Updated: Sep 8, 2021
How my upbringing and culture shaped my decision of how I got married
My upbringing had always been quite a liberal one, so I didn’t have any opposition in that regard when it came to meeting potential spouses. However I had been misled, to some extent, from the societal aspect regarding Islamic ethos: that it wasn’t moral to get to know one’s potential spouse for an extended period of time, and that the knot had to be tied almost immediately. With this mindset having been inculcated in me, I didn’t tally long after meeting my future spouse, and after only one meeting, we set the date for marriage shortly after. In hindsight, I realised this was a mistake, and that it is vital to meet a potential spouse more than once, before ascertaining whether they are the one for you, naturally all within the Islamic framework. I realised that one should never ever rush into a marriage without knowing everything there possibly is to know about your future spouse, and doing extensive research for what is going to become a lifetime decision, or what should be a lifetime decision.
The marriage and the breakdown
During the course of the marriage, I realised that my partner was an extremely controlling person: I was not allowed to leave the house as I pleased and lived in what amounted to isolation and imprisonment. I was not allowed to visit family, have a job, teach Islamic classes or pretty much do anything else unless I was in his company. It reached the point where I was not even allowed to have telephonic contact with my family because they were regarded as being a ‘bad influence’ on me and my phone was subsequently confiscated. After not being able to get in touch with me for days at a time, my family eventually intervened. This subsequently led to the breakdown of the marriage.
The divorce was not an easy one. My ex-spouse refused to issue a talaaq and I had to seek help from the Islamic courts to obtain a faskh. After a lengthy drawn out process of attempting to contact my husband for counselling sessions, the Shura council issued a faskh after it was clear that any reconciliation attempts with my spouse would be futile due to his obstinacy in taking any responsibility for his actions.
The whole situation, needless to say, was an extremely traumatic for me. I loss weight – I was barely recognisable at 45 kg (from 50kg). Alhamdulillah, by the grace of Allah, I healed to a huge extent from that situation. However, healing is often an ongoing process, which, for some, may even take a lifetime.
Some ways in which I have facilitated my healing was to have sessions with a psychologist; I read countless books on trauma and healing and psychology; I strengthened my connection with Allah Most High by continuing my Islamic studies, and also through giving back to the community by passing on whatever I have learnt from my experiences.
Alhamdulillah, Allah has since blessed me tremendously by granting me a beautiful spouse and marriage; a spouse who has all the qualities I had actually sought within a spouse. Learning to trust him initially though had been extremely difficult, considering that I had been hurt in the past. I had, in fact, rejected his proposals many times, before finally deciding to give him a chance in marriage - this time having done extensive background research on him. Life with him is an adventure, Alhamdulillah. He is a combat lieutenant in the South African Navy and life in Simons Town [where the SA Navy is based in Cape Town, South Africa] is nothing short of a fairy tale, subhanallah.
Indeed, with hardship always comes ease, glory be to Allah. It is not that we don’t experience any challenges, but going through these with someone who is mature and emotionally intelligent makes any challenge surmountable and something to conquer together, which in turn builds even deeper foundations of happiness, insha Allah.