Way too hard

By: Yasmin Mogahed

Throughout my travels, I’ve spoken to a lot of women over the years. And I’ve realized there is a persistent trend among us.

We are too hard on ourselves. Way too hard.

We carry the burdens of everyone and everything. We feel responsible for everyone and everything. Anything that goes wrong is our fault and upon us alone to fix. If we are anything short of perfect, we beat ourselves up mercilessly. Any mistake–big or small–goes unforgiven. And it must be punished with brutal self talk.
One slip and the internal whip comes out.

We are *full* of mercy and compassion for others. But have none for ourselves. Why? Because no matter how hard we are trying, no matter how much we are juggling, no matter how many roles we are balancing, somehow it is still never good enough. To us. We feel unworthy.

I ask women to do this exercise to illustrate the immensity of this gap. Imagine your sister or your best friend makes a mistake. Now imagine talking to her as you talk to yourself when *you* make a mistake. Imagine using the same words against her.

You probably cringed. Why? Because the truth is we would *never* treat others as horribly as we treat ourselves. And if we did, our relationships would fall apart.

Now think of what you’re doing to your relationship with yourself. To your own self esteem and self worth. Why can you have compassion for others, but none for yourself? Why do you have so much mercy for the flaws of others, but are merciless towards yourself?

The Prophet (pbuh) said, “Have mercy with those on the earth and the One in the heavens will have mercy with you.”

Remember that this Hadith includes having mercy *on ourselves*. Having compassion *for ourselves*. And what is often the most difficult of all: Forgiving ourselves.

Before you ask her

By: Maryam Amir

Before you flippantly ask a woman, “when she’s going to get married” consider; perhaps yesterday the person she and her family joyfully thought she was going to marry decided to break it off and she’s still reeling.

Perhaps she’s the survivor of abuse and trauma and she’s still struggling to consider the possibility of marriage as a healing relationship.

Perhaps she’s oppressively been denied over and over because of the racism, colorism and abelism in our community.

Perhaps she’s eager to consider marriage, but constantly dealing with the stigma of being a divorcee or single mother.

Perhaps she’s the sole care taker of her elderly parents and no potential suitor has been open to having her parents live with them.

Perhaps she’s terrified because she has only seen angry, hurtful, abusive, painful relationships and she’d rather be single because she’s never seen marriage bring tranquility.

Perhaps she has her own private reasons to focus on school and work and community that go beyond the assumptions others make of her and labels others place on her.

Perhaps she desperately wants to get married, cries about it in the privacy of her room, while forcing a smile when you’ve awkwardly asked her this question, reminding her she’s getting older when she is very, very well aware of that reality.

Unless you’re in a trusted position to support her, before you ask a woman “why she isn’t married yet,” perhaps consider not asking her at all.

Marriage Alphabet

The ABC’s of a Happy Marriage
(Muslim Edition)
by: Hosai Mojaddidi

A) Allah: Make the pleasure of Allah ﷻ the central focus as well as purpose of your marriage.

B) Blame: Be fair and honest when assigning blame and always start with yourself first.

C) Compromise: If you’re not willing to compromise then you’re being selfish. Selfish people don’t have happy marriages.

D) Divorce: Divorce is the death of a marriage. Don’t be careless with the word and never threaten with it unless you’re actually considering it for good reason.

E) Ego: The success of your marriage depends entirely on your ability to control your ego. Work on it constantly.

F) Fitnah: Be vigilant and pay attention to your heart. If you ever feel distance, resentment, distrust, anger, or any such negative feeling for your partner then Fitnah is on the horizon. Purge it. Do NOT avoid it or bury it. It will surface and spread.

G) Gratitude: Express gratitude daily for your partner. You are not entitled to anything in this life so don’t act like you are. Be an appreciative person and vocalize your gratitude through loving words, gifts, reciprocity, etc.

H) Hug: Make it a point to hug each other frequently. A warm embrace can expunge the heart of negative feelings and restore love and intimacy.

I) Intention: Make the intention to please your spouse every day in one way or another. Think about their needs and wants and find a way to make them happy.

J) Jugular: Allah ﷻis closer to us than our jugular vein. Remember this always so that you feel connected to Him when you embrace one another.

K) Kiss: Kisses are acts that relay different messages. They can be healing, loving, and stimulating. Don’t limit them to one intention but use them to communicate a variety of feelings.

L) Listen: Learn to listen actively, which requires humility, patience, and a true desire to understand your partner. Nodding along while planning your response is NOT listening actively.

M) Miserliness: Being a miser is one of the most detestable things. Don’t be miserly in your love, in your compliments, with your wealth, with your time, etc. A marriage of misers is doomed to be miserable.

N) Nurture: Treat your marriage like a living thing that needs constant sustenance and nurturing. It cannot grow without attention from both you and your partner. If either of you neglect it, growth will be stunted or completely destroyed!

O) Offer: Remember to offer your help regularly and sincerely. Ask your partner if they need something from you or if you can somehow lighten their load, and do not take advantage of their generosity so that you are not taken advantage of either.

P) Prioritize: Your marriage should come before every other relationship. Make sure to never neglect it to take care of someone or something else. Remember, only a foolish person lets his/her own crops die while planting seeds for someone else.

Q) Qur’an: Read, recite, and listen to Qur’an together. Share your reflections and learn from one another.

R) Respect: People who command respect are not the same as those who demand it. If you speak and act respectfully, then you are deserving of respect, but if you speak rudely and crudely then you deserve the same.

S) Salat: Pray together as often as possible. It will help you stay mindful that before anything and anyone else, God is the sole purpose of your marriage.

T) Talk: Check in with each other daily whether through text, email, phone or face-to-face conversation. Don’t get accustomed to too much silence or else that is all you will ever experience.

U) Ultimatums: If you rely on ultimatums to get your way then you’re a bully. Fair people negotiate and compromise until a mutual benefit is reached. They don’t threaten no matter how noble their intentions may be.

V) Vessel: According to the Hadith, people are like vessels and they only pour out what they contain. Hold yourself accountable every day by asking yourself, “What kind of vessel was I today? What did I pour out into my marriage and into the world? Was it pure or toxic?”

W) Weekends: Cherish your time off from work, school, and other obligations and make sure to save some ALONE time with one other. Weekends are opportunities to reconnect, so don’t squander them on petty things, fruitless events, or negative people.

X) Xenial: Be gracious and xenial with one another’s family and loved ones for it will automatically increase the love in your heart for one another.

Y) Yardstick: Measure one another fairly and only by the standards set forth by God, and NOT the standards of any particular culture, family, group, or individual.

Z) Zeal: It’s good to be passionate in life but when you’re married your decisions are no longer just your own. Zeal unchecked can send you too far into murky waters so tether it and temper it through your partner.