In Islam a Woman Must be Submissive and Serve her Husband

About a year ago, I made one of the most important decisions I’ve ever made, which was to end my  two-year relationship that had started off great and then quickly spiraled into the worst relationship of my life. Since that time, I’ve still been healing, and I’ve been wanting to let go of the memories, but I feel like the last step is for me to put my story out there as the warning I wish I had read and the warning that might save someone else. When things started to go bad in my relationship, I turned to the internet for help and found this website, but I found the other girls’ stories weren’t quite like mine. They had stories of men using them for citizenship status or using them as a girlfriend until they could marry a virgin from their religion or while they were married. I looked at my relationship and saw evidence that that was not what was going on in mine, but what was going on in mine was that I do believe he was going to marry me, since he had introduced me to his family, but this was going to be about converting me and making me like a woman from his country. There are so many things that happened and that I learned that I could write an entire book about it, but I will keep this short.

He and I met online. We had an age difference of about ten years and he lived a distance away, but he was very, very charming and seemed intelligent and romantic, so I agreed to meet him. We had a really great first date, and it seemed like we had a lot in common. Early in our relationship, we talked about what we were looking for. I told him I was planning on getting a dog soon, and he told me he was too. he told me he hadn’t been married before because he was waiting for the right person, same for me. He told me he was a practicing Muslim, but that he wasn’t very religious and that he respected other religions. I explained that I wasn’t worried about it because I respect all religions and find every religion has good things and bad things about it. He said he agreed completely. He said if we had children in the future, they would have to be Muslim because of his family, and I agreed, thinking it wouldn’t be that big of a deal. At that time, I thought I knew about Islam. I heard about its bad reputation but I thought it was an exaggeration. I knew a good deal more than my friends and family, but I was soon about to learn a whole lot more.

The first few months were great. I had given up pork to make things easier on him, but other than that, Islam wasn’t a big part of our lives. We did fun things, he drank alcohol and only went to the mosque during Ramadan. The first Ramadan was hardly noticeable for me. I tried fasting one day, and the other days I just didn’t eat or drink around him if we were together. I noticed a few red flags in the beginning, like he refused to open the car door for me because he wasn’t used to doing things like that, but it didn’t seem like a big deal. About a year in is when things started to get bad. It started when he told me he expected me to be obedient to him, out of nowhere. I got upset and told him no, that I wasn’t going to live like that and if that’s what he wanted, he needed to find someone else. He quickly backtracked and tried to tell me I didn’t understand what the word “obedient” meant, but he more or less dropped it. But this was a major turning point. Over the course of the second year and through much manipulation, it got to the point where he was expecting me to clean his apartment, do his laundry, iron his shirts, cook for him every day from scratch whatever he wanted, go out whenever he wanted to go out, wear what he wanted me to wear, do my hair and makeup like he wanted. He even wanted to control how I thought, telling me I shouldn’t watch certain movies or listen to certain music. He also told me I shouldn’t go to coffee shops or see certain friends and that if I went somewhere with friends and a man was there, I should leave, and my friends should respect that or they weren’t my true friends. When I would stand up for myself, it would lead to a fight every time. I also found out he was secretly married and separated, but he told me that marriage was just an arrangement. I had gotten really depressed during this time, and I would frequently cry at night, but quietly so he wouldn’t fuss at me for disturbing his sleep. I would look back and think about how nice he seemed in the beginning and all the promises he made about us having a wonderful life together and wonder how it got to this point. I wondered if I had done something wrong. I wondered how he could expect so much of me to the point where I no longer had time to take care of myself, but any request I had, he wouldn’t do it. I felt really disrespected, untrusted, and like I was being treated really like a servant.

I was also starting to learn more about his religion. At one point during that second year, he told me that when we got married, he would want me to wear a headscarf as a sign of respect for him. I was like, Wait a minute. I thought that was supposed to be a woman’s choice, and I’m not even Muslim. He told me he expected that I would convert as I learned more. I was really shocked. This was not at all what we had talked about. I told him no, that if he couldn’t see a future with me staying my religion, then we didn’t have a future together. He dropped it, but I knew by now it would come up again. As far as the headscarf, he said Muslim women know the right choice to make. By this time, he had also told me that he considered the Quran the word of God and believed in it to the letter, and that Islam is a perfect religion. This prompted me to look more into the religion. What I had noticed so far was that it was much more of an OCD-like religion than I had realized. There are rules about every aspect of life, down to which foot to first step into a bathroom with. He also told me actually Muslims can’t have dogs in the house. It was getting to the point where I was Googling constantly to see if something was “allowed.” Meanwhile, he would get annoyed at me for practicing my religion and was starting to show disrespect for it. He told me I was the one who needed to learn about his religion, but he didn’t need to learn anything about mine because it was mentioned in the Quran. When I tried to read the Quran, I found it all about fear and punishment, and there is quite a lot of mention about disbelievers and violence against them. I found out there is a lot of emphasis on treating other Muslims with morals, but it’s not required to treat nonbelievers with the same morals. Also I learned that Al-Taqiyah, something that I thought was made up by conservative media, is real. It permits Muslims to lie to non-believers. When I would bring up things with him I didn’t like about the religion, he would either justify it or become angry at me for disrespecting his religion. The final straw for me was when I learned the back story about why adoption is not permitted. At this point, I lost a lot of respect for the religion. I found out that the version of Islam I had been presented was a sugar-coated one and really no longer felt comfortable raising any children I might have in that religion, that seemed more and more so out of line with my values. Honestly is very important to me, as is treating everyone with respect, no matter their religion or race or gender or age or anything.

I have now come to realize that he probably wouldn’t have treated me much better if I were a Muslim woman. I think the only difference would be that he wouldn’t be allowed to lie to me and he would be required to support me financially. But all of the other things he expected of me I learned are requirements for Muslims wives. In Islam, a woman must be completely submissive and is not allowed to even raise her voice. She’s not even allowed to refuse her husband sex. I used to get annoyed with my mother for bringing up the movie “Not Without My Daughter,” thinking that only applied to extreme countries. I learned that even in the more “liberal” Islamic countries, women really basically have no rights. They don’t have any say over their children, many don’t have the right to divorce, they must be obedient to their husbands, and they even have to get permission from their guardian to get married, even as an adult. I really shudder to think what could have happened if I had married him and we went back to his country. I might not even be allowed to leave without his permission, and in many of those countries a woman also needs permission to travel. The women’s rights issue was also something I thought was exaggerated in the media, but upon experiencing it and seeing it firsthand, I realized it’s actually much worse. I knew how I had been treated, but I also was seeing up close the extreme unhappiness of a couple of women I had gotten close to. They had to serve their men smiling, but they secretly cried, but they insisted to me they were happy at first before I knew them well. One night I had to host a dinner party with two other women, one pregnant, and we all had to cook everything and then go in the back while the men ate, then come out to eat whatever was left and clean up, then make tea while the men sat outside and smoked, but we had to sit there in case they asked for anything else, like waitresses. The pregnant woman was so tired she was falling asleep on the table, but we all had to stay there. I felt like a waitress too when I cooked dinner and then had to do dishes by myself while my ex sat on the couch and relaxed. I knew not to even ask for help because it would turn into a huge fight. He would tell me all those other women did so much more than I did and did it out of love, but I knew that wasn’t true; they were doing it out of fear.

The person I was three years ago would be horrified to think that I would be writing something like this. Back then, I respected Islam and was even willing to raise my children Muslim. But all of my experiences have made me feel like I want nothing to do with it, even afraid of it in some respects. It is a very restricting religion. I only just recently learned that criticism of Islam or the prophet is punishable by jail in Muslim countries, as is trying to leave the religion. I feel so thankful to have the rights that I have as a woman, to make my own decision about who to spend my life with, and as a person to practice my religion that I believe in my heart. After finally leaving him, a peace started to return to my life. It felt so wonderful to be able to take care of myself and practice my religion without having to worry, to always have to be doing something to make someone else happy, someone who would never be satisfied. I am not writing all of this to say that this is how all Muslims are. I know many Muslims do not act like this and are good people. But this is a warning specifically for women involved with or thinking about becoming involved with a Muslim man. Even if he is promising you the world, if you see the signs I did, just run while you can. It will not get better. I never would have imagined the person I met would turn into the person I had to leave. I wish I would have run sooner, but I’m so glad I didn’t stay another minute. I have no doubt my situation would have turned physical in about another year and would have only gotten worse and worse. No one deserves to be treated like this, and things will be so much better for you if you get out as soon as possible. One year later, I am almost completely healed and living a much happier life. I chose to follow the man who preached forgiving people, not the one who preached stoning people, the one who taught us to love our neighbors, not smite them, and I have never looked back.

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