As salaam alaikum,
I was talking to my friend last night, telling a little bit about my life, and I synthesized something in a way that I hadn't before.
I told her that within Islam, the three major sins as outlined in the Qur'an (as I understand them) are murder, zina, and associating partners with God.
I think some Muslims like to glaze over the fact that zina is any sex outside of marriage. This is not just your "Thou shalt not commit adultery." And it's hard to understand. We can see the gravity in killing, the gravity of associating partners with God, the latter if we are Muslims. But in having sex outside of marriage? Is sex ever as bad as killing someone?
Maybe it's Satan making evil seem fair seeming in this society. No one waits until marriage in mainstream media. Abstinence only sex ed would never work for our kids, because everything around them, including their own parents, are giving them alternative messages. Abstinence only becomes one of those "do as I say, not as I do" deals. And people see it of no consequence.
I understand it as establishing marriage as being as sacred as life, something that we shall not disrupt in our own hands.
A progressive may wonder if premarital sex disrupts marriage as much anymore that we do not have as strict cultural mores dictating marriage anymore in this country, but I think that answers its own question. It may be one of those elements that protects it more than it did even then, in the absence of those protective cultural mores of yore.
I realized how much of the way were are currently practicing Islam has to do with being super defensive against zina in a way I consider highly dysfunctional. It's not just Muslim men and women sitting on separate sides of a room during an MSA meeting. It's the way that Muslim men and women do not know each other at all in so many instances. Even if you do succeed in not committing zina and marrying, how successful is that marriage going to be if woman is alien to man, and man is alien to woman. And marriage for some is reduced to a way in which it is okay to have sex, instead of man and woman getting to live together in a complementary way that is within our natures.
And such an argument as this would get flamed anywhere among certain Muslims who would say that what I am calling for, men and women getting to know each other, will inevitably lead to zina. And therein lies the rub. Any straying from the utmost conservative gender relations will lead to zina. And yeah, maybe it could.
But I think that's where personal responsibility comes in.
As someone who has lived on the fringes of Muslim society in this country and has dated non-Muslims and has not committed zina, let me tell you...it takes some effort to have sex outside of marriage. It's fairly deliberate. If someone really wants to have sex, they will. If they don't want to, they won't.
As important as societal standards and the ummah is, baring instances of rape and assault, it all boils down to an individual Muslim's sense of responsibility. I think trying to make gender interactions in the ummah so conservative such that sex outside of marriage is impossible may make harmonious and healthy marriage more difficult.
In this day and with the diversity of our ummah, marriage is not as simple as finding an able-bodies Muslim man and a nubile Muslim woman and putting them together. We should strive for compatibility, yes, in aspirations and personality. As Muslims, our goal shouldn't be marriage with the complete avoidance of sex outside of it...it should be healthy marriage.
Yes, we were made to understand that sex outside of marriage is the greatest threat to marriage itself and a great threat to ourselves, since this was outlined as one of the major sins. But it is not the only guarantee of healthy marriage by far, and if we revere marriage enough to avoid zina so much, we should naturally be doing everything else in our power to protect marriage...
...but we're not.
Good Muslim men and women are failing to find each other. Some of us rush in without much regard for compatibility and get burned. I've seen marriages annulled for frank infidelity...people avoiding one form of zina just to fall into another. Some of us try to work within paradigms that don't make sense for where we are now. And in terms of zina, let's not ignore the so many Muslims on the fringes like me, trying to find their way, who have less defense against zina.
I struggle daily because I think a lot. Everyone else has a paradigm in which they'll find a mate and maybe, eventually get married. Others assume they'll date and leave themselves open and at some point they'll find someone that fits in their life as he fits into theirs. They'll get to know each other through sex, they'll live together, then they'll marry. Some Muslims know that their parents will help arrange a marriage for them out of those that they know, they'll marry and spend the rest of their married life getting to know their spouse.
I don't have any such paradigm other than to wait for a man to drop out of the sky and somehow fit in my life as I fit into his. And insha'Allah we'll have a healthy marriage. That's my primary concern now. I don't just want to be married. I want to have a healthy marriage in which my mate and I can grow in God consciousness, and complement each other in the key areas of aspirations, personality and beliefs that most facilitate our relationship.
And it can be no less magic than him dropping from the sky...