Impossible Woman Seeks Impossible Man
by Wael Abdelgawad
As the administrator of Zawaj.com Muslim Matrimonials, I have often had to screen matrimonial advertisements for unIslamic content. I generally try to take a hands-off approach, unless the advertiser is committing or promoting major sins. But what do I do with all the ads from people whose entire mindset is shallow and worldly? Take this ad, for example:
"Family of slim, white-skinned, beautiful woman with medical degree, wealthy and Syed, seeks handsome, tall, white, Syed, brain surgeon with a full head of hair, no prior marriages or children, U.S. citizen, speaks English, Urdu and Malayalam, comes from good family, for marriage."
I call this ad, "Impossible Woman Seeks Impossible Man," or just "Impossible Seeks". Do you know how many "Impossible Seeks" ads I have received in the last few years? Hundreds.
To which I say: Give me a break!
Is this what the educated, so-called "upper classes" of this ummah have been reduced to? Where is taqwaa in these people's consciousness? Where is the fear of Allah, the love of this deen, the working in Allah's cause, the remembrance of the aakhirah? Where is the hadith of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh), reported in Al-Bukhari:
"The Prophet said, 'A woman is married for four things, i.e., her wealth, her family status, her beauty and her religion. So you should marry the religious woman (otherwise) you will be losers.'"
The Messenger of Allah (pbuh), who was directed in all matters of religion by Allah the Most High, and who never spoke from his own whims, is telling us that if we choose a wife (or husband) for her money, her family name, her "degree", or for anything other than her love and fear of Allah, we will fail in our plans, be unhappy in our lives, and suffer in our aakhirah. Is that what we want? Of course not! No Muslim wants to be a loser. So why do I keep getting these "Impossible Seeks" ads? Most of these ads seem to come from the Arab world and the Indian subcontinent (and in case anyone should accuse me of being an Arab-basher, I am of Arab origin myself.) It seems that many Arabs have been saddled with such an inferiority and race complex by their subjugation at the hands of the colonialists, that to marry anyone darker than themselves is a stigma. And as for the Muslims of the subcontinent, they have been corrupted far too much by the classism and jahiliyyah of the Hindus, whose caste system is the ultimate institution of discrimination and apartheid. Of course this is not a blanket condemnation. The Arab world, and the countries of India, Bangladesh and Pakistan, have produced many of the greatest Islamic minds in history. But nowadays it seems that many people are simply in blind pursuit of wealth and status, and are imitating the bad habits of the West in the worst way.
This is a shame. It is a shame and a crime that the Muslims of today cannot look at a man who is humble, worshipping Allah and striving in His cause, and see that no matter whether he is rich or poor, black or white, he is in the sight of Allah a man of great status and wealth. He is a living treasure, and any woman should be proud and honored to marry him. It is a shame that many Muslims cannot look at such a man and see that he is illuminated with noor, blessed by Allah, and is the best possible partner. On the other hand, we look at a man who is wealthy, physically handsome, and comes from a family of "status" and automatically assume that he is great husband material. Have we not read the following hadith of Rasulullah (pbuh):
A (handsome) man passed by Allah's Messenger and Allah's Messenger asked his companions, "What do you say about this (man)?" They replied, "If he asks for a lady's hand, he ought to be given her in marriage; and if he intercedes (for someone) his intercession should be accepted; and if he speaks, he should be listened to." Allah's Messenger kept silent, and then a man from among the poor Muslims passed by, and Allah's Messenger asked (them) "What do you say about this man?" They replied, "If he asks for a lady's hand in marriage he does not deserve to be married, and if he intercedes (for someone), his intercession should not be accepted; and if he speaks, he should not be listened to." Allah's Messenger said, "This poor man is better than so many of the first as to fill the earth.'"
So our superficial judgements of worthiness are based on illusion and jahiliyyah. Do you know that I have received ads which simply state,
"Parents of physician daughter seek physician male for marriage."
And that's it.
To which I say: Give me a break.
Aside from the fact that they have not even specified what sort of character or personality the man should possess, I have to wonder: what kind of marriage is it going to be between two people who are both working jobs which are labor-intensive and on-call at all hours? When will they see one another? Who will care for the children? What is the point of such a marriage?
The spiritual state of our ummah is not entirely bleak, however. Venturing to the farthest reaches of the Islamic world, there's some hope to be found. Here's a typical ad I received from an Indonesian sister:
"I am a virgin girl, 19 years old and good Muslimah, Indonesian and looking for a devout and good husband. Age is irrelevant."
Or this ad from an African-American sister:
I am 29 year old African American Muslimah of 6 months. I wear my hijab everyday, I say all my prayers everyday and read my Islamic books every chance I get, I fast during Ramadon and I plan to make hajj next year. I want to learn all I can about Islam and I want to be the best muslum that I can. I have never been married and I have no children but hope to have a husband and children one day Insha'Allah. I am hard working. I work in the computer field and I am currently attending school as a Computer Science student. I have my own apartment, and I am willing to share it with my future husband. Finances are not a big issue because if we are both happy we can work together to accomplish things. I am not looking for a doctor or rich man, just someone who practices Islam faithfully and is willing to treat me right. I am willing to work hard to make my husband happy."
SubhanAllah! How tremendously superior this ad is to one of those "Impossible Seeking" ads. I read this ad and I see a woman who has taken the spirit of Islam into her heart, and I am put to shame by her devotion and her understanding of this religion.
And here's an ad from an American brother:
"I am a 24 year old Sunni Muslim male residing in America. I converted to al-Islam 6 1/2 years ago Al-Hamdu-Lillah, and I pray that one day, Allahu Ta'ala elevates me to the rank of those spoken of in Surat 8:2: "For, Believers are those who, when Allah is mentioned, feel a tremor in their hearts, and when they hear His signs rehearsed, find their faith strengthened, and put (all) their trust in their Lord". I am seeking a pious and sincere Muslimah who follows the Qur`an and Sunnah and to whom an-Naby (pbuh) spoke of as, "The world and all things in the world are precious but the most precious thing in the world is a virtuous woman." She should be kind, loving, sincere, modest and a good sense of humor, between the ages of 18 and 30. Jazakum Allahu khayr."
The sentiments expressed in these wonderful ads are echoed in hundreds of other ads I've received from Indonesians and Americans, both African-Americans and European-Americans. These far-flung brothers and sisters are setting an example of Islamic understanding and humility for the rest of the ummah. All the brothers and sisters "in between" would do well to strive for such an understanding. I'm not saying you should pretend to be something that you're not. If you truly cannot be happy unless you marry a rich, white-skinned doctor, well, then, you might as well say so. But really, that's pitiful. Allah has said, "O you who believe, enter into Islam completely!" Allah is calling upon us to submit ourselves in humility, to forget our arrogance and our superiority complexes and to be Muslims in spirit as well as in name. Haven't we Muslims suffered enough because of our neglect of Islamic teachings? Isn't it time we let the Qur'an soften our hearts, and the Sunnah guide us on our paths? Isn't it time we stopped seeking the impossible, and began to seek the truth instead?