So you finally came to your senses. That girl or guy you’ve been talking to is not the best thing that’s ever happened to you, and definitely not helping you advance or get closer to Allah. You know it’s wrong, you want to get over it, you want to move on, but it’s just so hard and no one understands you!
InshaAllah, it’s all going to be alright. I’ve heard it all before, especially working with youth. It may be the single most difficult sin to convince someone to leave. I knew a brother who left Islam for a girl, because when all else fails, this is the last arrow Shaytan throws at the believer because it works. And that’s why we need real, practical ways to just get over it.
The fact that you’re here and reading this is a step in the right direction. You may not think so now, but you WILL get over it. After all, Allah tells us:
“As for the one who is conscious of Allah, He prepares for him a way out. And He provides for him from sources that he could never imagine.” (Quran 65:2-3)
The Prophet tells us in a hadith that Allah says: “When my servant comes to Me walking, I go to him running.” (Bukhari)
You’re probably thinking that getting over a relationship can’t be as easy as people make it sound. Especially since Shaytan spends his days and nights trying to make the forbidden so beloved to you. He convinces you that lust is love as he makes your heart skip a beat when you see that special person’s name – in your email, on your phone, or on your Facebook account.
But believe me when I tell you that you’re stronger than that. Move on, work on pleasing Allah, and you will have no regrets. But just to make things easy for you, here are 21 practical steps you can take to get over that haram relationship, divided up into seven categories:
Just Knock it Off
1. End the Relationship Cold Turkey
Enough with the games already. Stop dipping your toes in the water and jump in. If you think you’re going to try to “downgrade” the relationship a little bit, then forget it. Someone asking for advice once said that he thought it would be a good idea that instead of hanging out as often they would just talk on the phone and meet for coffee every once in a while. It simply doesn’t work. Stopping cold turkey is the first step. In fact, it’s the only real step that you have to take. The rest of what I’m going to share is simply how to manage yourself after you take that step.
2. Don’t Keep them Hanging On
This is not the time to make a deal. No putting thoughts in each others minds about “when the time is right”, or “let’s revisit this if neither of us are married by the time we’re 19.” They may try to do the same to you. Don’t let it happen. This will make you both miserable, will make things harder, and will make it impossible to move on.
3. Cut the Cord
Delete all the emails, texts, Facebook messages, phone number, voice mails, and anything else you have that reminds you of that person. Avoid situations where you will run into them as much as possible. Avoid talking to them in general, and definitely not without someone else present. Don’t try to find out what they’re up to, and stop cyber-stalking them. So quit looking them up on Facebook, don’t follow them on Twitter, and knock off whatever other sneaky ways you have to find out what’s going on in their lives.
4. Tell Them it’s Over… Like for Real
If you must have that last conversation to tell them you’re moving on, then do it. Do it over email and keep it short, sweet, and not open ended by any interpretation. Don’t leave things for them to respond to. End by telling them it’s something you have to do for the sake of Allah. And ask them not to contact you. The sooner you do this the better. If you’re in the early stages then it’s much easier to stop. Relationships progress and before you know it, you could be in over your head, and it’s not as easy to end it (though always doable).
Control Your Emotions
5. Turn the Radio Off
This is not a debate about the permissibility of music. One thing that’s for sure though is that music will spark certain emotions when you’re most vulnerable. Every song will be about you two. Just lay off of it for a bit and give yourself some time off.
6. Stop Wondering
Don’t keep wondering if they’re thinking about you, and don’t give them the opportunity to let you know that they are. Let other, more important things occupy your thoughts. Don’t allocate an hour to stare at your ceiling before going to bed. Read a book instead. Assume they’re doing fine without you, and hopefully they’ll assume the same about you. Keep your dignity.
7. Know They Were Never Right for You
If something starts off wrong it doesn’t just become right with time. Realize that you never really loved them for the sake of Allah, no matter how much you thought you did or what MSA event you met them at. You need something that started on the right foundation.
Fill That Void
8. Let it All Out
Talk to Allah and tell Him how you feel – in whatever language you know how. Cry to Him if you want to. Do whatever you can to get closer to Him. So if you weren’t already praying tahhajud every night, take some baby steps. Allah has an open door policy.
9. Do What You Love
Do things that you actually enjoy doing. Yes, it’s critical to do acts of worship, but also do things that you really love to do. Play sports, go hiking, head to the driving range, watch a movie. Fill your time with things that will engage and fulfill you – and keep your mind from being where it doesn’t need to be.
Rekindle Your Relationship with Allah
10. Quit Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places
Let your love of Allah fill your heart. There is a fulfillment that you will never get from people that only the Most Merciful can fulfill. Know that He has always taken care of you when you had nowhere else to turn to. Ask for His forgiveness and put your trust in Him. He will not neglect you. And don’t be afraid to be alone sometimes… just you and your Creator.
11. Make Dua’ for Something Better
You know the story of Umm Salamah whose amazing sahabi husband passed away, she made dua’ for something better and ended up marrying the Prophet . So know that Allah is the best of planners. And ask that He grant you someone who will bring you closer to Him and make you happy. Just live your life so that you deserve it. After the Prophet died, Ibn Abbas [ra] was said to increase in fasting and prayer. When others asked him why, he said
“I want to get married, and I read the verse: ‘Pure women are for the pure men, and pure men are for the pure women.’” (Quran 24:26)
12. Follow Up with a Good Deed
“Verily the good deeds erase evil deeds.” (Quran 11:114)
So you feel like you slipped and messed up. Follow up with something good. Give charity. Pray at night while others are sleeping. Feed the hungry. Fast some extra days. Just be thankful that Allah saved you from something that could have gotten worse. He is the Most Forgiving, the Most Merciful.
Let’s be Rational
13. Stop Dreaming about Marriage
People spend way too much of their youth thinking about marriage. It’s even a phenomenon with religious youth – actually, maybe even more so with them since they’d rather think of marriage than something haram. If you’re not ready, you’re not ready. Allah says:
“Let them who find not the means for marriage remain chaste until Allah gives them means by His grace.” (Quran 24:33)
Dream big about other things and accomplish something real. Your whole life, and especially your youth, is not about you being attached to someone else. You’re an individual. As the Prophet said: “take advantage of your youth before your old age. (Reported by Al-Hakim)”
14. Take Time to Evaluate
Evaluate what really makes sense in your life with regards to marriage. Is it really the right time for you? If not, is that time soon? Are there things you have to accomplish before you’re ready? Get the advice of good, righteous, and knowledgeable people to help evaluate. Use this time to develop your relationship with your parents. Get their take on things as well and talk to them about how you feel. You’ll get great insight and build a stronger relationship with them.
15. Know that This Too Shall Pass
One of my teachers once told me that all things in life start small and grow, except for the calamity, which starts big and only becomes smaller. You’ll get over this with time. You’ll look back and wonder what your problem was and why it was such a big deal at the time. And know that leaving what is haram will only make your marriage stronger when you do find the right one by the grace of Allah.
Be a Better You
16. Rediscover Yourself
Discover your talents. Get into things that you’ve always wanted to try but didn’t. Develop your skills in something you enjoy. Take time to do things that will be tough to do once you get married and have less time for yourself.
17. Do Things to Feel Good About Yourself
Take care of yourself in these tough times – your mind, body, and soul. Read a book, study hard for your classes, eat healthy, get exercise, drink a lot of water, dress nicely, listen and read more Quran, listen to a good lecture, volunteer at an Islamic function… basically, anything and everything that normally makes you feel like you’ve accomplished something good. Be kind to yourself.
18. Learn About True Love
Learn about what halal love really is. And yes, it exists. It’s not what you think and it’s not how Hollywood portrays it. Real, halal love is the Prophet crying when he saw the necklace of Khadijah long after her death. It’s when she supported him when the whole world turned its back on him. It’s wanting your spouse to do good so you can spend eternity in paradise together. It’s not meeting a girl at a party and killing yourself because you can’t be with her (sorry Shakespeare). Learn what true love really means and you’ll get over any haram relationship real quick.
Get Support from Others
19. Get a Role Model
Hang out with and talk to respectable young, religious, happily married people. Get their advice and use them as an example for yourself in your life. They will help put things in perspective for you. Ask about their stories of how they got married. Ask them for advice and learn from them.
20. Lean on Your Friends
That’s what friends are for. Now you finally have an opportunity to develop stronger bonds with your brothers and sisters (brothers with brothers and sisters with sisters of course, or you missed the whole point of the article). It will be much easier now to spend time with them and make each other better people. You won’t always have this luxury.
21. Be Among the Righteous
Be with people who you know would not want you to be in that haram relationship. The friend who tells you you’re a fool for cutting things off is the one you want to avoid for a while. If one or more of your righteous friends knew about the haram relationship you were in, then talk to them and let them know you’re moving on. It’s a good way to encourage yourself, and inshaAllah they will encourage you. If they didn’t know about it, no need to make confessions. Just enjoy your time with them because it will make you a better person.
I ask that Allah make us all strong. That He strengthens the marriages of those in our ummah, and keep us away from all that is displeasing to Him.
Ehab Hassan is a Muslim youth activist and Islamic worker. He has served on several councils and boards of various Islamic organizations while concentrating much of his efforts in youth work over the past 15 years. He strives to motivate and connect with Muslim youth and families by delivering sermons, leading discussions, and organizing creative community activities. His passions lie in Islamic manners, family development, and sharing heart-softening stories, as he tries to get the world to feel something – because people can be so numb sometimes. By day, Ehab is a Mechanical Engineer, and by night he is a family man trying to maintain his status as the world’s best dad. Ehab resides in Maryland with his wife and three young kids. Follow him on Twitter @ehababuayah.