a situation as a long term ‘solution’ is not helpful, it’s absolutely harmful but it’s the first response, almost the default response from so many imams, community leaders, elders etc.
Important topic for the Muslims to learn about, something the jahil ignorant Muslims are ignorant about, to the extent they are falling into arguments and fitnah.
Especially with the disbelievers using this topic to attack the emaan of Muslims, and even one well known speaker expressing doubts about the Quran because of this topic.
May Allah guide us all to the truth, firm understanding and protect us from doubt, ameen
Another common orientalist trope in Western media: The sad Muslim bride forced into marriage. But this is not Western media. It is Aljazeera.
Reflect on the hypocrisy on display with Western culture. It is considered healthy and acceptable for children as young as kindergarten (5 year olds) to “explore their sexual identities” or even their gender. It is perfectly acceptable for school children (6-12 year olds) to be involved with sexting and sexual relationships (as long as it is “safe” sex!). It is natural for high school kids (13-18 year olds) to be sexually active and fornicate to their hearts’ content. Only the “late bloomers” are still virgins by freshmen year of college.
But if a 15 year old gets married, suddenly that is a human rights violation and a crime against humanity?
Western standards of sex and marriage are projected onto the rest of the world, but to understand these practices, we have to understand the larger social context. Within kinship-based societies, marriage has more than just romantic significance. It has economic and social significance as well. Getting married is an important way to connect families and to create larger networks of support and economic opportunity. Marriage is also the primary avenue of socialization and religious development for young adults.
None of this makes sense from a Western paradigm because Western states have systematically destroyed kinship structures and destroyed the family unit, forcing their populations into an atomized existence, where all must be servile to the state and its corporate subsidiaries.
Westerners can understand these marriages with a simple analogy. Marriage in kinship-based societies is an institution analogous to formal education as an institution in Western states. In the West, children are *forced* — against their will — to attend primary school education and then college. This schooling is a means of socialization (i.e., tarbiyya) and often is the only path to economic opportunity and social mobility.
Of course, “education” is glamorized in modern discourse, but the reality for many people is that their education buys them a spot as a lowly cog in the engine of corporate drudgery, and only if they’re lucky. The vast majority have to content themselves as blue collar or service workers slogging long hours to scrape out a modest living. This is what education buys them, yet we are keen to export this panacea to the rest of the world, i.e., to make sure the poor girls of Niger leave their “forced” marriages to “willingly” go work in the sweatshop. I mean, what other amazing career paths exist in the villages of Niger? Or Afghanistan? Or Iraq? Last time I checked, there weren’t many Fortune 500 companies opening offices in this locales. Only us lucky ones in the West get to enjoy deep, fulfilling, meaningful careers as corporate peons, toiling our lives away in order to ensure that investors see sufficient growth from one fiscal quarter to the next.
Islam is a kinship based deen. The family structure is the cornerstone of any healthy society. The majority of the maladies we see around us is due to the disintegration of this structure. We have to be aware of these larger dynamics and be prepared to defend the rationality, morality, and superiority of Islam if we want to address the attacks against the Sharia when it comes to the fiqh of marriage without resorting to superficial reactionism. Unfortunately, the reality is that the average Muslim would be scandalized by the uncensored, unabridged fiqh of nikah. That is why Aljazeera can publish trash like this without pushback.
NB: if you go through the details of this report, you can plainly see how insidious it really is. The father explains that his daughter was secretly hanging out with a specific boy, so, given the circumstances and his consideration of the situation, he said they need to get married. Seems like a good decision by all accounts. Preventing zina is so important and if there is no reason to delay, why do so? We need to be applauding this father and mother and learn from their example.
And the bride herself admits that her husband is treating her well. I bet she isn’t really even that broken up about it but that does not stop Aljazeera from making it look like the biggest tragedy of all time. When Muslim women are actually surveyed about their views on being married off early, the vast majority support it and for good reason, but don’t expect that to make CNN or BBC. They just dismiss these opinions as internalized patriarchy, false consciousness, and due to a lack of “education,” i.e., Western brainwashing.
Furthermore, look at how much they are pushing these UN aid agencies as the saviors who are “educating” the Muslims to avoid early marriage and to limit the number of children they have. This is the kind of social engineering being used to fundamentally disrupt and corrupt the Muslim world under the guise of aid. In reality, it is a continuation of colonization.
Imām Ibn Qayyim Al-Jawziyyah (رحمه الله) said:
‘And the Religion revolves around 4 principles; i) Love, ii) Hate; and which result in either, iii) Action or iv) Abandonment.
And so whomsoever loves, hates, acts or abandons for the sake of Allāh, then they have perfected their Īmān. As in, if they love; they love for Allāh, if they hate; they hate for Allāh, if they do an action; they do it for Allāh and if they abandon something; they abandon it for Allāh.
And īmān will decrease in direct correlation to its defficieny in these 4 principles.”
Ar-Rūh “The Soul”, Publisher: Al-Maktab Al-Islāmī – page 490.
Why is it so hard to accept polygamy? Why is so excruciating to share my husband? When will I be able to feel OK about my husband having another wife?
One reply to these sorts of questions I came across really struck me: you first have to accept you don’t own your husband.
‘But of course I don’t own him!’
Well, we ideally don’t want to admit this, but there is often a sense of ownership there – ‘He’s my husband’, ‘He’s my other half’. ‘He’d never take a second wife, he wouldn’t dare!’
When we feel we own something, we have power over what happens to it. But no one owns anyone – Islam promotes abolishing slavery – and we are only owned by Allah (SWT), we are His slaves.
Our husband is not our possession, our children are not even so; they are a trust to take care of from Allah
What we do possess is a relationship between us and our husband – and no one can take that away, bithnillah, even another wife entering the family. What may spoil this relationship is the resentment a husband might possess from feeling owned.
It’s understandable to feel threatened by another wife, by the imaginings of what your husband thinks of you because of his polygamous desires, but if he makes the effort to show you he still loves you as much as before, that your relationship has not changed. He deserves to be respected and not treated in a controlling way that pushes him away. ‘If you marry another wife, I’m leaving,’ or ‘If you want polygamy, I want a divorce.’ These threats will be seen as controlling and manipulative, and if there is no other valid reason to end the relationship, they are best avoided.
When we recognize that only Allah (SWT) has the power to allow your husband to get into polygam,y and whatever we say or do will not change the outcome, there can be a sense of peace, especially for those whose husband seems to be pursuing a subsequent wife on a regular basis. Of course, we can communicate our feelings and hurt about the situation – maybe there is something a husband can say or do to ease the pain.
When we relinquish ownership of our husband, we also gain the freedom ourselves to accept polygamy. We then realize our husband chooses to come back to us, not because he is chained in a relationship, but because he wants to and he wants you.
I know being in this situation is hard, and can feel painful to your core – you just want it to go away. I hope some of the perspectives I am writing about ease that pain a tiny bit. Do let me know if this is the case, or any other comments you may have down in the comments section, or join the discussions on our Facebook page and follow Polygamy Unpicked on Twitter
‘Umar Ibn Al-Khattaab (ra) encouraged the people to perform marriages with different tribes, so that love would develop amongst the people. Therefore, a slave went to a man from the Quraysh and asked him to marry his sister to him, which the latter refused.
‘Umar went to that man and asked him, “Why did you not marry your sister to him? He is a talented and pious individual. You should seek the opinion of your sister; if she accepts the proposal then you should marry her to him.”
The man from the Quraysh accepted the advice of ‘Umar and went to his sister to ask her opinion. She agreed to the marriage and the married his sister to the slave.
[Al-Murtadaa, by An-Nadawee, p. 106]