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Find Yourself Before You Find the One

Questioner

N

Reply Date

Jan 24, 2018

Question

I came to the New York when I was 16. I wasn't used to praying as my family and relatives always wanted good results for me to finish college and get a good job. So, I was busy with my studies and my job to support my family. I’ve never wanted to be in a premarital relationship. However, my family has no problem in free mixing; therefore I usually avoid gatherings for which they don’t like me. At my workplace, a young man started to like me. He’s an atheist. When I realized it, I got surprised and didn't know how to handle this situation. I preferred ignoring him. I didn’t talk to him or if he tried to talk to me, I interrupted him in the middle of his sentence and left. This thing really makes me feel guilty until now. I think what I did was right, but the way I did wasn't nice. I humiliated him. He’ was very generous and protective with me; he would be compatible with me. Actually, by him Allah guided me and I started learning a lot about Islam. My problem is now that I want to get married, and sometimes I feel I want him, but sometimes I don’t. He actually left the place and I don’t think he will come back to me. I wish I could at least apologize for him and explain why I behaved the way I did. I feel now I’m getting closer to Allah, but my family cares more about my education than anything. They are not practicing Muslims and have so many negative thoughts about Islam. My parents are always yelling and continuously putting my self-esteem down. I don't know how to make them happy. I can't pray 5 times as it is hard; I feel super guilty for that. I feel I can't live a normal life; I can't smile and don’t have any energy to work. I want to get rid of thinking of him. The way I behaved with him still bothers me as I feel that's not supposed to be a Muslim’s character. Please advise me. How to carry on in a healthy way as a practicing Muslim in my heart until I get married? What if I don't get a concerned Muslim husband? Besides, I think I have to find one by myself, because my family mocks on religious people that they are too extreme, and sometimes I feel that way, too.

Counselor

Answer


Find Yourself Before You Find the One

In this counseling answer:

“A starting point in choosing the man of your choice is to have a common view of life and religion. Lack of this common ground would come in the way of any happiness or improvement in life. This needs some time and work on yourself. Get to know yourself first; what you really like and dislike, what you really want and what you really don’t want. Standing on a solid ground with your own self enables you to choose the right person who will be a good partner in your path.”


As-Salamu `Alaikum dear sister,

Thank you for the confidence you put in us and the courage in sharing your concerns and taking a step forward in the path of working on yourself and getting nearer toward Allah. I can sense the internal conflicts that are taking place inside your mind, and I can feel how much that could be getting in the way of your peace of mind, serenity, and productivity.

Dear sister, the main step in the path of self-improvement and self-fulfillment is to practice the free will that Allah has bestowed us with. I mean by free will is to give our minds the freedom of contemplating and taking our own choices in life based on our own thinking and our own conclusions and not based on the thinking and choices of other people, the circumstances, etc. Allah bestowed us with the mind to think, the freedom to choose, and the responsibility to bear the consequences of our choices in this world and in the Hereafter. That’s why every individual will be judged alone on the Day of Judgment; no one else will be held responsible for your life.

It is highly commended dear sister that although you are not surrounded by circumstances that help you to choose the path of Allah, nor people who encourage you to continue on this path, you decided to choose for yourself and fight for your choice and the life you want to live. Keep going, dear sister! In order to continue on this path, you have to have the necessary conditions and support that could keep us going. In Surat Al Kahf, Allah says:

“And keep yourself patient [by being] with those who call upon their Lord in the morning and the evening, seeking His countenance. And let not your eyes pass beyond them, desiring adornments of the worldly life, and do not obey one whose heart We have made heedless of Our remembrance and who follows his desire and whose affair is ever [in] neglect.” (18:28)

It is of utmost importance, dear sister, to search for a good company in your path to Allah and get involved in activities in the Muslim community and the mosque. Being in a positive, supportive environment with people who share the same interests, the same priorities in life, the same line of thought, etc. is very important for your psychological and spiritual well-being and for continuing in your path. Gradually, as you get more and more involved in such a community, you will in sha’ Allah build strong and close friendships that could give you the support you missed from your family. It could give you the internal strength that can help you prevent yourself from any negative influence from them or from any outside influences.

Also, getting more involved in a healthy Muslim community would open the opportunities of meeting the concerned Muslim husband you dream of. Choosing the right spouse who would be another great support in your way to Allah is something you have to work on and give great importance.

Now, we come to the issue that seems to be causing you great distress, the man who you met in your workplace and who likes you. To start with dear sister, in Islam, it is prohibited to marry a non-Muslim person. According to what you say, this man is an atheist; therefore, by no means you can think of marrying this man unless he becomes a Muslim.

From your letter, I understand that you are not thinking about him except for the reason that you feel you need someone to give you love and care. I know dear sister that you are in real need of emotions from a man. This is a natural feeling and a need Allah has created us with. However, in order to protect your emotional well-being, you have to be very careful when choosing the man who would be your husband and emotional support.

A starting point in choosing the man of your choice is to have a common view of life and religion. Lack of this common ground would come in the way of any happiness or improvement in life. This needs some time and work on yourself. Get to know yourself first; what you really like and dislike, what you really want and what you really don’t want. Standing on a solid ground with your own self enables you to choose the right person who will be a good partner in your path.

Discussing the feeling of guilt you feel towards that man because of the different instances you left him while he was talking to you; it is clear from your words that taking this action toward him is related to some unconscious feelings or urges that make you do so, although you did not really intend to do so. So, here we have to explore the different reasons that could be behind this. Limited with the very little I know about you and your life, it won’t be applicable to try to do such exploration with you. However, this could be done through your own self-exploration.

One way of doing self-exploration and reflection is through journaling. I suggest you start writing all your feelings about this man, positive and negative since you first met him. Write about your feelings and about your reactions with him and about the possible reasons behind such feelings and actions.

In general, having self-reflective journaling is one very effective way of getting to know yourself and developing your self-awareness. It is very important in your way of building your internal self-strength. Developing your own internal strength and not being dependent totally on the support that comes from other people is something one should work on in order to live a rich, fulfilling life.

Another very important way I advise you to think about and take a step in is to seek professional counseling. A counseling relationship would give you the opportunity to work smoothly and step by step through any stresses or negative feelings you are having. It will help you to go deeper inside yourself to heal the emotional and psychological wounds that could be rooted deep down there inside you and causing you much of your emotional pain and void you are feeling now.

Counseling could also work with you in finding ways to have a good relationship with your family while preventing yourself from any negative influences they might have on you. To have a healthy relationship with your family, or at least one that is not harmful to you, you should know the aspects of your relationship that you can work on and change and the ones which you will not be able to change and hence will have to learn how to adapt yourself to and learn to deal with.

One important rule to keep in mind is that nobody can change a person unless that person really wants to change. Thus, unless your family or any individual of them is really ready to change, no one will be able to help them change.

However, you may learn the ways to communicate your needs to them, what you like and don’t like, what you accept and don’t accept, etc.

Concerning your question of how to carry on as a practicing Muslimah and how to be consistent with your prayers, this could be achieved through working on different aspects such as:

  • Being involved in a healthy Muslim community and having a good company (as we talked earlier)
  • Working on your emotional and psychological awareness and well-being and removing the obstacles that are getting in your way toward Allah (as we talked earlier through self-exploration and counseling)
  • Through getting the necessary Islamic education and deepening your knowledge of Allah, Quran, and Islam. However, dear sister, maintaining your daily routine of praying is essential in all your circumstances, whether you are busy or not, whether you are in a good emotional state or not, etc. Keeping this routine and maintaining the minimum relationship with Allah is extremely essential for staying on the path of Allah no matter what.

Every Muslim has his ups and downs. No one will be always in a high level of faith, but keeping this minimum should prevent us from falling totally or from diverting away from Allah’s path. The five daily prayers can go with any busy schedule since Allah has put something for us, so it must be in our capability.

You need to take short breaks anyway while studying so that your brain can rest a little to regain its focus. Besides, maintaining one positive habit in your day would give you much self-acceptance and peace of mind and would give you a push towards improving yourself and your life.

You may ask someone close to you and who you feel comfortable with to remind you and keep track with you concerning the daily prayers. Ask them to give you a ring on your mobile phone at the time of prayer, or you may put the Athan on your mobile to remind you. In your prayers, especially in Sujud (prostration), implore Allah to give you the strength and support you need to continue on His path. Ask Him to nurture the seeds of the love of Allah and the love of pleasing Him and the love of talking to Him and seeking help from Him.

May Allah grant you peace of mind, the strength of heart, the will and courage to change the things you can change, the serenity to accept what you can’t change and the wisdom to know the difference between the two.

Salam,

***

Disclaimer: The conceptualization and recommendations stated in this response are very general and purely based on the limited information provided in the question. In no event shall AboutIslam, its counselors or employees be held liable for any damages that may arise from your decision in the use of our services.

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About Layla Al Qaraqsi

Layla Al Qaraqsi has worked with islamonline.net since 2008. She has been the editor of the counseling section till May, 2013; then a counselor and writer since March, 2015. She has also worked in early childhood psychosocial development;and managed a support group in Egypt. Layla has been studying psychology and counseling since 2011 in the Islamic Online University (IOU) of Dr. Bilal Philips, University of North Dakota, and in several specialized psychological institutions in Egypt including Tawasol Center, one of the offline projects of Islamonline.net. Her studies also included group psychotherapy, psychodrama techniques, mindfulness.  You can contact her via: [email protected]

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