Remove “Feminist,” Insert “Muslimah”


http://www.flickr.com/photos/antoncino/10591458753/By Ubah

It seems that as a Muslim woman, if I stand up for any issue regarding the plight of women – such as poverty, education, domestic violence – I am inevitably clumped into the vast, heterogeneous category that is “feminist”.

Feminism, in and of itself, is so complicated and perplex that for one to actually call oneself a “feminist” a subsequent explanation would, in my opinion, be necessary. For example, a feminist coming from a privileged “white” background might have different views than a feminist living in poverty – who also happens to be a person of color. Therefore, despite both considering themselves to be feminists, their views and opinions on feminist issues could be radically different.

However, to my understanding, the main crux of feminism – that most feminists would agree on – is the call for complete equality between men and women. Not just egalitarianism, as Jewish feminist Judith Plaskow argues, but an equality between men and women that has no conditions, no loopholes.

In this sense, I would not consider myself to be a feminist. Why? Because I recognize and accept that men and women are NOT equal in many fundamental ways. Further, they both have respective roles to play, and that is OKAY (with me, at least). You see, I do not have a problem with the notion that I might one day end up at home with the kids while my husband is out working. If that is the family dynamic that we are comfortable with, then I am fine with that.

Here is what I am not okay with: the patriarchal notion that my role as a woman is LIMITED to those prescribed to my gender. That is, I fundamentally disagree with the idea that my only/sole/real role in life is that of wife, child-bearer, and child-rearer. This is what really grinds my gears: When men, (especially men who consider themselves to be of the holy, religious sort) assert that a woman’s role is limited to her gender – her womb. That her inherent femininity, her reproductive organs, is what dictates the roles that she plays in this world. It is always disappointing for me to hear this, especially from men respected in the community, because it undermines a lot of accomplishments that women have made in this world. Speaking for myself, as someone who has a post-secondary education and who just so happens to be a woman, hearing that my efforts were in vain because my ultimate destination is that of a wife and a mother is just demoralizing. Instead of uplifting women and realizing that they make a substantial, and much needed, contribution to fields such as the arts, science, sports, literature and so on, many men have set on a journey to undermine and discredit the advances of women. Even sadder, many women have internalized these patriarchal ideas of what it means to be a woman, and turn their noses up at women who *don’t* take the mother/wife route (at least not yet, for many).

I cannot deny that my views are very much influenced by Islam. As a Muslim woman, I recognize that God has, indeed, prescribed certain roles and duties for both men and women. Roles and duties that are practical, not misogynistic. However, I believe that the marginalization and denigration of Muslim women stems from a distorted view of Islam and biased reading of the Qur’an. Further, the influence of backwards, un-Islamic cultural practices (such as female genital mutilation, honor killings, or banning women from mosques) cannot be ignored.

So here is my plight: when I express my support and advocacy for the advancement of ALL women and particularly for Muslim women, many members of my religious and ethno-cultural communities (silently) label me as a feminist; this has negative connotations because again, men and women are NOT seen as 100% equal in terms of practical roles and duties (except in terms of religious obligation towards God) within the framework of Islam and many cultures (some non-Muslim) as well. But I agree with them! You see, for me, if feminism means both fighting for the cause of women and accepting that they are inherently different from men then heck, I’m a feminist. But then again, I’m not. Because there is another, more appropriate term for me: Muslimah.

You see, as a Muslim woman, this is where I find balance between my views. As someone who believes that my rights as a woman are divinely ordained, the only cause I have to fight for is when HUMANS (read: mostly men) attempt to deny me of those divinely ordained rights. I’m not against my divinely ordained rights (such as the right to education, owning property, choosing who I want to marry, covering myself in the presence of men who aren’t related to me, etc), but when outside influences attempt to deny me of them, that is when I take a stand.

So for those men and women who are quick to call me a feminist (read: disobedient, wayward, Muslim female), take a moment to realize that I am simply practicing my rights. Rights that I am entitled to. Rights that you cannot take away from me. Rights that I will stand up for.

And Allah, subhanahu wa ta’ala (exalted is He), knows best.

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55 Comments

  1. Manal says:

    Wonderfully written! The author addresses
    her point with great clarity. Jazak Allah kheir.

  2. Ubah says:

    Thank you to SuhaibWebb.com for publishing my article. I hope it brings some perspective :)

    - Ubah

  3. Ubah says:

    Thank you to SuhaibWebb.com for publishing my article. I hope it brings some perspective & inspires folks to think outside of their intellectual boxes :)

    - Ubah

    • rahma says:

      love ur article inspires me and makes me feel less guilty about similar lines of thought that I possess. Jazakallahu khairan

  4. Haq says:

    Salam Sr. Ubah,

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Just some reflections of my own if you don’t mind:

    1) I think the dichotomy between being a mother/wife and doing other things additional to that is false. In fact, other live experiences may help her role as a mother/wife.

    2) Saying that, it must still be stressed (due to the current state of affairs in this regard) that the primary role (not the only role) of a woman after marriage would be her role as a mother and wife, just like it is for a man to provide for his family. This has many proofs which I won’t go into now.

    3) I think the reason why many have fear regarding this topic is because:
    a) The current trend in the West to look down on women who are solely devoted as mothers/wives
    b) The potential clash between the career of a woman and her role as a mother/wife (more so with the former), this can then lead to mediocre solutions such as a leaving the kids with a nanny or at a day care centre, which of course has a detrimental effect on the parent-child relationship as well as their upbringing.
    This is why you will find many scholars stress her role as a mother. The default ruling (asl) is her role as a mother and thus any other commitment would be considered a choice of preference, a far’ or fadl. If there is a contradiction between the asl (read: obligration) vs far’ (read: preference) the asl takes over.
    If you study the Jewish community in the West, their Rabbis allowed their women to work with this very similar condition: that her priority is her home. Then as time progressed, they omitted this stipulation, probably given in to the currents of the time. Of course, our deen has laws which change and laws which don’t, and as far as I’m aware this isn’t one of the things that will change (not the mutaghayiraat).
    Lastly, if a women has to work due to financial constraints, or is unable to get married their situation is of course different. The above is discussing the “default” situation of a married women, who is provided for by her husband who may or may not have children.
    Thus if a woman has her priorities straight, then she can do almost anything without it clashing with her other important roles.

    • Ubah says:

      Salam,

      Thanks for your insights!

      I actually agree with most of what your saying, here’s my response to some of the points you brought up:

      a)There is *absolutely* a dichotomy about women’s role regarding the private sphere(typically home) and the public sphere (typically work). This dichotomy exists not only in the “West” but quite literally everywhere around the world. Not that there is anything necessarily wrong with this dichotomy in and of itself – I mean, we’re humans. We all play different roles in society and our personal lives – but, the point of this piece is to highlight the ill effects of when one face of this dichotomy (namely, a woman’s role in society being limited to wife/mother status) is held above all else. It’s limiting and crippling for women. Especially those who are going through domestic violence, issues with their children/extended family, postpartum depression, and a slew of other things.

      b) I would argue that the primary role of a woman – and even a man – after marriage is *not* to be a perfect spouse or parent, but to fulfill their obligations towards Allah (SWT) first. All else falls beneath that.

      c) Sister, I don’t know where you live, but many many women around the world, especially where I’m from in the West, work. And as a result, sometimes childcare is needed. Heck, I went to daycare when I was young and I really, really enjoyed it. I learned so much and I truly believe it facilitated my learning in school – but of course that’s just my personal upbringing. But to call raising a child in daycare, homecare, or with relatives “mediocre” is a slap in the face to the millions of women all around the world who have fought, sacrificed, and strove for the very education that aided them in finding jobs. By the way, I’ve come across numerous research and literature that actually argues that children of working parents are just as well of – maybe even better – than children with a stay at home mom/father. It’s very fascinating, I suggest you check it out!

      d) I don’t want to get into some of the fiqh things you touched on simply because I lack that knowledge. But I will say that the main point of my article was to defend against those (namely so called scholars, people of knowledge, etc, etc) who preach that women are, by default, meant to be nothing more than wives and mothers. Yes, I have witnessed this preaching myself at numerous Islamic gatherings and events, which is why I wanted to address it in the first place.

      Just think, when you pigeon-hole women into such a narrow depiction, it isolates far more. Those who are single; those who suffer from illnesses or disabilities and can’t get married as a result, OR who have illnesses/disabilities and thus can’t function fully as a wife/mother; those in abusive relationships; women who are infertile; women who have lost children; women who are widows; women who are divorced; and so on and so forth.

      Thank you so much or your comment, it’s really allowed me to elaborate on my message much more. I hope it’s a bit clearer now.

      - Ubah

      • Haq says:

        Salam Sister,

        Firstly just to I’m a brother :)

        a) So with this dichotomy, are you saying you believe it’s either women are full time mums or they go out and work? Personally, I don’t see why we have to view things black and white. Life is a bit more grey than that.

        b) That’s not a role sister, that’s a purpose. Of course, no Muslim with an iota of Iman would argue otherwise. We all are here to worship and serve Allah. This discussion is more importantly about how BEST to serve Allah.

        c) As you are probably aware, there is also evidence that points to the contrary of what you say. Listen to Shaykh Hamza Yusuf on educatio and homeschooling, you’ll see what I’m referring to. Also when reading mainstream literature on how children do “well” please keep in mind that they do not consider the Islamic Tarbiyyah side of things, i.e. developing a spiritual concious in the child.

        d) I completely agree and I think this understanding that women can JUST be mothers or wives is premised on the false dichotomy between other roles and the role of a mother, hence why I’m a little surprised that you agree to this binary view. Women have ALWAYS done and have engaged in many other things besides being a mother, life doesn’t stop there, but as I said HER MAIN PRIORITY is the home and her role as a mother. This priority is what has been gleaned from the Quran and Sunnah and I don’t know of any Ikhtilaf (difference of opinion) in this regard. This will stay the same. My purpose of commenting was just to ensure that we do not lose sight of that.

        We all are here to serve Allah. If we know Allah says x is the best way we can serve him, and our preference y clashes with x, then it would be nothing sort of being whimsical in pursuing y at the cost of x.

        As Ibn Ata’illah says this is when we follow our “hidden desires” which Imam Shatibi says the whole Shariah came to teach us to shun.

        So to conclude, I agree that women once they are married or become mothers life doesn’t stop. At the same time, this becomes their priority.

        I think these issues would be discussed far more sincerely if we lost that “tone” of the battle of the sexes, otherwise the discussion very quickly is reduced to nothing but a “battle of the sexes”.

        It’s been an interesting discussion.

        Tc,

        Wassalam,

        Haq.

        • Ubah says:

          Oops – sorry, Brother (not sister)!

          I sincerely want to thank you for your replies. I actually appreciate the thought that has obviously went into them (as some comments show, sometimes people tend to just argue, not debate).

          I read your whole response, but this is what stood out to me the most:

          “HER MAIN PRIORITY is the home and her role as a mother.”

          And THIS mindset is exactly what I argue against in my article.

          No it is *not* her main priority – think about the weight of that statement. Should it be her priority? That depends on individual discourse and opinion. But *is* it? Absolutely not. Because I will repeat:

          “When you pigeon-hole women into such a narrow depiction, it isolates far more. Those who are single; those who suffer from illnesses or disabilities and can’t get married as a result, OR who have illnesses/disabilities and thus can’t function fully as a wife/mother; those in abusive relationships; women who are infertile; women who have lost children; women who are widows; women who are divorced; and so on and so forth.”

          My article was definitely not meant to be any battle of the sexes, but a call for both sexes – particularly men – to shift their seemingly narrow-minded views when it comes to the roles of Muslim women – that’s all. I’m glad it’s ruffled some feathers, however, because that means that means it’s got people thinking!

          Jazakillahu Khair

          - Ubah

      • Barbara says:

        Dear sister, judging who is schoolar and who is not it is not good thing to do. Is there anything in Koran or sunnah that it is right to leave children for someone to care for them because woman has desire to work? I remember hadith says that woman can still from husband who doesn’t provide for her enough, because it is not her responibility to go to work and bring money. Her money r hers, she may give her poor husband as sadaqa if she wants to do that. She may devorce husband who have no enough money for her and children. It is one of obligation for man who wants to marry to have house (place to live) for them and can feed them and give clothes for them (info from hadith). Man can have up to four wives and this is their right too, so they can marry divorced woman, widow, woman with children etc.

        • Barbara says:

          I forgot mention that Prophet (saws) said to men to marry women who can bring a lot of children. This way ummah of Muhammad would have a lot of pplz and do not depend of others. Women who has a lot of children deserve to so bog respect, because she sacreface her life to rise them. The

        • Barbara says:

          the hadith says that Prophet said to Fatima, who was so tired from work at home to not bring help to help, because she would have so many reword for this. Because all we do we should do for Allah stw. forex. There is no need for my job, so I am not going to work because my first responsibility is to care about my children. I can not have children so still alhamdulla because I know it is good for me to be patient with that and Allah is perfect and He knows what is best for me. I am poor it is good for me and always know that Allah can change and He will change everything in right time. Because at the end all things in this world r only so we can become closer to Allah stw and we must to use it the way He wants we to do that.

      • Fezz says:

        “meant to be nothing more than wives and mothers…”

        Hmm…I dont know why women would want to spend their best hours and days looking after the interest of a corporation rather then helping to build and develop human souls of the future.

        • Lets REALLY support our mothers! says:

          As Salamu Alaikum, Fezz,

          While this question is usually presented to Sisters, I think both brothers and sisters really need to reflect as to whether what they are doing is most pleasing to Allah.

          One can indeed say Sisters should focus on raising the next generation and not on maximizing corporate profits.

          But one could argue similarly for Brothers: what is more pleasing to Allah?

          Spending 80 plus hours being a corporate slave, missing prayers for meetings with big bosses, all for ‘career advancement’ and to make ‘tons of money’ but going home exhausted, grumpy and angry to one’s family and expecting to be served hand and foot?

          OR…

          Working in a modest job for 40 hours a week, making enough to support the family, ensuring religious obligations such as prayers are always met, and then going home with energy to one’s family, to help them and and support them as needed?

          The second model seems much more in line with the Prophet (s) to me.

      • Hyde says:

        Wow…I was going to argue a tad bit against your original article, but I guess your reply is more argumentative.

        You sagaciously and tonally make it sound that mothers and wives are bad or missing out. And that fact that you stated that childcare outside of parents can be beneficial, I *personally& find very hard to believe.

        It is not many, but most scholars (erego the “Americanized”)do believe that.

        Let’s see the world know…not exactly a “better” place than we are taught in elementary school.

        I agree with the message of your article, I really do. But to me, your reply does come up as a “feminist” than “muslimah”, unlike your article.

        “Prostitutes are considered more valuable in today’s modernized western capitalistic society, than mothers, because they are considered wage earners” – Noam Chomsky

        (Mothers and wives do not have resumes, or CV’s, but they do have dignity and honor, no ?)

        • Truth Seeker says:

          What’s wrong with being a feminist?

          The prophet (peace be upon him) was actually a feminist. He stood up for the rights of women. Wow he even married a well known businesswoman who happened to be the breadwinner of her entire family! (Khadijah, may Allah be pleased with her).

          Anyhow, this article was clearly not written “bash” mothers or wives, so I do not know how you got that message from it?

          The purpose of this article, if you read it thoroughly, is to actually bring awareness to those women who have been emotionally and mentally oppressed at how often they hear about a “woman’s role in Islam is to child-bear and child-rear”
          when in fact 1)There is no such verse in the Quran that LIMITS (aka ‘this is ALL you can do, this is all you are meant to do, this is the only reason you were born, this is the only reason Allah created you.) women to the role of wifehood and motherhood, otherwise Allah would have not allowed our Prophet (pbuh) to marry Khadijah(rA)- the businesswoman, and unless you can prove to me otherwise with direct evidence from the Qur’an, this will remain true.

          and 2)there are many women who biologically cannot reproduce due to certain physical conditions she may have – hence this article is a way of saying “hey, you are still worth something in Islam. You are still worth something to Allah. You know what, there are many women in Islam who become mothers and wives and raise children (who may or may not also work), but hey if you are not able to get married or have children you can still receive JUST as much respect as a Muslim woman worshipping her creator through other mechanisms such as her education and career path. Those are JUST as good, too.”

          and so, if you have nothing else to say, I rest my case.

        • Razan says:

          Brother, I was brought up in a working family. My grandmother often took care of me, or other family members during the daytime. My mother remains the most beloved person to me – she is no less my mother, nor did she somehow ‘lose her duties’ as my mother because she worked.

          I think that we think that daycare or having people take care of children is somehow ‘unIslamic’ – tosh! It depends who’s doing it! In the traditional Muslim societies I’ve lived in, it’s very common for children to be brought up by the family collectively. It’s the new ‘nuclear family’ that puts so much emphasis on the mother.

          Every woman’s situation is different – it’s not about work vs. not work, it’s about care vs. not care! I know loads of non-’working’ Muslim women, and loads of Muslim women, who are very happy, God-abiding, and with wonderful relationships with their children. I know people who work/don’t work with the opposite lives!

    • Paul Bartlett says:

      Salaam.

      “2) Saying that, it must still be stressed (due to the current state of affairs in this regard) that the primary role (not the only role) of a woman after marriage would be her role as a mother and wife, just like it is for a man to provide for his family. This has many proofs which I won’t go into now.”

      As for any proofs, I do not claim to be a scholar, so you would have to detail them for us. However, please consider this.

      A woman marries. By the grace of Allah (swt) she gives birth to two children, a daughter and a son. Both are healthy, intelligent, altogether desirable and praiseworthy. How does she (along with her husband) raise them?

      She/they raise the daughter that her role is just like that of her mother, again in the next generation primarily to be yet another wife and mother, whereas the son is raised that he can “be all he wants to be” (figuratively speaking).

      To the son, the sky is the limit. To the daughter, the role is to be yet another wife and mother, so that if she herself has daughters and sons, she will in turn raise those daughters to be yet more wives and mothers and those sons to “be all they can be.”

      In other words, at least as it seems to me, the women are always raised to enable their sons to realize their full potential but their daughters only to raise further obedient, subservient daughters for the sake of sons for generations unending. Thus, it might seem that wives and mothers exist primarily for the potential of sons, with daughters existing primarily for the sake of yet more sons. What is this but the age-old sexist argument to keep women “in their place”?

      Now I fully admit that I could be quite wrong, and Allah (swt) knows best, but I think Sister Ubah has some excellent points.

      • Haq says:

        Wassalam Paul,

        Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

        This discussion really goes deep into evaluating our values. I find it disconcerting that you refer to the role of a mother as “yet another wife and mother”.

        I will speak fiqh (law) because that is what I am trained in.

        Firstly: Regarding the evidences, it should be on the conscience of all of us to be aware of what our religion states regarding such important topics before forming conclusions. The status of a mother is well known in Islam. There are simply too many Quranic verses and ahadith that emphasis this, ergo this is the most important WAY for a female to serve Allah. (which is our purpose in life: to worship Allah. Now of course we don’t just stay in a mosque all day bashing our heads on the floor. So the question is: which role is the most important and beloved to Allah through which we will serve him? – This needs knowledge of the Quran and Sunnah)

        Secondly, this whole discussion should ultimately be predicated on HOW EACH AND EVERYONE OF US CAN BEST SERVE ALLAH.

        The ultimate premise should not be “personal preferences or lifestyle choices”. This will take the discussion elsewhere, or we will lock horns without purpose.

        Based on this, and my third point, which addresses your main point is this: If a man is by definition the one responsible for everything financial (again I don’t know of any difference of opinion amongst the scholars of Fiqh on this) ergo he’d better get a good job that pays well which he enjoys doing. This is not play for him, it is THE SOLE obligation that is shouldered on men. Thus traditionally (I realise that his word has become unfashionable) and in those cultures where Islam is dominant, parents emphasise and push the boys to keep this in mind, and this is one way of being a good father (of course there are other aspects to it).

        Now as for girls, their primary role being mothers, traditionally they are encouraged to keep such responsibilities in mind. NOW here is the thing: Why are we all assuming that just because motherhood is the primary role of a woman, that she has to stay stuck at home and cook all day? That she cannot pursue her interests as do her brothers? Being highly educated will undoubtedly help a woman fulfil her role as a mother more effectively.

        However, priorities have to be straight for both men and women, and priorities are not taught, they are inculcated, which needs time. We can’t expect to teach our kids “fulfil your dreams” when that dream may one day clash with an Islamic obligation (fatherhood or motherhood), and then expect them to make the right choice.

        I know sisters that are mothers who are very active in the community. But again, I know very well if there was a clash between giving time to their children or between doing else, they will prioritise their children and husband in a flash. Remember the great Imams Ahmad and Bukhari had awesome mothers. They didn’t “just simply enable” these two men to become such great figures, but actively worked towards this. Now every reward these Imams get would automatically be credited to their mothers too, and they will undoubtedly get their crown on the day of judgement.

        Does that mean women who aren’t wives or mothers, or who have to work due to situations they find themselves in (i.e. not just a lifestyle choice) will all go to hell? Of course not, they will be judged by Allah on how best they do what they are best at.

        So yes Allah did not create women to be “JUST” mothers, as if motherhood is an exclusive role which automatically renders all other roles impossible. But if she is a mother, and her pursuing her interests (whatever it may be) directly conflicts with her being the best mother she can be, then I do not know how ‘Islamic’ her action would be should she choose the former over the latter. And this last point was all I was trying to emphasise.

        I hope I made sense brother, and please forgive me for any shortcomings.

        Wassalam.

        PS: I would encourage everyone to study what our deen says with regards to the rights of husbands and wives. This has a direct bearing on this discussion, something which I think many would find hard to digest because of the conditioning they’ve received from mainstream non-Muslim culture.

        • Guest says:

          So what is your point, Haq? This article wasn’t written to tell women who are already mothers to abandon their family to “pursue their dreams”. It seems as though you are just arguing for the sake of arguing, if I were you, I would seek refuge in Allah from that.

        • Ubah says:

          Brother Haq,

          You call for us to study the deen more thoroughly and yet despite your repeated lengthy responses to my article, fail to provide even one piece of evidence to support your claims.

          This statement you made in the comment above is the faulty premise of your argument: “…an Islamic obligation (fatherhood or motherhood)…”. Haq, motherhood and fatherhood are NOT Islamic obligations – they aren’t fardh, please understand that.Think of how illogical that is – why would Allah (SWT) create people who can’t be mothers and fathers if it’s obligatory (as you claim)? And if you want to argue that parenthood is obligatory,then provide evidence from the Qur’an and Sunnah – especially as someone trained in fiqh (as you now claim).

          Please re-read both my article and Br. Paul’s comment within the context of the subject at hand, and with an open and compassionate mind. Hate to break it to you, but in your quest to argue down every single point regarding this article, you’ve actually missed it’s original message (as your comments so worryingly display).

          Don’t waste precious time formulating another argument, Brother. Just READ & REFLECT and think about the women in YOUR life and if they were the victims of the limiting roles ascribed to women that I discuss in the article.

          - Ubah

        • Lets REALLY support our mothers! says:

          As Salamu Alaikum Br. Haq,

          Thanks for adding to the rich discussion!

          Regarding obligations: I actually believe that both men and women in marriage need to go far beyond the bare minimum obligations in order to make a marriage and family work well.

          Yes, men’s sole obligation to the family may be financial.

          But remember, women’s sole obligation to the family is being sexually available to her husband, and to guard his secrets, and obey him with regards to familial issues. She does not have any legal obligations with regards to cooking, cleaning and child rearing. (Servants – paid for by the husband – are perfectly acceptable Islamicaly).

          Now, what I see in Muslim families in the US, it appears to men (mostly from abroad) keep strictly to their minimum obligation (provide financial support) but do little more with regards to the family.

          But women are fully expected to do much more (cook, clean, and ALL aspects of childcare, and heck often even care for in-laws!).

          I believe this imbalance is what many Muslim women today are actually rebelling against, at least as much as any ‘conditioning’ they may have received by the West.

      • Lets REALLY support our mothers! says:

        As Salamu Alaikum, Brother Paul,

        You make a very good argument, I used to think just like that.

        But lately, I have come to realize that both female and male children should be raised to do what is most pleasing to Allah.

        This is not exactly same as raising children, boys or girls, to ‘be all that they can be’ especially if it means neglecting one’s obligations to Allah, and to one’s family.

        The Prophet (s) said the best of you are the best to your family.

        Thus, perhaps we need to stop raising our sons with the main aim to be President, to be a billionare Corporate Executive, to the a Sports Superstar, a transplant surgeon, etc, if this means that obligations to Allah and family are neglected.

        On the other hand, motherhood is a noble profession that is pleasing to Allah: we as a society, men and women, should realize this and encourage motherhood, and support mothers fully to do their job. This means ensuring that mothers are not looked down upon, are highly educated, are fully appreciated for their struggles, and are able to keep their personalities and outside interests.

        However, motherhood is not the ONLY means for women to gain the pleasure of Allah…(most of the wives of the Prophets were not mothers in a literal sense!) We do need women scholars, teachers, physicians, businesswomen, etc: However, women need to ensure that obligations to Allah and family are not neglected.

      • Ubah says:

        *Sigh* – someone who finally gets it. I couldn’t help but feel the excite bubble to the surface as I read your comment.

        You eloquently stated the crux of my argument and I want to thank you for that. I personally attended an Islamic event where the lecturer (very well known, and a self-proclaimed “scholar” as stated on Twitter/Facebook) went on and on about how he wanted his sons to become so many different things once they got older. Like you said, the sky was the limit for them. I noticed that he hadn’t mentioned his aspirations for his little daughter, and so I asked (which I thought was innocent enough). Disturbingly, he was actually taken aback by my question, as if I dared to venture into dangerous territory (maybe I did). He actually stood there thinking of a response and came up with (and this is paraphrased): “I want my daughter to become the mother of someone who will change the Muslim Ummah” … something along these lines.

        I was floored. For his sons, he had went on and on about them becoming doctors, athletes, even world-renowned, but for his daughter, this was the answer he mustered. It really saddened me, because it limited the young girl so, so much. And not to be cynical or ill-wishing, but let’s be honest: what if she never does get married for certain reasons? What if (may Allah (SWT) protect her from this) she can’t conceive or carry children? Heck, who are we to guarantee anything of this sort? So if she can never fulfill the role of wife and mother in her lifetime, does that make her less of a woman? Less of a human? When you reduce her role to that, you’ll realize that it systematically *does* – which is wrong on so many levels.

        I’ll never forget this conversation I had with this Shaykh. Even when I tried to elaborate on his and my points, he essentially shut me down. I do not deny his amazing Islamic knowledge or standing amongst the Muslim community, mashaAllah. Indeed, I follow his social media updates because I find a lot of them beneficial. But that bitter taste still has not left me – I guess it took being exposed to this ridiculous mentality that prevails our Ummah, and local Muslim communities for me to say *something*.

        Anyways, thanks again for your comment Paul. I might share it on my blog if you don’t mind :)

        JazakAllahu khair

        - Ubah

        • Paul Bartlett says:

          Sister Ubah,

          Salaam. You have my permission.

        • Lets REALLY support our mothers! says:

          As Salamu Alaikum, Sr. Utbah,

          I’m so glad you asked the question. We really need to ask such tough questions of our scholars.

          Yet, I would argue that the scholar was wrong with his answer regarding his sons, at least if not more than his answer regarding his daughter.

          Why wasn’t his dream for his sons to be wonderful men who follow the model of the Prophet (s), men of excellent Islamic character who stand up for the Din and their families, regardless of what career they chose?

          What does being a doctor, athlete, and world-reknowned have to with pleasing Allah?!

        • Maryam Amirebrahimi says:

          sr.Ubah and others,

          sr.Ubah first- I appreciate the time you took to write this article. Feminism is incredibly misunderstood and distorted in the Muslim community and people have read articles I have written and dismissed everything simply by crying out, “She’s a feminist!” and closing their ears. It’s very frustrating to work with the cultures our communities have created.

          Now that being said, I’m writing because I’m concerned that Haq’s responses have been quite misunderstood, perhaps simply because this can be an emotional discussion for many.

          He’s talking about an asl, or the general ruling, for the case of a financially stable, solid marital relationship where a mother has the option to focus on raising kids. It doesn’t include women who aren’t married or can’t get married due to whatever the circumstance. He’s talking about women who get married and have children and become mothers and he’s saying that once a woman becomes a mother, Islamically, raising her children should be her main priority.

          Obviously if she’s in an abusive relationship, or if the household needs another income, etc., those are different situations to be considered individually.

          He’s not suggesting women cannot also work and be awesome mothers. He’s simply saying that motherhood should be the priority so that when work and motherhood conflict, motherhood should take precedence. Obviously, fathers should also prioritize fatherhood as much as possible and a healthy family unit should discuss how best to mutually work together to fulfill their roles as parents and as spouses. I know there’s frustration in our community because the discussion on the importance and responsibilities of fatherhood are basically never discussed and when they are, they aren’t discussed with the same urgency as the mother, even though the active presence of both are very important in a child’s life.

          I think the reason many people are frustrated when we discuss issues related to women and their roles, myself included, is because of the discussion mentioned about women being raised to be wives and mothers and “nothing beyond that.” One of many reasons why that is inherently problematic is because not every woman will be a wife or a mother (nor want to be a wife or mother). And if she does become a wife, she may not become a mother. And even if she becomes a mother, eventually, her kids will likely grow up and out and then she’s back to not having those responsibilities as she once did.

          And in those times, then what? If she hadn’t pursued an education earlier on and she didn’t have the drive or knowledge, etc., to pursue her passions, she now may feel stuck or her whole entire focus may be her grown children and that can be quite unhealthy as I’ve seen in many parental relationships.

          At the same time, while her kids are in school and out of the house, if she’s been raised to be the best of whatever she wants to be and contributing to society, not only can she raise her kids with those values (as Haq mentioned), she could use that time as her kids are busy in their activities to continue to pursue her career and other interests and in all she learns and does, also enhance the lives of her children with that knowledge and skill set.

          But if she wasn’t raised to find and pursue her dreams, then that may be a little more difficult as she grows older. Not necessarily, but it could be. But the point is she isn’t sacrificing the wellbeing of her family for the SAKE of those passions or pursuits. Her family comes first. And yes, the father should put his family first as well while still making enough money to help the family live securely if possible. If that means foregoing certain career advancements for the sake of the wellbeing of his family if those advancements would interfere, then perhaps that’s what it means. Does this mean they can’t work out a deal where they both work and take turns being home with the kids at different times? Not necessarily; each family unit is different and this is not accounting for the need to have both parents work as that’s a separate situation. But the point is that regardless of the education or career pursuit of a mom or dad, their kids and their relationship are their priorities.

          I think the issue people are taking is not with the statement, “A mother’s priorities should be her family.” It’s with the statement, “A woman’s priority should be her family.”

          But a woman doesn’t necessarily have a family to prioritize. And it’s not fair to assume she will and groom her to become “nothing more than a housewife or a mother.”

          I think that’s where the conflict is. Being a wife and a mother are two of the most important roles a woman can be blessed with! But the problem is in the mentality that it’s all she can be or ever will be, and that’s why I think people get frustrated when they hear she can be “nothing more.” And we know that’s not true from a simple glance of the strong women in the Prophetic society or the description of women in the Qur’anic narrative.

          I hope I correctly conveyed Haq’s responses which were not understood well. It concerned me to see emotional responses but I understand where everyone is coming from and that frustration is high when discussing this issue for many reasons which tangibly negatively affect our community standards and some unhealthy expectations.

          At the same time, I can understand that none of you may know Haq personally and don’t know where he’s coming from in his reflections. He’s one of my mentors and teachers, well studied in Islamic Law and a regular Webbauthor. He has given me feedback on my articles, “Wifehood and Motherhood are Not the Only Ways to Paradise,” and “5 Tips to Rethink Women in Islam.” He has helped me navigate my frustrated feelings towards community rhetoric in comparison to what texts actually say about women in Islam and has helped me feel more empowered as a Muslim woman vocally calling for women’s rights as Islam has blessed us with them. He has been an incredible source of guidance in my life and I hope his writings will be read in that light. It’s easy to be misunderstood online.

          May Allah bless you all,
          maryam

      • Rachel says:

        THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!!!! I don’t care if it is a “western” ideology that women can become whatever they want to become! It is NOT western! It is human! We are thinkers, producers, and extremely valuable. I would like to think that women who cannot bare children are still valued and looked at as a resource in our communities. Perhaps the “Muslim” world needs to take some values from the west. Not all things western are wrong, and not all things middle eastern are right. I can’t stand these brothers who are always using my gender as a way to control me. I am not your property or your child. I make my own choices and follow my deen because of my sincerity to Allah.

        WE raise children as a unit. WE make children as a unit. WE marry as a unit. WE are different in our nature as male and female, but that doesn’t make us less.

        After being a victim of domestic violence I can assure all these readers that this mentality is REAL! An imam told my ex-husband, who was the abuser, that he should have never allowed me to go to college and get my degree because now I don’t NEED him and I am able to leave (cause I can work). He said that women have to need men so that they don’t feel so independent. I was shocked that he could say this in front of me. And the sad part is his wife was sitting there nodding her head. . .

        Thank you brother for being the one male that gets our plight as Muslim women!

    • Iqraq says:

      Salams,

      I am a doctor who happens to be female. The men who Sister Ubah alludes to (holy, religious sort who define women by the womb), are often the first to kick up a fuss when there are no female physicians to attend to their wife/wives. I find it somewhat amusing.

      My own opinion is that there is no ‘one model fits all’ for everyone. Some women do not work but leave parenting to the nanny or the iPad. Some women do not have the choice but to work because a single-income will not be able to support the family. Some have to work because they have married irresponsible men who do not support the family (increasingly frequent nowadays). I myself work to fulfill a fardh kifayah, many muslimah pateints now specifically request female doctors, and I parent as intensively as possible when I am at home, doing all the seemingly mundane tasks for the kids (which to me, because I cannot do them every day, I find priceless). I believe it depends on the individual and how seriously they take their role as a parent. I also believe we should absolutely insist on girls becoming educated so that they will be able to educate their own children even if they choose to stay at home.

      • Haq says:

        Wassalam,

        Hats off to you sister, you embody everything I (tried) to say in my comment above.

        May Allah reward you.

        Haq

      • Ubah says:

        ^ This.

        ” The men who Sister Ubah alludes to (holy, religious sort who define women by the womb), are often the first to kick up a fuss when there are no female physicians to attend to their wife/wives. I find it somewhat amusing”

        ^ And this. (I find it amusing too).

        - Ubah

      • Hyde says:

        LOL…they want female [muslim] doctors to attend to their women, yet don’t want female [muslims] to became doctors…faulty logic or what ?

        I think law of conservation of energy would b violated. Personally, I think Muslim women should be strongly encouraged to enter the medical field.

  5. Barbara says:

    to SuhaibWebb.com

    I wander what will u advice me. I do not want wark, I have two children and I do not want nanny for them. I am away from my family so noone helps me in anything. But I still feel “preasure” from my husband that I should become working..

  6. Lets REALLY support our mothers! says:

    As Salamu Alaikum,

    I think an important feature in this discussion of how motherhood plays out today amongst Muslim families in the US.

    Mothers are highly respected in Islam, without a doubt, and rightly so. However, unfortunately, mothers are not really respected by us Muslims to the same degree.

    Certainly the wider American society does not offer much: America is one of the worst countries in the world when it comes to supporting mothers, whether its materal leave, sick leave, or support for newborns and children, etc.

    We Muslims in America make things worse. We barrage women with Hadiths and Fiqh about how noble it is to be a mother, how paradise is under their feet. We expect mothers to give up everything: their jobs, all their time, their interests, and perhaps even their personalities to raise kids full time.

    Muslim mothers in the US are not given the support they need to excel in this most difficult of jobs. (What could be more difficult than raising upright Muslim kids in today’s world?)

    A mother is never able to ‘get away’ and recharge her batteries, so she can be even better at her job. Anything she does in this regard is seen as selfish and detrimental to the kids.

    No wonder young Muslim women are rebelling: they see their own mothers struggling, and taken advantage of. Many are lonely, and tired of being ‘slaves’ (remember the hadith about the Day of Judgment?) and ‘chauffeurs’ hauling their kids to school, Quran class, sports, friend’s houses, etc.)

    I would argue that this was not supposed to be the case Islamically: mothers are highly respected, of course. But a mother is not required by the Sharia to cook, clean, transport her kids, educate her kids, etc. Heck, she is not even required to breast feed her own child! And social structures of the time allowed for joint families in which many women cared for children, not just one.

    So, lets really respect our Mothers. Not just in words, but in deeds. What about men taking over for a bit? Or perhaps the Muslim community arranging a baby sitting services? What other ideas do you have so we can help our mothers out so they can recharge and do an even better job?

  7. Ayla says:

    In way that I am supporting women to get their rights that pro-humanity & social justice, i am feminist. My study in psychology before i got married has been helping me with my job now. Dealing with kids all day & relationship with husband, big fams, neighbors, etc.

    Gender equity is the precise term just like sheikh yusuf estes said. We (women) might have different views & that is ok. Just do what we feel right & follow our passion without forgetting tp fulfill other’s rights too.

    We all will always have dream as we update life every day. Update knowledge, behavioral skill, emotional skill, etc. I believe there’s time & chance to pursue my other ambitions (ex: having my own shop, humanitarian activities). Being there for kids, guiding them, spending time with them, etc are also learning experiences for parents. Kids will grow faster than you think. I am grateful that I like being fulltime housewife & mom. Setting priority, schedule, goals are really helping. Just do one at the time so we won’t get stress :-) .

    But being muslim woman with scarf, wife, & mom doesnt mean I am not feminist. I’m supporting women to be able to have their rights (education, fulfilling ambitions, on any field that she wishes to). My daily work as feminist is informing the world that wearing a scarf is another way of fashion just like the rights of other women like lady gaga, etc. What women choose to wear is their right.

    I have seen many of friends who have PHD & really enjoy being fulltime housewife. They are examples of people dont have to be the same. And that is okay. But whatever we have learnt can be applied in daily life. Life is dinamic. We must upgrade our knowledge & skill.

    • Ubah says:

      Very fascinating response sister, and an interesting perspective on feminism! Coincidentally, my background is also in psychology, making your comment all the more relevant to me.

      Thanks for sharing your insightful thoughts!

      - Ubah

  8. Quran for kids says:

    About Teaching of Mother

    When A Man Has Knowledge Of The Deen . . .!!
    He Can Lead His Family With Respect . . .!!

    When A Woman Has Knowledge Of The Deen . . .!!!
    She Can Lead Her Children In Humility . . .!!!

    When Children Have Knowledge Of The Deen . . .!!!
    They Can Lead Their Parents To Jannah . . .!!!

    Motivate Yourself Share And Inspire Others

  9. Guest says:

    MashaAllah this is a great article! Sister Ubah says it all, there is nothing wrong with staying at home to child rear, nor is there anything wrong with working outside the home, and women in Islam should be respected for both decisions, and limited to neither.

    There are no extremes in this article, so I do not know where some of these commenters are getting off at suggesting things like how prostitution is the only outside work women do? I find a lot of muslims lack practicality these days.

    There are many great female doctors, lawyers, dentists, philosophers, scholars, teachers, professors, psychologists who have contributed so much to society and have made such a grand difference, just as the mothers who raised those children to become educated.

    That being said, I really hope in the future there is a growth of Muslim female scholars! It would be nice to hear lectures and more articles about females from a female perspective :)

    Great article, sister Ubah!

  10. ZAI says:

    I don’t think “feminism”, defined as a radical absolute equality of nature, is a problem in the Muslim community. I think most Muslim women don’t ascribe to that view. The problem as I see it is a PATERNALISTIC attitude towards Muslim women by Muslim men. It’s a sort of permanent infantalization of Muslim women, wherein Muslim men FOIST social constructs on them and make their decisions FOR them. They’re not seen as independent adults and souls who have similar responsibilities towards Allah and have autonomy…but permanent children who men must make decisions and choices for.

    I find it amusing that both many Muslim men and non-Muslims, whether feminist female or men, find it is THEIR prerogative to tell Muslim women what’s best for them. Let them make their own choices! Yeah, many of them might make bad ones that are less than some Islamic ideal…just like Muslim men.

    • Lets REALLY support our mothers! says:

      Excellent reply brother ZAI.

      Only thing is that I would not let us Muslim women off the hook.

      Sadly, some Muslim women at times are the most restrictive when it comes to restricting other Muslim women.

      Some Mothers and aunts regularly and constantly favor sons over daughters.

      They support higher education and dream of the world for their sons while daughters are told ‘well, you’re only going to be a housewife and mother anyway’ (as if this is nothing and does not need a high education much less support).

      They strictly and rigidly hold onto narrow notions of womenhood and motherhood (as detailed by Sister Ubah here and by Sister Maryam Ameribrahimi recently) and strongly criticize, even berate, other sisters who may have chosen another path.

      (Note, I have no problem with Sisters who hold onto certain views that I may consider ‘restrictive’ – after all, Allah knows best – they maybe right and I maybe wrong. This is as long as they leave room for other sisters to do what they will – as you say, to ‘make their own choices’ even if they maybe bad ones. The problem I have is with Sisters who routinely criticize and berate others, with misguided notions of ‘enjoining the good and forbidding evil’).

      Unfortunately, I have seen that sometimes, we sisters are each others’ worst enemies :(…

      May Allah help us all.

  11. Awais says:

    I highly appreciate for this writing. there are a lot of misconceptions between Muslims and non. even Muslims try to adopt the way that non society is living. So, we cannot use the terms that westerns use being Muslims and the role of a Muslimah is very noble in our religion. A Muslimah can have all the basic rights of having good education, business etc but the most important role is to provide strong basis for the future of Muslim Ummah…….

  12. azim rahimi says:

    Nice article sr ubah…
    Finallay i could distinguish between muslimah and feminist…

  13. Fritz says:

    “I would argue that the primary role of a woman – and even a man – after marriage is *not* to be a perfect spouse or parent, but to fulfill their obligations towards Allah (SWT) first. All else falls beneath that.”

    Yes but what about when Allah swt has placed obligations with the wife regarding certain responsibilities towards her husband and her children?! I dont see articles exclaiming “I obey Allah and not my mother” (and then disrespecting their parents). We all know the responsibilities of the wife in the hadith literature (so I wont go into them again).

    And yes I am sorry to say that IF a woman has a family then “the (secular) priority should be her family.” Islam has tried to elevate the status of wives and mothers. Its not just a token gesture but it reflects the critical nature of the role they play in maintaining a family unit. Just as a general observation I am not sure anyone can use the “American Urf” / “American Custom” of family as a model example for anything. (ALthough I totally accept that families may be forced into certain roles). The majority of couples co-habit with no major commitment. And for those that do marry, its a coin toss as to whether they get divorced. In general as a system it is sadly failing.

    I think what Hyde is alluding to is that there is that undertone to many of the arguments here. “Yeah motherhood is awesome. If that’s REALLY her choice then I am all for it. But you know she could be making something with her life. She should prioritise Allah; she should go get a career and change the world” There is definitely a tendency to create a patriarchal strawman in response to a minority of backward attitudes and then imply that the logical counter-argument is that woman should be expected to have their career whims catered to whilst being financially maintained and absolving their familial responsibilities. This is the crux of what really irritates many about feminism (although I accept you are not advocating this).

    “pursue her dreams / to pursue her passions”…I think this is all and well but the majority of fully loaded “amazing” careers require an in-ordinate amount of time invested in terms of ‘hours per week’, years of training, self study and possible also travel. Can she really “have it all”? (and can she have it even if she is a single mother/disabled/widowed with dependents?) Even western women (even those with VERY obliging husbands) realise that something has to give. Its not Islam that is forcing you to make the decision but the realities of life. Ambition and vision are important but a balanced expectation is also important. There will always be exceptional female muslim scholars, doctors and scientists but there is a price for that endeavour. Interestingly I am not sure the majority of men view their careers in such idealistic terms. For many its really about bringing home money and trying to support a family (ironically).

    • Fritz says:

      ps: sorry if it sounded overtly pessimistic. Ubah/Maryam may Allah grant you both barakah +++ so that we are all scratching our heads wondering just how managed to juggle it all together (whichever routes you chose)

  14. Sithara says:

    As Salamu Alaikum,

    I’m know in Islam, mothers are greatly honored. But I’m confused as to what exactly constitutes a woman’s legal responsibility to her family, especially her children? (I’m more clear about her responsibilities to her husband).

    I understand legal responsibility does not necessarily equate to ‘what she should do’ but it would be a good starting point.

    I’ve looked at the internet for answers, but have not found anything clear and definite on this matter. Generally, articles quote the virtues of motherhood and seem to equate that with legal responsibilities for an vaguely defined set of activities.

    I think a clear answer on this would be greatly helpful and clear up many of the issues that are being debated here.

    We all seem to be very clear of what the father’s legal responsibility is, but seem to be dancing around in our debates as to what the mother’s actual legal responsibility is towards her family.

    I’m looking for answers such as:

    In Islam, is a mother legally responsible for:

    breastfeeding her kids
    feeding her kids
    cleaning her kids
    education of her kids
    transportation of her kids
    shopping for her kids
    cooking for her family
    cleaning the house (dish washing, etc)

    and so on. (I probably forgot a number of items here that mothers can add!)

    Jazak Allahu Khayran for any answers! Providing your source so I could read up further would be very helpful too.

    Okay, wasalam!

    -Sithara

  15. Truth Seeker says:

    I would just like to point out that to those of you who make claims such as “Allah says this….*insert generalized opinion*” or “the Quran states this…*insert generalized opinion*” and “according to Islam women must do this…. *insert generalized opinion once again*”

    none of you have used ANY direct Quran’ic quotations, nor direct quotations of Hadith, whatsoever. Therefore your comments are ineffective.

    Please… if you want to make claims about the Qur’an and what the Prophet (peace be upon him) says, do not generalize – if you must generalize, then you at least MUST use direct proof or concrete evidence when discussing Qur’an as you may take things out of context or mix the Qur’an with your own biased views.

    Personally I will not take your word for anything unless you provide an exact Qur’anic quotation or quote from the Prophet (peace be upon him) as my faith does not rely solely on what people speak of, but on what I find through Allah’s exact words.

    If you truly value your religion, you will not protest to this.

    Know your sources. Please.

    Salam all.

  16. Gibran says:

    Assalamualaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh

    The very best women were known for being wives and mothers.

    We all know the hadith on the mans rights over his wife and so on.

    Women have their role in society which is dictated by-Allah and His Messenger.

  17. Abdullah says:

    Assalamu Alaykum wa Rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu

    There are many great women who have changed the world for the better through their professions. Where I live, there is a great need for muslim women in a number of roles, and I’d encourage and support capable and talented sisters to try and fill these roles if they are able to.

    With that said, for most of us, however, I’m sure there are much more productive ways to spend all those work hours every week.

    As a man, I also find it bizarre that so many women are so keen to get out into the workforce. Quite honestly, if I had the financial means, I’d quit my job and dedicate my time to my family, study of the Quraan and Islamic Sciences, working out, a bit of socialising and just doing all the things I’d like to do but never find the time for.

    In fact, this is the kind of thing I did for a few months when I left my last job. I was fortunate, walhamdulillah, in that I found myself in a blessed situation wherein I was financially fairly well off and not in urgent need of another job. It was great! I found myself able to do more in those few months than I did in years while bogged down with a job. The extra time allowed me, by the Will of Allah, to fast track to many of my goals.

    At the end of the day I suppose everyone needs to look at their individual circumstances and make the decision for themselves. I just hope that when we do make that decision, we are all totally honest with ourselves and truly questioning whether we are using our time in the most productive manner.

    The Prophet (salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: “Take benefit of five before five: Your youth before your old age, your health before your sickness, your wealth before your poverty, your free time before you are preoccupied, and your life before your death”
    (Narrated by Ibn Abbas and reported by Al Hakim)

    WAllahi, time is a blessing. Once it has left, it will never return. Make sure you use it productively

    • Fezz says:

      “As a man, I also find it bizarre that so many women are so keen to get out into the workforce”

      EXACTLY. Thats the incredible irony of it all. A job is really just a means to provide for a family. Its interesting that women kill off their families and are brainwashed into believing that work will be a “hobby” / “pursuit of passion” / only to find they are left as wage slaves with hope of with neither.

      • Zaheer says:

        Salaam,

        I think a big push behind the type of thinking this article promotes is a naievety about what being a ‘full’ person, with roles outside motherhood and family, entails.

        Most of us are not going to be the next great ‘alim who ‘revives’ the religion amongst the people, or improves the lives of Muslims, or the condition of the world in a very big way. Insha-Allah, many of us will only have the capability to strive towards the path of Allah, inspiring the small group of people around us. The best manner to achieve this is different for men and women, in general. This is why our Shari’a has laid out the differing roles for the genders, and to a larger extent, each category a Muslim may belong to.

        I think that some women, who perhaps feel unfulfilled in their role as mothers/wives, think that ‘the world outside’ is a very great place, where, if just given the opportunity, they would be able to achieve their true potential and finally find contentment.

        What usually ends up happening is that they get sucked into the ‘wage-slave’ cycle like the rest of us, and end up regretting not placing the upbringing of their children and the maintenance of (their part of) marital harmony.

        As much as these women might think that they are not influenced by the feminism let loose in the West (and now, large parts of the rest of the world), they are, because like all forms of liberalism, feminism dangles the ‘other’ in front of one, promising endless joy as long as one follows one’s own desires in contradiction to what is ‘foisted upon’ the individual. Freedom of choice, indeed.

        Finally, it is important to remember that this applies to the ‘general’ Muslimah: married, with children, and who can maintain a ‘reasonable’ standard of living with her husband’s salary and, optionally, some type of income which does not require 40-hours (or more, Subhanallah) of work away from the home.

        This ideal picture is (sadly?) changing due to many reasons, but valid economic concerns (as opposed to excessive material desires) are a big reason why some households feel that both spouses need full-time jobs.

        • Razan says:

          I would suggest that your idea of ‘the general Muslimah’ may be limited by your socio-economic class. For me it’s the opposite – the ‘general Muslimah’ HAS to work to support the type of lifestyle she desires – and by this I mean not going into riba-based mortgages, being able to put children into Islamic school, heck, just being able to pay rent on time you need two incomes these days!

          Also, women don’t necessarily want to work merely to feel ‘fulfilled’. Generally, it’s economic concerns (as mentioned above) as well as actual needs that need to be met by the community. We NEED female counselors, doctors, lawyers, scientists, psychologists, social workers, etc. ESPECIALLY as Muslims where we want to have gender-sensitive interaction. Women want to help meet those needs, with the education given them.

        • Lets REALLY support our mothers! says:

          As Salamu Alaikum,

          A key unanswered question here is, ‘why do women feel unfulfilled by their roles as mothers and wives.’

          The answer is clear: you explanation (because women are deluded by feminism/materialism) just touches the surface. The problem is much deeper – though.

          Women feel unfulfilled as mothers and wives because we as a Muslim society do not really value our mothers and wives. Both men and women don’t really seem to understand what being a full time mother entails in terms of time commitment, stress, etc. No one is taken more for granted than one’s mother.

          A test in this regard: who is your hero, who is the person you admire and love the most? (Be honest :D)

          How many of us think immediately think of our mothers in response? Probably not most of us…

          I admit I didn’t…But if our mothers are not at the top of the list (or at least near the top, after the Prophet (s) for example) then we have a problem.

          If we as a Muslim society really valued our mothers and wives they should be valued, with the honor accorded to them by our Deen, then, then Insha Allah we would see a different story.

          May Allah give is all the ability (including me) to love our mothers and treat them with excellence.

      • Disagree says:

        As Salamu Alaikum,

        As someone who has worked, I honestly disagree with you. Yes, of course, a job is a means to provide for oneself and for one’s family.

        But it can also be a means for incredible empowerment. Whenever a doctor saves someone from the brink of death, is he or she just ‘a wage slave?’ When a community leader saves youth from poverty and drugs through counseling, or a teacher educates children or even adults are they just ‘wage slaves?’

        It all depends on the job. There is plenty of fulfilling work out there for those who are educated and willing to think outside the conventional corporate box.

        This is not to take away from the overall argument that jobs can be at the expense of family.

        In the end, both men and women must consider what is most pleasing to Allah. This may or may not be what is most pleasing to them, what they are most ‘passionate’ about.

    • Sister says:

      As Salamu Alaikum, Br. Abdullah,

      Thanks for your comment! I completely agree with most of what you say: at the end of the day, we need to do what is most productive, in terms of pleasing Allah.

      Just a small point: I don’t know the specifics of your situation, but I don’t think one can generally compare the time demands of a husband/father taking off of work after having adequate savings (ie, taking a sabbatical) with a stay-at-home wife and mother.

      Unfortunately, many people, men as well as women seem to think that stay at home wives and mothers have endless free time that they can fill up furthering personal goals. This is emphatically not the case if she is the main caretaker of children, especially small ones (Matt Walsh on his blog, Mattwalshblog.com eloquently writes about this issue).

      On the other hand, most husbands who take off still can depend on their wives to do at least half the child care, cooking, cleaning, etc. He is taking off full time from work, but in the meantime, he is not taking on the full load of caring for the household. So, of course, he has more time for further personal goals.

      Also, note that husbands/fathers have the option of saving up and taking sabbaticals to further personal goals. This is mostly out of the question for wives/mothers.

      Anyway, just some points for thought – Insha Allah we will all use our time and resources in a manner that is best pleasing to Allah!

      -Sithara

      • Abdullah says:

        wa’Alaykum alSalaam wa Rahmatullahi wa Barkaatuh

        JazakAllah khair.

        I greatly appreciate your comments Sister. MashaAllah, you raised some very important issues.

        You are quite right in pointing out that in many circumstances (maybe even the vast majority of cases) stay at home mums (may Allah bless them) tend to have far less spare time on their hands than working husbands (and often less opportunities and assistance afforded to them – sadly, even from husbands in many cases). Unfortunately, many people fail to realise this and don’t give these great women (may Allah bless them abundantly) the credit that they rightly deserve.

        Your valuable contribution brought to mind another very important issue that I feel needs attention: Prioritising.

        If anyone were facing circumstances like those described earlier, it would probably make more sense for them to focus the little time that they do have on the greater priorities in their life, like their children, before other important, but less critical, issues.

        After all, the Prophet (salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said:

        “Each of you is a shepherd. And each of you is responsible for your flock: So the leader is a shepherd, and he is responsible for his flock, and a man is a shepherd over the members of his house, and he is responsible for his flock, and the woman is a guardian over the members her husband’s household and his children, and she is responsible for them, and the man’s servant is a shepherd over the wealth of his master and he is responsible for it. Indeed, you are all shepherds, and all of you are responsible for your flocks”
        [Recorded in sunan Abi Dawud, Sahih Muslim, etc]

        Truly, it makes little sense for us (men and women alike, regardless of whether we have different individual circumstances) to place our focus on the flock of another, if it is to the detriment of the flock that we are primarily responsible for.

        At the end of the day, I guess both a working husband and/or a stay at home mum, while having unique circumstances, need to assess their individual and unique situation, put their priorities in order and then use their time and resources in the most productive manner that is pleasing to Allah (Subhanahu wa Ta’aala) – and the same goes for anyone else for that matter.

        Again, thank you so much for contributing such valuable comments.

        I ask Allah bless you and grant you the best in both worlds, and may peace and blessing be upon Muhammad, the Messenger of Allah

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