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Mum’s Problem: He’s From a Different Culture

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D

Reply Date

Aug 23, 2017

Question

Salam. I am currently in contact with a guy who, although I have only known for a year, the past few months I have grown very emotionally attached to. He is serious about our potential future, but I am struggling because I know my family will never accept him as we are from different cultures. My younger brother married a girl whom my mum dislikes due to cultural differences. She is very depressed now as the marriage was so unexpected and sudden. She feels betrayed and for me too it has been a lot to deal with. At the same time, I got to know this guy who has a very great character, who thinks it’s a shame for our bond to be wasted and is ready to talk to my family. On the other hand, it’s very hard for me to please my mum and find someone from our culture and who is educated to the degree I am as there are only a few in the country I live in. Let alone that I would have nothing in common with someone from the country my parents came from. A few years ago, I had a major life test and so many more came with it. I came to terms with it eventually but it left me very depressed. I was religious prior to everything, but I’ve lost all hope because it’s just one thing after another. I’ve tried to move on with life and put all those tests behind me, but I’m not the person anymore I used to be. I’m so pessimistic and now in an awful situation. I know as cliché as it sounds, but I will never find anyone like him because he opened my eyes again from such a big fall and also helped me cope at this very difficult time in life. My parents want to move back to their homeland, but I cannot do so because my life is and has always been here. If they do, my sister-in-law moves in which won’t be great as I am unemployed and really struggle to find any motivation for anything. I have nowhere to go. Because of the stress I’ve been in this year with professional exams after 6 years of studying plus with everything going on at home, I took no notice of the bond I formed with this guy over work matters and feel just shocked and clueless. I’m exhausted with my career which after so much hard work has left me back to square one as I have no work here. Without moving out of my city alone and with the instability everywhere, it’s so hard to pick myself up. I don’t want to lose something potentially great, but I can't destroy my mum either, even though her plans will eventually destroy me. She always snubbed marriage and never spoke about it, and now all of a sudden because I’ve reached the age where she has no choice but to acknowledge it, she's planning on me meeting someone. I can tell she’s up to something. But the thought of it just breaks me into tears. I wish there was an escape button in life. I always knew suicide was not an option even though I came close to it many years ago, but I still have that faith which doesn't let me commit it. This guy could be a lifeline, but I can’t take such a big risk. I wish I never have to get married, but I know I have to eventually, although I don’t believe in happiness - just reasoning and reality. I feel like God is closing all my doors everywhere. I just don’t know what to do. It's easy to say ‘pray’, but I know the tests are going to keep coming and I’m totally drained. Please, help.

Counselor

Answer


Mum’s Problem: He’s From a Different Culture

In this counseling answer:

“So, please sister, believe that difficult times will come to an end and that experiencing your greatest weaknesses could have enabled you to develop your greatest strengths. Believe that Allah (swt), in His infinite wisdom and power, will heal your pain, mend what is broken, and grant you comfort and contentment.”


Wa ‘Alaykum As-Salam my dear sister,

I am very sorry to hear about your difficulties. I pray that Allah (swt) will ease your burdens. I think we have three issues to address here: 1) Marriage; 2) Your feelings of depression; 3) Your work situation/career prospects.

I would first like to take this opportunity to share with you the attribute of Allah (swt) “Al-Wadood”, The Most Loving. I believe it can strengthen one’s faith and hope in Allah’s (swt) mercy which is one of the greatest ways of dealing with difficult times.

I also wanted to share this attribute with you because imagine, the Creator and the Sustainer of the Universe, who needs nothing from us, tells us that He loves us and showers us with His gifts. He tells us also how, in return, we weak and fragile human beings should reciprocate this love for Him. Allah (swt) created us with feelings of love and as hard as it may seem with all of the temptations of this world, the greatest love we should have is for Allah (swt). Without His infinite blessings and grace, we would be nothing. Our hearts can’t beat a single beat without the will of Allah (swt); we can’t take a single breath without the grace of Allah (swt); our eyesight, our hearing, our minds and our emotions are all gifts from Allah (swt). The best way to thank Allah (swt) for these gifts is to protect them and use them in the way which pleases Him.

You mentioned that you have grown emotionally attached to this man. I just wanted to mention that these emotions, which Allah (swt) created between a man and a woman, are intended to be for the purpose of marriage. It is described so beautifully in the Qur’an as:

“And among His signs is this, that He created for you mates from among yourselves, that ye may dwell in tranquility with them, and He has put Love and mercy between your (hearts), verily in that are signs for those who reflect.” (30:21)

Remember, you are honored in the sight of Allah (swt). He clearly speaks about women not taking ‘male friends’ who become ‘secret lovers’ in the Qur’an when He says:

“So marry them with the permission of their people and give them their due compensation according to what is acceptable. [They should be] chaste, neither [of] those who commit unlawful intercourse randomly nor those who take [secret] lovers.” (4:25)

If we want blessings in our future, including our marriage, and in sha’ Allah in our future children, it is important to be mindful of Allah (swt). We need to ensure that we follow the steps laid out for us when dealing with the other gender. Even when two people are getting to know each other for the sake of marriage, the potential husband should first approach the family with a proposal. The two potential spouses should not be alone (until the marriage contract has been signed). They should speak respectfully, and in the presence of family members, including the woman’s guardian, if he is available, and if not, a third respected party (preferably from the girl’s family – ex: brother, mother, aunt, uncle, grandparent).

Islam does not permit close relationships between a man and a woman outside of marriage. Ultimately, it’s a form of protection and honor for both the man and the woman to ensure that their modesty is protected and their hearts are not broken.

When selecting a husband, you need to carefully consider all aspects which I have included below. You need to ensure that, as you said, he is not just someone you can turn to during difficult times, but really someone you have tried to look at objectively as a potential husband and you want to spend the rest of your life with. Do you feel that he is someone who will make you become stronger in your faith and bring you closer to God? Is he someone who can in sha’ Allah one day, if Allah (swt) grants you children, be a good father to your children? If this man is serious about approaching your family to ask for you in marriage, and if you really feel he would make a good match for you, then I would advise him to go ahead and approach your family. This will be the true test on how serious he is and the only way you will know for sure whether your family can consider him or not.

I understand that your mother is going through a difficult time because of your brother’s decision to marry someone from a different culture. However, you never know – SubhanAllah – people’s hearts are in the hands of Allah (swt) and He has the ultimate power to change them to what He wills.

Generally, here are four steps you can follow when considering marriage. Please feel free to visit www.findingloveandmercy.com or read Dr. Ikram and Rida Beshir’s books on marriage:

Educate Yourself 

  • Learn about the etiquette of seeking a spouse, what is permissible to do and what is impermissible.
  • Research what type of meaningful questions to ask.
  • Learn about your responsibilities and rights over each other (as husband/wife).
  • Find out the Sunnah acts of marriage and romance (there are beautiful examples from the )
  • Pay the Islamic bookshop a visit for reading material on this chapter in life.

Decide On Desired Characteristics

  • Make a list of characteristics you want your spouse to have; keep in mind that you are not perfect and cannot expect your spouse to be. For men, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said that his character and religion are most important.
  • Recognize traits or values that he/she must have and also areas that you are willing to compromise; no one is perfect!
  • Review this list and make sure it is realistic and reflect on your own self; what qualities do you have to offer?

Consider a Potential Spouse

  • Consult trusted friends, family, or the local mosque for help.
  • Hold meetings in the presence of a wali(guardian).
  • Ensure that you or your family speaks to this prospective partner’s close friends and family to gain a complete and truthful insight into the person.
  • Reflect upon his/her character traits, values, expectations, goals/dreams, and your compatibility in this respect.

Pray Istikharah (The Guidance Prayer)

  • Pray Istikharahfor counsel and guidance, and make du’aa’.
  • Consult family and friends, and take good advice.
  • Seek your parents’ approval and blessing; a really important factor to ensure they agree with your decision.

If after you’ve considered the steps above, this man has approached your family, but they have refused him and there is absolutely no other way to convince them (through bringing in a third respected party, for example), then as hard as it may seem, remember my dear sister that Allah (swt) is more Merciful with us than our own parents. He will only prevent from us something in order to give us something better. He tells us in the Qur’an:

“But perhaps you hate a thing and it is good for you; and perhaps you love a thing and it is bad for you. And Allah Knows, while you know not.” (2:216) 

You never know – maybe if you do meet someone through your parents, he will be the best match for you. At the end of the day, it is all in the hands of Allah (swt) and how one meets their potential spouse is just a tool of Allah’s (swt) divine plan. You are still young, my dear sister, and believe that if this marriage is not what Allah (swt) has willed for you, then in sha’ Allah you will love again. You will have other possibilities and you can be happy again because our happiness should not come from other people or things like a job or money. These things are blessings that Allah (swt) can grant us, but true contentment is something that resides in the heart even when circumstances are difficult. This brings me to my next point.

You mentioned that you have been through some difficult times and that perhaps you even thought of suicide at one point. Alhamdullilah, I am hopeful that you are not in that very difficult state now because suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem – there is no going back. Also, as you mentioned, it is not permitted in Islam because as Muslims, we should never despair in the mercy of Allah (swt). Say,

“O My servants who have transgressed against themselves [by sinning], do not despair of the mercy of Allah. Indeed, Allah forgives all sins. Indeed, it is He who is the Forgiving, the Merciful.”(39:53)

 Having said that, just because one may be a practicing Muslim, it does not mean that he will never feel depressed or even have feelings of suicide. First, I would say that if you ever feel like you are in that type of urgent state again, you need to talk to someone you trust and reach out for help. Maybe your parents, who you live with right now and who may think they are the closest people to you. If you feel like you can’t speak to your parents, consider a trusted relative or friend and know that there is absolutely nothing wrong with reaching out for professional counseling with a psychologist or a counselor for some time until you feel you have overcome the most difficult stage. Taking care of one’s mental wellness is just as important if not more important than physical wellness. You may wish to view this article I have written about overcoming hardships on the path to contentment and happiness.

My main message is that we are told about the inherent nature of this world is to have trials and tribulations in the Qur’an:

“Or do you think that you will enter Paradise while such [trial] has not yet come to you as came to those who passed on before you? They were touched by poverty and hardship and were shaken until [even their] messenger and those who believed with him said “When is the help of Allah?” Unquestionably, the help of Allah is near.” (2:214)

So, you see my sister that this world has its difficulties because it is passing. As Muslims, we live in this life and try to do our best in all we do, our ultimate hope is for after life – the better life, the permanent life in Jannah in sha’ Allah.

To deal with difficulties, be mindful that experts in personal development and positive psychology say that one of the greatest keys to success is the belief that we are not the results of our circumstances. It means that our circumstances do not have to dictate the quality of our life and the traits of our personality. Poverty, illness, sadness, lack of safety, lack of opportunity, lack of a supportive family and other unfortunate circumstances do not have to doom a person to misery. Believe with all your heart that Allah (swt) has the power to change your state, your matters, and your life for the better even after prolonged difficulty in a matter of hours, minutes, or even seconds. You see it was and is always part of a Divine Plan to purify you, teach you, and elevate you to a higher level. They were all stepping stones to triumphs, joy, and absolute awe over Allah’s (swt) mercy with us. Alhamdullilah, truly we have engulfed with Allah’s (swt) mercy.

“And whoever is conscious of Allah – He will make for him a way out And He will provide for him from where he does not expect. And whoever relies upon Allah – then He is sufficient for him. Indeed, Allah will accomplish His purpose. Allah has already set for everything a [decreed] extent.” (65:3)

So please sister, believe that difficult times will come to an end and that experiencing your greatest weaknesses could have enabled you to develop your greatest strengths. Believe that Allah (swt), in His infinite wisdom and power, will heal your pain, mend what is broken, and grant you comfort and contentment. Then when life brings you down, take some time to recover and ask Allah (swt) to help you. Then get back up again, dream again, try again, learn again, succeed again and be happy again, in sha’ Allah.

In terms of your work situation and career prospects, it is completely normal for new graduates and generally, people in their 20’s to need time to find the right job, the right career and try multiple jobs. So, don’t be hard on yourself and be willing and flexible to try different types of work until you find the one that you are satisfied with. Or start with a job that you may be overqualified for, but know that it will be a stepping stone as you work your way up in your career. Tap into your networks, start an account on LinkedIn, which is professional networking online, visit a local career center or find online life or career coaches who can support you. Besides, you may want to start volunteering in the area that you would like to work in.

Finally, remember the power of du’aa’. We need to search deep inside our hearts for our innermost desires and call unto Allah (swt) knowing that no du’aa’ is too great for Allah (swt) and that the power of it is truly beyond our imagination. We may make a du’aa’ once or even for years and later forget that we made that du’aa’ when Allah (swt) answers it. If we were to closely examine all of the blessings in our life, we will realize that they were results of our du’aa’ or the du’aa’ of our loved ones by the grace of Allah (swt).

I pray Allah (swt) will make your affairs easy for you and will grant you success and contentment.

***

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About Um Hadi

Um Hadi has BA in Psychology & Education and acquired certifications in Leadership, Life Coaching, Adults Training, and Relationship Coaching. She is currently completing her Masters in Educational Leadership.


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