These Three Words

The airport was packed with people. 

I think it was July 4th weekend because I remember people were in shorts and it was mad hot outside. A group of children sat in the seats near me. It looked like they were sharing a bag of potato chips. The oldest looking boy was hogging the bag. I figured they were going on vacation because they looked far too excited to be returning home. I sat in the corner on the floor waiting for my flight to board. My book bag was sprawled out in front of me. I took my flip flops off to get more comfortable. Since I was a child I’ve always hated shoes. My mother always joked and said I inherited that from my African father, who himself preferred bare feet even in the coldest of months.

I was on the phone with a man that I would marry in the months to follow. I was in my own world. He was, in fact, slowly and surely becoming my world. Ironically enough, I don’t even remember what city I was traveling in at the time when he first said it to me. 

The mind is an interesting facet. It is a chest full of ideas, dreams, fears and sporadic thoughts. Some people say you remember what you choose while others say you remember the things that spark a deep emotional response within you. I believe the latter. 

I remember the sincerity in his voice. I remember the way my heart exploded when he uttered those three words. I remember he was hesitant and guarded but all the while confident. 

Then he said it.

I did not respond.

I soaked it in, marinated in his words then mentally saved a little for a rainy day. 

Until that moment I had never felt the power of these three words. They were heavy. Heavy in a good way.

His vulnerabilities started to surface and he began to apologize for his brazenness. 

He was nervously mumbling his words.

Perhaps my silence made him question himself.

I immediately stopped him. 

He was ready to give and my heart was willing to accept. I was young, inexperienced and eager to be loved by a man. When a woman is ready for this chapter in her life no one can stop her, not even her own parents.

As Muslims we walk a very fine line that can be confusing at times. We attempt to navigate a world while being culturally and religiously appropriate, all the while living in a society that doesn’t put much value on either. At times, this can lead to one not being entirely true to themselves. True to their emotions. Some deem it unislamic to confess your love openly, especially as a woman. But how can you be true with others when you aren’t true to yourself? 

Does sincerity not start from within?

Now I am certainly not encouraging folks to profess their undying love to just anyone. I am just reminding you, as well as myself, to be more open with the feelings that Allah has placed within us all. I wish we lived in a world where there was no fear involved with being honest about your feelings. It would make life a hell of a lot easier. Emotions are the core of the human experience and when I deny them I am directly denying myself.

I’ve always said the purest love is that which is young, untainted and immature. Before hard life lessons bite you in the ass. When you haven’t been hurt you allow your heart to guide you. After pain the intellect supersedes the heart. Rationale triumphs emotion in order to avoid pain. For some it’s a coping mechanism. That’s just the way it is. I don’t understand why. Everything in life doesn’t have an explanation so we must stop expecting one for every misfortune that befalls us. 

I never questioned his love. Even though the marriage ended in divorce I believe he loved the best way he could. The only way he knew how to. We all love differently. As children we learn how to love from our parents, siblings and society. You carry those learned habits into your adult life. Some of those habits are good and others are bad.

Just as quickly as people fall in love they fall out of love. I hope to experience the sweetness that comes along with this process. We all experience love so differently and no two experiences are ever he same. Staying in love is never a guarantee and understanding that will allow you to avoid the pitfalls that come a long with the pain.

Plainly put, sometimes shit happens and for some people it is worse than others.

You have to pick yourself up, brush that dust off and keep on keepin’ on. 

It may not be ok today. There is no guarantee that it will be ok tomorrow either.

That one day, when you least expect it, you will realize that the hurt made you stronger.

You were always ok. Life just tricked you into thinking you were not.

It has always been in you.



3 thoughts on “These Three Words

  1. I agree. But I worry a lot that my cynicism and intellect will keep me from taking a chance on someone, or letting someone get close. I have the sorrow of the loss of my wife at such a young age. And then since then, the only serious person I’ve met ran over me like a Mack truck. It makes it very hard.
    Especially since I am old-fashioned and hold the words “I love you” as practically sacred. Thus when someone says this to me and yet treats me like a speedbump later, it hurts. And makes me even more cynical or jaded. I want to love, I want to be loved. But most of all I want to trust. 😦

  2. mahmoud andrade ibrahim says:

    by Mahmoud Andrade Ibrahim
    There is the Quranic injunction to enter houses through their proper doors (2:189). The direction given in this verse is certainly related to the etiquette used by the desert arabs of the 6th century. There seems to have been some question as to whether it was permissible to enter an un-occupied dwelling. There has been many explanations by the commentators of both Quran and hadith to illuminate the circumstances surrounding the occasion of this particular revelation, that is not the scope of my interest at the moment. This verse is usually found in the current literature related to manners.

    I am interested in the phrase, ‘enter houses through their proper doors’ and the many meanings that it brings to mind for me. First of all, it is a reminder that whenever we undertake some task or project we should carry out the necessary preparations in order to achieve our desired result or else our commitment to the task under discussion is not solid. The idea of course is there is a proper way to do everything. There is a proper way and then there is the so-called short-cut. The short cut seems to be the easiest, least costly in terms of time and money and appears to be the ‘path of least resistance’ but in the overall, the short-cut can cost more in terms of loss of time and effectiveness and you just might have to go back and do it right anyway.

    Think of your medical doctor, would you feel confident knowing that he or she hadn’t finished medical school, that the degree hanging on the wall was the result of the ‘hook-up’ and not because of the ‘due-diligence’ necessary for such a medical honor. Would you feel safe and secure in front of a judge with a lawyer who obtained his law credentials by watching 22 episodes of Law and Order on network television with commercials? No, of course not.

    So why am I so keenly interested in ‘proper doors’, well , its because when I look around at the various ingredients that have sustained our struggle since the arrival of the first Africans on these shores. I am acutely aware that we have survived because we found the proper doors, for example, I know that we would be less developed had we not fully incorporated the courage, talents and brain power of our women. In the work necessary to construct healthy, sustainable communities that have the ability to weather the social storms as we have witnessed in America, through the middle passage, slavery, Jim Crow and now through the new current Law and Order template, the black community could not have come this far without our women. Black women have been the back-bone of the black church and the civil rights struggle and they deserve a place at the Muslim table. So it is my position that Blackmerican women are one of the proper doors that is necessary for the construction of a self contained and wholesome American Muslim Community.

    Another proper door as far as I am concerned, as it affects the blackamerican Muslim community is the way in which the community masjids are configured. I’m now talking about the organizational structure of the masjid. When we look around at the examples of the black church in the various communities through- out America, they are governed by a board of directors that is appointed or elected by the congregants. These churches have ‘long legs’, that is, longevity. Why, because the congregants feel that by participating in the governance of the church they have a vested interest in making sure the church is successful. Masjids, at least in the Blackamerican experience, are not set up this way. Yes, the articles of incorporation necessitate a structure, so most masjids have at least that. However that is not what I’m talking about here. I’m talking about a board of 5 or 7 community folks, men and women, that actually draw up policy and procedures for the direction and sustainability of the community. This board would determine the direction of the masjid (community), draw up budgets, decide methods of reporting back to the community, pay salaries, if necessary, etc. In many black churches, the board is the body that chooses the pastor and the deacons and can replace them as the need arises. Somehow we have gotten the idea that once an imam is chosen, he’s there for life.. An outdated concept in my humble opinion and one that does not have a long shelf life, at least not in America. Islam is not a personality cult and what the Muslim community wants to ensure is , not so much one imam, as much as one direction and that would be determined by the board of directors.

    Finally as long as we are talking about proper doors, each community must have as its priority a place to send their children for school. It is my belief that unless we have schools that we have paid for and send our children to, paying the tuition and generally supporting their education well into high school, we haven’t really been serious about preserving Islam as a way of life.

    All of these doors are necessary to preserve Islam as a viable way of life in America. Some people reading this piece will feel threatened by some of these ideas. I don’t think anyone should be. These ‘proper doors’ are our goals, our objectives, they are there so that we can compete in the marketplace of lifestyle options with halal living. There will be those who oppose these ideas, who are stuck in the ideas of the past and who have no clue about what to do with the communities they are responsible for. Remember ‘old prisoners have to be coaxed out of their cells’. As we begin to stand on our own and take the survival of our communities in our own hands, the nay-sayers will be convinced only by our successes. These ‘proper doors’ are the doors to our future. And that future begins today.
    We ask Allah to guide us, not to our past but to our future ! Ameen


    I love the concept of your blog…mai

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