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Me, Myself & I

If you haven’t heard of the book Love, InshAllah – The Secret Love Lives of American Muslim women then you are sleeping under a rock! I am delighted to be joining their blog as a monthly columnist. Check out my column “Single in the City” and my first post “Me, Myself & I”.

Love, InshAllah

Editor’s note: Writer Ihssan Tahir is coming on board as a LoveinshAllah.com monthly columnist! Look for her column, “Single in the City,” the last Wednesday of the month.

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I’ve learned many things since my divorce. It has been a time of self-reflection and discovery. I am a firm believer that there is a lesson to be learned in all situations; this includes the good and bad.

The most profound – and difficult – thing I’ve learned is to be alone.

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love, stories, tips

Soul what

He told me he believed in soul mates.

I looked at him over my glasses with skepticism.

“Soul mates…” I whispered to myself inquisitively.

Not me…

This is something that I have thought of over and over again. It’s a frequent topic among my SistaQueens. The idea that you are made for someone and someone is made specifically for you. Some people are on a search their entire lives for this.

Absolute rubbish.

I like to consider myself a romantic. To be more specific I exude romanticism with a sprinkle of realism.

I firmly think there are many people out there you can be compatible with. Compatibility and “soul touching” are two different things. Sooo, what is “soul touching”? This is a term I use when you meet someone and you have an automatic connection. This does not only apply to romantic relationships but friendships as well. I can count on one hand the people I have met who fall into this category. The number of brothas would probably make up two fingers.

Once I met a brotha and he said he didn’t get the “feeling” when we would talk. I inquired and asked him what feeling he was referring to. He said “You know the feeling when you meet the one…” I was stifled and quiet for a couple minutes. “Do you expect fireworks to go off?” I asked. He looked at me and said nothing. Overall, it sounded like he watched too many Hollywood movies and his expectations of love were unrealistic. Of course there are some people you are not going to be drawn to and there are some you just aren’t connected with. When you are searching you must KOM (Keep an Open Mind) and be open to potentials. Love can come through many different avenues. Be open and receiving. Do not block.

Soul what that you don’t get whatever feeling you’re supposed to feel. If you’ve never felt it how do you know what it even is?

Sometimes I think people confuse lust with this type of love. Physiologically, your body goes haywire when this happens. There have been CT scans that show the stark differences between a person’s brain when they are in love as compared to when they aren’t.  Your body releases “feel good” hormones called endorphins.  If you are interested read this. It’s reasonable to see how most people would confuse the two. In my experiences men fall victim to this more than the ladies.

Of course I have met brothas who look good.

Real good…

These physical indicators never faze me for the most part. Now don’t get me wrong a Sista still daydreams from time to time! I am human.

Difference is I think long-term when I meet someone. All this other junk is temporary to me. I want to really get down to the bottom of things.

One of my constant prayers is that God gives me an open mind and a receiving heart while I am on this search.

Refrain from allowing societal expectations of love to dilute the reality of relationships.

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marriage, tips

Whatta Man

I’m an old school hip hop head. I was jamming out to some old Salt-N-Pepa and this song got me thinking.

I did promise that this blog would consist of pointers geared towards the brothas. Well, today is all for you! I know it is hard. You are really trying to figure this all out. Muslim women come off as intimidating. At the end of the day we are still women and desire the same things as non-Muslim women. I especially feel for those of you have converted to Islam. Muslim women are a totally different ball game!

So, you really want to know?

What are Muslim women looking for? What do we really want in a Muslim man?

I am going to give you an idea. Get your pen and paper ready…

  1. Handles the business. We want a man who can handle his stuff. He should have his finances right and be able to provide for a family. Now before you start rolling your eyes or doubting yourself keep in mind that we ain’t asking you to be a millionaire. A majority of us have jobs and don’t need you as a main source of income. We just need to know that you can handle the finances. Women need to feel financially secure.
  2. Follow the leader. There is nothing more attractive than a man who has excellent leadership qualities. He is solid, confident and just. He knows when to consult wifey. He is firm yet understanding. We want to be sure that when an issue arises you’ll have the answers. Even though you are a good leader it’s a very fine line between having a whacked ego. Don’t be shy to consult us for advice. He is ambitious and has a plan. These men are the ones who get the ladies. We are drawn to them.
  3. Mushy Gushy. Most, not all, women like a brotha to be affectionate and caring. I know know societal factors indicate it’s not very masculine to show affection towards your wife but a smart man understands the importance of this. Hold her hand, gently touch her or kiss her. Show her that she means the world to you. Sometimes this can be as simple as saying “I love you” when she least expects it. Most of us will say we want a sensitive man but then we talk crap about you when you cry all over the place. I love me a sensitive brotha who is in touch with his emotions. An experience slightly changed my opinion. I knew a brotha who would cry after Bollywood movies. All the time… Ya’ll know where that went…
  4. All ears. We love to talk, talk and then talk some more. You need to listen. Listen intently. Not while you are on Facebook or playing video games.  I know you don’t really care that I had the most awful hijab day at work. Most of the time we are not seeking advice, we’re simply letting steam off. This is all part of the female psyche.  It might not be important to you but she is important to you. Listen to her ramble because it’s part of the package. After she is done say something along these lines, “Honey boo boo pie, I am so sorry you had a bad hijab day at work. I think you look great, as always.” Look at her when you say this. Not at the T.V.
  5. Only one. Nothing is wrong with being a tad bit possessive or jealous. Most women want to feel like they are the only one. This pointer is based on circumstance though. Since there are some brothas and sistas involved in polygamous relationships there are exceptions to this rule. This piece of advice is geared towards those who are committed strictly to one another. Don’t have casual relationships with other women since this leads to suspicion. The “only friends” excuse is mumbo jumbo.
  6. The “S” word. She has needs as well so approach her correctly. Sexuality is often defined by the individual but most women approach sex in a totally different manner than men do. We often like is slower and at our own pace. Do not rush or get too eager. Be open with your communication when it comes to what she likes or dislikes. She might be shy to tell you what she wants. NEVER assume that because you are enjoying it that she is as well. Have an honest dialogue and be open to pleasing her. Good sex is a very fundamental element in a successful relationship. Allah gave you the tools now use them correctly my brotha!
  7. Presents. We lovvveeee gifts. Random gifts and surprises make every woman happy! Also, it gives you extra brownie points. You never know you might need a favor, right? The exchanges of gifts soften the heart. I’m not talking diamonds or cars here. It’s the simple stuff such as flowers, candies, etc… I call these “everyday gifts” because we save the big gifts for Eid.

Once you know and understand these concepts it’s really not that difficult to keep your woman happy. It’s the brothas who don’t know who complain about women being difficult creatures from another planet.

Now you know…

Spread the knowledge…

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marriage, personal

Beautiful or Bootyful?

A couple weeks ago a good friend introduced me to a brotha who was looking for a wife. She said we seemed pretty compatible and that he was very interested in meeting me after seeing a couple of my photos. He seemed like a decent guy. My friend said that her husband knew him for a while and that he was reputable. So, we scheduled a sit down and went from there.

We briefly spoke on the phone. He seemed very nice. I was feeling him. We agreed to meet for mediterranean food later in the week.

Later that week, we met up for dinner. I called him on my way to the restaurant and he told me he was getting out of his car. At the same time I was walking towards the restaurant. First impressions are important because they set a precedence for most of us. He had a leather jacket on and some rugged blue jeans. He had a little goatee and his hair was faded. He was cute. Not necessarily my type but attractive nonetheless. Also, he was on the smaller side…

Let me break it down for you.

I am 100% woman. Yes, ya’ll 100% Black woman. I’m thick, curvy, big boned…whatever terminology you desire to use. I’m 5’8 and a size 16 in pants. So naturally, I’m attracted to tall big men.

Now with that being said I do not let size phase me. If a brotha does not fit my physical mold I will still give the potential relationship a chance. It would be absolutely stupid to write someone off for something as meaningless as height.

So anyways, back to my story. We grabbed a table and he pulled out my chair (brotha was doin’ it right!) and ordered our food. Conversation went pretty smooth. He asked about my family. I asked about his. We talked about goals and aspirations. Eye contact was good. Body language was open and not guarded. All the signs that a sit down is going well, right?

He had this sultry look that I was attracted to you. While I was talking he would slightly lean in, fixate his gaze and nod in agreement with whatever I was saying. I felt like he was studying me and listening to every word that rolled off my tongue. He had a soft tone to his speech. His voice was not deep or loud. He sounded gentle and collected.

Finally…a good sit down.

These were the thoughts running through my head…

As I was enjoying my falafel and hummus he leant in and said the following,

“You are so beautiful, smart and fun to be around. But you really need to ……..”

I could not hear him so I looked up from my plate.

“I need to what?” I asked.

“Stop playing. You heard me.” He responded.

“No, I didn’t.” I said as I put my fork down.

“Well, you need to exercise…” He said with a stupid smirk on his face.

Awkward silence…

I felt the blood rushing to my face. I was humiliated. My feelings weren’t hurt as I am 100% woman, weren’t you paying attention earlier? I responded by asking him if he exercised. His response was in the negative. I informed him that I did exercise and recently dropped 20 pounds. I ended that sit down suggesting that he go hit the gym rather than suggesting it to others.

I did not curse him out…

I did not go Housewives of Atlanta on his ass and throw a drink in his face…

I kept my cool and most importantly my dignity.

During my drive home I really thought about the whole incident. It actually pissed me off more than anything. What would give someone the audacity to say some whack mess like that? If I had an issue with a brotha, such as height, I would never mention it to him. I would find another reason to politely end it. Along with that I would NEVER bring it up during a sit down.

Then it lead me to another thought.

I’ve met several brothers who have pretty strict requirements when it comes to a woman’s physical appearance. Everyone has their physical preferences. It’s perfectly normal. After all, you have to like what you see when you roll over in bed. With all that being said one must be willing to bend and as cliche as it might seem people age and things get saggy. It’s just the reality of life. This is why it’s so important that your relationship be based upon love and compassion. If it’s based off of anything else it’s certainly destined to fail.

At times, Muslims tend to think that we are immune to the outside world and its influences. The idea of beauty and attractiveness portrayed in the media affect our communities as well. Based on my experiences many Muslim men have an unrealistic expectation as to what women should look like.

Beauty can come in many different forms. Personality and looks are just a few.

While booty is just…well booty.

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love, personal

The first time

I think I was around seven years old at the time. My family had relocated to Switzerland and I was attending grammar school. Switzerland was small and cramped. The streets were brick and narrow. Every corner had a bakery and the air always smelled like pine. Despite the fact that the country still had neo-nazi tendencies I felt safe for the most part, as safe as a seven year old could feel I guess.

I was attending school and I remember when he first sat next to me. He would follow me everywhere. You see, the Swiss are very holistic in their approach to elementary education. The day would start off with putting my slippers on (yes, we wore slippers to school) and handing Frau (Mrs.) Schafner an apple. She would then carve a silly face into it smile at me and give it back. That was breakfast. The rest of the day would consist of playing, laughing and making small crafts. I was happy.

One thing I remember about him was that he had a head full of almond colored hair. It was curly and framed his face. His skin was pale and he had bright brown eyes. He said I looked like cacao (chocolate in German). This was when I realized I was the only Black girl in the class. Coming to terms with the fact that you are “different” is always an interesting process. Before that I never paid attention to it. He said it very innocently and matter of factly. You know, the way kids typically state things. Almost every time we paired off he would slyly scoot closer to me. We would play together. He’d follow me. We’d fight. He would get on my nerves. Then we would be back to playing the next day.

Basel was a small city so you would run into people you knew all the time. One time I was walking with my mother and I heard someone scream my name. He ran up to me and pulled me to the playground. I liked to be with him. He made me happy.

Later that year, we moved back to the U.S. I never saw him again.

I think about this experience from time to time. The innocence that accompanies childhood is so pure. You love without reason or consequence. You love wholeheartedly. You are too young to realize the pain and hurt that comes along with love.

As adults, what if we loved like this?

Take away all the rational and self reasoning. What if you solely paid attention to how your heart was drawn to others. As children we were drawn to one another. Can one ever question matters of the heart?

No.

I can’t even recall his name but the experience stuck with me.

That was my first time.

The first time I fell in love.

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The pitfall of segregation

Since I’ve been looking for a husband I’ve met plenty of suitors. Many of them have been married to non-Muslim women at one point or another. I have been trying to come up with a practical reason as to why this is taking place within our communities. Some seem legitimate while others are just nerve racking.

Typically if I am speaking to a brother I will inquire as to why he chose a non-Muslim woman over a Muslim. I usually get one out of two responses:

1. There were no Muslim women around.

2. Ya’ll are too intimidating and expect too much.

Let me break it down for you right here, right now.

At first I would get all “sista girl” on them and start going off. I would stress the point that I knew so many single, beautiful, educated Muslim women. Why go anywhere else? I beat that one into the ground.

Him: “Well, where are they at?”

Me: “EVERYWHERE!”

Then I realized everywhere was actually nowhere. That epiphany made me feel kinda dumb. In what setting are we allowed to freely mix and get to know people with the intention of getting married? Besides awkward matrimonial mixers and friends trying to hook you up Muslim men and women don’t stand a chance.

Only difference is Muslim men can marry non-Muslim women when they’re fed up.

We just remain chronically single.  So, where would I like to meet my future husband?

The mosque…

I think things are far too segregated. It’s not conducive to finding a spouse. The chances of that happening are next to nothing. I have been to some mosques where the segregation is absolutely ridiculous. How in the heck am I supposed to meet anyone if I am behind a curtain with the door closed on the balcony?! If hookups can’t happen in the mosque then what else is a Muslim man or woman to do?

I still do not have the answer to that question.

So, I ask the Muslim man this: If a majority of you are marrying non-Muslim women then who are we supposed to marry?

First off, if Islam is important to you then you would never consider marrying outside of the religion. Any attempt to do that means that Islam ain’t all that important in your life. If that’s what you want to do go ahead Brotha. I’m not passing judgement. Just don’t start crying and threatening a divorce when the kids are running around in Halloween costumes and she’s reminding you that it’s time to mail out Christmas photos. She wasn’t Muslim when you married her. You can’t expect her to give up her customs and traditions. If you really cared all that much you would have married a Muslim woman from the jump. When it’s just you and her it’s fine but once you throw kids into the mix it’s a totally different story. Real talk. Also, give her the rights she deserves. Just because she isn’t Muslim does not mean you can treat her just anyway. Karma baby, karma…

We all know it is hard to be single but you have to think long-term when it comes to marriage. You must view marriage as an enhancement in your life. Sure you are going to have your rough moments but don’t go into a situation blindly. Never expect anyone to change. As Maya Angelou said “The first time someone shows who they are, believe them.” Words of wisdom.

Think wisely. It’s your life.

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