Muslim Reformer and conservative feminist Shireen Qudosi dishes on the challenges of dating while Muslim.
The problem with dating as a Muslim woman is almost always one of culture than religion. Having tried the ‘marriage experiment’ once, I know that religion doesn’t play a role in the day-to-day, but culture definitely does. The same problem exists when dating while Muslim.
It’s not about whether the guy opens the door for you or whether he picks up the tab at dinner. It’s about whether he even cares that you might hungry — or is he on a fast track to gratify his own needs? Is he serving you anything — a note in the day, a gesture, a shared laugh? Is he considering you in any way without you having to ask or fight for it?
That’s where the culture comes in. As a Middle Eastern/South Asian woman, the culture is pretty big on generosity. No matter how much we say that the “religion of Islam is on a killing spree,” most everyone agrees that there’s also a graciousness in the culture.
As a Middle Eastern/South Asian woman, the culture is pretty big on generosity.
Military service men and women who’ve done tours in Afghanistan are floored by the hospitality. You’ll hear stories of the warmth of the Afghan people. When you cross the threshold of their home, you’re an honored guest. Your needs and feelings are not only considered, they’re anticipated. With a seat at the head of the table, you get choice meat at dinner and the first serving of each dish. You’ll get the host’s own bed to sleep in, with fresh linens, while they happily sleep on the floor. And you’ll experience something that’s so common in the rest of the world but rare in the States — you’ll experience the giving and sharing of time. Hours will pass over a cup of tea, with a spread of sweet almonds, dried fruits and biscuits while you linger from conversation to conversation. They give the best of what they have to offer. And they will thank you for the honor of visit.
Honor is important in all areas of life, especially dating — especially when you’re letting people into the most intimate parts of your world.
That’s what you can expect when you date a Muslim girl who carries her culture with her. When you cross the threshold into her heart, you get the best of whatever she has to offer. You are honored.
That’s what you can expect when you date a Muslim girl who carries her culture with her ... You are honored.
This is where dating is about more than just courtship. It’s about cherishing someone more intimately than the everyday. In my case, when that courtship hasn’t happened in the past, it’s on me. As a Muslim girl, I’ve been raised to not ask or expect. I’ve been raised to keep my disappointments to myself. Yet after trial and error, and years of being indirectly told my voice didn’t matter, there’s a sort of rage that builds up — a roar.
Sometimes anger is necessary and it needs to be expressed. Muslim or not, too many women are short-changed in relationships and in our bones we know it; we can feel it. And we say nothing. We accept it and make excuses for it.
The truth is, not everyone deserves to be in your home; not everyone needs to be let in. Some people haven’t yet learned how to cross the threshold. Some people will never will.
Originally published in The Ish.