| Part II
In Part 1, Br. AliDentity broke down some misconceptions we often have about our ideal future spouse and showed us some key ingredients that will lead to successful marriages. These included having pure intentions in the process of marriage, staying connected to our purpose and developing self-love, which will allow us to love our spouses. Here, in Part 2, Br. AliDentity will share how, after reaching out to Purify Your Gaze, his battles with pornography addiction helped him be a happier version of himself – and also changed his perspective on marriage for the better.
If marriage was about sharing my happiness, then deep down I knew I had little to share. I was not happy. On the outside, I was happy-go-lucky, full of spunk. On the inside, I was miserable. As much as I tried, I knew I kept falling short of arriving at happiness. My addiction to pornography was a proverbial thorn in my side at every turn. I needed help. It took years, but I eventually reached out to Purify Your Gaze as part and parcel of my tawbah (repentance). With much work and by Allah’s permission, as I put myself in a better place, so too did my vision of marriage begin to take better shape.
“We live in a hypersexualized society – it’s not a mystery as to how our impossible standards were formed.” -AliDentity
Of the things eventually worked on was my perception of beauty. Yes, beauty is one of the qualities mentioned sought after in a spouse. It’s important. However, it is not realistic to have the standards of Paradise, that if the brother is not the spitting image of Prophet Yusuf (as) or the sister is not as if from Paradise itself, that they are just unacceptable. We live in a hypersexualized society – it’s not a mystery as to how our impossible standards were formed. In a hadith we are warned if we have so much as a modicum of arrogance in our hearts, we will not enter Paradise. Of the examples of arrogance is rejecting truth and despising people (Muslim). If we submit to society’s impossible standards of beauty, it’s not uncommon to ignore or otherwise put down people who don’t meet them. Our spouses or prospective spouses are by no means excluded.
What is beauty?
While we may not be able to undo all that’s been done to us, we can take a proactive stance on our perception of beauty. In the same hadith, mentioned above, we are told that Allah is Beautiful, and He loves beauty. Questions arise. What does He find beautiful, what does He love? One example is that in another hadith we are taught there is never modesty in a thing except it beautifies it (At-Tirmidhi). We want, as much as possible, to be able to love what Allah loves. We can’t Photoshop ourselves into Paradise. It’s not about how we embellish what’s uncovered, but how we embellish what Allah Himself has concealed – our souls. So we can train ourselves to find not just the obvious tokens of spiritual exercise, such as the hijab or a beard, or an abayah or a thawb, but any actions that Allah loves, to be beautiful.
“It’s not about how we embellish what’s uncovered, but how we embellish what Allah Himself has concealed – our souls. So we can train ourselves to find not just the obvious tokens of spiritual exercise, such as the hijab or a beard, or an abayah or a thawb, but any actions that Allah loves, to be beautiful.” – AliDentity
We see here how our perception of beauty becomes intertwined with character. So what happens if we leave society to do all the beautifying for us? It leaves us ill-equipped to look for the actual person, let alone see the good in people. The work I had put in to better myself in this regard was somewhat by accident. With the help of Purify Your Gaze, I was actually trying to confront other lifestyle problems. Ultimately, I remembered a hadith qudsi in which we are taught that when Allah loves someone, He becomes the hearing with which he hears and the seeing with which he sees (Bukhari). In the past, I would have felt like a helpless victim, but now there’s no way that’s me, or ever will be. Yet after much progress, it did not occur to me that I could become a person that Allah loves, that I could even pray to become a person loved by Allah. I figured, why not reverse engineer what it’s like to be one loved by Allah? I questioned myself repeatedly. “What is it like to see and hear through faculties immersed in love and mercy?”
First work on myself
It became evident we don’t just wake up one day all like, *eyelids fly open* *gasp for breath*. “Dude. I know Love Fu.” It takes time, it takes work. If I wanted to find someone beautiful through their actions, to see the good in them, I had to do the same for myself. And the crazy thing was, a lot of it was already there in plain sight – we might have just needed help to see it. I learned that as you begin to see the good in yourself and others, you may also begin to see not only the kind of people that will add quality to your life, but also the kind of people for whom you would make an excellent addition.
To enter Paradise we will need clean hearts. To love someone wholly, forever, to have peace in the home amidst the noise that comes with living, we could really use a clean slate. Allah has already made for us the desire to love and be loved. We don’t have to suffer questioning it, rather be at ease by just accepting this desire. Since in His hands everything is blessed, we just have to realign ourselves with what He loves. As we do that and re-learn to actually deal with problems head on, our template of a prospective spouse will shift from the SAKHKKI (Swiss-Army-Knife-for-the-Home-Kitchen-and-Kids incarnate) Photoshopped Prince/ss, to a very real and wonderful person. It’s a real person whom Allah Himself has already beautified for you, as He is beautifying you for them – your very own partner for and in Paradise.