Ex-Husband vs. a Foreigner: Whom to Marry?

05 August, 2020
Q As salamualaykum Dear respected counselor.

For a while now I've been facing a big dilemma. I've been going back and forth in regard to marrying a brother who is my father's online Arabic teacher. He happens to live overseas, far from my country.

In the meantime, my ex-husband has been trying to contact my father. At first, my ex-contacted me, but I turned him down and told him that I'm already contacting another brother. Afterward, he's tried to contact my father. My father informed my ex about myself contacting another prospect and that he will let him know if it doesn't work out between me and the brother.

The current prospect I'm dealing with said that he’s willing to pay the plane tickets once we let him know that our passports are renewed, which we agreed to. This brother comes off kind and very respectful, and religious – based on talking to him on the phone. He seems to be knowledgeable about the religion. However, through texting, he's sent me messages with hearts and a kissy face emoji. I feel compelled to do the same as I don't want to look rude.

I'm afraid that it might not work out if we meet in person at his country and he has spent his money on myself and my father to stay there for a very short time before we get married. He said that after I get married to him, he will be willing to live in the US or anywhere I desire to live to be with me and start a family.

In the meantime, my ex has been trying to contact my father.

Bear in mind that I'm well into my 30s. I've made istakhara prayer at least 3 times within the process. I also feel tempted to reconsider my ex who is a practicing Muslim and lives in the same part of the country I live in.

However, there are certain flaws to his character (extreme trust issues that can cause him to act irrational, not that sensible and easy going) that are not easy to live with as he's lived a rough childhood. I experienced verbal abuse when living with him. He told me before, and now to my father that he apologizes for everything. He wants to remarry me to "right the wrong" he did to me.

He's relatively a new Muslim convert and has been dealing with loneliness. I told him that it's okay to contact my father even as I plan to move on. I truly wish him the best and I miss him, but I'm afraid of falling into the same situation that I experienced. (He initiated the divorce.)

What should I do? I want to make the right choices and not be in a situation that I'll regret. Would I do? Should I be patient and take a chance on the current prospect I'm dealing with? Or should I reconsider remarrying my ex? Or would it be better to back off both situations?

I'm a born American Muslim. My father was a convert before I was born, and my mother was an immigrant from a Muslim country. I do have a disability which is visual impairment (not complete blindness) since birth due to the recessive trait of albinism. I'm not going blind either but my vision is bad enough to not drive a motor vehicle.


In this counseling answer:

There seem to be many red flags in what you wrote; consider any commitment to this man.

Put off any decisions until you’ve done your emotional homework regarding how you feel about each man.

Analyze their reactions to your decision to take this time to reflect.

You also stated that your ex verbally abused you when you were living with him. This is unacceptable.

If you consider re-marrying him, you would want to make sure as best as you can that he has addressed any residual emotional issues from his “rough childhood”.  

I’d also suggest that you and your father sit down with him and ask him what steps he has taken since you have been divorced to better himself, to heal himself and to become a stronger Muslim.

As-Salamu Alaykum sister,

Thank you for writing to us with your concerns about marriage. You stated that you have been facing a big dilemma: should you marry your father’s online Arabic teacher who’s overseas, or get back with your ex-husband.

As you have described the situation, the Arabic teacher does make you feel rather uncomfortable as he sends you emoji in his text with hearts and kisses.

You also indicated that you fear it might not work out if you met in person in his country as he agreed to pay for you and your father to come here for a time to get to know each other before you got married. However, this would be a short time of getting to know one another – and then you would be married.

Ex-Husband vs. a Foreigner: Whom to Marry? - About Islam

You did mention that he was open to living anywhere that you had desired, but you are not sure at this point where. It seems to me that naturally, you would want to live near your family in the US, so I am sure he is aware of this.

If the case is that he will spend his money to bring you and your dad there for a fast “get to know me” visit, marry quickly, then expect you and your dad to fiancé his trip and expenses in the US, then he may be just looking for a green card.

May Allah forgive me if I am wrong, but these are the sort of red flags we must look for. If this were to be true, I am sure that this is not the kind of marriage that you are seeking sister. May Allah forgive me if I’m wrong.

While the brother comes off kind and very respectful and speaks very religiously and seems to be knowledgeable about the religion according to you, sadly that is not always a reflection of a man’s intention.

A man (or woman) can be knowledgeable, act kind and sincere and at the same time have other motives as you may well know.

Insha’Allah, I kindly recommend that you carefully consider any commitment to this man. I do not suggest marrying him immediately if you do go to his country, but rather get to know him, his family, his community- along with your father, and take your time in making a decision.

While it may be that once you and your dad get there you feel totally comfortable with him and his family that you feel marriage should be the next step, Alhamdulillah! But if you do not and you need more time that is okay too.

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Just make sure if you decide to go, you let him know before he gets the tickets that you may not choose to marry while you are there and may need some more time to get to know him as well as consult with your dad. That is your right.

Once you get back to the States, you and your father can sit down and discuss both of your observations and feelings regarding the trip, him and his family and decide how to proceed.

If he doesn’t like the idea of spending the money to have your father and yourself come to his country and not marry immediately, then perhaps his motives are not what they may appear. Granted, money is hard to come by and he is making a hopeful investment in both of your futures. However, as he does live in another country, the cost is to be expected as is his covering these costs.

He should fully understand and respect if you need more time (if, in fact, you do need it) before making such an important decision. If he does not like this idea sister, then I think you know what to do in regards to his proposal.

What to Consider If You Decide to Marry Your Ex

As far as your ex-husband, it may seem tempting as you already know him, you are familiar with him and he lives in the same country that you live in and he is relatively close to you.

You did note there are certain flaws in his character such as extreme trust issues that can cause him to “act irrationally”. You also mentioned that he is not easy to live with as he’s had a rough childhood and this is reflected in his behavior.

You also stated that he verbally abused you when you were living with him. This is unacceptable, and I am surmising that this is part of the reason you divorced in the first place.

It appears that now he wants to marry you again “to make things right” as you indicated, and he has apologized to your father for everything.

Well, that’s all good in words and ideas but you still insha’Allah should ensure that he sought the help that he needs to overcome his issues and abusiveness. You would want to make sure as best as you can that he has addressed any residual emotional issues from his “rough childhood”.  

Adults who have had a rough childhood or who were abused as children may need certain interventions to grow into healthy loving stable adults. Not all, but some people carry trauma with them throughout their lives and it can affect relationships.

If you were to consider re-marrying him, sister, I would kindly suggest that you and your father sit down with him and ask him what steps he has taken since you have been divorced to better himself, to heal himself and to become a stronger Muslim.

I would kindly suggest that you ask for proofs, sisters, such as names of the counselors he has seen, or referrals of an imam who has helped him, classes he has taken to strengthen his knowledge of Islam as well as indicators of his growing closeness to Allah.

Again, as with the Arabic teacher, if he becomes defensive or doesn’t want to be open about what steps he has taken to heal and draw closer to Allah, then I think you know what to do with this proposal as well.

Take Your Time

Sister you have a choice between two men at the current moment.  One lives in another country and you don’t feel totally comfortable with him. He’s asked for money in the past, there’s a possibility he could just be interested in a green card, and there’s pressure to get married right after you meet.

On the other hand, your ex-husband wants to remarry you. He is someone close by and familiar. However, there are certain flaws in his character. He has verbally abused you and although he has apologized and wants to marry you to “right a wrong” you don’t know for sure that he has changed.

I would kindly suggest putting off any decisions until you’ve done your emotional homework regarding how you feel about each man.

Also, analyze their reactions to your decision to take this time to reflect.

Sister, there is nothing wrong with not marrying either of them and waiting for the one that makes you comfortable, that makes you feel happy, that does not bring hesitation to your heart. It is natural when we are contemplating marriage to feel a little hesitant but in your question, you expressed great hesitation with both men.

At the heart of all this, you stated that you had a disability which is a visual impairment and that you can’t drive. I imagine it affects other areas of your life as well. However, sister, I am confident that you are a pious, intelligent, and beautiful Muslim and would be a wonderful wife to a good, pious Muslim man.

While you may feel you have to make choices right now and possibly that’s based on you feeling that your disability somehow disqualifies you from receiving a lot of marriage proposals, I’m willing to bet that your disability would not be an issue and that your good qualities would come to the front and shine.

I would encourage you insha’Allah, not be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and meet other potential Muslim brothers looking for marriage. You may want to discuss this with your father, so both of you are on the same page.


Marriage is a big decision, as you know. However, there is no hurry as you do want to marry the one Allah has for you.

Oftentimes we can see little warning signs, but in our desire to be married we ignore them and go ahead and marry anyhow. Sadly, the marriage fails, or we remain married but very unhappy.

Please, do take your time, sister. Call upon Allah for guidance and know your worth as a lovely Muslim.

We wish you the best,


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 Aisha Mohammad
Aisha has a PhD in psychology, an MS in public health and a PsyD. Aisha worked as a Counselor/Psychologist for 12 years at Geneva B. Scruggs Community Health Care Center in New York. She has worked with clients with mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, panic disorder, trauma, and OCD. She also facilitated support groups and provided specialized services for victims of domestic violence, HIV positive individuals, as well youth/teen issues. Aisha is certified in Mindfulness, Trauma Informed Care, Behavioral Management, Restorative Justice/ Healing Circles, Conflict Resolution, Mediation, and Confidentiality & Security. Aisha is also a Certified Life Coach, and Relationship Workshop facilitator. Aisha has a part-time Life Coaching practice in which she integrates the educational concepts of stress reduction, mindfulness, introspection, empowerment, self love and acceptance and spirituality to create a holistic healing journey for clients. Aisha is also a part of several organizations that advocates for prisoner rights/reentry, social & food justice, as well as advocating for an end to oppression & racism. In her spare time, Aisha enjoys her family, photography, nature, martial arts classes, Islamic studies, volunteering/charity work, as well as working on her book and spoken word projects.