‘word gymnastics.’

Q: Assalamu alikum wa rhamtullah Imam,
I hope you’re having a blessed day. I really like the new snow look on the website, but it gives me this girrr feeling.
Imam, my professor has two other questions that I answered. So insha’Allah please check them for me so insha’Allah I am not saying something wrong, and if I did, then it’s your turn to teach me.

He is asking from an Islamic prospective.
1-“Can we agree that the word “might” is a word that lacks certainty — that the word “might” translates to “maybe” or “perhaps?”  Is it not an inexact word?  When I talk with another person, I “might” catch his/her cold if he/she is sick?  Possible.  However, can we agree that I cannot allow a possible negative result from the more likely positive outcome resulting from our meeting/interaction.   If our world “might” end tomorrow, then should a person remain in one’s house?  Or should a person say “yes” to Life and venture out where there may be problems or unknown dangers?”

This is how I answered:  “Yes, I agree that “might” is a word that lacks certainty, but it’s a word that does not lack possibility. When you talk with a sick person, you “might” catch his/her cold. We cannot destroy the possible chances of getting cold; the chances are still present and unpredictable, therefore we should keep the protection tools. Yes, absolutely we agree that we should not let the negative outcome overcome the most likely positive outcome of our interactions. If the world “might” end tomorrow, then I suppose each person would do what satisfies their values. People might pray. People might spend their last hours with their family members. People might spend the last hours with their friends. People could go out and venture where they “might” hurt themselves too…etc.”

2-“Is it possible for a man and a woman who meet and marry ever truly overcome the social barrier of once being the “stranger man” or the “stranger woman?”  That is, if a woman and/or a man are constantly fearful that one of them “might” act in a negative or threatening or inappropriate way, then is it really possible for them ever to have a genuine friendship or business relationship — or an intimate marriage (with or without children)?”

My answer (I think I need help with it): “Firstly, what is the “stranger” man and woman phrase? For example, When I say that my male classmate is a stranger to me, I mean there’s something like a personal space (physical and psychological) around me that he’s just not suppose to cross, and the same personal space around him that I am not allowed to cross. In a non-Islamic law based country like the United States, where there are gender-mixed class rooms, we can study and discuss our study materials. We can help each other. We can greet each other. We will be feeling comfortable and safe with each other just like how I feel about most of my male classmates; we exchange respect, greetings, kindness and thoughts. But why fear?  The fear comes when my male classmate is no longer trust worthy. Although, for example, my classmate cannot ask me deep personal questions. Why? Because he’s a stranger to me, he cannot ask “Who’s your favorite guy?” ”how’s the relationship
between your parents?”…etc, we’re not suppose to share our privacy (that way we maintain the limits and at the same time we’re learning from each other…etc). However, if my best girl friend asked me these kinds of questions, I can answer if I wanted.
Yes, it’s possible; actually it is successful for a “stranger” man and woman to be able to live happily with each other after they consumed marriage. For example, when a man likes my personality and he’s willing to marry me. For the sake of marriage, he can ask people who know me very well about my behaviors at my house, work, school, and between my friends and family. He also can come to my house and tell me with the presence of my parents that he is interested in me, and he is willing to get to know me more for the sake of marriage. After he finishes his research about me, that’s when he decides if he is still interested in me or not interested based on his research results and based on his feelings (emotions) toward me. That way I won’t be hurt when he “might” say “I am not interested”. I had no relationship with him what so ever, so there’s nothing for me to worry about. Pakistan, India, Vietnam, Tibet, Syria, Egypt, Iraq, and Kingdom families use arranged
marriage strategies. In Pakistan, Tibet, and Saudi Arabia, the divorce rate of arranged marriage is very, very low. You can find many researches that prove the divorce rate fact. However, in USA, where almost every married couple before they got married, they had a relationship for long years, and yet the country has a 50% or more!! divorce chance of each marriage. That’s high and fearful.  In USA, a married couple who have had an “8” years relationship “might” end up divorcing each other forever, not only that, but they might start suing each other, (after they knew each other for so long)!.. I included this negative fact to show that arragned marriage isn’t so bad, it actually works just fine with some people.”..did I answer broadly? He talked about it, and was wondering why Muslim women cannot choose their men, so I went on and on, and didn’t know where to stop. How did I do?

Time: Wednesday December 1, 2010 at 8:35 pm

Answers: وعليكم السلام ورحمة الله وبركاته

Our comment to your answer one:

This is a classic situation wherein academia is wanting to sound smart and functions to assist a student to waste valuable time and brain cells in ‘word gymnastics.’ By definition, the word ‘might’ implies 50-50. One need not say more. To go into its gymnastics is futile (even though it sounds smart.) In such conversations one must ask themselves: what am I accomplishing by such a conversation. In this case, as it appears, absolutely nothing. What is the practical utility of my questions? Does my conversation really refine ones understanding of a Higher Being? Or is such questioning intended to help one delve into farther ambiguity and technical matters to deviate a person from his/her Higher Goals?

Our Comment to your answer two:

Do not get into the statistics game of what gives happiness in marriage as it relates to data which links itself to a culture and/or religion. To better understand the implication of your response, you must study texts as they relate to not just religion, sociology as well.
Marriage is not limited to number of years spend together. Years spent together is not an indication of happiness. Arranged marriages may last longer on the scales of years spend together. However years spent together does not relate to happier couples. There are segments of our population that can prove longer marriages, yet these couples indulge themselves with greater levels of drug, alcohol and pornography usage then couples that may have been together for shorter periods of time. A contributing factor to these abuses are as a result of marital stress. Yet, logic would demand that by virtue of years greater years spend together, couples should be more content due to greater sharing on every level. This is not always the case!

Help yourself and you professor wake up to these realities:

Incorporate the sunnah as intended, eliminate greed, love what the Creator loves and true love shall prevail. Marriage is not limited to mere arrangement factors or years together, marriages beg the question: under what umbrella am i? (Religion of its opponent.)

Sadly, your answers are not reality based; they are a cry for help in better understanding social of the social aspects of religion and secular culture. Wake up to both and you shall be fine.

Allah Certainly Knows Best.

p.s. No, i am not rude, i just want student to think as students ought to be thinking. The brain to me is too precious to be wasted or made into a casual/passive ‘box.’

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