Back in January, an email from Ishqr dropped in my inbox. I’d read some of the posts they sponsored on different Muslim sites, so the name was familiar. Essentially, they are a Muslim dating website. You don’t see people’s real names, ever, unless they tell you themselves, and you can only see each other’s picture if there is a mutual expression of interest.
All of that appeals to me. I like the idea of evaluating someone on the basis of their personality and how they present themselves before deciding on the physical attraction part. It’s not denying that looks and sexual attraction are important; it’s saying that before being blinded by physical attraction (as many do become, come on, admit it), you should see if you are attracted to the rest of that person.
So I decided to try it out. I’ve never been on a dating site, but I try most things, so why not Ishqr? I wrote up a profile. It was very candid. I let the potential reader know right off the bat that I live comparatively publicly and blog about a lot of stuff, I have no intentions of ever being a stay-at-home anything, and I have a tattoo. I’m sure for plenty of people, those might be turn offs, in which case, they aren’t my ideal reader anyway. Then I went exploring.
I’d say I read about..10 profiles. Some made me laugh. One was so well written, I actually clicked the ‘I’m interested’ button. I’m going to sound super shallow now but after seeing the picture, I changed my mind.
It is what it is.
Here’s what stood out to me: a lot of profiles talked about god and religion. So did I because it’s important, but many of the guys seemed pretty religious. Even the guy who’s an assistant to someone who works for The Walking Dead!
I was pretty surprised. Not that I was looking, but I probably wouldn’t find my match on Ishqr, simply because I’m not very religious. Then I started thinking about God.
In Islam, to marry is compared to completing half your faith. There’s a lot of emphasis on having a life partner. This makes sense. We are social creatures and we all want someone (or at least, most people I know want someone). When I meet or read about religious people, I always wonder why I’m not religious. I grew up in Saudi Arabia, my parents are pretty religious, and – granted in university I became friends with a number of non-religious people – most of my life, I’ve been surrounded by the religiously devout. So what happened?
Was I just not interested in God?
Well, that couldn’t be farther from the truth. I’m sort of obsessed with God. But I never really found God through religion. I actually found God in the Red Sea. Then in a park. In the Rockies. Then in the Grand Canyon, and then in the Gulf of Mexico.
God is easy to find in nature.
You stand still, breathe deeply, and listen to the silence around you. That silence is not empty. Even if there isn’t a single soul around (in fact, it’s almost better if there isn’t), you are not lonely or alone. Because you’ve got God. That’s going to sound like crazy woo-woo to people who don’t believe in God or haven’t experienced this or wouldn’t call that experience God. But that’s my experience.
It is always deeply moving. It always renders me speechless, and it always causes me to be deeply grateful for my life. It never fails to reveal an overflowing fountain of deep and unconditional love in me. In those moments, I love the whole damn world. Fiercely and gently.
Religious people like to say they want to be with someone who’s also seeking God. They want to help each other be better Muslims (or Christians or what-have-you).
Marriage is half our faith.
I think when you find God, you find love, and vice versa. And that love is rare. Love is this..place and feeling where you are uncomfortable and safe at the same time. It challenges you to grow, it mirrors back every flaw and problem you have, it forces you to face your demons. It also doesn’t judge and is unconditional, supportive, and gentle. It’s fiery and protective.
Love is a pretty crazy thing.
So when you find someone like that. When you find love, you become closer to God. It’s hard to find that. It’s easy to find it in nature, but to find that in another person is very very hard. Love is hard with another person because it requires a degree of vulnerability that is scary to share with another imperfect human being.
I’m not religious. I’m Muslim, sure. I pray, I read the Quran, I try to be kind and treat people well. I fast in Ramadan. I give alms. I’ve done Umrah. And I’ve experienced God enough times in my life to know I want more of God.
I guess I’m also looking for someone who’s looking to experience God more in their life. But I would just never put it in those terms. I’ve got the feelings but I just don’t define them in religious vocabulary. I don’t look for God just within the confines of an Islamic context or perspective.
God is just too vast for that, I think.
But what do I know. I’m just a 22 year old girl with a tattoo.