Last year I thought, seriously, of getting married. I know, it may be hard to believe, given my image of cranky feminist. But I still have an engagement ring in art-deco style with a bright ruby to show this was true.
He and I came across each other in 2011 and we talked about many things. Then, we got caught up in life and lost touch with each other. Exactly a year ago, he found me again and the universe granted us to meet and agree in time, place, intentions, and feelings.
From the beginning, I had faith that what I was living was a gift from God. I received it with thankfulness and opened my heart. I often prayed in gratitude and asked for guidance: “Allah, let me see his heart,” “Allah, grant us understanding.” God always answered me. We had beautiful moments of bliss and deep connection in which we disclosed our wounds and scars as well as learned to appreciate each other. One Sunday, after I showed him how to cook Tacos with Guacamole, he asked me for the third time. I accepted.
Then everything went as religion and custom dictate: Talking to my parents, gathering with his family, and meeting the Imam. He told me the story of his ancestors and I taught him to dance Cumbia. I knitted a pair of gloves for him, as he who loves hiking; I love Dhikr, so he gave me a Tasbih of his late mother. To use a popular expression, we were in mood to “Eat, Pray and Love”.
Until, one day, we split. It was devastating. Maybe Fear? Unresolved knots? Family prejudices? Past lovers resisting oblivion? A mix of all that to be true, but it is not important anymore. Whatever the reasons, pain has been harsh to deal with. Now, looking at the big picture, I have overcome grief, to gain lessons and a greater awareness that I can summarize like this:
Relationships can only be frutiful when they are firmly rooted in Honesty and Integrity. The beauty of human links can only be appreciated when we have the guts to be True. Only in this way, it is possible to join another lovingly. I want loving bonds in all my links: With my partner, my family, friends, co-workers and feminist comrades; ties based in Mawada, Rahma and Sakina, islamic concepts related, traditionally, to marriage that I consider worthy to incorporate in all kind of human bonds, because our union in marriage is an expression of our universal union with all humankind.
Love is actions we display as result of a state of consciousness that arises from our relationship with The Divine. We ARE love; our dignity as human beings come from this quality. To be in a state of loving for others we have to recognize this love in ourselves first, because no one can give nor appreciate what they don´t have and have never known.
If we fail in giving and receiving love it is due to the conditions of our relationship with God, rather than because of what others do or don’t do, their flaws, or their character. This has nothing to do with acting like a saint, being immune to pain, turning a blind eye to bad behavior, accepting hurtful things in silence, never feeling rage, anger, resentment, or not making mistakes, but with the belief that despite that, we are still creatures of love, made to love, worthy of being loved.
When we realize our loving nature and its source, we can see the actual beauty of the human close to us; we watch the beauty of God looking at us, laughing, talking, or crying. This realization makes the practice of empathy, acceptance, forgiveness, and authenticity much easier and fulfilling because God “… embrace[s] all things within Love and Knowledge (40:7)”
When people say that marriage is “Half of the Deen”, most interpret it from a materialistic and hetero-normative perspective, as equal to “Half Orange” romantic-bourgeois idea of love. For me, Rahma equals challenge; thus, increasing of our Rahma results from dealing with these challenges with compassion and creativity.
Quran says in 29: 2 “Do people think that they will be left to say, ‘We believe’ and they will not be tried?”. If we believe in a God of Mercy, how will we prove our Faith if we are not asked to show the Mercy we believe in? Every couple has problems; human beings are not perfect; we deal with personal limitations and traumatic situations. Partners we find are there to challenge us, otherwise, how could we engage in our duty of Jihad- al- nafs?
A Muslim knows that others are our mirrors. We recognize in others what we bring with ourselves, good or bad. Relationships are chances to “Complete the Deen” because in the daily living with others we are pushed to develop compassion, patience, faith and solidarity; we are asked to live the essence of Islam.
It means “Peace,” “Divine Presence,” or “Serenity.” The Peace of Sakina, makes us think in Salam, the peace embodied by Islam, related to ideas of kindness, well-being, good relationship with others and doing good deeds. A peace expressed in concrete ways to make our world better, starting in our own households.
How the “Divine Presence” manifest in our relationships? My favorite verse of the Qur’an says: “Every day Allah manifests in a new and glorious way” or “Allah is everyday in a new task.” (55:29) This should be an everyday call to renew our commitment with the people we love; everything comes from Allah and every day is a new opportunity to do it better, to appreciate and to give thanks.
Sakina is the feeling we are doing the right thing, an intimate conviction that what we are into is good, it does not harm us. The reliance to speak our truth; the tranquility that we did our best. Sakina gives us confidence that we are guided by a higher wisdom. There is a purpose and order in creation and everything we experience; it is appropriate place and make perfect sense: Allah is the best of planners. Sakina, the peace to let go and let God.
From my heart, I hold no grudges. Our souls have the ability to renew, expand and move forward. As a person of Faith, I trust a higher wisdom to guide me. Life is a test and gives us knowledge that is essential to increase our Imaan through the lessons we learn. Every opportunity to learn is a blessing, even if the outcome is not the expected. I will always bless him for what he taught me about myself. Beyond tears, despair, recriminations and loss, we all are children of a same womb; we are meant to Tawheed.
All sorrow we experience is part of the struggle we are facing in our return to the universal and immutable Oneness. May we be guided in that journey for Love, Mercy and Peace.
(Thanks to soul sisters Meghana, Laura, Amina, Araceli, Soraya, and Shehnaz . Your inspirational words were key for healing.)
Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente is a Writer, Mentor and Community Educator in Capacity Building for Grass Roots Female Leaders and Advocates. A Muslim Feminist who is an Independent Researcher of Gender and Islam in Latin America on Feminist Hermeneutics, Muslim Women Representations, Queer Identities and Movement Building. She blogs in Spanish at Mezquita de Mujeres, a site dedicated to explore the links between Gender, Religion and Feminism as well to Women from the Global South as Change Makers in their communities.