Marriage Tips

How to message someone you are interested in

One of the common concerns that we have received is “I send out a bunch of messages but no one responds. What am I doing wrong?!” One user told us that they have tried shortening the messages, or making them longer and including more details, but hasn’t been able to find a formula that yields consistent results. When it comes to initiating contact and messaging users on a Muslim matrimonial website such as Half Our Deen there are two points of view that need to be considered; the senders and the receivers.

For a sender the decision to contact another user is often a hard one to make. The nervous about being rejected or worse ignored! They aren’t sure if they are sharing enough about themselves or if they are making a fool out of themselves. Since writing the initial message is a hard task here are a few points to consider.

1) There is no right or wrong way to formulate a message. What matters most is that you stick to your tone of voice and try to express yourself as you normally would instead of making the tone more serious or quirky than you really are in hopes of it appealing to the receiver. If you aren’t sure about how your message reads ask a family member or friend to read it for you and get their feedback.

2) Less is often more in these situations. Just as you wouldn’t tell your full life story to someone the first time you meet them you shouldn’t do it in the first message. Getting to know someone is a gradual process and overloading them with information at one time can be off putting.

3) Be straight forward and make sure to include a question for them to respond to. If your message says “Salaam! My name is Fatima/Ahmed. I’m 27 and live in Toronto. Take care!” the receiver might not know what do with that message and disregard it. Whereas, if your message clearly says “I viewed your profile, responded to your questions, and I feel we could be a good match. Would you like to get to know each other better? “ the receiver has a clear question to respond to and knows what your stance is.

4) Be patient and don’t be disheartened if you don’t received a response right away. There are many reasons that someone may not respond and it more than likely has nothing to do with what you wrote in your message. It could be as simple as they haven’t logged onto Half Our Deen in a while.

That being said if you are on the receiving end of a message there are etiquette you should follow as well. The greatest of them being to respond! It took guts for the other person to initiate and now it is your turn to be respectful and answer them. If you aren’t interested simply say that. Contrary to what some might think ignoring a message is not letting the other person down easy. Infact it will probably hurt their feelings more than a kindly worded rejection. If the reason you haven’t responded is you find the person appealing but its not the right time for you to pursue them tell them that. Whatever your response is they want to hear it so don’t leave them hanging.

Regardless if you are the sender or the responder it important to remember that as Muslims we should treat others with kindness, respect, and as we would like to be treated.

The Power of Istikhara

One of the most powerful duaas that we have been given as Muslims is also one that we often overlook; The Duaa of Istikhara. What exactly is this duaa? It is a duaa that the prophet Muhammad (saws) gave us to use specifically when we are faced with making a decision in our life. And, while, we usually use this duaa for the really important ones like choosing which job to accept, what college to go to, or who to marry, it can be used for any choice that we are faced with. Hence The Power of Istikhara

Performing this duaa will only take five minutes of your time however the results can be profound. So how exactly should this duaa be performed?
On the authority of Jaabir Ibn ‘Abdullah he said: The Prophet (S) would instruct us to pray for guidance in all of our concerns, just as he would teach us a chapter from the Qur’an. He (S) would say ‘if any of you intends to undertake a mater then let him pray two supererogatory units (two rak’ah naafilah) of prayer and after which he should supplicate:

‘O Allaah, I seek Your counsel by Your knowledge and by Your power I seek strength and I ask You from Your immense favour, for verily You are able while I am not and verily You know while I do not and You are the Knower of the unseen. O Allaah, if You know this affair -and here he mentions his need- to be good for me in relation to my religion, my life, and end, then decree and facilitate it for me, and bless me with it, and if You know this affair to be ill for me towards my religion, my life, and end, then remove it from me and remove me from it , and decree for me what is good wherever it be and make me satisfied with such.’

Now, while using this duaa when looking to get married is meant to help us in our decision making process it does not mean that we will get a vivid dream about the person we should marry or a clear sign. Instead, by making this duaa we are acknowledging that Allah (swt) knows what is best for us, His plan will lead us to what is right for us in this life, and that with His help if this person is the one that we should marry then He will make the path to marriage easy for us. Some people may feel that they have a clear sign while others don’t. Either way your istikhara will work for you.

We must be sincere when using this duaa and not use it with the hope of a specific outcome. You may feel this person is the one for you but only Allah (swt) knows who will truly be a compatible spouse for you. So go into this process with an open heart ready to accept what Allah (swt) has planned for you. No matter how we feel Allah (swt) has a better plan and will guide you to someone who is right for you.

Common Mistakes Newlyweds Fall Into

You’ve spent months searching for your special someone. Now that you’ve finally found them you promise yourself that you will cherish the relationship and make it a priority in your life. There is no way you want to mess this up!

What we fail to realize is sometimes the mistakes we make in our relationships are not intentional; they sort of creep up on you when you are least expecting it. So what are some of these common mistakes and how can we avoid them as Newlyweds?

Taking your spouse for granted
One of the easiest mistakes to make after marriage is to take your spouse for granted. Once the excitement of the wedding and the honeymoon phase are gone the grind of of our day to day lives kick in. Each of the spouses fall into their designated roles and the wooing comes to a cease.

The remedy for this is simple—dedicate a set amount of time each week to do something special for or with your spouse. It could be a date night where you both put all other stresses behind you and focus on enjoying each others company. Or it could be that you surprise them with a trip to the spa (for the wife) or sporting event (for the husband). It could even be something as simple as leaving them a note in a place you know they will find or sending them a text message that reminds them how much you love and care for them (rather than reminding them to pick up milk on the way home!) What truly matters is that they should feel that the gesture came from the heart.

Failing to appreciate your spouse
Every person expresses love in a different way. So while you might express it through giving gifts your spouses version of expressing love may revolve around doing things for you. While another person may feel/express love through spending time with their spouse. And yet another might find it in touch and require extra hugs, cuddling, and intimate time in order to feel loved. So when two spouses feel and express love in different ways (for example: one of them constantly gives the other gifts hoping the other spouse will do the same while the other spouse is constantly freeing up time to spend with them hoping they will do the same) they may end up feeling unappreciated.

While you might not know what language of love your spouse responds to right away by observing and speaking to them about it you will be able to figure it out. Once you do make sure to appreciate and reciprocate the things they do that you know mean a lot to them.

Failing to listen and compromise
It can be a difficult transition from being the only one to make decisions for yourself to doing it as a unit. Sometimes this leads to not fully listening to your spouse. Instead of paying attention to what they truly mean it’s easy to hear what is superficially being said. In turn this can lead to a lack of compromise.

When an issue arises that you both do not agree on take the time to talk it through calmly. Figure out the points you are not willing to budge on and ask your spouse to do the same. Then, with a clear head see how both of your views can be reconciled.

Not living your own life
Just as it is important to make decisions together and consult each other in your daily lives it is also important to maintain a level of individuality. It is alright to have interests that your spouse does not partake in as long as you give them enough time as well. Being married does not mean that you have to give up every aspect of your per-marital life. In fact, it is healthy for both of you to have some time apart to participate in activities separately or to hang out with friends alone.

Cultivating Healthy Relationships–Imam Khalid Latif

Imam Khalid Latif has a reflection series being published on the Huffington Post during the month of Ramadan. Yesterday’s post [Ramadan Reflection Day 14: Marriage, Dating and Cultivating Healthy Relationships ] discussed the importance of knowing how to cultivate healthy relationships. This is one of our goals here at half our deen. Not only by providing a service that allows you to find out information about your potential spouse and get them well in an Islamic manner but also through our educational videos. In these videos Baba Ali uses his own experience in marriage as well as extensive research on the topic to help us understand the other gender a little bit better.

After you read Imam Khalid Latif’s post below be sure to share your opinions in the comments section and let us know how Half Our Deen can do an even better job in this department.

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I find myself often having a familiar conversation with many young men who are about to get married. One of the first times it happened, I was approached by a guy after I had given a lecture at an Islamic Conference in the United States. He was pretty tall and well put together, but there was a certain anxiety about him. He asked if we could speak in private and when we were out of earshot of most he said he was getting married in a few weeks and needed my help with something. I congratulated him and said I’d be happy to help out. He said his upbringing was such that he never really had a relationship with a girl before and now, with his wedding coming up, he felt like he was expected to go from having no experience in even talking to a girl to being physically intimate with one. The only thing he knew for certain was that he didn’t feel ready or comfortable and had no idea what to do about it.

Most of us find ourselves in similar situations at some point or another. Whether it’s in the context of marriage or something more simple and day-to-day, it’s really confusing for a lot of us as to how we’re supposed to interact with the opposite gender. Questions that arise don’t really ever get asked because of an absence of people to ask them of. Those that do get asked tend to not really get answered in a way that takes away confusion. If anything, it just adds more to it.

I’ve found myself asked on many different occasions by young women, “Isn’t it haraam (religiously impermissible) for boys and girls who are not mahram (individuals that one cannot marry) to talk to each other?” I respond, “Aren’t you talking to me right now?” Usually the woman will follow-up and say, “What do you mean?” To which I say, “I don’t know if you realize it, but I’m a boy.” I’ll then ask her, along with the audience what the word haraam means and more often than not, most people don’t really know, resulting a in a big mess of misunderstanding.

For many Muslims, growing up, the idea is plain and simple — you’re not supposed to interact with the opposite gender unless there is a need. Words like “professional” and “formal” get thrown around in how gender interaction “should” be, which for a 13-year-old is probably not the best word choice. After we get older, it tends to not be so plain and simple, but by that time it’s more problematic because we were never really able to normalize an understanding, and are now in a place where we don’t know things that someone should have sat down and taught us as children. This is not just from the standpoint of not doing something, but helping our young people be smart about decisions they make. Many young women that I’ve spoken to who have had pregnancy scares or young men that have developed illnesses could have been avoided if in their learning process someone spoke to them about relationships in a way that was relevant to their lives, not just with a sweeping statement of “stay away from all boys.”

“And the believers, men and women, are protecting friends one of another…..”
The Holy Qur’an (9:71)

The fundamental component of our community is the family unit, and in order for the family unit to be successful and healthy, there has to be a solid communication between the husband and wife. Expectations of what I’m looking for and what I need in a marriage aren’t ever properly understood because I haven’t really figured it out that well. Lectures and classes that I attend on marriage, gender interaction, and things as such seem to not really take into consideration the reality of my life, but the speaker or instructor continues to talk as if what they are saying is what Islam definitively says. I just end up getting more confused.

I spoke at a conference once on a marriage panel in which one of my co-panelists told that audience that in finding a potential spouse, your family will always make the best decision for you and will be able to introduce you to people, so it’s not necessary to go out and find someone yourself. As I bit my tongue and gathered myself, I was approached by a young woman afterwards who said she herself was confused by what the speaker was saying. Her issue stemmed from the fact that her family doesn’t even like her being Muslim, let alone them knowing any Muslims. So how does she deal with what this man is saying in the the context of her life?

A lot of what we understand about gender and topics relevant to it comes mostly from a male voice, whether that male voice is coming from a female or male mouth. Adding perspective in can help deepen our understandings so that we realize the impact that our conversations actually are having on people day-to-day. What we need is more people to explain at all levels of development what gender means, and along with it how gender interaction works. Conversations that help men, young and old understand the overall experience of being both male and female, and similar conversations for women of all ages. That perspective can also be broadened by having more open discussions as opposed to lectures and panels. Talk to the people in your community about what it means to them to be son or daughter, a husband or wife, a father or mother, a professional, a student, a divorcee, a widow, a survivor, a leader, and everything in between. We can learn a lot from hearing other people’s stories — it’s a learning method we don’t really use so much.

Personal development seminars that speak to the needs of a growing population looking for help in simply knowing how to talk to the opposite gender would be great. These should be lead by someone who isn’t regurgitating ideas that I heard at 15 and now at 35 don’t make sense to me. Hearing from real life experience as well as individuals that can help me develop self-esteem and confidence in myself to keep moving forward would be helpful. Most of us don’t know what a healthy relationship is supposed to look like and what processes lead to the development of one. Some of us have come from homes where we didn’t have model relationship to learn from. We saw a lot of fighting, anger and stifled communication. We didn’t see expressions of love or giving of gifts. We saw double standards for how sons were treated in comparison to daughters. We didn’t know how to separate culture from religion and vice versa. As a result, we don’t know where compromise makes sense or where we should stand firm. We don’t know what we are supposed to be looking for or how to go about finding out. Simply put, we don’t know what we’re supposed to do or what challenges to expect.

This is not an issue that simply will work itself out, it has to be worked out. Healthy relationships are key to healthy living and healthy communities. If I don’t know how to interact with the opposite gender, I’m already starting out on a shaky first step. If you are going through this, it’s not your fault. Someone should be there to sit down with you and explain to you how these things work. Hopefully as we grow and learn from each other, we will be able to figure this out as well.

Check out The Huffington Post’s Ramadan liveblog updated daily with spiritual reflections, blog posts, photos, videos, and verses from the Quran. Tell us your Ramadan story.

 

Follow Imam Khalid Latif on Twitter: www.twitter.com/KLatif

Using Half Our Deen Efficiently

One of the questions we get asked a lot is: “how can I increase my chances of finding a spouse through Half Our Deen?’ In a previous post we mentioned how creating a stellar profile will increase traffic to your profile however here are a few more tips:

1) Don’t rely only on the suggested matches and the matches emailed to you. Although these profiles are a high percentage match to yours it doesn’t mean that they are the only ones on Half Our Deen that could be compatible for you. So take the time to browse through profiles and judge for yourself who you might be interested in and who you are not.

2) Use the “I’d rather fast” button. When you come across a profile you are sure you are not interested in click the “I’d rather fast” button and it won’t be shown to you again. This way the next time you are browsing profiles you won’t waste time looking at ones you have already decided are not for you.

3) If you come across a profile that you believe you could be interested in but it does not include enough information for you to make a full decision take the time to send them a quick message and ask for more details.

4) Take the time to answer the questions that are posted on others profiles. Not only does this tell them more about you but by going through their questions and thinking about them you can learn more about the person.

5) Be patient! Although our members generally find their matches within 3-10 months for some it might take longer. Just because your perfect match isn’t on Half Our Deen today it doesn’t mean they won’t sign up tomorrow!

Being a Better You

One of the topics that comes up a lot when marriage is discussed is how it will help you be a better person. How after marriage half your deen will be completed and you will be more whole. And while this is true, to a certain extent, this improvement and development needs to begin before marriage.

The best way to find a spouse that will bring love and happiness into your life is to strive to be the best version of you or by being a better you. What is important here is that you don’t strive to be the version you think others will be most interested in. Instead, you stop trying to be something your not and focus on improving who you really are.

If there are people in your life that influence you in the wrong way or who do not bring out the good in you, now would be the time to distance yourself from them. This can be an extremely hard task however it is an important step in freeing yourself from negative influences in your past and allowing yourself to grow and mature. It is also a step in the right direction in putting yourself first and focusing on what will help you succeed.

In order to succeed in a future relationship you have to to forgive yourself for past mistakes and not be afraid to make more. No human is perfect. If you expect perfection from yourself and constantly compete with others you will never be satisfied with what you have accomplished. So let go of your ideals of perfection. Embrace the challenges that are thrown at you. Use them as learning experiences instead of potential failures.

Learn to take a break and enjoy the small moments in life. It’s amazing how much happiness you can gain by appreciating actions or experiences that may otherwise be overlooked. Society teaches us that happiness comes from materialistic things and other people, whereas the reality is if you are not happy with yourself you will not be happy with anything.

Above all else, be grateful to Allah (swt) for all the blessings in your life. Just the fact that you woke up today seeing is more than many others can say. So, stop worrying and stressing and instead put your trust in Allah (swt). And continue working on yourself until your other half comes along!

What makes a relationship successful?

Finding a compatible spouse is an important step in establishing a solid relationship but its also just the beginning. A healthy relationship is a two way street that takes a lot of dedication and hardwork but which ultimately leads to great happiness.

One of the building blocks of such a relationship is to try and live your life through the beauty of Islam. By following the Islamic teachings regarding spouses, everyone will have their rights fulfilled and be content. No one will feel under-appreciated or over-used.

Challenging and inspiring each other to be better will help the relationship develop further and will insure that you grow together rather than grow apart. Set goals that you would both like to achieve and work towards them with support and kindness.

Just as having projects and goals together is important so is having ones apart. Encourage your spouse to take up their own hobbies and to spend time with their friends and family. Not only will this give you some time apart to focus on your own interests but it will also show your spouse that you respect and care for their interests and the people they value.

Spouses can often overlook the faults of the one they love but that does not mean that you should. If there is something you know you can improve in be honest with yourself about it and work to change. Likewise, if you feel like you are starting to “let go” in aspects of your life such as taking care of your body don’t wait till the problem gets worse as it will be harder to fix.

Allah (swt) created you as unique individuals with differing points of view and modes of thinking so respect each others differences. As long as neither of you step out of line a disagreement can be healthy for the relationship. It shows that you trust each other enough to be yourself and to share your true opinions. If after hearing your spouse out you still do not agree with their point of view on the matter that’s fine! But if you realize that you might be at fault be humble and admit it.

Take the time to surprise your spouse. It can be something as simple as taking the afternoon off to spend with them or it can be over the top romantic and cliched. Regardless of what you do they will appreciate the time and effort you spent on just them.

Our spouses are half our deen and are means for our entrance in Jannah, so let’s take the time to appreciate them. By working on our relationships not only are we making our lives now more enjoyable but we are also gathering good deeds to make our lives in the hereafter even greater. And that what makes a relationship successful.

Let’s get real

Their eyes meet from across the crowded park. He is taken aback by her beauty. Her face glows like a full moon and he can’t seem to divert his eyes from her as her purple hijab flutters softly in the wind. She is mesmerized by the honesty and sincerity that eludes from him. She can sense that he will never hurt her. They just know that a life together will be full of happiness and tranquillity. It will be chock-full of romantic walks to the beach, date nights at a new restaurant every week, two amazing children that will grow up to memorize the Quran and be the apple of their eyes. And, let’s not forget that gorgeous house they will own together—every piece of furniture hand made by him and every room tastefully designed by her.

If the paragraph above seems like it belongs in a cheesy late night movie that’s because it’s exactly what inspired it. Sadly, these same movies are what we use to gauge our relationships by and aspire to. They shape our ideal match for us and ingrain us with wants of perfection that would not only make our lives dull and boring but are impossible to attain.

That’s not to say that love and happiness are not attainable in a marriage. Not at all. In fact, every strong marriage will be built on love and lead to happiness. However, love is not the only building block that is involved. Along with it there is trust, honesty, good communication, patience, compromise, loyalty, and most importantly compatibility. So, sorry to say, but love does not conquer all.

The other main issue with these fantasy portrayals of spouses and marriage is that it skews our perception of who is right for us. It romanticizes the qualities they feel should be important to us in a mate to the point that we sometimes lose sight of who we really need. Allah (swt) created each of us unique with our own likes and dislikes so how is it possible that only one prototype of a spouse would fit all?

When it comes to finding our other half what matters most is what qualities in a spouse will bring out the best in us. How will their personality, likes, dislikes, hobbies, and manners affect us. So let’s take a moment and write down a realistic characterization of who our ideal spouse is and kick the h(b)ollywood portrayals of perfection to the curb!

The Problem with Parents

Parents and children clashing is not something new. Even if both were raised in the same country, with the same values, and the same way of life just being from two different generations causes them to view the world differently. When you add to the generation difference that a large number of Muslim parents are immigrants it makes the differences in life views all the greater. It comes at no surprise then that the topic of marriage is often a heated debate between children and parents in Muslim households.

The most common issue that arises is when parents and their children have opposing views on who a suitable spouse is. Often times the parents have a hard time letting go of their cultural preferences and view it as their right/job to choose a spouse for their offspring. Whereas, the son/daughter feels that they know who will be most compatible for them and feel that it is their choice to choose who they would like to spend the rest of their life with.

When going through these issues with parents, especially when it involves a religious son/daughter vs. a more cultural parent, is important to keep a couple of things in mind.

1) Our parents have immense amount of rights upon us. So even when we disagree with them and oppose them we must do so with good manners and respect.
2) Don’t be completely closed off to your parents input. It’s easy to drown out everything they have to say when you feel you are on opposite sides. Instead, listen to what they are saying and try to reach a middle ground.
3) Giving in to their demands is not a solution either. In Islam you have the right to choose your spouse. If your parents are not willing to listen to you then try approaching someone they respect to speak to them on your behalf.
4) Don’t forget the power of duaa. When it comes to finding your other half and getting your family to accept them, duaa can go a long way.

So, while it is true that we have a right to choose a spouse based on our personal preferences and specifications we should also respect our parents’ input as they have more experience in life than us. They also have rights upon us and deserve our respect and honor even if we disagree with them. At the end of the day, a parent just wants their child to be happy and while they may remain stubborn on their opinion and oppose yours they will eventually come around to accepting your stance on the matter.

Enhancing your Half Our Deen profile

What makes Half Our Deen special is that it does not utilize the typical, cookie cutter, approach that other Muslim matrimonial websites do. Instead of a typical profile that only lists superficial information the aim at Half Our Deen is to provide real insight into the individual and not just how tall they are. Becasue of that it is important that you take your time to fill out your profile, honestly and thoughtfully, just as you’d hope everyone else would.

Here are a few things to consider when doing so:

Picture
Choosing to post up a picture is a big deal for some people. It takes away the anonymity. At the same time, as humans we are visual beings so having a picture up would mean increased traffic to your profile. If you do choose to post up your photo post a photo of yourself as you would look on a typical day. Ovoid using pictures that seem staged, over dressed, or overdone.

About Me/Who I’m Looking For

These two sections are extremely important as they are you chance to express (in your words) who you are and who you are looking for. It is important that you know the answer to these questions before you write up your response. Be honest, explain yourself well, but try to keep the post brief and to the point. Think about what you would like to know about others through their profiles and include that information on yours. This is the chance you have to show off your amazing personality so make sure that it shows in what you write instead of coming off as a typical/generic response.

Questions That Matter

Posting up questions that matter to you give the other person even more insight into who you are. It also allows you to screen out potential matches based on their responses to your questions. Take some time to think about the questions you want to ask. If you’re not sure what to ask you can browse the 100 already written questions on Half Our Deen and add any of them to your profile. Keep in mind though, if you add too many questions it may deter others from answering them.

 

Compatibility Tests

Answering the survey questions not only helps others get to know you but may also teach you something about yourself. There are no right or wrong answers when it comes to these tests. They are simply a way for you to describe who you are and help match you with others who share the same thoughts and values.

It is our hope, InshaAllah, that by utilizing all of the profile features on Half Our Deen not only will you find a match in a timely manner but that you will both prosper together for years to come!