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Continuing on from Sex MashaAllah Role-Playing and VulnerbilityCommon Myths & Misconceptions, Tropes & Notions about Female Sexuality, Spirituality in the Bedroom, and Single & Looking.
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Married 5 years, Live Your Fantasy

Raised in the 90s, before the internet, with an Eastern, conservative, immigrant upbringing in the US, I was clueless about sex. The only exception was the “Sex Ed” class in middle school, which briefly covered the anatomy and physiology of the body parts and then jumped right into STDs, methods of birth control, and attempted to convince hormone raging teenagers, who had no boundaries, to practice abstinence for the majority of the program. Even this class, my parents only angrily allowed me to partake in.

My mother NEVER spoke to me about this subject, [read Parenting series] and I dared not ask; we just didn’t have that kind of relationship. I don’t blame her; she was raised in a different society. When I got my period, she told me what a shameful thing it was, [read Muslimah’s Guide to Puberty: How to talk to your daughter about Adolescence] and how I had to hide it from my whole family.  To the point that I even woke up with my family for suḥūr while on my period, and essentially wouldn’t eat while at home, afraid to get caught by them. I was so shy, or a “prude” as some people would like to call it, I refused to get a Pap smear done because I just couldn’t imagine laying in such a position in front of ANYONE.

And then came the pre-marriage years, when my parents wanted me to like the guy, marry him, and move in with him – all in one weekend. My thoughts… “Over my dead body will I be stuck in the same room with a guy I don’t really know that well emotionally.” And so, I came up with this crazy idea to have the nikāḥ first and then, a couple of months down the line, move in with him. So, we agreed. Still clueless on the ‘birds and the bees’ issue, I was petrified of that magical night.  My expectations… none. As long as his needs are satisfied, I’m successful, right? Isn’t that what’s supposed to happen?

After our nikāḥ, in preparation for our wedding reception months later, my husband and I talked about this subject.  I attempted to educate myself about sex from the Islamic perspective, but well, there wasn’t much out there. I was too cautious – scared to look within other sources because I was afraid I’d come across “inappropriate information”.  A friend of mine gave me the sage advice to just use lubrication, and everything else would be fine. Wow, thanks.

So, here’s what I have learned:

In an article by Ruqayyah Waris Maqsood she writes:

God’s Messenger ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said: `In the sexual act of each of you there is a sadaqa.’ The Companions replied: `O Messenger of God! When one of us fulfils his sexual desire, will he be given a reward for that?’ And he said, `Do you not think that were he to act upon it unlawfully, he would be sinning? Likewise, if he acts upon it lawfully he will be rewarded.’

This hadith only makes sense if the sexual act is raised above the mere animal level. What is the magic ingredient that turns sex into sadaqa and that makes it a matter of reward or punishment from Allah? It is by making one’s sex life more than simple physical gratification; it is the thought of pleasing Allah by unselfish care for one’s partner. A husband that cannot understand this will never be fully respected by his wife.

The beauty of being newlyweds is that you have no baggage, barriers, or walls. You are bare-naked in terms of emotions. Bring that into the bedroom.  A principle that we hoped would ground our relationship is being open, communicating with each other about everything, so there is no room for misinterpretation. So, with every step of intimacy, every subtle or not so subtle move, he would ask me, “Is this ok? Does this feel good?”

“Wow,” I thought, “He loves me so much that even in an act that he desires and lusts for, he is concerned about my thoughts and my feelings.”

And, in turn, I asked him with my every intimate action, “Is this right?”

This unselfish care from him is what empowered me to fulfill his fantasies. Does that mean we never disappointed one another? Of course not, we were just open about the disappointment afterwards.

Alhamdulillah, 5+ roller coaster-years later that open communication, regardless of the consequences, is what has gotten us through and helped us develop a deep, meaningful understanding of one another.

I explained my upbringing to him, and of course, being from the same upbringing, he understood.  I told him that, ironically, when I said I do, because I was so terrified of sex and not wanting to appear amateur, I simply “x-ed” out the fact that he was male. In fact, I spoke to him as if it was a platonic relationship.  However, I was willing to learn, willing to do what pleased him, while allowing him to explore with me as well. That willingness came with, during, and after the love and confidence I felt after he pleased me. Go beyond the stereotype.  Have both expectations, to gain pleasure through intimacy, and to be a part of your spouse seeking pleasure from you.

And specifically to the men: if she is from a conservative background realize that it might not be that she doesn’t want it, it might be that she doesn’t know that this world of intimacy exists. So, it’s in your interest to educate yourself on giving your wife pleasure. You will see that when you show her how important it is that she is pleased with you, then she, too, out of love, will fulfill your fantasies.

Newly Married, On Performance Anxiety

Some women are unable to or have difficulty in reaching climax via penetration but they can experience a ‘clitoral’ orgasm, or they need adequate clitoral stimulation before they are ready for intercourse. Some men do not know this and they do not stimulate their wives at the right place, and the women are ashamed or shy to bring this up, thinking that they are the problem.

This creates sexual frustration for both partners. Women may feel under pressure to have an orgasm and men also feel under pressure to give their partner an orgasm during penetration. As a result, instead of thinking erotically, you start to worry on what your partner will think of you, how less feminine you are, and how terrible it will be if you fail to perform. This sexual performance anxiety will inhibit a woman’s arousal, as it is tied to emotions and a state of mind. Sex will be difficult to enjoy and no longer a pleasurable experience.  It becomes worse when it leads to a perpetual cycle: you are unable to perform because you are anxious, and it leads to even more performance anxiety.

Like other forms of anxiety, getting over sexual performance anxiety needs work and dedication. The tips below may be helpful in overcoming this issue:

1. Talk to your partner about it

Discussing it with your partner can ease some worries. Understanding and reassurance by your partner will make you less anxious and more comfortable. Finding solutions together might actually bring you emotionally closer as a couple, and improve your sexual relationship. Express gratitude and compliment each other after you have had sex. Tell your partner that you had a good experience and acknowledge your partner’s improvement in performance as it gets better and better. This is important to boost her self-confidence and inspire her to perform better next time.

2. Increase intimacy in other areas

Being intimate is not just about sex. Doing non-sexual activities together can bring you closer and increase your intimacy.  Being more emotionally connected to your partner will definitely make you more comfortable in bed. In order to have good sexual life, you need to be vulnerable and let your defenses down.  This is difficult to achieve if you are not feeling safe or you don’t give yourself wholeheartedly.

3. Practice makes perfect

With more experience, trial and error, and patience, you will slowly learn to get it right and be ‘in sync’ with your partner.

4. Exercise

It will make you feel better about your body and increase your stamina in bed.

5. Love yourself more

-Stop defining yourself with orgasm.

-Stop worrying about what others are going to think of you.

-Focus on what you can control – your erotic thoughts, fantasies, sensations, and feelings.

-It is OK not to achieve orgasm once in a while. Appreciate whatever pleasure you have.

-Stop obsessing about rating your sexual experience. Take it easy on yourself, but be brave enough to admit if there is a problem and seek help.

6. See a doctor or a therapist

This is to make sure that your anxiety is not caused by a health condition or medication. A professional sex therapist can help you to explore and understand more about your issues.



  1. Avatar


    February 17, 2014 at 2:23 AM

    You know, there’s a problem with articles about sex and marriage- we appreciate them but we’re too shy to comment or admit how many of them are relevant to us, whether out of modesty or shame. People don’t want to give feedback like “Oh yeah, had the same problem. Lube is great,” and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

    However, I want to thank you for writing and posting this, because as an “old married woman” (9 years) I’ve had my share of shy younger sisters calling or texting me to ask what were embarrassing questions either days before or days after they were married.

    Incidentally, more than one was answered with lube.

    In any case, we really need more practical advice for married Muslims about the physical aspect of their relationship. We live in a world where sex has been taken out of the realm of private, sacred, personal and made into a public, perfectly choreographed montage set to saxophone music. Healthy expectations of what sex is and how it works have been replaced with myths that even Muslims end up believing.

    Sex is a team effort. It is an act of sadaqa. Muslim women- and men- can and should learn as much as they can about pleasing Allah and pleasing their spouses in what is a crucial part of any married relationship. JazakAllahuKheiran for posting this here.

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    February 17, 2014 at 5:15 AM

    “It is by making one’s sex life more than simple physical gratification; it is the thought of pleasing Allāh by unselfish care for one’s partner”

    Its a nice contrast to the feminist poison we see in the West that sees sex as a weapon to extract more from a marraige relationship. As if the other spouse must be goaded by a dangled carrot to run around fulfilling the whims of the other before he/she has any chance of having any intimacy in the bedroom. The hadiths stating the importance of mutual fulfillment are well known but it would be nice to see an article discusses the harms and psychological damage that this can do to a marraige aswell.

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    February 17, 2014 at 5:37 AM

    Another useful book to read on this subject is, Islamic guide to sexual relations, written by Muhammad ibn Adam al Kawthri.

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    Mustafa Mujahid

    February 17, 2014 at 5:49 AM

    This post in a very beautiful and honest manner is addressing a very beautiful subject. Allah in His Mercy has given us intimacy/sex to benefit from, to enjoy and to perfect as well. Muhammed the Prophet (saw) taught us to seek to perfect our endeavours, all of our endeavours. I must say that after reading this excellent post, I am very happy and enriched. This post is clearly respecting and obeying the instructions of The Prophet.
    InshaAllah, I’m looking forward to reading more from this and other gifted muslim writers. Alhamdulilaah

  5. Avatar


    February 17, 2014 at 10:22 AM

    Assalamu alaykum wa rahmatullahi Sister…ma shaa Allaah, wonderful article and it’s long overdue! I have been waiting for it and dreaming of one day writing an article about it too but at the same time I have my worries that I may not word things appropriately. Most Muslim women I know have this “intimacy” problem; they’re even shy or afraid to say “sex” and “orgasm” because they do not want to be judged. Alhamdulillaah, as I was reading your article…I noticed that it is carefully thought and written so as not to offend anybody and I really felt that it would help a lot of couple to understand how important it is to have a “healthy and pleasurable intimacy” without crossing the limits.

    Baraka Allaahu fik
    May Allaah be pleased with you. Ameen.

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    February 17, 2014 at 2:12 PM

    Note to self-get married to a girl from a super-conservative culture. She will be very appreciative inshaa Allah.

    I think this is good because I haven’t seen articles like this elsewhere on the net, and apparently intimacy issues are a serious problem among Muslims. May Allah guide us to the best way in this and also aid and reward those who have to be patient because they are not in a position to be intimate.

    Most discussions seem to cater to people of my demographic who are concerned with restraining temptations but it’s important to note that what happens afterwards is also necessary to preserve chastity.

    *This comment was edited by the MM Comments Team in order to comply with our Comments Policy*

  8. Avatar


    February 17, 2014 at 3:08 PM

    Growing up in this culture I used to see my friends around the age of 11-12 have their first kiss with a girl. Then at 14-15 they had their first date and at 16-18 be intimate with her partner. As a Muslim at age 25 I have not been able to comprehend that on the FIRST night of the marriage I am expected to go straight to intimacy!! I have never been on a date nor have i ever kissed a girl. Im not sure if sisters are aware but guys are as nervous, scared (if not more) than them. Nervous or scared in the sense that I would hate to be the one who disappoints my wife in any of this. This article was refreshing to read because it reminded me alhamdulilah there are good sisters out there who do not want to engage in this stuff before marriage but still look forward to it.
    If I could give just one advice to my sisters (feel free to reject it) I would say stay away from engaging in sex or dating before marriage, you have no idea how happy your husband would be knowing that. All the best you all. May Allah grant you pious spouses or keep you happy with your current ones.

    • Avatar


      February 17, 2014 at 3:19 PM

      “If I could give just one advice to my sisters (feel free to reject it) I would say stay away from engaging in sex or dating before marriage, you have no idea how happy your husband would be knowing that.”

      Isn’t that supposed to be the expectation? I want to be intimate with a virgin not a woman who did zina or dating before marriage.

      • Avatar


        February 24, 2014 at 4:05 PM

        Salamualikum warahmatullah,

        In the same vain, I would ask Muslim brothers to consider their future wives even before they have met her. It is so acceptable these days that the lady is a virgin but the guy is not. I think we need to stop and think about this. Allah’s order of abstinence before marriage is for ALL Muslims.

        Jazakallahu khairan for this article. I am very glad we are having conversations about this.


    • Avatar


      November 9, 2015 at 12:29 PM

      I find your comment quite lovely, except that surely we should expect males and females to abstain from ‘stuff’ because it is what Allah would want from us, as opposed to what our future spouses expect or desire?

      It would not have bothered my husband what I may or not have been engaged in prior to marriage as he believes it’s non of his business. As it’s solely between us and Allah, and no body else.

  9. Avatar


    February 17, 2014 at 4:11 PM

    A great article, sounds like the author had the perfect progression to intimacy, mashallah!

    There are extreme cases where the females may develop/be diagnosed with ‘vaginismus’, a condition where sex is either completely impossible or extremely painful. Lube alone does not do the work. Its relevant for this article because vaginismus is more common in religious women who don’t receive balanced sex education. If a woman always hears about first night being excruciating and bloody, its only natural that she won’t look forward to the experience and her body will never be ready for it. In most of the cases of vaginismus the couples may have unconsummated marriage for several years before doing anything about it. I know, sounds impossible, but it does happen!

    But there is help available. If a sex therapist is out of reach, this website has excellent resource mashallah:

    In most cases its possible to completely cure vaginismus and have enjoyable intimacy alhamdulillah.

    • Avatar


      May 6, 2014 at 12:36 AM

      I recently found out vaginismus and think it may be what is stopping my husband and I from having fully had intercourse despite being almost three years into our marriage. Thank you for mentioning it, its not something that many women and couples are aware of.

  10. Avatar


    February 17, 2014 at 6:18 PM

    Assalamu alaykum!

    I guess that I come from a strange position, and that is that of a GIRL who has never been taught to be afraid or ashamed of sex. I educated myself with regards to intimacy and marriage by practical Muslim articles such as these, and I was also surrounded by a LOT of sex education because I went to a very left-progressive school that provided a lot of info.

    What I’m scared of is that I’ll intimidate or plant suspicions in the mind of potential spouses after marriage, because I look forward to both emotional and physical intimacy and I have healthy expectations and knowledge of the opposite gender. Although I have never dated, and never been intimate with anyone before, I have lived amongst men, so that I am not half as clueless about them or as seemingly scared as the average Muslim girl.

    I want an honest answer – if a religious Muslim girl (practicing, conservative hijab, known religious family, very strong in deen and principles) appeared confident around men, and had been far away from her family and studied at a mixed university where she did extracurriculars and worked closely with guys – would her reputation be considered compromised? Would she be considered as ‘mixing with men’ and ‘loose’?

    • Avatar


      February 17, 2014 at 8:03 PM

      Subhan Allah very common issue

      This is just one random brother’s opinion but no, not at all. Many brothers (some will admit it, others will not) want a woman to marry who is confident but chaste. However (key point) they have a perception that that is never the case. Therefore, it is your job to simply be honest about being confident and show that a woman can be BOTH confident and have chastity/humility/etc. There’s just a perception amongst brothers I have spoken to that it’s never like that…that a confident Muslimah is probably “loose” and one who mixes with men.

      Practical solution: When a brother proposes to you, be confident BUT tell him about your views on how it is wrong to mix with men, how you do not like when women are “loose”, and that you value chastity and being reserved with the opposite sex. That might really open his eyes.

      To be very honest with you, being confident might throw off some brothers from initially proposing in the first place…sad, but that is just how it is. However not everyone is like that.
      – random single brother

  11. Avatar


    February 17, 2014 at 9:28 PM

    Hmm..very informative, but like growing up in the West, how does not one know most of that information being experienced or not ? The actual intricate intimacies are incumbent on each couple and their level of trust and attachment, but I think most folks would know enough, no ?
    I think most of the young generation may already have some sexual experience by the time they get married. And the general idea of being sexually satisfied is not really just for newly weds but for couples of any marriage duration.

    Sex is a powerful physical and emotional act, so naturally it is uniquely important in a person’s life, but I do not think it is the binding tool in a relationship.

    This articles was written by MuslimMatters the girl; wonder if there is a response by MuslimMatters the boy ? :)

  12. Avatar

    Ammena Tarannum

    February 17, 2014 at 10:04 PM

    Nice read! JazakAllah!

  13. Avatar

    A married woman

    February 18, 2014 at 11:26 AM

    Agree 100%. exactly the kind of attitude muslim women need to approach marriage and intimacy. I would highly recommend Ruqqiyah Waris Baig’s book titled ‘ the muslim marriage guide.’ it is thorough and offers a religious perspective on the subject. Having said that keep in mind first many times will be difficult but have patience and have mercy for each other. And you will achieve satisfaction in each other In sha Allah.

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    February 18, 2014 at 12:04 PM

    Pls if someone can write an article how couples can move forward when one spouse was sexually abused before marriage….

  15. Avatar


    February 20, 2014 at 4:18 PM

    At UMF – Megan Wyatt founder of Wives of Jannah has written material regarding your question :)

  16. Avatar


    February 22, 2014 at 1:04 PM

    Masha Allah, very good article, after reading this article I would also like to highlight one big problem of Muslim men here, they think it’s their right to do this, because they are not doing any wrong here but don’t care about their spouse emotions And desires. If she reluctant to do then they force her to do, they just wanted to fulfil their desire they don’t care about their spouse emotions and future problems. Instead of explaining the beauty of this, they explain you the punishment of Allah only for ladies. If girl still persist and not agree on his demands then they ask their and her elders too to force her for this otherwise they have the right of four marriages. Muslim men can’t understand that they can achieve this desire by mutual understanding, caring, and respecting each other.

  17. Avatar


    February 22, 2014 at 1:10 PM

    Wow I love this. I really admire how the sister wrote this so carefully and delicately.

  18. Avatar

    Fatima Ariadne

    February 23, 2014 at 4:26 AM

    Really love this article! So gentle, honest, yet far from vulgar :).

    Trust me, as a newlywed too, the guy is equally nervous as the woman. Especially if both are virgins. You should really let go of unrealistic expectations. Just enjoy the whole process and don’t focus too much on seeking the O-word. Intercourse is expression of love, not just carnal desires (LOL perhaps I’m too naive on this but if your life outside the bed is bad, guaranteed your bed will be dry too! :)).

    Commenting on menses thing : I dont understand Why in some cultures menstruation should be shameful and dirty? Without menstruation cycle you cannot give birth to a human being in this world. Though it’s najjis, Allah doesn’t create menstruation to “shame” women, it’s a precursor to sacred link of motherhood. I remember a hadith when one female sahaba (Umayyah bint Qais) ride Rasulullah’s camel to Khaybar, and she got her first menses on the camel she was very anxious. Seeing the bloodstain, Rasulullah gently told her to attend herself then return to the camel. After the war of Khaybar, he gave a gift to her, a necklace from the spoils of war, and placed it into her neck with his own mubarak hand. Subhanallah how many cultures forgot this example.

  19. Avatar


    February 23, 2014 at 6:11 PM

    It is a tricky one as the topic is not discussed before it’s due. There are some people who can learn and teach eachother in this area, I admire them, and regard their method to be the most successful. People are different however, this does not work for everybody, its a fact which many people deny or judge. In my case, I feel that when a couple meet, it is the chemistry between the two that could reflect whether they are sexually compatible in the future (in my case, I pray that this will work). What worries me and what is definitely prevalent, is that some couples do not have happy sexual relationships and if they are to follow the teach and learn method, they could remain unsatisfied as what they have been waiting for can be seen as another learning curve that is not parralel to the belief of love and naseeb. If sexual activity is a form of practising love (love that happens through fate), is it wrong to say that sexual satisfaction/dissatisfaction could also be fate?

  20. Avatar

    Raheel Awan

    March 2, 2014 at 2:29 PM

    Jazakallah for this info

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  22. Avatar

    Rita Hassan

    March 13, 2014 at 1:54 PM

    Dear @Mohammed and @Mahmud. Salaamualeykum.
    I too like yourselves am very grateful for this type of discussion to be brought up in such a scholarly format. However, as a Muslim, convert, and divorced woman, I would like to stress a couple of points. While it is always an ideal situation for two married people to be virgins on their wedding night, there are many virgins both male and female that marry non-virgins. In fact, many of the early Muslim leaders married women that had previous marriages. Our beloved Prophet Mohammed, PBUH had several wives that had been previously married including his beloved first wife Khadija.
    As a note to any Muslim males reading this comment: the information given by the article can apply to any newly married couple whether the woman/man is a virgin or not. Any woman will appreciate her husband being gentle and considerate of her feelings and emotions during the sexual act. Whether a woman comes from a conservative culture or not, she will want to feel loved, respected, and appreciated by her spouse especially during intimacy. Also, please note that there are many non-Muslim women that come from families that believe strongly in abstinence, so, even if you marry a convert, you must not assume that just because she was raised in America, as a non-believer, that she has “been around”. I personally have cousins that are NOT Muslim that waited until their wedding night to have sex, and I know some female converts that married Muslim men that were virgins on their wedding night. I am divorced now, but I want you to know, the first encounter with a man that you have never been touched by is very special, and it should be. A woman that has been married before may still tremble on her first night with her new husband–believe me. She may be just as nervous or scared because it is a new experience with a different man, a man that she loves, a man that she wants to please, a man that she wants to spend the rest of her life with. So, keep that in mind brothers– we divorced women have feelings, and needs too and hopefully, Allah will put good people in our paths. InshaAllah.

  23. Avatar


    August 5, 2014 at 7:50 AM

    A wife is as much entitled to intimacy as her husband is, and in no way can a husband disregard this right. If he does, then he is not fulfilling one of the most fundamental rights in a marriage, and a wife can easily seek divorce in such a case.
    The topic is discussed in detail here:

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  25. Avatar

    Sara Amin

    December 6, 2015 at 11:12 AM

    Thank you MM for this great article! Ibn Taymiyyah said fulfilling the wife’s sexual desire is MORE important than providing her with housing and clothes. The reason? To fulfill her financial needs she can turn to her family or even hire herself out. In other words there is a means to fufill her need. However, her sexual needs can only be fulfilled by her husband. She has no other means to protect herself from haram if this need is not fulfilled.

    As a newly Married revert I believe all brothers must educate themselves on how to satisfy their wife’s needs and stop focusing on their own.

    My husband benefited a lot by reading this article and ibn taymiyyah’s above statement in a book I found called Enjoy Amazing Halal Sex

    We need more articles like this and more literature that talks about this crucial subject.

    Without enough halal material some couples maybe tempted to turn to haram sources justifying it is for ”educational” purposes.

    Our deen is complete and covers all areas of life including sex. It would be great if public speakers would address the issue with an online course. Brother addressing brothers and sister speaker addressing sisters in detail about sex.

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Which deeds are most beloved to Allah?

Alhamdulillah, by the blessings of Allah (swt) and readers like yourself, MuslimMatters has been an independent platform for our best thought leaders to educate us in our faith and catalyze change through powerful, necessary conversations. Since our humble beginnings as a basic wordpress blog in 2007, our content has remained free.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support us with a monthly donation of $10 per month, or even as little as $1. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that single young Muslims, despite not being in possession of any fortune, are always in search of a spouse.

However little prepared these people may be to undertake this ordeal is given little thought, and they are thrust out into the world of modern Muslim matchmaking. The generational divide in the community has meant that young people have received little training at home to navigate the process of finding a spouse. These individuals are seeking high-quality relationships, but few have the skills and emotional intelligence needed to find one. They are left to learn on their own through trial-and-error, and often a lot of pain.

With hopes of making this journey a little easier, we’ve compiled a few principles to keep in mind as you tread these cold uncharted waters.

You won’t attract what you want, you’ll attract what you are. Do you find in yourself the qualities that you seek in another?Click To Tweet

1. Work on yourself

You won’t attract what you want, you’ll attract what you are. Do you find in yourself the qualities that you seek in another?

Aspire to be self-fulfilled and complete on your own, rather than hoping for someone else to do that for you. Operationally, this entails refining both your inner and outer self. On the outside this could include basic things like being well-groomed (especially for men), knowing how to cook a healthy diet, exercising regularly and supporting yourself financially. You should also ensure you have good relationships with loved ones – do the people you care about love you back? Admit any wrongs you may have done to them and make amends to improve ties if they are strained. The state of your current relationships can be a good indicator of future ones.

On the inside, you should make a moral inventory and work to address your shortcomings in character. You must work on your selfishness, your anger, your dishonesty, your lust, your pride, your stinginess, your harshness, your resentments, your stubbornness, your fears, your jealousy, your self-righteousness, your vanity. This list is never ending and it’s a lifelong process; the sooner you get started the better off you’ll be.

You must also get help for any serious problems that you fear might affect a relationship – instead of hoping these problems will go away with the ‘right partner’. If you have a pornography problem, seek out help and don’t be deluded into thinking marriage will solve that for you. If you have no control over your desires before marriage, you won’t magically gain control afterward. If you have a substance abuse problem, join a 12-step program. If you feel you are emotionally unhealthy, get help from a professional. Bottom line is, have your house in order before you decide to build a new one.

2. Maintain good mental health throughout the process

Be purposeful in your search but don’t make it the purpose of your life. The process of finding a spouse can become emotionally draining and overwhelming if you don’t do it in a healthy fashion. Understand that this process entails too many factors that are completely out of your control; things won’t always go your way, so don’t be too attached to the outcome.  The only things you control are your responses and actions, so just focus on putting your best foot forward.

A common mistake people make is they give themselves a timeline e.g. ‘I want to be married by X age, or by X year’. This only results in unnecessary pressure that can lead to anxiety and poor mental health; it can also force one to make imprudent choices. Everyone has a different timeline; have trust in God’s plan for you.

Anytime mental health is disturbed, stop and revaluate. Some signs of poor mental health include: obsessive thinking, inability to focus on your everyday affairs, compulsive attachment and clinginess, disturbed sleep, anxiety, difficulty making decisions, inability to multitask, feeling overwhelmed, panic attacks, depression, irritability, changes in eating habits, and a loss of inner serenity. It is best to get help from counselors, such as those at Naseeha, if you feel stuck in this situation.

3. Adopt a mindset of giving

The measure you give is the measure you get back. Instead of worrying so much about what you want, focus on what you have to offer.

While you should certainly express your interest in someone you like, don’t taint it with desperation and neediness. If you’ve implemented the first point mentioned, you are already a confident and self-sufficient person. You will be fine no matter what. Focus on giving without expectation and building a healthy companionship. Be a giver and you’ll be surprised how easily you will attract the right people towards you. The ‘mindset of want’ is a self-defeating mindset: you might not find all the things you want in someone, and even if you did, there is no guarantee they’ll want you back!

4. Don’t overthink it

Living in a capitalist society, we’ve developed the bad habit of picking out people the same way we go shopping for a new product. We like to explore the market, do a cost-benefit analysis of various options, try to make sure the product isn’t damaged and hope to pick out the best possible item. We are careful about how we ‘invest our time’ and we try to ensure we can get an appropriate return on our investment. If we could, we’d ask for a money-back guarantee on people too!

Human hearts, unfortunately, cannot be picked out the way we choose commercial products. Each has its flaws and its strengths, you have to accept both the good and the bad; the pro-con list approach won’t work here. When we start taking this reductionist approach to relationships, we naturally get into overthinking, feel anxious and overwhelmed. With the widespread use of online dating, the choices seem limitless and it can seem impossible to try to figure out how to find the right person.

Marriage is a decision that’s to be taken with the heart; you have to rely on your guts and your instincts to steer you towards the person most suitable for you. This doesn’t mean throwing rational thought out the door, it means looking to your inner-self as the source of motivation for your decision making. It takes emotional intelligence and self-awareness to be able to determine what kind of a person you’ll be able to build a future with; it’s not always someone that looks best on paper. There are very few people with whom you’ll find compatibility and reciprocity, so don’t obsess over exploring as many possible ‘options’ with hopes of marking off all the items on your checklist.

We ultimately find the most fulfillment in caring for and taking responsibility for someone we sincerely love. So, look instead for the ingredients that will act as the foundations of love in your marriage. These could include the fact that you: enjoy someone’s company, find them beautiful, admire their character and kindness, respect them, find reciprocity in your interactions, have shared values and compatible temperaments. You are looking for that certitude, that good feeling in your heart; focusing on these factors will hopefully give you that and will get you out of the common mistake of overthinking and worrying.

One of the unique challenges Western Muslims face when looking for a spouse is finding religious compatibility. The diversity of our community, coupled with the individualized nature of faith in the West, has given rise to a plethora of ‘brands’ of Islam. Click To Tweet

5. Work to bridge religious differences

One of the unique challenges Western Muslims face when looking for a spouse is finding religious compatibility. The diversity of our community, coupled with the individualized nature of faith in the West, has given rise to a plethora of ‘brands’ of Islam. Personal levels of observance can vary vastly, even within members of the same family, so it can be challenging to find the right fit.

You will always find differences in religious observance and views between spouses. It is impossible, and foolish, to try to seek out someone at the exact same level. Some people might be more conservative than you, some might be more liberal. Do you really have to turn someone down because they don’t agree with your views on conventional mortgages? What if you like dressing up for Halloween and going trick-or-treating, and they’re opposed to it? What if they don’t eat zabiha halal like you do? What if they don’t pray all the five prayers on time like you were raised to do so?

Given the unique circumstances we live in, we must be flexible and open-minded about resolving such differences. We ought to be careful when making a judgment about someone’s beliefs; we don’t know what’s in someone’s heart. Some of us were taught to honour God through worship and observing His law, some of us were raised with an emphasis on serving His creation with good character. People have their strengths and their weaknesses in faith; sometimes these are apparent, sometimes hidden. Your relationship with God is not perfect and neither will be your partner’s; we are all a work in progress.

If approached with kindness, mutual respect and a willingness to compromise, these differing religious views could be resolved in many cases. While sometimes people really are on extreme ends, most of us fall somewhere in between and can find a comfortable middle ground. It is often our stubbornness, self-righteousness and a parochial understanding of religion that gets in the way. Good people are hard to find, so don’t let suitable matches go because they don’t follow your exact flavor of religious observance. This is certainly a sensitive topic and needs to be dealt with tact and wisdom; it is advisable to seek counsel of more experienced people.

6. Don’t expose your past and don’t pry about someone else’s

If you have a past you are not proud of and it doesn’t concern your future relationships, you should not feel obliged to expose yourself. In fact, if this relates to sins of the past, it is actually prohibited to reveal your sins to someone else – even in the context of marriage. Shaykh Nuh Keller summarizes this pitfall well, “In Islam, to mention a sin is itself a sin. How many a person has been unable to resist telling a friend or a spouse of the wickedness they did in their previous life, and Allah punished them with disgust and contempt in the other’s heart that could never quite be forgotten! There is no barakah in the haram”.

Similarly, it goes without saying that you shouldn’t be prying about someone else’s past and trying to dig up details on their misadventures. The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) commanded us to have a good opinion of people; he warned against the destructive nature of suspicion and spying. He told us, “Beware of suspicion for it is the most deceitful of thought. Do not look for the others’ faults and do not spy, and do not be jealous of one another, and do not desert (cut your relation with) one another, and do not hate one another; Rather, be servants of God as brothers”

7. Istikhara is not a solution for indecisiveness

The prayer of seeking guidance, or Istikhara, is oft cited by those considering marriage. The mistake many make, however, is that we are really wishing for someone else to make the decision for us. We are so afraid of making the wrong decision that we find it difficult to make any. We hope for a divine sign or a miracle to happen that tells us that the other person is right for us and that we will live happily ever after with them.

Making big life decisions, emotionally prudent ones, is an important life skill that must be learned. These decisions come with inherent risks, uncertainties, and unknowns; there are no guarantees. If you habitually find yourself having a hard time deciding, it is likely due to external factors. It might have something to do with you, it might have something to do with the person you are considering. It is advisable to seek counsel if you are in this situation.

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Loving Muslim Marriage Episode #5: Male Sexual Entitlement vs. Female Sexual Guilt

Saba Syed (Umm Reem)



Which deeds are most beloved to Allah?

Alhamdulillah, by the blessings of Allah (swt) and readers like yourself, MuslimMatters has been an independent platform for our best thought leaders to educate us in our faith and catalyze change through powerful, necessary conversations. Since our humble beginnings as a basic wordpress blog in 2007, our content has remained free.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support us with a monthly donation of $10 per month, or even as little as $1. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

Everyone knows that sex in marriage is halal, so why do so many Muslim women struggle with it? From reluctance to guilt, and even shame – Muslim women often carry baggage from cultural teachings related to sex, even when there is nothing to be ashamed of. Our guest in this episode is Dr. Ahmed Basheer, a licensed psychiatrist.

If you have a private question to send the LMM team, email privatequestions at muslimmatters dot org.

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Loving Muslim Marriage Episode #4: Are Men Sexual And Women Emotional?

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Loving Muslim Marriage Episode #4: Are Men Sexual And Women Emotional?

Saba Syed (Umm Reem)



Which deeds are most beloved to Allah?

Alhamdulillah, by the blessings of Allah (swt) and readers like yourself, MuslimMatters has been an independent platform for our best thought leaders to educate us in our faith and catalyze change through powerful, necessary conversations. Since our humble beginnings as a basic wordpress blog in 2007, our content has remained free.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support us with a monthly donation of $10 per month, or even as little as $1. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

We often hear that men think about sex way more than women, but is that true? And if it’s not true, then what effect does this belief have on Muslim couples? In this episode, we talk to Usman Mughni, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist.

Loving Muslim Marriage aims to clarify misunderstandings and misconceptions regarding marital intimacy and female sexuality. To learn more, visit muslim To Tweet
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