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Feeling Discouraged about Marriage

Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil answers concerns about not feeling acceptable as a potential spouse.

I am an American college student trying to finish half my din. I have maintained haya all my life and avoided speaking unnecessarily with men, so I asked my parents to help me search. Unfortunately I’ve been met with rejection before I’ve even been introduced as a prospect.

Men have remarked on how they don’t want a hijabi, they don’t want someone with such dark skin, they are only attracted to Europeans, I am too religious, I am not religious enough, I am too educated, I am not educated enough etc.

I see girls much younger than me marrying remarkable men with ease. I feel like there is something wrong with me. How do I keep my head up? I always dreamed of being a wife and mother in my early twenties but it seems this is no longer possible.

I am not willing to stray from the din or remove my hijab to please a man, nor can I change the way I look and my race. Should I even continue to think of marriage? It seems I am unwanted.

I pray this finds you well. May Allah reward you for reaching out to us.

Self-doubt Trap

“And whoever submits his self to Allah and is good in deeds, he in fact holds on to the strongest ring. Towards Allah is the ultimate end of all matters.” (Sura Luqman 31:22)

Dear sister, please know that there is nothing wrong with you. You sound intelligent, kind, and most of all, God-fearing. Your future husband will be so blessed to have you as his wife, and the mother of his children.

Please do not allow the comments of ignorant men get you down. You are a believer, and worthy of every good.

Unfortunately, many traumatized Muslim families produce sons who carry deep-seated feelings of post-colonial shame. They feel that lighter-skinned women who are not in hijab make better wife material. This is their baggage speaking, and it is not your burden to bear. This is not the kind of family you want to marry into.

Keep your heart focused on what pleases Allah, and know that He will never let you down.

Breaking Our Attachments

Many of us get attached to different ideas, and when they do not happen, we become heartbroken. I encourage you to let go of your hope to be a mother and a wife in your twenties, and instead, hold onto the fact that Allah will bless you with marriage and children when He deems best.

If this gives you any comfort, please know that I married my husband at 28. I had my first child when I was 31, and my second when I was 34. I would have been a terrible mother in my twenties even though I really wanted kids. Allah needed me to work through my issues before blessing me with my two little daughters. AlhamduliLlah, His Wisdom eclipsed my own short-sightedness.

Of course, this is my story. You have your own. Instead of wondering if there is something wrong with you, perhaps you can ask yourself a different question. What is Allah trying to teach you? What are some character traits you can improve? What are some gaps in your knowledge that you can fill in?

Preparing for Marriage

I encourage you to complete this course, while you have the time and energy. Marriage in Islam: Practical Guidance for Successful Marriages.

Please perform the Prayer of Need in the last third of the night, every night, for a loving husband who has both din and good character.

Please read Sura al-Waqi‘a as regularly as you can, with the intention of increasing your rizq, namely, husband and children.

Reflections on Seasons in Life

Dear sister, I remember being a single student of knowledge in Amman, ten years ago. I was in my twenties, and really wanted to get married.

A wise older friend told me that life comes in seasons. This season of your life may feel like a winter, when you so want it to be spring. So, make the most of your winter. Buckle down, and nourish yourself with the courses and podcasts on SeekersGuidance. May the good seeds you plant now come to fruition when the time is right.

Use the time and energy that you have now to be of service to your family and wider community. One day, I pray that you will be a wife and a mother. You will exhausted beyond imagination, but you will be content too, insha Allah.

In the meantime, everything you are learning now will help you in those roles. Trust in Allah’s timing, and in His Mercy. He knows exactly what you need, even if it may not be what you want.

I pray that Allah blesses you with the gift of marriage, motherhood, patience, and contentment.

Please see Love, Marriage and Relationships in Islam: All Your Questions Answered.

Raidah

Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.

Should I Make up Missed Fasts and Prayers Despite Ignoring That It Was a Duty?

Answered by Ustadh Salman Younas

Question: Assalam aleykum

I was born muslim but I wasn’t aware of the fact that I had to pray and to fast until I was 20.

Do I need to make all these missed fasts and prayers?

Answer: assalamu alaykum

The basis is that all obligatory prayers missed after attaining puberty by someone who is morally responsible need to be made-up. Lack of knowledge of the obligation is not generally viewed as an excuse lifting this obligation in the context you describe.

In light of the above, I would advise you to try your best to make up the prayers you missed. You should note that our religion is one of ease and gradualism. There is no need for you to overburden yourself. Rather, take on an amount that you can reasonably undertake – even if that is making up only one prayer a day – and build from there. As the Prophet (blessings and peace be upon him) said, “None makes the religion difficult except that it overcomes him. So, aim for what is right, stick to the moderate way…” [Bukhari]

Finally, I would state that even though these are make-up prayers, performing them is still a means to draw closer to God through worship. This is the intention you should have in mind when fulfilling this obligation.

[Ustadh] Salman Younas

Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadh Salman Younas graduated from Stony Brook University with a degree in Political Science and Religious Studies. After studying the Islamic sciences online and with local scholars in New York, Ustadh Salman moved to Amman. There he studies Islamic law, legal methodology, belief, hadith methodology, logic, Arabic, and tafsir.

Four Obstacles to Obedience to Allah

We’ve all been through the moment where we’re ready to make change and get right with God, but when we try, we just can’t seem to follow through. Either our plans aren’t sustainable, or our old ways are just too tempting. In this series of lectures, Ustadh Amjad Tarsin, chaplain at the University of Toronto, tells us about the four obstacles to obedience:

Ignorance, Weakness of Faith, Long Hopes and Illicit Food

Take Ustadh Amjad’s free SeekersHub course: The Prophetic Call: Imam Haddad’s Counsel on Calling to Allah Explained.

Resources for Seekers

We are grateful to the Muslim Chaplaincy at UofT for these recordings. Cover photo by Darwin Bell.

“From knowing nothing to becoming a student of knowledge” by Ustadha Shireen Ahmed

“Br. Dawoud, I have to ask you a question…” I said without looking up.  I had to gather up the courage, and really force myself to ask.  I knew I needed to know, and it was time to stop pretending that I already knew the answer.

“This is a really dumb question, but… you all keep mentioning the ‘Khulafa ar-Rashideen’ from time to time and their example in our meetings, but I actually have no idea who or what that is.”

There.

I had finally voiced one of many questions I had as a young university student, who had recently joined the Muslim Students Association for the first time.  I had grown up in a small town, and honestly speaking there were not many practicing Muslims around during my teenage years.  My mother had used to try and take us to weekend ‘Islamic’ classes, however my understand of Islam was still very sparse and fragmented.

There is no such thing as a dumb question

Br. Dawoud looked back at with me with concern, and then gently said, “Sister Shireen, I want to tell you something.  There is no such thing as a dumb question.  If you don’t know what something is, all you have to do is ask.  The only ‘dumb’ question is the one that is never asked.”  He told me the Khulafa ar-Rashideen are the rightly guided caliphs, which refer to Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman, and Ali (may Allah be pleased with them all).

I would later learn that there are only two kinds of students who are unable to grow and benefit in their Islamic studies, one being the student who is too shy to ask their questions, and the second being a person who doesn’t ask their question out of arrogance (i.e. by not admitting to what they don’t know).

My experience that day left a lasting impression on me. Years later, I would remember how Br. Dawoud answered my question, and how he encouraged me to keep seeking knowledge.  To always remember that I can do better, and not to be shy to ask what I wanted to know.  It had always bothered me that I couldn’t answer basic questions about Islam that I wished I could answer.  I had finally met other Muslims who I was really impressed by at university, people who were really humble and sincere, who would encourage me time and time again to seek knowledge and strive for improvement.

Two years later, I was married, and my husband and I had decided to fly to Syria to pursue seeking sacred knowledge.  It was a very thrilling experience for me, to finally make up for years of knowledge that were just missing.  To fill a certain void in my life, as the little fragmented knowledge I had was now growing rapidly on a daily basis.  I would learn from the teachers who patiently taught us Arabic, and then alhamdulillah was able to move on to higher studies in the Arabic language itself.

Every single teacher declined money

What always amazed me about the experience was that every single teacher I studied with would decline money when I tried to pay them for their time.  And we’re talking about many Syrian teachers.  They would always have the same response, that when I return to Canada, they wanted me to teach others and they would take their reward from that.  That answer would always amaze me as someone growing up in the West where “nothing is for free”.  They had such good character, humility, and sincere concern for my studies with no ulterior motive.  It would really drive me to work much harder, as it was impossible to show up to class not doing your homework when the teacher was that selfless.

 

We spent several years overseas, and then returned to Canada.  Shortly after, my husband (Shaykh Faraz Rabbani) founded SeekersGuidance, which is now known as SeekersHub, an online website dedicated to teaching students in the West their religion.  To answer their many questions through the Answers Service.  To offer online courses, so that students could download classes with a qualified instructor and ask the questions they have.

The service initially started out with students having to pay for the courses.  I had been encouraging Shaykh Faraz to consider offering a certain segment of courses for free so that students could at least obtain their fard ‘ayn (personally obligatory knowledge) without charge.  I still remember the day when he told me that he decided to make the courses for free.  I was happy he had taken my advice, until he clarified he meant take any class for free.

“But how will we survive?” I asked him. 

At that point we had three young children, and he was talking about giving up the main salary that was paying our bills.  He explained that there are many people out there in the world who cannot afford to pay for classes, and there are many others who are able to donate to support causes like this.  To spread knowledge on a global level, so that attaining knowledge was not limited to one’s income level.  Historically, students would not pay for classes, rather teachers would be supported so that they could teach without worrying about providing for their families.

This new turn of events, which would later be called Knowledge Without Barriers, also resonated with me as it was the way of my teachers in Syria, to teach purely based on seeking the good for another person.  That perhaps the reward of helping that person to grow in their religion and become a better person is sufficient as a reward.  There is a way to donate financially so that supporters can keep the movement of spreading knowledge at no cost going, and so far it has been working for us as a model.

Your past does not have to dictate your future 

I want to sincerely advise students, especially the sisters, to now seek knowledge.  I have given you a glimpse of what it was like to go from someone who barely knew anything about the religion, to becoming a student of knowledge.  I understand that there are many sisters out there who still have a sparse, fragmented understanding of religion, because our parents are only capable of giving us what knowledge they know.  I was there, so I know what that feels like.  Many of our parents have not had an opportunity to study, but they did their best in raising us.  Your past does not have to dictate your future.

By just spending even an hour or two weekly listening to classes, you can steadily grow in understanding in a variety of Islamic subjects.  You can even choose which subjects you feel weakest in, or consult our staff as to what courses are best suited for you given your history.  I know for a lot of mothers, attending classes is very difficult because their children are not able to sit quietly for public classes.  However, with an online learning platform, even mothers with energetic young kids can regularly attend classes, so that in turn they are better able to educate their own children, which are the next generation.

The remedy for ignorance is to spread sound Islamic knowledge

Seeking knowledge helps one to become a better Muslim, to seek Allah Most High sincerely, to turn towards Him with the core of your being in prayer, and to become a better decision maker when weighing one’s actions with what will benefit one most in the Afterlife.  Especially in this day and age, we see many atrocities being done in the name of religion – when in reality they are being committed out of lack of knowledge about the religion.  Part of the remedy for ignorance is to spread sound Islamic knowledge from teachers who are qualified to teach, who have a chain of transmission from their teachers back to the Prophet (peace & blessings be upon him).

We pray that these efforts are accepted, and that students across the globe can benefit by being able to study.  That they in turn are able to become contributors to their own communities.  Now no one needs to feel shy about asking questions about Islam, even if it is “who are the Khulafa ar-Rashideen?”

 

Ustadha Shireen Ahmed is the Course Development Manager at SeekersHub. There are over 35 courses on offer across all major disciplines, for beginner and advanced students – find out more here.

Dealing With Ignorant Shop Workers Who Harass Muslims

Answered by Ustadha Zaynab Ansari

Question: Assalamu aleikum wa rahmatullah,
I am a revert sister. Yesterday I went to a shop and the security worker said I should be killed just like all Muslims should be killed, that we don’t deserve to live and we are enemies of humanity. He said that he is proud of people who kill Chechnyans and he would love to do the same. How should I react to such situations? I noted the phone number of the manager of the shop but I don’t know should I call her or not. In Quran it is said that we should not take disbelievers as helpers and protectors. Could you give an advise?

Answer: In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

Dear Sister,

Thank you for your question. I pray this message finds you well.

I am not familiar with the discrimination and harassment laws in your country, but I suggest you advise the manager and bring this matter to the attention of the proper authorities. I can’t imagine any store employee having the right to threaten customers.

As far as not relying on non-Muslims for help and protection this is a misunderstanding of the Qur’anic verse. As a citizen of your country, you should be entitled to equal protection under the law, regardless of your religion. That means, as a citizen, you should be able to go to the authorities with your complaints. The Qur’anic verse was revealed before a time Muslims lived as citizens in non-Muslim states with all the rights and responsibilities of their fellow (non-Muslim) citizens.

Finally, be careful where you shop. Patronize establishments where you are treated with respect and courtesy. And, most importantly, recite Ayat al-Kursi (chapter two of the Qur’an, verse 255), the last three chapters of the Qur’an, and the sunna supplications for protection whenever you leave the house.

May Allah Ta’ala shield you,

Zaynab Ansari
Ramadan 21, 1433
August 10, 2012

Knowledge Versus Ignorance

Answered by Aftab Ahmad Malik (excerpt from “The State We Are In”)

If many non-Muslims suffer from ignorance about Islam, some Muslims are also ignorant about their own tradition. Expressed as an ideology anchored in opposition to the West, and determined to wage a universal jihad, these Muslims reduce Islam to a violent anti-intellectual force. Even when retaliating against transgressions by an enemy, the classical Islamic jurists not only understood that acts of terrorism (hirâbah) were punishable by death, they viewed these acts as cowardly and even contrary to the ethics of Arab chivalry.

TheStateWEAREIN-AFTAB-MALIKFar from what we see on our TV screens today, the overriding imperative in Islam is mercy and compassion. Muslims have always known that aggression and excess are forbidden and that mercy, compassion and forbearance are the benchmarks of human dignity. There are innumerable commandments that urge Muslims to show these qualities at all times, despite the conditions in which they may find themselves in, such as: { On those who show compassion, God is the most compassionate } (Qur’an 12:64); { Wrong not, and you will not be wronged } (Qur’an 2:279); { If you pardon and overlook and forgive, then surely God is Forgiving, Merciful } (Qur’an 64:14). Likewise, the hadith literature, the sayings of the Prophet Muhammad God bless him and grant him peace, are replete with words urging the believers to be just, compassionate and merciful. The Prophet related that God said: “O My servants, I have forbidden Myself injustice, and have made it forbidden to you; so do not be unjust.” He also said: “Whoever is guilty of injustice against a fellow human being, whether in regard to his honour or anything else, let him seek his pardon for the Day of Resurrection [ … ]”. In another saying, he said: “God is Compassionate and loves those who are compassionate. He is gentle and loves those who are gentle to others. Whoever is merciful to creatures, to him is God Merciful. Whoever does good for people, to him will God do good. Whoever is generous to them, to him will God be generous. Whoever benefits the people, God will benefit him”.

Knowing full well that the Qur’an teaches Muslims not to allow hatred to drive Muslims to aggression, the Prophet’s words are clear: “Have mercy on people so you may receive mercy; forgive people so [that] you may be forgiven.” The Qur’an does not demand that everyone be Muslim, but rather, the Islamic message is that of honouring humanity and bestowing dignity upon the whole of humankind. The Islamic doctrine teaches that dignity of humanity precedes that of faith or even no faith. Having faced thirteen years of oppression in Makka, the Prophet Muhammad God bless him and grant him peace, migrated to Medina at the request of its tribal leaders and found himself in a multi-ethnic, multi-tribal, multi-cultural and a multi-religious setting. The Jewish Rabbi, `Abd Allâh ibn Salâm went to see the Prophet and to hear what he had to say. He narrated that the first sermon that the Prophet delivered in Medina was: “Oh Humanity, spread peace. Provide nourishment for people. Pray in the night when people are asleep and you will enter into Paradise in security and Peace.”

Muslims today must be strong and frank. We need to be supporters of justice even if it is against our very own selves, as the Qur’an instructs. Islam teaches that with infliction comes the strengthening of belief, not its corruption. When faced by threat and persecution, Muslims turn to the prayer of Prophets: { God is enough for us – and what an excellent Guardian! } This is how faith is articulated when we have trust in God at all times. When faith is replaced by tribalism, the response is different; Muslims experience the states of hopelessness, blame, resentment and helplessness. Prayer is substituted for rhetoric and rhetoric leads to hate. In this state, Islam has been enmeshed by the emotions of anger, hate and revenge; emotions which Islam views as detrimental to the human soul. The Qur’an warns against senseless killing saying: { Whoever has killed a single human without just cause, it is as if he has killed the entire humankind. }

While many people in the West have a certain degree of fear of Islam, many Muslims hold onto resentment, and by allowing a small group of people to manipulate these emotions, these tribes intend that people across the world should speak in absolutisms: “hating Islam” and “hating the West”. Tribal religion and tribal nationalism should be rejected in favour of seeing the human race as an extension of the family of Adam and Eve, with every member of the family having an inherent and inalienable right to dignity and honour.

Taken from livingislam.org with permission.