I am a 19-year-old female living in North America. I’m trying my best to improve as a Muslim, and I’ve been trying hard to improve my behavior and prayers. I think I am doing a good job as my faith is stronger than it has been in a long time, due to the extreme hardship I have dealt with in the past few years and the effort I have made to get closer to Allah.
There is something, however, that I feel is holding me back from my faith, and that is my lack of understanding and distrust of the male gender. This is a problem for me because I really want to get married and have a family in the future, but I can’t do so before fixing my attitude towards men first.
I know that not all people are the same, but I can’t help it. In my culture, more specifically my family, the men tend to take advantage of the women, for example by not helping around the house or not taking them seriously.
Growing up, I have developed a fear of marriage because of the way men in my family treat the women, like giving them a hard time for their post-birth bodies or assuming they should do all the housework even though both are working.
They just cannot be kind to each other just for the sake of it, or even for the sake of Allah. They are nicer to other people than to each other.
I am already having a hard time mentally on my own. My greatest fear is getting married to someone and then finding out he is a mean person; it would destroy me even more. I’ve been yelled at a lot by my parents and been called bad names, and it would be a huge trigger if my husband did the same to me even once.
I feel like I wouldn’t be able to look at him and I would not want to work on our problems at all, especially if he made a comment about my body. I would be completely turned off by him and the marriage. What scares me is that we never really know a person.
It also doesn’t help that in our religion, men have a role of authority. I’m not complaining, I know my role as a woman and I will do my best to fulfill it, but due to my upbringing and my distrustful attitude, I won’t be able to trust my husband to do the same.
I go through these periods where my attitude towards men changes. At one point I’m very positive and acknowledge our differences and see us as equal, and the next I’m hating them and getting angry and paranoid about things like polygamy and domestic abuse.
I’m scared of situations where the woman has little power and no voice at all, even though it doesn’t happen in all marriages and might not even happen to me.
I’m just trying to find a way to reduce my hatred, but at this point I just don’t understand them. I see them as incapable of loving women because they view their desires to be more important. I really do not want to be viewed an object, and I do not want to be disrespected in my marriage, should I get married in the future in shaa’ Allah.
My inability to understand or sympathize with men really affects my faith negatively sometimes. I just feel like women got the short end of the stick even though I know we are all equal in Allah’s eyes.
I trust Allah’s wisdom and I know that nobody will get away with injustice, but I don’t know how I can fix my views or stop my anger and distrust from getting in the way. I apologize for rambling. Please advise me, thank you.
In this counseling answer:
• If you can separate your concept of men from Islam, it may help you to overcome the barrier in your faith.
• Make a list of the qualities that you would seek in a husband and use those qualities as a guide.
• You have a right to get to know a person before marriage in a halal manner. In fact, it is very important to get to know someone prior to marriage.
• I kindly suggest that you delve deeper into the teachings of Islam regarding women and marriage.
• If despite all the suggested tips your anger and paranoia continue, please do seek counseling in your area.
As Salamu Alaykum dear sister,
Thank you for writing to us and trusting us with your feelings. Sometimes it is good to “ramble”! It acts as a stress reliever and helps us reflect and organize our thoughts and feelings, especially when feedback is provided. You brought up very valid concerns regarding men, marriage, culture, and trust.
Striving to get closer to Allah
You indicated that you are striving to get closer to Allah and that you were making progress. This is very good alhamdulillah. Getting closer to Allah will teach you more about Islam. You will, in shaa’ Allah, get a clear truth about the foundations and principles of our religion, as well as learn more about marriage.
You may come to a deeper understanding of how a marriage is truly supposed to be. Allah created marriage to be a partnership, one that is to be comprised of love, mercy, and kindness. Marriage is to be a comfort, which means that spouses are to be a comfort for one another, not a threat, burden, or a fear.
Culture, Islam and Distrust of Men
You feel that your lack of understanding and distrust for men is holding you back from your faith, which is understandable given your situation. However, you must realize that men, and Muslims in general, should not dictate our faith.
Although Muslims are supposed to represent Islam, we should acknowledge that not every Muslim is practicing full Islamic values, and thus they are prone to moral mistakes and misguidance. Some Muslims may mistakenly practice a mixture of Islam and culture.
Islam is not a specific culture. True representation of Islam, its belief system, values, right from wrong, and how to live come from the Quran and hadiths.
It can be confusing, frustrating, and infuriating when some Muslim men abuse, neglect, and treat their wives horribly. Aside from the fact that it is a sin and violation of women and their rights, the rest of the world may think “oh, that is Islam”.
However, sister, please realize that this is not confined to just Muslim men. Men from all walks of life and religions can be abusive and disrespectful towards women, not only Muslim men.
Muslims and Islam
If you can separate your concept of men from Islam, it may help you to overcome the barrier in your faith. All men, just as all Muslim women, do not always act in accordance with Islamic values or represent Islam.
This is very sad of course because, as Muslims, we are supposed to be the best of the best. We should be representing Islam in our thoughts, actions, behaviors, and treatment of others. This can be said about other religions as well.
The people who comprise a religion are generally thought to be representatives. However, there are exceptions, especially when the values of a given religion are not known, upheld, or practiced. In shaa’ Allah, sister, if you can look towards your relationship with Allah and your dedication to our faith without basing it on the behaviors of others, it will become much stronger.
Men, Culture & Islam
Sister, you were born into, and have been exposed to a specific culture. Culture is different and separate from Islam. Each culture has its own unique values and belief systems. There are also commonalities in all cultures.
However, in your particular culture, and possibly more specific to your family, men tend to take advantage of women and not treat them very well. This is not Islamic behavior. This is a learned behavior and a failure to apply Islamic principles.
Usually, in families, beliefs and behaviors tend to be passed down from generation to generation unless they are confronted and changed.
In your situation, the men have not attempted to change their views or behaviors towards women. As Muslims, they have an obligation to understand the true teachings of Islam regarding the way women should be treated.
If the men in your family, community, and culture look to the Sunnah of our beloved Prophet (PBUH), they would see that they are in grave error. The Prophet (PBUH) treated his wives with the greatest respect, tenderness, and love.
The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) helped with household chores and even sewed his own socks. Yes, he was the head of his households, but he ran his homes in an Islamic way, which is in a loving way. The prophet (PBUH) respected and valued women. In fact, he gave the women of his time many rights which women at the time did not have.
Muslims with different practices and views of women need to come in alignment with the way our Prophet (PBUH) treated his wives and other women. This is Islam. With that said, it can be a very difficult task as behaviors, values, and beliefs tend to be deeply embedded in cultural norms.
Women’s Rights and Proactivity
I kindly suggest, dear sister, rather than worrying about the type of husband you may end up with, perhaps you should be proactive and focus on the type of husband you would want to end up with.
In shaa’ Allah, make a list of the qualities that you would seek in a husband and use those qualities as a guide. You Islamically have a choice regarding who you marry. You also have a choice to say yes or no to whomever your parents may suggest that you marry.
You have a right to get to know a person before marriage in a halal manner. In fact, it is very important to get to know someone prior to marriage. This ensures a measure of compatibility, shared values, and alignment of goals and personality.
Fear of Marriage
Sister, you spoke of fear and possible triggers in marriage. You fear that if a future husband would be mean, yelled at you, or called you bad names it would trigger you. You indicated that these are triggers because you have seen these bad behaviors in your own family as well as experienced it from your parents.
Again, this is not Islamic behavior, this is the behavior of human beings who are weak and faulty. While all marriages may experience little quarrels from time to time, or a spouse may yell or say something mean, it is usually followed by apologies and an acknowledgment and dedication to work on the relationship.
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Nothing and nobody is perfect, and marriage is a learning process which is often a struggle. The main thing for a successful marriage is that two people are compatible and fully dedicated to following Islamic principles and guidelines.
They should communicate well, have love and respect for one another, and consult the Qur’an when issues do arise.
As you pointed out, men have a role of authority in Islam, including of course marriage. While men do have authority, it does not give them right to abuse, disrespect, or harm someone. It is actually a great responsibility, because men will be held accountable in front of Allah as to how they have treated their wives and children.
Therefore, it would benefit Muslim men to understand that if they mistreat their wives or children, Allah will ask them about it on the day of judgement, and they will be held accountable. I think if most men truly knew the ramifications of abuse of women, whether physical, mental, or emotional, they would become very fearful.
Our beloved Prophet (PBUH) ruled his home and his wives with love and mercy. The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said that “the best among you, are those who are best to their wives”.
This is a powerful statement that illustrates how Muslim men should treat their wives. Aboutislam illustrates the importance of Islamic character regarding treatment of women in the following hadith “The most complete of the believers in faith, is the one with the best character. And the best of you are those who are best to their women.”.
As we can see sister, while men have authority, it is within an Islamic structure of kindness, mercy, and love.
A Woman’s Voice
Sister, I can understand how your attitude towards men may fluctuate based on your life experiences, culture, and knowledge of Islam. There’s not much you can do about culture, except educating those around you.
By educating others about Islam and the treatment of women, we may be able to change the conditions we are in. However, as indicated earlier, it is difficult to change cultural attitudes as they are deeply ingrained. As Muslims however, we are expected to reject cultural norms and values which are not in alignment with Islamic values.
In shaa’ Allah, I kindly suggest that you delve deeper into the teachings of Islam regarding women and marriage. Studying the life of our Prophet (PBUH) will bring much strength, joy, and resolve to your spirit.
You will see how Islam is truly liberating for women by his example. Please study about the rights of women, as well as read about the Prophet’s wives and how powerful and influential they were. Try to understand the very powerful voice you do have. While in your culture it may not hold power, in Islam, it does.
Polygamy is something that is permissible in Islam, but we cannot accept one part (kindness to, and rights of women) and reject another. With this comes many rules and responsibilities that a man must follow. You may or may not choose to be part of a polygamous relationship, that is your choice.
Domestic violence and abuse are absolutely haram and a great sin. Muslims worldwide condemn domestic violence. There are Muslim women in many countries who have formed coalitions and platforms to advocate and use their voice against domestic violence, and to teach communities the proper Islamic ways of treating women.
You may want to read about or investigate some of these organizations and the work these women are doing.
In shaa’ Allah, sister, do continue to draw closer to Allah. Read more about your rights in Islam, the foundations of a beautiful, successful marriage, and read about the life of our beloved Prophet (PBUH) and his wives.
I am sure you will find it very inspirational. I kindly suggest if you are having difficulty finding a suitable spouse in your community, that you broaden your search to include other areas.
In shaa’ Allah, once you begin to study Islam more deeply, you will feel empowered and begin to lose your fear and paranoia. You will realize that you do have choices.
My dear sister, if despite all the suggested tips your anger and paranoia continue, please do seek counseling in your area. It is quite possible that due to your family’s treatment towards you, you may have suffered trauma and need counseling to help you on the healing path.
We wish you the best, I keep you in my prayer.
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.