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Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Intimacy for Muslim Couples

Men and women have different needs but BOTH men and women are sensual beings and they BOTH need sensual fulfillment.

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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.

Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

For mature audience only:

Intimacy between spouses is a beautiful act of worship. A divine experience that has been mired by anxieties fueled by hypersexualized media, Hollywood movies, many cultural beliefs from the East and misinformed 18th century notions rooted in the West.

It took a year of contemplation for us to publicly address this topic in a broadcast, but the need amongst Muslim couples was so great that we had to put aside our hesitations. The Prophet, sallallahu alihi wasalam and the sahaba and sahabiyaat were not shy to discuss these matters.

Usually when sexual intimacy is discussed in public it is not from a female lens, hence we want to collaborate with our male shuyookh by providing the female perspective, so we can all contribute to healthy marriages.

If we look at intimacy as both a physical and spiritual act and climaxing as the epitome of pleasure that Allah has gifted us, it is easier to understand why it is meant to be a source of Divine Love for both men and women.

As you will hear today that intimacy has become a serious problem in many marriages—  there are many guilt and shame based misconceptions that cause problems between spouses often leading to divorce. Our main motive is to foster healthy marriages, Allah says he loves those who foster purity and marriage is the best way to guard our desires.

We don’t want to generalize because generalization can hurt a relationship and each relationship is as different as the people involved in it. Let’s not play the blame game after listening to this. We want couples to listen together in hopes of understanding and bettering their marriage.

Men Complain:

-“My wife doesn’t want to have intercourse”

-Frequency is mainly a concern amongst men

-“My wife doesn’t actively participate in intimacy, or never initiates”

Women Complain:

-Quality of intimacy

-Lack of foreplay

-Most common complaints: “He fails to give me a climax.”

[button color=”red” size=”big” alignment=”center” rel=”follow” openin=”newwindow” url=”http://muslimmatters.org/2010/10/25/psychology-from-islamic-perspective-how-to-score-big-with-women/”]How To Score BIG With Women: An Islamic and Psychological Approach for Men[/button]

Why is there a Difference between Men’s and Women’s Complaints about Intimacy?

Different needs but BOTH men and women are sensual beings and they BOTH need sensual fulfillment.

Top needs for men include:

-#1 Need: Mutual satisfaction (contrary to popular belief that men only want their own sexual satisfaction they, naturally, want to satisfy their wives too)

-Responsiveness of their spouse – men want their wives engaged during the act: mentally, emotionally and physically

-Men desire initiation by their wife —they long to feel wanted, desired and affirmed

-Men also want to be complimented

Generally, men see intimacy as an escape or release of tension.  They need the intimate act to open up emotionally.

Unfortunately, women continue to be restricted sexually by:

-Shame

-Guilt

-Social and society influence

-Religiously perceived notions

-Family taboos

[button color=”red” size=”big” alignment=”center” rel=”follow” openin=”newwindow” url=”http://muslimmatters.org/2013/05/03/vignettes-on-female-sexuality/”]Sex MashaAllah: Vignettes on Female Sexuality[/button]

Women have sexual needs:

Instead of being able to fully express their sensual nature, women are restricted to being “emotional” only and ripped apart from their “sexual” side.

A woman can be as sensual as she is spiritual, as erotic as she is intellectual and as climatic as she is emotional.

There is a common ground in the complaints—of both men and women— and it is “intimacy”, but:

-Men want intimacy and they want their wives’ participation, and more frequently

-Women have complaints about the quality of intimacy

Many men not only have a huge misunderstanding about women’s sexuality, shockingly many still wonder whether or not a woman is able to reach her climax. Yet, many confuse pleasing a woman in bed as equivalent to fondling only and not making her experience a climax.

Majority of married Muslim women complain about “satisfaction” during intimacy.

The word “satisfaction” is often confused with fondling or fore-playing only. The truth is that if and when explicitly asked, these women explicitly complain about not being able to reach their climax.

SO while men complain about lack of participation of frequency of intimacy, women lose interest because they don’t want to be intimate if they can’t reach their climax. It’s a cycle and unless men understand women’s need of sexuality, women will continue to lose interest that can lead to dangerous consequences.

Next video and outline can be watched here

 

 

 

21 Comments

21 Comments

  1. Avatar

    nadia

    March 24, 2015 at 11:40 AM

    March 1st? Or April 1st…

    • Avatar

      Mia

      March 25, 2015 at 11:51 PM

      JazakAllah khair for this article. Patricularly the comment about women being emotional and men being sexual. Its getting so annoying hearing shuyookh discuss male and female sexuality and emphasize or make it seem like women are only emotional and men are so overly sexual that that is all they think about and it drives everything they do so much so that we women have to wear hijab for that very reason.

      News flash – women are very sexual too. Just like there are men with high sex drives or low sex drives, same goes for women. We are tired of hearing shuyookh essentially nullify our sex drive in their kind way and explain our lack of desiring sex because we are ultimately sexual but thats far from the truth.

      I could go on forever with this subject but I am just so relieved knowledgeable sisters like yourselves are taking this desperately needed initiative to speak for sisters unapologetically.
      JazakAllah khair again!!

  2. Avatar

    mo

    March 27, 2015 at 4:18 AM

    Thank you for this article, coming from a Pakistani family sex was always a taboo…. Until it came to my grandmother, when I hit puberty (as she did with all her granddaughters)…. Shortly before she passed away she told me that the secret to healthy marriage was lots of good sex. When the sex goes so does the marriage…. N you can always tell the state of someone’s marriage depending on their sex life. Over the last 20 odd years I found this to be one of the best advice that I was ever told.

  3. Avatar

    att

    March 27, 2015 at 12:06 PM

    I’m not married. I’m just a malaysian medical student in egypt. I find that this issue is not just something that has to be directed toward only the married crowd but also Teenagers. Alhamdulillah though I never got the sex talk from my parents I managed to understand it enough to know that it is not as television depicts it to be. Nor is it shameful (in marriages of course) but I find it mind numbingly frustrating that many of my friends dont even understand what it is. As in when I brought it up and tried to explain all I received were dumbfounded and horrified faces.

    I don’t think there is any shame in explaining what sex is. It’s mechanism, the rules, or the realities of it (unlike what the television tries to have you believe). I think the best way to create a healthy sexual intimacy in a marriage is to ensure a complete understanding of it before the marriage.

    however this is a problem for me. I have 4 younger sisters and I have no idea how to approach the issue with them. I’m especially worried concerning my immediate sister after me who is 16. Even worse is that schools don’t handle this issue. It’s taboo. In fact our whole society is rather tight lipped on the matter. You either end up with WAY to much knowledge on the matter or too little.most of the time it’s the girls who have to handle the consequences in worse case scenarios.

    • Avatar

      rachel schakel

      January 3, 2017 at 3:15 PM

      Why dont you just talk to your husbands and tell them what you like and what makes you feel good. Ask them why they dont want to touch you or what they like. Its called communication.

  4. Avatar

    KE

    March 28, 2015 at 4:47 PM

    Jazakum Allah khyran for addressing this subject. It is a very important topic for muslim couples. I have been married for 19 years and have been looking for an islamic discussion on this subject since I got married but could not find any. I hope I will be able to use your valuable knowledge to make our marriage more meaningful.

    KE

  5. Pingback: Erroneous Eastern Cultural Beliefs about Female Sexuality

  6. Avatar

    Mohammed Siddiqui

    March 29, 2015 at 7:54 PM

    Teh peerane kaleesa wa haram Haaye waaye majboori
    Sila inn ki kado kaawish ka hai Yeh seenon ki benoori

    “Islamic feminism at its peak”

    No wonder why muslim marriages don’t last long now a days.

    Instead of teaching how to reach climax or demand climax from your spouse, it may be more prudent and useful to teach how to be content.

    No wonder why the alims and shuyookh will be the first to be questioned.

    Keep up with your halal sex talk. Great going

    • Avatar

      KK

      March 18, 2018 at 6:13 AM

      How ignorant. It is sentiments like yours that destroy marriages. It is part of the sunnah to ensure the wife’s desires are fully met in addition to the husband’s, even when he has finished but she has not. May Allah guide us all.

    • Avatar

      Yusuf

      April 23, 2019 at 12:13 PM

      How can a man overcome low sexual confidence?? I am infertile and can’t father children but both wife and I have come to terms with it.

      Problem is I struggle to have intercourse even though I engage in foreplay. Sometimes I artificially satisfy wife’s needs by touch without me getting intimate for fear of not getting aroused.

      I have normal male hormone levels but I think now I’ve lost my job and wife starts at 9am, she is tired even though she works part time. I have taken the male pill but doesn’t work unless both are in the mood.

      I’m really frustrated as I know masturbation is a sin. What can I do?

      Bro Yusuf

  7. Avatar

    Umm

    March 30, 2015 at 9:35 PM

    These articles in MM has bi idnillah greatly improved our sexlife.
    Some things that was essential for our change were
    1.proper knowledge about sexlife (pleasure spots for both)from clean sources.
    2.No blaming the husband while communicating the issue.
    3.expressing support,care and love for each other’s needs
    4.feeling confident and participating actively during foreplay and sex.

  8. Avatar

    RandMale

    March 31, 2015 at 10:57 AM

    I agree in general, but I have also noticed that there is sharp feelings in the bedroom regarding freedom and control whether it is consciously or only subconsciously. Men and women can become controlling of the act of intimacy and what they want to do/get out of it and what their conceptions are about the act itself. Sometimes the controlling factor can be about what NOT to do, or what is not being allowed, while sometimes it is about what one partner wants the other partner to do during intimacy. This can lead to conflict in the bedroom, which can also escalate away from the bedroom. Similarly confrontational behaviour outside of the bedroom can resurface during intimacy with negative outcomes, or no satisfying outcomes at all… these can also escalate ongoing problems in relationships. as regards to freedom, people knows that there are certain things which for both partners are taboo, then there are things only one partner might not be sure about or disapproves of, and the other partner might be willing to be persuasive or at least does not like the outright dismissiveness of such acts, eg through name-calling or put-downs which can make the acts feel less intimate and less desirable.

    Also, sleep, prayers, chores, work-life balance and other routines including eating/diet can overlap with sexual intimacy. Some things can have longer impact on an individual due to stress, tensions and mood.

    Lastly, excessive passion sometimes is a turn-on especially early in the relationship, but then later when passion cools, expressing feelings of love, desire and tenderness can become disparate and this might lead to divergences in the relationship as regards male/female views about what is “appropriate” or “suitable” or “proper” in terms of expressing desires, showing love and attitudes towards passion and tender intimacy. Often with women seeking comfort and security and men wanting excitement or physical action. This can be daunting at times and the bedroom can sometimes end up feeling like a battleground, which does not help matters. And to finish, previous sexual experiences/encounters can also have an influence on what each partner considers either as “normal” or “offensive” (“not normal”).

    Also, spiritual practice should not necessarily mean contentment with one’s partner during intimacy is somehow less spiritual.

  9. Avatar

    wanna learn

    April 1, 2015 at 7:07 PM

    Dear editors, does this article end on the first page?
    I kept searching for information on how to learn how make a woman reach her climax and what really is climax for her. I couldn’t find anything in this article.

  10. Avatar

    wanna learn

    April 1, 2015 at 7:14 PM

    I meant I couldn’t find anything in this article regarding things mentioned above.
    Otherwise the article has good necessary information. JazakAllah for making the effort to transform our lives.
    Please help.

  11. Avatar

    Haji Abdul Kareem Nandasena

    April 2, 2015 at 8:07 AM

    Request Your kind permission to translate these creative pieces into Sinhala language, and to circulate its copies among the invitees at a couple of awareness programmes. (Note:Sinhala is the language of the majority of Sri Lanka of which the majority are Buddhists while the rest are Catholics/Christians.)
    Wish You All More Wisdom, More Courage, More Health, and More Patience.
    Thanking You.
    Haji Abdul Kareem Nandasena.

  12. Pingback: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Intimacy: Erroneous Western Cultural Beliefs about Female Sexuality - MuslimMatters.org

  13. Avatar

    Anum

    July 13, 2015 at 4:43 PM

    Every woman think that how my future husband will be liked. Husband and wife are alike a wheels of a car. They can’t move onwards without support of each other. A husband should be pious and have Allah’s fear in heart because Islam has assigned complete duties to husband about his wife. The 3 top features of my future husband, a woman should see are as follows.
    • Responsible and Supportive Person
    • Wife Caring Person
    • Attentive Person

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

  14. Avatar

    Zizou

    July 31, 2015 at 5:37 PM

    About time some analysis was provided on this topic.

    I’ve been married for around ten years, keep myself fit and I would regard myself as attractive (without trying to sound arrogant). My wife never instigates anything nor feels like sharing a bed. She claims to be tired which I understand due to having kids. However there comes a point when a man begins to question this and over a period of time becomes fed up of being the one who initiates everything. Marriage is to provide protection from zinnah but in a lot of cases it is going the opposite.

  15. Pingback: » Intimacy for Muslim Couples: The Anti-Climax

  16. Avatar

    Luna

    March 29, 2016 at 11:44 PM

    Assalamu Alaikum , I am very happy to learn from these lectures about we women faces humiliation with our physical needs. I have similar issues that I never got the chance to talk to the right expert person . I cry to Allah Subahanatala for his help . It is been 22 years of my marriage and my husband never does satisfied me with my desires. I was actually never satisfied with his giving. Over the years leaving me pain and unsatisfactory with my husband that I don’t engaged with him any sexually for 6 years . I am leaving with like roommate and hollow emptiness in my life . I want to seek help but I don’t where and to whom I can discuss my problems. I want to get out from my marriage but I can’t cause I am not financially independent nor I know any man available for me . I am living dead .

    • Avatar

      Anonymous

      October 11, 2017 at 10:49 PM

      Salaam

      First off, could you write next time with better grammar so people can respond to you? It took me a while to fully understand your post with its grammar issues, so this will turn people off from wanting to help you.

      From what I could gather, you were married for 22 years, I assume divorced and living with a female roommate. You feel the need to marry to satisfy yourself. That is fine and acceptable, maybe perhaps try finding if there are other divorced men out there who are willing to marry you, also converts are not as cultural as other muslims and would be way more open to marry you, or you can ask someone else for better advice on this issue. However, what I can give you advice for is twofold.

      One, if you really have strong sexual desires, then bring this up as a talking point to your potential spouse before the marriage. Yes, this is possible, and since you are older I don’t think you need a wali anymore. But, you must have a fairly open and public discussion with your potential spouse about intimacy needs. A good person to have someone proctor your talk with the potential husband would be a muslim couple’s therapist, psychologist, etc. as they have professional knowledge of sexuality and can help you. Essentially, someone like the muslimah’s you have written this article. Also, you can even have like a skype or google hangouts session, phone call, etc. with your potential spouse and talk to them about your intimacy needs and have your chosen muslim therapist or psychologist, etc. be available in and be listening in during the conversation with your potential spouse. I know for a fact an Organization named “Noor Human Consulting” that you can google can help you out and is indeed available for online and offline help. Also, you can try your luck at “Purify your Gaze” however they are an organization that specializes in providing help both online and offline for those addicted or heavily dependent on pornography. However, I have heard them help out in cases relating to intimacy issues both online and offline. Of course, there are other muslim organizations that can help you with this and not just the two I mentioned, so feel free to explore.

      Second, I am pretty sure this will all come out when you talk to these professionals with your spouse-to-be, but one thing you have to understand is that your “needs” are as much your responsibility to fulfill as is his. That is, you need to make sure that when if in say the future you find a husband and he wants to be intimate with you, communicate with him and tell him what he needs to do to satisfy you. Don’t expect him to read your mind, and don’t expect to flop on the bed and expect him to do EVERYTHING and you just lie there and stare at him with blank eyes. Also, in my opinion men like to experiment and will find “alternate ways” to make their wives reach their climax. So don’t be taken aback when your husband proposes he do things like oral stimulation among other things with you that he due to his “body part” not being fit for the job after he climaxes. Be open to your husband and his experimentative yet halal ideas. However, whatever you do DON’T DEMEAN HIS EFFORTS AND SHOVE ALL THE BLAME ON HIM, assuming he is sincere in trying to please you. Chances are, most muslim women who complain of sexual dissatisfaction in a marriage may be contributing more to their own dissatisfaction than their husband is, by for example coming into the bedroom with mental baggage, denying him sex when you don’t want it and giving him less desire to please you as you don’t please him when the time comes but he has to stop everything to please you, not respecting him and his decisions (Of course there should be no respect when he does wants something haram or unethical or if he is abusing you emotionally, spiritually, or physically abusing you or being PURPOSELY sexually negligent towards you) as men REALLY value and have more of a desire to please their wives if they respect the husband and his decisions. It is not me saying this, but western universities that have done psychological studies on men and what they most desire from the opposite sex in the relationship, and respect for his decisions and loyalty are at the top for men.

      I wish you Allah’s blessings in your search for a spouse. Don’t give up, and expand your horizon and search criteria when looking for a partner. I don’t mean marry a fat guy as that guy should be told to lose weight before the marriage, but be open to those men, who of course must be diligent muslims, who you initially did not want to marry due to cultural biases. Also, if you come to a desperation point you could try to maybe seek out a spouse the HALAL way online via muslim matrimonial online services. Also, a word of caution make sure the guy who you find online is single or divorced, as sometimes muslim men who are married and “looking for a 2,3, or 4th wife”, without the 1st wife’s knowledge, as this could involve you in a very heated and tense situation.

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Dawah and Interfaith

10 Lessons I Learned While Serving Those in Need

Abu Ryan Dardir

Published

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charity
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.

I have spent about a decade serving the impoverished domestically and recently, abroad. I don’t work for a major charity organization, I work for my community, through grassroots efforts. It was something embedded in me while learning Islam. Before starting a charity organization, I started studying Islam with Dr. Hatem Alhaj (my mentor) and various other scholars. The more I studied, the more I wanted to implement what I was learning. What my community needed at the time was intensive charity work, as it was neglected entirely by our community. From that, I collected 10 lessons from servicing those in need. 

My bubble burst

One of the first things I experienced was the bursting of my bubble, a sense of realization. I, like many others, was unaware of the hardship in my own community. Yes, we know the hadith and see the events unfold on the news and social media, but when a father of three cried before me because a bag of groceries was made available for him to take home, that moment changed me. We tend to forget how little it takes, to make a huge difference in someone’s life. This experience, made me understand the following hadith of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him): “Every Muslim has to give in charity.” The people then asked: “(But what) if someone has nothing to give, what should he do?” The Prophet replied: “He should work with his hands and benefit himself and also give in charity (from what he earns).” The people further asked: “If he cannot find even that?” He replied: “He should help the needy, who appeal for help.” Then the people asked: “If he cannot do (even) that?” The Prophet said finally: “Then he should perform good deeds and keep away from evil deeds, and that will be regarded as charitable deeds.” – Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 2, Hadith 524. I

t is simply an obligation, due to the amount of good it generates after you do this one action. I then realized even more how beautiful Islam is for commanding this deed. 

Friendships were developed on good deeds

Serving the poor is a great reward in itself. The Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said: “Save yourself from hellfire by giving even half a date-fruit in charity.” – Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 2, Hadith 498. But it is better done with a team, I began building a team of people with similar objectives in serving the needy. These people later became some of my closest friends, who better to keep close to you than one that serves Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) by helping the neediest in the same community you reside in. Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said: “A person is likely to follow the faith of his friend, so look whom you befriend.” [reported by Abu Dawood & Tirmidhee] This is turn kept me on the right path of pleasing Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He). Working with a team removes a lot of the burden as well and the depression that might occur seeing the saddest stories on a daily basis. Allah says in the Qur’ān, “Indeed the believers are brothers.” (49:10). Sometimes there is a misconception that you have to have a huge office or a large masjid in order to get work done. But honestly, all you need is a dedicated group of people with the right intention and things take off from there. 

The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: 'If you love the poor and bring them near you. . .God will bring you near Him on the Day of Resurrection.' - Al-Tirmidhi,Click To Tweet

Made me thankful

This made me thankful for whatever I had, serving the less fortunate reminded me daily to turn to Allah and ask for forgiveness and so be thankful. This kind of service also puts things into perspective. What is truly important in life? I stepped further and further away from a materialistic lifestyle and allowed me to value things that can’t be valued by money. I learned this from the poorest of people in my community, who strived daily for their family regardless of their situation — parents who did what they can to shield their children from their harsh reality. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “If you love the poor and bring them near you. . .God will bring you near Him on the Day of Resurrection.” – Al-Tirmidhi, Hadith 1376. They had a quality about them, despite their poverty status. They were always some of the kindest people I have known. 

People want to do Good

I learned that people want to do good; they want to improve their community and society. I began to see the impact on a communal level, people were being more engaged. We were the only Muslim group helping indiscriminately in our county. Even the people we helped, gave back by volunteering at our food pantry. We have schools where small kids (under adult supervision) partake in preparing meals for the needy, local masajids, churches, and temples, high school kids from public schools, and college organizations (Muslim and nonMuslim) visit frequently from several cities in neighboring counties, cities, and states. The good spreads a lot easier and faster than evil. People want to do good, we just need more opportunities for them to join in. United we can rock this world.

“We need more light about each other. Light creates understanding, understanding creates love, love creates patience, and patience creates unity.” Malcolm X. Click To Tweet

Smiles

Smiles, I have seen the wealthiest smiles on the poorest people. Despite being on the brink of homelessness, when I saw them they had the best smile on their faces. This wasn’t all of them, but then I would smile back and that changed the environment we were in. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “Charity is prescribed for each descendant of Adam every day the sun rises.” He was then asked: “From what do we give charity every day?” The Prophet answered: “The doors of goodness are many…enjoining good, forbidding evil, removing harm from the road, listening to the deaf, leading the blind, guiding one to the object of his need, hurrying with the strength of one’s legs to one in sorrow who is asking for help, and supporting the feeble with the strength of one’s arms–all of these are charity prescribed for you.” He also said: “Your smile for your brother is charity.” – Fiqh-us-Sunnah, Volume 3, Number 98. Smiles are truly universal.

It’s ok to cry

It was narrated that Abu Hurayrah raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) said: The Messenger of Allah said: “A man who weeps for fear of Allah will not enter Hell until the milk goes back into the udder, and dust produced (when fighting) for the sake of Allah and the smoke of Hell will never coexist.” Narrated by al-Tirmidhi and al-Nasaa’i. There are situations you see that hit you hard; they fill your heart with emotions, but that never swayed my concrete belief in Allah’s wisdom. Crying before Allah, not just out of fear, but to be thankful for His Mercy upon you is a relief.

Learning to say no

It was one of the hardest things I had to do, a lot (if not all) of the requests I received for help were extremely reasonable. I do not think anyone asked for anything outrageous. Our organization started becoming the go-to organization in our area for help, but we are one organization, with limited resources, and a few times we were restricted on when or how we could help. This is where learning to say no became a learned skill. Wedid do our best to follow up with a plan or an alternative resource.

It is part of raising a family and finding yourself

How so? Being involved in your community doesn’t take away from raising your family, it is part of it. I can’t watch and do nothing and expect my children to be heroes. I have to lead by example. Helping others is good for my family’s health. Many people living in our country are consumed with their busy lives. Running out the door, getting to work, driving the kids to their after school activities, spending weekends taking care of their families, etc. So people have a fear of investing hours in doing this type of work. But in reality, this work puts more blessings in your time.

One may feel they are taking time away from their family, but in reality, when one comes back home, they find more peace in their home then they left it with. By helping others, I improve the health and culture of my community, this in turn positively impacts my family.

I enjoy being a softie with my family and friends. I am a tall bearded man, and that image suited me better. I am not sure what made me softer, having kids or serving the poor. Either way, it was rewarding and defined my role and purpose in my community.

I learned that you make your own situation. You can be a spectator, or you can get in there and do the best you can to help. It gave me an opportunity to be a role model for my own children, to show them the benefit of doing good and helping when you can.

It came with a lot of humility. Soon after starting I realized that all I am is a facilitator, Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) is giving an opportunity of a lifetime to do this work, a line of work very little people get to engage in regularly. My advice to my readers, if you can serve the poor do so immediately before you get occupied or busy with life.

Helping others is good for my family’s health.Click To Tweet

Dawah through action

As I mentioned before I did spend time studying, and at one point developed one of the top dawah initiatives in the country (according to IERA). But the reality is, helping the less fortunate is my type of dawah, people started to associate our food pantry and helping others with Islam. As an organization with one of the most diverse groups of volunteers, people from various religious backgrounds found the environment comfortable and hospitable. I began working with people I never would have worked before if I had stuck to traditional dawah, studying, or masjid involvement, all of which are critical. This became a symbol of Islam in our community, and while serving, we became those that embodied the Quran and Sunnah. For a lot of those we served, we were the first Muslims they encountered, and Alhamdulilah for the team we have. Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) also says in the Quran: “So by mercy from Allah, [O Muhammad], you were lenient with them. And if you had been rude [in speech] and harsh in heart, they would have disbanded from about you” (3:159). It is our actions that can turn people away or towards Islam.

Once you serve the needy, you do this for life

I wasn’t volunteering on occasion,— this was an unpaid job that was done regularly. I got requests and calls for emergencies daily at times. It took up hours upon hours every week. As a charity worker, I developed experience and insight in this field. I learned that this was one of the best ways I could serve Allah [swt. “They ask you (O Muhammad) what they should spend in charity. Say: ‘Whatever you spend with a good heart, give it to parents, relatives, orphans, the helpless, and travelers in need. Whatever good you do, God is aware of it.'” – The Holy Quran, 2:215

I believe the work I do with the countless people that do the same is the best work that can be done in our current political climate and globalization. My views and thoughts have evolved over the years seeing situations develop to what they are today. This gave me a comprehensive outlook on our needs as a society and allowed me to venture off and meet people top in their fields like in social activism, environmentalism, labor, etc.

I want to end with three sectors in society that Muslims prosper in and three that Muslims can improve on. We strive on individual education (noncommunal), distributing and organizing charity, and more recently being politically engaged. What we need to improve on is our environmental awareness, working with and understanding unions and labor rights, and organizing anti-war movements. 

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Looking To Get Married? Here Are A Few Tips

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will you marry me?
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 #6: Is it Taboo to Talk About Sex?

Saba Syed (Umm Reem)

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Is talking about sex a taboo in Islam? Religiously, not at all. Culturally though, that's a different story.Click To Tweet
On one hand we are completely stone-walling sex or anything related to sex any issues that people can have with sex, and on the other hand we still live in this country, we still have TV, we still have books, we still have the internet, I don’t understand how these two, almost diametrically opposed philosophies on sex can co-exist in one person’s mind. Click To Tweet
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.

Photo by Adrien Ledoux on Unsplash

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