by Hana Hamdi
As a graduating senior I just wanted to put something out there, and Insha’Allah, you lovely readers will benefit from it in some way. Please read this with an open mind and open heart.
Fist off, I want to inform you the reader a little bit about the current state of our increasingly global society. One out of every three teen relationships is abusive. Sixty percent of kids who grow up in abusive homes will go on to repeat the behavior, becoming either an abuser or a victim of abuse. Eighty-five percent of domestic violence is committed by men, against women, that’s just patriarchy for you.
Now, that means there is a 33.3% chance you will either end up in a violent relationship or you are a product of one. Sounds frightening, and I don’t mean to scare you. I think we can agree these statistics are disturbing. Keep in mind Muslims are not immune to these problems—that’s why we have organizations like the WAFA House. Violence perpetuates itself in many different forms, such as physical, sexual, verbal, financial, and social. I encourage you all to become more educated on issues of violence in the home so we can break the cycle. The Prophet salAllahu alayhi wa sallam never hit any of his wives. He washed his own clothes, and he had a very equitable relationship with all his wives. I think he would be appalled by the prevalence of this issue within the Muslim community. Especially since there are countless ahadith citing his very clear position that men should not beat their wives. Women deserve to be valued as people, and they need to be respected.
Second, I would just like to say in my four years at Rutgers, I noticed many students idealize marriage. I find it very frustrating because it’s dangerous to idealize things. It leads us to have an unrealistic view of what the subject is, in this case marriage. Many of us claim to be “ready” for marriage. That’s all quite admirable, but I don’t think anyone can be ready. Because in order to prevent things like domestic violence and increasingly high divorce rates, we have to learn to be selfless in a selfish society. It takes a lot of giving for a marriage to work out. At the same time, there can’t be one-sided giving because it is not fair that one partner gets burnt out at the expense of the other.
Third, I want to remind us relationships are not about finding your other half. We’re all whole people, Alhamdulilah. You are complete, just the way you are. As children, we never doubt this fact, but as we grow and see our friends in relationships, we often wonder about our rumored “other half”—but that leads us to wasteful daydreaming, desperation, and possibly disappointment.
As someone who witnessed a pretty dreadful marriage end in a worse divorce, I urge you all to re-evaluate what marriage means to you. Marriage is not as much a new beginning as it is hard work, and no amount of studying will make it any easier, therefore it is just that much more challenging. I think we often forget about how hard it is to really be in a permanent relationship with someone, because both partners really have to put in effort to make it work. It’s not about looks. It’s not about sex. It’s not about money. It’s not really about religion (I mean, in Islam everything comes back to religion, but non-religious people get married, so it’s not the point I’m getting at). It’s mostly about steadfastness. Ultimately, it’s about being there for someone no matter what—that means putting our own priorities aside for someone else. It’s not glamorous. It’s hard. Many people do not succeed, and they are abusive because of their selfishness and insecurity leading to broken homes and broken hearts.
Finally, practicing altruism (selflessness/generosity) is not something only necessary for having a good marriage but it is also necessary for improving our relationships with our families, friends, and with people in general. The world needs a little more kindness.
Last thing, don’t be selfless to the point where you are burnt out, and you have no money left and no energy to give—it’s important to take care of yourself too. There is a difference between self-care and being self-centered, so be careful. May Allah subhana wa ta’ala guide us and protect us from our own selfishness and from the violence of others. May He provide us with good partners who challenge us to be better people and to serve Him and His ummah, Ameen.
P.S. I am sorry for generalizing, I just wanted to shed some light on a few issues so we can all grow and become better people. Insha’Allah this was effective in that way.
Statistics from National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.