Originally written for SISTERS magazine.
One small island. Six young women. And a friendship that would last forever... Or so we thought.
Having met each other through Masjid events, and suddenly “clicking” together during the community’s first summer camp, the six of us Muslim teens developed a bond that seemed unbreakable. Although we ranged in age, came from diverse backgrounds, and had completely different personalities, we loved each other passionately. As we struggled through high school, personal issues and reconnecting to the Deen, we stood by and supported each other with love, laughter, and the constant reminder that our friendship was for the Sake of Allah. We were confident that we’d only grow closer, that nothing would break us apart.
And then we got married.
Like all young women, a significant portion of our discussions revolved around marriage – who, what, where, and how! We spent hours poring over articles, listening to lectures, and creating checklists for ourselves and our future spouses. We dreamed of wedding dresses and giggled nervously about wedding nights. Throughout it all, though, we promised that no matter where we went in the world, wherever life would take us, we’d always stay together.
Reality, however, turned out to be a bit more different than we imagined.
Over the course of a year, three of us got married, one moved overseas and had a baby, and the others found themselves overwhelmed with the demands of a new husband, old family, and university. No longer did we meet each other several times a week or spend time volunteering at Masjid events; even planned gatherings at each other’s homes often fell through. Physical distance inevitably led to emotional distance and miscommunication resulting in hurt feelings and a sense of loss.
This case of “MIA After Marriage” isn’t unique – in fact, it’s incredibly common. Many sisters report that once a friend or relative gets married, they seem to disappear for months on end. It can take up to a year (or more, if children soon follow) for a newlywed sister to get back in touch with her friends... and by that time, things might have changed so much that it’s impossible for the same closeness to return. The unmarried sisters might feel that their married friend is now living a completely different life and that they have nothing in common anymore; the newlywed sister wonders why her friends don’t understand that she’s just busier now and can’t make it to events and gatherings all the time. Slowly but surely, tight bonds of friendship loosen and sometimes even slip away.
While understandable, the situation is lamentable as well. Although no one says you should be neglecting your husband for your friends, you shouldn’t ignore your friends either. Sisterhood for the Sake of Allah is a precious thing that should never be lost or let go of, not even in the flush of new marriage. So how do sisters who love their husbands and their friends give time for both? Here are a few tips on how to maintain the valuable relationships of Islamic Sisterhood.
1. Purify your intention. Whether you’re the newlywed or the bachelorette, remember that the reason you’re reaching out to your ‘lost’ friend is for the Sake of Allah... not just to get an extra pair of hands to help out at the next bridal shower.
Mu’adh ibn Jabal (radhiAllahu anhu) reported: “I heard the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) say: ‘Allah Almighty said, “My Love is mandatory for those who love each other for My Sake, and those who sit with each other for My Sake, and those who visit each other for My Sake, and those who give to each other generously for My Sake.” (Malik in al-Muwatta’).
Abu Hurayrah (radhiAllahu anhu) reported that the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: “There are seven whom Allah will shade with His Shade on the day where there is no shade but His Shade: (one of them is) two men who love each other for the Sake of Allah, meeting and parting for that reason alone...” (Bukhari and Muslim)
2. Be considerate. Keep in mind that things are a bit different for the married sister. She has a whole new set of responsibilities that do take a while to get used to. Allow that she won’t be able to hang out on most days and times like you used to in the old days. But don’t let that stop you from giving her a call or paying her a visit!
Abu Hurayrah (radhiAllahu anhu) reported that the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said, “A man visited a brother of his in another town and Allah appointed an angel to wait for him on his way. When he came to him, the angel said, ‘Where are you going?’ He said, ‘I am going to a brother of mine in this town.’ He said, ‘Do you have some property with him that you want to check on?’ He said, ‘No, it is only that I love him for the sake of Allah Almighty.’ He said, ‘I am a messenger of Allah to you to tell you that Allah loves you as you love this man for His Sake.’” (Muslim)
3. Be patient and make 70 excuses for your sister. If you’ve called, left messages on the answering machine, sent a slew of emails, and are now considering hiding in her bushes to make sure she’s still alive, take a deep breath and be patient. Insha’Allah your friend is fine; just give her a bit of space to settle into her new routine before expecting a response. Don’t think that she’s ignoring you or doesn’t notice – even through the haze of new marriage, she knows and appreciates that you care about her, which simply increases her love for you.
4. Remember that all relationships need work to maintain. Newlyweds, take note! Don’t take your friendships for granted, and don’t expect that after a year of you being MIA, that everything will be just as you left it. Make an effort to keep in touch with your sisters in Islam, and try to meet with them whenever possible at the Masjid, if nowhere else. Even if you don’t get to really ‘hang out,’ just attending a beneficial lecture or program can strengthen both your emaan and the bonds of Islamic Sisterhood.
5. Don’t hold a grudge. It can be too easy for emotional distance and the feeling of losing a friend to result in holding a grudge. Again, it’s important to note that the situation has changed and that things won’t be exactly the same as they were before. However, don’t allow that to make you feel badly about your sister in Islam or have hard feelings against her because you think that she’s throwing away your friendship.
The Messenger of Allah (sallallahau ‘alayhi wa sallam) said, “The doors of Paradise are opened on Monday and Thursday, and every servant who does not associate anything with Allah be forgiven, except for the man who bears a grudge against his brother. It will be said, “Wait for these two until they reconcile, wait for these two until they reconcile, wait for these two until they reconcile.” (Muslim)
Thus, in the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam), we find precious gems of advice on how to keep the love for the Sake of Allah strong and flourishing. Changes in life are inevitable, but just because life changes, doesn’t mean that friendship should! As long as sincerity and true love for the Sake of Allah are kept in mind, insha’Allah your relationships with your sisters in Islam will remain strong, pure, and lasting.
May Allah increase us all in our love for Him; and in our love for our sisters in Islam for His Sake; and make us amongst those who will be shaded on the Day of Judgement, when there will be no shade except the Shade of His Throne.
AnonyMouse (UmmKhadijah) is a young Canadian Muslimah who has found herself unexpectedly taking care of house, husband and baby. Readers might recognize her as the AnonyMouse from MuslimMatters.org, although slightly more grown up.