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I Fell in Love with an Atheist

22 April, 2017
Q I have too many issues I am dealing with right now. I don't know where to start. First of all, I am struggling with my faith. I know Islam is the truth and everything, but it is just very difficult for me to give up this life for the next. I have been studying Islam and I practice it; I never miss a prayer, I perform all obligations and try to do more; I read Quran and everything, but I am still unable to find the strength within me to resist temptations although I regularly ask Allah for help.This temptation is my deep love for an atheist. I am not in a relationship with him as I am very well aware of how haram premarital relationships are, but I talk to him. He is everything I want in a man aside from that he hates Islam and doesn’t believe in God. Even though I know he does not like my religion, I am unable to distance myself from him! He does not really talk about it, and there are things he actually likes about it, but I know he is anti-religious in general.I pray that Allah guides him to Islam, but I know how difficult it is to change the mind of an atheist so firm in his stance. This is really ripping me apart inside. I know I will have to face reality if it does not work.Worst of all, I know even IF he becomes a Muslim, my family would never let me marry an American. This may sound petty, but it has made me so miserable that I even have thoughts of being with him the haram way.



As-Salamu ‘Alaikom,

Dear sister, have no worries as they will interfere with your ability to literally feel and experience what living on the spiritual plane of existence really is. Attachment to this world of dunya is the result of our “lower nature” which pulls us “to sleep”, if you will. These ideas take time for the individual to “awaken” to, but here I am planting seeds so that over time your unfolding will result in becoming less and less attached to the ways of the negative world.

The actual psychology of the situation is that the harder we try to shift our focus away from the material and empty world, the more it pulls us into it. The more we try to become detached from that which might become a barrier to experiencing our spiritual life, the more obstacles and adversities we stumble upon. The purpose of practicing a religion is to align our own will with the will of our Creator Allah. The motivation for doing so is because when our will becomes alighted with the will that caused all being into existence, we will awaken to a new world that is absolutely magnificent. The true spiritual life is much more blessed and filled with much more contentment than anything this mundane and temporary world of dunya can ever give us.

However, in order for a person to understand this, s/he needs to experience it. This is the reason to pray and practice your religion – to fulfill your own desire to live in the spiritual realms of existence. When the motivation is this, prayers and reading Quran is no longer felt as an obligation, but rather a great desire to quench a thirst for this life. When something is haram, it means that thing is not good for you; it can be destructive and block your ability to experience the spiritual realms of existence.

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With that said, if you stay with a man who does not have the same desire to experience oneness with Allah, you will come to regret your decision. The excitement of being with someone who validates how we want to feel about ourselves combined with attraction can be very powerful, indeed. It can even feel almost like an addiction. You will know if your attraction to this man has come to this point if you find yourself obsessing about him too much.

Yes, we all need to be loved by someone. We all need to experience that feeling of belonging. We all desire someone who makes us feel loveable, beautiful, and wanted. This is all very understandable to me. However, it is rarely a fruitful endeavor to try to change someone to your own point of view, let alone their inner most desire in their heart of hearts. Not everyone in this world is awake to the desire in their heart to be close to Allah. Not everyone has the consciousness to understand such concepts. If the day comes and you begin to crave this closeness yourself (and it most likely will, or you would not be having this struggle now), then you will need to be with a man with whom you can share these longings.

Rather than giving so much energy to the right and wrong, halal versus haram of the behavior that you are contemplating, consider why it is halal or haram. In the long term, it’s better for you to wait for a man who shares your faith and wants to grow closer to Allah with you through the process of marriage. This would more than likely position you to be able to experience the spiritual life as I have described.

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The issues of culture wars and people of different ethnicities who are unable to accept each other as part of the human family we all belong to is a different matter altogether. Often that is a matter of a lack of understanding about each other. As our world becomes smaller and smaller, and people from different cultural backgrounds hop all over the world, we will be learning more and more about each other. It is by being with different people that we learn we actually have more in common as human beings than we have differences in culture.

If this man you are attracted to truly awakens to his desire to live a spiritual life, and he chooses Islam as his path, he would most likely be given the inspiration to be patient, to learn your family’s culture, and to be able to show them how he can and will honor you and your family in the manner that is most important to them. If he were able to do this, while also demonstrating his ability to provide for you and be as good to you as they want you to be treated, it is possible that he would “grow into” your family. Over time, they would lose their fear of Americans and the perception that all Americans are immoral (which is a common misperception), or have political views which are contrary to their own. These are all important issues to consider. For a person from a different culture to find acceptance from a family that is strong in their own culture takes a couple of years.

If this man truly desires to practice Islam, wants to live a spiritual life, and loves you enough to make such a magnificent effort, then that would tell you a lot about who he is, and I would admire him for that. If, however, he wants to take advantage of the convenience of your vulnerability and attraction to him without honoring you in the manner which you deserve, I would not only caution you against ever seeing him again, but it would sadden my own heart because I am an American, and I personally do not appreciate American men or women behaving in less than honorable ways. This just perpetuates the belief among non-Americans that Americans are immoral. It is about living with honor and dignity.

So, do not be ashamed that as a young woman you have become infatuated with a man who is likely very charming and may have a bit of charisma. But do take the time for your own self to look at this matter much more deeply and search your soul for clarity. Pray to Allah for this guidance, and you will feel more connected to our Creator, thus strengthening your faith.



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About Maryam Bachmeier
Dr. Bachmeier is a clinical psychologist who has been working in the mental health field for over 15 years. She is also a former adjunct professor at Argosy University, writer, and consultant in the areas of mental health, cultural, and relationship issues.