Women – Not Just a Spare Rib

Attended a talk by NTU Muslimah Empowerment Series  (yay girls!) last night titled ‘Not Just A Spare Rib’. It addresses the issue of love & relationships in Islam. I wish this talk had happened earlier in my life, but alhamdulillah for the opportunity to attend this much-needed talk. It was an insightful, informative, and truly relevant session with many beneficial takeaways. The 2 guest speakers, Ustadzah Mariam & Mdm Masturah, were remarkable, I love them! They complemented and contributed to the topic in all aspects, comprehensively. It was refreshing; the talk was more a forum than a formal lecture. Both speakers shared their personal experiences, on top of reminding us of Allah’s words in the Qur’an, and the examples set by Prophet Muhammad S.A.W. So I’ll share what I can below. I’ve rephrased & added some things which I thought would be relevant. I’m writing this down as reminders for myself, more than anything else. If you are taking your time to read this too, may it benefit. All good is from Him, any shortcomings or mistakes, is from me.

Love. Just what is this thing called love?

Love is not a feeling that develops at a certain age; it’s a feeling that develops throughout our life. We are constantly seeking for love – Allah’s love. And this is, and has always been, our purpose in life.

So remember Me, I will remember you…” (Al-Baqarah 2:152)

Hence, the closer we get to Him, the clearer our vision in life is. We have a purpose, we have a journey. He is always there, guiding you throughout this life. If you remember Him, He will surely remember you. Remove all the love for unnecessary things and people in your heart (which are causing a distraction in your remembrance of Allah), to make space for Him, entirely for Him.

We must constantly strive to get closer to Him, to be a mu’min.

What is a mu’min?

A mu’min is one who’s deeply in love with Allah. A mu’min should always work to strive, to seek, to give up worldly attachments, to return to our Rabb, to be prepared to face various trials of our faith throughout our lives.

mu’min must know that if we confess to love Allah, then we must follow our Prophet, Rasulullah S.A.W.

We must build on our love for Allah, for Rasulullah, and for fellow believers.

In life, we all grow in 5 dimensions – Spiritually, Physically, Intellectually, Emotionally, Socially. We grow in these components, simultaneously. So how do we know if the person you love, truly loves you? He should improve you – not impede you – in these 5 factors. That love should also promote you to be an independent person, not to be a dependent person. If that love makes you dependent on him, chances are the ‘love’ is not bettering you. For what if one day you will be separated by death? Will you be able to soldier through life for the sake of Allah, with your kids alone? Last but not least, ask yourself – does this love help you to contribute to the society, the ummah? If it does not push you to grow as a person, and become a better Muslim, then you probably need to re-evaluate this ‘love’.

We must also learn to differentiate between lust, infatuation, & love.

Lust stems from one’s basic want to fulfill his/her emotional desire, usually physical, and is typically short-lived.

Infatuation is an intense desire for something, for an unknown reason. You are simply attracted to that person, and this is usually short-lived too.

Love, is a strong, deep affection for someone – something beyond the physical.

We should be aware that the first two are usually masked as ‘love’ in today’s society, as portrayed in the media – songs, films, etc. It is therefore important to know and learn what ‘love’ truly means, the ‘love’ as defined by Allah Azzawajal.

How best should we believing women interact with our non-mahram?

Lower our gaze (this applies to us women as much as it applies to men!) and talk only when you need to, say for example, only with regards to work/school. Other than that, stay away from speaking to the opposite gender unnecessarily – weather talk, how are you today talk, stop it. Allah has created us differently. Biologically, men are wired differently from women. What girls sometimes interpret as love, might just be seen as lust in the boy’s mind. Our Lord has warned us in the Qur’an:

And do not go near zina. It is indeed a shameful and an evil path.” (Surah Al Isrâ’, Ayah 32)

To simply ‘get near zina’ is already considered a sin. Allah. Ustadzah reminded us that if we’ve ever gone out with a guy, got close to a guy, held his hand, etc, and if we only found out now that this is not permissible, then we must make taubah and repent.

So let’s be honest here, is there really such a thing as dating in Islam?

The answer is, no.

In Islam, there is no concept of dating, but there is ta’aruf.  Basically, this is the stage of getting to know his/her character, his/her background, all within the set Islamic rules & guidelines. A third person need to be involved in this ‘getting to know each other’ phase. Both families need to be in the know too.

The most halal dates I know… are the ones from Madinah. – Mdm Masturah

She always manages to crack us up, but she speaks the truth. People might say “get on with the times, dating is an important stage in your love life, because how else are you going to get to know the one you will be with for the rest of your life?”

Well, the Qur’an is timeless. Allah is timeless. What are set rules remain as set rules. We don’t bend His laws to fit our desires. Allah has already given us the answer. Does dating really guarantee us that we will know the other person’s true identity better? When we date, we are masking our real selves. Let’s face it, we will never truly know the other person – no matter how long we have known him/her. That’s why there’s ta’aruf. Don’t think we know better, because we don’t. He knows best. Look at our elders who went through matchmaking, and the lasting marriage that comes out of it. Ustazah Mariam & Mdm Masturah shared their personal experiences in finding their significant other and masyaAllah, their stories are amazing. And I know of several friends who skipped dating altogether and are sailing through their marriage lives just fine. There’s no correlation between the amount of time getting to know the person and the sustainability of the marriage. Look at how many relationships break even before marriage because they’ve known for each other for too long? It should bring to our attention that there must be something wrong with the way we pursue love. Because if we were to listen and do as He says, heartbreaks and all the unnecessary damage to your soul wouldn’t happen; He’ll ease it and put calmness in our hearts instead. Sigh, listening to these stories makes me smile, I have hope in true, Islamic love :’) Especially in a climate where what is not permissible is prevalent, and what is permissible is rarely practised.

So start preparing now. Ask yourself – what kind of family do I want? What kind of family do I want to build? Do I want a family filled with mawaddah and rahmah from Him? A family that strives to build love for Him? Or a family that strives for success only in this world? A family that is glamorous and rich?

Also, don’t worry about finding your other half. Rid yourself of that unnecessary stress. The society might be barking on about this issue, especially when you’ve reached this age, but you know better that Allah will present to you your jodoh when you’re ready. So be ready, and serve your responsibilities to your parents, family, society first. Be the kind of person you would want to marry. Many of us want a religious, respectful, knowledgeable man with good character, but we fail to mirror ourselves and ask, are we all that too? For Allah has promised, that the good man is for the good woman. And vice-versa. And remember that the most important characteristic we should look for in our partner is: religious commitment. Everything else is secondary.

In Singapore, it’s been programmed in us to focus on becoming a good worker, throughout our early years. By the time we have our qualifications, people around us are settling down. Unfortunately, we were not taught to learn home management skills. So train yourself  with basic home management skills, like cooking, cleaning, etc., and of course, equip ourselves with true Islamic education. Needless to say, this does not only apply to the ladies only – men should learn a thing or two about home management skills too.

And remember, ladies. Since the beginning of time, Allah has raised the dignity of us women. We women are important. We shape the community. We give birth to men. We shape men. With Allah’s help, we are powerful. There’s no need to prove anybody that we women are strong. That’s a given. Allah has already acknowledged this is in the Qur’an. Both genders need each other. Men need women. Women need men. We are equal in our abilities in His eyes. Don’t stoop so low, don’t concern ourselves with petty things or superficial, material things like outward beauty and money and wasting precious time with worldly love, don’t succumb to the skewed standards the society has set for us. Go back to the Qur’an. Go back to Allah.

Kita mahal. Jangan gadaikan akhirat kita, hanya untuk seorang lelaki yang tidak tahu nilai kita sebagai seorang Muslimah. / We are extremely valuable. Don’t trade your afterlife merely for a guy who doesn’t know your worth as a Muslim woman. – Ustadzah Mariam

Know your intention for getting married. Get to know why Allah created us. Know that if we are destined to be married to get closer to Him, then we will. Also know that if we are not destined to be married, then there are other ways to get closer to Him. Look up to examples in the Qur’an:

Surah At-Tahrim 66:10 – 66:12

Go to Allah, with patience & lots of prayer. Isn’t it beautiful that all our affairs are in His hands? He wants to listen to us. He likes it when we ask Him. He will never not grant your du’a. His way of answering you is simply mind-blowing, if only we learn to trust Him. So we need to continue talking to Him to get the answer. We still need to leave our affairs to Him after putting in the effort that’s required in getting what we want. We still need that direct connection with Him, our greatest Love. The one who pours love in our hearts. Who better to understand our love than the One who creates love?

May we be granted with loving spouses, who will work together with us, to build a home full of love for Allah, and in the future grant us children who will be the coolness of our eyes, and shape a community strong in taqwa, akhlak, ‘ilm, & love for Allah Azzawajal.

والله أعلم

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