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Finding the Right “One”

ImageWe need to sit back and first of all tell ourselves it is okay to be confused. It's okay to get in arguments with your parents about who you want to marry. It's okay to not be ready to get married yet. But it's NOT okay to string someone along for a roller coaster ride when you knew it would be that way in the first place. Today we can see many youth who are "talking/dating/exploring options" and might not know where to start.

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What is the first step?

There has been a trend lately in the whole marriage game. Or it just seems that our generation (the 20- to 30-year olds) has been eagerly seeking to move on to our next stages of life quicker than we think. It's not a bad thing, but when we take the values and "strategies" that seem to come from Western society, we see a rise in disappointed, sad, depressed, and frustrated young adults!

I like to take "mental surveys" when I talk to people around the community I live in, or even with my friends across the world, and it seems that today's view on marriage, in the young adult Muslim world, is not working too well. Many of the people I talk to have already (1) had their heart broken or have broken someone's heart, or (2) given up on "looking", or (3) decided that marriage is not for them, just not yet anyway.

What we desperately need is a reality check. Of course we are nowhere near achieving the status and ways of our beloved Ahlul Bayt (peace be upon him), but that does not mean we cannot take lesson from them due to them being "too holy". I think if we begin to change our minds on how we want our partners, our process will be much easier.

"He who knows himself, knows God." How many times have we heard this saying? I can't even count it on my fingers. How many times have we pondered about it? In my perspective, with my very little education in psychology, our main problem is that we do not know ourselves, and we run around trying to "know" others. Many a times our problem is that we do not know what we want, what our goal in life is, and what we want to do with our degrees, in our careers, in our homes…and then along comes this guy or girl we have talked to before, and yeah, we are sooo alike, I mean we both are in the same position, we could co-write a book called Muslim Youth in the West, and oh yeah, the family, racial, cultural, ethnic, Syed/non-Syed issues: call it what you want problem, we can work that out!

Wrong! Too many times we are in denial about what state our life is in. We need to sit back and first of all tell ourselves it is okay to be confused. It's okay to get in arguments with your parents about who you want to marry. It's okay to not be ready to get married yet. But it's NOT okay to string someone along for a roller coaster ride when you knew it would be that way in the first place. Today we can see many youth who are "talking/dating/exploring options" and might not know where to start. Of course we don't ask "what is your favorite sports team?" or "what is your favorite color?" in order to see if we click or not…I hope we don't, anyway. But how about asking things like:

  1. What is your goal in life?
  2. What is the most important thing in your life?
  3. Why do you want to get married?
  4. What are your expectations of your husband/wife?
  5. What areas do you want to grow in?

And many, many more that can come in conversation from there.

But the point I am trying to make is that we cannot ask others these questions if we ourselves don't know how we would answer! How can we expect to live a life 24/7 with another person – who will have their own flaws, and opinions, and ways of doing things – if we ourselves don't have control over our own desires and flaws? Now if two people like that got married – one word: PROBLEM!

Rumi says it best:
Your task is not to seek for love,
But merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.

And there it is, the answer to all of our "talking/dating/exploring our options" problems. If we don't take the advice of our Holy Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny) to sit down, take a breather, and figure out how we think, what we want in life, etc., then we will end up in heartbreak, depression, or a grand mixture of the two.

This is not to advocate waiting to get married until you feel you can say you "know what life is", because that is going to be never. But we should have some idea of what we want to do, where we want to go, and be able to honestly and confidently tell another person what our priorities are in life without having to go home later and thinking about how badly we just lied.

We cannot run around being someone we are not. We throw this word "religious" around a lot. "I want someone who is 'religious', prays, fasts, likes to eat out, and is, ya know, funny and stuff!" It's okay to want that, but when you seriously sit down and think about it, is that really what is going to help you later on when you're sitting in your apartment two weeks after your wedding, and up comes an argument about whether or not the Mrs. should be working or not? I want to start a family! I'm not ready. Why don't you read Qur'an? I never learned. Let's go to the masjid. I don't want to. I want to go to Hajj! I already bought tickets for a cruise. It's your job to make the bed. You didn't write it in your contract!

These little comments are things which can become huge problems, all stemming from the problem of one not knowing oneself enough, yet being adamant about what one expects from his/her spouse. If a girl does not want a guy whose priorities might be going on vacation before Hajj, this can be learned before getting involved. But maybe YOU don't know if you really would want to go on vacation before Hajj. Maybe you just think that because, well, it's just because everyone says it's right and you have to go anyway…so why not, right?

If you do not figure out WHO you are, there will be problems when it is going to be YOU + someone else. One of the diseases of the soul is wanting to control another person, and that is usually what happens. When two people get married, one more "figured out" than the other, the power-hungry in us comes out. Even if two people who are not "figured out" get married, they will tend to form and develop upon each other's desires, rather than what their inner nature wants them to be. Many a time we have seen cases where a Hijabi girl very easily takes her Hijab off because her hubby told her to. Or we have seen people lose sight of their religion and the Mercy of God, because the significant other maybe wasn't raised that way, or cared to even think so much about God, but never openly, or directly said that when the two were "talking/dating/exploring options."

It is these little things that count, and they will count hard. Take the time to know yourself and ask yourself those questions before you think about what you want in another person, and you will naturally find out what it is that you want in another person. Marriage has been told to be like completing half of your religion, so think wisely in your decision. There is a good way to chart inner growth, and even just to see where you stand, write down on a piece of paper the thing, quality, characteristic, or value you want in your spouse at this stage of your life, with Number 1 being the most important to you: be it honesty, sense of humor, or money. The worst thing to do is lie to yourself, so be honest.

Then sit back and look at your list. Is that what you want it to be? If yes, then that is a great start. If no, what are YOU going to do about it before getting involved with someone who may still be sitting back and wondering why they wrote what they did on their list?

About Madiha Zaidi

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  • OJ

    Very well written Madiha. Its good to chalk things out for yourself but what matrimonial experience does a ‘to be’ person has. Marriage is a lifetime bonding. No two person are same. I have yet to see the most compatible couple. A couple was asked on their 50th anniversary what kept them together. The wife said there is no “I” in the word marriage and the husband said I never corrected her spelling!

  • Ali Abbas

    I agree that it’s important for an individual to “figure themselves out” before considering marriage, but I can see both sides of the issue. “Figuring yourself out” causes many people to rigidify their personalities, which makes them very picky when it comes to marriage, and later on, it makes it very difficult for them to make compromises with their significant other. I have heard people say that this is one reason why some cultures encourage early marriage, because as the two individuals are maturing, they would (ideally) “mold” themselves to be more compatible/complementary to each other.

    Then again, as the author states, if you are about to get married, you want to have a fairly good idea of the other person’s mindset, values, and general outlook on life and not run into any unpleasant/unexpected problems later. (“I want to work full time. You cook one day, I’ll cook one day!” “WHAT?!” :o)

    Perhaps the solution lies in a balance between the two. Marriage is all about compromise, so I think it is necessary for individuals to have a somewhat rubber-like personality: your foundation (in terms of values, conservatism, etc.) should be solid, but you should be able to bend or twist a little bit and make sacrifices for the one you love. 🙂

  • Fakhar Zaidi

    this is very true….unfortunately not many of us do that…..including me… but definitely something to think about before we get married…

  • Beautiful article mashaAllah!..
    Word of advice to guys :Please know who you are and where you are heading in life before pursuing an innocent potential for marriage, the reason for that is guys tend to change their minds more often than girls, this “talking/dating/exploring options” only works in the western culture not in an Islamic culture. A woman tends to get emotionally attached to a guy if she lets her guards down in order for the guy to practice “talking/dating/exploring options”. Oftentimes when a woman allows that to happen then she is perceived as being “easy” which gives the guy another reason to change his mind, thus leaving the woman with a heartbreak where she won’t be able to trust again.

  • Yahya

    Madiha, you are the woMAN! Good job…. well written and with a good laugh in the middle.

    Media, and twisted morality have alot of youth confused these days, but insha’Allah if people take the steps that you gave in the article, then the common problems that arise will not come up as often.

  • hiddensoldier

    mashallah GREAT article! Thanks for the tips! 🙂

  • reda taleb

    very nice article, its so true, we all need to find out who we are even if we are beasts , we got to fix that to what we want our spouse to be if we cant than the right one will never found!

  • ZS

    Also, many people (both young and old) don’t actually ask themselves : will this potential spouse make the best possible mom/dad who will be able to mold the kids into pious soldiers of imam Mahdi (ATF)? Yup, we only think about this stuff when the kids are well in their teens and have no idea how to pray! :o. But then it’s too late! 😥

  • Madiha Zaidi

    Salaam All,

    First of all, ZS, thank you for that excellent point that I failed to address, and actually even think about as I wrote the article.

    What really is our goal? Do we even care to serve Imam (ajtfs) and Islam? What really is our purpose? It seems we have all become quite selfish and have forgotten the reason of our creation…marriage is not a recreation, it is encouraged, and revered so highly in Islam for a REASON…not just for fun.

    Too many times, if we sit back and think about it, we think in terms of “me,” not what Allah (SWT) asks of us…we think in terms of what will make me happy (bec that is usually our only goal, to be happy)…we tend to forget that struggling is the way of Islam…do we think that Imam Hussain (AS) sacrificed his everything to be happy?…

    InshaAllah we all personally being to do a lot more “hisaab”/taking account of our actions, and really, honestly, and sincerely reflect at where we stand…the only way we can improve, is if we set and know our expectations, and rise to reach them…we cannot improve if we don’t know where we need to.

    JazakAllah for all the comments, whatever I wrote sincerely came from my heart, and I hope is helpful to others. We should all share our perspectives on issues like this that touch base with all of us, sometimes a different perspective is what makes the difference 🙂

    • Hasnain

      [quote name=”Madiha Zaidi”]Salaam All,

      First of all, ZS, thank you for that excellent point that I failed to address, and actually even think about as I wrote the article.

      What really is our goal? Do we even care to serve Imam (ajtfs) and Islam? What really is our purpose? It seems we have all become quite selfish and have forgotten the reason of our creation…marriage is not a recreation, it is encouraged, and revered so highly in Islam for a REASON…not just for fun.

      Too many times, if we sit back and think about it, we think in terms of “me,” not what Allah (SWT) asks of us…we think in terms of what will make me happy (bec that is usually our only goal, to be happy)…we tend to forget that struggling is the way of Islam…do we think that Imam Hussain (AS) sacrificed his everything to be happy?…

      InshaAllah we all personally being to do a lot more “hisaab”/taking account of our actions, and really, honestly, and sincerely reflect at where we stand…the only way we can improve, is if we set and know our expectations, and rise to reach them…we cannot improve if we don’t know where we need to.

      JazakAllah for all the comments, whatever I wrote sincerely came from my heart, and I hope is helpful to others. We should all share our perspectives on issues like this that touch base with all of us, sometimes a different perspective is what makes the difference :-)[/quote]

      I strongly am an advocate of marriage counseling prior to the big day. Additionally having guest speakers at our local events certainly makes one feel comfortable. Madiha I am a single male and at times have found the whole “marriage” affair to be quite challenging. Also many hopefuls if they (know) who they who they really especially the ones from overseas. Then the bridge to unite each other makes it that much easier. My view and mine only is that the ones from overseas are not in sync with our way of living.

  • Eden Parks

    what does (ajtfs) mean?

  • masooma

    It is an abbreviation from Arabic. In English, it roughly means “May God the Almighty hasten his graceful reappearance.”

    Other ones often seen: (as) – peace be upon him (saw) – peace be upon him and his family (sa) peace be upon them (pbuh) – peace be upon him and so on.

    See http://www.imamreza.net/eng/imamreza.php?id=7563 for a little more explanation, and perhaps someone else has more to offer.

  • Mohamed S

    This article raises some good points, for example, asking yourself who am I? What I am aiming for? What is my goal in my life? What do I want to do etc… . These are good questions to think about and maybe even consult others, read a book etc. Keep in mind though that there is a limit to answering these questions, you cannot and most likely will not be able to answer everything you want or expect from life. Life will take you places and do things to you that you probably never expected or even hoped for. It is also important no to be too picky in marriage, if you think think think …. you will eventually get very very picky and get married very late!

  • Mansoor

    As salamu alyakum.

    The author brings up excellent points.

    One key thing, in fact without this marriages will fall apart, is the ability to resolve differences.

    The author was dead on when she said that we may want someone “religous”, but does that mean the two parnters will get along?

    How often have we seen two “religous” people who were married fight and get divorced, or two groups of “religous” organizations who were so upset with one another that they stopped talking and collaborating with one another?

    Often the term “religous” is misleading. People think of someone who prays, fasts, or maybe strict, but we are decieving ourselves if that is how we define religious. Part of being truly religious is learning to compromise and resolve differnces, as opposed to taking an all or nothing approach, or black and white approach to life and issues.