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Engaged, But I’m Still in Love with My Cousin

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A

Reply Date

Jun 23, 2017

Question

As-Salamu 'Alaykum. I am a 21-year-old girl living in a Western country. Two years ago, I got in touch with a cousin of mine through the Internet. He lives in an Arab country where I was born and lived until I migrated. We were very good friends as kids, but due to my move, I lost touch with him for seven years.After we got in touch through the Internet, we remained in regular contact. During this time, I was going through a stage when I was influenced by Western culture. My cousin and I had always been close friends, and I opened up to him about the things that had been going on in my life. He became my best friend, and we talked on the Internet daily. He is quite religious, and he gave me a lot of knowledge about Islam. I had a new outlook on life, I sought repentance from Allah Most High, and I mended my ways.Somewhere in between this, we fell in love with each other. Everything seemed perfect because he loved me so much. However, I constantly worried about whether our parents would accept each other. I also felt that we were on different religious levels as I was at the initial stage of learning and bringing the practices of Islam into my life. This troubled me as I felt that if we did get married, this may cause conflict between us. Although he reassured me that he understood me and that he would be patient with me, I still feared if we would really be compatible after we married. Putting these fears aside, I really did love him with all my heart.Six months ago, my family and I went for a holiday to my homeland during which I got a proposal from one of my dad’s friends, and when my dad asked me for my consent, I said I was unsure since I had not even spoken with the man. I couldn't say no straight away because I did not want my family to suspect I had someone else in mind. Anyway, after I spoke to this guy, one of my female cousins asked me what I thought of him; all I said was that he seemed he was a nice guy. She told this to my parents, and my parents took this as my approval to the proposal. My dad rang his friend straight away to tell him I had accepted the proposal, and I only came to know about it after it had been done.My family was so happy and I didn’t know what to do. Everything happened really quickly, and I was engaged the next day. I did not even have enough time to think about what I was doing or what had happened. My cousin and I were heartbroken. He insisted that we run away and get married, but I couldn’t hurt my parents like that. Since I had initial fears about whether our marriage would work, I thought my engagement was a sign that the marriage between my cousin and I was not meant to be.I tried to distance myself from him and get closer to my fiancé. We have been engaged six months now, and we talk through the Internet and on the phone every other day, yet I do not have any feelings for him. I have tried so hard to love him, but the truth is that I'm still in love with my cousin. I am now practicing Islam to a much greater degree than before, and I sincerely feel that my cousin is the best match for me. My initial fears about our marriage have disappeared. He knows all about me and my past (I was sexually abused as a child). He accepts me and loves me, but my parents are unaware of this fact. These two months that I have been away from him have been very difficult. I really regret getting engaged, but I don’t know what to do now.My fiancé and I are very different people and I can’t ever see myself loving him. Moreover, my fiancé does not pray regularly, and some of his family traditions are very unIslamic. Sometimes, I wish I could break off my engagement, but I don't know how to do it. I know it will hurt my parents immensely. I don't care what other people will say, but I know it will bring a lot of pain to my parents. I make du`aa' (supplication) to Allah Most High every day to help me through this situation, and I have even made Istikharah Prayer. What should I do? Should I continue with my engagement and hope that eventually I will fall in love with my fiancé, or should I break off my engagement? I would really value your opinion as I have not shared this problem with anyone. I have been bottling up my feelings. I appreciate that you take the time to read this e-mail, and I apologize for its length. JazakAllahu khayran.

Counselor

Answer


Engaged, But I’m Still in Love with My Cousin

Answer:

As-Salamu `Alaykum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh my sister,

Your effort to reconnect with a childhood friend, your cousin, was an innocent initiation, but it was at a time when you were both able to marry each other. If there was nothing to your relationship with your cousin, would you have kept the nature of it from your family? This is where the problem began, and so, unaware of your situation, your parents acted in good faith. They did not arrange the marriage for you, and as far as they are concerned, you have accepted the proposal.

They are happy, but you are not. Who would be happy if you were to marry your father’s friend? If the marriage will be an unhappy one for you, then it will be an unhappy one for your fiancé. If you both become unhappy, then your parents will also become happy. This means that, with all your kindness and consideration of your parents, you will not be able to avoid hurting them. Not only this, but you will become disillusioned with the idea of marriage, possibly at a time when there are children present.

Your parents are happy now, but you are not happy with your fiancé, emotionally, psychologically, or religiously. Maybe, if he could satisfy your religious needs, the rest would just be a matter of time. As Abu Hamid al-Ghazali advised through the sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (saw).

“A man asked, ‘A number of suitors have asked for my daughter’s hand in marriage; to whom should I give her?’ He replied, ‘To the one who fears God; because if he loves her, he will be kind to her; and if he hates her, he will not wrong her.’”

As marriage in Islam is not only about two people, but about improving the quality of the fabric of society, Al-Ghazali further comments, “Virtue predominates in the offspring of religious parents, particularly if it is resolved to bring them up and direct them along the path of virtue.”

You had an opportunity to right the Internet relationship with your cousin by informing your parents from the beginning. You also had an opportunity when your parents presented you with a proposal from your father’s friend, and again when your female cousin misinformed your parents, but you let it go, and since then you have been a passenger on your own journey instead of taking responsibility.

Right now, no one is aware of your situation except you. If you had resolved in your mind the wishes of your parents, there would have been no need to write to us, but you clearly cannot cope with the direction your life is taking. So, you are left with only one solution.

Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) said:

“Let not anyone of you belittle himself.” They said, “O Messenger of Allah, how can any one of us belittle himself?” He said, “He finds a matter concerning Allah about which he should say something and he does not say (it), so Allah (Mighty and Sublime be He) says to him on the Day of Resurrection, ‘What prevented you from saying something about such-and-such and such-and-such?’ He says, ‘It was out of fear of people.’ Then He says, ‘Rather it is I whom you should more probably fear.’” (Hadeeth Qudsi  #22)

Summarizing the situation, ask yourself:

  • Will my parents be hurt because they are embarrassed by the fact that I have a broken engagement?
  • Will my parents be hurt because they made a promise to a friend who they really value?

If the answer to the first is yes, then they will recover if they accept your cousin as their son-in-law. If the answer to the second question is yes, then, naturally, it will take some time to heal; but if you marry someone who you are sure can never make you happy, then the outcome will be the unhappiness of everyone, including your parents.

Your parents love and respect you; now it is time to love and respect them by loving and respecting yourself. Approach your mother and discuss all that is in your heart and mind. To be upset is only natural, but to share and consult with each other allows for healing to take place, increased understanding, and a positive way forward for everyone concerned. If your parents accept the idea of your cousin as their son-in-law, then you should not contact him—this is their role that might be more acceptable to your cousin and his parents, in sha’ Allah.

Salam,

***

Disclaimer: The conceptualization and recommendations stated in this response are very general and purely based on the limited information that was provided in the question. In no event shall AboutIslam, it’s volunteers, writers, scholars, counselors, or employees be held liable for any direct, indirect, exemplary, punitive, consequential or other damages whatsoever that may arise through your decision or action in the use of the services which our website provides. 




About Hwaa Irfan

Late Hwaa Irfan, may her soul rest in peace, served as consultant, counselor and freelance writer. Her main focus was on traditional healing mechanisms as practiced in various communities, as opposed to Western healing mechanisms.

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