By: Sister Asma Hussein (author of “A Temporary Gift”)
A woman’s love is one of the most beautiful things a man can ever possess. It’s a warm blanket over a shivering body, a word of comfort and support in the midst of lies, a sip of water and morsel of food in the belly of a starving wanderer.
The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ said, “…The most blessed joy in life is a good, righteous wife.” The purity of a good woman’s love can’t be matched by any other worldly thing. Getting to a point where you can receive that love is a wholly different story.
Many of us put walls up around our hearts. We’ve been taunted by people who don’t understand our faith, called by the worst names just for existing in our religious garb.
And sadly, we’ve also been hurt by people in our own community. Imams of mosques throw around jokes about women as though we can’t hear them – as though it doesn’t affect us to be lumped together and stereotypically thought of as too emotional, too complicated, too female.
From the sneering comments about having four wives that send the men into fits of roaring laughter to the dank dungeons of mosques to which we are relegated – women struggle with it all. Some of us are even exposed to abuse within our own families. We’re told that we can’t. That’s the word that’s most often used: “can’t.” Can’t follow your dreams because you’re a woman. Can’t ever be in the public eye because you’re a woman. Can’t speak for yourself because you’re a woman. Can’t. Can’t. Can’t.
But we can, and we know it, because we are some of the most intelligent, articulate human beings on the planet. And so we struggle every day to be faithful believers, to follow our dreams even though we’re being told not to, to work diligently to better our community because we love it despite its flaws.
Every day we live in that struggle. And so we unknowingly build walls around our hearts. Not to keep love out, but to keep pain out. To keep out the voices of people who tell us to not speak or do or think. To keep out the comments of passersby on the train saying go back to your own country. The walls are there so that the disrespectful jokes roll off our shoulders, so that we can still enter the mosque and pray even when the space is subpar.
We need those walls around our hearts to survive. We’ve pieced together those exterior shells so that we are not devastated at every turn, heartbroken at every negative word, unable to lift our heads above water every time someone says we “can’t.”
A woman’s love is within those walls, within that shell that has been growing and hardening for years. The unsuccessful man tries to forcefully break down those walls and reach what is within, angrily giving up when he realizes those fortresses aren’t suddenly going to come crashing down. He wants what he doesn’t yet deserve.
The successful man stands and waits until he notices one single loose brick in that wall, and he nudges it and coaxes it out of its place. That’s the beginning of love – the systematic dismantling of every barrier that she has put up because she has had to survive all these years. He commits to her. He offers her his heart, even if it’s also bruised and battered, so that she can know it’s safe to finally just be. That is when true love is born.
Those who have known a good woman’s love will know that there is nothing like it. Nothing sweeter. Nothing truer. Nothing else that can be a perpetual place of warmth in the midst of winter, a private running stream in the midst of drought, and a place to put your heart when your heart was once homeless. It takes a good man’s love to really know the potential of a good woman’s love. May God grant it to all those who seek it.
“Good women are for good men, and good men are for good women.” [An-Nur 24:26]