The first time my husband asked me to marry him, I said no. I was 18 years old and a freshman in college and I thought I was a feminist.
Alhamdulillah, we did get married, but he had to ask again. I was 21 when we got married and alhamdulillah, marriage is one of the best things that Allah has blessed me with.
But when he brought up marriage the first time, do you know what image my mind immediately conjured up?
The image of a woman I’d worked with briefly at my high-school part-time job at a cafe. Let’s call her Hanan. Hanan was a 32-year-old Moroccan sister who worked at a cafe full time, which is where I’d met her. She had a crooked finger on her right hand, and one day she told me why. She had been married to a Latino convert whom she’d thought was fun and exciting and had agreed to marry. But after marriage, he turned out to be different from her expectations and had one day broken her finger. She got divorced and got so busy working trying to make money to support herself that she never had time to go to a doctor to set her finger, so it has long since healed but is now crooked. A horror story.
An image of Hanan popped into my head when a fellow male college student asked me to marry him.
Do you think this is good? Or normal? Or healthy?
I was deep into my fake feminist phase back then, in my late high school and early college years. I thought marriage was a trap and a sure way for a woman to get abused. I thought men were basically monsters who only wanted one thing. I thought having kids was the best way to get shackled for life. I thought being a wife and mother was basically entering into a form of slavery.
Sick, sick thoughts.
Feminism had seeped into my thinking and warped it. Made me see men as inherently bad and suspect, guilty until proven innocent. In this way, feminism pits women against men and subverts the traditional gender roles, and destabilizes the family.
Alhamdulillah, I’ve long since snapped out of my feminist delusions and become a normal, balanced human being. I’ve realized how warped and twisted this men-are-the-enemy psychology really is.
But today, the general Muslim community has only gotten more steeped in this illness.
Someone asked me to share my opinion on a recent popular post on a page called The Ideal Muslimah, which advises Muslim women to be leery of marriage because of all the ways men are abusive. The advice given to women is to marry late, and to watch out for cheating, controlling, stingy, womanizing, authoritarian, gaslighting men. The overall aim of this piece is to encourage Muslimahs to marry late rather than early or opt for separation, divorce, and single life due to men’s abuse. This post got over two thousand likes. Two thousand Muslim women read it and agreed with it.
This is what feminism does. The writer of the post specifically says that this isn’t feminist or liberal–but I’ve been there when I was younger and brainwashed by the feminist mentality.
What this mentality causes is the subtle yet sustained vilification of men and victimization of women.
Men = Villians and oppressors
Women = victims and sufferers
This is an extremely dangerous dichotomy to create in the minds of young Muslimahs. It’s also plain false.
Of course, some men are terrible human beings who have bad character and weak faith. But also some women are terrible human beings who have bad character and weak faith. There are men who take advantage of women and women who take advantage of men.
As I’ve gotten older and seen more of life, I’ve seen so many horror stories of men being abused, manipulated, and beaten down by women.
One particular story stands out. A man, let’s call him Tamer, married a woman and had 2 daughters with her. The wife had always been selfish, demanding, grasping woman, but for the sake of his daughters, Tamer put up with her. He reconciled himself to a sad marriage with an aggressive, abusive wife. He’ll tolerate his wife but at least he can pour all his love into his daughters.
RELATED: Confessions of a Muslim Ex-Feminist
She stopped praying, took off her hijab, got a nose job. Then she openly left Islam altogether.
Then the wife started cheating on him, sleeping with other men. Multiple men. When he found out, she was brazen and unapologetic and insulted him to his face.
Then she filed for divorce. In court, she lied and claimed that he beat her and subjected her to physical and mental abuse. And let’s not forget “spiritual abuse!” And she also accused him, an Arab Muslim man, of being a terrorist. She put on a real show in the courtroom, complete with crocodile tears and sad eyes. She was an excellent actress.
Tamer stood there, watching her theatrical performance, stunned. He was dry-eyed. He wasn’t raised in his Arab household to cry in public.
The judge believed her because she fits perfectly into the mold of a hapless, oppressed Muslim woman and Tamer fit the bill as an abusive Muslim male.
After the divorce, she gouged him for money. He had owned a small blue-collar business that she forced him to shut down, and took almost all his savings, and forced him to pay for her premium divorce lawyer.
That’s all nothing compared to what she did to him with the kids. She got full custody of their 2 young daughters, who had been his entire world. She forbade him from seeing them for years. The older daughter was big enough to remember her loving father and she would often cry for him, asking why she can’t see him anymore. The mother blatantly lied, telling her that her dad didn’t love her and didn’t care about her, and never wanted to see her again. She watched with cold eyes as her little daughter cried her eyes out, crying herself to sleep every night for months, withdrawing more and more into herself.
Meanwhile, Tamer was crying himself to sleep every night, when he could sleep at all. Sleep eluded him most nights. His daughters had been ripped from his arms and there was nothing he could do about it. His ex-wife had deliberately snuffed out the only ray of hope in his life, the daughters she’d known he had lived for. Just to torment him further, his ex-wife called to gloat to him that she had baptized his daughters and that she takes them to church on Sunday with her new evangelical Christian husband Tommy.
For every Hanan out there, there is a Tamer. But the Tamers don’t cry in public, and they won’t share their story with you easily. The Hanans do. So we only see them and think Tamers don’t exist.
The truth is that marriage is a very important institution and that everyone, male and female, should aspire to be married for the sake of Allah. Before you choose a spouse, do your due diligence and have tawakkul on Allah.
Yes, a marriage can go south and both husbands and wives can turn out to be bad people. But there is risk in everything. What if I leave my house and get kidnapped? What if I cross the street and get hit by a bus? What if I drive my car and get in a head-on collision that turns into a multiple-car pileup?
May Allah rectify our affairs and bless our single Muslim men and women with righteous spouses, beautiful families, and harmonious homes, ameen.