Essay

Labyrinth of the Lovestruck

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It’s quaint, old-fashioned. Almost like a rite of passage, I suppose, to have this insatiable need for the “fairytale ending,” the classic one where a beautiful girl is riding in a pretty horse-drawn carriage, accompanied by none other than her handsome prince. They’re both smiling – rigidly in that quintessential 50’s fashion – as they ride off into the sunset. Then, from what seems like thin air, two soaring birds trace words into the sky, leaving beautifully scripted letters, which read, “The End.”Sound familiar?

Now, before you admonish and tell me I’ve misconstrued the very notion of “fairytale,” please allow me to explain. As I crash into adulthood, I’ve become increasingly aware that such a fictional backdrop is not simply the fodder of little girls’ dreams. This idea of happily ever after has been the subject of blistering discussions, the fabric of goals, and the narrations of a countless number of novels and films. It’s becoming more and more difficult to maneuver myself through the labyrinth of the lovestruck. Questions buzz monotonously from hopeful lips and streamline through the air, “When will it happen? Why hasn’t it happened yet? Will it ever happen, and with who, when, where?” As I stand there and stare, bewildered, I notice myself being swallowed by questions that I, quite frankly, don’t have the answers to.

It seems that everyone is sprinting towards this abstracted beeline, this pathway of princes and carriages and princesses and happiness. There seems to be this “secret formula” of marriage, of finding “the One,” concocted using only the elements of ambition and age. It’s the classic adage, “If you can think it, you can make it so.” What’s frightening about this beeline to beloveds is hearing our Muslim brothers and sisters speak about themselves in a manner that is not in the least bit kind. They say that they are alone because of their looks or due to other irrelevant characteristics. Even worse, some state that Allah has abandoned and forgotten about them. It is simply heartbreaking to hear individuals utter such things, but what is even more depressing is to finally realize that we’ve lost sight of the power and strength of Allah’s plan. Marriage is much like anything in life; it is planned by Allah in the most meticulous and precise fashion. Why do we constantly submerge ourselves in the cloudiness of doubt?

Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala), tells us: “And to Allah belongs the Ghaib (unseen) of the heavens and the earth, and to Him return all affairs (for decision). So worship Him (O Muhammad) and put your trust in Him. And your Lord is not unaware of what you (people) do.” [1. Hud 11:123]

I’ve come to learn that there is a stark difference between being in pursuit of a perfect partner, and searching for the right one. This contrast simply says that no one is perfect, so why are we exhaustibly pooling our efforts chasing mere figments of our imagination ? More often than not, we are sorely mistaken about what it means to be the right one for someone else. We are too inclined to think that love or marriage can somehow solve all of our problems or serve as a solution for our difficulties that we are currently facing. The significance and bearing of marriage in our religion cannot be denied, but Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) created us in such a manner that we are meant to find tranquility and happiness in our spouses, not solely lust or faded dreams. The best fairytale is the one where a couple strives to lead their lives in such a manner that is most pleasing to Allah so that, bi’idhnillah, one day they can ride in beautiful carriages through “gardens beneath which rivers flow,” as princes and princesses of the land. [2. Surah Muhammad 47:12]

For all of us who are still unraveling our understanding of the labyrinth of the lovestruck, let’s take comfort in the words of Jane Austen, who writes –  “There are as many forms of love as there are moments in time.” Let’s find contentment in the loved ones that we have in our lives: our parents, our family, our friends, amd most importantly our Lord, Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala), who loves us more than any prince or princess can  dare to fathom.

May Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) bestow enduring love between the hearts of our Ummah’s couples and may He unite our single brothers and sisters with their rightful and cherishing match. May the birds in the sky soar, weaving in and out of beautiful script on the edge of the horizon. Ameen.

Hanaa is an English Language and Literature major who calls the border city of Windsor, Ontario, Canada home. She has an insatiable thirst for the written word, particularly poetry, and enjoys immersing herself in the study of new languages. She writes for MYM to remind herself and others that all of our trials and triumphs come from to Allah azza wa jal. In her spare time she enjoys writing eclectically in her journal, attending AlMaghrib seminars, and playing basketball.

11 Comments

  1. Awesome work, Māshā‘Allāh. Coming to terms with long-held wishes is definitely very tough, and you’ve done a good job of elucidating those feelings.

  2. Ameen. It’s arguably hard for us youth to stay on track with our priorities. Insecurity, hormones, and all. I agree wholeheartedly with this article.

    By the way, love the artistic title. It really paints the picture of your main point. :)

  3. A very interesting view on a topic we are all familiar with. And very well written MashaAllah. :)
    Reminds of something my father mentioned a few days back about “sabr.” Everyone is rushing, rushing, gotta get a boyfriend/girlfriend, gotta get married, etc. I think taking things slow and leaving it in Allah’s hands is something we all need to work on.

  4. The fairy tale ending of the horse drawn carriage is neither old fashioned nor quaint but manufactured by Disney. It is a tale that raises false expectations in the minds of women. The true fairy tale is what the author noted towards the end – that of a couple striving, forgiving, overlooking faults, and journeying to the real gardens underneath which rivers flow. As for Muslims having trouble finding mates in the west, the reasons are manifold.  Muslim women in the west are (generally) less modest, more outspoken, more brash, rebellious, more inclined to leave marriages at moderate levels of strain, more disillusioned, confused, and quite importantly, they far outnumber the available Muslim men. The Muslim men in turn also have disillusionment and expect to find a modest, demure, traditional wife who will also be a vivacious fox in intimate situations. The two don’t co-exist normally. A tide of Muslim men are therefore marrying either the fox – the white girl in college, or the traditional – the cultured and sensitive and smiling caretaking spouse from ‘back home’ who are much more likely to be virgins than Muslim girls who grew up in the west, thus leaving a generation of American born and raised Muslim girls stranded. I understand the situation in Toronto is pretty dire as well with Muslim men outnumbered by Muslim women. There is a stark difference between Muslim girls who grew up in the east and those that grew up in the west. The eastern girls’ lives revolve around that of their husband and children (and they do so happily), the western girls’ lives revolve around many other things in addition to the husband. Girls in the east who do not cover their hair still dress far more modestly than hijabi girls in the west. Take for e.g. the shalwar kameez of the eastern lady. It is loose, covers the bosoms, and does not show the shape of the body. Now take the hijabi western sister – I have seen countless where they cover their hair but their clothes are tight fitting to the extent that their bosoms, hips, buttocks, are all evident. So in many ways, the non-hijabi sisters in the east dress far more modestly than the western hijabi sisters. Furthermore, girls in the west value career and education much more to the extent that they become old spinsters having secured an education but no husband. The parents of the girls are sometimes big hindrances and they reject suitable men left and right for small reasons till these controlling parents develop a reputation in the community for ‘hoarding’ their daughters.  There are also a few other reasons preventing unions – e.g. past sexual abuse, being overweight, being too nit-picky, etc. This is one of the multifarious reasons that Muslim girls in the west are having a tough time finding a mate. One thing Muslim girls in the west need to realize is that every year that they delay their marriage, their competition increases tremendously. For e.g. if you just turned 29, then there is a whole generation of young girls in their prime who just turned 18 years old. When you turn 30, now you have two generations of competition, the 18 year olds who turned 19 and the 17 year olds that turned 18 and so on and so forth. I didn’t make up the above reasons of my own volition. This is based on survey responses from young Muslim women in a major city in the USA that I put together on a spreadsheet and analyzed statistically. I hope that Muslims in the west can truly negotiate this labyrinth of the love struck with patience, intelligence, and forbearance. May I also recommend all young sisters and brothers to read this excellent article by a western born and raised Muslim lady who migrated to the east: http://ummreem.wordpress.com/2008/07/07/marriage-and-beyond/

  5. Masha Allah, very well written, and the title fits. :) We often do not realize that half the things we dream of are not attainable in this world. This article kind of woke me up- just work for the next life and you can get what you want there. 

  6. ” Let’s find contentment in the loved ones that we have in our lives”. That message really struck me in the heart. Sometimes we get so caught up in thinking about our future that we forget about our present. Thanks for this beautiful reminder.

  7. So true,’happily ever after’ has become so ridiculously popular, it’s almost like an out-of-control fad. And I understand that many of us would love to have that kind of life: all roses and rainbows and giggles and whispers of sweet nothings, but we also rightfully know that in this world, none of that makes sense, neither does it all matter.
    Yet the fact that love is an emotion as strong as anything else is not to be ignored, because the universe runs on love; the love of Allah is too powerful for even the brave-hearted. When you have in mind that Allah loves you and and can Grant you happiness beyond your wildest fantasies if you JUST submit your ego to the One who Created you, everything’s alright. Everything works out.
    It’s almost too good to be true… but it is.
    I know where happily ever after is, inshallah by Allah’s Mercy, may we ALL reach the ranks of Jannatul- firdous… now THAT’S a happy ending!

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