Women, the Tariq and marriage

August 1, 2016

D56H22 Paper doll graffiti in a public street - Rome

I once reflected on why it might be that in the past Sufi Tariqas, including my own, have not been filled with many female students. Of course, modern day women would say it’s because of plain ‘sexism’ but I wonder if it was not the wisdom of the women of the past not to be involved in a Tariqa. When you’re a religious woman, as you probably are if you’re in or considering joining a Tariqa, the sheikh becomes the only man outside of your family that you are emotionally and spiritually connected to. When you get married your husband would then become the second man you’re close to outside of your family. That’s where the issue begins. Men don’t like competition even if the competition is an old man and spiritual saint. There’s a difference between chatting with him about how amazing and clever your dad is as opposed to how amazing and clever your sheikh is. Our Sufi sheikhs take up a major place in our heart -for both men and women, but for women that space may lead her husband to be jealous or plain annoyed as I’ve been told by some female mureeds.

Our Sufi sheikhs are also our guides in life. If the sheikh says not to do something, you don’t do it (Or begin your journey of struggling against it until you stop). But what if your sheikhs’ advice is opposed to what your husband wants? If your sheikh tells women to wear a looser version of hijab indoors but your husband enjoys seeing your hair how do you think he’ll feel if you decline his interest to follow your sheikhs guidance? Our sheikhs can also guide us in the details of our lives. We ask them intimate questions about what we should do in this or that scenario, we cry in front of them, we come to them at our lowest points, we completely trust them, but what if our husband doesn’t feel the same? What if you’re going to you sheikh for advice feels more like a violation of his trust than a solution? What if he believes the vulnerability you have before your sheikh is closer to emotional cheating than it is a means of help?

I once heard a scholar say “(some) women will get their boss a cup of coffee before ever getting it for their spouse”. The related point is that we as women don’t seem to value marriage as much as it seems out foremothers once did. The idea that our independence could jeopardize our relationship and that we should care enough to reconsider that independence is a foreign idea to us. I understand, I believe, why there might not have been many women in the Tariqas of the past, they understood there was a conflict of interest. They were also wise enough to realize that marrying a man of Tassawuf would also lead them to benefit from the Tariqa without harming their marriage.

God knows best.

1 Comment

  • Ilhaam

    Assalaamu alaikum sister

    Can you please explain your final sentence? I’m new to a tariqa and navigating this as well! What is your conclusion to this article?

    Thank you.

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