In this landmark series, ‘First World Problems,’ Student Review explores the diverse social challenges that Muslim students face in day-to-day life, being adherents to Islam while living in a non-religious society. The series will delve into these issues through the eyes of Muslim students, who through their personal experience, have learnt various lessons about how to live a truly satisfying life. The first article in this series will explore the issue of relationships.
The following interview is about the problem of having a hidden or secret relationship with a person from the opposite gender. Student Review (SR) interviewed an anonymous male student (G) who has struggled with this experience.
SR: Salaam brother, before we start I would like to tell you that if there is any question you don’t want to answer just say ‘No comment’ – that is absolutely fine. Now I would like to start with asking you what exactly your problem was, and how did you get into it?
G: Salaam. I had several problems during my educational life especially during college. So I had a girlfriend a couple of years ago. Initially at the time it didn’t feel like a massive problem.
SR: How exactly did the interaction start and was it your intention from the go to date her?
G: No, no, no. Let me tell you how it started. A friend of mine asked me to help her because she was struggling in a subject I was really good at, so I decided to help her. After doing that for a long time I had no contact with her. However a boy I knew decided to play a prank and blame it on me. Guess who the prank was on – her. He thought she wouldn’t approach me but she did. She told me to tell the prankster to give whatever the prank was related to back. We then had a normal conversation about how life had been.
SR: Now from the looks of it, it doesn’t seem to be the kind of story you hear every day nor does it look like either of you had the intention of moving to the point of a relationship?
G: Yes you’re right – after that we both started talking and having conversations and after 2-3 weeks she asked me if I would like to go out with her.
SR: So what happened in those 2 weeks?
G: A lot of talking and building trust. When I think back now I don’t think girls who take these steps have anyone they really trust and I think that was the key reason for her decision—because I’m an average guy with average looks and average everything, but I seemed like someone you can trust. So from that I realised that girls don’t have the same friendships as boys… what I’m trying to say is that trust was the reason for the relationship starting, not “love”.
SR: From what you just said it seems like it didn’t take long for her to trust you. Do you think you could have easily betrayed her trust?
G: Yeah 100% – now I realised why Islam teaches us to stay away from such acts, because with all due respect some girls tend to trust a boy quite quickly.
SR: How did everyone around you react when you first started going out—or did you keep it a secret?
G: That is an interesting question. I did keep it a secret from my family but I told some of my friends.
SR: And how did they react?
G: Mixed. Some found it hilarious, because to this date I have not spoken to any other girl and I’m one of the really quiet guys, especially around girls. Some advised me to re-think my decision. For instance they told me to not let it affect my education and so on.
SR: Did it affect your education?
G: [Laughing] Yes it did, having a girlfriend is extremely time consuming – you can’t imagine how much time you “waste” during that period.
SR: Coming back to your story – so we know what happened at the start but what influenced you to take that step? Like you said some of your friends were against it, so why do it?
G: False hope, the confidence and the importance I got from her. You have to remember the fact that I was a quiet guy and thought of myself as an average/ugly person looks-wise. Obviously on the inside I was as good as anyone else and then that girl came along and she told me I look great, which gave me that boost of confidence. I felt great.
SR: I understand two of your points but what do you mean by false hope?
G: False hope… I’ll just continue with the story and you will see what I meant by it. So once we started going out we started talking a lot more. At the start it was all fine but after a while it became a headache. For example, if you ask anyone our age they’ll tell you that if the name of a girl pops up on your phone screen, the moment that your parents see they bombard you with lots of questions. This is just an example, but there were lots of things I struggled with to keep this relationship a secret.
SR: You managed to keep it a secret?
G: Yes but we all know that nothing is hidden from Him [points the finger upwards] so no in that sense.
SR: So it became a headache, and how long did it last?
G: Nearly a year.
SR: Even though it was a headache it lasted nearly a year – why and how?
G: At the start when I got hurt by her actions, I felt it – I’m a man but honestly you do feel it and it is nothing like a wife, in that she would also interact with other guys and because it was a secret I wouldn’t be able to do anything except have a go at her. But thinking about it, it becomes logical that if she started talking to you, she can start talking to other boys as well – I wasn’t anything special. But after a while you get used to getting hurt and I think that is the biggest trap during a relationship – becoming used to being sad.
SR: So what kept you going?
G: One was the fear of being alone and the other one was the nice moments – like points where I didn’t believe in myself and she helped me believe in myself.
SR: So how did it end and more importantly who took that step?
G: I did – she broke my trust. Ending the relationship was the most difficult thing I have ever done and I think the reason why it went for so long was that I couldn’t muster the courage to end it earlier. It was really difficult because she started crying as well, saying I shouldn’t take that step. That day is still fresh in my mind.[Silence for some time]
Though this interview depicts an individual in an extra-marital relationship, it should be highlighted that Islam does not allow such relationships. The purpose of the above article is simply to demonstrate the ease with which one can slip into this trap and the problems and dangers associated with it.
The next part of the interview will explore the role that Islam played in leading him away from this difficult situation, how the student found happiness again, and the lasting impacts of his relationship.
If you have a spiritual or social issue of any kind whilst at University and require some advice, visit http://amsa.org.uk/myamsa/askaway/ and anonymously ask a question to one of our senior students or trained Imams.