Aw, some Muslim guys are so nice. It brings back so many memories.
I’ll have more sympathy for the two of you than perhaps asbie or Qtian would, since your posts really did transport me, if only for a moment, back to a simpler time in my life. That is until Qtian power blasted away those feelings of nostalgia with his pressure hose of ice cold cynicism and disparagement.
I read your posts as I checked this morning’s news and waited for my coffee maker to heat up. As I showered, I was reminded of those times with my young ex when we seemed to know nothing more than each other. She was, and to my knowledge still is, a devout Muslimah whose horizons did not extend very far beyond Juzz ‘Amma, Bukhari, Muslim, and Nawawi. Our circles were confined to those who shared our outlook. We were happy in that space, for a time.
As I lathered and rinsed, my thoughts drifted not to the religion, but to the tenderness of the relationship that existed between us.
A departure lounge in a small airport in the American Midwest as we learned our flight was delayed. I was bearded and wearing a white thobe. She was in her typical black jilbab and niqab. We were each other’s world. We curled up together in a quiet corner and used each other’s arms as pillows, trying to drift off to sleep.
A young photographer approached us and asked if she could take our picture as we cuddled there in the privacy of the niche we’d found. In addition to having a puritanical view against photographs that would have led me to decline anyhow, I remember not even understanding why she would want to. Now, remembering the genuine intimacy of that moment, I can appreciate what sort of statement a photograph like that would have made.
Or the colors shimmering across the water near a park in the city center (downtown as we call it) as the sun set between the buildings. We held each other and swayed back and forth as if a symphony of music were playing that only we both could hear. Let alone that we considered music to be haram; the substitute of silence was sufficient. We lingered on after the sunset, only reluctantly leaving the scene once our collective guilt grew at the thought of pushing the boundaries of Maghrib prayer beyond what Allah would have found acceptable. We left and prayed together, Maghrib then Isha, one prayer after the other.
After innumerable episodes now of actual concerts, actual dancing, actual grinding with strangers, that moment stands out to me - what seems like a lifetime later - because of its uniqueness.
I remember my ex talking on the phone to her mother one evening with the latter questioning her as to why she hadn’t spent as much time with her friends lately. “I don’t need to. ‘ibn Bilal’ is my best friend.”
The description in the Qur’an comes to mind regarding the two of us, as Allah admonished Muhammad’s men against taking back the dowry from their wives in the event of a divorce: “And how could you take it back, when you have both flowed one into the other, and they have taken from you a mighty, solemn vow.” (4:21) Afdhaa
is the word used here, and it can also be used to describe the overflowing of a river beyond its banks, or the overflowing of a crowd from one space into another. I think it captures that feeling of a relationship in which one soul overflows into the container of another soul, and vice versa.
I’ve rambled along too much now as it is, but I do so only to suggest that I do understand where your sentiments are coming from, so I hope the remainder of my post does not come across as too condescending or patronizing. That's not my intention.
For the sake of brevity, I’ll just conclude by saying that those days are so long gone. If I transpose my name and experiences for the trajectory of yours here for a moment, there may well be a time when the women you are with simply do not have the capacity to care about those things that have made you you
. No one will care about how profound the moment was when you realized that the sun setting in a murky spring was nonsense. No one will understand why the sunset reminds you of the countdown to iftar time, even if you are not fasting.
My advice, if I should even give any, would be to follow your own conscience. But have awareness that if you choose to abandon the ship you’re on, that sense of being 90% aligned with another human being in the world will be a thing of the distant past. It’s not a terrible thing. It’s just how it is.