24 November, 2016
Salam. I hope you are well. I wanted to ask regarding if marraige is permissible for me given my current life situation. It will take some detail to explain. I am an American Muslim who was born in California USA. My parents had an unfortunate background (poverty, orphanage, etc) which inevitably meant they couldn't raise children properly. This often lead to me and my sister being emotionally abused as children. We were often yelled at for trivial things and our parents would openly argue in front of us, sometimes about issues regarding us. Additionally, my mother was very jealous whenever we tried to make friend with others. While we did have some friends, our times with friends was limited much beyond what other children experience and our mom took envy if we overstepped it. When I was 8 years old, we moved to Saudi Arabia where I was homeschooled. While the environment did keep me away from drugs and other harmful outlets, the result was that I was exposed to the full brunt of my mothers' anger. While she took care of us materially, she thought this entitled her to talk to us anyway she pleased. This went on for another 8 years, then we were in Chicago while my dad worked in Saudi Arabia (my parents are still married and never divorced).While my dad did have issues of his own, he at least sincerely tried to be nice. With him gone, I went through my remainder of American High school and most of undergraduate life with a very emotionally abusive mom. She prevented me from hanging out with friends normally and the result was that I never learned how to make deep friendships besides casual acquaintances. To make matters worse, around the time I moved to Chicago, I had serious doubts about Islam which no one seemed to be able to answer. I went to speakers, emailed scholars, etc. but non gave me satisfaction. I had serious questions about the historical jesus, biblical studies, orientalists studies, ancient archeology, etc. Since most Muslims (even speakers) have not studied about the scholarship in this, I was forced to study the works of scholars such as Bart Ehrman, Neil Postman, E.P Sanders, Richard Elliot Freidman, Ronald Numbers, etc. While this did provide me with knowledge, the sad fact was most Muslims did not care about such kinds of “secular” studying, some even mocking me for it. Most scholars did not even seem to care and I basically was left alone to study. To this day, I read works on comparative feminism from Islamic, Chinese, African, & American writers and I have to do this with very little social support or recognition. To make matters EVEN MORE worse, when I was a 2nd year undergraduate student, I made friends with a homeless brother and my time with him deeply affected me. I often spent nights with him at free masjid night programs and would often be one of his few supports. I shared food with him, listened to his struggles while still trying to study and deal with my mother. While his condition has improved, it is still difficult to deal with. I have also recently met a Mexican non-Muslim who has lived an almost refugee like life due to the bad conditions in Mexico. While I have helped him and he has become a close friend, the fact is most Muslims do not seem to care. I have sought to care for such individuals in my life yet the Muslims by and large seemed to have stopped caring. I have to do these things in private, lest my parents find out. It is quite hard to do these things while most Muslims only care about talking about Syria, Palestine, or other countries. (These people do not have citizenship so there is very little I can ask from other people or organizations to help them.) My final point in my biography relates to spiritual struggles. After my in depth study of Islam, I did feel better and I sought spiritual enlightenment. However, my enthusiasm was quickly drained by the fact that many scholars I listened to was reading from ancient biographies of people who lived lives completely different ours. Many were filled with clearly extreme stories about worship (people dying when hearing an ayah, going blind from excessive tears) and the story tellers seemed quite explicit that this was the manner one should live. It became so overwhelming, that there were times I wanted to lock myself in a room till death as I truly felt it was the only way to be a pious person. There also was a time I slept for 3-4 hours a night on cold hardwood floor for several nights in a row. I have moved pass this stage, but I still eat simply, sleep on the floor, try to pray tahajjud and avoid socializing. All these points of my biography have led me to be very antisocial. I can’t spend time with friends as my interests are too different. I don’t like listening Islamic lectures because I find them often inaccurate (I have confirmed this), irrelevant, or bad reminders how previous people mistreated while appearing to be religious. I love reading books on early Christianity, political science, feminism, gender studies, and how they relate to Islam. My abuse (both spiritually by “religious” people and emotionally by my parents) has also made me a loner. I have tried spending more time with people, but it doesn’t feel right. My time with the poor and downtrodden has led me to live a simple life with basic food, little furniture, etc. My studies will eventually lead me to constantly travel in the future to places such as China, Africa, etc. in order to properly learn more, as well as to do more humanitarian work. While the overall situation has gotten better as we recently changed houses which has calmed my mother considerably, the American elections of 2016 have forced me to become more involved in politics, thereby burdening me more. Given that I have to do all these things, in addition to finishing my graduate studies (engineering related) and work, I do not see how I can have a family of my own. My future family will not be able to put up with my ascetic goals, relatively secluded life, my pessimistic mentality, or with my constant traveling. Most Muslims also don’t seem interested in my goals, which would make finding a spouse even more difficult. I have therefore largely considered staying single, as any other option is bound to make me unhappy and make my potential wife unhappy.
As-Salam ’Aleikom brother,
Thank you for writing to us about your concern. We appreciate it. I will try to advise you the best I can, In sha’Allah.
First of all, I am sorry to hear about the unfortunate incident of abuse in your childhood. No child deserves to go through this, and every parent should provide their children with the best comfort, love, and care. Child abuse takes many forms, beyond the physical, and its impact is long lasting. Since your mother abused you when you were a child, it’s normal to be affected by it in the adulthood. It is clear that you have developed an antisocial behavior and have difficulty bonding with others.
You are doing very well by studying and seeking knowledge about Islam. The more you seek, the more you will understand, In sha’ Allah.
Helping others is a very good act in Islam. Islam advises us to treat people kindly, even if they are not Muslims. There is nothing wrong with helping people from other backgrounds and with different religions.
’’Allah does not forbid you to deal justly and kindly with those who fought not against you on account of religion and did not drive you out of your homes. Verily, Allah loves those who deal with equity.’’ (Quran 60:8)
In other words, Allah (swt) does not forbid you to uphold ties, return favors, and be fair towards the disbelievers, whether they are relatives and others, as long as they are not fighting you because of your religion or seeking to drive you out of your home. So, if somebody dislikes you helping non-Muslims, then it is their problem and not yours. You are doing nothing wrong.
You may be scared of having someone so close to you in life as your past abuse and lack of close friendship with other people have made you antisocial. But marriage is a beautiful bond in Islam. It allows people to live in a clean and moral society where desires are fulfilled in a human manner. Marriage is a source of tranquility and peace, and it is the best of the pleasures of this world. Allah (swt) says:
„And of His signs is that He created for you from yourselves mates that you may find tranquility in them; and He placed between you affection and mercy. Indeed in that are signs for a people who give thought.” (30:21)
I know you like travelling and have goals in life that you may think will make your wife and yourself unhappy, but marriage has never been a barrier to achieving things. Rather, in most cases, it provides support and help for each other. If you find a righteous wife who understands and loves you, she is a blessing in your life.
In regards to you question, I would like to state that Islam, being a moderate religion, generally encourages marriage as the pure and legitimate way for regulating man’s sexual appetite and procreating, and it is against curbing man’s desire through celibacy.
However, the Islamic ruling on marriage differs according to the state and conditions of each person. It can be highly recommended in some cases, or even obligatory under certain conditions. It can also be prohibited or only permitted under other circumstances.
Marriage is considered obligatory if a person is so tormented by sexual desire that he/she fears falling into the sin of fornication. Since staying away from fornication is obligatory, and since marriage is the only avenue for legitimate sexual satisfaction.
If a person knows for certain that he or she cannot fulfill the duties required in marriage, and there is no fear of his/her falling into sin, then it becomes haram for such a person to get married. Islam forbids us from doing injustice to another person; this would definitely be the case if one were to neglect his/her spousal duties.
If a person has no means to marry and is, therefore, incapable of fulfilling his spousal duties, but has strong desire, it is permitted for him to get married, provided that he tries earnestly to seek honest source of living. Allah had promised to help such a person.
I can’t tell you for sure what is best for you to do as I am not acknowledged with your internal desires and thoughts. I have listed for you what is recommended to do in different situations, and I hope you can fit yourself into one of the categories, In sha’Allah.
May Allah (swt) guide you to the right path and ease you worries and tension, In sha’ Allah.
You are most welcome to write to us again.
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