Unreasonable expectations

Bismillah ir Rahman ir Raheem

Assalam alaikum wr wb,

Today I read a blog post that really made me livid.

I suspected then that the Devil was making vain sport with me. That he was making me relive past ills so that I could turn on my family, myself and the Ummah (Muslim community)

I’m not interested in attacking anyone anymore. As a community, we Muslims are always on the defensive, from each other and the world at large. We can never advance as a community because we’re always retreating.

I am not married. I am told this is because I have unreasonable expectations of men.

As if good marriages were ever based on sound logic.

As if anything good ever came from being reasonable.

Michael Phelps put his body through unreasonably intense work-outs. And look, he’s a world champion.

My parents married each other, in spite of the fact that most of their relatives were against their marriage. They were being unreasonable. They left everything they knew and came to Dubai to make a better life for my brothers and me, having very little idea of what was waiting for them in this desert. That sounds pretty unreasonable to me too.

But you see, they married each other because they loved each other and they thought they could rely on each other. That’s a perfectly reasonable way to go about marriage. When they left Sri Lanka, they left behind the shackles of racism and civil war, a war that’s lasted over 30 years. Again, perfectly logical.

What sorry states we would be in if Allah (SWT) was “reasonable” with us and gave us our due punishment and reward?
Expectations. This is another curious word.

The Muslim world expects us to be great mothers and sisters and daughters – we should cook like MasterChefs, clean like Martha Stewart and be bashful and submissive around gentlemen as well – some lady that’s bashful and submissive around gentlemen.

We are expected to be fair and slim and well-dressed. If we’re not naturally so, we must torture our bodies into being so. Our emotional and physical health matters little.

Yes, Islam liberates women, but Muslim women don’t seem to be liberated.

We are also expected to overachieve at school and then, if we manage to not be married off by that time, we must over-achieve at work.

The secular world of work requires us to be bold, to take the initiative, to lunge and parry with people of the opposite sex. To be individual and be part of a team at the same time. To dress conservatively but not so much that we alienate our peers (in other words, no hijab).

We are surrounded by unreasonable expectations. And yet all the Muslim women I know have risen to the challenge. Not only have they faced their challenges, they stick their tongue out at it and spank its backside. They accept the contradictions of their worlds and even manipulate it to their advantage with glee.

Of course, I expect things of men. Shouldn’t I? Should I have low expectations of them? Am I supposed to consider it impossible to find a man equal to me in all respects? Wouldn’t that be insulting?

But I have no desire now to attack. I have instead a very strong desire to pray for forgiveness.

Forgive us Allah, the Most Merciful. Forgive the family friends that try to humiliate my father because, at the ripe old age of 24, my “time is running out”, and it is, by committee, his “fault”.

Forgive the friends who’ve told me the same crap in different eras.

Please, Allah (SWT), forgive the aunt and uncle who love me and are besotted with me, who hurt me with their constant questions and embarrass me in front of my cousins.

Forgive the cousins that lower their expectations and expect me to lower mine.

Forgive my parents their litany of sins, too many to enumerate.

Forgive me, Allah (SWT).

Forgive me my impatience, my desire to fight fire with fire and rage with rage. My desire to run away from it all or hold my ground and fight when I know that pain only begets pain.

Forgive me my blindness. I have looked my friends and my brothers in the face and told them that I don’t need them. And they have looked me in the face and told me that I’m not enough. And we have broken each others’ hearts time and time again. We have torn each other down when we should have built each other up.

Forgive us. We do not believe that You will take care of us, so we look for security in the weak hands and hearts of your creations instead. We are all acting in blind wretched fear.

Forgive us and help us to take responsibility for the actions of our tongues and our hands, before You take them from us.

I want to start again.

I’m putting down my weapons in the gender wars. It’s time we all put down our weapons and faced our problems like the Prophet (peace be upon him) told us to.

I want to find someone whom I can help and help them. Whether they are man, woman, or child.

And my deepest desire is to say yes, but when I say no, I mean no.

Fee Amanillah,
Sabina.

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4 thoughts on “Unreasonable expectations

  1. Expect no less of a man than you are willing to give, and you will not be disappointed.

    There is no shame in being single, only in allowing yourself to be influenced by the actions of those who are not pure of intent. Stay true to yourself, you have a good head on your shoulders and your words come from the heart and are pure of intent. The only worse thing than the “shame” of being single would be the pain of rushing into a horrible marriage simply to stop other people from talking.

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