Source : thewesternmuslim.com : “Muslims in Love” by Margari Aziza Hill
Muslim Women balance tradition and romance in their search for spouses.
The large body of stirring poetry and beautiful belle’s letters created over the past 1400 years is a testament to the love that has existed throughout Muslim societies. Romantic love is not a Western concept – love stories have always been popular in Muslim cultures because they resonate with our experiences of love and heartbreak and our longing for fulfilling lifelong relationships. But for modern Muslims, finding love, romance and marriage while trapped between varying cultural and religious expectations can prove to be a challenging prospect.
As the roles and expectations in marriage have changed over time, many Muslims in the West aim to balance Muslim traditions with their Western sensibilities. Those who choose the traditional route in finding a spouse clearly don’t have the Harlequin Romance version of marriage. Nonetheless, they share the belief in the emotional and spiritual intimacy that comes with being in a loving marriage.
Finding and staying in love is a major item on the agenda of many Muslims. In the face of messages cautioning against Western-style romances, matchmakers and community leaders have joined in initiatives aimed at getting and keeping Muslim couples married and in love. Innovative programs have been developed to strengthen the institution of marriages in Muslim communities, such as pre-marriage classes, marriage counseling, singles events and matrimonial services.
These efforts reflect the importance Muslims place on the saying, “Marriage is half your religion. Marriage is important in both a material and spiritual sense. Stable Muslim families ensure the continuity of the community and a happily married Muslim is better able to explore their spiritual and emotional being. A Muslim’s love for their spouse is a powerful way connecting with the Divine and overcoming the tests and trials of marriage can bring powerful levels of joy and fulfillment.
But finding a suitable spouse can also feel like a mystical process, especially for North American Muslim women, who are seeking partners that understand the unique challenges they face. As a result, a growing number of Muslim women are rejecting arranged marriages no longer believing that a similar upbringing and shared cultural and socio-economic background is enough to guarantee marital success. Muslim women are looking for a companion, a life-partner and a soul mate: someone who can understand them and support them in their struggle to balance their religion and demands of life in the West.
Revert Muslims face a special set of challenges in marriage. Culturally, they often have little in common with the available pool of Muslim spouses, many of whom choose to marry within their own ethnic groups. Without an established support network, revert Muslims often have difficulty arranging chaperones to supervise the courtship that plants the initial seeds of love across the divide. While love is always a risky process, it can be particularly difficult for revert Muslim women, particularly Caucasians, who are vulnerable to cultural stereotyping and preconceptions of some irresponsible men.
But when Muslims finally do come together and find love it can result in nothing less than poetry in perpetual motion. The challenges of balancing Islamic traditions, cultural identities and the circumstances unique to the West are very real, but these struggles may make finally finding love even more special. Since “marriage is half your religion” making the commitment to staying happily together is crucial to the stability and health of our communities. Although it may not always feel this way, it is possible to have a marriage be everything you want it to be. And until it happens for you, keep believing in Islam…and love.
Source : thewesternmuslim.com : “Muslims in Love” by Margari Aziza Hill, a Black American convert who embraced Islam in 1993 and is currently a doctoral student studying Islam in Africa. She has studied, researched and lived in Egypt, Kuwait, Morocco, and the UK.