Without sounding cliché, we Muslims live in tumultuous times.
Whilst in the East our troubles are perhaps more centred around political corruption and divisive agendas, in the West it’s another gaggle of geese. Although we mostly live in peace, we still find ourselves in the emotional disarray of dealing with issues of identity and presence. Indeed, an ensuing and seemingly communal complex amidst a foray of different ideas, messages and ideologies.
Of the many complexities we suffer from, getting married appears to be the greatest issue plaguing Muslim youth in the West. Despite the abundance of discussion around marriage, the topic only seems to be shadowed by its unpopular and sinister opposite; divorce.
In the spirit of the narration by the honourable Imam Ali:
“Great faith is achieved through the resolution of complex problems.”
I want to discuss this issue, one which has touched me personally, whether it be from watching my parents’ divorce, my friends, or myself.
Below is my humble attempt in offering advice to anyone who is divorced, going through a divorce, or knows someone going through a divorce.
Advice #1: Be strong
Although it is a reality that is difficult to acknowledge, we know that with every wedding we attend, a minimum of 50% will not make it over a given period. Although it is bittersweet, the truth is what will set you free. All suffer from every monumental move you make. Be it the couple or the couple’s families and friends. Seek God and remember he is the best of witnesses. How you act is a direct measure of your faith, so keep your faith in check.
Advice #2: Strive through the sensitivity
Instability and unrest are difficult realities to navigate during this anxious period. What was once a life-long plan has become a plan for damage control. Don’t be influenced by your family, friends or non-friends to damage the reputation, status or honour of the person you are divorcing or forcibly being divorced from.
Advice #3: Don’t abuse what you know
One of the key aspects of relationships are the secrets shared and the guards dropped. When you are separated, your emotional defence mechanisms will tempt you to reveal secrets once sacred between you both. It is immoral to reveal what you said between each other in confidence, what you expressed during physical intimacy and how you feel about the world and what it contains. Remember, you once used these things for closeness, don’t gamble your principles for what the evil in your inner self-demands of you.
Advice #4: Don’t become a bad person
Doing the wrong thing makes you a bad person, whether you like it or not. Your emotions aren’t an excuse for lying, exaggerating or taking what your ex-partner said or did out of context. We all rush to garner support through this difficult time. Trying to justify your decisions or thought-process can be a window to your guilt or lack of strength. Measure everything you say, because although it feels good temporarily, how you deal with your divorce means that’s what your inner-heart contains. In small communities, future prospects will know what you did and will not feel safe to enter a relationship with you. Beware.
Advice #5: Understand patience, then be it
If you suffer damaging rumours, lies or exaggerations don’t retaliate in kind. Instead, know that God promises to reveal what is hidden. Many times, I have seen my enemies fall at their own words. Whatever your religion, we all believe in a divine force that offers retribution to the bad, and recompense to the good. Both in this world and the next. Remember, there is light at the end of every tunnel.
Advice #6: Don’t degrade your gender
Both men and women suffer equally. If society is stacked against you because of double-standards, it doesn’t justify hurting anyone because of their gender. Remember, men suffer too, but in secret. Men should not make indecent suggestions about the quality of her partnership or details of physical intimacy. You don’t know what she’s been through and the strides she’s made to ready herself for marriage. Don’t break her faith in the institution, it’s easier for you than it is her.
I hope these words settle in the hearts of all who have experienced or are experiencing divorce.