We desire to love and be loved, cherished and respected. Any one single knows that.

The need for love is amplified when one sees couples in love. One feels so lost. Personally, my sense of loneliness has recently been intensified at the images of Michelle and Barack Obama in warm embrace. The two of them are killing me! (Do not take the ‘killing’ part literal.) The desire for love and companionship should of course, not override common sense, the absence of which renders one vulnerable to opportunists and exploiters and to a pretentious ceremonial marriage, full of disappointments and betrayals. What mechanisms in the quest for a loving relationship do we singles employ to liberate love and capture deception in a psychological love filter? I shall provide an outline of my criteria of needs and submissions, with the most important first.

Care and Compassion The key to the love filter is mutual care and compassion between the interested parties and its essence is love of Allah. Care and compassion must be mutual, in addition to compatibility of interests and thoughts, the acceptability of the prospect of marriage and sharing a life together. Note that though care and compassion open the door to attraction and compatibility, they may exist independently of shared interests and thoughts. I have heard some young ladies state that marriage to someone who loves one is better than marriage to someone whom one loves. There is some truth in that, but for the crucial issue of companionship and residency. I wonder how a woman can live with a spouse in whose company she is not totally comfortable and to whom she bears little or no attraction. She may want a man who spends more off-work time at home and the man may be someone who only comes home to bed and sometimes for a meal. Or she may want someone who makes her laugh and he may not have a sense of humour. If the two components mutual care and compassion, and their derivatives compatibility and interest, are not present, the discussion comes to an abrupt, but courteous end. Love of Allah has been placed secondary to care and compassion with valid reasons: very few nuptial hopefuls will volunteer their true intention and admit Allah is not pivotal in their life; and love of Allah is frequently misconstrued to signify endurance of hurt and neglect. It is incomprehensible that love, hurt, selfishness and abandonment can coexist in harmony.

Culture and Family Under normal circumstances, these are ones private business, or should I say, private headache and I would not consider them.

A man brought up in a meddling, gossip family or culture will have a tough time keeping his family and ethnic group in check, assuming he intends to keep them from causing problems in his new home. In such a situation, there must be a null or low risk of familial or cultural interference in ones marriage. This, in my opinion is the most critical, as by this one acknowledges that the source of conflict may not be limited to the couple, but is a suffocating ocean of in-laws and tribesmen.

Commitment to Islam Commitment to Islam should be an obvious condition. But with a complicated mix of personal and cultural beliefs to which one adheres tenaciously, an individual’s view of Islam is tainted. The influence of these distortions in ones marriage is disastrous and does affect the other spouse. This is especially so if the spouse with deep-rooted personal and cultural inclinations is the husband. There is a great risk the marriage will be a display of obscene abuse of powers and neglect. In a nutshell, personal beliefs determine how the couple treat each other and their expectations of self and other.

Other considerations are: 1. Marital status – He must be single. Although I may make an exception, it is highly unlikely. 2. Earnings – He should be innovative and versatile, a hard working man who knows why he is working – for his family – and knows when to relax and enjoy the fruits of the day’s efforts. 3. Presence of a child – especially, in cultural societies. You do not want to be the wicked step-mother. 4. Age – He should be alive! 5. Weight and height – No extended abdomen! And must be taller than me. My need for love and care cannot be fulfilled when I am not attracted to the man. This is a case of too many interested men, too few interesting men!

There are, of course, some Muslim women who will not hear of us seeking happiness and would rather we married a selfish wretch, so we can share their sense of abandonment. My desire for a prince charming prompted a woman, whose husband neglected alone in a maternity ward during the birth of his own child as he hates to see blood, to quickly post that

instead, I should make Allah King of my heart. I was furious and informed her that Allah is already King of my entire existence and not just of my heart. Seeking a man who respects us and does not think only of himself when we need his support does not contradict our love of Allah. Had she gone into labour strolling and received no assistance from passers-by we would have been censured for that. May Allah forbid it occurred in a non-Muslim neighbourhood; a worldwide campaign would have ensued on how the hatred non-Muslims show towards Islam propelled them against coming to the aid of a Muslim woman in labour. Her own husband did it to her and she has mouth for me; individuals who have greater proficiency running the private lives of others. Misery seeks to recruit more individuals to misery. Be sure to make yourself unavailable for such recruitment. As for me, I will certainly not sign any conscription to torment. What is the difference between a married woman who was uncared for by the one person who should be her first and last fortress as well as the last man standing and someone such as myself who live alone and have to fend for myself despite ill-health conditions, besides the former being screwed, in bed and out, by a man! As I wrote to a dear male friend D A B, I will rather be single and happy than married and miserable. Allah's Aid, Protection and Love of us do not require we lose our senses and enter into or remain in the wrong relationship. The right relationship is enriched with love, care and compassion. My darling friend A E M, one of the few Muslim women I am pleased to connect, has got just that with her lover of a husband and their action-packed love-life. She is the queen! Go girl! To all singles, seek love, but equally important seek compatibility. There is someone special for us; we should seek our prince charming with much patience and prayer.

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