Dr. Nafisa Sekandari and Sr. Hosai Mojaddidi, June 12, 2017
“Relationship idolatry happens when we place too much emphasis on our relationships rather than working on our own self-realization. What you might think you should get from a relationship (a sense of peace, love, and security) is really only attainable by getting in touch with your spiritual nature.” –Kathy Freston
Are you single? Do you feel like you’ve exhausted the Muslim “singles” pool and still can’t seem to find “The One”? Well, you’re definitely not alone. Although there isn’t any hard data available, as evidenced by the increasing number of Muslim match-making websites as well as events across mosques and Islamic centers nationwide, the number of single Muslims, particularly single Muslim women, is certainly on the rise. Consequently, some communities are seeing cases of depression, low self-esteem, and anxiety among unwed women and men also steadily increasing. As a result, deep concern over how to remedy the situation is growing among mental health professionals, counselors, and scholars in the Muslim community. To help identify the potential causes, there are a few important points to consider as follows:
Spousal Selectivity: In an age where media-fed images and ideals about love and romance often dominate and shape our understanding, many people have become unrealistic in their expectations. To expect your partner to meet a predetermined fixed list of criteria is setting yourself up for major disappointment. There is no such thing as a “perfect” match. While attraction and chemistry are undeniably important, being especially particular about a person’s height, skin color, eye color, hair, and bank account is superficial and immature. Compatibility in matters of deen, personality, lifestyle, and future goals are among the most important criteria to look for in a spouse.
“Complete-Me” Confusion: Many people are of the belief that until they are married they are “incomplete.” Expecting someone else to fill an empty void in you is not only unfair to them but also a disservice to yourself. Your aim should be to work hard on becoming a whole person with the hopes that your life partner has done the same, making your marriage whole; the union of two “incomplete” people results in a marriage of discord where unfair expectations abound. Furthermore, the prophetic tradition, “When the servant marries, then he has completed half of the deen…” should not be taken out of context to perpetuate this type of thinking. In fact, the second half of the hadith which isn’t quoted as often, “Then let him fear God with regards to the remaining half,” (Saheeh ul-Jaami no.44) really speaks to the point of how important it is to cultivate and refine oneself before even considering marriage.
Navigate & Network: Marriage, like any other goal in life, is something that requires effort. Unless you’ve relinquished the responsibility over to your parents or someone else and fully accept an arranged situation, you really should navigate your own marriage ship. This can only be achieved with a concerted effort to put yourself in the public eye and let your reputation precede you. The more socially adept you are, the higher your chances of finding someone. In addition to becoming a more active member in your community, make an effort to befriend married couples who can help you in your search. The added benefit from their friendship is that you can observe many things about married life and help further broaden your understanding, as well as better, define what you are and what you’re not looking for in a spouse.