|Awesome book, please read!|
In my opinion this is the type of love story a Muslimah can read and not fall into haram. There are no "turgid manhood" descriptions ;-) or "sexscapades". There is simply a deep and abiding love which flourishes between the two main characters, Jane and Mr. Rochester, her employer. It is the type of love most of us have dreamed of; to be cherished and persued and placed upon a pedestal. However, level-headed Jane doesn't want any of that. She is content with her simple life and her simple ways and provokes Mr. Rochester in 100s of ways by refusing his gifts and accolades.
One particular excerpt from this book touched a chord deep within me. Please read it closely. This is after they have discovered their mutual love and have allowed it to grow. This is not a euphemism for sex btw; it means they are finally able to acknowledge their passion for each other and proceed to marry.
"My future husband was becoming to me my whole world; and more than the world: almost my hope of heaven. He stood between me and every thought of religion, as an eclipse intervenes between man and the broad sun. I could not, in those days, see God for his creature: of whom I had made an idol."
Subhanallah. Subhanallah. Subhanallah. Now, my first thought upon reading this passage was "Authubillah!" We know this is shirk, this is the most severe form of disobedience to Allah, to assign Him partners, to worship the creation NOT the Creator. This was my visceral, gut reaction.
Next came a deep sense of understanding. This is the romantic ideal perpetrated by western culture. This is how I was raised: to believe a knight on a white horse would come in to swoop me off my feet and carry me off. At least every fairytale I ever read told me that. :-) Or at very least, I would marry what is now known as a "metrosexual": a man who looks great, loves his wife, dresses to kill, and will help do the laundry and the dishes. :-) In movies, in books; our very culture is steeped in this idea of one person being your everything. To the exclusion of all else.
It is a powerful drug, to be loved so. To be needed and wanted and desired, to be made the center of someone's life. This, dear sisters, was me before Islam. In my darkness, in my lost wanderings, I sought to fill the void inside me with love. Not the worst idea for sure; better than drugs or alcohol or some other utterly self-destructive habit. I just wanted to be loved, right? And cherished. And needed. I wanted to be necessary to someone's life. I wanted to be their center. I needed to be their anchor. And oh boy, you better believe I needed them to be mine!
So wonder why my search wasn't too successful? Wellll let's see: because no one person can be everything for someone else. I was willing to give 100% of myself but I demanded the same in return. I was sincere and giving and loving...and I was exacting and I was demanding. I had so much to give but I wanted everything they had in return. Everything of value. I don't mean their money.
I wanted their time, their energies, their love, their passion, their emotion. I wanted it all for me. I wasn't trying to be selfish; I'd been involved in too many one-sided relationships to feel I should settle anymore. I wanted the romance-novel love; where the hero dashes in, saves the girl, and proceeds to make every decision for her and her life. :-) Personal accountability zero. If I don't make the calls, I can't take the blame. Really it was all very tidy for me.
Except for that one little annoyance I listed above: it just isn't realistic and I didn't find it. I did find some temporary satisfaction; a couple who could stay the course for a few months. I had one long-term relationship that lasted 3 years. It was doomed from the start and that very knowledge encouraged me. I poured all of myself into loving him, into "fixing" him. I knew he was just "a little" broken but I was so sure in the power of my love, so sure I could redeem him, transform him, "fix" him.
Alhamdulillah I emerged 3 years later, scarred, hardened a bit, but much wiser. I knew I needed something but I was sure it was a someONE not a thing. I had looked now for years, searching high and low, only to be eventually disappointed every time. I was practically begging God to come into my life only I didn't know how to ask. Or Who. I had stopped believing in "God" so long ago, only held onto some shreds of hope my atheistic husband hadn't managed to find and destroy. It was this hope which kept me going, kept my afloat, kept me searching even when I was going down the wrong path, "barking up the wrong tree".
This, my dear sisters, is how I came to Islam. I came as spiritually destitute as any one could be; I came on my hands and knees, bereft of pride, my smug assurance in my own abilities weakened. I was ready to find Allah... I just didn't know where or what to call Him. :-)
Alhamdulillah, alhamdulillah, alhamdulillah! Allah led me to Islam and I knew I was home. I didn't have to search any more, debase myself, remake and remold myself into someone else's vision of me. This is who I am, who I was, who I was searching for. All of these qualities were inside me waiting to be coaxed out, encouraged, and allowed to take root. My heart was ready for Islam, for submission. I had been submitting myself to the will of MEN for so long it seemed nothing to submit to Allah. I welcomed it; finally, finally I had found the One worthy of my complete submission. And here was my Creator, who loved me so much, was so patient with me, waited for me to be ready... I knew my gift of love and sacrifice would not be thrown back in my face like an unwanted gift.
So when sisters or strangers, Muslim and non-Muslims alike, question me about all I've had to "give up" I want to respond: "Exactly what did I give up? I gave up searching and searching for someone to fill this void, I gave up having to strive to live up to society's expectations and always feeling I was falling short, I gave up feeling I was just not quite (fill in the blank) enough. I gave up trying to fit into a mold that wasn't me, I gave up selling myself so cheaply."
And what did I gain? I have gained self-respect and sisterhood and peace. I have gained self-confidence that stems from knowing my place in this life and knowing that I submit myself ONLY to my Lord, my Rabb. I have gained the chance to earn Paradise, to enter the beautiful gardens of Jannah insha'Allah, amin!!! What I have earned is past accounting and what I have paid is negligible.
I am a Muslim, alhamdulillah!