Wifehood and Motherhood are Not the Only Ways to Paradise


“Why are you majoring in that field?” I asked a sister in college. She sighed, “To be honest, I just want to get married. I don’t really care about what I’m studying right now. I’m just waiting to get hitched so I can be a wife and a mother.”

“It’s awesome that she wants to be a wife and a mother, but why would she put her life on hold?” I wondered. Why would a skilled, passionate young woman create barriers to striving for self-improvement and her ability to be socially transformative when she doesn’t yet have the responsibilities of wifehood or motherhood? Being a wife and a mom are great blessings, but before it actually happens, why exchange tangible opportunities, just waiting for marriage to simply come along—if it came along? I didn’t have to look far to find out.

“I’m already twenty-six,” another sister lamented. “I’m expired. My parents are going crazy. They think I’m never going to get married and they pressure me about it daily. My mom’s friends keep calling her and telling her I’m not getting any younger. She keeps crying over it and says she’ll never be a grandma. It’s not like I don’t want to get married; I’ve been ready since college! I just can’t find the right guy,” she cried.

Why, as a general community, are we not putting the same pressure on women to encourage them to continue to seek Islamic knowledge? Higher education? To make objectives in their lives which will carry over and aid them in their future familial lives, if such is what is meant for them? Perhaps it’s because we’re obsessed with the idea that women need to get married and become mothers and that if they don’t, they have not reached true success.

We all know the honorable and weighty status of wifehood and motherhood in Islam. We all know that marriage completes half your deen1 and that the Prophet ﷺ (peace be upon him) has told us about the mother, “[…] Paradise is at her feet.”2

But getting married and becoming a mother is not the only way to get into Paradise. And not every grown woman is a wife and/or mother, nor will ever be. Some women will eventually become wives and/or mothers, if Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala (exalted is He) blesses them with such, but for others, Allah (swt) has blessed them with other opportunities.

Allah (swt) did not create women for the sake of wifehood or motherhood. This is not our first goal, nor our end goal. Our creation was to fulfill our first and most important role—to be His SLAVE. As He tells us in Surah Dhaariyat (Chapter of the Winnowing Winds), “And I did not create the jinn and humankind except to worship Me.”3

Worship comes in such a variety of forms. Being a housewife (a.k.a. domestic engineer!) can be a form of worship. Being a stay-at-home-mom can be a form of worship. Being a working wife and mother can be a form of worship. Being an unmarried female student can be a form of worship. Being a divorced female doctor, a female journalist, Islamic scholar, film director, pastry chef, teacher, veterinarian, engineer, personal trainer, lawyer, artist, nurse, Qur’an teacher, psychologist, pharmacist or salon artist can each be a form of worship. Just being an awesome daughter or house-fixer upper can be forms of worship. We can worship Allah (swt) in a variety of ways, as long as we have a sincere intention, and what we do is done within the guidelines He has set for us.

Unfortunately, however, that is not the message our community is sending to single sisters – both those who have never been married, and those who are now divorced. When I speak to many women and ask them about the ways they want to contribute to society and the ways they want to use their time and abilities, a number of them will tell me that they have no idea and that they’re only going through the motions of school or work while they’re waiting for Prince Muslim to come along and with whom they can establish parenthood.

However, Prince Muslim is not coming along quickly or easily for many awesome, eligible Muslim women. And for some, he has come along, and he or the institution of their relationship turned out to be more villainous than harmonious. Single and never married or divorced — very capable and intelligent Muslim women constantly have to deal with the pressure of being asked, “So…when are you getting married? You aren’t getting any younger. It’s harder to have kids when you’re older.”

The amount of tears, pain, stress, anger and frustration which these awesome women are constantly dealing with because of a social pressure to get married (especially when many already want to, but are just not finding the right person!) and have children is not from our religion.

Islam gave women scholarship. Our history is filled with women who have dedicated their lives to teaching Islamic sciences. Have you ever heard of Fatimah Sa`d al Khayr? She was a scholar who was born around the year 522. Her father, Sa`d al Khayr, was also a scholar. He held several classes and was “most particular about [his daughters] attending hadith classes, traveling with them extensively and repeatedly to different teachers. He also taught them himself.”4 Fatimah studied the works of the great al-Tabarani with the lead narrator of his works in her time.  You know who that lead narrator was? The lead narrator of Fatimah’s time was not named Abu someone (the father of someone, indicating that he was a male). The leading scholar of her time was a woman. Her name was Fatimah al-Juzadniyyah and she is the scholar who men and women alike would study under because in that era, she was the greatest and most knowledgeable in some of the classical texts.5 Fatimah Sa`d al Khayr eventually married and moved to Damascus and eventually to Cairo and she continued to teach. Many scholars travelled specifically to her city so they could study under her.6

Fatimah was brought up in a family that valued the education and knowledge of a woman to the point that her father was the one who would ensure she studied with scholars from a young age. Before marriage, she was not told to sit around and be inactive in the community out of fear that some men would find an educated woman unattractive or intimidating and would not want to marry her. She was not going through the motions of studying random things in college because she was stalling until she got married. She sought scholarship and Allah (swt) blessed her with a husband who was of her ranking, who understood her qualifications and drive, and who supported her efforts to continue teaching this religion even after marriage. She left a legacy we unfortunately have most likely never heard about because we rarely hear about the over eight thousand female scholars of hadith who are part of our history.7

Why do we never hear about Fatimah Sa`d al Khayr and the thousands of female scholars who were like her? I think that one of the reasons—and it’s just a personal theory—that as a community, we are so focused on grooming our women to be wives and mothers that we lose sight of the fact that this is not even our number one role.

Servitude to Allah (swt) is our number one role. We need to use what He has given us, the means that we have at the moment we have, to worship Him in the best of ways.

Islamic history is filled with examples of women who were wives and mothers, who focused completely on their tasks of being wives and/or mothers, and produced the likes of Imam Ahmed rahimahu allah (may God have mercy on him).8 We take those examples as a community and we reiterate the noble status of such incredible women.

But we also have examples of people who were not only wives and not only mothers, but those who were both of those, one of those, or none of those, and still were able to use the passions, talents and skills Allah (swt) blessed them with to worship Him through serving His creation, through calling His creation back to His Deen and leaving legacies for the generations to come. Some of these women were wives and mothers and dedicated their lives to focusing on their families completely and some of them continued to serve the greater society at large.

Shaykh Mohammad Akram Nadwi mentions in his introduction to his Dictionary of women hadith scholars, Al Muhadithaat, “Not one [of the 8000 female hadith scholars he researched] is reported to have considered the domain of family life inferior, or neglected duties therein, or considered being a woman undesirable or inferior to being a man, or considered that, given aptitude and opportunity, she had no duties to the wider society, outside of the domain of family life.”9

Female scholars in our history were focused on being family women when they had families to whom they held responsibilities, and  when able, they also had goals and objectives in life which extended beyond the roles of wifehood and motherhood. So what about someone who is not yet married? Many single women are using their time to the utmost, focusing on improving their skills and abilities to contribute back to the ummah (community) and society at large. They are loving worshipping Allah (swt) through investing in their abilities and using those for the greater good. Perhaps we can all take from their example.

God, in His Wisdom, has created each one of us differently and in different circumstances. Some recognize this, love any stage they are in, and develop their abilities to the fullest. Let us, too, use the time and abilities God has given us to maximize our worship to Him and work for the betterment of society and humanity as a whole. If wifehood or motherhood comes in the process, then at least we were using all of our ability to worship Him before it came and can continue to use the training and stamina we gained before marriage to worship Him with excellence once it comes along.

If there are parents, families and communities that are pressuring women to get married and have kids: Be grateful Allah (swt) has blessed you with daughters, married or unmarried, mothers or not, as the Prophet ﷺ has said, “Do not be averse to daughters, for they are precious treasures that comfort your heart.”10 We are putting more pressure on our sisters than they can emotionally and psychologically handle. Let us give them space, let them find themselves and establish their relationships with Allah (swt).

Allah (swt) created us to worship Him. That is our number one role. Now, let us do our part and figure out how best we can fulfill the purpose for which we’ve been created.

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  1. Al Bayhaqi []
  2. Al-Nasaa’i []
  3. Qur’an, 51:56 []
  4. Nadwi, Mohammad Akram, Al Muhadithaat, Interface Publications, (2007): pg. 93. Print. []
  5. Ibid []
  6. Nadwi, Mohammad Akram, Al Muhadithaat, Interface Publications, (2007): pg. 95. Print. []
  7. Nadwi, Mohammad Akram, Al Muhadithaat, Interface Publications, (2007). Print. []
  8. The Code of Scholars, Muhammad Alshareef. EmanRush, 2008. CD []
  9. Nadwi, Mohammad Akram, Al Muhadithaat, Interface Publications, (2007): pg. XV. Print. []
  10. Al Haythami, Majma al zawaid, vii. 286, as cited in Al Muhadithaat. []

284 Comments

  1. Maryam says:

    I love this article!!!! Jazakil Allahu Khairan! I read all of your articles sister Maryam and I love you enthusiasm and energy! MASHA ALLAH!

  2. Wajihah says:

    Assalamu Alaikum, thank you for this brilliant article, it’s amazing :) Subhan Allah

  3. wajiha says:

    Assalamoalaikm
    sister u r right! as mentioned above, the main problem lies here.. that even among muslims we dont have the required orienatation of “what life is?” i mean what r our obligations being a servant of Allah (swt). every muslim must focus his/her aim of life, i.e. submission to our Creator.
    its fine to console our youth.. but u see on the other hand we’ve developed an attitude of not giving the due importance to marriage n the duties of wifehood n motherhood. siters wish to enjoy, be free n not take any pains (even if they r married).. although our Prophet(S.A.W) clearly mentioned that being ungrateful to ur husband may take u towards hellfire, but we see around such disrespecting n ungrateful attitudes.. in our country (pakistan) now a days studies r given more importance thn marriage, by many people. thay say a woman must have the ability to support herself (in financial terms) on the contatry young girls, have developed unhealthy attitudes like being very particular about beauty n dressing,copying west, watching tv (dramas in general-indian soaps also), chatting n sitting for hours on facebook,having fun in watching movies n listening to music, least bothered about household or practical aspects of life, no dawah activities, even the parents r not concerned whether their children know quran, islamic teachings (practising is the next step) or not.our native language urdu, which, by the grace of Allah, contains a vast islamic literature is given no worth. all focus is on learning english n acquiring material gains. same trends r heard to be prevailing in arab countries also.
    we muslims r in dare need of motherhood n wifehood training/ orientation according to islamic perspective so that we bring forth Allah-loving n fearing generation, bold enough to face the taaghut. plz do write for the issue.

  4. Maryam says:

    JazakAllah khayr for this beautiful piece.
    Getting it printed and pasting it on our fridge so that my mum reads it too :D

  5. Fozia says:

    Salamalaikum,
    Good article and thoughts indeed
    However, I would like to point that life isn’t so easy as we want or even can imagine, some sisters devoted their life to studies, to their families, to their work without ceasing Ibada and worship and at the end they find themselves alone and lonely without no help, everything you want to do go more difficult when you’re a woman (go on and find a plumber, negotiate with administration machos,..)and those same things seem to be so easier and obvious when they are executed by men. We must not and have not to hide some cruel reality when women get older, so here there will be no choice, no deal…
    Wa Allah only Knows best
    Fozia

  6. Minha Husaini says:

    Jazak Allah Khairan for your thoughts, Maryam!
    You have spoken for many, many of us.

  7. Mariam says:

    This is amazing article, I just wish that parents and men understand this.

  8. Jo Frank says:

    I ask Allah to protect us from this deviation of all that which pleases Allah. Feminism in the west has reached our religion and started to change it from the Inside. We are to encourage our daughters to read and study this religion, and this religion only. Aside from getting a general education we were not commanded to send them to schools and jobs to mix with males and be in an environment which Allah hates.

    • Maliha says:

      With all due respect, it is very important that muslim women get more than just a general education. e.g. if there were no female doctors, we (women) would have no choice but to go to male doctors.
      Quran and hadith knowledge along with some level of professional education is a must if muslims are to raise healthy individuals and families that contribute to society in a way that God intended us to.

    • Hydaspes says:

      Yes brother, Feminism is a disease that is slowly rearing it’s ugly head in our ummah, but I do think that you maybe a little too harsh. If we encourage our daughters and sisters to study deen, we most certainly should encourage our brothers and sons as well; it is not okay for boys come entrenched with a secular mindset, while we expect our sisters to hafizas.

      A while back, I met this very “girly” sister who was studying to be a civil engineer. Now this sister was completely oblivious to engineering and whatnot; she was more interested in cooking, deen and other, how shall I say, softer subjects… Civil engineering is a very outdoor-male dominated job. One can only imagine a sister standing betwixt a bunch of construction workers… Only if we, as an ummah, had the aqul, to have a separate, fully functioning female college only for sisters ?

      • Nisreen says:

        Salam! Yes sister Maliha, i totally agree with you.

        I wonder why people don’t have a problem with their boys studying with non-muslim girls, but they have a problem with their muslim dauthers studying with guys. If you don’t want your daughter to study with males, so should it be for your sons.

        So should we have the uqul to have a separate, fully functioning male college only for brothers.

      • Haniraiha says:

        I am civil engineer women for more than 10 years, yet unmarried and age above 30. Being and engineer is really tough but i want to say, it’s not totally outdoor job as you mention. Some work at office as consultant and some at site. And believe or not half of my office full with female engineer.

        • Hyde says:

          I do not understand why there some articles discussing the different ways women can avoid shaking hands with non-mahram, then there articles like these…(like the story of the crazy brother who goes to clubs to give dawah)… Alhamdulillah I am happy that being a mother and wife are some of the greatest assets ways for a sister to have!)

      • Kirana says:

        The issue depends on your cultural context. In my country, Malaysia, female civil engineers are not unusual, though pregnancy/family limitations means most of them will gravitate into the design portion rather than construction oversight. Not all women are comfortable with engineering as a job, but quite a few can do it well. I agree that you do need to research what the job is about *before* taking the course.

        I have experience working in this field. Contractors listen to you if you know what you’re doing, even look after you in a rough sort of chivalry. Workers – usually migrant from neighbouring countries – depending on the culture of the contractor company, see you as a sister or mother depending on age, particularly if your job involves securing their workplace well-being. Our job sites instil a good safety culture in that we bear in mind the families we do the work for, and women remind workers of wives and mothers they have left behind, and who are waiting on the paychecks they will remit for their sustenance. In my culture, women can convey some reminders about safety that the workers wouldn’t have taken from a man, or a man would feel “unmanly” to make the reminder.

        Now if you’re in a country that disrespects women generally anyway, and does not see women as surrogate family members, then of course the danger is greater – but it is not the job, it’s your culture. Yes, construction workers do physical and “dirty” jobs. But it does not necessarily mean that they are badly-minded and unmannered, as you are implying when you say “sister standing betwixt construction workers”. In fact they might treat the sister better than white collar men.

    • Ali says:

      Except you are dead wrong. The Prophet Muhammed was in a mixed environment when he worked. And so did his companions.

      We are to encourage our daughters to go to school and send them to jobs.

      May Allah SWT save us from people like you ameen.

      • sbr says:

        and so did Khadijah r.a., the Prophet’s (pbuh) was in a mixed environment. Her rank as a woman and as a human being, is one of the best of mankind, dealing with men and women on daily basis yet a very pious woman.

        That is one of many examples that we women should follow. She was Rasulullah’s first wife, and there are plenty of reasons why Rasulullah was blessed with her as his first wife.

        Wallahualam

        p/s: I read this article every now and then since it was published!

  9. Sarah Lam says:

    Thank you so much for this wonderful article. You helped me discover myself. I was very sad & depressed due to the fact that I am not a mother (yet), after being married for more than 3 years. Family members (especially on the in-law’s side) and friends have been asking the same questions, repetitively whenever they have the chance, “when are you going to have a baby?” or “why are you taking such a long time to have baby?”.

    This is driving me crazy, because I do not have the power to control “when” I am going to have a baby. Instead, I can work towards to goal and pray that someday I will be blessed with a baby (with Allah’s will). The pressure is increasing when someone announces their pregnancy. There are times when I cannot take it, and just cry. I am currently studying and working.

    Now, I am thankful that I am able to focus on improving myself by gaining as much knowledge as possible before I become a mother, who will be responsible in educating my children.

    • Lily says:

      I feel you. Even if you don’t have people asking, it’s this expectation that society puts on you to be a mother after you’re married. I break down too sometimes because I feel like I’m delaying having kids. But you are right, all is in the hands of Allah SWT.

  10. raihani says:

    Subhanallah, very good article indeed. I am single-not yet married women, age 35, working as engineer. For me, what i do to fill my time, to increase my knowledge as much as i can. Because, from my experience, most my married womens friend have no time or no chance to do this. Somemore, i was given chance to care my parent until now. How wonderful Allah has show His wisdom in my life for being a single women until now.

    Jazakallahu khair.

    • Asadullah says:

      Subhanallah, I have been studying deen for years. I probably have the knowledge of some one with a three year / four years degree in Islam. I started studying deen intensively in 1999. So over past 14 years. The knowledge do add up. But I do realize that the solutions our religion is proposing is considered unrealistic for many of the brothers and sisters and that’s why we have such a hard time finding some one suitable. Many of us are educated but we are not coming together to find solutions to our common problems. Until we apply that education to solve the issues we face as a community we will not progress. The issue of marriage have been here for a long time with in muslim community but really there have not been any concrete steps to solve this issue. Even many of the match making services are totally inadequate to the needs of the community.

  11. Abu Zejd says:

    SelamuAlejkum

    May Allah safeguard the women of this Ummah.

    I can appreciate this article for its cleverness and the strength of its message.
    There are things which I wish to point out however and this is only my point of view and others may agree or disagree. This religion is a din of principles. We have principles which guide us throughout the whole of our existence. The principles are rooted in Al Islam which was sent down by our creator to us and the creator says “This day have I perfected your religion for you and completed My favour unto you, and have chosen for you as religion al-Islam”, what is very important here is that Allah says that Islam is HIS Favor upon us. Working off this principle I argue that since Islam is Gods FAVOR than I think that my life should be guided by the principles of Al Islam. Working off this principle which I have laid out I think that in order to understand the role of women we must go to the Quran, The Sunnah, and maybe lets say 3 to 5 women who are the greatest women of Islam. In the quran the rightous women will be described, in the sunnah they will also be described, and if we look at Asya (wife of pharaoh), Fatima (wife of Ali), Khadija (wife of S.aW), and Aisha (wife of S.a.W). All 5 of these women were wives, All 5 of them had IMAN. Important thing to point out here is that only 1 of them was a scholar, while the other 4 were good mothers. So yes a women may be educated but to give preference to education over being a wife and motherhood is a sign that a women has NOT understood her religion. Second issue is that based on the principle that Allah has Ordained for men to be the provider we also see that the women was not MEANT to provide. Third and final issue is the problem of Halal and Haram… My dear sisters mixing with the opposite sex for 8 to 12 hours a day when Allah has not ordained for you to provide is accumulation of SO MUCH SIN…..
    The man who works does so because he has to (And I advise brothers to try to work in places where there are not many women) and may Allah excuse them, yet Allah has not said women are providers so they have no excuse to be out in the field working.
    Once again I say….if we will not let Allah guide our thinking and our lifestyle then have we truly submitted ourselves to him? Or are we doing what we want to do under the false claim of Submission to god….

    • Fezz says:

      Agreed but the article is very specific for a group of sisters for whom marriage and bearing children may be a distant possibility. Life shouldnt stand still while they wait and clearly they still have obligations and an ability to contribute.

      Having said that, we should recognise that “wifehood and motherhood” ARE routes to paradise and are actually MAJOR ROUTES to paradise.

      They are not ‘additional lifestyle add-ons’. And there are a limited number of middle class professions for females to enter. We could do with more articles which promote the Islamic equivalent of these perhaps.

      • Tasneem says:

        Fezz: I agree with “Life shouldnt stand still while they wait, and clearly they still have obligations and an ability to contribute.” A sister will only get married when Allah swt decides that it will happen. It may be soon, but it may take quite a long time. In the meantime,the sister could either choose to reap ajr by helping her parents, younger siblings,or contributing to the wider society through her profession, studies, or voluntary work, for example OR she may choose to feel sorry for herself, which will cripple her and not allow her to use the potential Allah swt gave her to fulfil her duty of ‘Uboodiyyah to Allah swt. Jazak Allah Khair for the article Maryam.

        • Fezz says:

          True. I write this as many ‘new age’ individuals want to re-write everything. Particularly hadiths that stress being obedient and serving the husband is often seen as some sort of facile servitude and this is leading to the breakup of families.

    • Reality says:

      Well a great article!.
      And i want to add here especially for MEN to comprehend the situations which single girls/women have to go through in this DUNIYA.Our religion is the ideal religion but this world isnt ideal.This fast moving world doesn’t have much time other than oneself,siblings gets married,have kids n starts to have their own lifes, they begin to ignore the single females/males of their families,under such situation a person is bound to get ALONE and with the mindset that women shudn’t work,society forces these women to be totally dependent on others, which is wrong,one cannot live on tids n bits of others,women have self-respect too, once when parents are gone,they are considered as a burden by society!.
      Welcome to REAL world! so to live through this world n life this article is a great write up for Single Women!.

    • Asadullah says:

      Totally disagree with your point of view. Woman can provide for the family as much as man can. In the society now it is becoming the norm as man are not payed enough to support a family on their salary for most occupations. Khadija RA (Wife of prophet Saw)was a employer which is even a rank higher then the worker/ breadwinner. We should look at Quran and Sunnah for the answers but do not forget beside the few main books we have at home. Like Tafseer, Shahai bukhari etc there are millions of books in the libraries of muslim Islamic universities that no one reads. The rule that man has to provide is a general rule it is not a must. Not every single man throughout history provided for the family. In North America it is easier for a woman to get entry level jobs then man. She may be able to provide for the family while the brother establishes him self. When 50% of all jobs are going to the woman in a society. We have to take that into consideration.

    • Ali says:

      Disagree with you.

      Women being hhousewives is not in any wa supported by the Quran or Sunnah.

      Whats wrong with a mixed environment? The Prophet Muhammed and his companions worke din mixed environments. So if they can do it, so can we.

  12. matakoo says:

    i am a single woman, in my 30s.. have experienced all those issues mentioned..
    this great article really inspires me to be a better muslimah..
    tq..

  13. Abu Zejd says:

    Selamu Alejkum

    It saddens me when people say stuff like REAL world, as If Allah swt did not leave us with guidance for a real world rather guidance for some abstract, foreign, forgotten, alien world. The REAL issue is that we must make the correct intention in order to tread the correct path. I have seen brothers and sisters make the intention to get married for the sake of Allah and his pleasure until they found mates in countries on the other side of the world (europe) to be exact within only a few months. So when we say things like “the reality is this and this” we should stop and think why that is….

    I will now stop this because it will become a debate and is not befitting of muslims to debate one another. May Allah protect you

    • Kirana says:

      Hi brother, if you are referring to Reality’s post, I think what she means is that the REAL world is the world today, whereby the guidance of Allah is NOT followed, which leads to the situation of single people (especially women) in some places being completely ignored when other people are busy with families and such but neither are the women allowed to make their own way.

      Further, we have to admit that for various reasons women who have eccentric personalities, are perhaps too short or have some kind of physical abnormality, who are disabled in some way (even minor), who are in the genius band of intelligence including savants (which makes one’s mental ability and social engagement ability completely different for both men and women, but the effect is less tolerated in a woman), etc. will not be candidates for most men to meet as people to get to know and woo as wives. i’m sure the standard opinion is that muslim men should marry them, but this is usually meant as a ‘pity marriage’ as though the man is sacrificing himself to be a husband to them, rather than knowing them and falling in love with them because they may be outstanding people.

      so while for an individual person Allah alone knows if He will cause her match to happen, statistically as a group, women who are “outliers” in any way do find it more difficult to marry simply because today not enough muslim men marry for someone’s heart and character, and even if they do, they prioritise women of character who have ‘nothing wrong’ with them. it’s the lucky eccentric woman who finds a man who actually loves her quirks and eccentricities, seeing them as something of value rather than something ‘wrong’. and odds are this man will not come from the traditionally muslim cultures.

      • Zaheer says:

        This is a very delayed reply but I just came across this article (new to suhaibwebb) and thought I might respond here.

        I just want to point out that what you’re saying goes for males as well.

        It’s not like males with physical/mental disabilities or abnormalities, ‘eccentric’ personalities, etc. are the likeliest candidates for women to seek as marriage partners. So I’m not sure why you think this is a unique problem for females, or why it affects females more.

        Some qualities are less desirable in a women, yes (e.g. the more beautiful the women the greater her prospects of marriage, no doubt about this). The same is true for men – you mentioned short stature – that is much more of a ‘problem’ for men than women when it comes to marriage and being desirable to the opposite gender.

        So while I agree with what you’re saying, I think you’re approaching the topic with ‘victim mentality’ firstly, and secondly that your’re incorrectly restricting these conditions to the females of the ummah, whereas similar issues affect males. We can argue all day about who is ‘worse off’ but I don’t think we can even rightly compare them given the differences between the genders (real or imagined).

  14. shihaam says:

    shukran for the article took a lot off pressure off my shoulders

  15. cheeko says:

    jaza kala khairen…its really really beautiful article,we as women should know our real value in every role…role or character should not effect our goal,may Allah keep every one focused and on the right path.

  16. tahera says:

    Jazak Allah for this well thought of article. I am a 40 year old unmarried women. Cancer took away my ability to bear children. It encourages me greatly to know it is acceptable for a woman to become a scholar of Hadith and teachings of Deen. Sister you have give me light and direction.

  17. Dalia says:

    Please write something about disabled sisters, how hard their lives are! Please do this! Anyone on suhaibwebb.com please do this.

    • Asadullah says:

      I can do that also I should write my life history that it self has many lessons. I was born with speech impediment. Went to the very best university in U.K. passed the exams and cleared the first year with honors. Then realized even with a degree no one will hire me due to my speech impediment. Moved to Canada did one year of college in I.T and did a degree in I.T. putting in five more years. Spent most of last 15 years looking for a job so I can get married. Mean While I started taking a lot of communication courses to improve my self. Got to a point where I was sending 300 resumes with customized cover letters a month. That would generate 200 interviews a month. Net result of that was that employers turned round and said If I apply again they will call the police. So yes they did not hire me due to my Speech Impediment. Alhumdulilah I found an odd job and financially satisfied. I turned to Allah swt and guess what Allah swt cured my speech but there is a lot that i have to still do to improve my self.

  18. Amani Khawatmi says:

    Mashallah, amazing article! Very well-written, concise, and provides situations that every young female potentially undergoes everyday. I enjoyed reading this article and truly connected with each word written.

  19. Kirana says:

    thank you for this article. i think women do not need much – or perhaps any – extra pressure about being a wife and mother. every culture (except some really ultramodern ones) cherishes the role of mother. and the influence of biology is very strong – the biological clock is keenly felt by women, with or without anyone reminding them of it.

    i *know* the hadith where the Prophet said that only two things can be envied by a Muslim about another person – neither of them involve being married and having kids, but are (1) wealth and the ability to spend it on good causes (2) knowledge and the ability to teach it to others. i *know* the women in the early and golden age of islam were many things and seemed to marry, divorce, re-married or some didn’t marry at all without this being a particularly central issue in their lives. and yet for me, even with this topic only infrequently mentioned (God blessed me with a lot of sensitive relatives and friends) the likelihood of not having children, of an uncertain marriage and being too late to start over, still eats away at me some.

    isn’t it strange that it’s normal to feel such terrible regret over missing out on parenthood, but not on missing out on having wealth and knowledge to benefit others? perhaps it is because the latter feels like you can get them later, but parenthood has a perceived time limit.

  20. Nusaiba says:

    I can’t thank you enough, sister, for speaking my mind. I am a 23 year old Muslimah in a country that’s far from my own. Let’s not talk about my views on marriage or how it should be; suddenly after i completed my bachelor’s degree, everyone around me is pushing me like there’s no other topic in the planet. It is so emotionally disturbing that really, i don’t know how to be kind to them anymore. It hurts me to be feeling so angry but that’s how i feel. If there’s any lady interfering in the lives of her daughter or friend’s daughter, please don’t earn sin this way;if you mean well, find her a good man, don’t sit around asking about it. It maybe well-meant but it is hurtful. In most cases, the girl is powerless any way, it’s not like she can order a husband. Parents should be taught to find good husbands for their daughters, instead of good wives for their sons!

  21. Lily says:

    Jazak Allahu Khair for posting this article. It truly helped to ease the pain and stress that’s in my heart. I am in my early 20′s and I have been married recently. Although I do not experience any pressure from my family about having kids, I grew up in a society where marriage suddenly means popping babies out. I always feel like I need to hurry up and have kids because I’m young and I’m just wasting my time. Once I put “alhamdullilah” as my status on facebook and this one person chats me up to ask if there is any good news. I didn’t know what they were talking about but I realized they were asking if I got pregnant yet. Although I am sure they meant it in a good way, I still felt pressured by it. Now that I am married, I feel like I’m slowly losing motivation to continue my studies. I feel as though I just need to be a housewife and prepare to be a mom. I feel conflicted going back to school because I feel like I need to make sure my house is in order and if I neglect being a wife or mom, I won’t get jannah. Although I am married alhamdullilah, a part of me always feels like I was rushed into it when I wasn’t really ready. Insha Allah, Allah makes it easier for all of us and blesses us for whatever stage of life we are in.

  22. pinkypower says:

    Jazakallah :’( you have no idea what this means to me :’(

  23. Aisha says:

    Sigh…

    Yet another article pointing at females. The problem and cancer in our ummah are the males, their ignorance they insatiable apatite for the dunya and their perpetual childlike state into adulthood, exceptions do not break the general pattern.

    Asaalam Aleikum.

  24. Iffat Khan says:

    Parenthood, for both men and women, requires great sacrifice, dedication and strength. If one hasn’t developed these characteristics, how will they fare in the face of those tasks?

    We do our community a huge disservice, when we perpetuate a culture where women believe that they only exist to be taken care of. We belittle their sense of self and purpose, and then we wonder why so many young mothers are severely depressed.

  25. Shahed says:

    Great article! My wife brought this to my attention and alhumdulillah it articulates a very valid opinion. However it is an opinion of the author who is ultimately voicing her opinion and basing this on her perceptions and understandings of situations she has lived and/or witnessed. By no means can an opinion be generalised! We do have many great women in our history and women play a very important part of our society as intellects , mothers and daughters. But we have to remember that most likely we have some not-so great women in history too (indeed the same goes for men).Many of the comments written above seem to point the finger at society (or indeed men) when it comes to the subject of stifling females is this correct to generalise? Will society evolve through this us and them attitude? Surely if all happens due to Allahs will then we should had sabr and make dua rather then building a barrier between the genders within our religion?
    Yes I believe our sisters have been held back, but we cannot pick and choose what aspects of Islam to follow according to our nafs. We have to strike a balance. It is not healthy in society to have men or women single, it leaves room for shaytan. Why is there a problem putting “pressure” on someone to look for a spouse (by the way that happens to men too!) there is nothing wrong with being married and chasing your dreams too. Is it healthy for a person to be single and work in a mixed environment? Surely if married the temptations are less. Lastly I believe the ayah from the Quran quoted has been very conveniently interpreted, yes Allah has created us to worship him and yes there are many forms of worship, but why is this being used to justify not expediting ones marriage? Furthermore why is this ayah being used and not another ayah which justifies men taking more than one wife?

    My intentions were not to offend but to discuss why there is this growing female rights campaign in the community. I am not privy to the writers intentions. Allah knows best, but am fearful of the way this may be interpreted by others. I fear we risk losing the distinction between man and woman,much like the western society. In my opinion there is a distinction between the genders however that does not indicate a disadvantage.

  26. Bubbles says:

    Maybe it’s because I am a women that I always see these articles about women’s issues, and women not selling themselves short. I wish there were also more articles out there saying the same about men. Like, hey men, it’s great you want to succeed in your career, but when you do get married, don’t forget to pitch in at home and not expect your wife to be an extension of your mother when it comes to taking care of the house and kids.

    In my community, I don’t see women selling themselves short as much as I see men just not living up to their responsibilities. And in any community, any issue that affects one gender will also have a reflection on the other.

  27. Zainab says:

    Mashaa Allah Sister Maryam. Thank you so much for your brilliant article. May Allah (SWT) reward you abundantly, and may He increase our love and knowledge for the truth about our noble Islam, ameen. I have had this conversation with many people, many times, especially when they insist the primary function/role of a woman in Islam is to get married and have babies and be a home maker. We weren’t created to have babies, we were created with the primary purpose of worshiping Allah. There’s a reason why Allah (SWT) in His infinite wisdom made marriage a Sunnah (not compulsory, but recommended). Society has turned it upside down. Young women are under so much pressure to get married, they end up making wrong decisions because of this pressure, and sometimes end up in unhappy marriages. Why? We all want to settle down, and have a beautiful family, life just isn’t perfect for all.

    Please I hope I’ll have your permission to republish this on my blog, with full credits given to you. Thank you.

    • WebbStaff says:

      That should be fine as long as it adheres to our article reposting policy.

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      For more information about our reposting policy, please visit this page: http://www.suhaibwebb.com/miscellaneous/announcements/article-reposting-policy/

  28. HT says:

    What a wonderful article! I’m not religious myself but this carries a lot of important messages for both men and non-Muslims as well as Muslim women.

    Of course we’re all eager to find our life partners and settle down but there’s so much more to life than that! We owe it to our future partners, our friends, our families and especially to ourselves* to make the most of what we’ve been given.

    At the very least it will help us to experience life and grow as people so that we’re better prepared for the relationship if/when it comes.

    * I’m only listing mortals here, no offence intended!

  29. Umme Hadi says:

    Maryam,
    Your a source of inspiration..Truly….

  30. MuslimAmerican says:

    Elhamdulillah, this is not an issue I as a husband and father am willing to even slightly entertain. Rasulullah S.A.W told us to marry. Tariq Ramadan mentioned that culture is ok until it clashes with Islamic Principles. We as Americans must be vary that our Life is In line with the Principles of Al Islam. Femenist movements have slowly crept their way into our religion and this is clear when looking at this article. Women in the workplace are much of the reason for the adultery and so forth that takes place because MALE and FEMALE tend not to know how to control themselves when exposure is high like say 40 hours a week with the opposite sex and 13 hours with your husband…..or wife. May Allah protect us from this nonsense.

    • Asadullah says:

      Brother is one studies the North American economic culture. Having two incomes is a reality/ necessary for many families. This culture is producing the next generation where as much as 40% of the young may not marry. Gone are the days when one can just start high school and get married. Many will not marry even with a PHD. Welcome to the modern education/ cultural / economic realities. The hadith about marriage is talking about a cultural norm where a girl could make bread and milk a goat and a brother that can raise 3 goats and farm 2 acres of land was enough to get married. They may make up an upper middle class family. Total family net-worth of $6,000 to $10,0000 Many people are looking for professionals with a professional job like a doctor, engineer or an accountant. Then they look for what is the name of the employer. How they look like (compare them to TV personalities). The family and their background also comes into play. What we do not have is a global institute that looks in to these issues, i.e. a institute which looks in to the issues of the Muslim families.

    • Hyde says:

      Good sensible point.

  31. Foxymardy says:

    I remember reading & commenting on this article back in Oct 2011, about accepting my single hood and to not feel like i am less religious than my married sisters just because I don’t have a ring on my finger.

    Shortly after that in December, I met a beautiful man much to my amazement, got engaged in February 2012 and was married in April 2012.

    I’m days away from my first anniversary as a wife and i am very happy alhamdulillah.

    Makes me smile reading my previous comment, written during the final months of my single hood, earnestly believing Allah created me to serve him as a single woman. Forever fasting.

    Allah is the Best of All Planners. No matter what situation you’re in just have complete faith in Him and without a doubt He will lead you to what is best for you. Only He knows what it is, how it will happen and when.

    Jazakallahkhairan sister maryam for such an empowering article :)

    • Guest says:

      Jazak Allah khair Sister for sharing your story, and reminding us to trust Allah swt in all our affairs, and not to always rely on our own means; sends so much hope for single sisters out there!! May allah swt grant you a happy life with your husband, and grant the other sisters a pious husband. Ameen.

  32. Maysara says:

    This is a great article but i feel one point needs to be clarified. We actually have an opposite problem now. There is so much focus on a woman being educated and working that when she eventually does get married and have kids its hard for her to handle going from being in a professional career dealing with people on a professional level, to changing diapers and cleaning vomit! Many women think (and Western feminism is largely to blame for this) “What am I doing with my life, I am wasting my life cleaning poop and vomit!!”

    But our religion teaches us that this a womans greatest struggle and her reward is great and she shouldnt belittle this job Allah has given her, to bring up the next generation of believers. I think muslim women nowadays have been so inundated with feminist teachings for so long that they need support. they need to know that being a housewife is not insignificant, It is at times harder than going out to work!!

    Please support moms at home! This is coming from a tertiary educated career woman, turned mom of 4.

    • Hyde says:

      A fresh and awesome comment. Like Noam Chomsky said, there seems to be a war against mothers!

    • omar says:

      I also want to add to this comment. While the scenarios the author mentioned are true in some cases, in many cases it is the very educational and professional pursuits that have created a marriage crisis where youth are having trouble getting married. Many sisters and/or their parents will not even consider marriage until their mid-20s for professional and educational pursuits. Then, when the search gets serious so late, there ends up being even more stress and troubles getting married.

  33. Alia says:

    AMAZING MARYAM!!!
    You have successfully tackled one of the most stressful issues in the Muslim community and I hope and pray that people will internalize your message with an open heart.
    God bless you habibitee,
    okhtek Alia

  34. AmericanMuslimWoman says:

    The general movement of feminism I believe is important for the ummah at the very point in time. It gives women a little bit of movement in the Muslim community to actually do something greater in their lives. We are at a time where the number of Muslim women scholars are at an all time low!! Why? There are many reasons, but one of them is the restricting idea of the Muslim woman’s ‘role’ and life goal of housewife and men who believe Muslim women should be hidden from society.

    I am a Muslim woman and working electrical engineer. I work 40 hours a week with men. But this does not mean I’m throwing myself onto them or they can’t keep their hands off of me. This is a time where that is considered HARASSMENT in America and you can easily loose your job. Alhamdulillah many American companies do a good job at providing a safe working place for women. So the idea of stopping myself working as a woman engineer and providing for my family when I as an American woman have so many rights that protect me from potential harassment is silly. I am a hijabi, modestly dressed wan, and practicing Muslim at work and outside of work. I love my job and do not find it impeding on my morals or religion, if anything it has given me a stronger connection with Allah SWS. I am currently contributing to society by protecting people for Allah’s sake and InshaAllah I hope to use the money i earn for Allah’s sake, whether to support my family, local masaajid, or deen related education to inshaAllah become a scholar.

    A Muslim woman that respects herself and her morals is very unlikely to fall into zinna even if she is around men. And even in today’s American society to pursue a relationship with a co-worker is considered undesired. Work is not a place to flirt, that’s just common knowledge for our time.

    Khadija bint khawaylid is a huge role model for me, not only do I want to be a successful and powerful woman like her, I also want to be a wife and mother like her. But inshaAllah that will come in time when Allah SWS decides and gives me that opportunity, otherwise I’m not going to stress about it. I put my trust in Allah SWS, and that is how I find peace

    • Zaheer says:

      What you’re saying here has some merit but I think you’re forgetting that not all work environments are similar or even close to what you as you describe. I think it’s a bit naive to assume that even the workplace next door yours is similar to yours in the ways you have described, let alone another city, state, country, continent.

      You’re also only considering your own perspective. Ma-sha-Allah, you should be commended for holding on to your Islamic principles in an environment of fitna. However not all people are equal, so hence abilities, temperaments, spiritual levels, etc. differ.

      The Islamic discouragement (though not prohibition) of women working is meant to be a general rule for the majority of women. Even if we ignore empirical evidence (you mentioned harassment – why is harassment such a recurring problem in the workplace? does the intermingling of male and female have nothing to do with it?), know that Allah knows us inside-out, and he knows that the majority of men and women become over-friendly with each other in uncontrolled social situations.

      So Allah has closed off the means of haram – ‘wa la taqrabuz zina..’ (And do not approach unlawful sexual intercourse…) [17:32](http://quran.com/17/32)

      Lastly, I would add that feminism is a destructive ideology which is aimed at ruining the compatibility of men and women, making women more like men, luring people by disguising itself as a movement to ‘liberate’ and ‘free’ women. It is an off-shoot of liberalism and as such has only the interest of placing the individual’s (the oppressed female in this case) desires before anything else. So, rather than being important for the ummah, it is an avenue of destruction and completely incompatible with Islam.

      If you admire Khadijah (r.a.), know that she is a shining example of the complete opposite of feminism, as she recognized the great role Islam had for her, and excelled at it. The fact that she was a business women had very little to do with feministic ideals – and more to do with the necessity of it for her specific situation.

  35. NAILA says:

    WONDERFUL ARTICLE AMAZING SIMPLY WHAT IS NOT THOUGHT ABOUT AND NO ONE , NOT EVEN THE FAMOUS SCHOLARS ON fB R PROMOTING THIS CONCEPT. VERY VERY NICE ARTICLE N SPOKE MY HEART BUT UR WORDS. PLZ KEEP WRITING

  36. Taleya says:

    Fantastic article.

  37. Hujrah Wahhaj says:

    Mashallah, I wish more people understood this beloved! We must all return to Allah, ALONE! So let’s begin investing in Akhirah bank account. I answer many “help me” letters from sisters struggling with this same issue, I will be sure to refer them to this post. Jazakhallah!

  38. fahad says:

    how one can worship Allah if he/she being a film director, an actor or a bartender ?? may be we are mixing the pepper and salt together.

  39. Umar Saeed says:

    Thanks for sharing valuable information. it is really great to see Islamic discussions online. There is an Islamic community online as well. Providing online Islamic education is a great way to spread islamic knowledge to greater audience.

  40. umm rayhan says:

    I’m a married woman with a baby. I have to work and give my son into the care of other people because my husband is not earning. I always feel belittled in the community and am sick of the sorry looks I get, and even suggestions that I might have less reward than stay at home muslimas. I just can’t help it, I’m forced to.

  41. Karen says:

    I love this article. May I ask if you are a convert? I’ve never heard of a sister speaks in this angle. I am a convert and have 3 girls. Alhumduallah, they are all excel in academic study. All of them want to have their career rather than marry early. Our friends in the masjid on the other hand, always mention and already did accepting proposals for their daughters while they are only 16-17. I am not used to this concept and cannot comment about that. However, when my daughter expresses her aspiration of wanting to be a doctor or scientist, they do not praise her at all. Instead, they all praise to those who expresses that they will be getting engaged in 17 and not sure what to do in their university. They got a thump up from the youth group leader. It just puzzles me so much about this predominant pressure and practice in the muslim circle. I am so glad to see the other angle of presenting this issue. Sister, please write more on the topic related to sisters’ and family issues. Thanks a lot.

    • Omer says:

      Salam

      Imagine if every sister did that – delay marriage until 30 and establishing her career. Imagine the fitnah that will result – when both men and women have physical and emotional needs that cannot be satisfied because the door to marriage has been closed! A guy wanting to marry – will not be able find any Muslim sister to marry!

      If someone is in exceptional circumstances where they are unable or unwilling to marry due to special reasons then these are exceptional cases. It may be ok for a few, but we cannot make it the norm to outlaw marriage until one’s 30s…the result will be catastrophic! Not “will be” rather already is!!

      The Prophet(saw) encouraged marriage when one is ready, and ready did not mean becoming a scientist or a doctor.

      • karen says:

        Maybe I did not write clearly of what I mean. I completely agree with study and marry can go hand in hand and are not mutually exclusive. My question is I query for the early age of enagagement for a young woman who is only 16 or 17. For this age, they do not even know well enough about themselves and how they can judge or choose a right match. Why this hurry? Those parents are not even put education in a high priority for their daughter as the most important for their daughter is to get marry to a man. I heard stories and stories about those girls who engage in high school that they do not even care too much about the college as they will become someone’s wife and a mother to be soon. It is completely their choice, but Allah forbids, how about if the husband get sick or don’t earn enough to support or die etc etc. A woman has to stand up to support the family! What I see in the muslim community is all married women are homebound, and this is their mission only. I am not saying they are wrong but I just want to say there are young women would like to pursue their study and career but they receive lots of pressure from the muslim community. They may be labed as non-religious and not fully submit to Allah. I think it is not fair for them.

      • iman says:

        Brother Omer, you seem to not have understood what the sister was saying. Nobody suggests that women should stop marrying early and instead merely pursue their carriers! The topic is about the women who just can’t get married because they haven’t found the right counterpart yet. It’s about women that seem inattractive merely because they are focused on studying rather than beauty. It’s about women who are outlawed by the ummah because men are afraid of their level of knowledge. It’s time that the men of our ummah change their narrow-minded attitude and stop feeling threatend by an educated women! Men, you should compete with men instead and not shy away from knowledgable, confident women! It’s interesting that whenever the topic of studying comes up, some guys feel threatened. This simply shows their lack of development.
        Lastly, dear brother, fitnah does not result from educated women, but rather from the practice of forcing young immature girls into marriages, who are than incapable of growing self-confident kids themselves. Think about it brother! I did not meant to be rude, nor do I want to insult you. Please pray for me and for the ummah as a whole. And please appreciate the effort, educated women are doing at least a little bit. Wa salam. Peace to you brother

  42. Omer says:

    Both men and women can also marry while pursuing their other goals. Getting married and studying or working are not mutually exclusive. Rather we may need to adjust our concept of marriage from a notion of only getting married when everything is settled and perfect to having realistic expectations and marrying to preserve the well-being of our children and society.

  43. Omer says:

    A married Muslim sister can also become a doctor.

  44. Omer says:

    Not everyone has to marry as I said before…but on the other hand if everyone started to prevent marriage until 30+ (which is already happening directly or indirectly) then the result will be catastrophic.

  45. Fatime Bint Mahamat says:

    SPOT ON!

    Assalamu alaikum, I thank the writer for this beautiful perspective on Muslim women’s abilities, and this touches me because I have recently gone through a great disappointment. I am 23, and I graduated from college a year ago. I have been wanting to marry a young Muslim man for 4 years, but my mother asked me to wait until I graduated. When I finally did so, I got officially engaged to Prince Muslim, and I wanted nikkah, but because of some (burdensome) tradition requirements, my future husband has to earn a lot of money so we can have a HUGE wedding that EVERYBODY has to talk about. :(

    My heart is in pain when I am writing this. So we couldn’t get married because we need an expensive wedding. May Allah makes things easier for us. ameen. In the mean time, what am I supposed to do for 2 whole years?

    I have already cried, and this will not make me anymore patient. Now I have to go back to university to get a graduate degree, insha Allah.

    When people keep asking me if I am married, it hurts me because I wish I were. But I just can’t. Alhamdulillah, this situation is making me look at my relationship with Allah, on things that I can accomplish, with or without being married.

    Alhamdulillah I am learning to worship Allah through other means, and sister Yasmin Mogahed has made me realize that marriage is a MEANS to an end, not an end to itself. So I can smile again and know that ALLAH must be my number one goal, and other adornments of life ( motherhood and wifehood) are MEANS to an end, which means that sisters in my situation can still be useful to this ummah. alhamdulillah :)

  46. Tsan says:

    Masha Allah!

    May Allah bless you sister Maryam for such a heart-warming, thought-provoking reminder/piece. SubhanAllah.

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