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I Can’t Trust Very Religious Men; They’re Abusive

17 January, 2022
Q As-Salam Aleikum! I'm a 19-year-old woman, and I want to discuss one of my problems. I was engaged to a man for almost 8 months. We used to talk but then due to some major problems, the engagement ended. After 3 months, I've got engaged Alhamdulillah. The guy is nice mashallah; he is studying to become an ‘alim (Islamic teacher). He's in his third year. I've talked to him only once. The problem is that I can't trust guys since my childhood. I feel that they're abusive and they think that women are nothing. They treat them badly as well, especially very religious man. I'm from a religious family Alhamdulillah, and my experience is that all religious men hit their wives and treat them like their servants. He is also from a religious family, but I'm very afraid because I think he'll also turn out to be another man. Religious men also put many restrictions on their wives. It's like women don't have any life in their eyes. I'm not sure if this man will be able to meet my needs and would he be the way I've always wanted my husband to be. I've many disturbing thoughts, and I don't even know the guy properly, although my dad knows him since his childhood. I know people have bigger worries than this, but I want someone to answer these questions, and that’s why I'm asking you. I'm not a very open person with my feelings. Please help because my WHOLE life depends on this one decision. The guy and his family are well known by many people in my family and friends, but I don't know if the face they show to the world is true or not. And religious families also treat their daughter in laws like their servants. What should I do? Jazakallah.


In this counseling answer:

“I would suggest in sha’ Allah that you sat down and make a list of what you desire in a marriage as it may help clarify things for you. I would also suggest that in sha’ Allah before you marry anyone, you resolve whatever it was as a child that makes you feel fearful and distrustful of men, especially religious ones. Lastly, before marriage, get to know the person in a halal way. Maybe go for premarital counseling together.”

As Salamu ‘Alaykum,

Thank you for writing to us with your question. Your concerns about marrying the right person are valid. Compatibility in a marriage is very important. I would suggest in sha’ Allah that you sat down and make a list of what you desire in a marriage as it may help clarify things for you.

Also, a lot of couples now opt for pre-marital counseling.Premarital counseling is a type of therapy that helps couples prepare for marriage. Premarital counseling can help ensure that you and your partner have a strong, healthy relationship — giving you a better chance for a stable and satisfying marriage. Premarital counseling can also help you identify strengths that are a benefit or weaknesses that could become problems during marriage”.

Pre-marital counseling is offered in a lot of mosques wherein an imam or qualified other sits with the couple who are planning to marry and they review each person’s needs, desires, and expectations, as well as personality traits. The topics can range from how you deal with conflict to what are your views on raising children. It is quite comprehensive. The counseling usually includes a questionnaire that you both fill out regarding the above variables and more. While this is obviously not a traditional requirement, it has been implemented in the past few years, I suspect, to reduce issues within marriages as well as to have couples get to know each other in a halal way. You may want to check and see if this is available in your area. Also, please see a sample questionnaire here.

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You indicated you are afraid of marrying one who is abusive, strict and treat wives like servants. You also stated “I can’t trust guys since my childhood. I feel that they’re abusive and they think that women are nothing. They treat them badly as well”. So, my dear sister, I ask you to reflect upon your childhood and determine why or how you came to this conclusion. Did something happen to you? Did you see others in bad/abusive marriages, and what is your parents’ marriage like?

If as children we see things that are horrendous (abuse, neglect, violence), it can sadly impact our way of thinking when we get older. I would suggest that in sha’ Allah before you marry anyone, you resolve whatever it was as a child that makes you feel fearful and distrustful of men, especially religious ones.

I would kindly ask that you start a journal. Begin when you were a child, and write down as many memories as you can, and how they made you feel. If you don’t know why you feel distrustful, this will help bring to your conscious any memories which may be impacting your current feelings. If disturbing memories come up, such as abuse or other traumatic events, please do see a therapist in your area to help you work through these issues.

You have a right to get to know the person you are marrying in a halal way. You have the right to ask questions and get answers. This is one of the most important decisions you can make in your life – whom to marry. It is your right and obligation to get to know the person and his family to ensure you know what you are getting into. While nothing is a guarantee, it is better to go into something with some prior knowledge than none.

Again, I suggest in sha’ Allah the premarital counseling as well as going to his home with your mom or another family member to get to know his family. While I am not sure where you live and if this is even within your cultural tradition, it is within your rights as a Muslim woman. Take your time. If you do not feel you are given enough time to get to know someone, do not get married to avoid cultural stigmas. Families that rush their kids into marriage are the ones to have sincere skepticism towards.

With that said, dear sister, I do urge you to take your time, get to know him and his family as well as addressing any underlying issues regarding men and „trust and fearfulness” issues first. Also, make du’aa’ to Allah (swt) for guidance; and make istakharah regarding this matter. I am confident in sha’ Allah that you will make a wise decision with patience, resolving issues of trust, and taking the time to get to know him. Allah (swt) knows best.

You are in our prayers dear sister. Please let us know how things go.


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. 

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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.