Recently I was talking to some of you younger girls (than me) individually about various topics like marriage, career, life, etc. and I realized: YOU GUYS!!! You’re making the same mistakes my generation made!! Bad bad bad……. So that reminded me that ever since starting this blog I’ve wanted to write down some thoughts for you young’uns… you know who you are… a lot of you just graduated too in a nice little koinkydink!…. I mean the GIRLzz BTW… (boyzzz y’all can just stop right here and tune in next week for the next topic specifically for guys, because here I’ll be talking about things like periods, menstrual cycles, feminine hygiene products, etc!!)
…So Watchu Momma Never Told You….
On choosing a major:
Don’t look at the predictions for the ‘hot jobs’ or ‘best industries’. Back when I was choosing a major, IT was said to be the ‘wave of the future’ and indestructible, and of course look at the dot com bust and the current recession! Even if you want to be… say… a doctor (M.oney Doc not a P.oor H.ungry D.oc hehe) what if in the future the economy gets so bad, the middle class rises up and insists on universal health care and every doctor gets paid the same as teachers!! (SACRILEGE!!!) So there are tons of predictions and waves and whatever so you can’t really choose the best industries or what’s going to happen to the economy in the future, the important thing is to find something you’re really interested in and like.
When you start working you’re going to be working from 9am to 5pm almost every day of your life doing the same thing over and over again. It’s going to be your life! It’s important to find something you really like and love to do and could do all day every day! It would be good if you could go and follow someone who’s doing that job also before you decide. So volunteer at an office, hospital, work part-time in your industry. That way you can see how things are every day for that job and decide what you want to do! This might sound sexist but as women and later on in life you may wish to work part time or have something that’s more flexible. So being an architectural engineer (yeah I made that job up!) working in the field 7 days a work may be great now but how’s that going to work with your future family life? (iA) Think about these things. You never know what life will bring but at least you can try to be somewhat happy careerwise. I’ll add something here about encouraging you all to look into fields besides the usual engineering and medicine. As a Muslim we should be making Islam a part of our daily life and wouldn’t it be great if our job was part of that, like in journalism or education or counseling or political science or the arts or social work. You can make a living doing other things!! Believe me, hating your job and waking up every day at 6am knowing you hate your job, your boss, your work etc etc really kills someone’s soul and Muslim spirit.
On thinking about marriage:
It’s a good idea to start looking for someone right after high school during your college years. YES I SAID IT. This is the time when there are the most single good Muslim people around that you can get to know personally in an active environment. After college it’s extremely hard to even MEET any other Muslims and you’re just so busy and all the good ppl get snapped up! So don’t sit back, and don’t wait. Make it a priority! You don’t have to get married right then, you can always wait and get engaged or get married later or whatever, but it’s definitely the best time to find someone or at least establish some good friend networks that are very helpful in the future. The #1 way people get married is through friends. (not counting arranged marriages) Nowadays people are getting married much later and it’s normal for people to get married in their early 30s even but believe me when I say a lot of factors make it much, much harder. Especially for sisters. More on this later.
Ok I know some of you girls are all into this “soulmate idea” and that it’ll “happen when it happens” so why should I do anything I’ll just sit here and look pretty and wait for it to happen. Uhhhhhhhhm. Ok. We should have Tawakkul and we do believe in Qadr and it will happen when it happens, but we have to tie our camel too. Take an interest at least. When your parents give you “the talk” about marriage for the first time make sure you’re ready and tell them the 4 most important things you’re looking for. When someone mentions someone for marriage don’t refuse them outright. Take a chance and see if it’s something possible. If it ends up not to your liking, that’s fine and ok too.
Maybe we all watched too many Indian movies or something but what is wrong with marrying someone who is not your soulmate (if you believe in that concept) but still makes you happy. Does that not mean that other person is really your soulmate? So why are you focused on ONE, The ONE as some girls say.
On that ‘ideal spouse’:
So this is what happens every ‘generation’. There’s always that ONE girl, the pretty, cute, smart, religious, sweet one. (or so it appears to guys) and EVERY guy likes her. Why is that? Cuz’ guys are stupid. (I’ll get into this more in a later post… maybe one specifically for the guys so they can think about some things!! Hey girls are stupid too sometimes I’m equal opportunity here!) But it always happens without FAIL in every group. So this one girl gets hundreds… ok a handful plus more proposals and she ends up accepting the AWESOMEST guy. The guy who has everything… comes from a good family, is young, hafiz-like, yet still can tell a joke like azher usman, is msa president, has the perfect education/potential job setup and is gorgeous to boot. After the most beautiful, extravagant wedding of the season, within a year she’s living in a beautiful place and has the PERFECT LIFE. (or so it seems to us) So…….. what happens when that guy that hasn’t finished his degree shows up at your door? That guy who’s a little older? That guy who’s kinda fobby? That guy who’s in school but works at the pizza shop right now. That new convert guy? That guy that doesn’t really have a perfect 5-10-15 year plan.
We as girls just always have this ideal in our minds that we’re always looking for and… we’ll never find. Sometimes we think we’ve found it like when we observe ‘perfect guy’ or that one guy we’re infatuated with. But no one is ever perfect. Ask every girl that has gotten married, even before she gets married, she will tell you the same thing. Every girl who gets married has compromised in some way to marry that guy (except ‘perfect girl’ of course!) because people are not perfect! So my advice here is to take every guy as a separate entity and evaluate his strengths and weaknesses. You can even take out a piece of paper and do it… advantages column/ disadvantages column. Do istikharah a lot too. You’ll find your answer, but the sooner you understand the difference between your “ideal” and “what you’re looking for” the better.
‘Talking’ with boys:
Let’s move on to the main thing I want to talk about – a very important topic: the ‘talking with boys’. (Meaning not just ‘talking’, but hanging out with, flirting online and in person, having relationships with, etc.) Yeah remember when your Mom was like ‘no talking to boysss!’ and the Arabic Shaykh guy who got this anonymous question on a folded-like-origami-piece-of-ripped-out-notebook-paper at the Mosque answered ‘Haaaaaaaaaaaraaam’. Yeah and remember when you were like maaan they are so dumb and old fashioned and you continued to aim/facebook/twitter/text (whatever you guys do nowadays!) the guy. Let me tell you something… do you think you guys invented talking to boys?? HAH!! We were doing it wayyy before you, when you were still like 12 or something! (BTW one time we tried to explain this to you girls at a mosque sleepover but I don’t think you guys understood and one of the older girls said to me “They’ll never listen. They’ll just make the same mistakes we did.” To which I quote Luke Skywalker-like, “NooOOOoooooooooooooo” We have to break the cycle somehow!)
Anyway what I’m saying is that I know you guys do it, as we did, but there are some inherent things in this ‘talking to guys’ thing that is totally not beneficial for you, especially as a girl. First we have to understand that as human beings Allah put something inside us all that makes us have this inherent need for a spouse, for companionship with the opposite sex. (not talking about sex here, companionship) So we are always looking for this, especially in our 20s. (See Maslows hierarchy of needs for any of u psych majors) As desis, arabs etc and how today’s world works makes us wait many many years before we are actually given this. So in the meantime this need is fulfilled in these ‘platonic’ friendships with guys. So what’s wrong with this you’d say…. I can’t tell you the countless countless needless heartbreak, drama, issues, friend problems, family problems that develop from this. Again this is going to sound sexist, but I really believe that Allah put something different in a woman’s heart. For us the more we get to know someone the more we develop feelings for them. Guys are more easily able to block their emotions. They can be ‘friends’ with a girl for years and never think anything of it.
Abdullah Adhami talked about this in his tape set where he said girls are very vulnerable because they are looking for this friendship and love and many guys are looking for fulfilling their need of companionship with a girl but are able to separate that from considering her for a serious relationship. I’m not saying these guys are using you, but I’m saying they do a lot of these things unconsciously like you do and while you can tell yourself ‘we’re just friends’ all you want and make up all these excuses like ‘it’s for the sake of finding out about marriage’ or ‘i can be friends without developing feelings’, I’m gonna call u a liar. Cause you have girl friends, what do you need him for? There’s something that keeps you talking to him.
So for us, our hearts are vulnerable just by it’s nature. I know many girls who continued ‘talking’ ‘being’ with a guy for long periods of time, even years, even through engagement but in the end the guy changed his mind, or found someone else, or in the end couldn’t convince his family or go against his family, or married his cousin. Where does that leave the girl?? With a broken heart. And I’m telling you I can tell you almost EVERY girl in my generation has gone through this. There really is a reason why Allah puts these boundaries here for us, it’s not to keep us from “physical contact or sex” but it’s there to protect our hearts which I’ll argue is the point of Islam in all it’s aspects. Throughout the rishta process and even if people are engaged there are still rules and limits there. Allah is protecting us, but of course we never listen.
Talking and TALKING:
So I’m not saying never talk to a guy but you know the difference between ‘talking’ about business or msa or whatever and TALKING. I know you know the difference, but let me tell you the line there is as thin as a hair and a slippery slope, so easy to pass before you know it, so you have to be constantly on your guard. You should be clear about the reason why you’re talking to a guy. Is it unconsciously for the purposes of marriage? If so, why is it so shady, why doesn’t your family know about it? Why aren’t his, and your intentions clear? If these are all ambiguous, you’re in trouble. There’s no need to discuss your every day life with a guy for hours. There’s no need to talk to a guy late at night online or on the phone about this or that. There’s no need to discuss what you’re looking for with him unless he’s a real rishta. There’s no need to text a guy. I mean why do it? A real guy who is interested in you will be above board about everything and take you and your family’s concerns to heart. He will be open about things and do things in a decent way. The guy you marry will NOT be shady about things. Do you really think the guy that writes “‘sup u look hot n dat pic” on your facebook wall is a decent guy that’s going to marry you? [Furthermore, what exactly are girls advertising when they put up pinup pics of themselves that would do Playboy proud?] A real relationship will never be an ambiguous “does he like me? do i like him?” Pop quiz: Do Muslim guys go against their families to marry someone other than what their families want? No they don’t. Some girls might, but guys never do. Do you know how many drama Indian movies have gone on in this and other communities over trying to change parent’s minds. Also another aspect of guys (or girls) being stupid :), if they think they can get something better they will. AND they will often keep girls in ‘reserve’ just in case something else doesn’t work out. AND they will often exploit a girl for her companionship, to not feel lonely and to feel good about themselves. (unconsciously of course)
An interesting thing a modern shaykh said way back in the early days: He was talking to a girls only MYNA group and suggested that as an exercise girls should wear hijab while talking online to brothers. Now think about why he said that and how your interactions would be different if you did and why they’re different when you don’t.
I was going to tell story after story of heartbreak, pain, family drama and disillusionment here to prove my point of how these things come to bad ends, especially for girls, but I think the examples won’t matter unless you’re willing to listen. (And they might be too recognizable and some people would kill me!) Also, I feel that these things are some ugly past secrets of my generation and I don’t want to break that trust, but if you really need to be convinced because something’s going on right now, come to me in person and I guarantee you’ll be shocked by what you little ‘uns dont know. You might think it’s ok to have a shady relationship as long as you actually marry the guy. Well, I’ll posit that it’ll negatively affect you, your future marriage and your family. After all, more couples who live with each other before getting married get divorced than those who don’t. Ask yourself why.
Again, we have all gone through it before, you’re not doing anything new and good luck if you think your result is going to come out different.
I am the first person to say you cannot control who you fall in love with, but you can protect your heart, like I said above, until you find someone decent and deserving of it.
Anyway enough said, you’re probably in denial and will realize this all on ur own one day, but here’s hoping.
NEVER burn your bridges:
Never burn your bridges in anything……. As people we like to feel we are progressing so when we leave that old job or that old school or old city, we want to just cut off all ties and move on. But see, having those ties are EXTREMELY helpful later in life. Need a place to stay or a guide when you go somewhere… no prob you have friends everywhere. Trying to expand your ‘potentials’ database…all those college friends will come through for you. Need a reference for a new job, need to look for a new job.. your old co-workers/boss are there to help. Don’t insult or abuse or break off ties with anyone on purpose even if you have reason. There is a reason why Allah makes such a heavy emphasis on never cutting off the family ties. It’s because you need them and they need you, the same as other people you meet throughout your life. There is an extremely wise Hadith that says (paraphrasing) don’t ever love or hate someone with too much passion, because one day you might come to love the person you hated, or hate the person you loved. And seriously this happens in life. People who I absolutely hated when I was younger have ended up as close supporters, people who I really loved ended up hurting and disappointing me the most. As Muslims we should always learn from the Prophet’s (s) example and treat everyone with Ihsan. Leaving people with a good memory or impression of you, trying to get over grudges and rectifying things with people. These are Islamic concepts and in the end they also end up helping us in life.
Stop being ‘too nice’ :
Since I run my own website I’ve had my share of stalkers over the years. One day iA I’ll write a whole blog post that will make your hair stand on end. With the world becoming more and more online including social networking it’s just increased the amount of crazy guys, or maybe the easy access and being online made them crazy! Either way it’s so easy to become a victim. But you don’t need to be. If you’re not interested in someone tell them outright and be clear. Use your parents if you have to. It isn’t fair to you or to him to keep someone on a string like that because you’re too “nice to hurt someone’s feelings”.
There’s two kind of stalkers, the good ones… who just follow you around and try to keep talking to you in hopes of something, and the bad one that doesn’t really like you or was rebuffed and has a lot of animosity but does the same as the first. And incredibly enough stalkers can be of your own gender too! So besides taking preventive measures like never revealing your last name or knowing someone in person first before interacting too much with them or keeping everyone on limited profile, if someone does try to get too close, just cut them off. Seriously, it’s for their benefit as well as yours.
For the freaks, every email service, facebook whatever will have a way that you can block that person or report them. Use those and if you’re still having problems find someone who knows how those things work and can help you. Fight back, you may be helping some other sister down the line. Unfortunately some forums and other online things take harassment and stalking lightly, but others don’t, like mine — we have a zero tolerance policy. You don’t need to put up with it and you shouldn’t have to. Not just cuz stalking is the biggest precursor to crimes, but for Muslims girls they result in other wack things. And believe me, some stalkers will do everything they can to ruin your life, including stealing your data, making up lies about you and spreading it, ruining your relationships. Even for the ‘good’ ones, the guys need to learn that their behavior shouldn’t be tolerated from the beginning and they need to figure out how to interact normally with girls. I’ve seen some girls just be casual about it or let it go on like forever ‘cuz you’re too nice. But it’s not right for you or him so break it off as cleanly as possible. This goes for in person or online.
Don’t make decisions with ‘what if’:
Don’t live your life making each decision thinking ‘what if’. ‘What if’ could happen but ‘what if’ could not happen. So just take your time and do all those things you’ve always wanted to do in life. Travel, buy things, invest, climb mountains, whatever. I wish 10 years ago that I bought this new car. I was going to, but then I thought ‘What if I get married…I might need this or that’. (Yet I still coulda kept my car or sold it at a good price or whatever) A friend of mine recently said, ‘I wanted to travel overseas right after college but then my Mom was like you can travel after you get married! and I thought I should be responsible and stay home and work and socialize with people. But now I’m locked into my job and can’t leave and a friend of mine just met someone in a desert somewhere!’ Yeah so as girls we’re always trained to sacrifice our own selves for others, and now we’re sacrificing ourselves for “future what-if concepts” like marriage, family whatever!!
I have a lot of haters. It’s ok I’ve gotten over it. I learned a long, long time ago that if you’re going to do anything at all in life besides sit there and do nothing, someone is going to disagree with you, criticize you, be jealous of you or hate you for it. You’ll simply never be able to do anything in life without having someone not like you for it. Guys or girls. Heck, even some of these blog posts have caused some “friends” to “de-friend” me!! What can I say.. people are very insecure and there’s a lot of drama out there in the world. Ever read that bumper sticker “Well behaved women rarely make history”? Yes, it’s true. All these revolutionary ladies from non-Muslim and Muslim tradition have all had major detractors and haters. Don’t you remember as far back as the Prophet (s) where people didn’t like Aisha [ra] because of the ‘power’ she held over the Prophet(s). I even heard some sisters called an organizer of an Islamic event a sl*t. Jeeez Why???!!! There’s always naysayers, people who are jealous, or just plain people who disagree with what you’re doing. But don’t let that stop you. The way I look at it is if people are against what you’re doing or don’t like you, that means you’re actually doing something noteworthy, standing for a principle or trying to change and improve something. If you believe in something, keep going. And if you can smile at the haters all the better.
Ok finally the good stuff Here’s some tips (that I wish I could follow too). When you shop try to buy nicer quality maybe more expensive items that are more classic. Nicer coats, shoes, clothes, jewelry, bags. Buy only one at a time and build up a nice wardrobe. These last longer and look nicer. You can always have a few new trendy type things every season but there’s no point in buying all these trendy cute clothes every season and then by the next year they’re so out of date they sit in your closet or you’re throwing them out! The recession has made people really careful about buying stuff on sale, using coupons, keeping an eye out on stuff you like till the price goes down, going to outlet malls, comparison shopping online. Buying good quality out of season. Try to learn y’all!
Going out to restaurants. I don’t think you guys do this much but for my generation this is all we did! And it can seriously break the bank! Again try to go to the moderately priced type of places, patronizing Muslim places is always a good thing because you are supporting the families even if the food is not as good. For the more expensive restaurants try limiting your outings and here’s a tip: share a meal cuz they’re usually huge anyway and don’t buy a fancy drink!! Drinks can cost upwards of $4.95 in certain places now! There’s nothing wrong with water and hey it helps your diet too
Clutter yes, why do we all have so much junk? Do your best to keep things light and give away things you aren’t using to people who could really use them. Even things like useful books and CDs. As Muslims we know none of this stuff is going with us, so why hold on to it? There’s always those sentimental things we just need to keep, but do your best. It’s just healthier for you as a person. Do I need to mention exercise here? (Most girls are already weight obsessed.) Just try to exercise and eat well… you know all that good stuff
Anyways there’s hundreds of other money saving and life tips, like going to a library regularly instead of buying books all the time, spending time in Dhikr everyday. You don’t have to become an ascetic! Just live a moderate Muslim life that’s a little spiritual and cut out things that are not necessary (and haram! lol) and trust me you’ll be a much happier person.
Periods, Menstrual cycles, Feminine hygiene products:
Ok I have no advice. They sux and we have to live with it, but always think of it as a mercy given to us from Allah. We don’t have to pray and we don’t have to fast woohoo! Hopefully I scared the guys off with the mention of it at the beginning though
Allright………. please comment… (let the denials begin)
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