As Muslim teenagers, we knew the truth.
“EVERYTHING IS HARAAM!!!”
Clubbing, drinking, skinny jeans, Christmas, dating -anything fun, you name it, it’s deemed haraam.
Now, as parents we need to enforce Islamic principles and protect our babies from all the evil’s lurking around at every corner.
Finding the balance between encouraging the good and discouraging the evil is exasperatingly hard. You don’t want to be the bad guy that says no all the time but it seems like all they want is the haraam stuff! Even in just seven years of parenthood, I have loosened the reigns in order to promote peace and love in the home, though I still think certain things are wrong.
Masha’Allah some kids do what they’re told… and then there are my kids… challenging me at every decision. According to longitudinal studies, there is a silver lining to this dark argumentative cloud..they’ll probably challenge their peers when offered drugs too. (Insha’Allah)
We all know those kids that grew up under the rule of an iron fist and the second they believed they could do something ‘bad’ without getting caught, they would go for it. Then there’s those kids who don’t fear their parents punishment but fear disappointing them. How does one raise the latter?
From personal childhood experience, every NO I heard thickened my resistance and my resentment grew. I sometimes felt like Islam was a form of torture or trial meant to absolve you of your sins before being able to enjoy the Hereafter. Obviously as my knowledge grew I understood that this brilliant way of life knows us way more than we know ourselves. Islam’s nip-it-in-the-bud philosophy is what will prevent you from the horror of staring at the positive symbol on a pregnancy stick wondering if your baby daddy will stay in the picture or not. It won’t let me be used or exploited like that. As a teen, all you know is that you want someone special to text you sweet nothings first thing in the morning and last thing at night. Someone to hold hands with as you walk down the high school halls. You never imagine it could lead you to dropping out of school, without support, penniless to raise a baby.
Like my parents, I can’t quite articulate how holding hands with the opposite gender or taking a sip of alcohol can lead to teen moms living below the poverty line or deaths caused by drunk driving. So, I usually just resort to saying “NO”.
Still, I don’t want the negative connotation associated with the word NO to transfer to me or my deen.
For that reason I’m going to try to say ‘yes you can’ to as many things my kids ask for.
Even if they ask me for permission to date , I’m going to say yes you can.
But only when you’re willing to get married
..and I’m coming with you!
The Power of not saying NO
The words we use to answer a question has more impact than the answer itself.
Pay attention to the choice of words used by service associates , they rarely say no.Take a cue from your waiter who responds with ‘will sprite be ok instead ?’ when you ask for 7up. Notice how they don’t say ‘no, we don’t have any 7up’ they want to make your experience positive so they avoid saying ‘no’.
The moment we say ‘no’ we put our children on the defense, automatically trying to find a way to preserve their ego. After a lot of trial and error, Allhumdullillah my parents eventually found a way around this conundrum; by immediately saying yes while enforcing certain stipulations. Of course we could attend parties and sleepovers – so long as the parties were under their roof. We were free to wear mini skirts so long as we didn’t show any skin or the shape of our bodies..we eventually stopped trying to make mini skirts work but enjoyed being the party house. The whole point was that the onus of making it work was on us…it wasn’t another point against our parents or a play in the power struggle.
There was no reason to rebel because they never said no.
When it comes to love, sex and the opposite gender Muslim parents usually sweep everything under the haraam rug. Boys are haraam, love is haraam and I have no idea what that S word is- lets pretend it doesn’t exist and it must be haraam.
So how are practicing Muslims supposed to find a spouse?
When it comes to finding a life partner many parents themselves have no idea how to allow their children to get to know their suitors, so they end up falling into either extreme of the spectrum. Either they turn a blind eye while their child dates hoping that no one in the community finds out and that this date turns out to be the one or they hijack the entire process and choose a spouse of their own choice.
Nice guys finish last ?
Many decent and practicing guys, have a really hard time finding the right spouse. Often times they’re set up by their parents or family friends. They meet the girl at a dinner invitation wherein her parents probably prepared a feast, if lucky they might get a few minutes to talk to each other while everyone listens in. Obviously this is not enough time to figure out if this girl could be the mother of his children. If he wants to get to know her better, he risks getting both families hopes up and earning the reputation of a player.
How’s a good guy supposed to find his life partner?
The cultural practice of families meeting is full of pressure. Isn’t it better that the couple gets to know each other before both families meet? Allhumdullillah there’s a way to remain practicing yet marry someone based on more than blind faith.
Now days there are multiple ways to communicate with someone while keeping it halal. Regardless of the method of communication, the ‘date’ can be halal if they maintain the following Islamic requirements:
Intention: the initial premise for initiating a dialogue between both parties should be for the purpose of checking to see if they are a compatible spouse.
Purposeful: once both parties have established that they’re interested in each other as potential spouses, their communication should revolve around gaining more information about compatibility.
Time limit: though there isn’t a specific time limit (that I’m aware of), the spirit of the process is don’t waste unnecessary time getting to know someone. Yes, choosing your life partner is one of the most important decisions of your life but you probably can learn what you need to make your decision in a couple of meetings. Remember Allah is aware of what you’re thinking and your intentions, you can’t fool Him by trying to squeeze in some extra meetings.
Third party: person above age of puberty who is mentally sound, preferably practicing, who will be in ear shot of the couple. This third party (usually the girls brother), doesn’t necessarily listen in or read every form of correspondence but has the ability to. The third party must understand the Islamic rules on gender mixing.
Halal Ways to get to know each other:
While communicating, each party should behave in a respectable and non-flirtatious manner.
Text: ask each other questions over text messages. Both parties should be aware that their texts could be read by the third party.
Email: ask each other questions over email while Ccing a third party
In-person: Meet in person with third party in hearing distance of the couple.
Phone: Talk on the phone while other people are around.
Match maker: usually an Aunty in the community who people pay to find them what they’re looking for. After coming up with few potentials, they skim through the bio data’s and set up meeting with them (in any of the ways mentioned above).
Matrimonial service at Islamic events /conferences: facilitated by couples in a series of group interviews. According to your answers from the Match Questionnaire, you will be assigned to a group and have a chance to question suitable matches.
Online matchmaking where profiles and interests are matched.
Can I set you up??
I’m not exactly an expert but I have set up four marriages – Allhumdillah its been very rewarding!
My husband and I will be facilitating the matrimonial program at Twins of Faith conference this upcoming Saturday, October 10th 2015 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre I’m so excited and looking forward to it. It’s a three hour matrimonial workshop catered to helping Muslims find spouses in a safe and welcoming environment. Feel free to bring one walli, friend or family member as an onlooker. With the help of an esteemed Shaikh, a team of married facilitators will coordinate the match making process in a halal and efficient manner.
What I particularly appreciate about matrimonial services at an Islamic conference,is that it narrows the pool of suitors. The type of guy or girl that will attend the same conference as you and has signed up for the same matrimonial service is likely to share many qualities with you.
Spaces are limited, please sign up as soon as possible. I can’t wait to help you find your cup of chai! (sorry that was corny..lol) .