Ebony S. Muhammad (EM): I would like to start off with sharing a quote by Chilli of TLC. She says, “The worst type of loneliness is being with the wrong person”. I thought that was very profound, and being a single sister that quote keeps me in line with not settling for less than what I deserve.
However, so many sisters and brothers don’t know what they deserve because they don’t understand their value. I would like to know from you, what is a starting point in coming into understanding one’s value while waiting for Mr. or Mrs. Right?
Terri Muhammad (TM): First, I would start off with what we’re learning in our Muslim Girls’ Training & General Civilization Class on making Allah (God) sufficient for all of our needs. The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan has taught us as women that we are too needy. We feel we have to have a man in our life in order to help validate who we are. Often it comes from poor self-worth; we have an improper view of ourselves. It can be a difficult thing to conquer. We know that Allah (God) tells us who we are, that we are the best and the righteous, but we have to believe that. It’s like Satan, the Enemy, tells us one thing and Allah (God) tells us another. Yet, who are we to think other than what Allah (God) is saying about us? We have to develop our faith and conviction in Allah and know that He is the All-Knowing. He should be the One validating what we feel and how we view ourselves.
A lot of it comes from inner-happiness, which is something that we lack. We’re looking for happiness in all of the wrong places. Inner-happiness really comes from fulfilling our purpose in life, submitting to Allah, being righteous and virtuous. It’s our nature. The more we submit to who we are, specifically as women, then we’ll find true inner-happiness. When we have true inner-happiness then we won’t need a man or someone outside of us validating us.
I also think sometimes we confuse inner-happiness with pleasures. When we’re looking at pleasures we have good pleasures and bad pleasures. Pleasures are temporary things. Good pleasures fulfill the five senses; taste, sound, touch… when we see a beautiful flower, beautiful scenery, beautiful sounds and smells, these are natural pleasures. However, Satan offers us different types of pleasures, the sinful ones. If we can graduate to knowing the difference between pleasures and real happiness, I think that will help us see ourselves properly.
EM: Beautiful points! It does begin with self first versus attempting to look for someone to make us happy. What are your thoughts about the importance of patience? Not only being patient to accept someone else, but to accept ourselves. As it relates to myself, I would hear comments from married women such as, “He just needs to be ‘good enough'”. I disagree wholeheartedly with that. I tell them that I’m choosing to be patient and productive.
What are your thoughts on how sisters and brothers can be patient when we have so much coming at us through entertainment and reality television, that’s unrealistic, to be patient as opposed to accepting instant gratification?
TM: I can say, to me, whatever it is you’re doing is working. It’s not to say that the journey is going to be easy, but just like my husband spoke of earlier, anything of value, you have to put work into it. Therefore, you are making a more valuable you, adding to who you are as a woman. You are going to be a dynamic wife, and whatever brother is blessed to have you will be very fortunate.
EM: All praises are due to Allah! Thank you very much.
TM: In the Holy Quran, Allah says that He blesses us out of His grace and out of His mercy. Sometimes we are trying to chase down a mate. Allah already said He is going to provide it for us, therefore, we have to be patient in that. Allah is the Best Knower. I would think, “Hmm, who would I want to choose my mate? Myself, who has limited knowledge and foresight, or Allah?” Allah has already hand-picked and made a mate for each believer. We want to make sure that the Mr. Right or the Mrs. Right is going to come from Allah and not from our own individual selves.
EM: Yes ma’am! Brilliantly said. There was something you stated that made me think to bring up how we as women need to view ourselves as the prize, instead of running after a man. This world has flipped it by parading all of these male athletes and entertainers, putting them on a pedestal. We are seeing all of these women flock to them. It gives this image and impression that women have to do whatever it takes to be with those men instead of viewing themselves as the prize. What are your thoughts?
TM: I absolutely agree. We, as women, have to be steadfast in our position. That’s the only way we’re going to gain respect from the opposite sex. It’s not in our nature to chase. That should be beneath us (laughs).
EM: Yes! (laughs). Now I would like to talk about sisters who may consider themselves as broken, damaged goods or throwaways and may not see themselves as the prize because of what they have experienced in life; abusive relationships, molestation, rape, etc. How would you address that in effort to get them to understand that they are not their experiences, but they are indeed valuable? How would you begin to explain that there is someone out there worthy and deserving of them?
TM: I know that that is something very difficult especially when you’re dealing with a women who has been damaged from rape, molestation or abuse. The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan says that only Allah (God) can restore a woman from that kind of situation, in particular rape and molestation. That’s the time when a woman needs to rush to Allah and let Him lift those burdens from her. Of course we know that Auditing (Dianetics) will also help with the process of lifting that woman from her burden.
I thought about Hagar when she was running to and fro between the hills trying to find water for herself and her baby, but it wasn’t until the point when she totally surrendered and broke down that Allah prepared the water from Zamzam to spring up where she could quench her thirst. Therefore, it’s serenity, when we surrender totally to Allah, especially in a situation like that where He can heal us.
EM: Thank you. Now, I would like to move forward regarding those who are already married not settling for less from their mate. I think sometimes we have these grandiose standards. Yes, we stick to them and we get into the marriage, but then we become comfortable. We just let it all go and think that it’s okay because we got the man or woman we wanted.
You and Brother Nuri have been married over 20 years. What are some thoughts you would like to share about sticking to those standards beyond the wedding day and possibly adding some more along the way?
TM: I would definitely have to say putting Allah first, the Mission and also being best friends. By being friends you laugh and joke. It’s not a tense relationship, it’s just natural. You think about being around your girlfriends, you’re going out and having a good time. It can be the same way in marriage, but I think we have this stigma or we’ve been trained that a marriage is only supposed to be a certain way.
My husband always makes these jokes that you can always tell the married couple down the line, because you look at them and one person is on this side of the car and the other one is way over here (laughs). Try looking to please your mate and not necessarily yourself. I think that a lot of times as husband and wife we can be too selfish. It’s all about I, I , I or me, me, me or you didn’t do this or that. Yet, if he is striving to please her and she is striving to please him, it really makes a more harmonious relationship being best friends. Be silly, be yourself! My husband and I don’t take things too seriously.
EM: I believe that is a very important point; learning how to be friends. I believe that is very underrated, unfortunately.
TM: Yes ma’am.
EM: I know of some sisters who are in abusive relationships to the point where their spouse is trying to keep them overweight, because they’re intimidated by the attention she may be receiving. The mate will try to keep them pregnant or keep them in a place of dependency and a place where they don’t feel good about themselves. Yet, in the moment they do begin to feel good about themselves their mate will attempt to sabotage their hard work and efforts. How do you translate not settling for less to someone who is married that’s in a situation like that who may not have a spouse that’s willing to change?
TM: I would say that she is commanded, if you believe in Allah and what He has taught us about the woman and how Allah desires to see us. In the Supreme Wisdom He says, “But do not let me catch any sister other than herself in regards to living the Life and weighing properly”.
EM: Those are some strong words.
TM: Yes ma’am! That’s like a father saying, “Do not let me catch you…”. (laughs) So we have to reflect and ponder on what Allah wants, because what He wants is going to be best and everything else is secondary. Allah will bless us through our submission in what we do and what is asked of us.
Sometimes men can be intimidated by newness, and they have their own fears. As women we have to assure them that they have nothing to worry about. Let that woman focus on her goal, and once she is evolving herself and that man continues to mistreat her and tries to bring her down, then that’s a relationship you don’t need. That’s not a real marriage. If your journey is to become one with Allah, but someone is pulling you back, then are you really married? When this man takes a step, you’re supposed to take the next step, but if someone is trying to pull you backwards then you’re only married on a piece of paper.
EM: Exactly. My last question is regarding building standards and having a balance of realistic expectations. We look at someone like Morris Chestnut or these movies that provide the fantasy of this perfect person or relationship. How do we have our standards and realistic expectations together without compromising?
TM: We have to learn to look at the value of what we have. Sometimes we can focus on what we don’t have instead of what we do have. We should always look for the good in that man or in that woman. No, they’re not perfect, but as long as you see progress being made and you have a good husband or wife, then you can believe that this person will continue to improve. Allah says in the Holy Quran that He doesn’t like ingratitude. Therefore, we can’t be found being ungrateful. No your husband’s not perfect or your wife isn’t perfect, but are they a good person? Are they performing the duties that Allah has put before us? If so, then we should have patience and gratitude.
Making a gratitude list is also a good thing for couples to do. We should just write a list of the good things we appreciate about your mate and share them at night before going to bed. It allows you to reflect on all of the good and not necessarily the negative.
There was one other thing…I remember a sister was teaching “How to Take Care of Your Husband”. She said, “I was that sister who wanted Denzel. I wanted my husband to look like Denzel.” She had all this mapped out of what her husband was going to look like and what he was going to be. This was funny. She said, “You all know my husband. He actually looks like a nerd”, (laughs).
She went on to make a statement that she was so busy looking for something she thought she wanted, but there was this beautiful man sitting right underneath her and she was looking over him for years. Then she realized, “I have this beautiful man right here”. They ended up courting, she got married and she absolutely loves and adores him. Sometimes those unrealistic expectations can cause us to miss the blessings right in front of us.
EM: Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and experiences on this subject! I love and admire you greatly.
TM: You are very welcome, and thank YOU Sister Ebony!
You may follow Sister Terri Muhammad on Twitter @TerriMuhammad