Umm Muhammad, a mature woman over the age of 40, tells her story.
I lived a life of modest means with my husband. There was never any closeness and harmony, and my husband did not have the kind of strong personality that a woman would hope for, but his good nature made me overlook the fact that I was the one who was responsible for most of the decision making in the family.
My husband often used to mention the name of his friend and business partner, and he would talk about him in my presence, and I often used to meet with him in his office which was originally part of our apartment. This went on for many years, until circumstances led to us exchanging visits with this person and his family. These family visits were repeated and because of his close friendship with my husband, we did not notice how the number of visits increased and how many hours a single visit would last. He often used to come on his own to sit with us, me and my husband, for long visits. My husband’s trust in him knew no bounds, and as days passed I got to know this person very well, and saw how wonderful and decent he was. I began to feel a strong attraction towards this man, and at the same time I began to sense that the feeling was mutual.
Things took a strange turn after that, when I realized that this man was the kind of person I had always dreamed about. Why had he come along now, after all these years? The more this man’s status increased in my eyes, the more my husband’s status diminished. It was as if I had needed to see the beauty of his character in order to discover how ugly my husband’s character was.
The matter between this person and myself did not go beyond these persistent thoughts which were occupying my mind night and day. Neither he nor I ever voiced what we felt in our hearts… until today. Yet despite that my life is over and my husband is little more than a weak man with no self-esteem. I hate him and I do not know how all this hatred towards him started to boil over. I wonder how I put up with him all these years, bearing all these burdens by myself, facing life’s problems on my own.
Things got so bad that I asked him for a divorce, and he divorced me at my request. After that he became a broken man. Even worse than that is that after my marriage was wrecked and my children and husband were devastated, problems arose in this man’s family. His wife, with her feminine intuition, realized what had been going on in his heart of hearts, and his life became hell. She was overwhelmed with jealousy to the extent that one night she left her house at 2 a.m. and came to attack my house, screaming, weeping and hurling accusations. His marriage was also about to collapse.
I admit that the lovely gatherings which we used to enjoy gave us the opportunity to get to know one another at a time that was not appropriate at this stage in our lives.
His marriage has been wrecked and so has mine. I have lost everything, and now I know that my circumstances and his will not permit us to take any positive step towards coming together. Now I am more miserable than I have ever been, and I am looking for illusionary happiness and lost hopes.
Umm Ahmad tells us:
My husband had a group of married friends, and because of our close friendship with them, we used to get together with them once a week in one of our houses, to enjoy an evening of chat.
Deep down in my heart I was never really comfortable with the atmosphere in which we would have dinner, sweets, snacks and drinks of juice accompanied by waves of laughter because of the jokes and chit-chats that often went beyond the bounds of good manners.
In the name of friendship, the barriers were lifted and every now and then one would hear suppressed laughter between a woman and the husband of another woman. The jokes were too much, dealing – with no sense of shyness –with sensitive topics such as sex and women’s private matters. This was usual and was even accepted and regarded as desirable.
Although I indulged in these things along with them, my conscience made me feel guilty. Then the day came when it became quite clear just how ugly and filthy this atmosphere was.
The telephone rang, and I heard the voice of one of the friends in this group. I said hello to him and apologized that my husband was not home. He replied that he knew that, and that he was calling to speak to me! After he suggested starting a relationship with me, I got very angry and spoke harshly to him and cursed him. All he could do was laugh and say, “Don’t try and show these good manners to me; go and check on your husband’s good manners and see what he is doing…” I was devastated by what he said, but I pulled myself together and said to myself, this person is only trying to cause the break up of your marriage. But he succeeded in planting the seeds of doubt concerning my husband.
Shortly after that, the major disaster struck. I discovered that my husband was cheating on me with another woman. It was the matter of life or death as far as I was concerned. I found my husband out and I confronted him, saying: “You are not the only one who can have a relationship. I have received a similar proposition.” And I told him all about his friend. He was stunned and absolutely shocked. (I said:) “If you want me to respond in kind to your relationship with that woman, then this is for that, tit-for-tat.” This was a huge slap in the face for him. He knew that I did not intend to do that in reality, but he realized the great disaster that had befallen our lives and the immoral atmosphere in which we were living. I suffered a great deal until my husband finally left that loose woman with whom he was having a relationship, as he admitted to me. Yes, he left her and came back to his family and children, but how can I ever feel the same towards him as I used to? Who will restore respect for him in my heart? This huge wound in my heart is still bleeding out of regret and rage at that filthy atmosphere; it still bears testimony to the fact that what they call innocent get-togethers are in reality anything but innocent. My heart still begs for mercy from the Lord of Glory.
Intelligence can also be a temptation (fitnah)
‘Abd al-Fattaah says:
I work as the head of department in one of the big companies. For a long time I admired one of my female colleagues, not for her beauty, but for her serious attitude towards her work, her intelligence and her excellent achievements – in addition to the fact that she was a decent and modest person who focused only on her work. This admiration turned into attachment, and I am a married man who fears Allaah and never misses any obligatory prayer. I expressed my feelings to her and she rebuffed me. She is married and has children as well. She sees no reason why I should have any kind of relationship with her, whether it be friendship, as work colleagues or based on admiration… etc. Evil thoughts come to me sometimes, and deep down I wish that her husband would divorce her so that I could get her.
I started to put pressure on her at work and put her down in front of my bosses. Perhaps this was a form of revenge on my part, but she accepted it with good manners and did not complain or comment. She works and works; her performance speaks of her quality, and she knows this well. The more she resisted me, the stronger my infatuation grew.
I am not a person who is easily tempted by women, because I fear Allaah and I do not overstep the mark with them and go beyond what is required by my work. But this woman attracted me. What is the solution?… I do not know.
Baby ducks know how to swim
N.A.A., a nineteen-year-old girl, tells us:
At that time I was a little girl. My innocent eyes watched those evening get-togethers when family friends would meet in the house. What I remember is that I could only see one man, who was my father. I watched him as he moved about the room, how his glances would devour the women present, looking at their thighs and chests, admiring this one’s eyes, that one’s hair, the other’s hips. My poor mother had no choice but to take care of these get-togethers. She was a very simple lady.
Among the women present there was one woman who would deliberately try to attract my father’s attention, sometimes by coming close to him, and sometimes by making enticing movements. I would watch this with concern, whilst my mother was busy in the kitchen for the sake of her guests.
These gatherings stopped suddenly and I tried, young as I was, to understand and make sense of what had happened, but I could not.
What I remember was that my mother collapsed completely at that time, and she could not stand to hear my father’s name mentioned in the house. I used to hear mysterious words whispered by the adults around me: “Betrayal… bedroom… she saw them with her own eyes… despicable woman… in a very shameful position…” etc. These were the key words which only the adults could understand.
I grew up and came to understand, and I bore a grudge against all men. All of them were treacherous. My mother was a broken woman and accused every woman who came to us of being a man-snatcher who wanted to make my father fall into her trap. My father hasn’t changed. He is still practising his favourite hobby of chasing women, but now he does it outside the home. Now I am nineteen years old and I know lots of young men. I feel great pleasure in taking revenge on them, because every one of them is an exact copy of my father. I tempt them and entice them, without letting them get anywhere near me. They follow me in gatherings and in the marketplaces because of my movements and deliberate gestures. Sometimes my phone never stops ringing and I feel proud of what I do to avenge the sex of Hawwa’ and my mother. But sometimes I feel so miserable and such a failure that it almost chokes me. My life is shadowed by a huge dark cloud, and its name is my father.
Before it is too late
S.N.A. tells of her experience:
I never imagined that my work circumstances would force me to be in contact with the opposite sex (men), but this in fact is what happened…
In the beginning, I used to cover and screen myself from men by wearing niqaab (face-veil), but some of the sisters advised me that this dress was attracting more attention to my presence, and it would be better for me to take off the niqaab, especially since my eyes were somewhat attractive. So I removed the cover from my face, thinking that this was better. But by continuing to mix with my colleagues, I discovered that I was the odd one out because of my antisocial attitude and my insistence on not joining in the conversation and chatting with others. Everyone was wary of this “lone-wolf” woman (as they saw me), and this is what was stated clearly by one person who affirmed that he would not want to deal with such a snooty and stand-offish character. But I knew that I was the opposite, in fact, and I decided that I would not oppress myself and put myself in a difficult position with my colleagues. So I started to join in their chats and exchanges of anecdotes, and they all discovered that I could speak eloquently and persuasively, and that I could influence others. I could also speak in a manner that was determined yet at the same time was attractive to some of my colleagues. It was not long before I noticed some changes in the expression of my direct supervisor; with some embarrassment, he was enjoying the way I spoke and moved, and he would deliberately bring up topics in the conversation where I would see that hateful look in his eyes. I do not deny the fact that I started to entertain some thoughts about this man. I found it astonishing that a man could fall so easily into the trap of a woman who was religiously committed, so how must it be in the case of women who adorn themselves and invite men to commit immoral actions? In fact, I did not think of him in any way which went beyond the bounds of sharee’ah, but he did occupy a space in my thoughts for quite some time. But soon my self-respect made me reject the idea of being a source of enjoyment for this man in any way, shape or form, even if it was only psychological in nature, and I stopped getting involved in any kind of work that would force me to sit alone with him. In the end, I reached the following conclusions:
1- 1) Attraction between the sexes can occur in any circumstances, no matter how much men and women may deny that. The attraction may start within the bounds of sharee’ah and end up going beyond those bounds.
2) Even if a person protects himself (by marriage), he is not safe from the snares of the Shaytaan.
3) Even though a person may be able to guarantee himself and he works with the opposite sex within reasonable limits, he cannot guarantee the feelings of the other party.
4) Finally, there is nothing good in mixing and it does not bear fruit as they claim. On the contrary, it corrupts sound thinking.