Finding the ‘one’ is probably one of the biggest challenges that both single Muslim men and women still experience, and coupled with ongoing societal pressures of settling down, how do you come to find the ‘one’? And more importantly how do you reach that realisation?
For myself, these very questions perplexed me even before my own search for ‘Mr Right’ began. I was intrigued at the conviction and certainty that friends displayed knowing their potential spouse was the ‘one’ and how in earnest they tried to convince me that you know innately that this is the right person with whom you will spend the rest of your life with!
Spouse hunting can seem very much like a job interview. Days are spent prepping your ‘successful spouse’ question list, before that painful and slightly awkward hour of a myriad of questions to determine if there is any compatibility. Deen, ambitions, culture, living arrangements, child-rearing philosophies, pet peeves, interests and whether they are a productive individual, or a lazy so and so who expect you to wait on them, are all put into question. Nothing is deemed too intrusive to ask in this battle of finding the ‘one’.
Although ‘Question Time’ provides a good scope into a person’s outlook on life, allowing one to determine if they could consider them as a life partner or not, the nature and formality of these meetings, however, means you can easily become over-analytic, reducing the individual to component parts that you check off a shopping list instead of seeing them for who they are holistically.
During my first few meetings with potential candidates, I felt a little on edge and being the introvert that I am, I really struggled to calm my nerves and speak openly. I especially felt the pressure when talking to candidates when there was a strong level of interest on my part and fretted about whether the feelings were mutual. I wouldn’t typically consider myself to be a romantic, yet somehow I had been enthralled into a daydream that I would find myself being swept off my feet by my potential spouse in our first meeting and how his amazing personality, good looks and invincible charm would be the deciding factor that he was the one.
He would be a visionary – a creative, free-thinking individual with plenty of boyish charm irrespective of his rugged looks – in other words, he would be my type! Did I meet such an individual? Yes. Did I think he was the man of my dreams? Yes. Did we end up getting married? No. Did I think it was for the best? Yes.
By the time I came across candidate number four, I had become quite accustomed to the whole routine and if I’m totally honest, a little fed up that ‘Mr Right’ hadn’t come into sights. Although my outlook on marriage changed slightly, having not placed a huge emphasis on physical appearance, I was still determined to find an equally God-fearing and good-looking soul. The interesting thing about candidate number four was that, unlike the previous candidates, he was equally as nervous as I had been in my first few meetings and appeared to be very reserved and shy. The parallel was uncanny, and I relinquished the opportunity to put someone else at ease by steering and taking control of the whole conversation, which was an empowering moment.
As trivial as it sounds, attraction for me has always been a big factor in my quest for the perfect husband. As a practising Muslimah, marriage marks the first step in a romantic relationship with the opposite gender and after all that waiting, I was not going to settle for anything less than my Mr Darcy. Although physical appearance was critical, it was extremely important to find someone who was strong in their deen with a good character, but yet somehow, I couldn’t quite pull myself from the whole hopeless-romantic sentiment.
In line with Islamic teaching we should seek someone who we are physically attracted to. But to what extent are we willing to go? Let’s say we find someone who we don’t find that initial spark that sends our heart racing 100mph or turns our cheeks flaming tomato when someone brings them up in a conversation, but their deen and character shine brighter. How does one take that plunge to override unrealistic fantasies with the confidence that this person will treat you with unconditional love and respect, and in time you will grow to find the person someone whom your heart yearns for time and time again, and not just a physical infatuation which will fade with time?
After my succession of setbacks with all the previous candidates and realising that good looks can only account for so much, I knew it was high time to put my undivided trust in Allah SWT. Throughout the whole process of finding ‘Mr Right’, I knew I had to put my tawaqal (trust) in Allah. Tawaqal being that you put your full, undivided faith in Allah, knowing that He almighty will take care of you, even when things look impossible.
“My heart is at ease knowing that what was meant for me will never miss me, and that what misses me was never meant for me.” -Imam Shaafi
So, for the first time during this process, I raised my hands in earnest, praying for the right person to be sent my way – the person who would love, honour, respect and adore me from the day we married to the day we meet our Lord. And who so followed after this duaa? Well none other than Candidate four! The résumé was extremely impressive, as well as their deen and character, but I couldn’t help feeling that a certain spark was missing.
I wasn’t even sure if I wanted to pursue a further meeting – he didn’t fit my mould for the ideal spouse built upon my fairytale daydreams, but knowing that there must be wisdom in why our paths crossed as a result of my prayers, I knew deep down I would harbour regret if I ended up letting him go without giving him a fair chance. So, I decided to carry on and agree to another meeting. From there, things progressed: the meetings continued, checklist items ticked, things were going smoothly, a rapport was being built and then only one conclusion remained – this was my life partner!
I’d be lying if I said it was easy to dismiss the fact that Mr Right wasn’t my storybook-fantasy. Sure, he wasn’t what I anticipated as my type, but by following this very rigid narrative I knew I would be closing the doors to the best decision I would ever make in my life!
There is no such thing as perfection, and by opening my heart, entrusting my soul to Allah SWT, I found my Mr Right – the most loving, generous, gentle, forgiving, beautiful soul who has become the love of my life, my confidant, my partner in crime and the sunshine to my day.
Yes, at times it seems that physical attraction is one of the most important things when looking for a life partner, but as I tell all my single friends “what will you have left when he’s old and wrinkly?”. Attraction comes in all different types of forms. Yes, we’ve become accustomed to recognising it in its most traditional form whereby it stops us dead in our tracks and makes our heart flutter relentlessly. But attraction can also be built upon a deeper understanding of another person – from the way they treat us like the most special person on this earth to the way they shower us with unconditional love, kindness and affection.
It just takes a moment to contemplate that maybe, just maybe, Mr Right is out there, but not in the form you envision! It takes a little trust, open-mindedness, and Tawaqal in Allah to recognise the wealth of opportunities and potentials right in front of us. Sometimes, our desperation for something causes us to forget the wisdom as to why we do not receive it, and instead we fail to acknowledge that something better has been sent in its place.
“….It could be that you dislike something, when it is good for you; and it could be that you like something when it is bad for you. Allah knows, and you do not know.” [Qur’an, 2:216]
A Jamil is an English Language graduate and a communications and marketing enthusiast who has worked within the charity and non-profit sector. Her passion of tackling social inequalities and common problems within the Muslim community have seen her writing appear in Sisters Magazine and The Muslim Vibe. When she’s not eating or baking cakes, she enjoys getting involved in various youth-focused community projects. She blogs at A Travellers Treasure Box.