So what is this paradigm that is the topic of the last few entries? It's a paradigm that's shifted, to be sure, and a paradigm that is constantly in flux. It is the halal courtship paradigm that I seek for myself.
It is more than a "dating" paradigm. It is the paradigm with which I will seek out and get to know a man who I will at some point in the future marry and share my life and my family's life with, who will father our children and with whom I will share myself. Regardless of religious affiliation or lack thereof, this is a major spiritual undertaking and should not be taken lightly.
I discovered that, over time, I'd been fighting against my own self and my own nature in favor of what I thought was Islamically correct when no one in fact told me this to be true. I had no conversation with any given scholar or imam or sheik or anything. I just read, I read texts, I read the Qur'an, I read blogs, I listened to talks, and I guess I came up with the conclusion that I shouldn't pay attention to who I'm physically attracted to. I should consider those for the content of their character and their devotion to the deen. Essentially, even if he is not that attractive to me, I should choose a man who is pious, because, as it says in the Qur'an:
"...it may well be that you hate a thing the while it is good for you, and it may well be that you love a thing the while it is bad for you: and God knows, whereas you do not know." (2:216)
Or, more specifically, just a little ways down:
"AND DO NOT marry women who ascribe divinity to aught beside God ere they attain to [true] belief: for any believing bondwoman [of God] is certainly better than a woman who ascribes divinity to aught beside God, even though she please you greatly. And do not give your women in marriage to men who ascribe divinity to aught beside God ere they attain to [true] belief: for- any believing bondman [of God] is certainly better than a man who ascribes divinity to aught beside God, even though he please you greatly. [Such as] these invite unto the fire, whereas God invites unto paradise, and unto [the achievement of] forgiveness by His leave; and He makes clear His messages unto mankind, so that they might bear them in mind." (2:221)
I hold all of these to be true. But it never said in the Qur'an or in the Sunnah that one should avoid anyone who they are actually attracted to. Alhamdulillah, the world is wide and people are many. The 7 billionth baby was born. Marriage is our duty but it's also something that many of us desire to do, as companionship is something we desire to have, and at the base of things, so is sex. And why on earth would we marry someone who we are not attracted to in any way when God created attraction to facilitate our relationships?
So all of this to say...I realize that my finding a mate will be a more organic process than I previously thought. It will make sense. Someone will be spiritually in line with me and want the same thing I want, marriage. I won't have to work in someone else's paradigm and force things to go my way...it will be what we both want, the way we both want it, insha'Allah. Nothing else will work.
The key is to be myself, where I am spiritually and in terms of my iman and practice. I will be truthful about myself, all of the things that made me and all of the things I want to be, spiritually and in terms of my iman and practice. And the man who accepts and fits will be it. And there's nothing I can do to find him other than to be myself in the world I live in, and pray, because God always answers.