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Crouching Brother, Hidden Stalker

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Dr. O blogs at Muslim Medicine, a site that strives to serve only the freshest grade-A certified abiah ḥalāl comedy. Contact your local ḥalāl butcher for more details.

 

For generations, the age-old gender battle between hormonally-repressed stalker brothers and utterly creeped-out sisters has been waged from college campuses to Mosque common areas, and to this day you can usually find this war waged almost exclusively amongst our youth.

Little is known about elder uncles being MSA creepers, partially due to the fact that a 50 year old man who’s still in college and is peeking through the dividers in the university prayer room just cranks up the creepiness factor to haramarifically fitnatastic levels. Alḥamdulillāh, thankfully our MSAs don’t have to deal with that, though apparently to society’s dismay, sisters shockingly fantasize about these sort of things:

LOWER YOUR GAZE

“I’ve been repeating the same year of high school 92 times just for the chance to meet you and fall in love with you, sister…”

Yeah, no thanks. I’m not a girl, but at least I have enough standards to know that a sparkly vampire guy who needs to repeat high school 92 times clearly doesn’t rank very high on the intelligence scale.

But aside from sisters’ undead fantasies, the reality that every MSA in the nation does deal with are the threat of creeper brothers. Like Ninja Gollums (use your imagination to visualize that), these creatures skulk in the shadows waiting for MSA events and gatherings, the perfect opportunity to creep out in the open disguised as a regular attendee. The “precious” that they desperately seek? None other than the tempting golden One Ring… …to be put on the finger of a “lucky” hobbit sister. I think I’ve gone a bit overboard with this analogy, but just to be sure- make sure to shave your feet, ladies.

hobbit-feet

One of the rare times when lowering your gaze results in painful regret.

Now then, “crouching brother, hidden stalker” is a secret ancient ninja art passed down from creeper master to creeper pupil for generations. How do I know so much about this secret art? Because shut up. I know what you’re implying with that question. I’m not a creep, don’t even try pinning that on me, this entire article is NOT from experience. Stop judging me with your cold, accusing eyes.

This ninja art, practiced predominantly by desperate brothers who have been “divider-zoned” in their MSA, is a covert means for them to creep on sisters without their knowledge. Back in the pre-facebook days, this would consist of the following techniques:

 

OLD-SCHOOL FIQH OF CREEPY STALKING

1 – Divider-peeking

peeping owl

Place any sort of object or barrier in front of a man’s field of vision, and he’ll naturally want to see what’s behind it. “Dividers” have been a classic defensive structure constructed by sisters in order to keep the overwhelming wave of testosterone and Axe body spray smells at bay.

So naturally, curiosity builds in the brothers, and imaginations run wild as to what exists in the other-world dimension of the “sisters section.” Are there possibly manicure and pedicure parlors, mini shopping malls, and a roller coaster in the 7-square-foot closet that we’ve allotted the sisters for their prayer section? There’s only one way to truly know, according to Captain Kirk- “to boldly go where no man has gone before.”

 

2 – Overly-Enthusiastic Volunteer

Creepy-Guy

Anyone who’s been an MSA Board member knows that when it comes to getting volunteers, sisters are usually a highly-organized well-trained platoon awaiting orders, and the brothers are usually just a group of lazy, lethargic sloths who spring to action only when food or sports are involved.

So it always seems a bit suspicious when a brother is overly enthusiastic about volunteering, especially when it comes to tasks related to sisters.  Unlike the natural creeper bros who just gawk at divider gaps, these bros are able to creep under the guise of official MSA duty.

Brothers need help carrying a bunch of boxes? Meh, whatever. Sisters need help carrying a bunch of boxes? I’LL VOLUNTEER! Someone needs to bring a bunch of food trays to the sisters side during an event? I’LL VOLUNTEER! A sister needs a bit of assistance finding a hijab pin she dropped? I’LL VOLUNTEER! A brother needs a bit of assistance finding a hijab pin he dropped? I’LL VOL- wait. What?

 

3 – Proxy Creeping

women only

Unlike the other two styles of creeping, this is the sneakiest and most subtle form of stalking because the brother doesn’t do any of his own “creeping.” That’s where the proxy comes in- his own big and/or little sisters who also attend college are perfect for being spies, due to their possession of a magical second X chromosome.

The creeper brother essentially relies on his own sister to venture into “no mans land” and report back to him on her reconnaissance mission. What girl would cast suspicion on her own fellow sisterhood of the traveling ijāb? Stand back CNN and Al-Jazeera, you guys are amateurs compared to how extensive the news network is amongst sisters. And that’s what makes this technique so dangerous- giving a brother access to that network via a proxy router sister could be disastrous.

Or so you’d think. The greatest opponents to creeper guys are their own sisters, who are able to give them a mahrem-powered slap of reality. Creeping requires subtlety and espionage, and creeper bros often discover that it’s easier trying to convince Nicki Minaj to not look like a kids’ party clown than it is getting their own sister to be complicit in their stalking.

 

NEW-AGE FIQH OF CREEPY STALKING

With the advent of Facebook, the legendary stalking website, all of the old-school methods of creeping are simply obsolete. Why bother trying to creep in public when you can just do that online? Now creeper brothers can stalk silently and anonymously, with no risk at all of getting caught, except for the poor fool who accidentally clicks “like” on a sister’s profile picture from 2007.

There really isn’t much subtlety to Facebook creeping, since everyone’s personal info is right there- literally anything and everything, ranging from birthdays and hometowns to terribly instagram’d pictures of what you ate this morning. Stalking has become so easy that all it really takes is just a few clicks and perhaps even a twitter search for more thorough creepers.

facebook_stalker_tshirt

Limited profiles are such a bore for most creepers- it’s like slapping a niqab on your profile, so the only thing people are able to see is that you’re a human being who’s alive. But public profiles? That’s like a creeper’s lucky day! Four albums of 300 photos each? Well now, it’d be a shame to let all those pictures go unappreciated!

 

deco-line-2

Yeah yeah, I know I know- this article seems a bit too gender biased. What about creeper sisters? Don’t they exist too? You better believe it, and unlike guys, creeper sisters put the FBI to shame with how effectively they’re able to gather information on their targets.

Beware fellow brothers- most of you are probably being stalked at this very moment, but your creepers are so masterfully elusive that you probably won’t ever realize it, nor be able to discover who it is. Or it could be entirely possible that you’re just a lonely loser, and there’s no one who wants to stalk you, but the idea is kinda flattering. If you feel that might be the case, then I feel bad for you. You deserve a bro-hug and a double-cheeseburger as consolation.

i-feel-you-bro

Ultimately, whether you’re a brother or a sister, practicing the art of a hidden stalker is just creepy and off-putting. Islamically, the privacy of your fellow believers are paramount, and loving for your brother what you love for yourself is a lesson that rings true once again. If you’d personally feel uncomfortable with some stranger gawking at you in public or at your profile pictures online, then don’t justify committing those same invasions of personal space and privacy yourself.

If you think creeping will score you marriage points, then I’d say you’re sadly mistaken- showing respect and reverence for the honor of others is a virtue far more attractive than memorizing all of the status updates someone makes over the course of a month.

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Hailing from New York, Dr. O is a current medical student who blatantly misappropriates his study time by posting absurd articles lampooning the weird things he often notices within the Muslim community. His articles often contain unhealthy doses of odd wit and humor, sprinkled with overly-pretentious medical-jargon, but covered in a sweet milk-chocolate coating of small sincere life lessons. Despite not actually having a medical license and pretending to impersonate an actual physician online, Dr. O aims to heal patients with just a tiny bit of bitter advice contained within a sugary pill of light-hearted laughter. He hosts his own blog, Muslim Medicine, at http://www.muslimmedicine.net.

21 Comments

21 Comments

  1. Avatar

    azmathmoosa

    April 12, 2013 at 9:24 AM

    subhanAllah wonderful article!

  2. Avatar

    Siraaj

    April 12, 2013 at 9:32 AM

    Aw man, you’ve pretty much outed all the old school and new school msa bros. Thankfully you didnt mention anything about unmarried professionals ;)

  3. Avatar

    Abu Tawheed

    April 12, 2013 at 1:10 PM

    Assalam-o-Alaikum. What an article, you have a great sense of humor! :) Everybody is requested to Like my Page and spread it as much possible. Its just a small effort for Allah, may He except it from me.
    https://www.facebook.com/IslamIzPeace

  4. Avatar

    Latch

    April 12, 2013 at 4:43 PM

    Im not entirely sure why I read all that and while I cant say the article really useful – I did appreciate the humor and you did point out very apparent realities. I just dont understand why you waited so long to make your point. lol.

    Anyway, Facebook IS for stalking. Men stalk, women stalk, we all stalk and I dont know if it can truly be helped without concerted effort on the part of the user/profile holder. I get angry when I log into Facebook. Why? Because of what I see and because of what I see people GIVING UP. People practically ASK for others to stalk them and more often than not Facebook is a platform for showing off everything. People will post and boast about their meals, cars, friends, houses, test scores, work, travels, and anything else you can think of and it frustrates me. Why does it happen? Because its easy and “likes” are like small doses of crack that sample you into addiction.

    When I complain, others complain about my complaining and ask that I “let live” and dismiss. I see dismissing as cowardly and still refuse to accept poor behavior online as acceptable. Anonymity is bliss I say but people toss out any civility, let alone Islamic teaching, when they post and I have no idea why if they claim such moral high ground so much of the time.

    Anyway, I feel as though individuals need to take charge of their privacy. People have prying eyes and that wont ever change. Lock down your profiles and purge your friends lists. Go into your Facebook settings and learn the settings so you dont have everyone and their mother checking out what you say for a status or where you ate last night.

    I have one person on my list that repeatedly posts about talking a walk with a spouse or another who posted pics of their honeymoon mere hours after taking them and lord almighty I understand that its a happy occasion but you render it meaningless by not keeping it for yourself as something special.

    Share, thats that FB is for but for the love of god dont post like its twitter and please dont give away your life when you could be having a meaningful conversation with a friend about those things later.

    Anyway, lol, I dont mean to talk down a good attempt at satire – just think you needed a little more focus faster. Kudos nonetheless.

  5. Avatar

    ms. H

    April 12, 2013 at 8:45 PM

    Funny but some of this stuff is semi-true.

  6. Avatar

    O H

    April 13, 2013 at 12:22 AM

    The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “I have not left behind me any fitnah (temptation) more harmful to men than women.”
    Allaahu Musta’an!

  7. Avatar

    Mohamed

    April 13, 2013 at 9:56 AM

    On the one hand we have an article criticizing men for going after women, on the other hand we have articles on here calling for greater women presence on Islamic organization and mosques, with some calling for a removal of all barriers to “see the imam”. You can’t have your cake and eat it too!! ;)

    • Avatar

      Gibran

      April 13, 2013 at 2:27 PM

      Assalamualaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh

      Ma’adhallah lest the barrier is removed.

  8. Avatar

    Ali

    April 13, 2013 at 10:25 AM

    Assalamu alaikum
    It’s a sunnah to mind one’s own business.

  9. Avatar

    Umm Hadi

    April 14, 2013 at 1:55 PM

    Brother Ali, What’s the reference of the Sunnah?

  10. Avatar

    ZRahman

    April 14, 2013 at 11:48 PM

    @ Latch Praise the Lord!!! someone who understands my frustration!!!! ughhh I ended up deactivating facebook permanently because I simply could no longer stand people displaying their private lives. When I saw myself sort of falling into it as well, I took a step back and realized how useless and silly this whole network is..hence got rid of it!! <3 all facebook haters :D

    • Avatar

      Farah

      April 17, 2013 at 2:03 PM

      lol I totally agree :D

  11. Avatar

    K.Yass

    April 15, 2013 at 12:21 AM

    Ah, yet again, a well-written and hilarious post!

  12. Avatar

    Majida

    April 16, 2013 at 2:26 PM

    hahahahahhaa!!
    Amazing! SubhanAllaah!

  13. Avatar

    Farah

    April 17, 2013 at 2:01 PM

    Hahah this was so funny! I initially clicked on this article because I thought it was about Muslim Martial Arts… …. o_O … anyways… I hope this is not the new martial art… Let’s go back to chivalry and sword fighting people cause this new type of behavior is not going to help you score… Anyways I agree… Facebook is creepster central. I deactivated my facebook mainly because I was so fed up of finding out way too much about others (and I was not even trying..seriously). My mind is thanking me for it… less junk to process now so I can focus on real things… Also it also helps me keep a good opinion of people :P

  14. Avatar

    S

    April 19, 2013 at 1:14 AM

    Shame on mm authors…

  15. Avatar

    GreenTea

    April 19, 2013 at 12:22 PM

    lol…excellent piece of work. A little awkward at times; Good script for a muslim comedy.

    One serious observation. Proxy creeping doesn’t sound bad. If one is serious to learn about someone before approaching a family more formally then I believe sisters or bros could use this medium to learn about someone. Nothing wrong with that. MSA events are not like it’s Hajj. You aren’t crossing God because you r trying to learn about a brother or sister when they are more likely to be at their most candid unscripted self. If that goes alright, you can then approach the family to discuss prospect of marriage. This way you don’t have to worry about boys or girls pretending and puttin on a show right before the main event.

  16. Avatar

    eva626

    April 24, 2013 at 9:53 PM

    Great article!! loved the Humor

  17. Avatar

    RMuslimah

    June 9, 2013 at 11:25 PM

    Hilarious article! Sad but true… I needed a ‘pick me up.’ GreenTea, unfortunately I learned the hard way that there are halaal means that are probably better than the ‘arranged marriage’ set up. I had an arranged marriage recently. I was married for only a few weeks. I was verbally abused by in laws – while my “husband” watched. Eventually he joined in on the insults. We were both educated (both of us are young physicians), and both grew up in the US. As if that wasn’t enough – I’m honestly not quite sure why he got married. I was nothing more than a house guest to him from day 1.

    ….now all of a sudden I’m divorced – but it wasn’t even a marriage *in any sense of the word*. I can’t put into words how painful it is to know that just because I lived in another family’s home..so much will be assumed about me :(. It doesn’t feel fair…then again not much feels very “fair” at the moment. I lived such a conservative life, had an arranged marriage – hoping that the way I carried myself in college and med school would be a source of barakah in my marriage…and then it all fell apart in front of my face. Absolutely no idea what the future holds, but its really unfortunate to know society will consider me “used” even though I wasn’t acknowledged as a wife.

    To all my sisters…be careful..its crazy and cruel out there :(.

    I guess I would say, don’t be a creepy stalker…but don’t be naive like I was either. I couldn’t be more thankful I can distract myself with the insanity that is called residency. Alhamdulillah

  18. Avatar

    Munira

    August 11, 2013 at 10:22 AM

    Youre now my favourite writer on Muslim Matters.

  19. Avatar

    Fadi

    August 27, 2013 at 9:50 PM

    This article really angers me. It rescinds to primary school segregation of typecasting one sex as the villain and the other as the hero as opposed to discussing the taboo and root cause for ‘hormonal repression’.

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Gender Relations

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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.

You're probably thinking that getting over a relationship can’t be as easy as people make it sound.Click To Tweet

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No-Nuptial Agreements: Maybe Next Time, Don’t Get Married

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 “Nikah is part of my sunnah, and whoever does not follow my sunnah has nothing to do with me.”

–Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), Narrated by Aisha raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her)

Many Muslims have experienced marriage, then suffered a subsequent divorce as a financial, emotional, and social meat grinder. Some critics have noted the divorce system seemingly exists primarily to benefit itself; the lawyers: mental health experts, investigators, forensic accountants.

They form an entire industry dedicated to extracting the wealth of a disintegrating family, often forcing the middle class or working class into poverty and bankruptcy. All of this happens without any noticeable benefit to society. It’s a self-licking ice cream cone.

For many, divorce happens multiple times. A divorced person who gets remarried is more likely to get divorced again.

While men often complain about how the “family court” system is against them, the reality is that women often bear the financial brunt of divorce. Divorce is more likely to drive women to bankruptcy than men.

After one or two divorces and a few lost years of retirement savings or a decade or more of home equity, another “marriage” starts to look downright irrational. My advice to such people: stop getting married, at least under state law. Get a nikah and a “no-nuptial agreement” instead. Allow me to explain.

Fun with Words

It is impossible to have a meaningful conversation about virtually anything unless we have a common understanding of the meaning of words we are using.

In law, even ordinary words have definitions that defy conventional understanding or even common sense. Basic familial terms like “son,” “daughter,” “father,” and “mother” have state law definitions that are different from what those words mean in Islam or our understanding. Under state law, “parents” can adopt adult “children” a similar age to them or even older, and have the same status as a biological child. In Islam, an adopted child is not the same as a biological child and does not have rights to inheritance in Islam.

In law, even words like “life” and “death” don’t always mean what you think they mean. A living person can go to court to dispute his death, demonstrate he is living, breathing, speaking, and everyone agrees he is the “dead person” in question, yet, he is ruled legally dead. Famously, corporations are legally people and are immortal.

Law is not the same thing as truth.

Similarly, it is folly to conflate nikah, the thing that exists in Islam, with marriage under state law. In different states, rules for who and under what circumstances people can get married can vary. One thing that all the state law definitions have in common is that they are not marriage in Islam.

What is Marriage?

For marriage, there is a state law definition, there is an Islamic definition, and there is the definition that the individual married couple has. Under state law, two men can be married to each other, but three men cannot be. In Islam, marriage (let’s call it nikah to be more precise) is a halal social and sexual relationship, and there are rules in the fiqh that are different from state law.

Under some state laws, “secret marriages” with no witnesses or publicly available registration are part of the law and commonly used. In Islam, there is a witness requirement for nikah. None of the rules in Islam require the state’s approval for nikah.

The third definition is how each couple sees their marriage. It is a flexible institution. To the extent it is an economic, social or familial partnership can vary widely. Couples may live together or apart. They may have one income or two.  They may share the same social circles or share none of them. The variations are endless.

Domestic Partnerships

For most of the history of legal marriage in the United States, marriage can only be between one man and one woman. States started allowing for “domestic partnerships” to give some “benefits” of marriage to same-sex couples, like employer health benefits and hospital visitation.

In many instances, these were available almost exclusively to same-sex couples, even after same-sex marriage became part of the law in all states. However, as of January 2020, California opened up domestic partnerships to everyone, including different-sex couples.

As a practical matter, domestic partnerships are simply state-sanctioned marriage by another name. It is notable though some jurisdictions may have limited domestic partnerships that are something less than marriage. In most states that have it, the same family law system, for good or ill, that comes with marriage under state law is also true of domestic partnerships.

While domestic partnership combined with a nikah is available to Muslims in states where it exists, there is no real advantage to using it.

No-Nuptial Agreements

For decades now, in the United States, there has been no taboo against men and women openly having sexual relationships with each other, living and raising families together outside marriage. Courts have long recognized these people should have contractual rights with each other.

When a man and women live together, those involved may be gaining something and giving something up. So if a man promises a woman something, and the agreement is not founded merely on sexual services, the state should enforce those promises, not in family court but civil court.

Marvin started it all

The principle case that established this is the California case of Marvin v. Marvin in 1976. A couple broke up, but the woman wanted to enforce promises made to her by the man. The man felt such a commitment should not be enforceable because, among other reasons, he was legally married to a completely different woman when this non-marital relationship started. Under California law, at the time (abolished by the time the case got to the court), this was criminal adultery.

No-nuptial agreements (sometimes called cohabitation agreements or Marvin agreements) can be used by couples when they want to have enforceable contracts but do not want to subject themselves to the family court system or the family code. They can include provisions of mahar, sharing expenses, equity as well as dispute resolution processes like arbitration and mediation.

The couple can also document limits on what they agreed to to what is in writing. For example, during a breakup, one party may be able to claim an oral promise the other party never made and potentially have it enforced in court. A written agreement protects both parties and the understanding they had when they entered into the relationship.

These agreements have a broad utility for many different kinds of couples. However, for some couples, the main benefit would be documentation that nobody is under the illusion that this is a marriage under state law. It is a private contract between two individuals.

Example of a No-Nuptial Agreement

Salma, 58, does a nikah with Sheher Ali, 62. They also create a no-nuptial agreement. Sheher Ali is a widower, and Salma is a divorcee. They both have their separate assets, including their own homes. Each has adult children and young grandchildren. Both want to put their adult children at ease that this relationship does not exist for predatory financial reasons – a common fear when parents marry later in life.

Salma, 58, does a nikah with Sheher Ali, 62. They also create a no-nuptial agreement. Sheher Ali is a widower, and Salma is a divorcee. They both have their separate assets, including their own homes. Each has adult children and young grandchildren.Click To Tweet

Salma and Sheher Ali do not plan to live together, which is common for couples their age. They mostly pay for their expenses themselves. They may spend the night at each other’s homes whenever they want but will split time with their separate children, grandchildren and social circles. Sheher Ali pays for joint vacations and outings. He agreed to a mahar. Both agree in writing they did not marry under state law.

Sheher Ali and Salma can still call each other husband and wife, since that is true for them and everyone they know. Both keep all of their finances separate, and each does their independent estate planning where they name each other as partial beneficiaries of their estates as required in Islam. The two also complete HIPAA forms allowing each to see the other’s private medical information and name each other in Advance Healthcare Directives so they can make healthcare decisions for each other.

Legal Strangers

Unmarried couples are “legal strangers.” Doctors won’t share healthcare information. Islamic spouses don’t get an inheritance from a no-nuptial agreement spouse by default. They don’t get things like tenancy by the entirety, community property, or elective shares in places where such things exist. As I described above, though, this can be remedied. However, as I described in the example above, the “legal stranger” aspect of the relationship may be more of a benefit than a downside in some cases.

Some “benefits” of marriage under state law are against Islamic principles.  For example, some state laws that provide for “elective shares” are diametrically opposed to the Quran’s share of inheritance.  Muslims must follow Islamic rules of inheritance anyway, which are different from default state rules, so being under state law is no special advantage. Even with proper planning, the downsides of the “legal stranger” problem still may come up in extraordinary contexts, however, such as lawsuits.

Immigration and Taxes

Another concern is that employee benefits to spouses and dependents don’t generally extend to those with no-nuptial agreements. Immigration law does not allow a path to the United States through the “family unification ” process for those with a no-nuptial contract. Marriage under state law (or the law of a foreign country recognized in the United States) may be the most practical solution in such cases.

In some cases, state-sanctioned marriage may lead to lower taxes. Other legally married couples may experience the so-called “marriage penalty” and pay higher taxes than couples with a no-nuptial agreement. Couples may often find they will pay less in taxes with a no-nuptial agreement than they would if they were married under state law.

Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreements

One may wonder, to avoid the “meat grinder” of the family court system, why not just get a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement? It’s accurate that in general, having such arrangements are superior to not having them. These agreements offer greater certainty, though by no means total confidence, on how a divorce would end. There are disadvantages to such an agreement over no-nuptial agreements, however. A big one is that divorce is still in the family court system.

Many Muslim men, especially immigrants, may perceive cultural biases cause a stacked deck against them in family court. The nature of these agreements may make this perception worse. Sometimes, courts treat prenuptial and postnuptial agreements with a presumption of coercion. It is different from an ordinary contract. The family court system is often free to be more paternalistic and make a husband prove he did not force his wife to sign a document.

The Uniform Premarital Agreement Act, which will be worded differently in the different states that adopted it, provides for a process to make these marital agreements harder to defeat. However, the process is perhaps arguably more expensive, cumbersome, and awkward for a couple than a no-nuptial contract. Talking about a prenuptial agreement with a fiancé may be more uncomfortable than bringing up a no-nuptial arrangement and nikah. Without a state-sanctioned marriage, a written agreement is essential. Many people perceive the pre-nuptial and post-nuptial agreements as both optional and, perhaps unfairly, as a sign of mistrust.

Custody and Child Support

Unfortunately, there is no agreement you can come up with that will pre-settle child support and custody. A judge will decide those things.

It does not matter if you have a “plain vanilla” marriage governed entirely by your state’s family code, a prenuptial agreement, or a no-nuptial agreement. Children are not parties to such a contract. No court anywhere will subject a child’s care and welfare to such things.

For custody and child support, courts in family court will use the sometimes hard to define standard of “best interests of the child.” One Massachusetts family law attorney in a popular divorce documentary cryptically joked that she called children in the system  “little bags of money.” They are often a significant reason family law cases are so profitable for lawyers, mental health professionals, investigators, and everyone else.

No Protection for Poor Life Choices

A good rule to follow is never to do nikah with a person capable of having children unless you are sure she or he can be trusted to raise your future children, and you have made peace with making child support payments to this individual if your relationship ends. If you have a child, you may be suck with a child support order. There is no getting out of this one.

As an Islamic estate planning lawyer, the most important advice I can ever give anyone is not to get a proper estate plan. It is not to get a good lawyer. Of course those things are good, indeed no-brainers, but they have limits. The most important advice is to choose a spouse wisely. If you fail here, there is no law, no lawyer or document in existence that can turn back the clock. A no-nuptial agreement may make a future breakup easier than a family court divorce. There is still no guarantee it won’t be a complete mess anyway. Good documents are never a substitute for poor life choices.

“The Law of the Land”

Islamic institutions like masajid are conservative don’t like taking needless risks, as they should be. Many will not officiate a nikah unless there is a marriage license. They usually will not officiate bigamous marriages, on account of it being illegal.  Of course bigamy, like marriage, has a specific legal definition under state law. One almost universal refrain is that as Muslims we need to follow “the law of the land.”

No-nuptial agreements are in full conformity with the 'law of the land.' It is not a marriage under state law. Nobody is claiming that it is. Limiting nikah to marriage under state law not based on Islam.Click To Tweet

But what if that term did not mean what you think it means? No-nuptial agreements are in full conformity with the “law of the land.” It is not a marriage under state law. Nobody is claiming that it is.  Limiting nikah to marriage under state law not based on Islam. Recently, the Islamic Institute of Orange County, a large masjid in the Los Angeles area, changed its nikah officiating policy. Instead of always requiring marriage certificates, they will also recognize no-nuptial agreements.

Masajid Should Welcome No-Nuptial Agreements

Masajid should have standardized policies and procedures in place. Every masjid should have carefully considered policies to protect the vulnerable and the institution. No masjid wants to open themselves up to a “drive-by nikah” or other nonsense. One policy may well include mandating a no-nuptial agreement when there is no marriage certificate. There is no reason to believe one protects people and institutions better than the other.

Nikah is a vital sunnah for us. It is not something that should be in the shadows, secret, or something shameful. It is fundamental to how we organize our families and communities. When it’s done right, it helps us strengthen our iman, bring us closer to our communities and our loved ones. State definitions of words should not always be your guide to right and wrong.

It is appropriate that Muslims want to do the sunnah of nikah at the masjid, publicly and with friends and family watching.  We should recognize and celebrate every new couple that has done a nikah in our communities. Never mind the state has not sanctioned it.

The state statute book has its definition, we have ours.

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#Life

I Encountered A Predator On Instagram

A predator on Instagram posing as a hijab modeling consultant, going by the name of @samahnation, tried to prey on me- an underage, 16-year-old. We don’t know if the photos on Instagram page have been stolen from a victim. These predators operate under various names.

instagram predator
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It was a Wednesday night in April and as I was getting ready to go to bed, a direct message popped up in my Instagram inbox. A little background; my personal  account on Instagram is private and it is rare that I let anyone, whom I do not know, follow me. But seeing that this was a grown “woman” with a baby and I had at least seven mutual friends, I let her follow me. 

I will say, I was definitely in the wrong to respond to someone I didn’t personally know. Somehow I thought her 105K followers gave her credibility. 

I was gravely mistaken. 

I opened the direct message. 

She had sent me a message complimenting me. This wasn’t new to me because I often get messages with compliments about my appearance from friends — we are teenagers. However, the stark difference was that I didn’t know this person at all. (I came to learn that these types of messages can go under the category of grooming). After complimenting me, she asked whether I had ever considered modeling for a hijab and abaya company. 

Many young women are targeted by predators on Instagram. Here is my story. 'After complimenting me, 'she' asked whether I had ever considered modeling for a hijab and abaya company.'Click To Tweet

I replied, saying that if I had more details I’d consult with my parents and give her an answer the next morning; to which she responded demanding she must have an answer the same night as she had other offers to make. 

I then went to ask my mother. Mama was sick with the flu, quite woozy, but despite her state she said,

“this sounds like a scam to me…”.



I decided to play along with it and test her. 

I told @samahnation to tell me more and how I could verify her and her company. She then sent me numerous copied and pasted answers —hecka long— about how I could trust her; how the company would pay me and how they will still make money in the meantime. 

hijab modeling scam

Thankfully, I was apprehensive during the entire ordeal, but as you can see, this type of manipulation is so real and possible for young women and girls to fall prey. This experience was honestly quite scary and jarring for me. I was so easily distracted by what she was portraying herself as on her profile. She had a GoFundMe for a masjid in her bio and posts of photos depicting her love for her baby.
predator

I began to do some research. I stumbled upon an article about a ‘Hijab House’ model scam. Using the title of ‘consultant director’ for a well-known hijab company, Hijab House, predators were allegedly preying on young girls in Australia. Hijab House has denied any link to this scam. 

Hijab House model scam

 

The predator went as far as to blackmail and pressure their victims into sending nude photos, or doing crazy things like smelling shoes! Eerily enough, @samahnation’s Instagram bio stated that she was based in Melbourne, Australia.


The more I engaged with this predator, the more ludicrous their responses and questions got. And this happened within the span of 24 hours. 

She went as far as to ask me if I would answer questions for a survey, saying all that mattered was honesty and that the purpose of the survey was to make me uncomfortable to see if I “won’t fall under pressure.”

Clearly, this last statement about being a speech analysis specialist was a complete fabrication. Again, may I reiterate that even older people can fall prey. You don’t have to be young and impressionable, these manipulative perpetrators will do anything to get what they want.



As shown below, the situation reached an obscene level of ridiculousness. You can see clear attempts to gaslight me and pressure me into answering or changing my stance on my replies.


This was the last thing I said to the predator before I blocked and reported them in an attempt to get them caught. Observe how as soon as I called this person out they immediately became defensive and tried to manipulate me into thinking that what they were doing and asking me was completely normal- that I was the crazy one for asking for proof. 

Unfortunately, this is just the tip of the iceberg. They had asked me questions I found too lewd to even answer or take screenshots of.

This bizarre encounter was honestly astonishing. I do not even know if I was talking to a man or a woman.

Alhamdullilah, I am so glad because even if I was a little bit gullible, I was aware enough about predatory behavior that I didn’t fall victim to this perpetrator. I am especially grateful for my mother, who has educated me about predators like this from a very young age; whom even in her drowsy state was able to tell me it was a preposterous scam.

I could have been blackmailed.

Talk to your parents or a trusted adult

I am grateful for having an open channel of communication, that my relationship with my mother is based on trust and I could go to her when this occurred. This is a reminder and a learning opportunity for all of us how these scary things can happen to anyone. We must learn how to take caution and protect ourselves and our (underage) loved ones against such situations.

Sis, please talk to your parents. They love you and will be your first line of defense.

Grooming

Grooming is a very common tactic online predators use to gain the trust of their victim. According to InternetSafety101, young people put themselves at great risk by communicating online with individuals they do not know on a personal level. “Internet predators intentionally access sites that children commonly visit and can even search for potential victims by location or interest.

If a predator is already communicating with a child, he or she can piece together clues from what the child mentions while online, including parents’ names, where the child goes to school, and how far away the child lives from a certain landmark, store, or other location.
Online grooming is a process which can take place in a short time or over an extended period of time. Initial conversations online can appear innocent, but often involve some level of deception. As the predator (usually an adult) attempts to establish a relationship to gain a child’s trust, he may initially lie about his age or may never reveal his real age to the child, even after forming an established online relationship. Often, the groomer will know popular music artists, clothing trends, sports team information, or another activity or hobby the child may be interested in, and will try to relate it to the child.”

These tactics lead children and teens to believe that no one else can understand them or their situation like the groomer. After the child’s trust develops, the groomer may use sexually explicit conversations to test boundaries and exploit a child’s natural curiosity about sex. Predators often use pornography and child pornography to lower a child’s inhibitions and use their adult status to influence and control a child’s behavior.

They also flatter and compliment the child excessively and manipulate a child’s trust by relating to emotions and insecurities and affirming the child’s feelings and choices.

Predators will:

* Prey on teen’s desire for romance, adventure, and sexual information.
* Develop trust and secrecy: manipulate child by listening to and sympathizing with child’s problems and insecurities.
* Affirm feelings and choices of child.
* Exploit natural sexual curiosities of child.
* Ease inhibitions by gradually introducing sex into conversations or exposing them to pornography.
* Flatter and compliment the child excessively, send gifts, and invest time, money, and energy to groom the child.
* Develop an online relationship that is romantic, controlling, and upon which the child becomes dependent.
* Drive a wedge between the child and his/her parents and friends.
* Make promises of an exciting, stress-free life, tailored to the youth’s desire.
* Make threats, and often will use child pornography featuring their victims to blackmail them into silence.”

Gaslighting 

Another interesting observation I made is the clear gaslighting this pedophile was trying to perpetuate throughout my conversation with them. You may ask what is gas lighting? 

According to Psychology Today, gaslighting is a tactic in which a person or entity, in order to gain more power, makes a victim question their reality. It works much better than you may think. “Anyone is susceptible to gaslighting, and it is a common technique of abusers, dictators, narcissists, and cult leaders. It is done slowly, so the victim doesn’t realize how much they’ve been brainwashed. For example, in the movie Gaslight (1944), a man manipulates his wife to the point where she thinks she is losing her mind,” writes Dr Stephanie Sarkis. 

Another interesting observation I made is the clear gaslighting this pedophile was trying to perpetuate throughout my conversation with them. You may ask what is gas lighting? Click To Tweet

Recognizing signs that you may be a victim of gaslighting:

Second guessing. Are you constantly second guessing yourself when talking to this person or questioning your own morals that you wouldn’t have thought twice about otherwise? For example, when this person popped up in my inbox I wouldn’t have thought twice about blocking or just deleting the message if it was a man but, since it seemed to be a woman I was duped into thinking that it was more acceptable or I could trust them more.

Feeling as if you are being too sensitive. Again I cannot emphasize this enough that you must trust your instincts, if you are feeling uncomfortable and your internal alarm bells are ringing- listen to them! Anyone can be a victim of gaslighting or manipulation. 

Feeling constantly confused. Another sign that you may be falling victim to gas lighting is when you are constantly confused and second guessing your thoughts and opinions.

Three takeaways:

1. Trust your instincts (I’m going to reiterate this, always trust your gut feeling, if you feel like you are uncomfortable whether it’s a situation you are in or if you don’t have a good feeling while talking to a certain person I advise you exit the chat or don’t answer in the first place.)
2. Never answer to someone whom you don’t know. I will say this was my first and biggest mistake that I have made: allowing this person’s messages into my inbox, and replying to their ridiculous claims and questions. Now that I think about it I don’t even know if this was a woman or not.
3. Set your boundaries! This is probably the most important tip to take away from this article. Setting up your boundaries from the beginning is so important. Whether it is a friend, partner or colleague, if you do not set your boundaries from the beginning of your interaction or relationship with that person; people will not respect your limits and choices later on. Especially if your boundaries have to do with religion, moral compasses, or even specific pet peeves you have. I cannot emphasize how much boundaries matter when it comes to any daily interaction you may have in your daily life.

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The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

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