For many young Muslims looking to get married, the knowledge that “marriage is half their deen*” is a belief that expectantly propels them forward with their mission. What that hadith (prophetic saying) means is that marriage helps a Muslim to be emotionally stable and satisfies a myriad of needs within a legitimate structure. Therefore, a Muslim is removed from other potentially immoral distractions in life. Indeed, marriage is a noble aspiration and a decision which should not be taken lightly. No doubt, in normal situations it brings happiness and security in its many forms to both husband and wife.
I have had the fortune of knowing the security and happiness that a marriage can bring, Alhamdulillah. Although that experience was abruptly terminated for reasons I still can’t quite understand, I do know that half my deen ≠ half my faith. Even on my own, I continue to strive to bring together complex and composite parts to make me a wonderfully complete whole. As much as I lament my loss, I look in hope to the future.
Over time, I have been putting my life back together in small but positive steps. I have read a plethora of material (to rebuild myself) across broad subjects such as narcissism, healing, personal development, mental health and, most importantly to me, maintaining faith in crises.
Amongst that reading, I have often stumbled across some more tangential material as often usually happens when one is digging deep for answers. This included an article on Kintsugi (golden joinery) – a sedulous and traditional Japanese art that uses a lacquer typically dusted with golden powder to mend broken pieces of pottery. Once restored, the item not only assumes its glorious past but essentially becomes stronger. It is perfection in the imperfection. Kintsugi is the epitome of resilience and reclaimed beauty. The idea that something should not be discarded simply because it is broken, resonated with me deeply. My experiences, negative and positive, had been for a purpose after all. I knew I was going to emerge as a better version of my ‘yester-self’. I am a work of Kintsugi.
“Nobody has ever died of a divorce”.
Interesting thought. As with Kintsugi, I don’t recall where I read that sentence but serendipity had struck again. I pondered on the above line for a long while and thought, “How crazily true!” For sure, divorce causes chaos and grief in many lives but accepting that no ex-husband is worth dying for, unequivocally jolted me out of my emotional coma.
And so all these chance encounters, of quotes, of art forms, of random conversations, of subjects seemingly unrelated, may seem accidental but I believe they were anything but that. I mean, why had I never heard of Kintsugi before? But I already knew the answer – Allah was choosing His means of gradually guiding me back to a place of contentment. Loose strands were slowly weaving together to become one solid rope of hope.
I was beginning my climb.
From that base level of contentment, I have been on a mission to push myself out of my comfort zone and explore my own hidden strengths. Those strengths may not seem extraordinary but given the lugubrious apathy I had been suffering lately, it was no easy feat to get going.
One such memorable example is a trip to the Peak District in August 2019. Having hired a 9-seater van and planned an itinerary, I took a large group – my four boys and five of their cousins – on a self-catering holiday to one of England’s most beautifully scenic locations. We set off in two vehicles onto new adventures. Being in the company of mostly teenagers, I had slight hesitations about how things would play out especially with ten different personalities. Would there be silly conflicts or immutable differences? Would we return miserable rueing the day we ever thought of such an audacious idea? As the sole mature adult, I also secretly wondered how I would cope in the absence of a confidante to share the task of shepherding that group. However, I never needed it. The holiday was a resounding success so much so that we have already planned to go away together again!
The success of our trip wasn’t attributable to the wonderful sights and sounds per se. It was also largely because the ten of us brought the best of ourselves to that time and space and effortlessly made it work. In the time we shared together, I realised I was functioning just fine as the head of this motley crew. They reciprocated wonderfully by allowing me inclusivity into their worlds so much so there were many times I forgot my parental status amongst them. No boundaries were crossed and yet the fraternal fluidity amongst us was seamlessly present.
deen* – a way of life for Muslims which encompasses religious law, character and beliefs