BY SHANNON ABULNASR
Puffer Fish #1: The Self-Proclaimed Sheikh
This puffer fish finds a new Muslim sister that has very recently taken her shahada and presents himself as a knowledgeable person that has a sincere interest in helping her learn more about the deen. He considers himself to be a “know it all” simply because he was born and raised as a Muslim and convinces the sister that he is the only person that will guide her correctly.
Often times, they only present “Hislam” (His version of Islam) as if it is correct, because he got his ijaza from Sheikh Google. He doesn’t want the new Muslim sister to become aware of his intentions to seduce her via flaunting his “vast” knowledge. He would be devastated if she discovered that it is better for her to be mentored by a sister, and he will never even suggest finding a knowledgeable sister to fulfill that role for her.
While teaching this sister, he often changes the subject to chit-chatting and eventually the “learning sessions” become “lets get to know each other” sessions. Before you know it, the sister is starting to fall for him, and he convinces her that if she marries him that he will be able to lead her in Islam and would be the ideal husband and teacher for her.
The Typical Outcome:
They get married, and she soon after finds that she never learns another drop of information from her once adored teacher. Culture clashes fly like pie in the sky, and culture takes over the relationship, and is pushed on the sister and presented as if it was part of Islam. She gets confused, they argue, and as she learns from new sources, she discovers that her “scholar” didn’t know much of anything, and that she somehow knows more than he ever did, and they divorce because he isn’t as pious as she thought he was.
Puffer Fish #2: The Arabian Knight In Shining Armor
This puffer fish is slippery, and new Muslims in desperate situations fall victim to this type – almost always. This puffer fish appears as the “knight in shining armor” that wants to rescue a damsel in distress. So, if you are in a tough financial situation, or needing a place to live, be very careful of men that approach you with the intention to “help you out” by marrying you. Remember, you don’t have to get married to be helped out. Majority of Imams and the rest of the Muslim population think that marriage will solve all your troubles, but in reality, these puffer fish are simply looking for prey.
Majority of the time, since they know you are in a desperate situation, they know that your demands will not be as high, and you are more willing to give in to various things, usually being the mahr for the marriage, and will accept just about anything, or neglect paying attention to things that you should be paying attention to. This type is very dangerous.
The Typical Outcome:
The man uses the woman for a halal sexual relationship under the guise of “helping her” but when he is finished with her, or even a tiny problem comes up, he is no longer at your service. He will even resort to inventing excuses to divorce you. They only give the bare minimum in the marriage, emotionally, financially, etc. When you expect them to behave and act like a real husband, you find them to be cold, and uncaring, and left feeling that you must be doing something wrong. Very rarely do I ever see this type of marriage last.
Another variation to this marriage, is the type where the man wants to help, but only if he gets “something” out of it. Many men will approach you to “help” you, but then quickly suggest to marry you “for short while” to have halal sexual relations with you, as compensation for the help. These men are usually already married and don’t want you to tell their wives, because it isn’t a real marriage “just two people ‘helping’ each other out.” This is not “help” it is called “exploiting the needy”. Learn to identify it! Once they feel they have “helped” you enough, they end the marriage.
Puffer Fish #3: The Sugar Momma Seeker
This puffer fish is searching for a better life than what he currently has. He doesn’t enjoy living on pond scum and has a taste for caviar. He can’t fill his desires unless he finds some extra green (money). He’s lookin’ for a “sugar momma”. He swims the social media networks for a sister that has a nice job that allows her to travel and buy whatever they ‘both’ need. The women he is after are very strong financially, and have the stability to be the primary breadwinner.
The sisters that fall for him are looking for true love, and money isn’t a concern. These fish typically don’t talk much about their personal lives, and only talk about their dreams and how they would be much better off if they had someone “by their side” to support them in attaining their dreams. However, to ‘attain’ those dreams they need financial support. They make the sister fall in love with them before they ever bring this topic up, as to not scare her away.
The Typical Outcome:
Soon after they marry, his dreams are shared with you, and of course you want to help your loving husband to attain his goals and dreams, and you get lured into voluntarily offering your help. After all, as you know – in marriage you should help one other, but more often than not, you are the one that helps, and helps, and helps, and never sees it returned. After you’ve spent your entire life savings ‘supporting’ your loving husband, and the money runs dry, he suddenly is no longer “in love” with you anymore and you start to fight, and eventually end in divorce.
Puffer Fish #4: The Golden Ticket Seeker
This puffer fish is too small for the pond he is currently living in. He wants to swim in foreign waters. This fish is swimming in a school of fish that are exactly like him, with the same dreams of traveling and living abroad, making lots of money. How does he acquire this? He is obsessed with finding that golden ticket! He learns that if he marries a foreign wife, that he has a chance to immigrate to her country. These fish come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and social statuses.
He lingers in social media groups that caters to foreign women, and typically groups related to new Muslims, because they don’t want to marry just anyone, they are looking for the perfect victims….the new Muslim foreign sister….YOU! They have you fall into their traps of deception in a variety of ways that are endless to even mention. Usually, you will find them eager to marry, and will convince you to travel to their country, usually at your expense and he makes a million promises that he never intends to keep, or can’t keep from the get-go.
The Typical Outcome:
You marry, and he sings “I’ve got the golden ticket! I’ve got the goldent ticket!” in his mind. You may get married in his country, and decide to live there for a short period, but eventually you need to return to your country, and then the “I can’t live without you” story begins to unfold. Some women are not willing to live in their husband’s country, at least not long term, so you both make plans for him to move with you to your country.
You file immigration, normally at your expense because he doesn’t make enough in his home country to cover the costs. After he comes, lives and works a good life, and gets his immigration status, he, like the others, will typically cause problems in the marriage to divorce for one reason or another intentionally. Don’t be surprised that in less than a month after divorce, he remarries very quickly and brings over his cousin, or wife he divorced in order to marry you, to your country on his new immigration status! Surprisingly enough, there are entire families that get in on this scam!
Another scenario that takes place is that you agree to live in his country, but he has a way to convince you to move back with him that you may be unaware of. Many of these puffer fish will make sure that you live in such horrible conditions, even though you and him can live better there, that you will get fed up with his country and way of life, that YOU would voluntarily suggest doing immigration for him so that you can both live better in your country. The same outcome almost always becomes the reality.
Puffer Fish #5: The Arabic and Qur’an Teacher
This puffer fish lingers around new Muslim groups on the net looking for “customers” to teach Arabic or Qur’an to. They coincidentally are also looking for a spouse and somehow manage to tell you about all their good qualities in hopes that you would consider marrying them. Some take this approach while others don’t, but regardless, they are only after one thing…money.
You will find that they are not interested in teaching male students, and seem to only have female students. They have the same approach as the “Self proclaimed scholar” in his tactics to keep you as his teacher. He will charge you an outrageous fee for each lesson, which is typically more than he would make in an entire month in his country if he had a regular job, while others will “do it for free” and hope that you fall in love with their generosity because they “love you for your Islam”. Be sure he will ask “Are you single?” Soon. Ain’t nothing free anymore girly!
The Typical Outcome:
During your lessons with this puffer fish, he will usually talk about himself, and ask about you. He tends to have “emergencies” come up that require financial assistance. He will tell you that he teaches Qur’an to raise money because he is solely responsible for caring for his 10 brothers and 3 sisters, 2 nieces, and his widowed aunt, and the crippled neighbor upstairs, their dog, and their 8 puppies, and of course his own ailing parents.
You find over time, that a family member has an “accident” or “medical emergency” requiring immediate financial help, and asks you to pre-pay for future lessons, or may even flat out ask you for a donation or a ‘loan’ that will never get repaid.
If you want to learn Qur’an online, it is best to ask for the qualifications (ijazah) to teach it in the first place, because many are not even qualified! Find a trusted institution online that offers this service, and get references. There are tons of individuals that are qualified that do this privately that will do it for free, so don’t fall into this trap.
Puffer Fish #6: The Man with No Pious Women in His Country
This puffer fish’s own kind seem to be extinct in his country, because he claims that “there are no pious women” from his country, thus, he is forced to look elsewhere. Seriously? That is a big claim to make about a nation full of Muslims. Of course there are rotten fish, but there are also delightful Muslimahs, but they just somehow can’t be found by this fish for whatever reasons. Maybe he is dumb, deaf, and blind, or has a bad reputation for reasons unknown to you, because they are everywhere! But of course he can’t find them, because he isn’t even looking in the first place! So give the brother some slack, at least he ain’t lying, right?! HA!
They tell a new Muslim sister that he “loves her for her Islam” and is certain that she is what he has been searching for all his life. Naive sisters bite, and get hooked on these lines all the time.
The Typical Outcome:
There are various possible outcomes to this type of situation. It can range from his desire to travel abroad and seek immigration through marriage, or to achieve a higher financial status by convincing you to help him with his ‘needs’ – down to the kind that feels by marrying a revert, his Islam will be improved automatically by signing a marriage contract. When the reality sets in that the seaweed isn’t always greener on the other side of the Atlantic, he will get bored, or frustrated and leave. Somehow, all of a sudden, there are no pious women in ‘your’ country, and he has to go back home to find a good wife!
There are exceptions to this of course. Many men do admire reverts and want the rewards of helping a new Muslim sister grow in her deen. Just do your research, and make use of a wali, otherwise you may never know which scenario you might be facing.
Puffer Fish #7: The Cougar Hunter
This puffer fish wants a woman from another species altogether – He wants a cougar. I’ll admit that there are many men that like an older women, but we have to be realistic too. When a 25 year old fish is flirting and seems obsessed with pleasing a 60 year old woman, that has grandchildren his age, you have to take a step back and analyze his motives and put the flattery aside. A woman can be flattered by such a young lad showing desire for her, and can begin to act desperate to hold his attention.
These fish somehow manages to make the woman head over heels for him, and her intellect goes out the window. Let’s view the traits of older women for a minute. Elder women are more likely to be well established, own their own home, car, and have the means to travel the world, and have a large retirement saved up, and have a hard time finding a new partner that late in age. Men prefer these women because these women are experienced, and mature, and typically will not have a wali, and desperate for male attention. This is a big mistake our elder revert sisters make.
The Typical Outcome:
Either during the “get to know you phase”, or after marriage, this fish will have “emergencies” arise that he turns to her to fix for him. She naively trusts him, and is willing to hand over her life savings to help her needy “love”. Pity plays a large role in these relationships, and women are tricked into marriage, and file immigration, or start businesses for them, or to put things in their husband’s name to help him ‘get established’.
Once he has what he wants, he will find a younger mate, and will divorce her and give the lame excuse of her not being able to have children with him. They failed to ever discuss this before marriage, when it is usually an ‘understood’, and if they did manage to discuss this matter, he reassured her that he is happy to be with her, even if they don’t have kids. Oh, how the story changes! I think you know the outcome. Ladies, don’t be so easily fooled by these young puffer fish that pretend to be a whale.
Puffer Fish #8: The Polygamist
These puffer fish typically are married to a woman from their home country, and have many children already. Polygyny is allowed in Islam, but there are millions of men out there that can’t even find #1 yet, so if you are not desiring polygyny, then keep swimming.
I’ve encountered many men that are already married looking for wife number 2, 3, or 4. They become ‘bored’ with their wives and seek out a halal ‘sexual adventure’ to satisfy their desires. They typically have money, and can support their multiple wives, which makes them even more appealing to a sister, especially those sisters that have lost everything due to their accepting Islam, and needing someone to support them after marriage. Beware though, many can’t even support the one they have, much less two, or three, or four! Common prey to this puffer fish are sisters that are divorced, have children from prior relationships, older women, and those that appear desperate.
The Typical Outcome:
After marriage, and a wild honeymoon, the revert tends to feel abandonment, jealousy, and a feeling of being “used”. After he has fulfilled his lustrous desires of a foreign woman, they lose interest, and typically just leave them hanging, without any financial support, unsure of what to do, or expect.
More often than not, this fish never wants to do a “government registered marriage”, and will spout some of the most outlandish reasons to avoid it. Most of the excuses are believable to you because you probably do not have the understanding of the laws and customs of his country, or that there is a chance that another existing spouse and you may find out about each other, therefore he would be wanting to hide the marriage.
He never introduces you to any relatives or friends, using the excuse that they would never approve of the marriage, or whatever….and you can understand, and don’t want to create conflict, so you accept this.
While married, you will find he doesn’t support you, even though he has the financial means to do so, and may even tell you that you need to work to help out. Sometimes the man just vanishes, never to be seen or heard from again, especially if it wasn’t a registered marriage, because there is no evidence of it, so why would he honor it?
Puffer Fish #9: The Dictator & Haram Policeman
These puffer fish are like piranhas posing as a goldfish. They lure reverts in with their “knowledge” and adherence to the religion. All reverts want a husband that can teach them, and can see that they are practicing Islam in their daily lives. This fish spends a lot of time ensuring the sister that he will only deal with her according to Qur’an and Sunnah, but boy do you have a surprise waiting for you! However, just because he is able to spout Quran verses, or hadith verbatim at the drop of a dime, doesn’t mean he knows the interpretation of it. He surely thinks he does though, but it may be a really twisted meaning that no one in their right mind would ever accept.
First, you must be able to identify if a man is an extremist, or ignorant extremist wannabe, or not in the first place. If he pushes everything on you, and expects you to be perfect the immediate moment you convert, or learn something new, beware. This is a red flag that deserves attention. New Muslim sisters desiring to be strong Muslim women will do their utmost to please him, thinking that they are pleasing Allah at the same time. Everything seems ideal. But don’t judge a book by its cover, is all that I can say about this. Knowledge is power, don’t remain ignorant.
The Typical Outcome:
These puffer fish expect a sister that accepted Islam just a month or two before, to be able to change absolutely everything, forcing it upon her with threats of divorce if she can’t keep up with his demands. While we should strive to be good Muslims, reverts need time and patience given to them to adapt and adhere to Islamic practices. If immediately after marriage, he forces you to immediately start wearing an abaya and niqab, gloves, and to never ever speak to any man, ever, and forces you to quit your job because men work there too, and forbids you to leave the home, then this is what would be considered extreme to most people, in both the East and West.
There are limits, step-methods, time, and patience needed for these things for a new Muslim. These men usually make the woman feel like a prisoner, with their every move dictated to her. He brainwashes her into thinking that he has a right to do all this to her, and she just accepts it wanting to please him. In the process this sister looses her identity, her self-respect, and dignity. These women begin searching for ways to “escape” because he will go to extensive measures to limit her contact with friends, or family because he doesn’t “approve” of them because they are either “kafirs”, or not “good enough Muslims”. If you want to be burned out on Islam faster than you can say the shahada, then marry this man.
Puffer Fish #10: The Dirty Minded
These puffer fish are easily spotted, but yet many are blinded by romantic encounters with this fellow. This fellow searches social media networks for lots of pretty young minnows to feed upon. Usually you can spot this behavior before marriage. He typically has multiple profiles, and many aliases he uses to talk to multiple women at a time without being caught. Some even pretend to be other women, and trick the sister to video chat asking the revert sister to teach her (him) how to wear the hijab, so that he gets to see her without hijab, often times taking screen-shots or recording the session. Who knows what they are doing on the other side of that screen, or what they do with those screen-shots or videos!
If you research into their profiles, and dig deep, you will usually find that they “like” or join groups that are related to sexually explicit topics. These types are usually not interested in marriage at all, but just luring a minnow into having an ‘online’ relationship involving talks about sex, and fantasies with hopes of marriage. You will probably discover these frauds quickly and end these relationships before they even begin.
Another variation of this fish are the kinds that want to rush marriage because it is a sunnah to marry quickly. They do everything by the book, and you fall for them, and get married. Some even want to do an “online nikah” that isn’t registered anywhere, and remains secret.
Some even suggest doing a “muta” (haram, temporary marriage) with the sister because he has no plans to stay in the marriage and doesn’t want any responsibilities that come with marriage. They often trick unsuspecting new Muslims into doing these “temporary marriages” teaching them that it is halal, and actually present it as the “normal” marriage. Uneducated new Muslim sisters don’t know otherwise and fall into these traps thinking they are in a real halal marriage, when they are not.
The Typical Outcome:
For those that do ‘online nikah’, once they have their sexual desires fulfilled online through cybersex, or phone sex, they begin having fights and making reasons to break up, or magically don’t know you anymore, and pretend you never existed, blocking you on all networks. The marriage was never registered, no wedding party was done, no mahr exchanged (because it was delayed until “when you meet”), making it is easy for them to pretend they never married you to begin with.
For the ones that trick a sister into ‘muta’ (temporary marriage), she never has any financial support while married, and once he finds another sister to do muta with, he drops her and vanishes too. The sister then seeks the help of other Muslims to find out how to do a divorce, and get her rights, unaware she never had rights to begin with and that the marriage was just a deception, and that it “just ends”.
Sometimes a sister gets pregnant from these fish, and afterwards discovers that she and the child are deprived of rights that they would have had if it were a real permanent marriage. If the man dies, she gets no inheritance, and the child doesn’t get what he is entitled to from Allah in the Qur’an, and is given less…..and that is assuming that the marriage can even be proven in the first place, which is almost never. If the man manages to remain alive after the ‘marriage’ is over, he can simply deny that the child is his, and has no obligation to support that child, and is considered “not his” simply by his word alone.
These are some of the most deceptive marriages, that leaves women feeling used and abused, and loosing respect not only for themselves, as well as from others. Don’t dive into these waters, these puffer fish are prickly and will harm you, and their infliction is almost impossible to heal!
Puffer Fish #11: The Secret Marriage Seeker
These puffer fish lurk in deep waters, waiting for an innocent little minnow to cross their path. These fish have similar traits as the “second wife seekers”. Typically they are already married ‘back home’ and fail to remember that they are married when asked. These fish typically use more than one profile, and talk to you through a profile that none of his family members or friends are aware of.
When asked about family and friends, they quickly try to change the subject. Never let him get away with not answering this question. Make it known that you INSIST to talk to his family, and that means his brothers and sister, and his parents, otherwise he just may have some friends pretend to be cousins, or even brothers to help fool you. I’ve seen this happen more than once, so don’t think it doesn’t happen because it does! A common excuse given is that “oh, no one in my family speaks your language, so there is no point for you to talk to them.” They reassure you that his family knows about you, when they really don’t.
The Typical Outcome:
You marry, and at the time of the nikah, it is typically only you, him, the witnesses – whom are strangers, and a “wali” that he found for you – whom you’ve never met or spoken to. There is usually no talk of a wedding party, typically with the excuse of wanting to “keep it simple, like the sunnah”. You never get to meet his family with the excuse that they would never approve of the marriage, and that he is just protecting you from getting hurt by their disapproval. It is all a scam, so be alert.
So search his profiles on all social media, insist to talk via video chat with family and friends. Be “known” even if you are disapproved of. They don’t want family and friends to discover this secret relationship because it will probably make it through the seaweed back to his other wife, or his fiance that he is engaged to (that you are unaware of). If he doesn’t budge on these things, and continues to delay or make excuses, put your foot down. Most likely he will accuse you of being “too demanding” and will eventually say “this won’t work out with you like this, because you don’t ‘trust’ me!”. Next thing you know, you are divorced because he can’t take the risk of any family or friends finding out!
Puffer Fish #12: The Sweet-Talking “Pious” Romeo
This puffer fish is a smooth talker. He knows all the right things to say to woo you. He most likely gained these skills from his endless nights bar hoping, and one night stands, while in a drunken stupor. However, on social media, and marriage websites, his profile says that he has “never drank”, “never smoked”, “is a virgin” and numerous other lies. He claims to be an upright Muslim, but only on the computer screen, and not in real life.
The Typical Outcome:
You marry, and almost immediately find out that he is not what you were told at all. He blew himself up to be what he wanted you to see, but when he deflated, he is just the typical bottom feeder. He exposes his lies because he still wants to partake in the night-life and other sinful activities he is used to. Some may even have a hidden drug use problem. Your money, trust, and love go down the toilet. You will seek divorce on the grounds of all the late night phone calls he gets, that he claims are wrong numbers, and automatically deletes his text messages, and never gets online while you are in eye’s distance from seeing his online activity. He is a romeo, not only to you, but usually many others.
Puffer Fish #13: The Lazy Muslim
This puffer fish likes to go with the flow of the current, putting no effort to swim against the current into the depths of despair. He never talks about his lazy lifestyle, and searches for every possible way to do as little as possible. A way to determine this, is before marriage, if he is online all hours of the day and night (meaning that he must not have a job), take that as a sign that he isn’t doing anything to improve his quality of life, so how can you expect him to support you after marriage? Otherwise, you wont really discover this until after you marry.
The Typical Outcome:
After marriage, you find yourself holding down 3 jobs, AND maintaining the household duties, while he surfs the net, or plays XBox all day. You fight endlessly trying to get him to do something, or anything for that matter. You would think that he would be at least willing to take a shower more often than he does, but he can’t seem to find the time in his busy day to do even that. He taps your resources until they run dry, and over time, you begin to resent him, and loose all hope. You can afford to live your life easier, both financially, and mentally without him. He is useless as a bump on a log, so you end up tossing that fish back out, because he isn’t worth keeping.
Advice To My New Revert Sisters:
Get a wali, get a wali, get a wali! Then USE the wali, and if your wali proves to be lazy, and doesn’t do any digging, find another wali. I don’t care if you are 80 years old, get a wali, and make use of him. He is there for your protection and it is a right given by Allah to you, so don’t disregard it out of pride.
Get evidence of everything these fish tell you. Don’t fall for a rubber worm as bait. You deserve something real. Don’t be a minnow trapped in a fish hatchery waiting to be eaten! There are tons of fish in the sea, so don’t limit yourself to a puddle of isolation, ignorance, and muddy water. You deserve better than that. Sharks are everywhere, looking for the weak, and those that are too ignorant to know that a shark can never be a friend of a minnow.
May Allah bless you and me, and all our revert sisters out there a happy, blessing filled marriage, with a righteous MAN and protect us from these “pufferfish”. Ameen.
Originally published at IFoundIslam