Saturday, December 25, 2010


Asalamu Alaykom,

The first time he and I saw each other we were both fasting.  Fasting decreases your libido to like ZERO.  It's a good way to curb desires.  I actually had no interest in him.  He had no interest in me.

In fact, I had no interest in any man.  I was being careful in Egypt.  I was a single mom living alone in Egypt.  I needed to protect myself and my son.  I was in Egypt for hijrah; not for romance.

If I had wanted romance I would have stayed in America.  Before I left America, I had been offered a relationship and possible marriage many times over.  I left America single.  I honestly prayed to God that I would rather stay single than fall into haram.  Astragferallah for the haram which single women fall prey to. 

Here, in Egypt, I needed halal ONLY and for me the best way to stay halal was to stay single.

Except...I was socializing and when there's a single woman in Egypt there's a million people who want to fix her up with a single man---or even as a second wife with a man who's already married.

One thing I didn't care to include in the post about Layla tul Qadr is that my time with the driver's family ended in confusion.  After the incredibly spiritual uplifting prayer en masse on the street, we had returned to the driver's grandpa's house.  From there, we had been invited across the street to the cousin's home.  I accepted.  Within minutes, I was being introduced and interrogated by a male relative who was single and wanted to marry.  I was so disgusted by that moment.  I was in Egypt as my own person and not as someone else's future wife. did I go from thinking this to thinking marriage?

My thoughts changed during Ramadan iftars---I found myself considering not the man himself, but being a part of his family.  This was a first as before I had always looked at a man as more of an individual.  However, I liked his family.  I liked his four sisters.  I like my boy playing with all the cousins.  I liked him---not anything more than that. 

Khalo or "uncle" is how I thought of him.  He was the teenage girl's uncle.  He was the man in galabiya who worked at the family shop.  It was his hand I had politely refused to shake.  It was his dinner invitation I had accepted.

When I arrived for dinner that night, I couldn't place who everyone was in the family.  Who was older?  Who was younger?  Who was married?  Who had kids?  I couldn't figure out the large family.  I took pictures of them all.

When I downloaded those pictures onto my computer that night, I was taken aback.  There were many shots of Khalo playing with my boy on the roof and all the shots were so nice.  One shot in particular was of Khalo crouching down, encircling my son with his left arm and summoning the sheep with his outstretched right arm.  The streams of sunlight shone down on the two of them in this beautiful aura. 

I stared.

This was the younger brother---not the older brother.  I had only dismissed the idea of the older brother.  I hadn't even thought of the younger brother because...well, he was younger!  I had declined many marriage discussions with men in America simply because they were younger than me.  I didn't want younger. 

I accepted another dinner invitation to the family home.  There was plentiful, healthy food and after tea there was conversation.  The Khalo and I ended up talking together. 

I was the first woman outside of his family to ever sit with him and talk.  He had limited English.  I had limited Arabic.  There were no snappy lines.  He wasn't trying for a thing.  He made no plays.  He didn't ask any leading questions. 


This was a switch!  It was refreshing---but also a little nerve wracking.  If so many Egyptian men had put out "feelers" for my availability, why hadn't this one?

I kept watching his day-by-day interactions.  At the shop, he treated everyone fairly.  He never flirted.  He never played music or smoked.  He did his prayers on time at the masjid and had since he was seven years old (hence the mark of prayer of his forehead and the bridge of his nose).  He played with the children.  He helped break up fights in the street.

AND he had seemingly no interest in me.

Yet, I began to have an interest in him.

What to do?

I cried!  I cried because I didn't want him!  I really wanted someone older, more established, with a full vocabulary in English who was CRAZY for me.

I decided to get rid of my thoughts of him by talking to him straight.  I would get him out of my mind by asking him if would consider marriage with me.  Either he would or he wouldn't and I could move on from this place of contemplation. 

I asked to speak to him at his sister's house.  We sat in the salon and I asked what he thought about marriage.  He told me that he wasn't about to get married soon if ever.

If ever?!  Wow again.  He was serious!  And he was dense!  There I was talking to him about marriage and he didn't get me.  He didn't understand me.  I had to spell it out for him. 

"What about marriage with me?"

He was surprised to say the least.  He hadn't viewed me as such.  He had no sweet words and no touches; no haram, in other words.  He now understood me... but he didn't understand what he should do.  He asked to think about it and get back to me.

Three days later, he met me again.  There had been only very short phone calls between us.  Our meetings were in person.  He would like to see me at the family house for dinner every night through Ramadan.  After Ramadan we would consider the possibility.

Yet, when I showed up for dinner later that night, his mother was not amused.  Khalo was still praying magrib at the masjid.  Only the sisters had stayed behind and they had to restrain their mother from physically throwing me out of her house.

She was yelling at me, "BARA!  BARA!"  meaning "OUT!  OUT!"

The sisters hustled my son and I into a room until she could calm down.  They brought me out then so she could apologize to me. 

I accepted her apology--because that's what you do--and then we left.

So, there I was walking home that night:  a woman whom every Egyptian family seemingly wanted EXCEPT for the one family I wanted.  I wondered how I had erred so greatly?  I thought of the many, many times I'd erred before.

That's when Khalo called me.  He apologized for his mother's behavior.  She was old and I had to make excuses for her.  I did.  I understood.  Who would want me--a divorced, single mom from America?

Khalo told me on the phone that he had spent the previous three nights without sleep.  He had been thinking non-stop what to do.  He had prayed istakkarah and asked me to do the same.

Unbeknownest to him, I had prayed it on Layla tul Qadr but the night had been so full of emotions I couldn't see straight.

I decided to pray it again.  After my boy was in bed, I cleared my head and did my two rakhas.  I slowly opened my eyes and saw the Kabba on the calendar as if for the first time.  That's when my silence was broken by my boy laughing in his sleep.

I took that as my sign to continue considering this man.

Chapter 17


Anonymous said...

Asalamu Alaikum Yosra,

I have been reading your blog for years before you made it private....When I first started reading you I was married and I judged you so much and was angry at many of the decisions that you made. Now that I am a single muslimah (after 11 years of marriage) I just want to tell you im sorry and i know how rough it is out here, you are so brave for never giving up on love or marital happiness. May Allah bless your marriage sister


Yosra said...

Wa Alaykom Asalam Wa Rahtmatullahi Wa Barkatu Layla,

You got the full peace treatment because I am so very grateful for your comment.

I'm grateful that you were a reader way back when and that you returned. Thank you. By the way, when I made the blog private, I didn't write anymore. I just let it sit and I got on with my life for a while.

I'm grateful that you were able to be introspective and honest about who you were in the past. I'm grateful that you made sense of those things you didn't like AND that you were kind enough to share them with me.

Layla, I'm sorry that you are a single Muslimah. It really hurts to be alone and it often hurts more to try to form a halal relationship.

A LOT of readers belittled my decision to stay on the path to marriage. I really looked at the Islamic evidence which pointed to unwed women needing protection within a marriage. I felt that. I felt that especially revert Muslimahs like myself were in danger once single again. And I had a boy who was without a man in his life.

I made a serious error in following an internet relationship all the way to marriage in 2007. I would NEVER advise marrying off the internet. It is too easy to hide behind a mask and pretend piety and pleasantness only to let the mask drop violently once you are trapped in a house together.

Alhumdulillah, I got out of that situation.

Yet, I continued thinking that the 'net might have somebody better. I was wrong. It was not for me. There really was no good that came out of my time on the computer. It led me down very bad paths from which thankfully Allah rescued me.

Yosra said...


My advice (oh, I know you didn't ask but forgive me for giving some) for single Muslimahs is to live fully. Get out of the house and find real people with real connections to real single Muslim men. Stay focused on marriage only. Talk to only one man at a time. Meet only in public--not even in the same car (I don't care what any sheik says about it being isnt).

Spend about zero time on the phone, texting, or chatting on the computer. All of those are smoke and mirrors. You want to know a real person and not a screen name.

View the arrangement as a kind of business in which you have something to offer them and they have something to offer you.

Don't allow talk of loving each other until you are committed publicly to each other. Don't allow for physical affection and touching---as much as possible.

Don't try to marry a man's potential BE REALISTIC. If he says that he doesn't pray BELIEVE HIM. Don't believe that the love of a good woman will make him do jack. If he isn't good with Allah, do you really expect him to be good with you?!

Don't get hung up on "my kid(s) like/love him". Your kid(s) will get along with just about any man you introduce to them---so DON'T introduce men to them.

Stay connected to supportive sisters who keep the faith. Be honest with each other about what's going on and pull each other back from the brink of haram.

And MOST IMPORTANTLY stay connected with Allah. If you screw up a deal, then go to Allah and admit you screwed up. Ask for forgiveness and don't do it again. Being single is a REAL TEST of faith. You are alone and often needy. Allah knows this more than anyone. Keep the faith in times of adversity--it won't always be high but never let it drop to nothingness. If you feel like any man is getting in the way of your faith, then he's obviously NOT a good match for you.

A good match will be the one which seems so simple in so many ways. It will lift your spirits and give you increased faith. It will encourage you to do better. A good match will be something which isn't exactly what you were looking for or what you thought you wanted. It will be what you need and it will feel halal. It will feel healthy---maybe not every second but overall. I mean, people aren't perfect and a good match might vere off course. However, a good match is a meeting of two people committed to serving Allah and that common goal should always bring a couple to center.

Layla, HI! Sorry, that was a rant but after reading your comment I felt the need to share more than what I wrote. I know there are sisters looking for another chance at love and marriage. I don't want them to goof it up as much as I have. I hope that they can learn something from me and avoid the pitfalls. Inshahallah :)

May Allah bless you, Layla, for your wilingness to reach out in honesty and kindness. I'll make du'a that your naseeb is the ease after the hardship.


Esoterica said...

Yosra!!!! I just have to tell you what a treat it is to read you again!! I come to work with coffee or water bottle at hand and after 3 of my morning clients, I log on and see if you've posted, and today I am very lucky to find another one of your posts!

Loving you always...
Layla, the other one ;-)

Yosra said...

This comment is from Kelly and I wanted to post it BUT I didn't want to post her email. So, I copied what she wrote minus that info:

Yosra, I was searching for something else entirely and your blog was the first things that showed up on the google results! subhanAllah I read many of your posts and masha Allah i am so impressed by what you have done. I am an american revert planning to visit cairo in April insha Allah, I will study Arabic for 4 weeks. I have have dreamed of visiting egypt for a long time....since I was a child and definitely even before I reverted. I would love to move there but i'm too scared to ever actually do it. I would love to get to know you more and maybe we could even visit when i get into town insha Allah.


Asalamu Alaykom Kelly!

Cool how life works, isn't it?

I'm really glad you found my blog. There are other blogs from Egypt, of course, but mine is really focusing on making hijrah here. Sounds like you would welcome that as well


This fear you have is only the fear of the unknown. Come in April and see what both tantalizes and upsets you about this place. It's certainly a mix of lovely and ugly and it's all about where you focus.

Do you have any teaching experience? Anyone with a college degree and three years teaching experience can get a work visa here.

You are certainly welcome to come over for a visit. I've got to run to the store now (the actual grocery store---which I hardly ever go to) but I'll write to you again inshahallah.

Yosra said...

Asalamu Alaykom Esoterica Layla,

I love you for reading AND commenting. Pleasure is mine to know that you are out there (with water or coffee in hand).

We've got to arrange a big hug for sometime in the not too distant future!

Um Zakarya said...

Assalamu Aleykum,

Ohhhh that was him!!! :)
SUBHNALLAH, we plan and ALLAH SWT plans!The one who didn't even think about you was the One that ALLAH SWT has chosen for you.

We never know where the khair comes from, sometimes we are blind and just follw our desires, when indeed we should pray to ALLAH SWT and ask for the best guidance.

Yosra said...

Asalamu Alaykom Um Z.,

For real, right?! I love how you put it.

We have to stay open and let it all flow. Stopping the flow means stopping the blessings. Sometimes we aren't blind to the plan---like we sense something but we make a conscious choice to shut our eyes to what's best. I'm trying to keep my eyes open.

Keep reading and commenting! I miss you when I don't read you.

Um Zakarya said...

We say in french "there's no one blinder than the one who doesn't want to see" (my own translation, I think you understand what it means :))

I'm sometimes lazy to comment, but I always read.JazakALLAH khair for apreciating my coments.INSHALLAH I'll make efforts to comment more often :)

Lot of love

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