Separation is an Illusion of Reality

When Muhammad, peace be upon him, received his first revelation from the Archangel Gabriel, he was terrified and stormed out of Cave Hira. Wherever he looked, he would see Gabriel and his beautiful massive wingspan stretching to infinite horizons. As Muhammad raced through the streets of Mecca, frightening thoughts of being possessed filled his mind. What did this mystical experience mean? Where would he go? Who would he turn to? Who would comfort his fears? It was his beloved wife, Khadijah – may Allah be pleased with her – who brought ease to the new and last Prophet of God. She was more than a wife in the eyes of Muhammad, she was his Soul Mate, his Friend, and a Beautiful Sign from his Lord. Many Orthodox teachings fail to inform Muslims about how much of an important role Khadijah played in the Prophet’s life. If we Muslims are to believe that God is Perfect and that everything happens for a reason, then we must also emphasize on the significant placement of all things in the Universe. For example (as meaningless as it may sound), a tree that may be in your backyard exists for a specific reason and purpose, and the same applies to the moon or a distant planet that we may have no knowledge of. When we consider the presence of Khadijah in Muhammad’s life, we see a comforter, a healer, and a voice of Truth. She stood by her husband and never ceased to support him in his mission to teach the message of Islam. Many people say that God will always be there for people — this is indeed True since God is Omni-Present — but we must also acknowledge that our friends, family, and other people around us are there because God created them to be there for us. Without Khadija’s Love, it is very difficult to see Muhammad developing the courage and strength he needed to reveal God’s Message to Mecca.

And how unfortunate is it that Muslims today know about Muhammad and Khadija, and yet they still don’t believe True Love exists. We still separate ourselves from one another based upon nationality, ethnicity, race, age, and even gender. How often do we hear about gender wars and how men are superior to women, or how women don’t need men? I remember I was in the bookstore once, and my eye happened to catch a book titled “Are Men Necessary?” and apparently, there are many Muslim feminists who share the belief that men are not necessary. My immediate reaction was: “Is this kind of thinking really necessary?” If we say that men are not necessary – no matter in what sense we say it – then are we suggesting that men serve no purpose at all in a woman’s life? At the same time, we see men treating their women like sexual possessions in extreme Muslim countries like Saudi Arabia, and the fathers would rather marry off their daughters than see them graduate college with a degree or pursue an independent career. I know I only highlighted a brief portion of Muhammad and Khadijah’s relationship, but take a moment to reflect upon it now and consider the gender war that is so prevalent in today’s world. Why do we separate from each other when there is so much beauty that awaits to be experienced? Why has it become such a regressive thing to believe that men and women need each other? Are we trying to be tougher and more independent, while sacrificing companionship and community? Or are we conforming to the norms and expectations that have been set by our societies?

The Qur’an constantly encourages us to reflect and to immerse ourselves with the Beautiful Truths that it teaches. As described in Surah An-Nisa (Chapter of Women):

“Oh humankind, revere your Guardian Lord, the One who created you from one being, created of like nature, its mate and then spread from the two many men and women. You shall regard God, by whom you swear, and regard the parents. God is watching over you.” (4:1)

Of course men and women have their physiological and psychological differences, but it should not divide them in the sense that one gender is superior to the other. Differences should be celebrated. Imagine how beautiful a marriage would flourish if men and women saw one another as Beings and Friends. Instead, we see many extremist interpretations of the Qur’an and teachings where getting married sounds like a business transaction or a contract. It should be understood that every marriage is bound to have problems, but it doesn’t mean that these problems are unsolvable. As the verse states above, God created us all from a single being. We all have an outer appearance, but consider for a moment: Who is the voice speaking when you talk? Who is controlling your body? Who is the one that lives inside? Who is the Soul? This “who” is essentially the Being that God created. That is who we are. We are not the “male/female” of separation, but the “male/female” of unity.

Jalaluddin Rumi, the great 13th Century Islamic mystic and poet once wrote: “Your task is not to seek for Love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” I believe that when we are able to destroy these barriers, which may be feelings of aversion, separation, guilt, self-doubt, lack of confidence, or even fear, we are bound to find the doorways that are open to us. Like Khadija’s Love for Muhammad, we may also realize the beautiful significance that exists in the presence of the ones we Love. We can choose to follow these dreams, or we can choose to live the illusion of separation, where beings are divided and distanced from beauty for superficial reasons. Fairy tales and romance novels exist because writers express how the world and/or Love should be. The more we say that True Love is just “make believe”, the further away we get from finding what our hearts desire.

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9 Comments

  1. Sobia said,

    February 19, 2008 at 10:57 pm

    There are so many lessons which can be learned from the relationship of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and Hazrat Khadijah (mAbpwh), but that the majority of Muslims do not learn. First, the fact that Khadijah was a working, business woman. This shows that women are fully capable of being functioning members of society, and not too stupid to understand how the world works. Second, Khadijah was older than the Prophet and she was the one who proposed to him. This demonstrates a woman’s agency and her right to decide. Third, as your entry shows, that wives are there most importantly for support to men (as are men to women) who also need support. Wives are not to cooks, cleaners and babysitters. Unfortunately, this is the way women in Muslim countries are usually treated.

    Additionally, perhaps not specific to this relationship, but the Prophet did also participate in his home, helping with the ‘women’s work.’ But no one seems to mention that either…lol.

    Good post. :)

  2. February 20, 2008 at 3:18 am

    Greetings Sobia,

    Thanks for reading and sharing more information about Muhammad, peace be upon him, and hazrat Khadijah, peace be upon her. You bring up an excellent point about Khadijah being a capable working woman and how she proposed to Muhammad. This speaks against the common stereotype that non-Muslims (and extremist Muslims) have about Muslim women. I feel these are far more important issues to discuss in Mosques instead of ordering people to pray on time.

    I like fact that the Prophet did house work too. Another beautiful example of equality and sharing :)

  3. Sobia said,

    February 20, 2008 at 4:19 am

    Yes. I grew up in a small town where we didn’t have an imam persay. So the men in the community would rotate the khutbahs. I remember the one where one of my father’s friends gave a khutbah on men doing housework and how the Prophet did. It was actually quite funny because he jokingly apologized to the men in the audience for bringing it up. But the women were definitely glad to hear it. :)

  4. Aafke said,

    February 20, 2008 at 8:04 pm

    I’ve also read that the prophet would share in chores! All men all over the world should take that to heart!
    I think that the problem today (and for many days in the past) is, that people dont read the original writings, but the ”explanations” scholars write.

    I love this quote: “Your task is not to seek for Love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”
    That is só true, I see it in myself. Thank you for this enlightening post.

  5. Shawna said,

    February 20, 2008 at 8:40 pm

    Salaam and first of all, thank you so much for submitting your essay and adding links to my blog. I will link to this blog as soon as I get that working on my page, not as a return favor but because I am very touched by your posts. I’ve been searching for ways to be touched spiritually since the birth of my son (now two). His entrance into my life was the greatest miracle I have experienced and the other bits of life seem to pale in comparison, though seeing life through his very new eyes is certainly spiritually uplifting. :) Now with a new one on the way, I think a lot about what I want to teach my children as they grow inshaAllah.

    I’m a stay at home mom by choice. I’m a writer, so this works out well, but I also want to homeschool. These are goals my husband shares and works hard to provide for us so we can entertain these possibilities. We have a very equitable marriage, and I often wish I could express why to other Muslims (even family members) that I see in gender-disparaging situations.

    This post is elegant and useful. I wish more people could express these ideas coming from a place of love rather than a place of barely-bridled anger. Please do keep it up. I look forward to reading more of your work and being moved in the future.

    Best,

    Shawna

  6. February 21, 2008 at 7:36 am

    You are very correct about the prophet (pbuh) and his wife. These days Islam is presented in a very boring manner, as something which has nothing to do with love but this is not correct. The story of the prophet (pbuh) and Khadijah (ra) should be a source of inspiration for Muslims and a proof that true love exists. Jazakallah for posting.

  7. seekingnoor said,

    February 24, 2008 at 10:23 pm

    Lovely post! I am learning so much from your posts….the story of the Prophet (pbuh) and Khadijah was such an example of true love, sharing and loving each other, supporting each other – which is the way all marriages should be. I also love the fact that she was older then he was – which also goes to show that age, race, culture, looks, nothing matters except how your hearts speak to each other.

  8. brokenmystic said,

    February 25, 2008 at 12:31 am

    Thanks seekingnoor! Beautifully said!

    The union of Muhammad and Khadija (peace be upon them) is a shining model of how Love is about the connection between Souls, mindfulness of God, and beyond simple differences that we may have.

  9. respectfordifferences said,

    October 30, 2008 at 6:24 pm

    I am not of the Muslim faith but my first lesson about Islam, as part of my social studies at school in Africa, was that of the Prophet and his wife. And fortunately for me it was presented as Sobia tells it. It left a big impression on me mostly because I learned that no matter the differences in religion we were all the same when it came to the core issues like marital relationships. I’ve been fortunate to meet many of the Muslim faith who have this similar respect for their spouses and it makes me less stereotypical and judgmental when I see those who treat them as less. I pity them just like I pity those who use all sorts of misinterpretations about life to undermine others. And as to the issue of who needs who with regard to men and women, Broken mystic is right. Do we even need to discuss it? It looks pretty obvious. We have bigger problems in the world to deal with than that.


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