By Alia Abdullah
February 26, 2016
Let’s just put it out there – I’m a
hopeless romantic. When I was in kindergarten, an adorable boy told his mother
that he wanted to marry me. From then on, I introduced him to everyone as my
boyfriend. I love romantic movies so much that I’ve watched ‘A Walk to
Remember’ more than 15 times. By the time I was 13, I had named all my six
children. Pablo Neruda’s poems make me smile and cry. I used to joke with my
best friends that I had my sophisticated, white wedding with crystal
chandeliers and chiavari chairs all planned out. All I needed was to plant a
groom beside me. Then, we would live happily ever after. And so I searched for
my other half, the person who would complete me, the one who would make me
Instead of finding ‘the one’, I went from
one failed relationship to another. I wanted so much to be part of a magical
couple that I started to lose myself. I allowed people to treat me like a mere
option when they were my priority. I moulded myself to be more like what others
wanted me to be. When someone commented, “Alia, you would be so pretty if only
you were skinnier”, I ate almost nothing and ran up my 13-storey flat ten times
a day. As I lost weight, I started being shown off as a trophy girlfriend. I
got cheated on, by a guy whom I was convinced was my soul mate. I was never
really happy. In fact, I felt lost and incomplete.
Then I realised that I had gotten it all
wrong! Yes, marriage is wonderful and encouraged in Islam. However, when the
same test (read: guys who were bad for me) keeps being given, it may be that I
had not learnt the lesson I am supposed to learn. Allah is giving me a chance
to make things right! To do that, I needed to figure out how to improve myself
for the sake of Allah. I had to ask myself some tough questions. Did I want to
get married for the sake of Allah or to gain acceptance and love from my
partner? Had I prepared myself not only to bear children but to be the first
madrasa to them? Was I knowledgeable enough to guide them to be Khalifahs of
Allah? Is marriage the only means to complete my faith?
Let’s take the example of Sayyeidatina
Maryam (‘Alayhissalam), also known as Mary. Before Sayyeidatina Maryam
was even born, her purpose had been set. Her ageing mother had vowed that if
her prayer to have a child was accepted, she would ensure that her child would
be dedicated to serving Allah. Fulfil her promise, she did. Sayyeidatina Maryam
wasn’t left to grow up on her own; she was placed under the care of Prophet
Zakariyyah. She was raised in a room in a mosque. She was religious, chaste and
modest. She did not mix freely with the opposite sex and confined herself
within her prayer chamber. Whenever Prophet Zakariyyah entered Sayyeidatina
Maryam’s room to check if she was alright, he would be surprised to find that
food had already been served. During winter, there were summer fruits. During
summer, he saw winter fruits.
“Where is the food from, Maryam?”
“Allah provides to whom He wills.”
Sayyeidatina Maryam was so pure that she
was picked to bear Prophet Isa, without being touched by any men. The angels
reassured her that Allah had chosen her and purified her and selected her above
the women of the worlds. Fearing the reaction of people around her, she fled to
deliver on her own in the middle of a scorching hot desert. Throughout her
whole ordeal, she relied on no one other than Allah. She didn’t need anyone,
not a husband or even her guardian, to be around.
Imagine how the people around you would
react if you suddenly turned up with a newborn, without being married?
Sayyeidatina Maryam was given the difficult task of keeping quiet when she
returned to her village. Naturally, everyone started criticising and cursing
her. If you were in her position, would have remained speechless through the
injustice that was being done?
Sayyeidatina Maryam endured patiently and
pointed to her baby. Then, Baby Isa stood up for his mother and informed the
crowd that he was a Prophet. Subhan Allah!
Without getting married, Sayyeidatina
Maryam was able to reach the pinnacle of piety. Her status was so high that she
has a chapter in the Quran named after her. She showed us that she did not need
a man; Allah Himself could defend her honour through His miracle.
How About Me?
The purpose of my existence is to know,
love and worship Allah. Every action, every step, every thought needs to be
focused on Allah. To solve my problem, I had to go to the very root of it – my
ever-widening distance from Allah. Am I looking for love because I am ready or
because I am lonely? Am I praying on
time? Am I conscious of Allah in everything that I do? Am I reading the Quran
consistently? Do I perform Taubah and Istighfar regularly? What
have I been doing to strengthen my relationship with Him? With each answer, it
became more and more apparent that my Imaan was on the decline. Through the
awful scrapes and burns and agonizing heartbreaks, I was moved to comprehend
that, like Sayyeidatina Maryam, I had to
turn to none except Allah. I came to realise that my relationship with Him is
the most important relationship of all.
Only Allah can grant me strength, courage,
love, guidance, protection and patience. Only Allah is capable of making me
whole. When I feel whole, I won’t rush to find a partner to complete me. When I
feel whole, with Allah by my side, I would be able to walk bravely away from
those who try to pry me away from Him. When I am whole, I would be better able
to choose someone to share my completeness with and whom can accompany me on my
path to Allah. A suffering that reminds you of Allah is better for your soul
than a blessing that leads you to forget Him. Once you realize this, even your
hardships can’t break you, Insha Allah.
I’m not saying that I am perfect and that
my level of Imaan is anywhere near Sayyeidatina Maryam’s. However, things have
picked up for me, Alhamdulillah. This year, I got married to a man, whom I
trust, can guide me to be a better Muslim. A man who was brave enough to walk
up to my parents and ask for my hand in marriage. A man who made me realize why
it never worked out with anyone else. Only when I was brave enough to let go
and be the best version of me did Allah grant me someone so gentlemanly that
part of me still can’t believe that he exists.
So don’t you worry my fellow seeker. Allah
knows when you are hurt. Allah knows when you are bereaved. Allah knows when
you struggle to get up because all you want to do is curl up in bed and hide
from the world. Be sure, that when Allah takes away something from you, He’s
only making space for something better. We just have to keep striving.
47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour,
he has been mindful
the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations
will call me blessed,
49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me –
is his name.
mercy extends to those who fear him,
generation to generation.
has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
has brought down rulers from their thrones
has lifted up the humble.
has filled the hungry with good things
has sent the rich away empty.