I saw this essay posted on The Nomad Universe yesterday. It has been bugging me ever since. From my western feminist position I find it both infuriating and heartbreaking.

A Broken Heart: An Avoidable Fate
By: Sister Yasmin Mogahed

“You bury your treasure where it can’t be found, but your love is like a secret that’s been passed around”

These words are from an old poem. But the story they tell is a common one.

We all wanted it: the story book love. So we let Hollywood/Bollywood define it. And we chased it. As Muslims, we don’t date. We may even be too young to get married. But still we can’t help but seek the fairytale. So, we set out to create it.

It starts with an instant messenger or email. At first, we convince ourselves of the myth of guy/girl “friendships.” But before long, we’ve created an emotional relationship with someone who is not, and who most likely will never be our spouse.

Even if our intentions are sincerely for marriage, our actions are naive and un-Islamic. The relationship is often kept secret from our families and has little hope of materializing into marriage. Without the knowledge-let alone the consent-of our parents, we act as if we have chosen our spouse. Then we create an emotional bond that should only be created after marriage. When our parents do get involved, more often than not, they do not consent to the marriage.

At that point we must choose. Some of us will choose to disregard the wishes of our families and proceed with the marriage anyway. Unless our parents seek something that would displease Allah, disobeying this is a recipe for disaster.

The Quran say: “We have enjoined on man kindness to parents: but if they (either of them) strive (to force) thee to join with me (in worship) anything of which thou hast no knowledge, obey them not. Ye have (all) to return to me, and I will tell you (the truth) of all that ye did.” [29:8].

In most cases, however, illusionary love drives us to turn our backs on what’s real: the love and care of our families. For a bond of a couple months, we destroy a bond of a lifetime. It may turn out well in the movie-even the little mermaid was rewarded for her disloyalty to her father. But in real life, most who choose this route someday come to regret it.

Others at this crossroads will choose to respect their parent’s wishes and will end the relationship. For those, the damage is less, but still substantial. These people placed all their eggs in one basket, and later wonder why they fell. At best, this is foolish.

But this foolishness has a price. After becoming emotionally tied to someone, we realize we cannot marry them. We return home. But we return broken, filled with emotional scars and psychological baggage. Then when we do get married, we present our spouse a half-eaten heart we had given to another.

Both these choices are ones we shouldn’t have to make. To keep from getting wet, all we have to do is stay clear of water. Allah tells us not only to avoid haram, but also anything that may lead to haram. Much of Islamic law is based on the principle that prevention is better than cure. Rather than curing our hearts, we should protect it.

I have a problem with the premise that making an emotional bond with someone other than your intended spouse damages your future marriage. They aren’t even talking about romantic relationships here. Friendships are impossible too. How restricting this must be.

I find it even more sad that the writer is a woman. When I saw the title I thought this was going to be an essay written a century ago that I could dismiss as archaic. Unfortunately it is current.