Last week, I was discussing the challenges of being a single woman in today’s world. We talked about what lessons should be taught to daughters and to sons and from that conversation comes this article. Below are my primaries, to which you are invited to add yours either in the comments section or in a private email.
First and absolutely foremost for me would be the Oneness of God, inside of which exists our own. It is the recognition that we both share, and are a shared humanity, and so none of us sit alone. Rather, each one of us is an integral thread within it, and if I fray, so too will you.
Ultimately, to hurt another is to hurt ourselves, and to improve the station of another is also to improve that of our own. What asshole would argue with this? Especially if every day we are working to ensure that our heart is kind and compassionate and still open to vulnerability?
Second, you have enough bad behaviours and will make many (so many!) bad choices on which to focus; so don’t judge the behavior of others, most importantly when in moments of volatility and emotional distress. When you can’t reign your ass in, get up and go for a walk until you can. Should you fail to do this, and instead drop the ball, run that sorry ass right after it and pick it up hard and fast.
Third, your time will come to fall and to hurt and to commit a really devastating moral error. Trust in that reality because we are humans and our biggest gift from God is the freedom to choose, and sometimes that actually means “…to choose to do the wrong thing, and then suffer the consequences.”
When this happens, may you be surrounded by people who — though they may disagree with you — will put their arms around you and hold you as tight as you need and for as long as you need until you are whole again, with absolutely no judgement whatsoever.
Fourth, respect yourself. Always.
I have said that the amount of respect we afford others is a direct reflection of how much we respect ourselves. Even when we don’t like someone, we should still respect them, if for no other reason than we are all One (see Number 1 above).
And on the most powerful drivers defining the human condition…sex and love (with the caveat that I have not yet sexed)…
Be vulnerable every single time, and risk getting hurt. Do not act from a place of fear; do not shy away from what God is saying in your heart. If you care about someone, tell them. Do not lose nights, and treat your body like the playground that it is. As Muslims, we are taught that sex, when right, is the most incredible tool of communication; I imagine, and would teach my daughters that it is to be filled with warmth, kindness, loyalty, adventure, and a right good laugh. When it is right, it is a straight-up place of worship and prayer.
Remember, as has been noted by endless many others, sex is not merely physical. It is emotional and it is psychological before it is ever physical. This is why we are guided to wait until marriage, and why we must understand that His guidance is only ever to protect us. Meaning, you always have a choice to give it away at every turn, but should you do so, please be cognizant of the repercussions which come with such choosing.
In Islam this is recognized fully, by the way, and sexing your partner as often as possible is aces and highly recommended, else He would not have given us the orgasm, or the multiple.
To the girls: Wait. Wait. Wait. Wait for the right man — not your first love, but rather your right love. Wait for the man who does not ask it of you; the one who does not expect it of you; the one who treats you and your body with the reverence you deserve, the one who wants to know your heart before he dives in to read your body.
To the boys: Have patience. Never expect sex, never demand sex, never ever belittle or humiliate a woman with whom you have been intimate.
To the both of you: Love of GOD, please don’t videotape or photograph yourselves. Please. Believe in the power of imagination instead, and leave some mystery to be desired. Also, keep your mouths shut about the details. Though we all need to speak to our BFFITWWW about the towers of experience in our lives and this is one of them, out of respect for your partner, speak in general terms, not in specifics. (Also, see Number 3 above.)
With all of the above in mind, I will close with one of my favourite quotes from Clarence Budinton Kelland, and leave the rest to your capable hands: “My father didn’t tell me how to live, he lived, and let me watch him do it.”
Side-note: Love is a two-way street, and both are responsible for its maintenance. With that, sometimes even the greatest loves become disenchanted and disenchanting, and so long as you gave it your all and did your best, it is alright to walk away carrying only the best memories forward and into your next relationship. That something doesn’t last forever doesn’t mean that it — or you — are a failure, and where two people don’t evolve in a compatible way, it means that both of your paths are meant to grow in the presence of someone else’s love. Accept this with grace and go easy on yourself. Because again, within this deen, we are guided to love to the greatest of our ability, and to receive love also to the greatest ability. If we cannot express and receive this inside of our present relationship, then we diminish from ourselves and our partners.
Image courtesy of VoiceOfUnity(dot)com.
This was beautiful, Maha. Thanks you.
Well said. So many people should read this!
I am struggling to come up wuth something, anything, intelligent to say about the brilliance that you have written. Thank you.
I am at a loss for words.
I have known you for years, and I didn’t think it was possible but I love you more every single day. You are a blessing not-so-in-disguise. Thank you.
You are a fucking goddess. A GODDESS.
“That something doesn’t last forever doesn’t mean that it — or you — are a failure, and where two people don’t evolve in a compatible way, it means that both of your paths are meant to grow in the presence of someone else’s love. Accept this with grace and go easy on yourself.”
I wish someone had told me this a long time ago. After every break up I think of myself as a failure. MYSELF. I am emailing you about this. Thank you for this crazy amazing entry that is FILLED WITH SO MUCH FOOD FOR MY HEAD!!!! -lily
You turn words to wine…thank you love.
Writing is your blessing. I remember reading that God has granted every person a blessing, and a part of this experience is to discover it. With every read, I think that writing is your blessing.
Thank you for sharing it with us,
xs + os to you all (sorry for accidentally messing your comment, Thomas — all is now fixed :))
And I would add – denying your partner sex (and more importantly, the love and soul connection that sex encompasses) as a means of punishment and control is as wrong as forcing someone to have sex.
I see women doing this all the time, and recently was in a relationship where this happened. I’ve been on both ends of that stick, and they both suck equally.
YES! REBECCA, YES!!
How very very very ugly to turn this thing into a weapon. (Said the girl who isn’t getting any…yet. Don’t use it as a weapon, God damn it!)
Maha you are my favorite.
Maha this is beautiful
Thank you, both xoxo
“the one who wants to know your heart before he dives in to read your body.”
Oh, Maha, why do you have to be so right on so much of the time? 🙂