Asslaamualaikum.....I know this is a long story but I really need some opinions
I am a 24 year old Indian Muslim female from South Africa.
The lifestyle of a Muslim woman in my country is not very Islamic ally orientated.
We are allowed to study in co-ed universities, we mix a lot with the opposite sex, and we have quite a bit of freedom compared to living in a more Islamic/Shariah inclined country. Muslim sisters in my country are career orientated, with 80% having a tertiary education, and then landing a great job after. Lots of men are quite intimidated by a successful woman, and Muslim men in particular feel their pride and ego come into play when dealing with an educated woman. I don’t know if they feel like less of a man, and maybe I agree somewhat to their feelings of inadequacy, because it is the man’s job to provide for his family. But it is so hard to find a man who is strong enough within himself to date or want to get know an educated, independent woman with a well earning job.
Even though I know in Islam we cannot “date” a person, and must not be left alone with him, it does still happen. Try as we might, we cannot get away from the fact that women and men do make plans to meet up and get to know each other. I was in a three year relationship (from 19-22) with a boy that was studying with me at university. Unfortunately that didn’t work out, and in 2008 he broke up with me (which is strange because a few months ago he came back asking if we could give it another chance). It took a while for me to get over him, as I thought he would be the man I would marry. I was heartbroken, and felt at a loss in this world. I didn’t know where I fit in; I thought there was something wrong with me. He was my best friend, my everything. I thought I loved him (now I can realise that it wasn’t so much love, more obsessive controlling feelings that I had. Because I believe love shouldn’t be hard and cold and cruel, which was what our relationship was mostly about). I had to stand there and ask him “pick me, choose me, love.” And he would toy with my feelings. My family and friends begged me to leave him, as they could see he was no good for me, and was leading me down a path of destruction. I was never a “practising Muslim” as such. I read my Jumah salah and fasted during Ramadan. I was a good, naive girl, until I met him.
He didn’t force me to change my lifestyle, but of course when you keep bad company, you automatically start imitating them. So I stopped reading my salah, I never stopped believing in Allah, but I just didn’t think about life after death. All that mattered was the here and now.
After our relationship ended, I embarked on this road of self-discovery. There was no-where I could turn to but to Allah. No-one could help ease my pain and hurt, no-one could comprehend how broken and alone I felt. Even though I was surrounded and supported by my family and friends. I turned to Allah and my religion, which basically saved my life. So I am grateful for that relationship that ended for it led me into the folds of Islam. I believe all the links in our lives are so very important, they teach us many important lessons, and I would not change anything, for it helped me get closer to Allah. Over a year and a half, I changed slowly and surely for the better. I started reading my five times salah, I started trusting Allah more, and praying with concentration and humility, I started dressing more conservatively, and last year September I decided to go into Hijab. That was the best decision of my life. I love my Hijab, and feel safe and proud as a Muslim woman walking down the street.
I’m lucky in South Africa; there is not much discrimination towards Muslims. It’s not as rife, as in other western countries. I got a job at huge firm and slowly started building my life with Allah’s help and guidance. I did meet boys after my relationship ended, but there was just no spark. I am a girl who knows right off the bat if I’m interested in someone or not. I started resigning myself to the fact that maybe I will be alone for the rest of my life, as I just couldn’t find someone interesting enough to capture my attention.
Then one day, early in January 2010 I was on holiday with my family, when the most amazing man walked into my life. My family were at a restaurant having brunch, and I had slept in late at the hotel. I was feeling lazy and decided not to meet them at the restaurant, but take my time and get ready. I just wanted to relax this holiday and not rush around. But my dad called, and asked me to join them, and I agreed half-heartedly. We were a big table (as you know Indian people have huge families, uncles, aunts, cousins etc). My family is very jokey and lively, and they started teasing me to get married now. We were talking about my wedding (don’t ask me why, because I didn’t even have a man), but I found myself chatting along. Just then a man walked pass with his cousin, and my aunt said “Ash, there is a potential for you.” I barely looked up from my strawberry juice, he was cute, but I really wasn’t interested, I just felt I was jinxed when it came to relationships. About half an hour later, as we were getting up to leave, I saw the man my aunt pointed out to me, get up and slip the waitress a note. I just knew, I got this feeling in me that the note was for me, and true enough, the waitress slipped beside me before I left and handed me the note. It said “Salaams/Hi. I can’t help looking at you, you’re gorgeous. Please can we meet?” and he left his number. My aunt and mum and cousins were all teasing me, and they said I should meet up with him later. My dad obviously didn’t know anything about this.
After much persuasion from my cousin, I messaged him and we agreed to meet later in the evening. I wasn’t excited, I wasn’t feeling anything. I was so used to being disappointed in men that I didn’t expect much. Boy was I wrong.
We met that evening, and hit it off. We spoke non-stop and we walked on the beach. He was so sweet and funny. It had been so long since I connected with anyone. I really enjoyed my evening. He told me he was married before, but it ended up in divorce. That didn’t bother me, as I know divorce happens, and most of the Sahabah had even been through a few divorces.
After that we stayed in contact. He lives in a different town than where I stay, so there is the issue of distance. But maybe it’s better that way, as I feel so guilty even when holding his hand. The fact that I am in hijab means I have to do things the right way. That little piece of material comes with a lot of responsibility. We talked every night and slowly but surely we started having feelings for each other. Two months into our relationship his father passed away unexpectedly.
I really felt his pain, and was there for him through it all. I felt the way we met, and the timing of when we met was meant to be. I felt that I came into his life to be there for him during his father death. He leaned on me, and told me I was all he had left, I mustn’t leave him. It was tough, because he had various mood swings, he was nice one day and horrible the next. But my family told me to have patience, as this was as much my test as it was his.
Six months into our relationship, he is starting to heal. He is truly an amazing man, very strong and caring. Even though we hardly see each other, I am falling in love with him. And he is too. I have never felt like this for anyone in my life, not even my ex. He tells me he wants me to meet his mother, since I’m her future daughter in law, he speaks about or future lives together; he says I am his etc. And yet at other times it feels as if he wants me to see other people, he will say things like “how many other guys are you seeing?” and “one day when you married, you must never forget me.” So it confuses me at times. And then other instances he will say he is falling for me, and we have some kind of kismet connection.
But I’m so scared that something is going to go wrong, and it’s going to be snatched away from me. I know I should trust Allah, and I am still striving to get closer to our All Mighty creator, but there are days, where I just feel it’s my test to be alone, and so I want to break it off with him. I don’t want to get deep into this and then get hurt. I want to get married, and see how it goes, but I also don’t want to push him into a marriage. I want to be a wife and have kids. I adore children, and feel that one of the things I’m really good at is being with and dealing with kids.
He is 29 this year, and does want to get married again. But the mixed signals he gives me at times really confuses me. As it is, I am a Gemini, so I’m a naturally indecisive person. Then there is also the fact that what we are doing is haraam. Even being alone together or holding hands eats at me afterwards. I sit on the musilah after namaaz, and the guilt that I feel overwhelms me, and I beg Allah for forgiveness for committing all these sins.
I feel like Allah will take it all away from me as a punishment, and that’s why I want to get married and make it all halaal, but how do I force someone into it? I can’t do that. He insists that we get to know each other and maybe at the end of the year see how it goes. But the guilt I feel and also the uncertainty of his feelings for me, are causing me great distress. I don’t want to disappoint Allah, and I don’t want to get hurt, and a part of me just wants to break it off, and run away. Forget about him, block him out and cut all contact.
But then at the same time, we met under such beautiful and unusual circumstances, and never have I had a connection like this before. And when he’s father passed away, I felt like we had met, so that I could be there for him during that tough time. I just feel like we are meant to be, and its shaytaan giving me all these doubts, but then again maybe I just want to believe we are meant to be, because I don’t want to be alone.