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. This is the second part of the interview with a student on the topic of relationships.
The following interview, a continuation of Part 1 (which can be found here) 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. In part 1 the student describes unwittingly getting involved in a relationship, which, despite the initial lure, ultimately caused him to feel sad and anxious. Part 1 ended with the student describing the day when he finally ended the relationship.
SR: So just to set the scene, your relationship has just ended. What happens next?
G: Yeah well that was a difficult time because on one hand I saw everything from a better perspective and I could see all the things I had done that were wrong but on the other side I couldn’t just forget my past.
SR: So what kind of feelings did you exactly have?
G: Loneliness was by far the worst one… Now it might seem to you that I could have stayed with my friends and kept myself busy, but it doesn’t matter how busy you would make yourself during the day, since at night I would always still lay there thinking about what had happened.
SR: So loneliness was one what other emotions did you feel?
G: Lots of emotions that as a man I would never admit to. Thinking back now, guilt was another emotion that I felt at that moment. Knowing that what I done was wrong made me hate my decisions. I didn’t like the fact that I couldn’t not do anything about it – nothing.
SR: You look to be in a really difficult mental state did you talk to anyone about it?
G: [smiled] Saying what? I’m feeling lonely… No I would have never done that. I would have rather stayed in that position than have spoken to someone about it. I wouldn’t have been able say what I was truly feeling and the reasons for those feelings.
SR: What kind of effects did these changes have on everything around you?
G: Well it became obvious that something had happened. I liked being alone, my hobbies changed and my life was a lot darker. I would be able to finish a lot more work because I spent a lot of my time at home. I used to be lost at times. Basically lots of negative effects and feelings were present within me.
SR: So what next, how did your feelings improve?
G: I forgot to mention one thing. I don’t know if anyone else felt like it but I took the path of loneliness after the end of the relationship. The other potential path I could have taken was to replace the girl I had lost with another girl. In the short term that would have been a lot easier. It would have made me more popular and so was a temptation. However I knew that in fact this would have ultimately been worse for me.
SR: That’s interesting so why did you refuse to go that way?
G: I didn’t want to go through the same thing again. I knew that it was really not worth it.
SR: Coming back to the question what happened next?
G: Now this is where I found Islam. The guilt I was talking about made me ask or beg (whatever you would like to call it) for forgiveness. I knew that the acts I had taken were wrong and I needed God to help me and forgive me.
SR: So it was the guilt which got you closer to Islam?
G: No it was Taqwa. No, the guilt I felt made me realise that something had to change in my life. What got me close to Islam was my desire to become righteous, and at peace.
SR: So describe what happened next and how your emotions changed?
G: It started with going to mosque more and reading more about Islam, since I had so much time to spare whilst being at home. That was the first time I had ever spent effort learning about my religion. It was a different experience and I found answers to a lot of questions. I’ll be honest spending time on Islam made me a better human being. It helped me understand who I really was and the ways in which I should strive to act, but it didn’t initially fully heal my wound of loneliness.
SR: Ok, so you started coming closer to Islam – so what kind of impact did that have on your life?
G: A positive impact for sure. I started feeling less guilty because I knew that I was taking the right steps which needed to be taken. I started spending more time with my parents and stopped a lot of bad habits of mine, but it is just mind-blowing how Allah helped me. It just shows how forgiving Allah is. I have felt the satisfaction of praying, something which fills you with more contentment and peace than fulfilling physical desires. Do you remember you asked me who did I talk to about my problems? Until this date I have only spoken to Allah about the problem and He has replied. I have felt the answers deep in my heart, he helped me back up when I had fallen into a deep pit, and I can guarantee you if I hadn’t started spending more time on my religion I would have never been able to talk about my past, and would still be in a state of loneliness and despair.
SR: Are you happy with where you are now?
G: No I have not been happy from the bottom of my heart. Still I feel that there is always that little bit of emptiness.
SR: Keeping that in mind would you say that Islam has truly helped you heal, because you say that you still aren’t completely happy?
G: Yes, Islam has definitely healed me, because I know why I’m not fully happy. The reason is that the process is long, and I need to continue to work to get truly close to God. In a way it is a blessing that I am still not completely happy, because imagine that I became fully happy – it may make me move away from my religion again. The fact that I’m still not fully happy and at night still feel loneliness is there as a reminder to me not to make those same mistakes again. Other than that I’m so happy, especially that I can give this interview and do something positive with my experience.
SR: Thank you for your time, and I’m delighted to see you being on the right path after all the struggle. One last question – how would you sum up your experience, and if the person you are today had met the boy who you were just before going into the relationship, what would you have said?
G: You asked 2 questions! Anyway answering your second question first I would essentially tell him “Is it worth it?” Going against the teaching of Islam, lying to parents, having less time for friends, less time for football and bearing in mind that you will have to answer questions if you get caught. In fact it is even worse if you don’t get caught because you’ll then have wait till the Day of Judgment, and surely the punishment on that day would have been more severe. To sum up, I am glad that I stopped the relationship before it destroyed me completely, but I deeply regret having gone into it in the first place.
SR: Thank you again for speaking so openly about your previous problems. I hope it can serve as an interesting read, and a lesson for others.
Part 3 of this First World Problems series on relationships will give a more direct and factual response as to what the Islamic viewpoint is on this topic.
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.