Sorry girls, but it’s rare to find any Muslim guys as ‘Bishonen’ as these
Never one to mince words or pass up a controversial rant, staff writer ‘Free Lover’ here seems to argue that Muslim boy/girl relationships in Universities are dysfunctional and dishonest. He starts by making the observation that many Muslim men of college and university age engage in excessive…Uh…’Bromance’ instead of ‘normal’ courtship with girls. But then he goes in an unexpected direction…Bound to incite comment!
We have all seen the movies: American ‘freshmen’ enter the maelstrom of what we call in England ‘Freshers week’ – beer kegs, house parties, experimental sex, a loss of inhibitions +/- girls ‘grinding’ on one another (in various states of undress. Or should that be ‘twerking’ now?). Hilarity ensues, sexual milestones are crossed, friends are made for life and usually ‘love’ and a gay BFF somehow emerge.
Of course, these cinematic accounts of usually poor quality, often in the ‘American Pie’ mould, are of questionable accuracy and can also be expected to be culturally specific (if you told anyone in the UK that you belonged to the ‘Pi Delta Gamma’ Sorority they would likely have you sectioned). However, anyone who has actually been to university in the UK (or any western country for that matter) knows that the alcohol and sex often do flow like…well, like wine. Like Vegas though, you kind of have to have been there or go there to know. And usually people are not keen to dwell on these things once they enter ‘proper adulthood’ (even our beloved British institution of getting ‘bladdered’ on the weekend is anthropologically quite distinct from ‘Freshers Week’ or ‘Friday Night At The Students Union’).
But while many young British men are getting lots out of university in terms of the permissive social aspects and the chance to get potentially unlimited exposure to the opposite sex, have you ever wondered what young Muslim men are doing at university in the meantime?
After all, let’s be honest, we Muslims disapprove of pre-marital sex, smoking ‘the Herb’ and getting ‘plastered’. But at the same time, this is an integral and even expected part of university life (University=uniformity – and there’s a reason lectures usually don’t start at nine and they don’t take attendance – in short, they are expecting and encouraging you to follow a more permissive and unstructured path than school. And what will you fill all those late nights and free time with children?).
Of course, there are many Muslims who do exactly the same as the wider community and there are many in the wider community who do not engage in the antics one expects of university life. But I am talking here about the ‘practising’ brothers (more on what this means later).
So what are Muslim men up to in lieu of the above? Well they are…
Falling In Bruv
Many people come to university practising or begin to practice at some time in university – almost always through involvement with Islamic Students organisations.
Like many ‘special interest groups’ from Evangelical Christians to Manga Fans or aficionados of French Cinema, Muslims will seek out or be sought out (often very aggressively) by the Islamic Society or ‘the Brothers’. This is the first stage of ‘falling in bruv’: ‘Salaams Bruv, you’re Muslim right? Bro you know we have to stick together. This is one seriously haraam environment. The fitnah is running wild. We need to take care of ourselves. We are an Ummah…[insert more emotional argumentation and fearmongering about the dangers of the ‘non-ummah’ here].’
Often the brothers, whether living at home or having moved out for the first time in their lives will seek the comfort of familiar cultural and religious people for things like the fear of living alone to getting halal food. Also, like in every community, the senior individuals who have been at the institution for longer will be able to offer everything from advice on accommodation to notes for the course and old exam papers: ‘We need to stick together cos of the kuffar. Have you sorted out your accommodation yet? There are some practising brothers who need a flatmate…’. Before you know it…
I Can’t Help Falling In Bruv
You have skipped most of the freshers fair, maybe not even joined the club or society for your own course – but you know all the brothers in ISOC and where the prayer room is and where to meet for Jummah. You may even have access to the ‘halal freezer’ where everyone stashes their curries and foodstuffs from home. You didn’t really get to (or want to) check out Filmsoc with it’s free weekly screenings, the Debating Society, the Overseas Volunteer Club, the anti-capitalist crew, the comic books guys, the student counselling service (you won’t need that, you’ve got the brothers!), Gymnastics Soc, The Chinese Friendship Society, The Giant Robot enthusiasts, RocketSoc…but hell, who cares, you aren’t at university to mix with those kuffar freaks! You’re here to get an education – and as for everything else, well, your ‘bruvs’ will hook you up: your social needs are taken care of, in a halal way (after all, all of those societies are just excuses to get drunk and laid with ‘chicks’ really aren’t they?).
Yeah, I mean maybe it would be good to make connections for future life and job prospects or just to know more about the wider society or university subculture you are in…heck, maybe a free film once a week is a good idea? But no, stop it – you could be led into ‘fitna’.
In fact, you did not even consider the other Islamic oriented societies like ‘Sufisoc’ or ‘Islamic Art’ cos you know, the ummah is one so the ISOC should be one. Besides, your brothers told you that those guys are doing ‘bidat’.
Anyway, you want to be around like minded Muslim brothers who ‘love one another for the sake of Allah’. And in the back of your mind you think, not that you are after this of course, not a good boy like you, but if there were some ‘good sisters’, well they would be in ISOC. In fact, the brothers always talk about the need to lower ones gaze and marry young. You of course don’t want anything to do with those ‘girls gone wild’ types on campus. But a good sister, who frequents ISOC, well…perhaps the brothers would even ‘hook a brother up’? Not that you are looking or thinking of that of course! You have to perfect your deen, get a job, work on your Imam, respect your families wishes [insert BS reason for not having a girl HERE].
With your social network made up almost entirely of Muslim brothers, some who you look up to and admire (his beard is so lustrous, how does he get it like that?! That brother is so knowledgeable about Islam – and he always steps in if there is any improper mixing going on! I wish I could recite like that guy! Give khutbas like that Salafi brother!) and before you know it you are happy to declare:
‘I Bruv You Man’
You know, ISOC and the brothers keep you real busy! Pretty soon you aren’t even a little bit envious of those guys going around getting ‘bladdered’ and pulling foreign students (from some one-hundred and fifty different countries no less!). When you’re not in the Prayer room, you’re ‘hanging with the brothers’ having a halal good time. You may even do some not strictly ‘permissible’ activities such as going to bowling or the cinema. Often, whatever the leanings of your groups, you are out recruiting new people to ISOC, organising talks, going and doing Tablighi Jamaat, reading ‘authentic books’, and generally loving each others company and laughing about how dumb these stupid kuffar are getting drunk and shagging their way through university. I mean these idiots do not even know the harms of alcohol or pre-marital sex! Fools. You thank Allah each day for saving you from such a fate.
Despite working hard at helping with events, you notice that the one or two ‘senior brothers’ or the ’emir of ISOC’ are usually the only ones to liaise with the sisters. Rightly so of course. Even when you do (rarely) run into one of the girls going into the prayer room for example, you immediately lower your gaze and neither of you says salaam. It does feel a bit strange though, you know, since both you and the sisters go to mixed lectures and often say hello to the non-Muslim boys and girls and lecturers. In fact, a lot of the sisters are very friendly with them. But with each other, well, it’s just not allowed. ‘Fitna’ might happen. Still…but you tell yourself it’s just the ‘waswassa’ of Shaytaan, like the Deobandi/Salafi brothers told you (they are so knowledgeable! If only you had studied as hard and as well as them, and had their authentic Islamic background! Then you would have the self control to ‘meet with the sisters’. Only to discuss ISOC business of course).
Bruv Makes The World Go Round
Before you know it, the year has nearly ended, exams are here. You have missed a lot of classes because you were ‘doing stuff for the brothers’ – but you don’t mind, because the older brothers have ‘got your back’ with old exam papers and notes. Still, you get a niggling feeling that you are neglecting many of the diverse educational opportunities that university has to offer – after all, you could be going to any lecture in any subject, let alone your own. Also, you have been spending a lot of time for ‘the deen’, calling brothers towards Tabligh or HT or the Salafi Manhaj and aren’t really getting the grades you should. Other people on your course hardly know you. But it is O.K: since you are ‘on the path of Allah’ he will take care of those grades for his obedient servant. I mean yes, you were a bit disappointed when you flopped your mid-terms but it’s all good.
I mean, thank God for the brothers, cos boy were they right! The fitna in this place is insane! We all know of ‘Muslims’ which have ‘white’ girlfriends’. A lot of them even drink. The brothers saved you from all that.
In fact, it seems that the brothers have ‘saved’ you from girls altogether.
I mean it’s a damn good thing that they did: because it is really hard – all those nubile young things! Sometimes it is really hard to lower ones gaze. And then, lying in bed at night, thinking…that’s tough. But we are Muslims. We keep ourselves pure. Allah (and the brothers) will provide. After all, there must be lots of eligible sisters thinking the same as you, lying awake in bed at night…for example, those girls in ISOC…like that pretty convert sister for example…not that you like white girls or anything, everyone is equal of course, you would just as well a nice Arab or Asian sister. You didn’t mean that…
Bros before ‘Hos’
You are steadfast, you listen with an attentive ear when the brother you look up to the most (although all Muslim brothers are great and we all love one another for the sake of God), the Emir of ISOC, waxes lyrical about the dangers of free mixing and chastises the brothers for lingering too long with the sisters outside the prayer room after last nights talk by that amazing speaker who praised you all for being ‘firm on the religion’ in such a haraam environment. He told you that the most important thing that we should look for in a partner is ‘the deen’: he quotes that hadith, you know, the one about a woman is married for four things (oh he’s so amazing, if only your parents had taken care of you Islamic education like his! I mean after all, you came to university with a lot of religious zeal but didn’t know very much. Just then, you hear The devil – it must be him – whisper to you that maybe you don’t really know if what this speaker said is true then…but you shoo him away). He then tells people that the best way for people to lower their gaze is to marry young, like the Islam recommends. Of course, the marriage has to be done in a ‘halal’ way – and we all know that we don’t want to be like these kuffar with their ‘hook ups’. Uuugh…
I mean, it’s not like you are really interested in girls, but all this marrying young thing has got you thinking. And the Emir, well, you heard that he isn’t all talk: apparently he is married to that convert sister, you know the pretty white one. Not that white girls are especially pretty or anything. You didn’t mean that…Of course, it was all done in an above board manner – he must have informed his parents and they must have approached her or more likely her parents (you ignore the voice in your head telling you that this is almost certainly not how it happened). In fact, a lot of the ISOC Committee brothers are married or seem to be. Some have been married more than once. Of course, you are all brothers, they want for you what they want for themselves. I mean one or two of them even got married to sisters who converted in university. It is a bit funny as to how they managed to get access to those sisters, but you know, maybe in the course of arranging the last ISOC dinner…NO! That would never happen! It reeks of ‘free mixing’!
But it bothers you still: it’s now near the end of your time in university…mother hasn’t bought any viable candidates, or in fact anyone apart from your cousins. And when you get out of university, well, then won’t it be even harder to meet a sister (not that you meet them now)? Of course, all of us as an ummah of brothers will want the best for each other: you ask around – the logical thing to do is to approach the Emir or the Imam, who are both married and they will ‘hook you up’, just like they did with all those old exam papers, all those dinners at their house, all those Islamic books by Sheikh Uthaymeen. Plus being married they must know other sisters who want to get married. They’ll only be too keen to help you fulfil the Sunnah! Why did you not think of this before! You’ll see the brothers the very next day.
But sadly, they tell you that you are not practising enough, your beard is not long enough, the sisters want a brother who [insert bulls**t excuse here]. You go to the Imam: ‘brother, if you were a student of knowledge then maybe the sisters would be interested…’
Yes, of course, you realise, it is your fault, you are not good enough to get married. You should have worked on your Deen more, you don’t have a job, you are from a different background and sadly…
Who cares anyway? You are heading for a third if you are not careful and you have to pull your grades up. And no doubt the brothers are right…but, it bothers you: how come the ISOC committee guys are ‘good enough’? And did they really approach those convert girls families first? And if background and compatibility were so important in your case, how come they did not hook up that pretty Chinese sister with, you know, like a Chinese brother? How did she end up with the ISOC treasurer who can hardly speak English let alone Mandarin? And it’s not like he’s got looks to spare either, and… (You try and shut out the Waswasah again…but this time it sounds more like common sense than The Prince Of Darkness…).
Pretty soon it’s time to leave university. You’ve kept yourself clean, you’ve made friends – no – brothers, for life. You try to feel good about it but something bothers you: all those stupid kuffar, drinking and shagging. Thank God you didn’t end up like them…but all those opportunities you missed, all those clubs you could have joined, all the different friends you could have made, and yes, all those chances at finding love that never materialised…or at least not for you…
Appendix (only for stupid people who don’t get it):
There is a very wise saying: ‘Decadence is preferable to perversion’.
What this means is that it is better to go too far in a ‘normal’ direction than any distance along a perverted path. In reality, the behaviour of the non-Muslims at university is an exaggeration of a normal need – the need for companionship and sex. Of course, university encourages this in a boundless and hedonistic way, and the repercussions are well recognised by young people themselves – the high rate of drop outs, sexual and substance abuse, unwanted pregnancies etc.
However, many young Muslim men, rightly fearing (or being told to fear) the excesses of university life, make a cocoon around themselves of their same-sex co-religionists: it protects them from the bad aspects of campus life but also insulates them from many of it’s unique opportunities – primary of which are to seek knowledge, critical thinking, nurturing an artistic sentiment and above all to find a girl.
Yes, that’s right: SHOCK ANNOUNCEMENT FOR MUSLIMS: MEN LIKE WOMEN – SEXUALLY. LIKE, FOR SEX. In fact women are mens favourite thing in the whole wide world. Even gay men like women. If they aren’t your favourite thing and your a straight male, there is something badly wrong with you.
Islam is not stopping you in the least – it tells you to go for it with a remarkable amount of leeway and a few small conditions/restrictions. But by behaving in the way that many Muslim men do – with naivete (a quality only appreciated in children), they sabotage the best chance they will ever get of finding an attractive and compatible female partner- namely, university.
SHOCK ANNOUNCEMENT NUMBER TWO: MEN LIKE PRETTY, OR EVEN BETTER, BEAUTIFUL, GIRLS. YES, THAT’S RIGHT – FOR SEX! Men means all men – Muslim and not. The Muslim men are not some amazing penis control powers having superheroes who are not interested in marrying (or at least bedding) buxom females. They are all trying to ‘get them’. Specifically, before you.
Yes, that includes, in fact especially includes, the ‘ISOC brothers’. Unlike non-Muslims, they however are trying to show off how pious they are and hiding their real intentions – the guys usually warning you off ‘mixing with the sisters’ are the guys who have a ‘legitimate’ reason to interact with them and ‘pull’ them. They don’t play the same game as you will have to due to their easy access to ‘the Sisters’ but make up the rules for you anyway.
It is a competitive market out there for eligible females (and males) and if you don’t take care of your own interests and try and get one for yourself no-one is going to help you. There is no point looking at those from well-connected families who have arranged marriages (unless you are similarly well connected). You have to put your bid in or someone else will. The secret is everyone already knows this but didn’t tell you. ‘Cos guess what: you are the competition.
Islam is used as an excuse to show some people the ‘access denied’ sign – but it’s all a scam. Islam allows you to mix with any member of the opposite sex for the purpose of marriage, sans mahrem, as long as you are not in a closed room together. It does not stop you getting to know the person. Call it a halal date if you will. It doesn’t require you to go through a third party before making an approach – in fact during the time of the earliest times of Islam, women used to approach directly without an intermediary for marriage (in front of Sahabah no less). The material on ‘Segregation’ on this site may be consulted to get an idea of where the actual boundaries lie and where people would have you believe they lie (clue: liberals, modernists and puritans are all wrong).
Self righteous and ill-intentioned people will always use religion to underwrite their strategies for self-aggrandisement: There is a rude but highly accurate name for it: c***blocking – and if you are stupid enough to fall for it in something as important as the competition to find an eligible mate, then you probably deserve what you get (or rather don’t get).