Monday, August 2, 1999
As salaamu alaikum wa rahmatullah wa barakatuhu, Bilqis.
I was impressed with the privacy and usefulness of your web
page, and decided to ask for some advice, insha Allah.
I am 42 years old and 6 1/2 months into a bi-ethnic marriage
(my husband is Arab Moroccan and I am African-American). My husband
and I had our initial nikkah 2 1/2 years ago in Germany (he was
a university student without an American visa). To make a long
story short, he has not fulfilled the mahr as agreed and has
not blended into the family (I have 2 teenaged sons and one 20
in college). I am a struggling Muslimah and I have been father
and mother to my children and I've done the best that I could.
Now, I need someone to take responsibility for me and provide
leadership and guidance. Unfortunately, my current husband is
greatly lacking in experience to be able to assume this responsibility.
You might ask "didn't you consider all that before you married
him?" I can only answer that I allowed myself to believe
what I was being told, and that my husband may have had good
intentions and willingness, but now it is obvious he cannot assume
the responsibility. So, now I'm ready to scream, because instead
of gaining a leader, I feel like I have another child (he is
grossly immature and very closed minded for 32). Once again,
seems like I took the bait and believed what I was being told
without any real evidence.
Because of these problems, I have not been able to feel love
for my husband, and whatever I felt initially when we married
in Germany has been washed away by the reality of what I have
really married. I don't want to hurt him, but I want to stay
within the boundaries of Islam. I don't feel I can do that as
his wife, because I don't love him. I am struggling now with
how to peacefully end this marriage rather than letting it drag
on tormentuously. I feel like I am using him because our feeling
are nowhere near the same.
I got in this mess because I don't really trust any of the
men in the community (a divorced woman is treated like damaged
good and pushed toward polygyny). I sought out on my own on the
internet and that is how I met my husband. I really need help
and leadership from an Islamic perspective, and someone that
I can trust.
I hope you have some advice for me. Ma salaam
-Muslimah Fed Up and Going Crazy
Dear "Fed up and Going Crazy",
There could be many factors for you
to consider in this situation. Time, cultural differences and
expectations can be some of the things you and your husband need
to scrutinize more closely.
You seem to say that even though you
married 2 and 1/2 years ago, you have been living together as
husband and wife for only 6 months. You are really still newlyweds
getting to know one another. This is also a situation where there
are teenaged children and a Muslimah who has had to be strong
and independent to maintain herself and her children (and may
Allah (swt) bless you many times over for it, dear sister!).
So, needless to say the past 6 months have been a BIG PERIOD
OF ADJUSTMENT for all of you.
Culturally, your husband, I am assuming,
was born and raised outside the USA. If he was born in a predominantly
Muslim country, his experiences have been very different from
someone born and raised in America. Islam should be your COMMON
GROUND and a starting point for trying to resolve your problems.
If he has Islamic ideals it may be difficult for him to translate
them into the environment you now find yourselves, especially
with regard to the children. As we know, there are many influences
in the West that conflict with Islam.
Cultural differences sometime can lead
to differences in expectations - but here again Islam should
be your common ground upon which to build a foundation. Perhaps
if you can discuss your expectations of one another in a clear
and concise way, the understanding needed to act in a responsible
manner can be achieved. If some mutual understanding of expectations
can be achieved then perhaps you can use this to gauge your progress.
You weren't very specific in your letter,
so it's hard to know exactly what the problems are, but I hope
I have mentioned some things for you to think about and perhaps
try. Marriage sometimes requires subtle changes in ourselves,
sometimes major changes, but constant communication, patience
and the desire to make it work can make the difference. Give
it more time, talk to your husband about your concerns - try
to find out how he truly feels and tell him how you truly feel.
This is not an easy situation; a new
marriage takes time to mold so that it fits you both. May Allah
(swt) guide you through the difficulties and open your minds
and hearts to the opportunities and possibilities for a good