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I Shouldn’t Have Dug Into His Past

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Reply Date

Jan 07, 2017

Question

As-Salamu `Alaikum. I am a girl in my early twenties. I will be finishing my studies soon, Inshallah, after which I intend to get married to a practicing Muslim. My parents have already started looking for potential life partners, and they have also asked me to be on the outlook.When I was in middle school, there was a boy in my class. We haven't dated or anything as such. However, as years went by, I realised that he was one of the most decent guys around, and I did consider him as my potential husband because he and his family members seemed to be noble and of sound character. He has strong faith in Allah (at least that’s what he claims). One day he told me that he wanted to go for Hajj after getting married. I always wanted to perform Hajj with the person I marry, so I thought he was perfect for me.But one day I understood from the way he was talking that he was fine with premarital sex. I still did not draw any conclusion because he did not tell me anything directly. Later, I asked his opinion on sex outside marriage and many other things. He said it was fine so long as you loved the person. I was taken a back because his view was contrary to how I perceived him to be. I was then suspicious that he probably was engaged in such behaviour with his ex-girlfriend. I was very hurt because although I haven't dated him and we have never even met up, I was not ready to marry a man whose view was unislamic.I asked him how far he went in his previous relationship. May Allah forgive me for digging into his past. He denied crossing the limit. Later, he felt guilty and told me that he had transgressed. I am a virgin, and I don’t believe in dating and premarital sex. Now my heart is just shattered, and I no longer see him as a future husband of mine. I cried my heart out, tried to forgive him because he said he truly repented. But I still can’t forgive him. Not a day goes by without feelings of hurt. I just can’t focus on my studies and daily activities, and I spend less time with my parents now because all my time is now consumed by thoughts of how he could stoop down to that level. I sleep late at night because I cry. At times, I don’t even perform my prayers on time. Please give me some advice on how to bounce back.

Counselor

Answer


I Shouldn't Have Dug Into His Past

Answer:

As-Salamu `Alaikum Sister,

Jazak Allah khairan for writing in with this issue. Your letter raises the difficulty that many people experience whilst balancing Islam in its pure form and managing human frailties.

Implementing Islam in our lives is a challenge and a struggle; in our daily relationships, we deal with people who do not live our own ideas of how we want to live by Islam. But if we take the example of the the Prophet (saw) and His Companions, we see their genius was not to spend their time being disappointed from other people; their genius was in their continual striving to improve themselves and maintain their own relationship with Allah (swt). Try and keep this example of faith as your aim is irrespective of whether people live up to your ideal since you are not accountable for them – you are accountable only for yourself.

I think this may be what happened with you; perhaps you were clinging more to the ideal rather than the reality of people’s behavior. It is difficult when you have built someone up to be ideal/ the gold standard because you not only set them up, but also you set yourself up for a fall.

Other people are not always responsible for our idealized images of them, so to blame them does not help resolve your disappointment. Humans are humans, not angels. We all fail at aspects of the deen (religion), but Allah Al-Halim (The Forbearing) makes it easy for us to change. None of us is perfect. In the end, we are told it is not solely our good deeds that take us to Jannah (Paradise), but it is Allah’s (swt) mercy.

In Islam, we are told to avoid excessive questioning. This questioning – when between friends – may lead people to feel that they must reveal their secrets. This is based on an assumption that doing so will prevent the relationship ending and may even increase closeness. The questioners themselves may hold the belief that they can accept all they hear. (This is often the fantasy /hope for both parties rather than a realistic assessment of the situation.)

However, sometimes the ‘confession’ has the exact opposite effect. During the discussion, the difference between an ‘explanation’ and  a ‘justification’ can become confused in our minds as we seek to remain close to the person or show that we can accept them in spite of all their faults. This confusion can further undermine the stability of the relationship, resulting not only in a rejection of the behavior, but also the relationship/ person themselves – as you have found.

Your situation is a good example of why Islam encourages us not to ask too many questions whereby the reply will cause a problem. Yes, you have a right to state your expectations for marriage, but you also need to accept the consequences of asking questions.

If you continue digging deeper on the basis of suspicion (even if that suspicion is proved to be true), that is fine to a certain extent – but then you also need to live with those consequences. In this case, your curiosity has caused this brother to reveal what Allah (swt) had helped him to cover.

I understand your reasoning, but your current and personal feelings about the religion can not be used to control what someone else did in their past before they knew you. If you were concerned about premarital sex, perhaps it would have been wiser if you had simply made that clear and ensured your meetings or conversations were within the limits of Islam. In this way, the situation would have naturally been avoided by you both.

I know it feels hard to swallow, but the brother you mention, in spite of what you feel, is not accountable to you for his past as long as he does not repeat the behavior with you. But that is where you have a choice.

My suggestion is that you should keep your Islamic principles and ideals and live as close as possible to them, but when it comes to role models, look at the prophets and the prophet’s companions instead because they lived their lives most perfectly and dealt with all kinds of challenges. Also, since they are gone (Allah (swt) grant them the highest Jannah), we know how the story ends and that their behavior remained correct to the end.

The trouble with role models who are living with us is that when things go wrong, we are facing them and can leave the relationship not knowing if we can trust them to do the right thing again. And suddenly we hold them responsible for our state of faith– even though we ourselves may not be perfect at all. It means that our vision of the world is shaken and so is our view of being able to work towards high faith. This may be where your disappointment lies. Perhaps, in your heart, you had already begun to live your ‘dream of Islamic existence’ with this brother so now the image is shattered.

You are projecting all your disappointment of losing this life and your values on to him as you say you are not so regular in your prayers. But the truth is that he is not responsible; you can still live your ideal in the way you respond to this. Life is not about being disappointed with mistakes, but succeeding in spite of them and holding on to your faith no matter what happens to you.

It is precisely when we fear losing our faith and suffer sadness that we need to increase our prayers and we are told

Verily, in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest.” (13:28)

Now is the time sister to realize that only Allah (swt) is Eternal, and man’s behavior is ever changing. Imam Bukhari talked about how everything must be balanced even in love so we can live in a healthy way and not lose focus on Allah (swt) as the centre of our existence.

What you are experiencing is also a common reaction to the ending of a potential relationship. The pain you feel now is because it is a recent experience and perhaps the most powerful one you have had in your life so far. But try and use the experience to re-centre your aims to the religion. This is the beauty of doing things for Allah alone since He, al `Adl (The Just), will never disappoint you. Man is created in weakness as we are told in Quran, so most of us are guilty of letting someone down (in spite of good intentions). So accept this and put it into context of being human and nothing more.

Do not let Satan encourage you to use this as an excuse to let go of your very noble aims. Also, make du`aa’ for increased faith. This pain will be healed as time goes by. As Allah (swt) created time, consider Surat Al `Asr and a return to Allah (swt) as opposed to distancing from Him. This is the real healing.

I suggest you move on from this experience brother if you feel you can not live with his past and his views. But also think about your own behavior because although your aims are excellent, you should consider how to implement them in a more constructive way.

In the end, you are not responsible, nor can you control other people’s pasts or even their current behavior, so try not to get yourself into such situations because they serve only to hurt you more than the other person.

Bless you sister and may Allah (swt) reward you all for this suffering in His path. May Allah (swt)  bless you and protect you and this brother and open the doors of benevolence for you and increase your faith.

Salam,

***

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About Dr. Feryad Hussain

Dr. Feryad Hussain holds a practitioner Doctorate in Clinical Psychology and has worked as a clinical psychologist for a number of years in a range of clinical settings with differing populations in UK. She is author of numerous research articles on health psychology and cross cultural and religious therapy models.

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