Love in the time of Jihad

You know what I learned after all the people I met while traveling these past few months, and listening to all sorts of love stories and stories of love – unhappy marriages, failed engagements, love in the waiting, unreciprocated love, toxic love, messianic love, and of course, love for the sake of Allah…

I have fallen in love too many times.

There is something to love in every person. And I don’t mean it in a cliche sense, but that kind of love that actually draws us to specific people we meet along the way.

But guess what? We don’t have to marry every single person we learn to love. Love is just there, it’s open for everybody.

Marriage, or any long term relationship at that, has a specific point, a jihad, if I may say. And what is that, you may ask? Something you and your lover can only answer.

My abla, or older sister in Turkey told me that it doesn’t really matter how similar you are to another person. There are times when he/ she will move ahead or behind you in the struggle. What’s important is this – you are headed the same direction. For such love to level up and last for the rest of one’s life, another person does not only need to love you too, but have the same point for loving.

So ask yourself, what’s the point of love, and where do you go from here?


To my beloved

I write to let you, all of you, know that I love you. And I know exactly why and how. 

I love you, despite the fact that you all think I’m wrong.


Life has taken us to many different directions. We no longer belong to the same circles, and go to the same parties. 

We eat together, but not of the same food. We pray, but not to the same god. 

I’ve let go of a life that initially brought us close. But it is in this struggle of getting to know each other again that we can become much closer.

It’s okay. We don’t need to be the same to love each other.

I am your friend, and I will protect you from every man, or woman, who hurts your heart. 


For a quarter of my life, every explanation you gave was like an indomitable fact. 

You set me free to the world, and trusted I was ready to see between good and evil. I learned to love people whom you call thieves and terrorists, not knowing I have become one myself. 

Yet I choose to remember how you wait for me after church so I can follow to lunch. And it is in this struggle of keeping our bond, despite what everyone else says, that we can come out stronger.

It’s all okay. I know you – and your goodness – for I was raised by you.

I am your daughter, waiting patiently, that someday you will see I am the same girl, staying true to what I have learned from you.


And in the course of finding myself, and a so-called “ummah”, we remain divided by tribes, schools, or sects,

In the last 4 years as a wayfarer, I found refuge in families with struggles of their own. Brothers and sisters who married young and old. Some chose who to love, some no choice at all. 

And it’s all okay. I love you, all of you – man, woman, or in between. But if at some point I find myself loving more than I should, I pray that God, Allah take control of our hearts. May Allah make it easy to let go, if and when it’s time for other people to take our place. 

May we be capable of that love – when you don’t need to be mine for me to love you.  For it is Him, and not each other, that makes the load lighter.  So let me love you, not for you to love me, but for Him. 

I am your sister. Maybe we’re related, or affiliated by some belief. Maybe we see each other everyday, or online. Or maybe, we’re just human, crossing paths with fellow travelers along the way. 


But this is what it means that I love you.

To love your jihad… To love you in jihad… 

For despite all the struggles, subhanallah, it is all beautiful. 

For as long as you are breathing, every breath, gaze, smile, word, touch, moment with you reminds me of my own existence, and the Most Loving of it all.

I love you, all of you, for the sake of Allah.


*** This is a continuation of a post-Valentines Day reflection (Part I here). This is an excerpt from an article published in Zilzar Life.




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