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. []

280 Comments

  1. UmmIbraheem says:

    JazakAllah khayr for the reminder. I actually had thought that the opposite problem was more rampant – sisters and brothers putting off marriage because of education. Now that I think of it, though, I can recall a sister or two that just “wanted to get hitched.” Not that there’s anything wrong with that :) You’re right, we should remember our sole purpose of being is to worship Allah. Everything else is secondary.

    May Allah help us all find the middle road!

  2. Engie Salama says:

    I love you Maryam <3 This article is GENIUS. :)

  3. Yasmin says:

    Jazakallah khair for this amazing post I can’t thank you enough for writing this because this was just what I needed. I was born with a rare disabillity and now that I’ve turned 20 I have started to worry about whether anyone would want to marry someone like me. This beautiful article has really encouraged me to just focus on my studies and leave the rest to Allah (swt)

    • Sister A.S. says:

      May Allah bless you sister! May Allah grant you more blessings than you deserve and reward you for your strong faith and devotion to Allah. Indeed there are more honors in this world than *only* marriage. May Allah bless us, provide us with the best, & give us much success in our respective fields, Ameen!

  4. madiha says:

    “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.”
    JazakumAllahu Khairon for saying it out loud!

    • Maryooma says:

      YES TOTALLY AWSOME!!!!!!! JAZAKAllah alf alf alf khair i honestly want to send this article to like everyone that i know lol!!!!!!!! The article totally spoke to my heart

    • muslimah says:

      seriously awesome quote. mashaAllah. may Allah reward you for bring the truth to the surface :)

    • Hamid Ali says:

      Yes, the statement is true, but it is true of many other things. This statement is just as true: “Allah did not create women for the sake of higher education.” And this statement: “Allah did not create women for the sake of becoming hadith scholars or to lead armies or to…” Of course, Allah created women (and men) first and foremost to be His slaves and worship Him, but we all know that ‘worship’ in Islam can be anything you do that conforms to the Sharia and is done for the sake of pleasing Allah. So being His slave can mean getting married just as much as becoming a hadith scholar.

      I think the point should be that, just because you aren’t or can’t get married, that doesn’t mean you can’t be fulfilled and honored as a servant of Allah. But it certainly shouldn’t be inferred that marriage is something other than being a servant of Allah.

      • Maryam Amir-Ebrahimi says:

        The article was not intended to make that inference in any way, at all. I would recommend re-reading it.

        jazak Allahu khayran,
        Maryam

  5. Subhaannah you know this is exactly what lots of girls are going through especially where I’m from in the west .girl have hit 20-27 and lots are still not married but why stress it Allah swt oaths one who controls when and who if you believe that Allah swt knows the best for you then leave it up to him and be the best slave you can to him.I know where she is coming from being 22 and with the culture you should be married by that ,you know alhamdulliha I was thinking about when will it happen though I not once not kept in mind that Allah swt knows what’s best for me and he will give me what’s best. Then he bestowed upon me to seek more knowledge about the deen and live the prophet saw and the Quran so much which led me to becoming a better Muslim where I have submitted my whole life to Allah swt every second and truly my heart found it’s rest filled with happiness and love for Allah swt alhamdulliah ya rab what’s better than that .the rest concerning this dunya I leave upon him swt and I know he’ll always be there .

  6. My apoligize this is off subject I have a question that I would like the complete research on can the website place a article concerning the types of bid’ah in Islam or is there one already . My main question is birthday in Islam Its been brought up alot deep inside I feel it is haram because it’s following what the kafireen do which the prophet saw warned us about that being one of the signs of the last day. Is it a bid’ah because I heard that it is though I also heard that the prophet saw fast on Monday because he was born on that day so is it really a bid’ah . As well as he fasts on Monday and Thursday’s because allah swt opens the heaven doors on those days. I then heard a lecture saying it may be ok to get together a week after or so. Is this one on the 30 Percent that the ulamah didn’t agree upon that’s what I figure whats your thought

  7. Haroon says:

    it’s unfortunate that an article like this has to be published. marriage is not the end-all be-all for anyone, not even for muslims. but what can realistically be done with our parents’ generation? perhaps a storyline that depicts this terrible scenario should be inserted in some of the more popular soap operas? or maybe we just have to wait for it to die off.

    at the end, know that every trial and tribulation is unique to a person no matter how difficult it may seem and in the end God is not oblivious of these trials.

  8. this article is good and really helps remind women out there especially for love marrriages.And ,im only 16 but i donr know whether itll be best to gain education and knowledge higher or just sit and try to get marriages and children as i want both lol

  9. fatima says:

    maashaa`alaah, thank u so much.
    my community is 100% needs this article, the girls are nothing if they are not married, i always new our goal of life is not only to get married and wait before that just sit but its hard if the people around you will never understand, i hope, i hope we understand our deen more inshaa`alaah.

  10. Anonymous says:

    LOVE it! Subhan Allah not only is it ridiculous to have these aims as our sole purpose in life, it will not give you fulfillment if it is without the purpose of attaining the love of Allah, which is attainable in hundreds of other ways.

    However, one key point I think that was overlooked is that sisters (and brothers) obviously want to get married themselves, not only because of pressures.. but because this is the nature Allah swt created them with! This is not to say that they should marry and forget all else.. I think sisters who do this forget that end goal. But the other extreme is also rampant these days… why get married and stuck with kids and responsibilities? Worship Allah in other ways. Obviously both extremes pose a problem.. the key is the balance.. and like the author stated.. the variety of people, circumstances and personalities! Even if every person was to marry at say 18.. there would be a percentage who would never have children… a percentage who would divorce, or become widowed etc. And Allah is the best of planners!

  11. Sana says:

    Brilliant MashaAllah! Love it! Just wish EVERYONE wud understand this!! jazakaAllah khair so much for writing this, inshaAllah it makes a difference!

  12. Sister A.S. says:

    *Jazaakllahu Khayrun* sister for sharing your thoughts and article.
    It certainly made a difference in my life, even though many still may not share our opinions. ;)
    ~26 y.o. Muslimah, berated by society for not “entrapping an eligible husband”; to-be-doctor for the Muslim Women community, insh’llah!!
    (and yes, making duaa for Allah to grant me my future spouse, whenever it is the will of Allah subhaanahu’wa’taala :) )

  13. Zina says:

    Jaz for this article! Wallahi it was just what I needed, I was feeling really down about being unmarried and over 25. May Allah guide me to a great purpose in life, marriage or otherwise.

  14. Yusuf Al-Maarij says:

    This was a brilliant article, as the only way to improve the condition of a nation is through the improvement of it’s women. The day that we will start to regain the strength that we have lost as a nation will be the day that we understand that women are not baby machines but intelligent beings who deserve our respect and support to pursue careers especially in the Islamic Sciences that will benefit all muslims! Go on sisters, go on, Allah will be your guide!

    • R says:

      Lol to baby machines, let us not forget 1000s of kids already exist and just need a home.

    • Zahra says:

      I take exception to labeling stay at home mothers as “baby machines” and placing this in opposition with “intelligent beings.” Mothers are actually some of the smartest, most capable people in the world– we are diplomats, educators, and counselors all rolled into one :)

      That some women choose to work for various reasons is a different issue, but do not detract from a woman because she chooses to stay at home and have children, and raise them to be good Muslims under her watchful eye. No one can raise a child like its mother :)

      • mnm557 says:

        thank you for this wonderful comment. i’m in medical school and love it, but the mothers are the true warriors out there that really don’t get much credit espcially in this career-oriented society.

  15. Nesima says:

    Wonderful post, thank you for explaining that a woman’s role is not solely to be a wife or mother, although those are both great positions to have in life. Education and work are equally important and necessary and shouldn’t hinder the intelligent and driven Muslimahs to achieve their dreams, contribute to the world and better humanity!

  16. Abdullah says:

    MashAllah great article. However it should be noted, many times many brothers are intimidated by very educated women, especially those who are much more educated than they are, because they fear that their wife will not listen to them and since she has a masters, phd, doctorate, etc she will be more career-oriented and have family and having kids as a distant 2nd priority. Of course this is not always true but many times brothers can feel this way, and many of us who are more conservative want a wife who will have her marriage, her kids and the household as her first priority and then her career but the highly advanced degree implies otherwise.

    • Maryooma says:

      Thanks for being honest brother…I would just like to make a comment…household chores are taking alot less time now-a-days because alot of our domesticated duties are taken over by technology we have washing machines,dryers, dishwashers, rice cookers, pressure cookers ect. What i have noticed ALOT with the idealised ‘stay at home mothers’ that i know is that they have too much free time and they use it watching TV, that isnt going to benefit the children is it? So whilst the kids are at school and with the help of grandparents women CAN work and still make excellent wives, and role models of hard workers for the kids too! Ya Allah please bless our muslim men with some insight and allow them to see the excellence in highly educated women!

    • Fatima says:

      I think that such brothers are missing out on a great sister…if they encourage their wife and is a factor to the great amount of success she achieves wouldn’t he also share that success in the sight of Allah? We have sisters who are always supportive of the dreams and aspirations of their husbands but not the other way around and this is so unfortunate because this is what is causing the number of women scholars to decrease. When the value of the sister is no longer in what she can contribute to society but rather superficial and rigid standards of a woman needing to be beautiful and devoted to the family only. Sister’s are the most dedicated and hardworking in so many dawah projects…brothers instead of feeling intimidated encourage the sisters please! We are not such selfish and blind human beings who don’t understand that our priorities are our family members. Even though I work, go to school full time, and volunteer…the majority of my time goes to worrying and being in servitude of my family members. Allah knows our hearts…empowering the sisters means empowering the ummah! Marry for the sake of Allah with the one who will benefit you the most and raise you to be more than you thought you would be.

    • Nada says:

      With all due respect brother, if that is the type of bride you require, then by all means find her. I think the tone of this article, however, is to remind sisters to not base their worth solely on the goals of wifehood and motherhood, and also not to waste or put off their intellect in pursuit of a man who has not turned up yet. Fear of intimidating a man by your intellect is not really a promising prospect for marriage. Instead, why don’t our brother’s go out and make sure they are prince enough to marry our princesses? Islam needs highly educated wives and husbands. Aspire to greatness, not mediocrity

    • Maryam B says:

      Sister, It is my personal opinion, from the men I have seen, that the type of man who is “intimidated” by an educated wife is the type that will never tell his wife where he is, look to her for advice, or be a good example for his sons. That type of man is best avoided. He won’t respect you for who you are. Of course, there are also women who have higher education and forget about fulfilling half of their deen. But those are few and Allah knows best. Maybe the reason single sisters are not married is so they can become doctors who will help people who are sick, or architects who will design houses, or so they can work at their local homeless shelter, providing moral support to people who need it, and volunteering their time. An unmarried women should never fear going to school because a hypothetical potential husband wouldn’t want her educated. She shouldn’t even be looking for a man who wants to limit her potential, and education is highly encouraged in islam. When I studied the rights of a husband and wife, the husband is supposed to choose a wife who is educated so she can teach their children; so who is a man who instead looks for the opposite in a potential spouse than what Allah has prescribed him? Just a thought.

    • Aisha says:

      @Abdullah, there are a lot of fallacies in your argument. You claim that an advanced degree “implies” that someone (a woman) would prioritize career over family, but don’t men get advanced degrees? So does that mean all these men prioritize career over family? Your logic is specious. You also claim that educated women “will not listen”; so you are saying that uneducated women are more obedient. Actually, the opposite is true: uneducated women aren’t able to reflect and ponder deeply, so they are less likely to value and respect a wise and good husband. Moreover, how can an uneducated woman teach the children, manage the household finances and advice her husband when he wants support? An uneducated woman doesn’t have the skills to be a good mother or wife. If a man is himself smart and successful, he wants someone compatible with him. It is only a man who has himself achieved very little in life who feels intimidated or threatened by a smart woman– and he doesn’t deserve one anyway.

    • Masha’Allah Brother Abdullah, you are absolutely right. Men need to be needed, and they need feel that they are stronger, and ‘more’ than their wives are, it’s part of what makes a man a man.

      Everyone can see by the responses to your statement that so many women today haven’t even begun to understand how to be a wife, because they don’t even know what a man is, they still think men and women are the same creature.

      Part of what makes a wife a good wife is being humble enough to make her husband feel like he’s “more”, even when she IS stronger in some areas.

    • Mohammed says:

      @Aisha @Maryam B @Nada I completely agree with this article especially since I have a sister who is still unmarried and we are worried about her. But I’d like to point out that i’m sure the intent was not male bashing as some of you here have misunderstood. Brother @Abdullah merely pointed out an insight into what men are like, he did not say that it was his opinion. By arguing with him you are only shutting off the truth. I agree with him too coz being a man we know what men want. And men got that feeling coz majority of educated women gave men a tough time. It got worse when women had jobs where their earnings were more than men. How many times have you heard a divorce because the man is more educated or earns more? Almost None! How many proposals of unmaried men does a 34 year old women get compared to a 24year old? Almost None! Age matters right? Talk all you want but the point @MARYAM AMIR-EBRAHIMI is making is not for male bashing or finding faults in the society but it is to give confidence to women who have not got married yet even though they tried and are worried that they cant make it to Jannah. Let me end this by directing the same question to you women that is “How many women are willing to marry a man who is less educated and earns lesser than her?”. I really appreciate what @Maryooma and @Fathima say and its women like these that can change the stereotype.

    • MW_M says:

      “many times many brothers are intimidated by very educated women”

      Really? Does anyone else find this true? As an unmarried Muslim brother, I can say for myself and most of the other brothers in my peer group that we would have a major problem marrying an UNeducated woman. I’m not looking to get married yet, but when I do insha’Allah, at the MINIMUM, I’d be looking for someone with postgraduate education, at least a masters if not a professional degree or doctorate.

      Then again, maybe it depends on what your family situation is? Myself and my friends come from families where our mothers are highly educated to begin with (physicians, engineers, etc.) and those who stay at home did so AFTER finishing a fairly high level of education.

      • Samira says:

        I’m happy to see that there are some brothers who think like that!

        • MW_M says:

          I would argue there are more than some brothers who think like that. In my experience (limited though it is) the majority of brothers would echo my sentiments.

  17. Sue says:

    Jazakallahu for what an inspiring piece of writing! I would certainly recommend all fathers to read this. Even though my parents never have pressured me to get hitched, but I feel sorry for my friends who are being pressured by their parents and society and my friends who pressure themselves to wait for the right man so things will start to fall into pieces.

  18. jannah says:

    Salam, Unfortunately, pretty sure our community is not ready to accept a message like this. They’re still living with the traditional view that being a wife and mother is the pinnacle of being a good Muslimah. To the detriment of our Ummah.

  19. Tanim says:

    Salam,
    While this is a good article, I do think it leaves out major, major reasons why “Marriage” is a big concern in our communities and why young people are pressured as such. So many young Muslim men and women are falling in to emotional relationships with non-mahrams, sometimes even with people from other faiths or no faith at all. A lot of these same people are taking a step further in to the haram. Fornication has become a great problem for the youth today, and yes, I am referring to Muslims.
    The causes for the emotional/physical relationships are many, but the major ones are in my opinion:
    1. The amount of sexuality the youth are exposed to in today’s society is just unbelievable. Even from a young age, kids 3 and 4 see Disney cartoons about a prince or princess falling in love, kissing, hugging, and why that is the greatest thing to happen for the cartoon characters. As these little kids grow up, this sweet ‘Platonic’ love which they see in TV is changed to something more physical as they begin to watch PG-13 shows.
    2. When young people have been exposed to so much of brainwashing with regards to “love and sex”, and when they have no halal means (i.e. they are still not married), they may fall in to haram relationships, and indeed the pressures are great. This outlet is easy, especially when a young man and a young women are both looking for love and attention.
    It really makes me upset, but it is like almost every month I hear the story of some sister or brother who got in to some relationship, and things became public through Facebook or whatever. My point is these things are very very common today in our society of Muslims in the west.

    Obviously there are good brothers and sisters who are far removed from these sins, but there is an equal number who are not.

    So parents, and the community fear that if their daughter or their son is not married off and in a halal relationship, they may fall in to a haram relationship; worse yet, this may become public. And in the age of Facebook where people do not have the common sense of what to post and what not to post, unfortunately, lot of these things are becoming public. Although this may not be that big of a problem for guys (for whatever reason, society lets men go easily), but this may ruin the reputation of sisters making it difficult for them to get married afterwards.

    Hence, for such reasons, the family may exert great pressure for marriage, as a barrier against the common unfortunate happenings around us.
    In a Hadith, Prophet (peace be upon him) has said,
    “O youthful people, if any of you have the means to, he should get married, as it lowers the eyesight and protects the private parts. Those who have not the ability to do so should fast, as it will be a shield for him.”
    This was recorded by al-Bukhari and Muslim.

    Meaning, even according to the Rasul, marriage should be done at young age (if possible) as it is a shield against societal evils (“get married, as it lowers the eyesight and protects the private parts”).
    Wallahu Alam.
    Please, I hope no one is offended by my long comments; but I just wanted to add something to the article which I think was missing.

    • Masha’Allah Tanim, this is exactly why we should marry as soon as we are mature. I’ve known 13 yr olds on their second baby (non-muslim of course). Marriage is our protection in a society and age of fitan.

    • humbleena says:

      Thank you for posting this as I too felt this was a missing element for this topic.

      You made some very good points that need consdieration.

    • Maryam Amir-Ebrahimi says:

      wa alaykum as salam warahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

      May Allah reward you for providing an integral analysis to the issue! The article is focused on sisters who want to get married but can’t, so perhaps it doesn’t necessarily apply to the conversation here? Marriage is one of the greatest blessings on earth, AlhamdulilLahi Rabil`alameen and we know we should get married young, if that’s possible and works out for the person.

      At the same time, that doesn’t work for everyone for whatever reason. So what do we say when addressing that real concern we have as a community?

  20. farihah says:

    Thank you very much for this great article. I like it very much.It has remind me to the great purpose in life and not only married will make us muslimah solehah. Thank you again and may Allah bless all muslimah.

  21. A very relevant article that exactly echos my thoughts on this issue!

    Mothers should raise their daughters to contribute to the ummah whether they marry/have children or not. Marriage and children are a coveted blessing, but as you said, they are not the primary reason for which women were created.

    The first and foremost purpose of life is worship and servitude to Allah, no matter what stage of life a person is in, or what their gender is. Also, gaining Islamic knowledge is an obligation!

    Jazakillahu khair.

  22. Hayaah says:

    JazakAllah Khayr for this article sister! I’m going to print it out… make my mum read this… and then coerce her to share around with others at her school who brain wash her, in order to spread the word in hopes that maybe one life may be changed from reading this. Sadly, in our society, culture takes precedence over religion – and religion is mostly followed in a monkey see monkey do manner as opposed to picking up the book and figuring some things out for yourself… inshaAllah, may we all find out trials made easier – and find peace and contentment in this life and the hereafter – Ameen.

    As for some people who have voiced their concerns over wives who may be well qualified… perhaps we need to remember how our Prophet pbuh dealt with his 1st wife, (may she be blessed), and try to emulate his (pbuh) ways… It would surely be a beautiful world of muslims, if we were to follow our Rusool’s (pbuh) way’s – men learning from him and women from his wives, inshaAllah. In that balance, life would find a blessed balance too, or so I believe… Allah swt Knows Best.

  23. Farah says:

    I have heard this over and over again that a married woman cannot work if her husband doesnt give her permission. Is this true ?

    • Yes, this is true. But you should ask a scholar why.

    • Maryam Amir-Ebrahimi says:

      Farah, from Dr.Jamal Badawi’s book, “Gender Equity in Islam”:

      “With regard to the woman’s right to seek employment, it should be stated first that Islam regards her role in society as a mother and a wife as her most sacred and essential one. Neither maids nor baby sitters can possibly take the mother’s place as the educator of an upright, complex-free and carefully-reared child. Such a noble and vital role, which largely shapes the future of nations, cannot be regarded as “idleness.” This may explain why a married woman must secure her husband’s consent if she wishes to work, unless her right to work was mutually agreed to as a condition at the time of marriage.”

      This is an issue you should openly speak about with a potential suitor to ensure you’re both on the same page, whatever that page may be, once you’re married, before kids and after kids.

      I’d also recommend researching this topic further and as Sr.Cheryfa mentioned, speaking to local scholarship, Muslim marriage counselors and people of knowledge who can inshaAllah give you a greater understanding of the issue.

      wa Allahu `alam

  24. Farah says:

    And mashallah , wonderful piece :)

  25. Sumaya says:

    Brilliant article Jazakiallahu khair.
    The Ummah are not going to rise again unless the society understand that women’s role is not solely to be a wife or mother, although those are both great positions to have, education and contribute in society are important and necessary.

  26. Conservative says:

    Abdullah,

    You being conservative has nothing to do with your wife. Don’t confuse religion with culture and tradition. As this article clearly notes, one can be conservative and support higher achievements.

    • This article isn’t written by a scholar, so using it as proof against Brother Abdullah is moot. I didn’t find anything ‘cultural’ about what he said, he was merely making a valid point about the nature of men; their fitra. His statement about conservativeness DOES come from an islamically correct position. These things ARE a woman’s primary concern, they are what Allah will ask her about, not about her career or her degrees.

      • Fatima says:

        Sister I’m a bit confused with your idea of being conservative. A sister who wears niqab and comes from a family of really conservative people who do not like intermixing between the brothers and sisters and are pretty rigid in their fiqh, is in school to finish her degree with the support of her mother-in-law and husband who drops her off and picks her up everyday while still being the mother to two young children and with one on the way. Her husband by the way would be less then her in education when she finishes her degree. But they don’t see anything wrong with the women being more educated. Getting secular education does not diminish her in being conservative. At the end of the day shouldn’t everything be for the sake of Allah? Shouldn’t you be getting your education to do something good for His sake and try to please your husband and take care of your children for His sake alone? Any way I think the brothers can look to the example of Rasulullah(SAW) and even Omar(RA)…they took it easy when their wives didn’t obey them or argued with them. Don’t make choices in your life in fear of someone disobeying you but live it with Ihsan as if Allah(AWJ) is watching you and you are fearful of His displeasure. If your wife argues with you or doesn’t obey you then still act in the manner that Allah wants you to. If a husband is really good to his wife then I don’t understand how a wife in her right mind would deny him of anything! And lets not forget Rasulullah’s hadith of the “best of you are those who are the best to your wives”(Tirmidhi). I think this article is clear our primary focus is worship to our Guardian Lord alone. And worship to Him is to be a good mother if we are one, a good wife if we are one, and to devote our life into doing things that really benefit society. I think if sisters are going for higher degrees they should make their intention to benefit others for the sake of Allah. And once they are married and have kids that should be their priority. Can you not have a family and still be involved in groundbreaking work on the side? I don’t see why not! And Allah knows best!

  27. Anonymous says:

    Much needed article, jazaakAllahu khairun. Inshaa’Allah the many women and men seeking marriage and the ones who are already married renew their intention to please Allah and seek His reward, because there are some who view marriage as a fairy tale and not as a means of worship.

    Marriage is a companionship to enjoin good and forbid evil. What has happened is quite the contrary, for example, some married couples stay up at night watching films instead of helping one another to pray qiyumul layl. In the Quran we are told to save ourselves and family from Hell-fire. What a great means by praying nawaafil. Marriage is also for those who have children to raise them up in a way that pleases Allah.

    One can only please Allah if he/she has knowledge on the haram, halal and so forth. This journey of ours to marriage or beyond requires sincerity, knoweledge, patience and complete trust on Al-Khaaliq.

  28. muslimahhk says:

    Allahu Akbar, This Article is a masterpeice!

  29. Zahra says:

    JazakAllah khair Sister Maryam for bringing up these important points. I would like to add that a lot of times, for both men and for women, it is very difficult to find a halal profession, especially in America. That is why many women, like myself, left the working world and choose wife and motherhood because, out of fear of Allah, we want to avoid potentially questionable or outright haram sources of rizq, or force ourselves to work in environments that could be damaging to our iman, and consequently our families.

  30. Pamela says:

    I love this article! Mashallah! I am one of these women! Converted too! Who endures pressure, not from my birth family who alhamdoulileh, value my progress and development as a happy woman before being a married one, lol, but from islamic family who also make me feel like I am getting old and need to marry just anyone who comes along! :O I have been told to not study too much, because it will discourage men, as if I am living for some pre-concieved notion of a man? Why would I want to marry this pre-conceived man who wants me to have nothing in my life but him? Allah ordained for us to follow what our lord wants for us! Not what sexist patriarchal cultures have! I do want to get married, inchallah, and love my future husband and future children inchallah, but I also feel I deserve to love my life and cultivate my dreams and not just busy myself in the meantime. I feel that by us women negating ourselves, and waiting and waiting for that man to sweep us off our feet makes us vulnerable and prey to the wrong man. Why would I want to marry a man who wants a woman with no passion who feels down on herself all the time and like her life has no purpose with out him? Does that not set our sisters up to be prey to potentially abusive men? Should we not encourage our sisters to grow to love themselves as they are, to develop their dreams and feel good and strong and stand tall and firm on their feet, so they are a serious, independant no-@%$$% kind of woman? Who will attract a mature intelligent no-#$%% kind of man? Did our Prophet (pbuh) not marry Khadija, who was a strong older entrepreneurial independant and working woman? Was she not the love of his life? Why does the islamic community teach women that the centre of your life is marriage, and you must do everything in your power to change and shape yourself to be the woman “that” elusive man wants? Be thin, be quiet, be beautiful, don’t speak too much, don’t be too opinionated, this is not islam, this is male chauvinism rearing its ugly head trying to disguise itself as being in line with islamic values.

  31. Moon says:

    Amazing piece and every fragment of it so well thought and articulated. Makes me grateful to have parents whose actually pushed me towards achieving great instead of thinking of marriage as the only way. Guess you don’t know what you have till it’s brought to your attention. Cheers sis

  32. Cheryfa MacAulay Jamal says:

    To begin, Jazakum Allahu Khyran for the beautiful history of our female scholars, but I have to object to your base assumption. Your entire premise is wrong. Woman WAS created to be a wife and a mother. This was the reason for Allah creating her from Adam, to be a comfort to him because he was lonely. She wasn’t created as he was, she is a part of him, and therefore IS fulfilling her primary purpose through marriage. Whether or not she becomes a mother is from Allah. The two are not equated. One is a choice, the other is a blessing. You have some valuable observations in your article, but they are used as proofs against women rather then complimentary. No one gets a perfect life, and no woman gets a perfect marriage, but it is our duty to try our best to choose the best husband and father for our children, and to work within that environment to find fulfillment. If anything outside that role as his wife and mother of their children distracts from these roles, it is a detriment to the Ummah, not a blessing, irregardless of whether she has the ability or not. There are lots of times in a woman’s life when she can pursue scholarship or career which does not interfere with her primary role. It just takes patience and wisdom to discern the difference.

    This sentence: “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.”, is actually a backwards assumption. The main goal of a woman being marriage (and sequentially, motherhood), if opportunity to worship Allah by incorporating scholarship and service to the Ummah should present itself, then this is the bonus, not the other way around.

    This is a subtle poison in our Ummah today, emulating the kufaar in pulling our women out of their homes and protections by convincing them that their primary roles are not good enough, not fulfilling enough, not using our full potential. Well, let me tell you, with a husband and several children to mother (yes, we mother our husbands!), everything outside takes so much of my time and energy that it makes my role of wife and mother more difficult. When I share myself outside my home, my family is strained, my house is not maintained at the same level and I am not balanced. It ALWAYS costs me and my family when my energies are spread out like that. I don’t understand why so many women don’t see how difficult it is to try to be good at both at the same time.

    • Cheryfa MacAulay Jamal says:

      “JUST BECAUSE WE CAN DOESN’T MEAN WE SHOULD.”

      • Asma says:

        I totally agree with sister Cheryfa – but I wouldn’t have agreed with her before having kids (and I believe the authors and most of the posters don’t have kids yet :). As an American convert, I was raised in a totally different way than most Muslim-raised Americans, raised to pursue a life in which marriage and motherhood were “distant possibilities” along the path of seeking a career (the opposite of the author’s observation that “as a [Muslim] 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”). After my conversion, marriage and motherhood of 2 young kids, I wish that I had been more groomed and prepared for marriage and household management – the most important source of stability and happiness in the world! The excessive pressure on sisters to marry IS bad, especially if the options are few or undesirable, but from my perspective, you should thank Allah that you have been raised in a traditional society that values the family, and the woman’s primary role as wife and mother, sees it as something that is valuable and good for you. I didn’t get that sort of fitrah-based upraising, but alhamdolillah, that’s one of the main reasons why I accepted Islam – because I saw that Islam encourages and values the role of the mother and wife. I agree with the article’s main premise that a woman should always be engaged in genuinely valuable knowledge and deeds throughout her life, especially when she is single and has more time, as opposed to just waiting for marriage. Of course, she should be building herself up spiritually for that new frontier of life. But when kids come, unless one has a ton of extended family around, having the mother at home is such a blessing. There are errands to be run, children to be shuttled, meals to be prepared… and for those who have mentioned only working “when the kids are in school,” remember that each kid takes about 4-5 years at home before going to school – that’s a lot of years off of work, just to be realistic. I’m not trying to be a downer, but for many women, trying to juggle work and family is just too much stress and strain on the body, mind, kids, family dynamic, and home life. There’s nothing more calming and beautiful for kids and a husband than knowing that someone is making a home for them – believe me, I know, because it’s something I didn’t have as a kid and always wished for.

        • Cheryfa MacAulay Jamal says:

          Assalamu Alaikum Sister Asma,

          I completely understand where you’re coming from. I have the same upbringing as you, as a convert from Scottish/Canadian background, I was without a mother in my house for most of the day. As a product of divorce, I was a product of single parenting no matter which home I lived in.

          I used to be so lost when my friends would leave our playing and go home for dinner. I was hungry and lonely, and my home was not clean nor loving. I used to beg my friends to invite me to dinner so I didn’t have to go home or stay outside with no one to talk to.

          I felt so inadequate because I didn’t excell in my education, I couldn’t pay my rent or keep a job for long to be self sufficient. At 17 I had to join the Army so that I wouldn’t be homeless and without a future.

          My mother accomplished great things! She worked as a lab technician all day and studied university courses at night to get her degree. She eventually became the supervisor in the Histology Department at the largest Pathology Institute in the eastern half of the country.

          Was it worth it? My brothers and I don’t even speak to each other anymore. Everyone is angry with each other. They don’t even accept my apologies and invitation to re-establish a relationship. My children don’t know their children.

          This is the price of taxing women outside of their homes. It is all well and good to be educated before your children come, and it is essential for women today to understand the world they are raising their children in, but ultimately, if the mothers are distraced, their childen suffer beyond imagination.

        • Maryam Amir-Ebrahimi says:

          wa alaykum as salam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh Sr.Cheryfa,

          I am so sorry to hear about the familial difficulties you had while growing up and the ways that impacted your adult life. I work with children in the inner city, who also experience similar situations, and I know that what they wish for is just to be with their parents and in a stable, comforting environment.

          I have read through your responses and with complete respect, I think the article was mis-read or perhaps things were read into the article that were not intended to be there. Perhaps this is completely my fault because I assumed that individuals would understand who the target audience of this article was and I tried very hard to make it unambiguous to ensure that no one one misunderstood. I actually had 10 different people read through the article before publishing it to make sure it was clear, but AlhamdulilLah ala kuli haal, it seems that there was still quite a bit of misunderstanding.

          This article is aimed towards sisters who have been searching for marriage, who want to get married, but are not yet finding marriage come along. This is not something in the hands of the individual; this is something Allah has decreed at the time and place that is right and for some, it’s not decreed at all.

          It’s also geared towards families/communities that make those particular sisters seem like they have some type of problem for not being married yet. The bigger problem is that this is something not within the control of the sisters in the first place. In many communities I have interacted with, when a sister is up to 25 years old, it’s a familial shame that they are not yet married…but these sisters have been waiting and looking from years before…it just isn’t happening. These sisters come from backgrounds where they may have gone to college or may not have. They may have continued onto graduate studies or started working, or may have stayed home and helped with the house. Some are very engaged in worshiping Allah externally and internally, some do not feel that connected. They do not come from one specific background; there is nothing we can point at specifically and say, “THIS” is their problem.

          What we can say is that this is a reality that many of our communities are facing and we can figure out the steps we need to take so that we can inshaAllah help our sisters feel validated that their struggles are not in vain and are not unheard, and to feel empowered that they are truly worth so much and have so many abilities to worship Allah through so many other routes if marriage is not yet or not at all destined for them.

          Many sisters who I have spoken to are just waiting to get married, with no other objectives in life. I understand that you believe that this is the primary objective in a woman’s life, and inshaAllah I’m going to address that in another comment. However, the reality is that if we have a plethora of women just waiting for someone charming to come along, it creates a problem:

          What if he doesn’t come along? This is the reality for many sisters, already entering their mid-thirties and older. What benefit would having had no objectives be for their lives? In that time, they could have memorized the entire Quran, or become a trained teacher for an Islamic school, or a doctor for impoverished communities or anything else which could benefit themselves and their societies. My point with the examples mentioned above is that this was a legacy we have had in our past.

          If he does come along, Alhamdulilah! She can now use all she has worked on before marriage- the stamina she has gained, the knowledge she has gained, to contribute back to her marriage and inshaAllah teach her own children.

          I tried to make those points very clear in the article, but I understand that every person is coming to the article with a different context and those experiences would shape the way they understood the message of this article, even if those messages were actually opposite of what was intended.

          I didn’t put more emphasis on the fact that wifehood and motherhood are two of the best and most important roles- for those who are wives and mothers- because, as I mentioned in the beginning, I thought we all knew the weighty status of those roles [as mentioned in the two hadiths cited]. Perhaps it was my mistake to not be more explicit, although I thought I was. InshaAllah next time, I will make sure to be more clear and will ensure to include that this is an issue which concerns some communities, not all, especially not on an international level.

          May Allah forgive me for my shortcomings.

          Jazaki Allahu khayran for taking the time to read and respond.

          Maryam

    • muslimah says:

      Asalaamalaikum Warahamt ALLAH Dear Sister Cheryfa,

      With all due respect. The purpose of Allah creating men and women is no other than to worship Him Alone. Not all women are appointed marriage, motherhood and therefore your assumption that we were created to have those roles does not apply for all of humanity, nor is it fair to proclaim that because Allah obviously does not appoint all believing women marriage, nor does Allah appoint all believing women motherhood. Please be reminded of the MANY women in our Islamic History who were NOT married, NOT mothers, divorceded, widowed and the like yet neither Allah nor Rasullilah salAllah alayhee salaat wasallam condemn them to failure as their societies have and sadly still do today. The article is not stating that marriage should be overlooked or avoided. Nor is the article saying that being a mother and wife are unimportant. On the contrary, it validates that, but it recognizes the true teachings of our religion that the most important role for women to play is being a servant of Allah through following of the Quran& Sunnah because this life is about striving. What is truly detrimental to the Ummah is when there are people who judge a woman based on whether she is married or not or how many children she has carried in her womb. It is understood as your perspective stands that certainly IF a woman is married and a mother that distraction from these roles may certainly be a detriment to the Ummah as you say. HAVING said that, women have multiple roles and our rich Islamic History provides database of proofs- married with children- single without and everything in between. This article was not to belittle the importance of marriage, nor was it to take away the value of being a wife. It was provided to demonstrate and validate that being a woman, a strong Muslimah for the sake of Allah- that there is NO other role or duty that is as important as being a female servant of Allah which may very well be attainable through marriage or without. MANY women do not get married. Many women do not have children. Many women live their lives caring for their elder parents or siblings with disabilities. Many women are not appointed by their Creator for a suitable husband who will care for them with respect, this may also be a source of protection from Allah from them. Allah holds our plans & the one thing Allah tells us to do repeatedly in the Holy Quran is to worship, worship, worship Him. Marriage should not be intentionally avoided, but it should not be the most sought out thing in a woman’s life. Allah should be because although Allah created a woman to have several roles- to be a wife, a mother..Allah also created a woman to be a neighbor, a friend, and for many- a professional who can give back to society. Alhamdulilah we are women, and that Allah has entrusted us with such precious roles. None of us can be complete in every whelm but this life is not Jannah, and its not supposed to be. There is beautiful diversity in Islam and so long as we strive in the worship of our Creator according to the correct teachings of our deen..then inshaAllah we’re good and should put our trust in Him as Im sure dear sister you must know. if He wills that we should be mothers, wives or just sisters in Islam in this process of life…so long as we are striving towards whats prescribed in our deen..then just need to throw in the trust factor and do not look down upon anyone who is unmarried..because it can be that those unmarried sisters in the corner of the masjid have a higher place in the hereafter that we married sisters chasing our kids around can only imagine…our long term goal is to worship Allah & Allah chooses the best ways for us to do it, sometimes Allah refrains marriage because its best for ones eman during the stage of life they are in, and sometimes its just the opposite. this is with the wisdom of Allah. may Allah reward you for the best of your intentions and may Allah guide us all to what pleases Him the most- so we never undermine what the true purpose of our lives is as prescribed by Allah and taught by Rasullilah salAllahu alayhee wasallam. Ameen.

    • Umar says:

      well said sister

  33. Sobia says:

    This is FANTASTIC! thank you SO MUCH for posting this. I’m soo glad I read it! xx

  34. Amal says:

    @Abdullah, maybe men should not be so insecure? Especially conservative men. Perhaps they should contribute to their marriage and family in non-financial ways. I’m sure you know that in Islam, women are not *required* to cook, clean, etc.?
    The suggestion that women should remain uneducated simply to avoid hurting the delicate egos of men is preposterous. Perhaps it’s the men who need to change. In fact, I’m pretty certain of it. After all, what woman really wants a man who’s so childish and insecure that he wouldn’t marry her simply because she’s educated?

    • MW_M says:

      Whoa whoa whoa Sister, let’s not assume Abdullah is representative of “conservative” men. All my friends who are bearded, attend the masjid regularly, and participate in Islamic work, would despair of marrying an uneducated woman because they wouldn’t have an intellectual equal.

      Honestly, if you look at the guys who say that they’re “intimidated” by smart women, they’re the ones who are uneducated to begin with, barely getting by in college, if that. So really, it’s just them making more excuses for the failure they are at life. I’d wager (if it was halal, of course) that if you probed their understanding of the deen as well, you’d find it superficial and lacking any intellectual depth as well.

      “After all, what woman really wants a man who’s so childish and insecure that he wouldn’t marry her simply because she’s educated?” Nailed that one on the head. Agree 100%.

  35. reshma says:

    Jazak-allahkhair for this beautiful post.may allah bless u!
    it simply resonated with what i have been telling my sis for long.
    kudos to u!
    peace!

  36. Amzu Malas says:

    Though its right to say that Allah(swt) has created all of us to worship him and the best way for a women to worship the creator is to fulfill the prime duties that has been assigned to an individual. Women by design have been created to be wife and mother. It does not mean that they can not adopt any profession like being a teacher or scholar or scientist. Just like men who are made to become husbands and father but have to adopt a profession.
    Misguiding women to continue education at the expense of their primary role is not advisable.

    • Roshanaara says:

      Excellent Article !

    • Maryam Amir-Ebrahimi says:

      With all due respect, I think you read things into this article that do not exist. Please re-read the article with an open mind and without pre-conceived notions. There is no mention of putting education or a career as an expense to marriage or motherhood. Education and other ambitions should only enhance a woman’s ability in marriage and motherhood IF marriage and motherhood is decreed for them.

  37. Sister in Islam says:

    this article saved me so much tears and negative feelings. SubhanaAllah. thank you. may Allah bless you. you have no idea how grateful i am for this reminder that Allah loves me as long as i am His worthy slave, not only if i am a wife or mother. some are lucky, some of us, we could only see and share the joy.

  38. Umar says:

    I seriously question characterizing our Mother Aisha as a commander with regards to the events surrounding Uthman’s (r) death. The idea that battle hardened warriors like the Arabs of those days, especially people like Abdullah ibn Zubair, Talha, etc., who had knowledge of warfare and combat down to an art, would be “lead to battle” by a woman who rarely emerged from her home is laughable and doesn’t make any sense. Despite the fact that American Ulama are pushing this narrative with regards to her role in these events, i’m convinced her participation in these events was for purposes other than leading an army to fight.

    • I was taught that Aisha didn’t lead the army, but was rallying Sahaba to Jihad. Whether she was correct or not in this action is for the scholars to debate.

      I agree with Umar, this is a very dangerous and slippery slope from which to call women by example.

      Aisha wasn’t blessed with children, this was Allah’s decree. It allowed her the time to dedicate to teaching the Ummah. Other wives were knowledgable too, but didn’t teach to the same degree as Aisha did. Does that mean that Aisha was a better woman? No, it means that the other wives had more important responsibilities in taking care of their children, and didn’t allow serving the Ummah to the same degree as ‘Aisha to take precedence over their time while their children were young.

      • Fatima says:

        Sorry sis but there is a huge miscalculation in your argument…you forgot or perhaps don’t know that all of the children that Rasulullah(SAW) had were from Khadijah(RA) with the exception of one or two of his sons. Also that the last of his children to pass away was Fatimah(RA) six months after him, he had no offspring that lived long and Allah knows best the wisdom behind that. So what children are you speaking of? Perhaps from previous marriages of theirs? Check up on this before you give it as a reason.

    • humbleena says:

      I think this is a valid point worth exploring more, in trying to find the correct balance with our role as women, wives and mothers, All slaves of Allah, we must recognize each element of the lives of Our Mother’s in this Deen……how many of the Sahabiat married at young ages, were there any who put off marriage to pursue an education or career? While they were scholars, where and how did they receive their education, and if they owned businesses or a profession how was it carried out in public? and dont mistake me for having the answers to these questions, but more I am seeking to have these questions answered, and I beleive that we all should be seeking these answers FROM those who have the proper knowledge so that we can be slaves of Allah first and foremost before anything else. Allahu Alim.

  39. Mona says:

    This is a wonderful article , MashaAllah

    May Allah bless you for writing it :)

  40. MW_M says:

    From all the comments here, it seems a lot of sisters have a perception that brothers are intimidated by their education. Just as a request, can we have a poll for the brothers on this site to see if that’s true? Before we keep on discussing reasons behind that, why don’t we at least try to ascertain if it’s true or just a comment by ONE guy?

    If it’s not, then maybe we can see what the real reason behind not marrying the sisters is? Just as a list of things my friends have quoted (I’m not saying I agree or that they’re true, just what the brothers say) are: Being annoying, immature, not willing to sacrifice even when the brother is willing to reciprocate elsewhere, being self-centered, and superficial.

    If it is true, then let’s ask the questions, why aren’t the brothers getting advanced education and why are the sisters so worried about getting married to a brother who doesn’t value her for her intellect? Let him stay unmarried and get married to one of the many brothers who will value you for your intellect.

    • MW_M says:

      Ok, it’s not letting me repost it correctly. It was meant to be in reply to Br. Abdullah’s statement up above.

  41. Jisha Yusuf says:

    From the beginning till the end, I could only cry. Lovely article, one that was very much needed. Jazakillahu Alf Alf Khair.

  42. anonymous says:

    jazak’allah khair for posting this brilliant article!

    i am in a similar situation – going through the motions of life waiting to meet my future husband, insha’allah. many married sisters i know are also very cruel, jealous, and mean to the single sisters too because they are in unhappy marriages, and often fail to help us because they don’t want us to marry a brother better than their husband (sigh, how absurd), as they do not realize they will get reward in helping us too.

    may allah (swt) help us all get married to the man we are meant to be with in this world, insha’allah.

    wasalam.

  43. Abdullah says:

    I believe it is a good article for bringing home to those individuals who always thinking marriage or parenthood as an ultimate goal of life. One thing that the author ignored, that is regarding men, it is not only happening with women also happening with men. Although degree varies as compare to women and secondly, men are less conscious about their marriage since they are not women like in their attitudes.

    • Maryam Amir-Ebrahimi says:

      Great idea! The “marriage crisis” some have dubbed in many communities is a two-fold problem. Why don’t you write an article focusing on men?

  44. silver says:

    A much needed article for me. Thanks.

  45. Susan says:

    Never too late! Ameen!

  46. Anna says:

    I like your article, though i realise that i don’t know aisha that well. Was she a commander of an army? Wow..She must be a strong woman.

  47. Ilyas Hsu says:

    As an Asian American Muslim who has been immersed in several different ethnic communities, I beg to differ with the premise of the article. In discussing Islamic teaching with regards to women’s education and employment, it is important to differentiate between the normative teachings of Islam and the diverse cultural practices among
    Muslims. Over the years certain pre-Islamic customs have reappeared and gained a foothold in the Islamic community . Cultural customs that deny women equality have become entrenched in the Muslim culture to the point where they are often accepted as Islamic rules. Yet, many of the
    customs or rules adhered to today cannot be found in any Islamic texts. The push for marriage for women is much more prevalent and prominant among certain ethnic groups who happen to be Muslims. For example, in Pakistani, Indian, and to a lesser degree Yemeni culture there is a push for marriage in lieu of a career for women regardless of their religion. A close graduate school friend who is an Indian American Muslim dreaded visiting India because she, at the time, was 25 and not married nor engaged. She was content and fulfilled with her life and studies. However, her “aunties” were constantly mentioning the fact that she was not married or engaged and that she was getting “old.” This is cultural and not based nor derived from Islam. In my ethnic/religious community, Chinese American Muslims, the opposite is true. The women usually are told and encouraged to delay marriage and motherhood until a graduate degree is obtained and they are well established in their careers.

    • Maryam Amir-Ebrahimi says:

      Subhan Allah! Jazak Allahu khayran for your perspective. I really appreciate you bringing this to the commentary because I realized how off I was in making an international assessment based on just a handful of large communities of which I have been a part. InshaAllah next time, I’ll be much more specific. You’re right, I was definitely gearing this article towards communities which come from Muslim-majority countries and establish in the United States.

  48. AnonyMouse says:

    Ahhh, as a wife and mother who was extremely active in my community before marriage, I totally agree with the author.

    While I did go through the phase of dreaming about Mr. Right (and then he actually came along, masha’Allah), but during that time, I actually cared more about my post-secondary education, my contribution to the community, etc. than about being a wife (I wasn’t too keen on the motherhood thing, lol, although alHamdulillah it happened to me anyway).

    And seriously… way too many women, single and married, prevent themselves from fulfilling their true potential. In my case, a lot of factors contributed me to basically just “dying out”… after I moved to another country away from my family and community etc. and had my child, I just did not feel motivated at all to do anything. I’m still struggling to get myself out of this rut, and though I will not say I regret getting married, I do sometimes wish that I had waited just a leeeeeeeeeeeettle bit longer so that I could do things that I am unable to do now (again, due to various factors over which I have no control).

    Also, many women think that marriage will give them “freedom”… freedom to do whatever they want, that they were unable to do in their parents’ home… let me tell you again, this is NOT so! Many will find that their parents’ home gave them more freedom to pursue the things THEY wish, and that their husband will request/ demand very different things that take up most of their time and will not always give them the opportunity to do what they want.

    Reality check, girls and ladies… marriage and motherhood are all well and good, but they will require pretty much all your free time. Enjoy what you have as a singleton, and count it as a blessing from Allah!

    • Samira says:

      “Enjoy what you have as a singleton, and count it as a blessing from Allah!” Love it!

    • Maryam Amir-Ebrahimi says:

      jazaki Allahu khayran AnonyMouse for your feedback! I think it is also important to note that every marriage is different and the dynamics between the husband-wife relationship vary from couple to couple. It’s important to speak about these issues with a potential suitor in order to make sure that you’re on the same wave length for after marriage.

  49. Abu Baker Attaas says:

    Thanks for the article, sister Maryam. You raise some excellent points. But I’m afraid the article may have more of a harmful effect than a positive one. One positive effect (as is evidenced by some of the comments) is that the sisters who are sincerely interested in marriage but haven’t had the good fortune of finding a good brother yet can feel better about themselves rather than feel that they are “failures.” Another positive is that sisters who are hoping to get married may be inspired to make the most of their time until that happens.

    The negative, however, is that among many Muslims (in the West especially), young women who are already putting off marriage in favor of long professional education paths will be validated, while young women who have been taught that simply being a wife and mother provides plenty of purpose and fulfillment as a Muslim, even though it is not the be all end all per se, will feel inadequate. In the comments above, Tanim, makes the crucial point that marriage is vital in Western societies, especially early marriage, to protect our morality and deen. We need to do everything we can to promote marriage, not work against it by promoting other ideals. The practical approach of parents to encourage their children to marry may not always be the best, but the general principle is commendable and completely necessary.

    The other source of confusion here is that the writer of the article is discussing the thousands of women hadith scholars or the mother of the believers Aisha who wasn’t a mother (not by her own choice I’m sure). The work of these women is tremendous, but the analogy doesn’t work when in reality we’re talking about women here who are pursuing careers in corporate law or cosmetic surgery, for example. It’s wishful thinking to equate one’s worldly career ambitions with a plan to “serve the umma.”

    So at the end of the day, such an article is heartening to those sisters who have been sincerely hoping to find marriage and can’t, but to the majority of as of yet unmarried Muslim girls and women, it adds to the confusion and conflicting messages we’re putting out, about the relative values of playing a vital role in shaping a Muslim family and the role of a worldly career that can be imagined to “serve the umma” in some way, at the risk of facing the temptations of Western society while single.

    • Maryam Amir-Ebrahimi says:

      Jazak Allahu khayran for taking the time to comment. I had no intention to encourage education/career OVER marriage/motherhood if marriage/motherhood come along for an individual in the right time/way. Unfortunately though, I understand that a number of people took that as the away message, even though I tried to be very explicit in what the overarching message was. I think there were some readers who read things into the article that do not exist, but inshaAllah I will be even more explicit next time.

      Also, I humbly disagree with mentioning that the work of women mentioned does not hold weight when compared to contemporary women seeking careers in corporate law or cosmetic surgery. Each of those can be used for the greater societal good; the first, to ensure justice and the second, to help victims of severe fire burns or accidents look “normal” again and continue to live life without harm because of a disfigured appearance, for example. It is not wishful thinking to equate a career with serving the Ummah. It’s called working with knowledge and a strong relationship with Allah, using the talents Allah has blessed you with to give back to others. It just needs to be done within the guidelines Allah has set for us.

      We need to broaden our understanding of what is permissible within the Shari`ah and not limit it to what we feel is “dunyawi”. If we can understand the axioms of the shari`ah and the guidelines set before us, I think our understanding of worship in general will broaden exponentially.

      I would highly encourage an in-depth study of Usul ulFiqh for every Muslim who is interested in understanding how best we can practice Islam and live the principles of our texts in the west.

      wa Allahu `alam

  50. Sidrah mirza says:

    Thank you for this article, I am a college graduate, I hole a great job and i volunteer on weekends at a madressah. There are no short comings in my life, i am content to be a servant of God, alhumdulilah. If marriage happens, it happens. Thank you for reminding me that it is okay to be single and ambitious. We can take the best example from Khadijah (a.s.), the beloved wife of the Prophet, who was successful and ambitious before she was married, and used her wealth for the benefit of the Ummah. It is what I plan on doing, inshAllah.

    • Sameer says:

      assalam alaykum
      With all due respect, sister, being “single and ambitious” is a really meaningless phrase. What do you mean by “ambition?” Obviously, in common western parlance, it implies having some sort of career or vocation where people make certain “achievements.” Why should marriage be seen as a lack of ambition and devoid of achievements? I think in your words (though I am admittedly reading a bit into them) there are some unstated assumptions, such as the notion that being a business owner and becoming wealthy is a measure of true success. That is obviously false. The only true success is that which comes from obedience to Allah, and the only worthwhile ambition is trying to obtain Allah’s pleasure, and none of this necessarily has anything to do with having a job or avoiding marriage. And marriage is an active process that a man and woman (and their families) willfully engage it; it’s not likely to just “happen,” especially if someone is perfectly content with being “single and ambitious.”

      Also, Khadijah (r.a.) had been married before the Prophet (S) married her. I don’t know the history very well, but perhaps she could have inherited her wealth and business to some degree? I don’t know. But her greatest act (I believe, but Allah knows best) was to GET MARRIED to and actively support Allah’s final messenger, not remain “single and ambitious.”

      If I misread your comments, I truly apologize for my response.

      • Cheryfa MacAulay Jamal says:

        Assalamu Alaikum Sameer,

        Khadijah WAS a widow who’s husband had left her wealth, which she continued in his business practices of being a merchant who took goods to Syria and brought goods back from Syria.

        She didn’t actually take the camel caravan to Syria, she had her (elderly male) servant hire men for the job. In Muhammad’s case, she was aware of him and his reputation and asked her servant to hire him.

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