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Updated: Jul 21, 2021

I actually divorced my first husband before I became Muslim. Prior to that I had been raised as a Christian, and there was a definitely clear message that divorce was abnormal. Yes, plenty of people got divorced, but there was still this overarching, unspoken feeling that this somehow missed the mark. So with that background I stumbled upon Islam. Without getting into any other insecurities I had about entering into this Umma, the fact that I was a divorcee with three children weighed heavily upon me. I was waiting for the judgement, the alienation. This was my major flaw, being concerned about what others would find most wrong with me. I was preparing to have to justify this – that my ex was an alcoholic, he was abusive, etc.

I remember the day I was to take my shahada. I was so nervous and I remember telling the sister and brother that were doing my interview and paperwork a few times that I was divorced and feeling they certainly could not have heard me. They didn’t bat an eye. There was no judgement whatsoever, and no friendly advice or pitying words.

Eventually I learned about Islam’s attitude toward divorce. That Allah SWT even mentioned its necessity at times in the Qur’an! It was so different from what I had grown up with: this contractual nature of marriage, and the recognition that it just doesn’t always work out, and that is okay. Sure, there are some people and cultures that have a poor view of divorced women, but it isn’t the fabric of the religion. Even our Prophet ﷺ married divorced women. Our religion doesn’t teach that there is some major taint if you are divorced, that you are broken, or there is something intrinsically wrong with you for this.

Alhamdullilah, my experience time and time again with other Muslims, including my new in-laws, has been one of pure non-judgemental acceptance. There was no "side” that needed to be taken. No party had been more right or wrong than the other. There was just a divorce. It didn’t work out. It was not in Allah’s plan that I stay married to my first husband, but that He led me to my current husband and to Islam, to a place of discovery if I so chose to discover and grow. Sure, the divorce was hard. Learning new patterns of behavior was hard. Seeing where I had contributed to the situation was hard. It took a lot of honesty and some changes in my thinking. Giving up the station of being the victim and accepting where I contributed, even if it was in a passive way, was hard.

Coming to Islam with fresh eyes gave me the opportunity to see it without the influence of culture that can sometimes taint and muddle its simplicity. I learned to focus on what it taught me about how to behave and react in various situations. I learned about the rights of those around me, and my own rights. It helped me cut through how I felt about situations and to just do what this beautiful religion taught. I think learning to do things for the sake of Allah SWT in spite of how others reacted, and whether or not they appreciated it, was incredibly freeing. Trusting Him, even when I had no idea what would be the result, was beautiful. I pray that I never lose this and even when they hurt, I thank Allah SWT for the reminders that guide me back to this.

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