By Naiyerah Kolkailah

“You’re just like a brother to me!” she’d often tell her Muslim college friend whom she’s grown close to over the years. She feels comfortable with confiding in him, trusting him, opening up to him – but she’s never thought of him as a husband. They hang out together during their breaks, she calls him whenever she needs to vent, and she loves how he’s never judgmental towards her. To him, she was a friend at first — but he soon discovered that he’d often feel a tinge of jealousy whenever she spoke nonchalantly and joked with other male classmates. It burned him inside, and he’d always try to pull her away casually without making his irritation apparent. Many times, he’d look at her with admiration, smiling and melting away with his dreams of what could be for them. He would never dare bring up marriage to her, though. How could he when she only viewed him as her brother?

 

So, would you call these two good friends? Brother and sister maybe? Boyfriend and girlfriend? As with many cases in the Muslim community, this is a confused pseudo-marriage framed under the guise of friendship or an innocent brotherly bond. As the two become lax in their interaction, their hearts naturally – albeit unintentionally – gravitate towards each other, their minds become occupied with each other, and one or both parties eventually develop feelings that either remain trapped or expressed and acted upon unlawfully. With their increasing closeness and intimacy, the special reserves of loyalty, emotional sentiments and halaal physical attraction may be exhausted before their rightful outlet in marriage. If they end up not getting married and search elsewhere for a partner, they may never be content because they can’t resist comparing potential spouses with their former “friend”. Even if they eventually marry someone else, they will always have a history, and sometimes Shaytan can push them to reconnect and rekindle that past relationship during marriage.

It is no wonder why our wise Creator `azza wa jall, who is well aware of our natures and inclinations, says in the Qur’an “…Nor of those who take (boy)friends…(4:25). With many commands and prohibitions in Islam, Allah has mercifully forbade the prerequisite acts that would lead to major sins. He is protecting us from Shaytan and from falling prey to our desires, which saves us the emotional distress and painful regret that often come as a consequence to disobedience.

It’s also no wonder why it is purer and more chaste for both men and women to lower their gaze when speaking to those of the opposite gender (24:30-31), and to focus only on the tasks necessitating their communication. Remember Musa (`alayhissalam ) with the two daughters of Shu`ayb? Their interaction and communicating was exuding hayaa’and self-respect; Musa (as) never struck personal, unwarranted conversation with them and when one of the daughters informed Musa (as) that her father is inviting him to reward him for his assistance, she walked (and spoke) with utmost modesty and dignity.

One of the greatest manifestations of modesty and also a safeguard to indecent conduct is the Muslimah’s Islamic dress. Besides obeying Allah and the Messenger’s commands in wearing loose, non-transparent, non-perfumed clothing, the attire brings with it an entire set of behavioral traits that the Muslim woman finds befitting to uphold. She is no longer comfortable mingling with men, joking and laughing loudly with them – or behaving in any way that may ignite their desires. Her taqwa (God-consciousness) and hayaa’ with Allah become embodied in all her mannerisms – her body language, how she speaks and carries herself – and reminds her of amicably maintaining the boundaries that Allah and the Messenger (peace be upon him) would be pleased with.

There is a profound hadith of the Prophet (peace be upon him), which if practiced and truly believed in, can adorn our lives with blessings and many successes. It states: “There is nothing that you leave out of God-consciousness except that Allah will compensate you with something better” (Ahmad). We all long for acceptance and relationships that quell our loneliness and make us feel needed and loved. Perhaps if we devote our lives to increasing our love for Allah and gaining His love in return, He will bless us with halaal relationships that will be the greatest source of happiness, love, loyalty and compassion in this life and the better one to come.

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