Question: Assalam aleykum,
I met someone at university who is a practicing Muslim. We both come from the same cultural background and we don’t have any valid Islamic reason as to why this marriage cannot go ahead.
My mother told me that I could find my own spouse in the past. This is why I went forward with him and told my parents a couple of months after I spoke with him.
My father disagrees with ‘love’ marriages and gave me an ultimatum. He either wants me to ignore him, or get married to him quickly and quietly. My family won’t be part of the ceremony and a part of my life.
I’m really finding it difficult to progress as both our families know and my parents are making my life difficult and are just extremely aggressive towards me.
What can I do?
Answer: Assalamualaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,,
I pray this finds you well. May Allah reward you for reaching out to us.
Dear sister, I am so sorry you are going through this heartbreaking situation. You have found the man you want to marry, and your family threatens to disown you if you go ahead with this. It is a terrible thing to be forced to choose between your future husband, and your family.
Please know that your parents have a deeply cultural perspective on what constitutes a respectable start to married life – namely, them arranging your marriage for you. Anything else, in their mind, is sinful. This is not necessarily true. Please know that so many other Muslim couples have met outside that context, and so long as they maintain the etiquette of proper gender interaction, then it is still a permissible and blessed way to begin married life.
Even in the scenario where there is sin in the beginning, Allah’s Mercy is vast. The door of repentance is always open. A complete repentance wipes away sin, and a couple can still have a blessed marriage. Alhamdulilah, the Mercy of God surpasses that of humans.
Who do you have for support? Do you have trustworthy friends you can confide in? If you fear falling into backbiting, then I suggest that you see a culturally-sensitive counsellor to help you deal with your feelings of depression. Therapists are bound by confidentiality laws.
Your parents’ aggression towards you is deeply harmful for you. They may think that bullying you will get them the outcome that they want, but all it does is hurt you and break your trust in them.
Please know that you are worthy of compassion, even if your parents’ own trauma and fixation on honour make it so difficult for them to be kind to you. They do not have to agree with your life choices, but it is sinful for them to be so hostile towards you.
I pray that this experience will make you a better parent.
Is there an elder in your family or your community whom you can approach, to advocate for you and your future husband? Or do you fear that this could only make things worse?
It sounds that you are exhausting every possible avenue. I invite you practice what is termed ‘radical acceptance’.
Instead of fighting your reality and hoping for things to change – perhaps it is time to surrender to it. Accept that your family is unlikely to change. Accept that marrying the man you choose will mean losing them. And when you have accepted this reality, then ask yourself if that is what you are willing to sacrifice. You alone will live that.
It is possible for your marriage to thrive, even if you lose your family. It will be incredibly stressful, especially in the beginning. But if you and your husband hold strong and have enough support from his family and your friends, then you can become a better person through this. Time heals.
Know that patience is not passive. Patience is an active striving to have a heart that smiles with Allah, no matter how life unfolds. There is wisdom in every moment.
Even if your family tries to shut you out, please do your best to extend compassion to them. Send them gifts on important occasions, write them letters and emails, and so on. Your siblings are all adults who ought to still keep ties with you, even if your parents forbid it.
It is common for estranged families to soften once grandchildren are born. Pregnancy is often a time of deep emotions and reconciliation. The birth of a grandchild is a mercy in more ways than one. I pray that you and your family can forgive each other and look forward to the future.
“And whosoever fears Allah and keeps his duty to Him, He will make a way for him to get out (from every difficulty). And He will provide for him from sources he never could imagine. And whosoever puts his trust in Allah, then He will suffice him. Verily, Allah will accomplish His purpose. Indeed Allah has set a measure for all things.” [Qur’an, 65:2-3)
Please know that the decision is one only you can make. I encourage you to perform the Prayer of Guidance as often as you need to before deciding what to do.
Again, dear sister, I am so sorry that you find yourself in such difficulty. The hardship you are going through indicates to me how much Allah loves you. Draw closer to Him, and trust that He will deliver you from this, in His Time.
[Ustadha] Raidah Shah Idil
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