Marriage is a beautiful and emotional contract that Allah has decreed upon mankind. Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) encouraged believers to get married if they have the means and it provides a bond and companionship that allows for the building of a healthier society.
As long as the individuals involved in the marriage are fair and compatible this can be the case. But if there comes a point where living together does more harm, the best is to part ways in the best of manners.
What I am about to share is my reflection of how much of a privilege it is to hold onto faith and believe in God’s decree when something like divorce comes forth as a trial for a believer. This article is personal and may the reader benefit from this. If not, may Allah forgive me.
“Say, ‘Never will we be struck except by what Allah has decreed for us; He is our protector.’ And upon Allah let the believers rely.” (Quran, 9:51)
Last year, I got divorced. It was hard, mentally to grasp the whole situation. Never did I think of such an event coming into my life. Soon after signing the papers, I had people wishing me khair (well). Telling me it’s for the better. And some of them went the extra mile welcoming me back to singlehood and cheering me up with the ‘lucky’ title. I was told I am privileged by way of consolation.
I would smile and acknowledge all of it. In a way I was privileged. On the social and legal front, I was. But I had to go through the emotional trauma and am still in the process of healing and this is a struggle that individuals have to travel through no matter whatever advantage one has.
I was reminded again and again of how it was my supportive ecosystem that made it easy for me.
The thing is, when I kept reflecting upon this thought of being privileged, I realized it didn’t merely come from being born in a supportive family or not having interfering neighbours. It wasn’t easy because feminism saved me or that I had some supernatural voice that could shut everyone else up. Neither was it money, influential family status, or any other such labels.
My parents have basic education, if you measure it in the terms that we measure ‘formal education’ in our country. Broadly, India is soaked in a patriarchy-influenced culture. So it wasn’t any of these that defined my privilege or made life ‘luckier’ or ‘easier’ as quoted by my ‘well-wishers’.
Faith as Privilege
The fact is I am privileged by Allah’s mercy and blessing. And the privilege lies in my faith. The same faith I share with my family and my supporters.
This privilege is to surrender and submit to Allah. The intensity may vary from person to person, but I believe this fundamental conviction of living life based on Allah’s commands and order and only bowing down our heads to our Lord, literally and metaphorically is my privilege. This Tawakkul is what helped me throughout the journey.
My parents and siblings were never afraid of how society would judge, for they knew Allah is our Judge. They weren’t afraid of how their daughter/sister could be looked down on, because their only fear is in displeasing Allah. They never complained of me making this decision, neither did they feel the need to interfere to change my mind. All of this came from a committed understanding and belief in the Creator, the Most Merciful.
When I look at my privilege I realize it isn’t exclusive to me, neither is it exclusive to Muslims. My lord is the Kindest and Most Compassionate. And Allah is for all mankind. While going through the legal side of divorce according to Islam, I was able to reflect upon the Qu’ran and Hadith several times. It’s an open book for any seeker. The Quran wasn’t sent down as a religious text for Muslims. It was and is sent down for mankind. And what always swells my heart with tears is how many times Allah reassures us about Allah’s Mercy, The Kindness, The Provisions, The Protection and a lot more.
The very first word revealed was ‘Iqra’ which translated to ‘Read’. Imagine Allah, the Creator of everything seen and unseen, the Magnificent and the one who holds the power of Life and Death. With all of the attributions to be labeled and much more, yet Allah’s first command was to Read. It is beyond one’s understanding, but the fact is it does make sense when we go through the next verses and a few other verses in the Qu’ran.
Most of the time Allah calls out “Oh Mankind.” And then Allah asks us to listen, to look out, to read, to think, to observe. I kept reflecting upon these and realized that when people surrender their entire self to Allah there is nothing that can defeat them. What our society lacks is this surrender, this conviction that God is Almighty and there is no one above that. We are stuck in a world that is promised to turn into dust itself. Yet our hearts and minds are occupied by what another potential ‘dust’ thinks about us.
I had a friend of mine tell me how he has seen many Muslim friends complain about the religion. How he finds it hard to believe that I have no complaints about being a Muslim, particularly a Muslim woman. He kept pushing the thought that I was oppressed. I asked him to look at me, to show me at what point he thinks I was oppressed. The fact is, Allah never could tolerate the creation of the Almighty being permanently oppressed, so how could submitting to our Lord ever bring upon oppression. It is nothing but the easiest door to access lifetime privilege.
We have to read. We have to listen. We have to look. We have to observe. We have to reflect. We have to pray. And for all of this to happen we have to submit. Submission is and will only be the key to peace. The world ‘Islam’ has two meanings – one is peace and the other is to submit. This submission should be to Allah alone. If not, what happens is we find chaos surrounding us. We feel less privileged and utterly lost. I know many Muslim youth are struggling to find a space and understand their faith in a world filled with explicit evil. Everything cultural is somehow imbibed into religion and often we are completely deviating from the faith and its spiritual norms.
It can be hard living life with confusions and chaos. This is why we have the Qu’ran. It’s not a book that speaks only about how to worship, but it is the key to living in this world. And if one has the Qu’ran close to oneself, there’s no way one would drift into the maze of hardships. Life on this earth is, and will always be a trial for the believer. And every trial is a blessing of its own. And every blessing is a trial. My privilege will and is always my faith in Allah and a family who has helped me grow along with it.
In a society that looks down on divorce and especially is anxious about a divorced woman, I can say that even though the emotional and mental struggle is real and intense, with faith to hold onto and a conviction to submit to Allah’s plans and Qadr (absolute power and predestination), there is nothing to look down to. For after all, who can promise me ease after hardship other than my Lord?