The Forbidden Relationship: A Handbook on Love, Lust & Heartbreaks by Maryam Yousaf is a self-help guide of 102 pages geared to any Muslim perusing the idea of dating the opposite sex outside of marriage. The book can also serve as a guide to those who are married in order to help them minimize or severe their interaction with the opposite sex. Observing mahram and non-mahram lifestyle choices are laughed upon these days or sanctioned as being an overly-zealous Muslim thing when these choices are a safety mechanism to protect oneself from Shaytan. The story of Barsisa should be a stark reminder to us all; a thing the author points out, too.
To continue, The Forbidden Relationship: A Handbook on Love, Lust & Heartbreaks is split into nine chapters and ends with real life testimonials and quotes by various contemporary Muslim motivational speakers including the author herself. The book also has the usual divine scriptures most Muslims know when it comes to forbidden relationships. Yousaf simply reiterates them as a reminder to the desensitized ummah that has normalized dating and/or cheating.
Why? Because the reminder benefits the Believer.
In addition, Yousaf suggests avoiding reading romantic novels, avoiding watching content with sexually charged language or action, fasting, etc. to help you resist sexual desires. This is mainly for unmarried folks. However, it can apply to married folks, too.
Now, in my opinion, and because I read many romance novels, it helps if you seal your thoughts after reading a romance story and before bedtime or during any other activity where you need to focus to accomplish the task or even connect with your Lord with dhikr or salat. This comes with a lot of practice. If you don’t do this, well, you’re opening that door to Shaytan in your dreams or won’t be able to be productive with your tasks at hand. So, if you can’t seal your thoughts, definitely avoid romance novels. Just my grain of salt here.
To resume, I really like many quotes in the book. For instance, “Don’t commit the mistake of expecting miracles after marriage.”— Maryam Yousaf
The author says this because time and time again, people rush into marriage with loads of unresolved disagreements while thinking that sealing the union will magically make their problems go away. No, resolve any issue you have between you before seeking nikah. Your problems will in fact multiply after marriage because your marriage is the battlefield of Shaytan. You will have to know how to protect your sacred union from an evil source who wants you to sin and lead you astray.
“We sin as if He is seeing nothing.”— Unknown
Yousaf also advises single and searching Muslims to always involve a trusted wali when trying to get married because a marriage without one “is devoid of blessings and peace.” And while we should protect our unions by not sharing our married lives with strangers or on social media to avoid the evil eye, it’s a different situation for newlyweds. It’s sunnah to announce a new marriage, wedding, nikah and stay clear of secret marriages; a thing a number of unscrupulous Muslim men take part in. The author alludes to those, too.
She also admonishes boys and men who take advantage of women, ruining their lives when they certainly would not want that for their own sisters and mothers.
Another quote I like says, “Gratitude helps the hearts to heal wonderfully.”— Maryam Yousaf
From experience, I can vouch for this statement because Allah al-Wadood simply does heal a broken heart that’s grateful to Him.
Moreover, Yousaf adds, “Your love of Allah is your shield against heartbreak; make it the strongest and the biggest love of your life. It is the only love that will never leave you. It’s the only love that will last forever; the only love that won’t hurt you; and the only love that will become your strength.”— Maryam Yousaf
The final quote from The Forbidden Relationship: A Handbook on Love, Lust & Heartbreaks I will share deals with the courage to do the right thing when one is engaged in an unlawful relationship:
“I pray that you have the courage to walk away from all the things… taking you away from God. I pray that you courageously walk away from all the things that are hindering you from achieving your greatest self.”— Mariam Yousaf
The Forbidden Relationship: A Handbook on Love, Lust & Heartbreaks is available on Amazon here.