Dr. O blogs at Muslim Medicine, a site that strives to serve mostly fresh grade-A certified abiah ḥalāl comedy, but has a small selection of serious articles as well.

To my fellow young brothers seeking marriage, ask yourself an honest question. If a sister were to offer you a proposal, and she was wealthier, more educated, and more accomplished than you, but older as well and previously widowed (or divorced) with children, would you seriously consider that proposal? And would your family approve or be supportive of that kind of proposal?

It's not surprising if your answer is no – and perhaps you have some legitimate concerns, but I would wager that most brothers would probably reject that proposal in a heartbeat because that's not the kind of woman they or their parents envision when they think of the ideal spouse.

But if the question is reworded to, “Would you consider a proposal from Khadijah raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her)?” the answer suddenly changes – what brother would say no to this hypothetical, out of reverence for one of the most honored mothers of our ummah - but considering the previous question asked, this answer feels disingenuous because truthfully, in our day and age, women with the same disposition as Khadijah raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her) have immense difficulty trying to marry.

Place yourself in the mindset of a young Muḥammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) and for just this moment consider how radically different his sunnah was from the current stigmatization of sisters in the same position as Khadijah raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her).

muslim

Khadijah raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her)'s Age
A sister's age is a huge determinant of her eligibility, as societal constructs strike points against her for merely being older. Our cultural norms and traditional standards dictate that wives should always be younger than their husbands, and age gaps as wide as a decade between them are still seen as acceptable, whereas a wife who is more than a couple of years older is seen as an anomaly – something unusual and frowned upon.

To add to the pressure, the notion of “biological clocks” is usuallyshutterstock_185000936 brought up as the supporting argument for why elder sisters are seen as less desirable, because apparently a woman's fertility is somehow paramount to the success of her relationship. As a medical student, I can see how this could be a legitimate concern when a woman is reaching physiological menopause or when her advanced age could increase the risk of fetal congenital conditions, but simply as a man – a sister's fertility is not something she can control on demand, and to dismiss her as arbitrarily being “past her prime” is not only hurtful and insensitive, but demeaning to her womanhood.

Khadijah raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her) was reported to be older than the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), and our beloved Rasul ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) was not repulsed in the slightest by that fact, nor did he call into question her fertility or subtly suggest that she was past her prime – he nobly reciprocated her respect for him.

Khadijah raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her)'s education, career, and wealth
It's depressing to see us brothers being such vocal champions of women's education and independence, yet turning around and finding these same accomplished sisters to be ineligible as prospects because they lack our cultural criteria of “ideal marriage material.” It would seem that the notion of a strong, financially-independent, career-oriented woman is stigmatized as the antithesis of an ideal mother – that their careers or their ambitions somehow make them less capable of being mothers or inadequate in fulfilling traditional roles as wives.

And this false pervasive sentiment of ours has contributed to a sad shutterstock_178481045reality – the most accomplished and successful sisters who spend their youth pursuing lengthy degrees and chasing big careers are most often the ones snubbed in favor of younger sisters who are more traditionally housewife-oriented.

It's not surprising to hear concerns that a wife who is more educated or wealthier is seen as a threat to traditional roles of a husband being the provider of a family – and perhaps this reveals a deeper, more internal issue of a more successful or smarter wife being a blow to a man's sense of manhood and ego. As if marriage is a competition and her success emasculates his own accomplishments.

Khadijah raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her) was one of the wealthiest women of Quraysh; a sharply intelligent businesswoman who was a leader in her trade. In comparison the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) was unable to read, was far less accomplished, much poorer, and he worked under her as an employee. And for the Prophet Muḥammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) to be in such a low position relative to Khadijah raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her) and consider her proposal without a single negative thought of his own ego or manhood speaks volumes about our own modern-day male insecurities.

Khadijah raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her)'s previous marriage and maturity
It's difficult to even imagine the stress and emotional pain that couples go through when they divorce, or worse even when sisters become widows. And it's truly a shame that of all the matrimonial prospects, the ones most stigmatized are elder sisters who are divorcees or widows, especially those who already have children.

u1_muslimweddingIt's completely understandable that a lot of brothers may be wary of divorcees and unwilling to consider prospects who already have children due to all of the additional issues and complications that arise, but often the systemic cultural shunning and sheer difficulty of re-marrying compounds the emotional struggles and vulnerability that these sisters have when trying to rebuild their lives.

Khadijah raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her) had gone through two prior marriages, bearing children through each, and was left widowed upon the death of her second husband. Despite this heavy emotional toll, its incredible to note how patient and confident she was in not only choosing to marry a third time, but breaking tradition by proposing to Prophet Muḥammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) in a culture where men proposing to women was considered the proper standard.

The Prophet's ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) acceptance of her in spite of her past is a striking lesson to our current generation that we should elevate ourselves from the mire of backwards perceptions about our women, and offer greater protection and support for those who may have pasts, or who are vulnerable, alone, or unable to provide for themselves.

deco-line-2

To my fellow young brothers – if we're to model ourselves after the Prophet Muḥammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) in our approach to matrimony, then at the very least we should show respect for the women of our ummah by removing the cultural and social stigmas that we attach to the sisters in similar situations as Khadijah raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her).

If the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) himself expressed a lifetime of immeasurable love for a woman who was older, more educated, more successful, wealthier, and previously married, don't our sisters in similar situations deserve at the very least a fair and respectful consideration?

132 Responses

  1. Mahmud

    Assalamualaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh

    Interesting article, I think you raised some good points and wrote it well. It’s a sensitive subject.

    1) About the “career oriented thing”

    “It would seem that the notion of a strong, financially-independent, career-oriented woman is stigmatized as the antithesis of an ideal mother – that their careers or their ambitions somehow make them less capable of being mothers or inadequate in fulfilling traditional roles as wives.”

    The feeling in my mind and probably that of other men, Muslim and non-Muslim alike, is that career-oriented, strong, financially independent woman is that they are less loving, less nurturing, less caring. Perhaps this has something to do with the way television shows portray career women or perhaps the stereotype has some truth in it.

    2) As for ego-

    Naturally a man wants a wife who respects him and looks up to him. So the ideal seems to be seeking a younger girl who is not as accomplished as him. Once again, this is a stereotype, but it might have truth to it. Perhaps more accomplished women are less likely to show their husbands the respect they want?

    3) Finally, I there are parental expectations.

    Obviously we should try to follow our parents wishes. Coming from a Desi background, my parents don’t want me to marry someone whose been previously divorced. My Desi mother obviously wants me to marry a young woman who had no previous relationships, is good in Islamic practice and is willing to become a traditional wife and mother. So as for your last sentence, “don’t our sisters in similar situations deserve at the very least a fair and respectful consideration”, the whole consideration goes out of the window when our parents have already set the limits for us. This is an important thing to note.

    There are no easy answers. The first two points I mentioned are stereotypes, but they are strongly ingrained in my mind and probably in the minds of other men and women. Even historically, we have terms for more aged women who aren’t married like “spinster.” Stereotypes exist probably because of the influence of fiction in television and writing, personal experience and probably because there is at least some truth to them. Since men and women have ideals in who they want to marry, stereotypes can limit the range of people they are willing to consider.

    Finally, stereotypes also influence parents(mother and father) and so they can limit the options of young Muslims. This might be the biggest factor that the Muslim women in the article mentioned are having a hard time getting married. Parental expectations affect both boys and girls of course, but since this article is talking about Muslim men, I focused on that.

    Once again, it is a sensitive subject and I appreciate the way you handled the topic. My concluding remarks are that there are ideals in both young men and women, stereotypes which limit young peoples options and also that parental expectations play a huge role in who brothers and sisters will get married to.

    Thumb up 32 Thumb down 35

    Reply
    • americanmuhajaba

      Salam, I understand where you’re coming from, but I’d like to say one thing in response to your second point.
      If a man does something or has a quality that would cause his wife to not respect him or lose respect for him, or if a woman chooses not to respect her husband when she should, it won’t matter how accomplished the woman is. A not-so-highly educated woman is just as likely and capable of not respecting her husband as an educated woman is. On the other hand, a woman who wants to respect her husband will do so even if she has a PhD and he is illiterate. It’s important to look past stereotypes and what you think a person is like just based on the obvious details, because often times we can be so wrong about people.

      Thumb up 25 Thumb down 3

      Reply
    • Human

      In tv shows and movies, when a Muslim man is portrayed, he is always seen as being abusive to women or as a terrorist. You obviously can’t say this stereotype describes the majority of Muslim men, can you? Similarly, those stereotypes you see about women do not describe them as a whole. :)

      Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

      Reply
      • Mahmud

        Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

        Thumb up 3 Thumb down 12

      • le

        Then you need to move out of the desi ghetto. Funny how you have examples to the contrary when stereotypes paint you in a negative light.

        Thumb up 10 Thumb down 4

      • Mahmud

        Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

        Thumb up 5 Thumb down 9

      • Mahmud B.

        desi ghetto?

        :-(

        you just hurt my desi feelings

        Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

      • Mahmud

        Aly the moderator, you should delete le’s comment. It was useless, illogical, and needlessly offensive. She also hasn’t apologized.

        Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

    • m

      Being one of those “highly educated career women” in my 20′s I can safely say, at least for myself, that just bc women are educated does not in the slightest take away from their desire of being loving wifes, nurturing mothers, and dedicated in the house. We find ways to compromise. We get tired, we get exhausted, we get stressed. But we still find fulfillment in it in our own way, and we choose it. We still prioritze family and wifely/motherly duties bc its in our nature and our biology, and its something that fulfills a part of our souls that nothing else can compete with. I think it is highly ignorant to think that women somehow are harsh or not as attentive in the home just bc they have degrees and work. Yes, maybe the time they have at home is more limited, but knowing how women are, we would still come home exhausted and take care of our families, while still having that fulfillments that we are contributing to the world, and fulfilling ourselves personally outisde of family. And when we do come home and attend to the family, it is with great happiness, and often times the quality of that time is much more concentrated and valuable and worthwhile in its content. We still want to cook the meals, and we do; we still want to look good for our husbands, and we do; we still want to raise our children, and we do. Happily. Working, or pursuing any other activity besides housely duties is important for a woman’s morale, and happiness, especially after her children get older. Some women work bc they have no choice but to provide; however, in desi/muslim culture, most women choose to work, and no one should take that away from them. In today’s western world, we should respect a woman’s mind (women should always be respected, even in a non-western world obviously), and her ability to wisely balance deen, work, and family, and make that trust evident to her. There is no need to dictate that to them, trust me, we are aware. Very aware. To your mother, sister, wife, daughter, aunt, etc… be kind, respect them, love them, and have trust in them.

      Thumb up 5 Thumb down 2

      Reply
  2. insaaff

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

    Thumb up 17 Thumb down 25

    Reply
    • Jumana

      Salaam. Khadijah (RA) was a first wife of our Prophet (SAW). A divorced sister should have the same chance at being someone’s first wife as any other sister. We tend to take the position that these sisters can only become someone’s second/third/forth by default. There are divorced brothers marrying unmarried sisters, sometimes much younger than their previous wife. We need to change that mentality towards divorced woman.

      Thumb up 39 Thumb down 3

      Reply
      • insaaff

        All I focused on is the revival of polygamy and importance of it so that no Muslim women have to live alone ! I never intend to reject their chance of being the first wife or even demeaning them.

        People of today imagine too much on others behalf !

        Thumb up 18 Thumb down 15

      • Jumana

        I also don’t think the article is about the male-female ratio. To be honest, there isn’t a huge imbalance between male to female ratio except a few countries or in cases like: war. In some countries, there are actually more adult men than women (CIA). Perhaps, inter-racial marriage or immigration etc?

        Polygamy is fine if a man can afford it economically and is also emotionally able to handle the responsibility. It’s asking quite a lot already even if we leave the first wife’s consent out of it.

        How about the countries where polygamy is not legal or restricted (Muslim and non-Muslim countries)? We cannot change the law over night nor expect most men to start taking on a second wife suddenly. Why do we have to wait for these men to take on a first wife so that they can be more open to marrying the divorcees? Even before we become more accepting of polygamy, we need to be open to divorcees as the first wife or the only wife.

        I do know someone personally who actively convinced his parents to let him marry a divorcee. MashaAllah what a couple! May not work for everyone but brothers should try. Same goes for sisters if a righteous divorced brother came along, they should be open to it too. More often than not, women do work harder to maintain a marriage. Chances are, if a man is divorced he may be responsible for the break down of his previous marriage. But if he’s a changed man, he deserves a second chance, too. There are exceptional cases where the woman was a complete lunatic which led to the break down but he married her for visa. To his credit, she was a divorcee but still it was wrong. In some cases, women do get duped (they should have checked properly) and end up divorcing a month after the wedding. Are they suddenly the damaged goods that are at the mercy of an already married men?

        Feel free to correct me if I’ve made any blatant assumptions as I have a lot to learn still.

        Thumb up 15 Thumb down 1

    • Kirana

      Fair point.

      But I want to share something that occurred to me when I read the section on Khadijah’s age. Not only did our Prophet accept her, he also did not show any worry whatsoever that he may not get children from her, and even though more than 10 years passed and still no son (which was incredibly important culturally in his society), he *still did not take another wife* while she was alive.

      This is of course off tangent from the main intention of this article, but it was a thought that came to me that illustrated just how remarkable our Prophet was, as a man, immune to peer pressure, and how different from the majority of men of any era. Even before becoming a Messenger, he already had the attitude that children (a future relationship) are the will of God to give or not give, rather than being some kind of ‘duty’ or ‘must-have’ that is more important and worth sacrificing the people, feelings and relationships we have in the present.

      Thumb up 29 Thumb down 3

      Reply
      • Jannah

        Thank you for sharing the point about “children being a kind of duty”..it really got me thinking! in the society I live in, the young couples seem to always being put into pressure of having children just so that they can have something to be proud of and supposedly bring joy to the family. fair enough but it’s true. we always have to remember the will of Allah and children are indeed immense responsibilities as we parents are in charge of shaping the future generation.

        Thanks again for your comment :D wish you well and have a blessed day ahead!

        Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  3. Zeba Khan

    I’m so glad this was reposted- I know many sisters, some widowed, some divorced, some “stale” by the age of 25, who get written off almost entirely. No one wants to marry them, they’re just hoping that someone will “settle” for them so that they don’t have to die alone. It is shameful and shallow, and I’m not going to blame the brothers for this exclusively- I’m going to blame their mothers and sisters as well.

    In many cultures, the mother and sisters have a bigger say in who get considered to join the family, and the same Muslim women who support women’s rights to education, financial freedom, and respect deny women the right to be seen as more than just a piece of candy. Cuz someone already licked that lollipop, so Beta let’s get you a nice fresh one. From the home country.

    JazakAllahuKheiran for writing about this.

    Thumb up 72 Thumb down 6

    Reply
    • Faisal Khan

      Well said sister Zeba. We are far from Islam now days. We use what is convenient for us and leave the rest. Islam is truly in our character.

      Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

      Reply
    • Anika

      I totally agree with sister Zeba. I also believe, that women are more harsh towards our unmarried sisters who have earned their education and career success. The practice is more prominent in the South Asian subcontinent. As much as I like to believe things are changed, a good acceptable change is yet far away. Until then, it hurts me to see the humiliation and social awkwardness/embarrassments the parents of the unmarried sisters have to face. What bothers more is when the following 3 questions are asked and the responses are such listed below, the look of despair the society has…the ‘bichari” type
      Q1) What do you study
      A- I am done with Master’s

      Q2) O nice, MashAllah, what are you doing now?
      A- Working

      Now wait for the final question that decides if the thunders should growl, or the sky should remain blue.

      Q3) Beta, are you married?
      A- No

      This is when the world stops and you just feel that if you could dig a hole into the ground, then that would be the best so you can avoid the crowd and just dig yourself an underground tunnel to exit through the unnecessary misery.

      Thumb up 8 Thumb down 2

      Reply
  4. Yusuf Smith

    As-Salaamu ‘alaikum,

    In the early days after I became Muslim I actually approached three older women with marriage in mind. One was a work colleague (who was actually offended that I was interested in her, and had an unmarried daughter who would have been a more suitable match), another was a lady I met at a demonstration (who had been married six times and had mental health problems that got progressively worse during the time I knew her) and the third was a blind lady whose brother (also blind) went to the same dhikr meetings I did. She turned out to be older than I thought (about 20 years older), and did not want children as she did not want to pass her condition on.

    There are reasons why younger brothers do not want to marry older women; it’s normal to be attracted to younger females, and most men in their 20s want a woman they can get to know, and maybe do some travelling and so on, before they have children. They do not want the complications of having her children’s father to deal with, but they may also not make the best father figure if they’re not quite old enough to be the children’s father themselves. It’s actually Sunnah to marry virgins; there are explicit hadeeths to this effect.

    As a convert, I recall being told a few times that I should marry “one of my own kind” and approached with offers to marry older women who already had children, along with more than one reminder of this Sunnah. I found this offensive, as it carried the obvious suggestion that converts were not fit to marry the children of Muslims, and that we probably slept around before we converted, which in my case was not true. These things are no less offensive when you disguise it with reminders of “Sunnah” which actually apply to older men — there’s no reason why converts should accept more difficult marriages than either born Muslims or non-Muslims, just because other Muslims think we’re not good or pure enough.

    Also, that sister isn’t Khadijah (radhi Allah ‘anha).

    Thumb up 27 Thumb down 3

    Reply
    • Abu Muhammad

      While I understand what you are saying and see how you can feel offended. Sometimes people don’t want their children to marry converts because of cultural differences. There is nothing wrong with preserving ones culture as long as it doesn’t contradict shariah.

      Also many times people have a different understanding of deen. People follow different scholars and what they believe is the true interpretation of Islam. For example, Salafism, Deobandism, or a more western approach. This might also be a factor why some people don’t want others to marry their children. This can cause a lot of problems within the family especially if the wife and husband are not on the same page.

      In the end, I am not saying that converts shouldn’t marry people that were born Muslims. A lot of converts are way more pious then already born Muslims. However, there are some legitimate reasons as to why a person would not allow their child to marry a convert or an already born Muslim, as mentioned above.

      Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2

      Reply
  5. mezba

    The elephant in the room is polygamy. Earlier Muslim men had the option of marrying an older women as well as a virgin, so they could entertain proposals from older women. Today we just have one chance to get what we want.

    Thumb up 20 Thumb down 14

    Reply
    • Gigi

      I’m not sure why polygamy is even coming up here, it does not even factor into this. The Prophet (PBUH) married Khadijah before the revelation, and taking on more than one wife was not even the cultural norm. The Prophet (PBUH) did not marry Khadijah thinking that he may have a chance later on to marry someone younger, childless etc. He married her before Islam and before Allah allowed more than one wife.

      Thumb up 13 Thumb down 5

      Reply
      • Hassan

        Hmm, actually arabs (and world in general) would marry more than one wife, and infact many, and that was cultural norm.

        Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

      • Abu Muhammad

        Prophet (SAW) became a Prophet during the time of Khadijah (RA). The Quraysh at that time offered the Prophet (SAW) the most beautiful of women and all the riches if he left his claim that we was a Prophet. However, Prophet (SAW) rejected all of this.

        Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

    • Abu Muhammad

      I do agree that the elephant in the room is polygamy. The problem is that it has should a negative connotation. During the time of Prophet (SAW) polygamy was common, as many Sahabas had multiple wives. Remember during the migration even the Muslims of Medinah offered some of their wives to those that migrated.

      The problem is that polygamy is looked down upon because of the misuse and abuse of it. Most men can’t take of their first wive, and then just marry a second. The problem is wit the men of our society. A divorcee shouldn’t be looked down upon nor should a widow. However, there is nothing wrong with a man wanting to marry whom he wants to marry. However, the other women in the society also have needs to be fulfilled.

      Therefore the only natural solution is polygamy.

      Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

      Reply
  6. Muhammad

    Not every older woman with children, more wealth and high education can be compared to Khadijah – one of 4 women who attained perfection in their Deen. Just like how it would be unfair to compare every poor, uneducated young man to Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)

    It is unfair to expect young men to have to marry older women because they become fathers on day 1; they are forced to mature too quickly. Some can do it but many cannot.

    That being said it is also disappointing that previously older aged married men also prefer young virgins. They are not willing to marry a divorcé. It is also disappointing that polygamy is looked at as a crime against humanity when it is a valid option available at times.

    It is a tough situation. May Allah help ALL those looking to get married and provide them with happiness in their lives.

    Thumb up 15 Thumb down 1

    Reply
    • Zaheer

      As-salaamu ‘alaykum

      Agree with your comments – but would like to know from which source you are basing your ‘one of 4 women who attained perfection in their Deen’ comment on.

      Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      Reply
      • Muhammad

        It is a authentic hadith my friend. Khadijah, Fatima, Asiya and Maryam were the 4 best women

        Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  7. Hijabi

    Dr. O! You put it very well mashallah! Very interesting topic indeed. Makes you think and realise our current state. May Allah give us hidayah insahllah.

    Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

    Reply
  8. SA

    I think this article is addressed in general, but more specifically to those men who wanted to pursue a relationship with an older woman but were held back cause of the reasons that were mentioned above, such as parents, ego,etc. i personally know few males that liked a woman who were either older, wealthier, or more educated, or had all three quality, but were either afraid to pursue further or were stuck in this culture, taboo mindset and decided to reject the proposal. i dont think this article is meant to critisize or force guys to now look at older women by all means lol. instead this is rather motivational and an eye opener to not let stupid things such as culture, age, wealth, education, skin complexion get in the way when either rejecting or accepting a proposal. in fact, we should make our decision about marriage based on how compatible we are in our minds and practicing and of course if the attraction is there, why should factors such as age come in the way. Although this article is addressed to men, women shouldn’t be afraid to be to accept a proposal from younger prospects as well. The purpose of marriage to help each other grow spiritually and individually. There may be men who need a woman who is successful to help him motivate and be stronger and wiser, as well as women who want younger man to help them be more active and adventurous . The main point, marriage is suppose to help each other be better and fulfill each others need in what they maybe lacking. We shouldn’t be looking too deeply and use criteria as wealth, age, education as the “make it or break it” point, rather than look closely at their character and how well they are practicing. i’m not saying wealth, education, age is to look down upon and to be disregarded, but seriously, those aren’t the things that make a marriage survive. in fact all those qualities are perishable and can be worked on.

    Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

    Reply
    • SA

      just to add on….experiences from the past shouldn’t be held accountable for the present. some people have to go through relationship beforehand in order to experience what they were lacking to make them stronger and wiser. instead of looking at people who were divorced as the bottom tadom pole, we should change our mind set and realize either 1. how they came from a relationship and have the expertee to not make certain mistakes and are wiser. 2. they were simply wrong for that person and RIGHT for you. overall, no one should judge someone based on their past relationship status or in general. it is the present that is more important and what they can offer that will make marriage a success.

      Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

      Reply
  9. Umm Ayoub

    Not true, in my case, at least.

    I was in this situation. 35 years old divorced with one child, a high level of education and a career. Before i completed my ‘Iddah, i already had 5 marriage proposal, without even searching for it. Men of all ages, even younger than me. I got married immediately after i finished the divorced papers wa alhamdoulillah. My child decided to stay with his father and Allah blessed me with 2 boys from my new husband.

    For sure, it is a blessing from Allah for me, but my story is a clear evidence that it is not true that theses type of woman are not valued.

    Thumb up 19 Thumb down 8

    Reply
    • umm Ibrahim

      Masha Allah! Its really good to read your comment!! I am a divorcee at 26 with 2 children, and finding it difficult to get married.

      Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2

      Reply
  10. Waheeb

    The question can be asked from both sides: Would older women consider men who are younger, less educated, and less financially stable then they are?

    Thumb up 21 Thumb down 1

    Reply
    • Umm ZAKAriyya

      I too see it the other way round first.
      Khadija ( RAA ) chose a husband purely for his character and manners . What an amazing woman mashAllah . She had other proposals , but she chose him despite him being poor .

      More than Rasoolullah’s( pbuh) acceptance of the proposal , what’s more romantic is his not taking another wife in her lifetime ( when polygyny was common ).

      Thumb up 10 Thumb down 1

      Reply
      • Waheeb

        Exactly. I know for a fact that there are men who are financially secure, and are looking a for a potential spouse on the basis of Deen. They don’t want to judged by their earning potential, and in turn they won’t judge a potential spouse on age & looks.

        Its just hard to figure out what a persons intentions are, and strength of their character and Eman. Dua and Qiyam iA

        Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

    • Umm ZAKAriyya

      According some other reports , she was way younger than 40. Probably between ~27-35. Allah knows best.

      But that doesn’t change the fact that Rasoolullah(pbuh) married a woman who was older to him, a divorcee with children.

      Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

      Reply
      • Umm ZAKAriyya

        Oops .what was I thinking .Typo : not a divorcee with children

        It’s just widow .

        Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      • Mahmud B.

        This is what yasir Qadhi says about the age of Khadijah

        She was not 40….she was closer to 28

        Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

      • Mahmud B.

        Waheeb…did you listen to the lecture

        Shaykh Yasir states that there are sources that say she was 40, but they are unreliable

        Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      • Abu Muhammad

        With all due respect, Dr. Yasir Qadhi may have is opinion. However, that doesn’t mean he is correct. Majority of the scholars she was 40 years old. Read The Jurisprudence of the Prophetic Biography by Dr. Ramadan Al-Buti.

        Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  11. Najm

    As a convert and an electrical engineering PhD student, I have a lot of fear in the journey to marriage. I often feel like I’m not good enough for a “born” Muslim since I am a convert, and I often feel like my education will be seen as a disadvantage or an obstacle to overcome or be overlooked in finding a potential spouse, (not to mention the uncomfortable emphasis on the whole race/ethnicity thing). I love the story of Khadijah (RA) and the Prophet (SAW), and to read the ahadith and seerah of the life of the Prophet (SAW) about how much and how deeply he loved her; but it seems that a love like that may not be decreed for me. I make dua for Allah(SWT) to bless me with the things that are beneficial to my deen, even if that means I never have a love story like theirs, or even get married.

    Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

    Reply
    • Umm ZAKAriyya

      Most of us born muslims have accumulated sins over the years . You on the other hand got a clean slate upon reversion. MashaAllah.
      Many practising muslims like marrying converts because they see them as being specially blessed to have received Allah’s guidance in non muslim families/upbringing .

      So be positive :)

      Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

      Reply
      • Rashid

        I am positive. But also honest…My second wife was a convert…she cheated and stole from all around her. When i found out, i gave her several chances to change her ways…now i am divorced and am a single father. Allah has granted me the joy of looking after our 2 children…while she has disappeared to the UK. I’m sorry if I contradict you…but life is not always what we expect it to be.

        Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      • Waheeb

        Have patience, iA Allah will reward you. Look for Deen and character in your search

        Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

    • musclegenensis

      The fact you are a PhD in electrical engineering speaks measure. I envy you, that is my passion which I am pursuing after a MBA. You are a damn great guy, do not let anyone belittle your phD. Value yourself.

      Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

      Reply
    • Leila

      I want to give you some assurances! My cousin is a convert and is happily married to a man born Muslim going on 8 years now.

      Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

      Reply
  12. ZAI

    In fairness to the Brothers, a couple of nuances:

    #1 Biological clock is a reality. Yes, medically even a young woman can be sterile…just as a young man can be. But this is a statistical exception, not the norm. MOST women under 30 will easily conceive with it getting harder every year till about 35 which is a peak year and after which it becomes much harder and carries many risks, such as down syndrome…The same being true for men after 40.

    So yes a woman should not be judged solely on that or made to
    feel as if that’s her definitive worth…however it is also unfair to ask young, single men to just give up the hope of having children. For many, if not most, human beings the desire to have a child is very strong. It is one of the pure joys of life and brings an unimaginable love into one’s life. To ask someone to just roll the dice with BAD ODDS on this and then judge them for it wouldn’t be fair. It’s great to encourage the men who do and praise them, but let’s not make the one’s who don’t feel like villains.

    On a side note, seerah is not verified hadith. Many scholars disagree with Khadijah(R) having
    been 40. Many consider her to have been closer to 30.

    #2 It is NOT just that certain men that are intimidated or averse to educated, career orientated women. etc. Most of us are not insecure nor primarily informed by macho-culture..although no doubt some are. More accurate gauge of this problem is that cultural expectations refuse less educated MEN who are in fields considered “lesser” by the WOMEN’S family as well! I just read a matrimonial in some Indian paper few days back that read “Indian Hyderabadi Syed seeking proposal for Beautiful doctor daughter from only doctors with resident status”..LOL. What the heck? Was oddly specific. I mean, I had to laugh. Then I felt bad for Indian guys…that’s a lot of weight to put on their shoulders.It’s gotta be stressful.

    This problem of marriage issues, etc. is NOT only a male dominated problem in our communities…there are PLENTY of women and their families pulling goofy stunts like this as well. So there are women and their families who are engaging in this level of pickiness…and then when age 30 hits we’re gonna blame the brothers? No, no, no, no. The Prophet was poor. Tell the sisters and their families to be more like Khadijah and they will get their Muhammad….but don’t ask the brothers to be Muhammad only when age 30 hits and doctor saheb hasn’t been found yet, so princess will “settle” for better than nothin’…lol…Sorry, but younger single guys want to be desired as someones genuine choice too, not back-up plan.

    I am all for eliminating stigmas for divorce, age, step-children. I am also for women’s RIGHT
    to education and work experience so they are protected in case of divorce, cannot be financially
    controlled by insecure men, etc. All I’m saying is we gotta be fair. Many women and their families are contributing to this state of affairs as well…It’s not just men. The men aren’t all or even mostly just shallow control freaks with virgin fetishes…many of them have legit feelings and concerns as well.

    NOTE: My points are directed at the age factor, not women who’ve been divorced. They are truly in a difficult position, children or not, and I fully sympathize with them and readily admit 99% of the stigma there is a male created phenomenon based on ego and culture. It is a difficult road. I think the issue should be tackled in a holistic way that removes these stigmas from the minds of men, but as the ladies cannot simply be expected to wait for that to happen, things should be prioritized and a good first step is to concentrate on men who are also divorced to step up before the never-married single brothers.

    Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

    Reply
    • Waheeb

      I agree with your point on divorce. For people (Men & Women) who have never married, its defintely scary to chose a divorced spouse over someone who was never married.

      If the divorce was a result of abuse or conversion (to Islam), that is totally understandable and shouldn’t be judged. But, if the divorce was because of a unwillingness to commit to a relationship, or uncomprimising attitudes…….

      Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

      Reply
      • ZAI

        Brother,
        You misunderstood my statement. Even people who were once unwilling or uncompromising can change, therefore isn’t a criteria with which to judge someone. Best thing is to judge a person by their current state. A person who is divorced can certainly get along very well with someone who has never been married and there is nothing to be scared of.

        I’m simply looking at the issue through the prism of realities and practical solutions for women in this situation. Ideally we would dump these stigmas and backward ways of thinking, however since it will not realistically happen soon it helps to tackle a problem in stages: fellow divorcees will be MORE open to marrying a divorcee than younger single folk, therefore would be practical(at this point) to look there first. Infact I think couple of Imams like Imam Zaid, Shaykh Suhaib, and few others have endorsed a Muslim wedding site exclusively for divorcees. Forget the name at the moment, but that’s definitely a step in the right direction for workable solution at present.

        Further, I wish to make clear that my above post in no way, shape or form is directed towards all older women. As I pointed out, is only meant for those, including families, who are/were UNREASONABLY picky or demanding with their desires. I know full well that just as many, if not more, do not fall under what I describe and are discriminated for all types of things like racism, colorism, unrealistic standards of beauty, because they are too “independent”, etc. etc. Frankly Muslim men are WAY more off the path than the women with many of them having absurd standards for beauty, even when they themselves would scare shaitaan.

        Just pointing out SOME nuances, because not ALL or MOST of the brothers are shallow or superficial and saying there has to be a balance for a solution to these crises: BOTH men and women need to adjust their thinking, priorities and expectations. Cannot just ask one side to do so.

        One thing to consider tho, and my apologies to anyone if I’m being blunt: But ladies, please keep in mind that young men who are religious have only one outlet for sex: marriage. They cannot be expected to wait while the ladies finish graduate school, travel the world or whatever. That kind of delay results in them being taken “off the market” because frankly, they want sex as soon as possible. I’m being very blunt here. Miss out on guys YOUR age due to that, and you will be left with much older men, perhaps divorced, that YOU find “too old” or younger guys who are not interested in marrying yet. That contributes a lot to the lack of suitors at an older age. Its not shallowness or whatever, it’s that the “good” guys one’s own age are already married because the “religious” ones are in a hurry to be!

        If non-Muslims can engage in all types of relationships in college, etc. then you can go to med school or travel while married. Please do not let a good guy get away if he comes along, even if you’re still in college or whatever. They get “taken off the market” quick and this is a big reason why.

        Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

      • Mahmud B.

        And the truth is women are really good at hiding their short comings. Guys too.

        “Men marry women hoping they never change. Women marry men hoping that they change. Invariably, they are both disappointed”

        -Albert Einstein -

        Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      • Waheeb

        Albert Einstein was an adulterer, but the jist of the quote is sound.

        Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      • Mahmud B.

        His being an adulterer doesn’t affect his observation and understanding of relationships between men and women.

        Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  13. musclegenensis

    No offense, brother this article is null.Khadija was extremely successful, independent woman that was granted- a widow, which is beyond her circumstances. Any man with some sense would marry a woman that is well-off, pious and classy women besides the fact her age was so-called a barrier.

    *This comment was edited by the MM Comments Team in order to comply with our Comments Policy*

    Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

    Reply
  14. ummabdullah

    The prophet saw and khadija ra were not unequals. He was not a ‘poor illiterate man’. Their whole society was unlettered! :-) Secondly in terms of family and honor, they were both very well respected individuals. Khadija was a sought after widow both for beauty and status and wealth. She had a chance to see and observe the ability of the Prophet in business and honesty and her servant reported to her his dealings and so forth. So she was not marrying ‘down’. She very much married a person of equal standing. It is interesting to note that both of their families did not object to this match!

    Secondly as for the whole working women attitude thing .. some sisters are the type to not not hold their accomplishments over their husband’s heads. Others will and they will have a difficult time overlooking it if their husband is not similarly qualified. So it is not just a matter of a man considering proposals from divorced women but also of whether a divorced woman and her family would accept a man who is less financially able. Again, some would and some wouldn’t.

    Having said all that, I think the real problem is not something that goes back to the individual themselves. It goes back to the society/mother and sisters as sister abez pointed out. This I believe is the real crux of the issue. We are people who are affected by our surroundings and people need to be honest about whether they can deal with constant pressure from their families or not. Marriage after all isn’t public service and if something will lead to less problems with one’s families, that seems to be generally a wiser approach to take.

    I was divorced at 21 after a few months of marriage to a Pakistani practicing brother. I am pakistani american. After this marriage I came to realize that unless someone was seriously not very desi in their mentality but still very practicing, for me to marry a desi would be a very incompatible situation. Surprisingly after my divorce I had a lot of proposals mainly from desis(known for having a big problem marrying a divorcee) so I don’t think that all men are all that narrow minded. However, instead of marrying someone and then dealing with this issue of ‘i was divorced and he is or isn’t, alhamdulillah I think I was guided to the best thing for me. I ended up marrying an egyptian american who was also divorced.

    It’s great to talk about these issues but I highly doubt they will disappear anytime soon in this generation. I have high hopes for the next generation though. I myself plan on teaching my children about certain things they should look for in a spouse but in terms of color especially I plan to leave it up to them.

    I guess my conclusion is this…this is something that goes back to parents and not the men choosing the wives. Because the men aren’t the ones fully choosing at all in some cultures! The amount of control the parents wield with all due respect to them is many times highly toxic and this is what I witness in most happy marriages of sisters married to a certain culture for example. When the inlaws come around, it is time to suck it up and tolerate their absolutely unislamic behavior even when they are practicing! And their husbands expect them to. Even if they are practicing. and don’t protect the rights of the wives. Because it’s somehow understood that in comparison to the rights of the parents , the wives somehow has no rights..ahh rant over.

    Thumb up 1 Thumb down 3

    Reply
    • Waheeb

      Agree with some of your points, but you are incorrect on Khadeejah (RA) & Prophet (SAW) social status.

      Khadijah (RA) was definitely marrying down. She was of a higher financial status, and she was literate (though its true many could not read/write, many could- such as the Jews). In fact, the Prophet (SAW) approached Abu Talib to marry his daughter Fakhita, but was turned down bc of his financial status (see Martin Lings seerah). The Prophet (SAW) was first a Shepard, but then turned to trade bc of the better business opportunity, and later was an Employee of Khadejah (RA).

      Think about it, would a boss ever propose to her employee? Khadejah (RA) did bc she found the Prophet (RA) to be of extraordinary character & intelligence – he just didn’t have the financial resources at that time.

      Dr.Weibke Walther from Germany wrote a book on Women in Islam (http://www.amazon.com/Women-Islam-Medieval-Modern-Times/dp/1558760539/ref=la_B001K6UM1U_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1398209306&sr=1-1) and talked about one of the reasons that the Prophet (SA) couldn’t marry more than one wife was because Khadejah (RA) was of a higher social status than he was, and so could expect him to stay monogamous. Allahu Alaam.

      Glad to hear about your marriage, may you be blessed in this life and Next.

      Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      Reply
    • Waheeb

      It could be argued another way: If the Prophet (SAW) had himself proposed to an older, richer, more educated woman other than Khadeejah (RA), he might have been rejected. It was also the extraordinary character of Khadeejah (RA), herself, that allowed her to make the choice that would shape humanity.

      Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      Reply
  15. Hamza

    Many a time some brother or some sister will come along and write an article regarding the marriage problems faced by married or divorced Muslims. It is a problem no doubt, but a lot of times the articles are nothing more than describing the sorry situation, peppered with examples of the past (Sahaba, Sahabiat, or a pseudo-student-of-knowledge will likely delve in to the examples of classical scholars and ascetics). Of course after a long winded discussion, no solution is offered. I am not here to offer an immediate or an intermediate solution, however, I will tell you that this will go away. As the older generations move away from family decisions, the newer more liberal (and more divorced, I must say, the rates are now reaching the Western norms among Muslims) will be more open to such relationships. Unfortunately, I don’t see any such luck for those who are suffering from this NOW, in the near future.

    Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

    Reply
    • Human

      It’s good that this was at least brought up so that it’s “out there” for Muslims to think about in a different way than how it’s being looked at now. That’s how issues are usually brought into the mainstream so that hopefully we can better them in the future inshallah Allah.

      Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

      Reply
  16. Muhammad

    Good article mA and a very important issue for this community’s future in my opinion. However, things that I feel that should be also be taken into account:

    1. Khadija RA made the proposal. This makes a much larger difference than seems to be realised here. In particular, it helps the proposed man because:
    a) he knows her intention.
    b) there is no “working each other out”
    c) it is impressive. The confidence required to put yourself out as a woman makes her very attractive to the man she proposes to. Particularly to this extent.
    d) he is significantly more likely to respond positively and be himself – thereby giving the proceeding phases a great start.

    2. I proposed to a lady who was 6 years senior to me, on the basis of her broad and deep understanding of Islam. She declined, saying that this is not the era of Khadija RA! Older women also decline younger men based on their age too and this has happened a few times to me and with smaller age gaps. It puts you off asking older women completely.

    3. If a man has the option of an older woman vs younger (other things being balanced) which would he naturally choose?

    4.The Prophet (s) encouraged men to marry younger women too and there ahadith that support this.

    5. We are in age of expense – many relationships break down on the back of financial issues. I have felt financial pressure (even though I’m doing well alhamdulillah) during proposals to older women (who more than likely prefer children sooner rather than later) means that it can quickly become more pressure than a younger man can handle.

    6. like others commentators mentioned, polygamy is today fraught with issues, stigma and (mis)perceptions that didn’t exist at the time of Khadija RA. So marrying an older woman, maintaining her and marrying again later is not really possible for many reasons. a man therefore needs marry intending not to look elsewhere again – this will obviously add pressure to decision. Men will naturally tend to avoid risks and emotional hurt if at all possible.

    wAllahu alam.

    Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

    Reply
  17. Rashid

    I am a muslim man of only high school education.i am successful within my own career path. I also have 3 children from 2 previous marriages. Currently I am single.
    I have been single for the past 8 years simply because all the muslim women i met, whether young and single or divorcees with kids like i am are not interested in accepting my children into their families.

    Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

    Reply
  18. Sabrina

    Great article, Brother! I can totally relate to this. I’m a well-educated, independent woman with high morals (in my 30s) and come from a respectable family; what you’ve written about – I’ve experienced firsthand. I started looking for a life partner a bit late as it was important for me to ‘find myself’, have a career and be happy with who I was before spreading the happiness to another family; but I’ve been turned down gazillion times for the very reasons you have stated here.

    A girl is made to feel like she’s inadequate because she didn’t get hitched at the right time (at age 20 – 25). Some ‘aunties’ even pity us ‘spinsters’ because we couldn’t ‘nab a good guy’ – as if it were a sport we could have made more of an effort to excel in!

    On a serious note, what makes the scenario worse is that we ‘old maidens’ are shunned like a bad disease by so-called friends – at times, we don’t get invited to weddings lest we should bring ill luck upon the couple getting hitched. It’s really hurtful. As if that isn’t bad enough, family friends just have to point out how ‘Zahra has been married for 10 years, can you believe it!’ within earshot of us as if we need to be reminded and shamed for our ‘misfortune’ (never mind that it’s no secret that Zahra’s husband is a wife-beater). I try to avoid these well-wishers, but it’s still hurts my parents’ feelings.

    Like someone else pointed out on this thread that times and mindsets are changing and men are becoming more inclined to accepting older, more accomplished women – sadly, for some of us it just might be too late. C’est la vie. Alhamdolillah. Allah SWT is the best of planners.

    Thanks for the article!

    Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

    Reply
    • T

      Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

      Thumb up 0 Thumb down 10

      Reply
      • Waheeb

        Though Muslim men are technically allowed to marry a Christian or Jewish woman, many scholars recommend against that.
        Muslim hold their values and relationship with God above all else, and would like to pass that on to their children – even if it means sacrificing a potential happy relationship.

        If a non-member Muslim wants to accept Muslim values and creed, then by all means! Then you are our brother/sister in faith and possibly potential spouse ;)

        Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

    • Rashid

      Hahaha…it works both ways…i am also not invited to weddings because of my divorced status.

      Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

      Reply
  19. Mahmud B.

    Another issue plaguing our Muslim society is this obsession with the “virginity” of a girl.

    Just know that virginity does not mean or equal chastity

    Most of the Prophets wives were widowed or divorced and therefore not virgins

    I have seen myself in our school, hijabi muslim girls going out with guys and doing all sorts of things except breaking the “precious virginity”

    Remember….virginity does not equal chastity

    Let us be more concerned more about the purity of the heart and a good character than an unbroken hymen

    And Allah Knows best…

    Thumb up 14 Thumb down 2

    Reply
      • Mahmud B.

        Mahmud…..my name sake….habibi….

        We meet at last.

        You are right. there is nothing wrong with that.

        But what are converts supposed to do?

        Are they not good enough for you because they are not virgins

        What exactly do you think will virginity add to a marriage?

        More happiness?

        Better marriage?

        I am genuinely asking…

        Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

      • Mahmud

        Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

        Thumb up 2 Thumb down 6

      • Mahmud B.

        If you feel that you will be angry over it, then of course. You know yourself the best.

        I was the same way. Until I saw that most of the wives of the prophet were divorced or widowed and therefore not virgins.

        This “mind splitting” anger that you mention maybe a sign of deep rooted insecurity

        And Allah knows best

        Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

      • Mahmud

        Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

        Thumb up 1 Thumb down 5

      • Waheeb

        If you were never physically and emotionally attached to someone, wouldn’t you want your partner to be the same?

        Thumb up 6 Thumb down 5

      • Mahmud B.

        I ask Allah that He gives brother Mahmud and brother Waheeb the wives that are best for their Akhirah, Deen and Dunya….regardless of whether they are virgins or not.

        And Allah knows best

        Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

    • Y

      What if you are divorced and still a virgin? You cant really scream something like that from rooftops and yet because of the stigma associated with divorcees, your chances of getting married again are bleak.

      Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

      Reply
  20. Mahmud B.

    Sorry Dr O.

    Buy Yasir Qadhi says that Khadijah was NOT 40 years old….but 28 years old.

    Why?

    Because of several reasons, one reason is because women past age 40 dont generally give birth to many children after that age.

    The prophet and Khadijah had atleast 6 children…which is unlikely for someone in her forties

    Here is proof.

    http://youtu.be/CAVym6VcKO8?t=21m38s

    And Allah Knows best…

    Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

    Reply
    • Abu Muhammad

      With all due respect, Dr. Yasir Qadhi may have is opinion. However, that doesn’t mean he is correct. Majority of the scholars she was 40 years old. Read The Jurisprudence of the Prophetic Biography by Dr. Ramadan Al-Buti.

      Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

      Reply
    • Abu Muhammad

      Also read Surah Maryam. Zakariyyah (AS)’s was granted a child even though his wife was past the age of giving birth. Nothing is difficult for Allah (SWT).

      Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

      Reply
  21. Abu Milk Sheikh (@AbuMilkSheikh)

    Assalamu alaikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh. Jazakumullahu khairan.

    The premise of this article is tenuous. Even from a secular perspective, a man would not turn down a proposal from a virtuous, educated, beautiful, rich, noblewoman. It doesn’t matter how old they are of if they’ve previously been with someone. This is not a very good example but don’t you often see female celebrities (or other successful women) with younger men?

    So where are all these pious, educated, beautiful, rich, noble Muslimaat that are woefully forgotten by us lustful, backwards, unenlightened, misogynistic, obsessed-with-virginity Muslims?

    Could it be that women possessing all of these characteristics together are almost nonexistent, much less proposing to younger men?

    Also, why isn’t more attention given to correcting the attitude of Muslimaat, in relation to this story? A Muslimah proposing to a Muslim is almost unheard of, even if they were socio-economically equal. A Muslimah proposing to a Muslim man who is of a lower socio-economic status is even rarer. (I only word it in this fashion because the story is almost invariably told in a manner that a reader/listener will feel that Ummul Mu’mineen Khadijah Bint Khuwaylid رضي الله عنها was ‘marrying down’; this is fallacious as well as being unbefitting the rank/status of Rasulullah صلى الله عليه و سلم.)

    I know it’s ‘en vogue’ to blame Muslims for all the problems Muslimaat are dealing with and I’m sorry to be a wet blanket but we are not the problem in this particular issue.

    Thumb up 4 Thumb down 4

    Reply
    • Sarah

      Salam – these women are not at all non-existent, I can think of many examples in my own life of such fantastic ladies. From what I’ve seen, women don’t marry men younger/less educated/etc than them because they’re worried that the men will be jealous or get an inferiority complex about their status within the marriage, as many of us have seen many times before. Women also don’t propose due to cultural expectations about what is ‘modest’ for a woman, unfortunately.

      Also – the idea that Khadija ‘married down’ is a societal one – certainly, in terms of society, she would have been seen as ‘marrying down’. Alhamdulillah though for Islam, we know that she certainly did not, and that character and deen and stability are what are important rather than other societal factors.

      Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

      Reply
      • Abu Milk Sheikh (@AbuMilkSheikh)

        Really, you roll with many Muslimaat who are of noble lineage (i.e. royalty or aristocracy)? Because that’s what Ummul Mumineed Khadijah Bint Khuwaylid رضي الله عنها was, royalty.

        I didn’t use all those adjectives figuratively, I used them literally and conjuctively – i.e. the sisters need to possess all those attributes *together* and then, on top of all that, be down-to-earth enough to propose to men.

        If such Muslimaat exist in our Ummah, you could probably count them on one hand.

        Thumb up 2 Thumb down 4

    • Mahmud

      wa alayk Abu Milk Sheikh but please get another name man, your name is silly and your comments are good. There is too much contrast. Maybe “Abu Izza” from now on.

      Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

      Reply
  22. Give Muhammad a Chance

    […] truly appreciate the attempts by our scholars and others to cultivate the will and interest of younger men in marrying older women, but I just want to push […]

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    Reply
  23. Y M

    Assalamu Alaykum Wa rahmatullahi Wa barakatu,

    When reading this article it gave me some hope that I might have a second chance. I am recently divorced and my ex husband and I had no intimate relations therefore making me ‘untouched’, which is so valued by my Muslim brothers sadly. My marriage ended due to no fault of my own – my ex husband was addicted to drugs and alcohol for which he did not want to go into rehab and we now realise he might have had an affair or was impotent during the time we were married.

    My marriage was an arranged one and didnt last for long. Yet I have had to shoulder the blame for everything that went wrong while being slandered by my in laws. I have to also deal with the stigma that comes with the divorcees.

    I have received an university education and I do work. However, I will never let any of this get in the way of starting a family.

    It is a sad reality that in spite of the Sahabas and our beloved Prophet (saw) himself marrying widows and divorcees, our Muslim brothers and their families run far away from them. It is sad that our Muslim brothers are intimidated by educated women, when Allah commanded us to seek knowledge in the Qur’an. I spoke to an Islamic counsellor who said that some of the Muslim men are intimidated by the Muslim women who are more versed in the Qur’an and Sunnah.

    To anyone reading this, I urge you if you have an unmarried brother or are a brother yourself or you are just a Muslim seeking to spread the Qur’an and Sunnah – please do not run away from divorcees or widows and please do whatever you can to wipe this stigma against us. We deserve a second chance – I would give anything to be a mother and to be the wife of a man who is always looking for opportunities to further his Deen. It is hurting us and our families. May Allah reward you and us for our efforts in spreading His word and the ways of our beloved Prophet (saw). Ameen.

    Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

    Reply
  24. The Salafi Feminist

    I find it ironic that the brothers who are so emphatic about marrying a “virgin” and make the hasty excuse that their parents wouldn’t want them to marry a widow or divorcee and that they have to respect their parents, are often amongst the first ones to get angry and upset at a woman and her wali for rejecting them because they don’t meet certain standards that those women have for a spouse.

    The obsession over virginity misses a very, very important point regarding marriage in Islam – the concept of seeking out the Muhsan men and women for marriage… those who are pure and CHASTE (as opposed to being virgins).

    The longer we spend trying to argue that men have the ‘right’ to demand virgins and that women have the ‘right’ to demand doctors/lawyers/engineers/anyone with a gigantic paycheque (and then getting angry at each other about it), the longer our marriage crisis will continue.

    We need to change our outlook and priorities completely. Seek out those of religion and good character – and STOP FREAKING OUT ABOUT THEIR PASTS.

    RasulAllah (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) and the Sahabah married widows and divorcees more than they *ever* married virgins. Look at Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman, and Ali… many of their wives were previously married. In fact, in some cases, a woman was highly sought after BECAUSE of her previous husbands, such as ‘Atikah bint Zayd – she was married to Abdullah ibn Abi Bakr, Umar ibn al-Khattab, azZubayr ibn al-Awwam, and Husain ibn Ali.

    Now, look at those men, and consider their differing ages and their relationships to each other… especially Husain (radhiAllahu ‘anhu), who was obviously much younger than ‘Atikah was.

    These men did not have the attitude that they would only marry a woman who had never been with any other man before… these men married women who were married to their own best friends, and considered it an honour to do so!

    We can all throw out the “well women today aren’t like the women back then” – well, sorry bros, but y’all ain’t exactly at the level of the Sahabah either, and taking this argument once again brings us to a point of anger and resentment towards each other than any productive solution.

    The point is that we should be *rising* above our ingrained socially constructed attitudes and expectations, and striving to be better than what we have been taught to believe is acceptable. We should be holding ourselves to a standard of Ihsaan, looking to marry those who will be compatible with us and who will bring us joy and love in our marriages, and assist us in becoming better Muslims.

    Thumb up 12 Thumb down 2

    Reply
    • Rashid

      As i understand it, A good woman is a good woman, even if she has made mistakes in the past that make spiteful people call her “unchaste”. I don’t accept this precept because the Prophet himself forgave a prostitute for a good deed to a dog and Allah Himself writes that He is the most merciful.
      These maybe hard words to hear for the males on this thread….but it is what I have heard.
      And I am a Male Muslim who makes no distinction on a women as long as she is good.

      Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

      Reply
      • ZAI

        Agree with both comments above.
        What I find perturbing is that it is an insistence on
        removing the veil Allah has placed on peoples sins. Allah himself has ordered people not to talk about their sins publicly, especially those from the past…but an exception seems to be made for women’s “chastity”…Amazing double standard as well, because the men are not similarly judged.

        Frankly, I think women should refuse to answer these questions.
        Tell men it’s none of their business, just like the men’s pasts aren’t their business. Onus is especially on the women who ARE virgins to do this, so the men putting all women in this position aren’t able to distinguish and becomes meaningless to their purpose.

        Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

      • Rashid

        I am not a virgin…Therefore i can’t possibly condemn anyone for their lack of virginity.
        Personally i can’t comprehend that anyone is open and flagrant about their virginity. Surely that is a personal matter between two lovers.
        …and if indeed they truly love each other…which of them will care if one or the other or both are not virgins?

        Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

      • Mahmud

        “Surely that is a personal matter between two lovers.
        …and if indeed they truly love each other…which of them will care if one or the other or both are not virgins?”

        Well by brother Rashid, you must refrain from informing anyone of any mistakes you committed in the past, even on the internet and..

        1) I’d never actually ask a girl if she was a virgin or not. That’s crazy and flies in the face of the hadith about covering your sins.

        2) You’d be surprised how many people Rashid, would divorce their wives the moment they found out they had pasts. Don’t think I’m not among them.

        3) Love, at least young love, is chemicals and electrical signals in the brain. It goes out after a few years according to scientists, if I’m not mistaken. People with insight will look a little further.

        Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

      • Mahmud

        “What I find perturbing is that it is an insistence on
        removing the veil Allah has placed on peoples sins. Allah himself has ordered people not to talk about their sins publicly, especially those from the past…but an exception seems to be made for women’s “chastity”…Amazing double standard as well, because the men are not similarly judged.”

        ANYONE who asks a woman about her passed has erred GREATLY. IN no way can a man ask a woman about her past even if he is seeking a virgin wife.

        So someone may ask, how can he get one?

        1) Dua

        2) Marrying a girl who doesn’t have a bad reputation

        3) Hinting clearly and politely during the marriage process in the most respectable manner that he is seeking a virgin girl and not a girl with a past

        4) If he finds out she was with men before marriage and he is already married to her, he can pronounce talaq

        Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

      • Mahmud B.

        Many women break their virginity through sports like running and horse back riding. The hymen is a very thin and fragile thing. Easily breakable. Just keep that in mind habibi too.

        You can hint to the girls family about wanting a virgin girl, but they can still lie and say she broke her hymen during sports.

        Plus, some women in the middle east are breaking their virginity and then reconstructing their hymen to be a “virgin” again.

        So let me go to my main point that I made before. Its ok to want someone who has not been with anyone else. But perhaps you should look for someone who is currently pious and of good character and compatible with you

        Like its been said many times here, most of the Prophet’s wives were not virgins.

        Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

      • Mahmud

        Yes, but none of the wives committed zina in the past and I can’t be blamed for seeking the same thing.

        And why on earth would they lie? If I make it clear I don’t want to marry a girl with a past, she should respect that and saying “I don’t want to marry you Mahmud.”

        Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      • Mahmud B.

        Dear Br. Rashid,
        The prophet did not forgive the prostitute as the story didnt happen in the prophets time. The hadith which you are refering to is sahih and the prophet narrated the story. But it happened before the prophets time

        Abu Huraira reported: The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Verily, a prostitute saw a dog lolling around a well on a hot day and hanging his tongue from thirst, so she drew some water for it in her shoe and Allah forgave her.”

        In another narration, the Prophet said, “Once there was a dog moving around a well, suffering from thirst so bad he was nearly dying. Then, a prostitute from among the Children of Israel happened to see him, so she drew water in her shoe and made him drink. Allah forgave her because of this.”

        Source: Sahih Muslim 2245

        And Allah knows Best

        Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

    • Mahmud

      The Salafi Feminist

      1) “I find it ironic that the brothers who are so emphatic about marrying a “virgin” and make the hasty excuse that their parents wouldn’t want them to marry a widow or divorcee and that they have to respect their parents, are often amongst the first ones to get angry and upset at a woman and her wali for rejecting them because they don’t meet certain standards that those women have for a spouse.”

      I don’t know how you found out about brothers and their proposals, but personally, I’ve never proposed(I can’t even provide yet) and if I was rejected I would just say “Ina lilahi wa ina ilayhi rajioon Allahumajurnee fee museebatee wa akhliflee khairan minhaa” and I wouldn’t mind.

      Furthermore, for me it’s not really an “excuse.” I know there are women around my age divorced(I don’t really mind) but my parents’ expectations should be followed. They have extremely high rights on us and there are multiple ahadith on the matter and the Quran is very clear. So you shouldn’t label brothers as “having excuse” you should have a good assumption.

      2) “The obsession over virginity misses a very, very important point regarding marriage in Islam – the concept of seeking out the Muhsan men and women for marriage… those who are pure and CHASTE (as opposed to being virgins).”

      You are missing out the point. Muslims want BOTH chaste AND virgins. Being pure chaste is NOT opposed to being a virgin. It’s not like all virgins are unchaste but never had the chance to commit zina.

      3) “We need to change our outlook and priorities completely. Seek out those of religion and good character – and STOP FREAKING OUT ABOUT THEIR PASTS.”

      There is nothing wrong with seeking someone virgin and chaste as well as looking at there deen and character. For one, it’s necessary to marry someone who is chaste and it is MUSTAHHAB to marry a virgin.

      Rashid

      1)” As i understand it, A good woman is a good woman, even if she has made mistakes in the past that make spiteful people call her “unchaste”. ”

      A good woman, even if she made mistakes in the past, is good and chaste if she repented. It is necessary to marry someone who is chaste and it is MUSTAHHAB to marry a virgin. Therefore NO chaste virgin should be criticized for seeking someone like him/her who is also chaste/virgin.

      2) “I don’t accept this precept because the Prophet himself forgave a prostitute for a good deed to a dog and Allah Himself writes that He is the most merciful.”

      An-Nabi sallahualayhiwasalam did not forgive that prositute, it doesn’t make any sense. It’s like saying an-Nabi sallahualayhiwasalam forgave me for stealing(not that I’ve stolen.) It’s kufr because Allah aza wa jal forgives sins. ALLAH AZA WA JAL forgave her AND he wrote that he is the most merciful of the merciful.

      Now if you don’t accept the “precept” that a woman who sinned in the past is “unchaste”, then you are CORRECT because if she repented, she is no longer unchaste.

      Thumb up 3 Thumb down 3

      Reply
      • Rashid

        My friend…don’t think so much. Allah is in our heart, not our minds.
        Do you think the “most merciful” will deny us our true loves love?
        Regardless of our past transgressions?
        But yes…i do agree with you that repentance is paramount.
        I have made so many mistakes in my life….
        I am sorry for them, but I accept my fate as a sinner, and pray that Allah burns those sins from me that i may be, one day accepted into heaven.

        Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

      • Mahmud

        “My friend…don’t think so much. Allah is in our heart, not our minds.
        Do you think the “most merciful” will deny us our true loves love?
        Regardless of our past transgressions?”

        My friend…..may Allah forgive me for my past sins and future sins and you as well…..

        I don’t understand what this means:
        “Do you think the “most merciful” will deny us our true loves love?
        Regardless of our past transgressions?”

        But this true love stuff is soooooooooooooo Western t.v. And it’s kind of cute lol…………………you are like the stereotypical “hopeless romantic”(not that I am saying you are hopeless at all, it’s just a phrase) hahahahahahaha

        Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

      • The Salafi Feminist

        Sadly, like many, you have over-exaggerated the emphasis on marrying virgins. There is no doubt at all that RasulAllah (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) encouraged Jaabir to marry a virgin; but there is also no doubt that amongst the wives of RasulAllah, only A’ishah was a virgin. And, as I have previously mentioned, the majority of the Sahabah did not go around marrying virgins, but rather considered themselves *honoured* to marry widows and divorcees.

        With regards to men being rejected, this isn’t something I made up – this is something I have seen from experience and which is known by those involved in da’wah. *Many* men get angry and upset for being rejected on the basis of race, finances, and so on because a woman’s parents do not want less than XYZ standards to be met.
        Thus, my point is – just as you, as a man, want to please your parents with what choice of wife you make, so too do women want to please their parents in the choice of husbands.
        Unfortunately, as so often happens in our communities, double standards are held and both sides suffer as a result. Hence – the Muslim marriage crisis.

        Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

      • Rashid

        Dear Salafi,
        The main reason i am single now is that i follow what my mother dictates, she asks me to marry a muslim woman of my own race….But i do not know my own race…I am an asian European mix. It is a double standard, because my mother is pure Caucasian.
        I don’t know what to do…..

        Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

      • Mahmud

        “And, as I have previously mentioned, the majority of the Sahabah did not go around marrying virgins, but rather considered themselves *honoured* to marry widows and divorcees.”

        Is this some kind of a joke? You can’t possibly have statistics on all or even the majority of the Sahabi men, you just have a few examples, and most likely those were ALREADY married men, ALREADY widowed/divorced men, Those were men in their 30s, 40s, 50s, and so on……………….

        I’m NONE of the above. I’m not even close to 30. I’m a Muslim who didn’t ever get married and didn’t do any of that stuff(zina). How do you know the average Sahabi of my social status didn’t get married to someone like him? You don’t, you can’t possibly have any clue………

        Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

      • The Salafi Feminist

        Actually, if you bothered to read the biographies of the Sahabah, *you* would know that the majority of them (or the majority of those whom we know about) married previously married women.

        In any case – it’s not about whether one has been married before or not. It’s about how when women ask men to meet a certain standard (i.e. reflecting the Sunnah), the kneejerk reaction is “Well you aren’t like Khadijah.” And then, of course, the oft-repeated “it’s Sunnah to marry a virgin” line is used to perpetuate a cycle of blame and resentment between men and women (both of whom, at the end of the day, just want to marry a good person).

        Nonetheless, the original point of this article was that we need to move beyond our socially ingrained standards of ‘acceptability’… and comments such as yours illustrate exactly why we need to do so.

        Also, something I’ve noticed is that in articles such as these, issues are conflated – some men (like Mahmud here) seem to think that we’re demanding that they marry a previously married/ non-virgin women with no other options whatsoever, or that we’re implying that there’s something wrong with preferring a virgin/ chaste person.
        That is absolutely not the case – the problem that we’re highlighting is that previously married women/ non-virgins are not even *considered* to be an option, when they very well should be. The ‘reasoning’ that we hold as to why we don’t want to marry them is flawed and based upon social and cultural stigmas which have no place in Islam. THAT is the problem that needs to be addressed, and changed – and part of the solution is for our Muslim brothers to realize that these Muslim women are not lesser than or inferior to ‘virgin’ women in any way (and may even be better for them in some cases).

        Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

      • Mahmud

        “Actually, if you bothered to read the biographies of the Sahabah, *you* would know that the majority of them (or the majority of those whom we know about) married previously married women.”

        Again, there are THOUSANDS of Sahaba RA you don’t know about. I can’t see how you could POSSIBLY make the claim that the majority of them married widows, divorcees.

        Furthermore, it seems that the MAJORITY of Sahaba you say “married previously married women” were ALSO themselves previously married.

        I am NOT previously married and I’m probably not even CLOSE to their ages when they married previously married women. So if you are going to use statistics, don’t inform me of something totally irrelevant to me.

        “In any case – it’s not about whether one has been married before or not. It’s about how when women ask men to meet a certain standard (i.e. reflecting the Sunnah), the kneejerk reaction is “Well you aren’t like Khadijah.” ”

        I don’t even think I understood that argument until coming onto this very thread. I probably didn’t even notice it before. But in any case, it makes sense. The general stereotype of a career woman is anti-thetical to a loving, caring, traditional wife. But Khadijah RA was caring and so on.

        “Also, something I’ve noticed is that in articles such as these, issues are conflated – some men (like Mahmud here) seem to think that we’re demanding that they marry a previously married/ non-virgin women with no other options whatsoever, or that we’re implying that there’s something wrong with preferring a virgin/ chaste person.”

        Good. But as for expanding the standards of what is acceptable, I’m still going to have to disagree. If my parents set the standards, I’ve got little choice and keep in mind I’m not the only one.

        Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2

      • ZAI

        Sister SF,
        I understand what you are saying in regards to stigma. Yes, the stigma can and should be eliminated. There shouldn’t be any halo of unsuitability around women who are divorced/widowed or even women of an older age.

        That being said, even removing the stigma will not result in a flood of young single brothers going for those women, nor the other way around. Let us be bluntly honest: most people leverage their options in relationships. This is ESPECIALLY so among “religious” crowd who go strictly arranged route. It is an irony that “moderate” or “liberal” Muslims who go the quasi-dating route will be more open and willing to have these marriages because emotional attachment, etc. before marriage will make them so inclined. However in arranged, you bring what you bring on paper and there is no emotional connection or attachment to sway you.

        Young single brothers are not going to rush for these marriages for the very simple reason of “why should I?”. They are young, no kids, have many years to find someone…so why go for someone with kids, much older, divorced or whatever? They don’t have to….because there are ALSO many single, non-divorced or non-widowed childless women available who also want the same. How many 20 year old girls want 35 year old divorcee with a kid or two? Honestly: not many if they have a choice. They also prefer brothers like them with similar circumstance because there is a supply of those brothers and they can HAVE it.

        This is just reality. These things play out with leverage and balancing what one wants against what one has. Donald Trump got 20 yr old super model because he COULD. These things are just cold, hard facts…

        So yeah, STIGMA should be removed…but that’s not gonna do much to change PREFERENCES…and most young men and women will both prefer single, non-divorced, non-widowed and especially non-parent peers like themselves. A lot of them have legit concerns as well. They’re not being shallow or superficial in all cases or even just indulging their leverage. For example, lot of brothers & sisters don’t want to marry a spouse with kids because they don’t want to deal with the drama of the ex-husband/wife being involved in their new lives.

        I dunno of you are from an immigrant community or not, but in-laws and exes of our communities often indulge in manipulation, trouble-making, etc. as if they are Olympic events. They’ll do things like demand specific visitation times just to annoy you or gossip and denigrate the new step-parent in front of the kid. Demand that THEIR kid is not taken to new in-laws house, etc. etc. These are real dynamics that play out and a lot of the younger brothers and sisters just don’t wanna deal with it if they don’t have to.

        That is why I’m saying we need to be more realistic and see what works if we’re gonna make a dent in the problem. I’m not saying these marriages shouldn’t be encouraged…but I am saying we shouldn’t get our hopes up that it’s gonna be common. Will always be exception…and further cannot fault or shame people for playing their hand( not saying you’re doing that, but speaking in general).

        Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

      • ZAI

        Br. Mahmud,
        I have three questions for you:

        1.) When you say it is “mustahhab” to marry a virgin, does that apply to only men or women as well? Suppose hypothetically, that you get divorced(God forbid)…does a woman than have the right to reject you on this basis?

        2.) If a woman does, hypothetically, reject you on this basis…then is it still mustahhab for you to find virgin second time around or is that dropped after 1st marriage?

        3.) Let’s say, again hypothetically, your parents wanted you to marry a non-virgin(hypothetically…a divorced cousin). Would you obey them in this without question as well?

        Am just curious where you are coming from. You do not have to answer if you don’t want to. Thanks.

        Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      • Mahmud

        1) Well, I have an answer but I’m afraid to answer because I’m not qualified. So ask a reliable scholar.

        2) Same as a above and the question seems similar

        3) Really interesting hypothetical, I can hardly imagine it to be honest…………

        But, if she was good in deen(necessary for a Muslim), and there was the necessary physical attraction(which is a necessity for every single marriage in existence, except the marriage of asexuals) and she had a personality that was good (again….basic necessity for every marriage) then yes I would.

        But, of course that isn’t the case with my parents, it’s the most strange and far out hypothetical any Desi boy can think of. So…….there is your answer.

        Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      • ZAI

        “Well, I have an answer but I’m afraid to answer because I’m not qualified. So ask a reliable scholar.”

        I’m not asking for fatwa, only what your personal position is based on scholars you’ve learned from or referenced.

        “Same as a above and the question seems similar”

        They are different in nuance. The first asks whether you feel/think that it is also mustahhab for women to seek virgin males…ergo knowing this, you would accept it being perfectly Islamic if a virgin turned you down if you were divorced/widowed

        2nd asks if, knowing it is mustahhab for women to marry virgins, you would even bother to ask them and restrict yourself to fellow divorcees/widowers.

        “But, if she was good in deen(necessary for a Muslim), and there was the necessary physical attraction(which is a necessity for every single marriage in existence, except the marriage of asexuals) and she had a personality that was good (again….basic necessity for every marriage) then yes I would.”

        Are these necessities based on your standards or your parents? So there are instances…aside from deen…such as attraction or personality wherein you would disobey your parents? If yes and you are not advocating absolute obedience doesn’t it become at least partially a matter of your preferences or priorities and not just about obedience to parents? In other words, you do have a say in it when it comes to things you prefer or care about.

        “But, of course that isn’t the case with my parents, it’s the most strange and far out hypothetical any Desi boy can think of. So…….there is your answer.”

        I am not well versed in the intricacies or nuances of South Asian culture. I gave that as an example because it is something common in rural Afghanistan. Among rural Afghans, is very common for brother, cousin, etc. to marry a widow of deceased family member to keep her and her children within the tribe because it is assumed family member attached to the deceased will treat wife/children well out of respect to deceased family member…and also keeps inheritance within the tribe, family, etc.

        I do happen to know a South Asian brother…friend of mine…he did something similar in that he had a cousin who was divorced and not having luck getting remarried, so his father asked him to step up and do it out of love for the family…and he did. Alhamdulillah, they are happy and is a good marriage…So I was wondering what you’d do if similar situation presented itself to you.

        Anyways…Thanks for your reply.
        Our thinking on the issue is obviously different so I was just curious to understand what your thoughts are and why. I mean no harm.

        Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

      • Mahmud

        “Are these necessities based on your standards or your parents? So there are instances…aside from deen…such as attraction or personality wherein you would disobey your parents? If yes and you are not advocating absolute obedience doesn’t it become at least partially a matter of your preferences or priorities and not just about obedience to parents? In other words, you do have a say in it when it comes to things you prefer or care about.”

        Umm….no.

        1) There are some standards which are so basic, parents requirements don’t matter. They are deen, personality and basic attraction.

        2) There are some requirements that are affected by parents. Which culture, the age, whether it’s arranged, family marriage, etc.

        So I hope that explains everything.

        Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

      • ZAI

        “Umm….no.”

        I don’t understand the “no”. Do you mean you wouldn’t go against your parents even if they chose someone you found physically unattractive/incompatible personality or saying you would go against them in some things because you think all demands are not equal?

        “1) There are some standards which are so basic, parents requirements don’t matter. They are deen, personality and basic attraction.”

        Brother, the word basic is relative. A parent can think someone is physically attractive or good personality, whereas child disagrees. In this case you would be making a choice/decision to disobey them based on a personal standard that you do not wish to compromise on or in which you differ with them. Remember, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

        “2) There are some requirements that are affected by parents. Which culture, the age, whether it’s arranged, family marriage, etc.”

        These are arbitrary things. Many parents do not care about culture, age, arranged or within the family. So cannot be taken as a given. Infact some of those things…like culture/race can spring from racism, which is haraam. Obeying them in that, but not disobeying them when it comes to divorcee/widow would not have any kind of Islamic critereon or standard of consistency based on filial obedience, but be based on preferences.

        “So I hope that explains everything.”

        I was still wondering if you consider women wanting virgin men to be mustahhab as well.

        In any case brother, you are free to want or not want whatever you want. I only ask these things because you said males seeking virgin girls is mustahhab. Peace!

        Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      • Mahmud

        “Brother, the word basic is relative. A parent can think someone is physically attractive or good personality, whereas child disagrees. In this case you would be making a choice/decision to disobey them based on a personal standard that you do not wish to compromise on or in which you differ with them. Remember, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”

        I have a feeling you are using convoluted language to put me into some sort of a bind. Please lay off the incoherent rhetoric. I am not advocating “disobedience” to parents or being “inconsistent” I was pretty clear:

        Basic attraction is a necessity for all marriages on the planet except for asexuals, and it’s obvious this means what each spouse considers attractive.

        What other people think, including parents has no bearing. Children are not disobedient to parents if they do not fulfill a requirement that is impossible to fufill. Parents don’t have a right to command children to do something beyond there capacities. So yes, attraction IS a basic requirement.

        Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

      • ZAI

        Brother,
        The language is not incoherent nor convoluted.
        Is pretty clear: Obedience is an act. A child who doesn’t do
        what his parents request in ANY thing IS being disobedient. Whether that obedience can be justified or rationalized is a different discussion, but it is disobedient just the same.

        Example: If my attending physician asks me to inject a patient with an incorrect dosage of a drug, but I refuse because it would cause harm….it could be justified or accepted as a valid refusal. It is still disobedience though. I disobeyed his request.

        Insofar as what is impossible to fulfill, thus the necessity of disobedience, marrying someone unattractive is not impossible brother. People do it all the time. It is a choice just like most other choices and plenty of parents force that, especially onto women. I agree parents don’t have a right to force anything onto their children.

        Thanks for the discussion!

        Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      • Mahmud

        Zai, I’m not interested in your little word games. If you were trying to allege some inconsistency in my approach you failed. I do believe in obeying parents and yes, there are limits but when those limits are crossed it’s right to disobey parents. Like if they try to get you to marry someone you are unnattracted to. It’s right to refuse because a marriage fails without attraction.

        Please cease the weak word games.

        Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

      • ZAI

        “but when those limits are crossed it’s right to disobey parents. Like if they try to get you to marry someone you are unnattracted to. It’s right to refuse because a marriage fails without attraction”

        No word games, I asked you if it is okay to disobey your parents in any circumstances. You answered my question clearly in this latest comment using the word disobey itself. So question answered. Thank you Brother.

        Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      • Mahmud B.

        In your opinion, is it possible that a woman who is a virgin and chaste at the time of marriage may fall into sin or zina after marriage. Perhaps she is unhappy with her husbands treatment of her or the husband is abusive, so you think its possible that she can then act in an unchaste manner

        What I am trying to say is that just because a woman is chaste and a virgin, it doesnt guarantee that the marriage will be a happy one. The question then is what would constitute a happy marriage?

        -Compatibility?
        -Faith in Allah? (even the most pious of sahabas divorced their wives)
        -Will virginity bring about a happy marriage? (We have had cases where both husband and wife were chaste and virgins and the marriage didnt last)

        So if our aim is a long lasting and Happy marriage where both partners can grow as Muslims and raise children who will be good muslims, then the issue of virginity may (or may not) play as big a role as we assume.

        Unless we let it play a role in our marriage. But I think a focus on virginity or a persons past is misguided priority.

        There are way more important criteria to choose a spouse

        We ask Allah to guide everyone to the spouse that is best for them.

        And Allah Knows Best

        Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

      • Mahmud

        By chastity, I mean chaste so obviously nothing happens within marriage, and virginity means nothing happened before marriage.

        Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  25. Hyde

    Why was the picture on this article changed from light skin to dark skin ? Is the disease of political correctness now infecting Muslims as well ?

    Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

    Reply
  26. Inqiyaad

    The Salafi Feminist,

    Actually, do you not think that it is a gross conflation and misrepresentation to say that people who are pointing out the Islamic encouragement to marry ‘virgins’ are insinuating that widows and divorcees should not be considered for marriage?

    Also, “sorry bros, but y’all ain’t exactly at the level of the Sahabah…’ is actually thrown out in another context, which is the prevalence of polygamy among Sahabaa.

    I agree with ZAI that this issue should be addressed more holistically and cannot be resolved simply by dropping shame grenades like, “Oh, will you not marry Khadija?” If comments, that are mostly inconsequential compared to main articles, are called shame grenades, such articles should be called ‘shame-torpedoes’ or even ‘shame daisy-cutters’.

    One solution that comes to mind is to make polygamy more acceptable in society. Like I have said before, encouragement to marry virgins is for both men and women. So, if an already married man goes looking for a ‘virgin’, he can be politely reminded of the Islamic encouragement to marry virgins. Of course, the crazy inflation in divorce rates should be addressed urgently. One way is to raise more responsible men and women who take marriage seriously and appreciate the compromises they have to allow to make marriages work. We will still have divorcees and widows but hopefully, it will not be a crisis like it is now.

    I would like to draw Dr. O’s attention to the following inconsistency in his encouragement to follow certain things that the Prophet did and then turning around to brand others as out-dated.

    “Our cultural norms and traditional standards dictate that wives should always be younger than their husbands, and age gaps as wide as a decade between them are still seen as acceptable,…”

    It will be pertinent to point out that he sal Allahu ‘alaihi wa sallam married all his daughters to men who were a ‘decade’ older than them. In fact, as per Seerah records, none of them lived beyond ~35 years of age. For example, Fatimah radhi Allahu anha would have been ~17-18 years of age when he married her to ‘Ali who would have been ~27-28 years of age at the time. Ali was the youngest son-in-law of the Prophet sal Allahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, in my limited knowledge. Will Dr. O, ‘still’, consider it to be acceptable?

    “To add to the pressure, the notion of “biological clocks” is usually brought up as the supporting argument…”

    There are clear and reliable ahadith encouraging us to marry women who have the potential to bear (many) children. Then, would it not be appropriate, especially in the present society where one wife is the norm, to consider age as one of the factors if one claims to be following the Sunnah?

    Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

    Reply
    • The Salafi Feminist

      Polygamy is another issue, which I believe should not be considered as THE solution to marriage issues such as this (and fyi – I’m a divorcee, now in a polygamous marriage alHamdulillah).

      As for the ages of the daughters of RasulAllah (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) when they got married, I remember doing some research a while back and it’s said that Fatimah was between the ages of 15 and 17, and that Ali was between the ages of 18 and 21.
      The other daughters of RasulAllah also did not have such a huge age gap between themselves and their husbands… and this is also based on research I have done on the Sahabah and Sahabiyaat (as well as the fact that men also used to marry at a much earlier age than they do now). And Allah knows best.

      Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      Reply
      • Inqiyaad

        Good, we agree that polygamy is not THE solution but ONE of the solutions to this problem.

        As for the ages of his sons-in-law, two different opinions exist regarding the birth of Ali. That is, he was born either 10 years or 15-16 years before Muhammad sal Allahu ‘alaihi wa sallam was informed of his Prophethood. Similarly, birth of Fatimah is between 2-5 years before the Prophethood. So, going by the lower age for Ali and higher limits for Fatimah (May Allah be pleased with them) and vice versa, the age difference can be between 5-18 years.

        Now, coming to the age difference between Uthman and Ruqayyah and Umm Kulthoom, it is much greater than the 10 years limit that is being suggested as ‘acceptable’. Rasulullah sal Allahu ‘alaihi wa sallam was married to Khadijah for 15 years before Prophethood (40 years-25 years). So, the eldest daughter, Zaynab would be at the most ~14 years old at the time of the first revelation. However, there are some narrations that suggest that she was born 5 years into the marriage. This would put her age at 10 years old. However, for sake of ease let us go with upper estimates.

        It follows that Ruqayyah and Umm Kulthoom were lesser than 14 years old at the time of first revelation. Uthman RadhiAllahu ‘anh is reported to have been 34 years old when he accepted Islam. He was one of the first four people to have accepted Islam. This would bring the age difference between Uthman and his wives (may Allah be pleased with them all) to >20 years. In fact, the age difference between Muhammad sal Allahu ‘alaihi wa sallam and Uthman is reported to be ~5-6 years.

        Regardless of the above discussion, Rasulullah sal Allahu ‘alaihi wa Sallam was married to our mother A’ishah and everyone knows the age difference between them. Now, there is no explicit text that states that this age difference was allowed specifically for Rasulullah sal Allahu ‘alaihi wa Sallam.

        Now, would more than a decade of age difference be ‘acceptable’?

        Other such examples include Umar ibn Al khattab marrying the daughter of ‘Ali (may Allah be pleased with them).

        I am not insinuating that people should consider marrying their nine years old daughters to their close friends because it is the Sunnah. Rather, I am trying to draw attention to methodological inconsistencies in the arguments.

        Islamically, there is nothing wrong in marrying cousins (two daughters of Rasulullah were initially married to their cousins), widows and divorcees. Also, there is no problem with more than a decade of age difference between spouses. But, whether these scenarios are mandated, expected, preferred, or encouraged/discouraged, or part of Sunnah that should be emulated is a totally different discussion.

        Indeed, Allah knows best.

        Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

      • Inqiyaad

        Three daughters were married to his cousins (‘Ali and ‘Uthman) and one daughter (Zaynab) was married to her maternal cousin. Before their marriage to Uthman, two daughters were married to his cousins (sons of Abu Lahab), though these earlier marriages were not consummated.

        Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  27. Jumana

    I have come across sentiments towards the so-called career women being unloving, uncaring etc quite a few times in the comments from the brothers.

    Who are these career women? Not the ones from TV shows or films surely. Using the not-so-practising sisters or non-muslims from the West/East as examples doesn’t justify it either. By the way, not all of them are unloving and some of them do make good wives/mothers. Since its Muslim Matters, I’ll talk about my sisters in Islam. :)

    As for those who actually haven’t come across loving career women, you’ll be surprised. I have met a lot of sisters in very “high-fly” and competitive fields. And all of them I know are very deen oriented ma shaa Allah (well, the ones I have kept as companions) and settled down soon after or sometimes in the midst of their education. They still carried on but were also working very hard to be good wives. I, myself, dreamt of reaching high positions and “changing the world” (who doesn’t?!) but I realise my duties as a future wife in shaa’ Allah. I’ll be happy just doing part-time or on and off. I just want to help others in shaa’ Allah.

    I really am not sure where such perception comes from. Such sentiments are not healthy.

    Rarely, I come across a brother who actively encourages his wife to achieve in her education or career even if part-time or anything more than a fullstop. Unless…. he needs two-people income to survive in the West! Only then are we useful. I might settle with that if it means being able to do bit of what I love. Marriage is becoming more and more a transaction and less about the person that we marry (can go both ways but I speak of sisters here).

    A practicing muslim mother will not neglect her child and she will make a way to balance things if she really wants to pursue something and is well aware of her duties. A practicing sister will be willing to pay heed to advice/reminders if she does end up neglecting. What a brother needs to make sure while choosing a wife is that she is God fearing and prioritises her deen. She just needs a loving support from her husband, just as she should support him. Even if he is too lazy to do even that, she’ll still strive to perform in both roles as long as he permits.

    Perhaps, the husbands who are married to such professional wives, need to ask what her career means to her. To feel equal? Get a break from marriage? Or is it something much deeper, such as, helping others or becoming closer to Allah? Dare I say, a dream of her parents passed onto her?

    I’m not pointing my finger at anyone. I just feel that it’d be nice to have encouragement from the husbands instead of having to feel guilty for having a dream or pursuing something of interest to us. Better yet, we aren’t supposed to have dreams and ambitions. More often than not, we end up relinquishing that dream completely that we held so dearly to our hearts. The same dreams you would have for your daughters one day are the same ones our fathers and we dreamt for ourselves. Fair enough that after marriage husband should become everything after deen, so should the wife, too then. He should love her dreams, just as she should; and help her stay in touch with it. There’re always options available other than full-time.

    Isn’t there a middle ground for this? Some mercy even?

    Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

    Reply
    • Mahmud B.

      I agree with the things you said. I keep hearing sisters saying that “no one wants to marry us because we are over-educated.”

      Personally I would find that as a plus. And by “educated” I dont mean someone who has degrees which are just pieces of paper to me. But by “educated” I mean someone who has the abilities of critical thinking and is self-aware and is constantly trying to learn and grow as a person.

      Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

      Reply
      • Jumana

        Degrees aren’t always pieces of paper. Most are useful. What’s important is what we do with it or how we use it. Of course, our intentions when we are studying it. Personally, I noticed there are far more sisters than brothers in most of the degree courses. Generally, there are more woman in most courses anyway unless it is a physics or a business degree. Some brothers probably have to take up responsibilities early on if their father is deceased or the father needs a hand etc.

        Even if we forget about secular education for a second here, some do stop attaining knowledge of the deen after marriage etc. It is understandable with all the responsibilities, but that’s where it helps if both of the spouses are keen on seeking and improving. I have noticed how much it helps to have good friends who are constantly trying to improve. It is far more important that we look out for some of these things in a potential suitor etc. I think it is more important for a sister to watch out for that, as a wife is more likely to be influenced by her husband and his family (or expected to go with the flow of his lifestyle).

        As for no-one wanting to marry them, I cannot speak for them. But my hunch is either they haven’t come across a suitable brother ( due to their pickiness or the suitors’ pickiness or genuinely they cannot find one) or they have left it until too late (late 20s/30s), that all the suitable ones have been “snatched away” by then. Sometimes it is difficult to find someone whom you and your parents like (and may be even everyone else around you in some cases!). Let’s not forget, the same applies to the brother’s side. May Allah (SWT) grant them patience. But they must keep making du’aa and ishtikhara. We can be as careful as we like but only Allah (SWT) knows truly who is best for us.

        As for brothers, the older they become, the more eligible they become due to their education/financial status and also they become more mature (that’s what some parents think and it is true to some extent). They can marry any sister as young as 18-25. Sisters need to realise while they may have excellent character and be religious, age do play a part, especially if there are sisters who are not only righteous, but also young.

        While we need solution for those unmarried sisters, we need to find the root cause of the problem. Sisters, if their family has not started searching, they need to send a hint to them if they feel ready to settle down. Ideally, I believe it is best to start searching in early 20s. It may be hard to make that decision while she has yet to set her foot in her career or whatever she has been aiming towards, but she needs to consider the repercussion of her decisions in the long run should she choose to delay the search. Allah knows best.

        Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  28. angel

    We are all born with “free will”. We cannot choose whom we fall in love with. Religion is man made. Man and woman are made by God/Allah. We are to put God/Allah 1st, our spouse 2nd, our children 3rd, and everything else will fall where they are supposed to. A wife is not a possession, she is a blessing, lover, friend, mother but before she met you she was a daughter, sister, friend, student, cousin, teacher, architect, scientist and maybe she is divorced, widowed, maybe she is 45 years old with 4 children, maybe she was raped and not practicing anymore due to rejection and hate, even though….it’s not her fault, maybe she is not physically attractive to anyone else but you? What if you can’t stop thinking about how she makes you feel safe, secure, comfortable and despite what your parents think or say, despite tradition, despite the fact you will lose your parent’s financial aid……will you allow your soul to be bought? Will you all your happiness and joy to be bought? If you want God/Allah to bless your marriage, with a fantastic sex life, joy and happiness, security, healthy, well balanced children that grow up into strong secure adults……then don’t have double standards. It takes two. Raise your sons to treat girls better, live by example. It may take a generation to fix things. In the mean time…..stop doing permanent things with temporary people.

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    Reply
  29. Vakas Shah

    I’m in this situation at the moment, but only one of the reasons above apply to me… The other reason isn’t even mentioned.

    My parents would be against the marriage as she is wealthier and more educated than I am, she’s from a different culture/background, she is divorced, and she has a child.

    My main concern is that she has a child. I’m not sure I’d be able to live with another man’s kid. First it’s a matter of being a step father, while his real father is in the picture. Second, how can I bring myself to love him? Third, it will create jealousy in my heart. As a husband, I’d want the attention of my wife and the child will be taking it away. And no, it’s not a stupid thing to say or feel, it happens and people have already said it happens but they can’t control it.

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    Reply
    • Sabrina

      Brother Vakas, sorry to hear about your predicament. But I completely understand how you feel. I’m probably not the most qualified to speak in matters of marriage as I’m single myself; however, I believe that Allah SWT has provided all the answers – through His Book and in the teachings of the Messenger (SAW).

      And it’s not just about about divorced or widowed suitors who happen to have children that confuse us and plague us with self-doubt, it’s also the issue of polygamy – would a man who has multiple wives ever keep them all happy? I might be opening a can of worms here, but bear with me….

      You see, I’m beginning to feel that I should take comfort in the fact that Allah SWT, being the Best of Planners and the All-knowing, would not have made something permissible, in the first place, if it were impossible for us to do. If HE has allowed a man to marry more than one woman that means it IS humanly possible for two or even four women to live peacefully with one another and for a man to be able to care for them and do justice between them.* I suppose the same goes for marrying someone who has children from a previous marriage – if it wasn’t humanly possible and if the interests of the child or the foster parent could not be protected, Allah SWT would not have made it permissible. And if your only concern is about not being a ‘good father to another man’s child’ – I’d suggest that you ask your friends and family to assess if you’re a good father figure to your siblings’ children or to other young men in your neighborhood. Take it from me, Brother, one can love anyone’s children – I know…. I’ve been a teacher for over 10 years.

      *(I know this is a contentious issue and I don’t pretend to know everything it entails, but I’m just offering some advice for what it’s worth).

      Good luck!

      Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

      Reply
  30. Naheem

    Narrated Said bin Jubair: Ibn ‘Abbas asked me, “Are you married?” I replied, “No.” He said, “Marry, for the best person of this (Muslim) nation (i.e., Muhammad) of all other Muslims, had the largest number of wives.”

    Narrated Jabir bin ‘Abdullah: When I got married, Allah’s Apostle said to me, “What type of lady have you married?” I replied, “I have married a matron’ He said, “Why, don’t you have a liking for the virgins and for fondling them?” Jabir also said: Allah’s Apostle said, “Why didn’t you marry a young girl so that you might play with her and she with you?’

    Narrated Abu Huraira: The Prophet said, “A woman is married for four things, i.e., her wealth, her family status, her beauty and her religion. So you should marry the religious woman (otherwise) you will be a losers.

    I would marry someone that is young like any men that are religious also a women that can bare alot of kids and she allows polygamy for those widow womens and Allah knows best.

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    Reply

Leave a Reply