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Smart Muslim Chicks Who Inexplicably Scare Off Guys

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150060_furry_fun.jpgAfter discovering an article titled “A Few Good Men: American Muslim women bemoan lack of ‘good’ male suitors“, I was oh-so-kindly “volunteered” by my fellow MM staff members to write a blog post in response. I wonder why? Could it be because:

1) I am a Muslim woman.
2) I am between the ages of 25-30 years.
3) Masha’Allah, I am educated to the postgrad level (otherwise known as “overeducated” by my dear mum).
4) Oh yeah… I am single, and desperately looking for a decent guy to wed!

Okay, so scratch the “desperately”.

Even though I hail from the other side of the Atlantic pond, I did empathise with the main character of the article, sister “Afaf”: in Western terms we are both far from being classed as “over-the-hill”, but in Desi (and perhaps other cultural) terms, we are perishable goods, close to hitting our respective expiry dates, and are in danger of being sold off at a 50% discount, in order to avoid being left on the shelf.

What a lovely analogy!

Saying that, I don’t necessarily agree with the idea that there are too few good Muslim men; at least in relation to the numbers of good Muslim women. In this case, “good” refers to those who have an appreciation of the deen, but also know how to function in dunya, without resorting to the haram. Most of the guys I have met through the rishta scene (i.e., those I was introduced to via my parents) have been decent chaps, masha’Allah. I have very few (if any) horror stories to share, alhamdulillah.

However, I do agree with the idea that for some reason, educated Muslim women are finding it hard to find a suitable match. In fact, some proof of this phenomenon comes from the existence of a Facebook group, from which I derived the title of this post. Here are a few “symptoms” written by group members, which are apparently associated with being a “smart Muslim chick who inexplicably scares off guys”:

  • Men think that you are “too intimidating”.
  • Much to your mom/aunty’s dismay, you refuse to go into the import/export husband business and/or marry your nerdy cousin.
  • Aunties give you the polite “omigod, she didn’t just say that” smile when you launch into your defense of Barack Obama as the better candidate for the Democratic party nomination.
  • You have yet to meet a real man – you already know a bunch of boys.
  • The moment you reciprocate interest, he runs a mile, no longer interested. You then realise it’s because you used a five-syllable word in your last conversation.
  • Your mum gives you THAT look every time she receives news of a relative’s wedding.
  • You feel like you’ve met every eligible Muslim male in a 25 mile radius.
  • You find yourself contemplating why they’re interested in girls who have the squeaky, bimbo laugh, then reproach yourself for having wasted time… on education, and reading, and making yourself smart. Then you feel ashamed at that thought, and drink a cup of tea, finally realising no man can give you the same kind of joy as a tiny hit of caffeine :)

I suspect that several of the female MM readers are now smiling after having read the above. Yes sisters, you are not alone!

There have been many explanations offered as to why ‘smart’ Muslim women are facing such difficulties in getting hitched:

Maybe we’re too fussy?
Not in terms of looking for someone who is down with the deen. That’s a must! But perhaps we shouldn’t hold out for brothers who are educated to a similar degree?
However, many would argue that educational background is part of compatibility. As my Tajweed teacher once said (who at the time was a young hafidha, pursuing two bachelor degrees simultaneously, masha’Allah): if I’ve put all this effort into improving myself, can’t I expect the same from the man I marry?

Maybe guys are the ones being fussy?

I don’t wish to lump all guys into the same boat, but it’s not exactly uncommon knowledge that men have these things called “egos”. That’s natural. Heck, even women have them! But for some reason, many men (not all – but a significant number) do feel threatened by the idea of their wives earning more money than themselves, or having a better education. This is not a Muslim man thing – it’s a Y-chromosome thing.

I think the only people who avoid this pride trap are those who don’t attach their self-worth to their careers, or other worldly markers of success. The best of whom was the Prophet Muhammed, sallalahu ‘alayhi wa salam, as exemplified by his decision to accept the proposal of Khadija, radiallahu anha – a very successful business woman, masha’Allah.

But in turn, it could also be argued that not many successful Muslim women would ever propose to a penniless brother, even if his character was kind and noble. And that’s not even taking into account the role of parents and/or other guardians, who would not allow their educated daughters to marry such a person.

And so the cycle of blame continues…

Although it does help to know the cause of a problem, blame is never a good thing, nor is generalisation. Each case deserves to be examined on an individual basis, and perhaps there is no single practical solution.

So many times during my own journey I’ve thought about how complicated we make things for ourselves. I do feel that we – as individuals and communities – have made the task of finding a life partner much harder than it needs to be, justifying our approach with claims that there are not enough good people out there. But in reality, it’s our fears that are paralysing us.

For women, it is a fear of being trapped in a loveless marriage; a fear of being smothered by an overbearing husband; a fear of being unappreciated, abused and disrespected, Allah forbid. So we anxiously look for that one guy who ticks all the boxes – but does he even exist?

At one point during my early twenties, I was so terrified by the concept of marriage, that I clearly remember laying awake at night in tears, after my mother mentioned a proposal to me in passing. Alhamdulillah, rediscovering my Islam a short time later helped me to overcome my own personal fears, through the development of a greater trust in the fact that my Creator will take care of all those pesky “what ifs”. Yet, I still have a long way to go in developing my tawwakul; may Allah make it easy for me.

Perhaps if we try to humble ourselves more, live simpler lives, and recognise success in all its forms, it wouldn’t be a case of finding the “perfect” guy – but rather choosing from a large pool of very good guys, insha’Allah.

At the end of the day, considering my single status, I can’t really be counted on for much reliable advice in this department. So all I can really offer my fellow smart Muslim singletons – both men and women – is a sincere prayer: may Allah grant all of us loving life partners, who will support us on the road to eternal success, Ameen.

Dr Mehzabeen b. Ibrahim joined MuslimMatters as a blogger in late 2007 under the handle 'iMuslim', whilst still a struggling grad student. Since then, she has attained a PhD in Molecular Biology and a subsequent Masters in Bioinformatics, and now works as a specialist in this field for a well-known British, medical charity, masha'Allah. Somewhere in between she found the time to get married, alhamdulillah. She likes to dabble in photo and videography, a sample of which can be found on her personal blog: iMuslim.tv.

136 Comments

136 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Faraz

    June 16, 2008 at 5:35 AM

    I think it’s a combination of the factors you’ve mentioned, but I do sincerely believe that things only happen when they’re supposed to happen as well. No earlier, no later. But we do overly complicate things, for sure.

    The education thing really does raise additional barriers, certainly. I know too many brothers who have been rejected outright by prospective in-laws because they do not have graduate degrees. I find this trend stronger in the Arab – particularly Egyptian – community over here, but I have enough stories of similar things in the Desi community to know that it’s a fairly universal thing. In many of these cases, the girl herself doesn’t even have a graduate degree, but her parents scoff at the idea at their daughter’s husband being equally as educated. That’s a big problem in our society.

    But in the end, I’ve learned that most people out there really are good people, and if we peeled away all the layers of cultural requirements, the whole process really can be very simple. And when the time is right, things will fall into place.

    I am more worried about the growing trend of divorce, personally, than the challenges of finding a spouse in the first place. In the last few months, I’ve learned of way too many divorces within the local Muslim community, even within young couples with strong Islamic morals coming from excellent families. It worries me, because sometimes we think we are immune to these challenges because we trust in Allah’s plan. But in many of these divorce cases I’ve seen here, both the husband and wife were very sincere Muslims, certainly better than me. And yet, somehow they were unable to make things work. May Allah protect all the married couples, and increase them in love and companionship.

  2. Avatar

    OM

    June 16, 2008 at 7:04 AM

    “those who…attach their self-worth to their careers, or other worldly markers of success.”

    But this is exactly what you, and ‘career-women’ in general do, no?

  3. Avatar

    iMuslim

    June 16, 2008 at 8:42 AM

    Subhanallah, if my parents & I waited around for someone equally as educated (considering my recent PhD success, masha’Allah) we may as well give up! It would be asking for far too much – especially as many bros are already married by the time they enter postgrad training.

    I don’t really want to get sidetracked into the divorce issue on this post (one community marriage-related problem at a time!) but has divorce really got anything to do with how good a Muslim one is? There is a video by the Canada-based imam (the one who also did 60 ways to keep your wife’s love) titled “Live in Peace or Leave in Peace”. He suggested it is better and more Islamic for a Muslim couple to divorce peacefully than live in resentment. Looking at the older generation, there are too many examples of couples who have stayed together to avoid committing a social taboo, or “for the sake of the kids”, but clearly dislike eachother a great deal. That would be fine if they at least treated one another with respect – instead the underlying resentment spills out into harsh treatment, which is a bad lesson for the children they are trying to protect.

    It would be helpful to know the rate of divorce amongst the pious predecessors.

  4. Avatar

    Osman

    June 16, 2008 at 8:51 AM

    Assalamu Alaikum

    Not to be too critical but why is it that the monthly marriage topic on MM always ends up blaming all the marital woes of Muslims on guys?
    I mean, maybe just maybe, its the girls who have standards that are too high?

    As for the education part, I mean I cant deny that it would be pretty weird if the girl was the one working and the guy was the one taking care of the kids.

  5. Avatar

    abc

    June 16, 2008 at 9:59 AM

    Another issue, which effects a subset of us ‘smart chicks’ is the prestige of your education. God forbid you’ve gone to an ivy league or elite private school, you’ve placed yourself above and beyond too many muslims out there. I’ve tried explaining to people that I’m not looking to hire someone for a job, that really doesn’t bother me if he went to a school that isn’t a ‘brand name’ school, but I get told that I’m unaware of how insecure it can make men, particularly of the desi/arab breed.
    The problem with higher education at this level (where tuition is over $45 k a year and rising) is that many of the muslims-by no means all- that you meet belong to a social class where religion is a burden and looked down upon.
    The pursuit of a higher education also means that there is the likelihood that you’ve been in non-islamic situations- living alone/with non muslims, mixing with men, meals at which alcohol is served, and for many pious muslim men, a woman who has had such exposure may not be good enough in her deen for them, so you’re walking the line between trying to find that balance.

    Though in my experience, its less the brothers, its their mothers, who are scared off the prospect that an educated wife=career wife=their son will be chopping tomatoes for dinner.

  6. Avatar

    iMuslim

    June 16, 2008 at 10:21 AM

    wa ‘alaykum Salam wa rahmatullah

    Osman, I don’t feel I placed the blame on guys in my post. I did mention problems with both guys & girls being too fussy, and with people (a purposely gender neutral term) pinning their self-worth to worldly status. However, I am presenting the issue from my own female perspective, so it is true that I may not be aware of the gender bias within my writing. So comments from the male perspective are greatly appreciated.

    In response to the second part of your comment, and also to abc’s final statement, educated does not necessarily equate to being career-orientated. I believe most women realise that motherhood requires a multitude of sacrifices, including high-flying career ambitions. But what about before motherhood or once the kids are in school & do not require 24/7 care? Surely there is then room for the mother to give back to society, whether she is earning, or not?

    Plus educated mothers benefit their children with whatever they have learnt. I don’t see a negative in education, even if it doesn’t lead to a super-career, as long as one can afford it.

    Abc, it is interesting what you say about the difference social class makes. The middle and upper classes will always have the advantage when it comes to education, but I think higher education in the UK has been generally more affordable, and thus more accessible, than in the US – so I haven’t experienced the same phenomenon you refer to. However, higher education also used to be free in the UK, but for the past few years, new students have to pay a flat-rate tuition fee for undergraduate level university education, and some more prestigious institutions (including my own, Imperial College London) are pushing for an even higher fee rate. Thus I imagine things will be different for the next generation, unfortunately.

    • Avatar

      strongmuslimah

      June 3, 2010 at 12:42 PM

      I couldnt agree with you any further, Thank You. I am in a simalar situation as you, and have the same sentiments. IA brothers will learn to accept strong Muslimah and sister will learn to mellow it out a little

  7. Pingback: Smart Muslim Chicks Who Inexplicably Scare Off Guys « iMuslim

  8. Avatar

    Mezba

    June 16, 2008 at 10:45 AM

    I wrote something like this once from a guy’s perspective.

    Why Do Guys Go Back To Marry

    Maybe if guys don’t go ‘back’ and marry then perhaps girls here can find more suitable guys.

    • Avatar

      O H

      November 21, 2013 at 6:20 PM

      That is so true. Just recently a Bangladeshi brother who married a local and then got divorced told me the same thing-to be cautious of marrying girls ‘here’ and instead girls ‘back home’ maybe better. One of the reasons he cited, and many others I know say this, is that girls growing up in the west enjoy certain privileges growing up and may want a much higher level of independence and freedom relative to girls ‘back home’which the husband may not be pleased with. They may not be as obedient.

      First of all I don’t fully agree with this as its a big generalisation. Secondly I hope no one misunderstands this thinking girls should not have any independence which isn’t what is being conveyed.Thirdly please do not conjure up images of slavery, abuse and excessive control of the husband over the wife when general obedience is mentioned.

      I must admit there are differences on average of girls and guys growing up in the west and those ‘back home’ in terms of mentality, certain ethics, lifestyle, etc. A person who is marrying may then decide which aspects does he/she prefers and then make a decision whether to look in the ‘local’ or ‘back home’ market. At the end of the day we should strive to marry those with Taqwa as per the advice of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and this may Insha Allaah solve many potential incompatibilities, differences etc as a righteous person would not be as fussy. sensitive and possibly more patient which are good examples of Akhlaaq. May Allaah grant us righteous spouses and children who are the coolness of our eyes. Ameen!

  9. Avatar

    Omar

    June 16, 2008 at 12:03 PM

    nice post.

    im going to start a opposing facebook group:

    Smarter guys who aren’t intimidated by purportedly smart girls

  10. Avatar

    Shirtman

    June 16, 2008 at 12:04 PM

    First,

    This is a marvelous post Masha’Allah.

    Speaking from personal experience, my wife is pursuing her law degree right now and I am pursuing second bachelors Alhumdulillah. However, since my second degree is not an MBA or J.D. or an M.D., I do get a lot of slack about it- for example, like my wife will earn more than me, or be higher than me, or that I will change my last name to her last name. Also, you have to go through the whole time spent studying instead of with the hubby.

    It is tough, but you know what, I am proud of my wife, Insha’Allah when she is an attorney she will be able to volunteer and help Muslim organizations, and Insha’Allah will be able to give back and support the Ummah financially, not to mention educate our kids so they can be successful contributors for the Ummah.

    Bottom line: Yeah, there’re some ego hits on the way, but the good outweighs the evil.

    Assalamualaikum

    SM

  11. Avatar

    MR

    June 16, 2008 at 12:16 PM

    How Muslim Brothers find a wife, get married and marriage life in MR++

    function_findWife()
    {
    gotDeen();
    add 1;
    else repeat;
    gotBeauty();
    add 1;
    else repeat;
    }

    function_getMarried()
    {
    if [ gotDeen() && gotBeauty() ] = 2, then:
    askParents();
    add 1;
    else restart;
    getDowry();
    add 1;
    else repeat;
    else
    restart;
    }

    function_Marriage()
    {
    wifeRaiseChildren()
    continue++;
    wifeCookFood()
    continue++;
    }

    end;;

    • Avatar

      Anonymous

      September 4, 2009 at 11:36 AM

      Hilarious.

      Except for the function marriage part..I’m pretty sure there’s a syntax error there somewhere!

    • Avatar

      Osman

      November 22, 2009 at 9:50 PM

      haha lol

  12. Avatar

    jamicam

    June 16, 2008 at 12:39 PM

    It’s not just education. If you read the ads at Muslim match making sites, you’ll see the critiera of our brothers — young, light skinned, virgins. Even older, divorced brothers often use these same descriptions. When men who have taken time to pursue their own education and are now ready for marriage are only willing to marry 20 year olds…. combine that with a bunch of them thatonly look for brides in their parents homeland…. what options are available sisters nearing 30?

    It goes back to the women in the end. How we raise our sons will have huge influence on how they think of women, marriage, and compatibility.

  13. Avatar

    Amaturrahmaan

    June 16, 2008 at 12:47 PM

    Assalaam ‘alaikum,

    Nice post MR, however, you forgot the following function :D :

    function potential_wife_sticks_around as boolean
    {
    var potential as Integer = 0;
    if (husband.hasDeen)
    potential++;

    if(husband.kind)
    potential++;

    if (husband.notChauvenistic)
    potential++

    if (husband.tidy)
    potential ++;

    if (husband.notOverbearing)
    potential ++;

    if(potential > 3)
    return true;
    else
    return false;
    }

    • Avatar

      ummasiyaah

      August 25, 2009 at 10:47 AM

      LOL! :D

      I graduated from university last year (King’s College London to be precise, since we’re naming elite universities here :)) and I haven’t written any code since last March, but funnily enough, I totally understood that even though my programming was absolutely atrocious!

      Good code, btw. I wish I could add some more, but alas, my husband would be ashamed that his wife is such a geek…and also because I’m rubbish at programming. Lol.

  14. Avatar

    Omar

    June 16, 2008 at 1:05 PM

    ok you computer nerds need to get your own command room.

  15. Avatar

    Ibn Masood

    June 16, 2008 at 1:34 PM

    Maybe its just a matter of brothers and sisters who are looking for Western society-and-culture-inspired perfection that isn’t there. What are the ones who are seeking spouses considering as their template? And against what standards? Who are the standards set by?

    Maybe we should answer these questions first? There has to be reason why brothers and sisters are being ‘fussy’ in the first place.

  16. Avatar

    Faraz

    June 16, 2008 at 1:38 PM

    “you’ll see the critiera of our brothers — young, light skinned, virgins.”

    I think that criteria is more from the parents of said brothers, not the brothers themselves. At least, the young and light-skinned part.

  17. AnonyMouse

    AnonyMouse

    June 16, 2008 at 1:49 PM

    Masha’Allah, excellent post!

    Although it doesn’t really apply to me, it certainly does apply for my friends… oftentimes, it’s parents who – out of concern for their children, jazahAllahu khair – make things so difficult. For example, one of them is going to university only because her parents want her to, and to kill time before marriage… yet at the same time, her parents won’t accept anyone without a higher degree than hers (or the one she’s going to get!). The others – still in high school, close to gradding – are considered too young by their parents; and as non-existent by the brothers looking to get married here.

    AlHamdulillaah that my parents have a “the sooner, the better” attitude! :D

  18. ibnabeeomar

    ibnabeeomar

    June 16, 2008 at 2:09 PM

    shirtman – you are going to change your last name?? i guess this is why you are shirtman and not pantman! lol sorry yaar i couldnt resist :P

  19. Avatar

    Muneeb

    June 16, 2008 at 2:14 PM

    well I don’t know but this article (and the news report) made the whole marriage thing a tad more complex.

    I think we should not drag out of the point. We are very much assured to the idea that early marriages are the key. It is something preached by our deen and this is something we should be looking forward to. MM should be asking married people to write articles related to marriages creating a level of excitement and pointing out the postiives of a married life and kids rather than some single in her mid 20s. Not being personal here but we all agree Islam encourages early marriages ..and so should our articles here.

  20. Avatar

    jinnzaman

    June 16, 2008 at 2:26 PM

    Assalamu alaikum

    Excellent post.

    masalama

  21. Avatar

    Hassan

    June 16, 2008 at 2:32 PM

    Can there be cultural aspect as well? I mean a guy from an average conservative punjabi family, regardless of education (his or potential wife) would want wife to manage and take care of home and kids, cook etc and be obedient to him and respectful. (thats what I wanted). Even if I had married a PhD or medical doctor, I would expect her to be same. So perhaps its a perception (or is reality?) that a PhD sister wont be able or would not want to do that. Why would he want to marry such girl (ofcourse not all men may think that way or do they?)

  22. Avatar

    Shirtman

    June 16, 2008 at 2:36 PM

    Ibn,

    YOU DONT TELL ME!

  23. Avatar

    Hassan

    June 16, 2008 at 2:36 PM

    Also, to think of it, just the statement from sisters that there are not enough good muslim men out there, shows that they look down upon brothers, imagine how the marriage would be if the sister enters with that mentality that my husband is less educated to me, who the hell he is to order me and expect me to be obedient to him.

  24. Avatar

    abc

    June 16, 2008 at 2:46 PM

    well. i am ‘fussy’ because I dont want to marry someone who will be insecure about me being as, or more qualified than them.
    The flip side as well is the expectation that if you are qualified, you don’t want kids, you won’t stay home to raise them, and that you are selfish about career aspirations. All assumptions made because I got an education, which I got because I love to learn, none of which are true.

    as for marrying early, i think that really depends from person to person. If you’ve been raised to be conscientious, mature and able to take responsibility at a young age, as a woman, then sure. sometimes though, and I see this with younger girls I am around all the time (15-18 age range), they do not know what responsibility is, not just about managing a home, but about fulfilling relationships. (For anonymouse, that doesn’t seem to apply, she seems to have the maturity beyond many women twice her age, a testament to good upbringing Masha Allah). Marriage is a big, no, HUGE, responsibility that requires a level of emotional maturity. looking back, had I been married at 18,7 years ago, i’d probably be unreasonable and insecure about a lot of things and made those crucial first years of marriage extremely hard for myself and my husband, and if he wasn’t a sensitive, patient man, would’ve led to a failure. a husband shouldn’t have to ‘raise’ his wife. To have blanket rules about the age of marriage, (18 too young, 26 too old) puts a lot of unnecessary pressure to be mature, take on responsibility against a clock, as opposed to truly growing into it.

    Also, in looking at failures, a big part of it, is just not paying enough attention to personal compatibility. Particularly in the west, people grow up, and therefore form their personalities in many different environments, with a different set of norms, neither of which are superior, just different. This leads to very different approaches to little things, and when matches are made based on very high level attributes: (hijab: check, good looking: check, he makes over $$: check, same ethnic background: check) you forget about other components such as temperament, attitude toward extended family etc which can cause some real problems. The other problem is parents not knowing their kids. or what their kids want in a partner, when picking out a spouse, and imposing what they ‘think’ they want, eventhough the kid may have a different idea, but doesn’t oppose it out of respect (particularly true for girls). These girls often feel trapped and disappointed and again, if they aren’t mature enough to adapt, can cause more problems.

    We also need to remove the stigma from divorce. its not liked, there’s no denying that, but its better than spending your life completely miserable. Women get trapped because ‘who would marry a divorcee’ (because she’s not a virgin anymore), but how an unhappy woman can raise children who aren’t affected by her state is something I do not understand.

    as for the code, that is BRILLIANT.

  25. Avatar

    Dawud Israel

    June 16, 2008 at 2:51 PM

    How many sisters would marry a younger brother? Would older sisters even consider that?

    But I’ve been thinking about this topic ALOT lately–subhana Allah great minds think alike!

    I think this might require some sociology research but if sisters met this criteria and didn’t willy-nilly run to get educated without thinking of what might happen, this could be resolved:

    1) They get their education, finish their program so they are not too old to be overlooked at SPECIFIC age when guys would actively look for them (i.e. age, maturity, education) OR pause their program until they get married–NO EXCUSES.

    In other words, “based on research, between the years of 20-23 a guy starts looking for a girl and a girl starts looking at the following age of 19-21 so it becomes a cultural standard that she pauses to get married within this time frame.” Once it becomes a “North American Muslim tradition” things will be more settled down and easy. It’s not really a good idea to let these things just run free–it would be good if Muslims set a convention so that this sort of un-marriage issue was resolved. Just like back home and the norms that are in place there–we need to get something like that going, but at the same time make room for education. We need to advance as an Ummah as well.

    2) Get engaged ahead of time (even 19-20) and then pursue education with the marriage in the bag. This way they can get as educated as they want–no limits. Again, this would be a convention that would simplify things. And it makes sense because no girl seems to consider marriage until she’s well into her 20’s–which is something that needs to change imo.

    3) FOUR WIVES!!! ALLAHU AKBAR!!!

    4) Older sisters marry younger brothers–I’ve already seen this happen with some Muslims and I think its not that bad of an idea. These couples are very very mature however–they are prepared for it too.

    5) Sisters here marry brothers back home (just as brothers marry sisters back home) but this probably won’t work cuz they will get even more intimidated than a Western Muslim male. Not to mention the Fob factors. You could also push some sort of law limiting immigrant women :P

    That’s all for now.

    Comment edited

  26. Avatar

    Raza

    June 16, 2008 at 3:13 PM

    who the hell he is to order me and expect me to be obedient to him.

    Women are not slaves and that’s not an issue of one’s level of education. I never finished college and I don’t put up with that with suitors. Other than on daytime TV court shows, it’s a very rare experience with non-Muslims to order women around and NO it’s not just because they want to be nice to you to get into your pants or because there’s some secret feminist agenda or influence. It’s about respect and understanding that a woman is a human being, not a prize, not a pet and not a tool to use. If you don’t like how a person is then you shouldn’t be with them. You don’t be with them and then tell them how to be and even how to feel and expect them to tailor themselves in that regard to your demands. It’s not really something that I’ve experienced with convert brothers and brothers who are thoroughly American in culture. Sorry, I don’t mean to come off harshly, it’s just something I’ve dealt with that was really shocking. It totally reminded me of how I had perceived Muslim men before I had converted to Islam and it let a huge sour taste in my mouth.

    To the article: The issue of education is not there for me. It’s mostly everything else about me heh. Like, I’ve never been told before by a handful of guys that if I am basically myself or share things about myself then I’m going to scare suitors away. Oddly enough, it never hindered my arranged marriage with my ex-husband. I was accepted for who I was, not judged or feared. I didn’t have to hide any aspect of myself or anything like that. It’s a really disheartening cultural phenomenon, in my opinion, that the reverse attitude is prevalent. The only thing I’ve heard from non-Muslim guys about “scaring guys away” is not to come off as desperate. Other than that if they don’t like something about you then you move on. The experience is also very different when you’re a convert. We don’t have any family help to be introduced to the nerdy cousin. I’d take a nerd any day! But in the Muslim community, I probably “scare them away.” :( So, you just get the kind of guys who aren’t shy with talking to a sister to begin with. Then there are a group of them who will act in ways in regards to the relationship that they wouldn’t have done had the meeting been arranged by family (i.e. basically easy to get taken advantage of). And then there is the best friend-wali who is not really looking out for your best interests to begin with. I’ve personally been told that in the Arab community age is a huge deal, though not so big of a deal with converts.

    Now, on the issue of working, I once had a brother be shocked when I said that I didn’t work, that I just take care of my child. So I think it’s a lose/lose situation in terms of expectations. That’s just a generalization though. But overall in Western society you are judged by what you do (in terms of work) and not who you are or what you accomplish overall. Sadly, being a full-time parent is not always considered to be good enough, even among Muslims. I think a part of that is because of a realization that they would have to support the woman and child 100% with nothing there to fall back on. At the same time, there is also this modern idea that being a stay-at-home-mom means you’re lazy unless you are married or a yuppie or whatever.

    I’m just speaking from my experiences, though. I’ve had some weird ones.

  27. Avatar

    IbnAbbas

    June 16, 2008 at 3:14 PM

    Assalaamu a’laikum wa rahmatullah.

    nice and funny post – mashallah!

    To be honest, compared to women, men are far too fussy about getting hitched to the RIGHT woman. One thing men often forget(or perhaps never realize) is the belief that they should be able to educate his potential wife in the best possible manner, if there is any element in her character and piety, he feels, is missing. And vice versa. has anyone thought about that?

    MR > thats a funny piece of coding. Are you sure, if you run the compiler, it won’t give any bugs and errors? lol

    p.s. that is my first post on MM blog. I have recently discovered this blog and I have been ready on the website for non-shop.. its been an awesome read so far! jazakallah khair to all the MM members :) Only if our kind shayyokhs were more active, although I know that they all must have a busy schedule.

  28. Avatar

    Dawud Israel

    June 16, 2008 at 3:36 PM

    Hehe I knew my post would get edited ! :P

    Let’s have an article about the single men by the MM staff and why they should marry older/educated Muslimahs in the West.

  29. Avatar

    Hassan

    June 16, 2008 at 3:39 PM

    Raza said:

    who the hell he is to order me and expect me to be obedient to him

    Women are not slaves

    Neither are children to parents.. and obedience are required by Islam from children to parents and wives to husbands.

  30. AnonyMouse

    AnonyMouse

    June 16, 2008 at 3:54 PM

    Re: issue of obedience to husband

    I think it has to do with HOW the husband “commands” his wife to do things… it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it. Treating your wife like a decent human being, taking her advice, etc. is going to make her a lot more liable to see things your way than if you’re arrogant and demeaning about it.
    As with everything else, just look to the Sunnah – how did the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) deal with his wives, even when they disagreed or disputed with him? Did he look down on them, treat them harshly, dismiss them callously? No way! So yah, Muslim men have the right of obedience over their wives, but Muslim women have the right to good treatment over their husbands.
    Balance, people… a good attitude and strong Taqwah is all you need.

  31. AnonyMouse

    AnonyMouse

    June 16, 2008 at 3:58 PM

    Let’s have an article about the single men by the MM staff and why they should marry older/educated Muslimahs in the West.

    ARE there any single men on the MM staff? I don’t think so…

  32. Avatar

    aH

    June 16, 2008 at 3:59 PM

    This post reminded me about a baba ali video on sisters wanting to find “Prince Charming”

  33. Avatar

    aH

    June 16, 2008 at 4:02 PM

  34. Avatar

    Hassan

    June 16, 2008 at 4:06 PM

    AnonyMouse, husband would be sinful if he treats her wife with bad behavior and wife would be sinful if she disobeys him

  35. Avatar

    Alima

    June 16, 2008 at 4:22 PM

    I see this with younger girls I am around all the time (15-18 age range), they do not know what responsibility is, not just about managing a home, but about fulfilling relationships.

    Hey, no generalisations!

    Great post, masha’Allah!

  36. Avatar

    Shirtman

    June 16, 2008 at 4:37 PM

    Women hate the part about obedience :) -apparently.

    The posts doubled after that one! ha

  37. Avatar

    sophister

    June 16, 2008 at 4:46 PM

    Good Stuff! I know many girls in this predicament. And it truly does suck. I will say though, there is a huge gap between practicing professional muslim women and men. The former out number the latter.

  38. Amad

    Amad

    June 16, 2008 at 5:03 PM

    Here’s my generalized bit (**bracing for a storm of criticism**):

    1)It seems a lot of desirable, good suitors are FOBs, usually those who came here for school. The ABD-FOB mentality wedge is tough to overcome. A highly educated ABD sister may make the FOB even more uncomfortable ;) Consider Hassan’s comments then. Though consider them with a grain of salt as he is right of avg fob :) (and I pretend to be left of avg)

    2) Women are born with lawyer skills. Natural, undeniable talent. So anything that sharpens this skill-set is quite scary. So biology and other natural sciences may be acceptable…but I mean a sister with a JD sends shivers down my spine. On the other hand, it could be beneficial to be married to such a sister, because you don’t even have to try to argue. Just give up before the argument ensues. Recipe for success (works with all wife-types but required with JD-types).

    Disclaimer:ok that was half-jest, half-serious. Whatever offends you was the jest part :)

    P.S. Anonymous, no need to give out marital status info. on the guy staffers… ;)

  39. Avatar

    Hassan

    June 16, 2008 at 5:16 PM

    Yes I am right FOB, and Amad is wrong FOB, he has broken the covenants of FOB secret society. :D

    Seriously, to all extremely highly educated sisters, and specifically to authour IMuslim, I have following questions:

    1. What defines good men? Does the definition change as you get higher in education? Like if you are high school, Bachelor Degree brother would be considered good, if Bachelors then Masters and if Masters then PhD and if PhD then PhD with nobel prize?

    2. Can there be good men you are willing to marry if they do not have as much as high education as yours?

    3. Are you willing to adjust to his lifestyle/needs?

    sophister said:
    Good Stuff! I know many girls in this predicament. And it truly does suck. I will say though, there is a huge gap between practicing professional muslim women and men. The former out number the latter

    Is there any survey done? I mean how have we concluded this that there are more good muslim women than good muslim men?

  40. AnonyMouse

    AnonyMouse

    June 16, 2008 at 5:25 PM

    What defines good men? Does the definition change as you get higher in education? Like if you are high school, Bachelor Degree brother would be considered good, if Bachelors then Masters and if Masters then PhD and if PhD then PhD with nobel prize?

    Maybe it’s just me and how I was raised, but a “good man” is defined not by his education, but by his Deen/ good character/ personality. My husband, for example, doesn’t have any one of those degrees; rather, his degree is in ‘Ilm, masha’Allah. Other than that, the next most important thing is that he can support us (us meaning wives) financially; either at a level that we’re used to/ comfortable with/ willing to sacrifice about, or a higher level than that. It doesn’t matter if he’s a doctor or a taxi driver, just so long as he can keep a roof over our heads, our bodies clothed, and our bellies full!

    BTW, this is a big thing my parents face when they try to do their matrimonial matchmaking – brothers may have good, steady jobs but aren’t highly educated or in serious academic fields… and they end up getting turned down by the girl’s family.

  41. Avatar

    Abū Ilyās

    June 16, 2008 at 5:26 PM

    * Too scared to comment *

  42. Avatar

    iMuslim

    June 16, 2008 at 6:35 PM

    Assalamu ‘alaykum wa rahmatullah

    Mezba: I remember reading your entry a while ago. I didn’t actually find it as controversial as you made it out to be in your intro. :)

    Omar: There is actually an opposing FB group titled “Muslim men who appreciate smart muslim chicks”! And it has twice the number of members… which I guess is a good sign?! Not sure how many of them are actually Muslim men though.

    Shirtman: Good for you, masha’Allah! Let’s hope you start a trend, insha’Allah.

    MR & other computer geeks: I was expecting this to be some kind of typical sexist joke, where the code for bros is 5 lines, and the code for sisters 200… haha.

    jamicam: There are people on both sides of the gender line that have unrealistic expectations. I know of some girls in my own community who really are looking for a Prince Charming figure!

    Ibn Masood: You’re correct. Some of us do have misplaced ideas of perfection that would not necessarily grant us a happy marriage, even if our spouses were blessed with such traits.

    AnonyMouse: Alhamdulillah… may Allah grant you success in your marriage. :)

    Muneeb: I agree… we should have more happy stories about marriages on MM. I certainly love a happy story! But we can’t brush problems under the rug, either. What are we going to do about the present situation? Plus, stories like mine – though not too depressing, alhamdulillah – should at least serve as an example of how not to do things.

    Jinnzaman: jazakallah bro. :)

    Hassan: I guess some brothers would be put off to marry women who they think would not be co-operative, due to their education. But is that the actual case? Are educated Muslim women less likely to make good, loving wives? What is the evidence to the contrary?

    abc: you make many good points… I think I agree with most of them, hehe. :)

    Dawud: I know many, many sisters who would certainly marry a younger brother, including myself. I think it is more the parents (of either party) who would be against the idea.

    Raza: Jazakallah for sharing your views, sis. There are some very interesting ones there, especially about how much you can be yourself! Some bros have been intimidated simply by the words I use when I speak, or by the fact that I have far too much to say in the first place. ;) I admire your dedication to raising your son, masha’Allah, and am shocked to hear how any suitor would think that is a bad thing.

    IbnAbbas: My personal stance is that I would like to improve myself with the support of my husband, and similarly I would like to provide him with support to improve himself. However, expecting someone to change after marriage is a little bit of a risk, IMO. Allah knows best.
    Jazakallah for your kind words regarding MM. We will take the comment about shayookh-written articles into account, though you are correct in pointing out how busy they are!

    aH: I watched that video when it first came out… as always Bro Ali has some “straight up” wisdom to share, masha’Allah.

    Alima: haha, I guess you must be one of those girls. How do you feel about getting married young?

    sophister: Interesting observation. I have heard that said about my own community in the UK. My mum (and other ‘aunties’) note that many young men in the community are not bothering with seeking higher education, and instead are opting to enter the job market without qualifications. I’m not sure if this is a reflection of the overall trend that girls do better in school than boys, especially those from ethnic minorities.

    Abdullah: I am sure you are correct… I know many sisters, myself included, who would not wish to work after having children, until they are older. For one, it is too hard to be a f/t mother and a f/t career woman! You don’t have to be married to see how much effort goes into raising a baby, subhanallah!

    Amad: I wasn’t offended cos apparently I am one of the “safe” ones, being a Bio major. :)

    Hassan… I would say AnonyMouse summed it up nicely, masha’Allah. I have never asked for a MSc, Phd or even a Nobel Prize, haha. I have admittedly been more keen on at least a Batchelors, simply for the reason of compatibility more than anything. I find I share more life experience with bros who have been through the higher education mill. It does change you. I also have found that some bros who have shunned that particular path are a little defensive when I bring up my own education, almost as if I was judging them just by mentioning it!

    Abu Ilyas: aww… the Smart Muslim women have struck again! :D

  43. Avatar

    themanoffewwords

    June 16, 2008 at 6:48 PM

    another marriage related post … >yawn<

    that’s it … you have inspired me to write a “the bright side of being single” post. Coming soon ….

  44. Avatar

    Alima

    June 16, 2008 at 7:14 PM

    ‘Alima: haha, I guess you must be one of those girls. How do you feel about getting married young?’

    haha I like to think so…well, alhamdulillah i don’t have the same problems as you guys…

    Marrying young… Insha’Allah it’s not a problem, if i want to i will i just have to make it my goal and really work on it. Unless i realise i have to i won’t do it, and approach my parents. I think that’s the problem with most sister’s today, they delay it due to education or their career and then it becomes a problem as the older you get, the more difficult it is to settle down, as brothers want a young wife and sisters want a mature, religious husband,

    lol – Same thing my dad tells me.

    So acknowledging this and understanding that at this young age i’m wearing the ‘rose coloured’ glasses, willing to change my lifestyle for someone, willing to make that Blink decision and go for it whereas as the years go by, the desire of marriage will fade out and i may have lifestyle i’m not willing to change.

    These are my thoughts, which have been shaped by my interactions with older sisters who are still not married and an article written by Sr. Heba Alshareef, which really me inspired me…

    And Allah knows best

  45. Avatar

    amad

    June 16, 2008 at 7:31 PM

    why another marriage post?
    Because socially I think there are very few issues that are more problematic and more difficult than Muslim marital issues in the West. The response these posts get, even if they are addressing different aspects of the same conundrum, is only an indication of how serious and important this issue is. As a blog, opening and furthering important discussions is always a nice objective.

  46. Avatar

    Dawud Israel

    June 16, 2008 at 7:33 PM

    ARE there any single men on the MM staff? I don’t think so…

    There are no single men on the MM staff…and yet there are single sister?!!?
    Where is the EQUALITY!!?!

    Essentially, she is seen to be more of a threat to the guy. Overall, older/educated sisters are a BETTER catch–if a guy is smart enough to realize this. The only thing a sister back home is that she requires less “effort” on the guys part. Or so is the perception.

    I know our femalocracy isn’t going to change (they are just too powerful!) so I think us brothers are going to have to do some changing. But honestly older sisters are really awesome too.

    1) They are smart and so they are more stimulating. More excitement. There is nothing more dull than an air-head sister. :P

    2) Your kids are going to be much much more mature and intelligent as a result of her being so multifaceted. There are stories of how the most smartest (clever, outspoken, go-getter) mothers raised some of the best leaders of this ummah. The older a sister is the smarter she should be but not always the case–even if she is a PhD, she could be a total ditz.

    3) The older a woman gets, the more ummm…”active” she becomes and so the more ummm…you should’ve learned this in school.

    4) They have the brains to flirt. Oh yeah.

    5) Rather than just complaining about problems–they are going to do something about it and have the know-how to do so successfully.

    6) Guys don’t say it but these girls are a big turn-on. I know brothers go very much gah-gah on for example, Yvonne Ridley just because she has some fight in her.

    7) She can fend her own. She doesn’t need her husband to come to the rescue when the store clerk is Islamophobic against her.

    8) Brothers can relax when they get sick or can’t get a job because she can support the household temporarily.

    9) Behind every great man is an even greater woman! :D

  47. Avatar

    Dawud Israel

    June 16, 2008 at 7:36 PM

    In summary, an older gal is a woman.
    But a younger girl is like a kid.

    Would a guy want a real woman or a kid as a wife?

    (Keep in mind although Aisha ra was young, she was VERY independent-minded AND the Prophet SAAWS loved her the most!)

  48. Avatar

    iMuslim

    June 16, 2008 at 7:46 PM

    Dawud, I attended a debate recently concerning Muslim women. Naturally the marriage issue came up… one of the panellists was an experienced counsellor, and she mentioned that young men (late teens – early 20s) and older women actually make very good couples. Also young men were more likely to marry these older, more experienced, women, because they were less bothered by societal norms.

    Your comment is proof of her theory. :)

  49. Avatar

    broken mystic

    June 16, 2008 at 7:46 PM

    There is a Soul for every created Soul. Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, said: “Men and women are twin halves of one another.” Everyone has a Twin Half, and mindfulness of Allah eventually leads to the one we are destined to be with.

    We are all walking on the open road and we must focus on our purpose here. Remain steadfast on this path and whenever the time is right, insha’Allah, you will find another who is walking from the other side of the road. This person is your Mirror, your Soul Mate. It’s matter of us opening our eyes and hearts to this Beauty too — Allah says He helps those who help themselves.

    True Love is when both husband and wife believe Allah to be their pillar of strength. True Love is to acknowledge that both husband and wife have been created for each other, and if problems should arise, they must reflect upon their Faith. That is the key to a healthy, happy, and successful marriage.

    True Love does not see “obedience” or “dependence” — these words get erased and mean nothing. True Love doesn’t see these things because both husband and wife are Lovers, and Lovers GIVE. They give what the other wants. They do not take. We live in a day and age where we are ashamed of admitting that we need each other. Many of us are afraid to say that we need someone, but the reality is that there is nothing wrong with that. When one is with the person they are meant to be with, they do feel no shame, no regret, no loss of self. What can go wrong when Lover is giving Beloved what he/she wants, and vice versa?

    This is what Allah does. He Gives, and He knows what each and every Heart wants. That’s what matters the most.

  50. Avatar

    Dunia's Stranger

    June 16, 2008 at 7:53 PM

    I don’t buy that “smart Muslim chicks who inexplicably scare off guy” rant.

    2 words: Sister Please!

    I don’t know where your living, but there are very many brothers who are educated and and on the deen (practicing the sunnah – i.e. wearing a beard) that are finding it hard to get married by their educated equivalent sisters, but the sisters always find a flaw in them (i.e. he seems like an extremist; he’s too old (30-35 is too old for a 25-30 year old sister? ok then)).

  51. Avatar

    iMuslim

    June 16, 2008 at 7:53 PM

    A very beautiful comment, broken mystic – jazakallah khair.

  52. Avatar

    iMuslim

    June 16, 2008 at 7:57 PM

    Dunia’s Stranger… you obviously have not experienced a true rant from me! My post was so not a rant… haha.

    I live in London, England. I don’t deny that sisters have their flaws… I am simply presenting one side of a multiple-sided argument. No need to get defensive, as I was not trying to make all brothers out to be bad guys. :)

  53. Avatar

    Shan

    June 16, 2008 at 9:02 PM

    Personally, I think it should not be as hard as it is.

    -Find someone you like
    -Find someone who you think will care about you and that you will care about
    -Find someone who appears to be conscientious of the world and our place in it
    -Pray
    -Trust your instincts
    -And endure 10 years of your parents–especially your mother– thinking you made the wrong choice!

  54. Avatar

    SarahH

    June 17, 2008 at 3:31 AM

    I loved this article, reminded me of the sisters I know in the same situation ;)
    Although alhamdulilah I have not yet reached the stage of “I have three Bachelor Degree’s , two masters, and one Phd” – I still find comfort in a comment someone told me recently which got me thinking.
    This wasn’t even coming from a Muslim sister (even tho she’s married to one!) told me that there is no such thing as “divorce” in her vocabulary. That relatives in her family live up to 90’s and 100’s. So what is it when you get married in your 20’s then divorce in your 40s? Its not even half your life that will get cut off – when technically you could be spending your entire life with this person and get over the petty selfish arguments.
    SubhanAllah it really struck home for me but also in another way as well, why should I be rushing to get married so early on? I have the rest of my life to get married!
    I understand that this is the way things are, and sisters and brothers are having a hard time getting married.
    I am reminding myself that I have lots of time to get married, regardless of the degree’s we have obtained and what age i will be (that too isn’t easy reminders) .
    My point is, don’t give up hope, have tawakul that Allah aza wa jaal will make it easy on all of you to get married in sha’ Allah. You have the rest of your LIVES to get married, no matter what science tells you :) A way to look at life optimistically even when the odds don’t look so great.
    (I totally agree with everyone’s comments, its a tough subject)

  55. Avatar

    Abu Ninja

    June 17, 2008 at 9:05 AM

    Nice post.

    This bit especially cracked me up..

    “Your mum gives you THAT look every time she receives news of a relative’s wedding.”

    lol

    Before I got married I often used to boast to friends and family that I would InshaAllah have at least two, if not three wives!

    However after having been married now for nearly three years, when I meet brothers and they ask me how long before I marry again, I find myself simply lowering my head ever so slightly, taking a deeep sigh and saying in tone that is devoid of any enthusiasm whatsoever, “one headache is enough.”

    No but serious, many brothers don’t realise the great responsibility of marriage. The rights that your wife has over you and which she deserves. It’s not a walk in the park people. However if both you and your spouse follow the guidance of Islam, InshaAllah Allah will bless your marriage. Also those who are looking for a partner, do not under estimate the power of dua. Make dua during sajood in salaat to Allah to bless you with a partner who is strong in their deen, upon the sunnah etc. You may also ask Allah for other qualities you are looking for in a partner, after you have asked for the most important quality, someone who adheres to Islam and has strong faith.

  56. Avatar

    abc

    June 17, 2008 at 10:27 AM

    Abu Ninja,
    Right on about the great responsibility- I feel like too many young people think getting married is the hard bit, and get complacent after they have a spouse and not work toward it. I know girls who expect that their husbands will cater to every whim and fancy of hers, and compromise isn’t part of the vocabulary, because they’ve been raised to be given everything by their fathers, and this causes conflict. Or the classic mother vs wife dichotomy, that is a universal issue in every culture, though some are worse than others. Young men need to realize the how much of a responsibility it is to bring someone into their family.

    As for older women/younger men, I wouldn’t object right on, but many women look for their husband for emotional support and comfort, and I wonder if younger men have that sort of maturity– isn’t it some sort of accepted fact that women mature quicker than men? I know i’d like someone significantly older than me, but that may be a personal preference. But it wouldn’t be a deciding factor, if everything else worked out.

  57. Avatar

    H. Ahmed

    June 17, 2008 at 10:48 AM

    Great Post.

    I believe another major issue is a lack of real networking and lack of communities where compatible potential spouses can be introduced to one another.

    And i disagree with those who are complaining about having “too many marriage related posts”. This is probably the most important topic for young Muslims – and marriage is a very important issue that our leaders must address.

  58. Avatar

    SAA

    June 17, 2008 at 5:49 PM

    A much needed post, indeed!

    Regarding education amongst the brothers, I am not sure if it is just me, but I have noticed that a lot of brothers born and raised here tend to stop after their bachelors (again, this is just my observation, may or may not be true). While on the other hand, there are brothers who have come here after their bachelors and go on for their masters and phD’s and are alhamdulillah pretty successful (both in seeking secular knowledge and islamic knowledge). So my thinking is leading me to believe that perhaps it might not be as bad of an idea to marry someone who was not born and raised here because they are pretty well acculturated, considering how they went to school here and are well adapted to the culture and such (although i do also believe that the education you receive during your childhood is important as it lays the foundation for the rest of your life). This is just a suggestion…maybe we just need to be open-minded and give everyone a fair chance before we fall in the trap of shaytaan and start stereotyping people and label them as ABCD’s or FOB’s or ABCA’s.

    I can’t agree enough with Abu Ninja. our best bet indeed is our du’a in sujood, asking Allah azza wa ‘jal for His guidance. someone once told me, when you are ready to get married, don’t just ask Allah azza wa ‘jal for patience, ask him for patience in addition to asking Him for making this whole process easy for you (and am sure those with experience can attest how this whole process can be difficult both before and after marriage).

    wallahu musta’an!

  59. Avatar

    iMuslim

    June 17, 2008 at 9:43 PM

    Alima: Masha’Allah, it seems like you have really thought about it. May Allah help you make the right decisions, ameen.

    Shan: Only 10 years? ;)

    SarahH: I do love your optimism, sis. It’s true that it will happen when it happens… I guess natural desires for companionship and family do grate sometimes, and in forgetting that, we become all sulky. I’m not sure what you mean about Science though… one of the pitfalls of women marrying late (by that I mean late-30s onwards) is significantly reduced fertility. It varies for different groups and backgrounds… but that is something to keep in mind.

    Abu Ninja: Does Umm Ninja read MM? Not sure how much she would appreciate being referred to as a “headache”?! How endearing! But yes, dua is sooo important; jazakallah for the reminder.

    abc: Women do mature faster, but I think the point was that a significantly older woman – let’s take the example of the Prophet, peace be upon him, and Khadija, radiallahu ‘anha, 25 vs 40 yrs – is more emotionally independent, compared to a 25 yr woman, and wouldn’t need as much support. Allahu ‘alam.

    H.Ahmed: What do you think of modern day solutions to the problem you described, such as online matrimonial sites and marriage events? Alhamdulillah, I am part of a relatively well-connected community (at least in terms of ethnicity: Gujaratis!) so it has not been so difficult finding news of potential brothers, masha’Allah. Thus I find marriage events and such a little unnatural – almost forced. But not sure of what the alternative is?

    SAA: I think cultural compatibility is important. It doesn’t mean that husband and wife have to come from the same ethnic background, but I think they should be aware of cultural differences, especially when it comes to gender roles.

  60. Avatar

    HM

    June 17, 2008 at 9:44 PM

    Assalam-u-alaikum,

    To be honest, I feel people who are not married yet truly do not have a clear concept of marriage.
    By this, I do not mean that everyone fits into this category, however, if you are NOT married, it doesn’t matter how old you are.
    You just can’t know what the reality of marriage is all about.

    Firstly, I do not understand the relation between a ‘high’ level of education and marriage. Education and marriage are two different things. To be a good spouse, you need to be a good Muslim, and you need to have good Ikhlaaq (manners/conduct). If you are lacking on any one of these two things, there will be problems.

    As for education, that can be gained throughout life. You do not need to do it before marriage. It can be done even after. I just don’t understand how or why education plays such a major role in people excepting or rejecting a marriage candidate. Marriage in not about both man and woman being PHDs together. You don’t need that stuff in your personal life. Its more of a close/intimate relationship, and as long as both have good deen and good character, these little things such as wordly education/slightly different thoughts aren’t going to make or break a relationship.

    The bottom line is, Allah has created a spouse for all of us, and when the time is right, Allah will give that person to us. For some of us, that time comes early. For others, the time comes later. And for some, being alone and single is their test in this world (we all have our tests), and Allah will bless them with good spouses in Jannah, inshaAllah…however, we should do our part. Marriage is the Sunnah of Muhammad (s), and we should make it easy on ourselves. Choose a person with good deen, and good character, and inshaAllah, you will be on the right track.

    I would like to add a point here though. From my experience (and I am a woman), there are far more ‘good’ men (from an Islamic perspective) than women in my area, and it is the MEN who have a very difficult time finding the right wife. Many of them have married and ended in divorce because their wife was a nightmare, characterwise.

    It is only natural for people to want to marry young, and Islamically speaking, if one is mature and responsible enough, one should get married at a younger age. How many men out there want to wait until their are in their late 20s/early 30s to finish their PHD’s and marry a girl with a PHD? Its unlikely. Most young couples I know married in their early twenties, with BOTH the man and woman being in their early 20s. At that age, most people don’t already have a high level of education, but that does not prevent them from living happy lives together.

  61. Avatar

    Shirtman's Wife

    June 18, 2008 at 1:33 AM

    This is Shirtman’s Wife and I would just like to tell all the men and women who’ve commented on this post that there is a fine balance between your married life and your professional/eduational life. Mashallah my husband and I are both in school, we help each other at home, do other recreational things together, work on our deen together, and plan on raising good Muslim kids together inshallah. We didnt get married young or old – we are 22 and 26 and I think thats a perfect age. You’ve accomplished the minimum you need to get a good job and take care of each other – and the higher education you want can be continued after you get married.

    Most men and women have too many demands in what they want in a spouse – make this much money, look this way, be obedient to me, cook me 3 meals a day, buy me $2000 purses – this is all superficial and not the key to a happy or longterm marriage. Respect each other, love each other, care for each other, and never forget the roles and responsibilities given to a man and woman in Islam. When our new generation of Muslims starts doing this, we will begin lowering the single and divorce rate amongst Muslims.

    Just a little bit of advice from us.

    Oh and my husband is not changing his name to my last name! Someone asked him if he was going to just because I happen to be in law school? It just shows the type of negative thinking people have not just about educated women, marriage, and the roles of the spouses in a marriage. We cant go forward if we dont learn to respect each other. And that respect includes not just the 2 spouses – but also your respective families.

  62. Avatar

    imran

    June 18, 2008 at 6:07 AM

    Its not just Muslim issue…..

    Why do men find the female breadwinner utterly terrifying?

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-1026972/Why-men-female-breadwinner-utterly-terrifying.html#comments

  63. Avatar

    UmA

    June 18, 2008 at 10:20 AM

    Personally I think my prority list for my chilren’s future spouses would be
    1)deen
    2)people skills
    3)strong sense of ownership for their responsibilities

    some phd’s may have the above while some may not

    imuslim: do you find that people who have been in academia for long periods tend to have a hard time developing people skils?

  64. Avatar

    H. Ahmed

    June 18, 2008 at 12:35 PM

    hmmm… Modern Day solution to the problem of networking/meeting people…. ur asking the wrong guy, lol, im a 25 year old single grad student.

    I also have found those marriage events/sites unnatural – but i know of ppl who have met their significant others thru websites and at these events – so who are we to criticize…

  65. Avatar

    Farzeen

    June 18, 2008 at 9:07 PM

    Assalaamu’alaykum wa rahmatuLlah

    HM, your comment resonated with me.. thank you sister for your sharing your refreshing thoughts.

  66. Avatar

    Abbas123

    June 19, 2008 at 2:04 AM

    Assalamu-Alaikum,

    Mashallah Sister iMuslim a very good post.

    I was wondering if you guys could give me some advice:

    I like this girl. She likes me. We would like to get married. We met at one of those ISNA Marriage Match-Making sessions so it’s not like we were dating, but met each other for the purpose of marriage.

    However, for some very stupid reason her dad is saying no.

    We are both adults (over 25 years old) who live in America who are capable of making our own decisions in life. We both share pretty much the same views on life.

    We are planning on having her run away from home and get married without her father’s permission because that’s the only way for us to be together.

    What do you all think? Should we seek Allah’s help and do this?

  67. Avatar

    iman

    June 19, 2008 at 2:27 AM

    Asalamu Alaykum,

    JazakiAllahKhair for the post!
    Great.. I always thought i was alone in this.. good to know it’s a universal problem!

  68. Avatar

    Abu Ninja

    June 19, 2008 at 6:28 AM

    Abbas123 said,

    We are planning on having her run away from home and get married without her father’s permission because that’s the only way for us to be together.

    What do you all think? Should we seek Allah’s help and do this?

    Brother I advise you, as your brother who only wishes good for you, do not take such an action.

    The Prophet (sallalahu alayhi wa sallam) said, which is reported in an authentic hadith, that it is not permissible to marry a girl without her walis permission.

    I advise you to not be hasty akh. Work on the father. Try to win over his heart. I myself had similar problems when I married my wife, her father would not agree because I belonged to another clan (yes we Ninjas also have different clans/castes). However I went on Umrah, made strong dua to Allah. Then when I returned my imaan was really high and I put my complete trust in Allah. My mother told me one day that she was a little concerned that they (my wife’s family) may say no and refuse. I told my mother, I made dua to Allah sincerely from my heart and I have complete trust in Allahs decision. If Allah decides that I am meant to marry this woman, then Allhamdulillah. And if Allah decides that it is not meant to be, then Allhamdulillah. My mother was really surprised by my answer, as she knew how much I wanted to marry this girl.

    But honestly in my heart, if the family turned around and said no, I was completely content in my heart as I had that much tawakkul in Allah that he will decide what is best for me.

    Then a short while later, the father who had been expressing his hatred of my clan (caste) for years changed his mind, even to his own family’s surprise and agreed to marry his daughter to me.

    An now Allhamdulillah, my headache (wife) and me have wonderful marriage. I had a simple wedding in the masjid, the women were in another venue completely to avoid any free mixing whatsoever. And Allhamdulillah shortly after our marriage, Allah blessed both me and my wife to go on umrah together with the money we saved by not having a huge extravagant wedding (which has become somewhat of the norm today) and thus not earning the displeasure of Allah.

    So my brother Abbas I advise you to be patient, make dua to Allah, perform good deeds and then put all your trust in Allah, knowing in your heart that Allah is the best of all planners.

    Wasalaam

    Abu Ninja

  69. Avatar

    iMuslim

    June 19, 2008 at 6:56 AM

    Wa ‘alaykum salam wa rahmatullah

    Jazakallah khair Abu Ninja for stepping in… I agree 110% with the above advice, and it’s even more potent coming from someone who has been there and done that. Please take heed, Abbas123: running away will make the situation even worse. It is not fair to the father who raised a daughter, nor to the daughter whose relationship will be forever tarred by the deed. Just imagine: how heart broken would you be if your son or daughter ran away from home – especially because of something you did or did not do? Do not think it could not happen to you, a’authobillah.

  70. Avatar

    iMuslim

    June 19, 2008 at 7:23 AM

    A special jazakallah khair to the married sisters (the not so scary chicks, hehe) that have offered their advice. It really is very useful and inspiring to hear from those who are “living the dream”.

    But something I am a little disappointed in, is that people keep on mentioning the best age to get married (i.e., the earlier the better). That is great advice in itself, masha’Allah, no denying. But… what about people like me who are way past that age now? It does rub salt in the wound somewhat! But I understand where you guys are coming from. :)

    Also, personally, I have been on the hunt for a few years now… it is true that I was not interested in marriage until around the age of 23. But that was for reasons which I explained in the entry. I had a very different mindset to what I developed after becoming a more conscious Muslim. I was literally terrified of marriage. I am not sure whether other sisters delay their marriage plans for the same reasons. Mine had little to do with career ambitions. Even my parents never asked me to do go so far! So why are sisters so afraid to commit?

    Even if one has plans for further education – as some have noted above – marriage shouldn’t get in the way of that. But it does many times… either husbands don’t like the idea, or cannot finance the idea (though her father/wali may be able to – would guys be okay with that?), or she starts her family and perhaps loses motivation after her children are old enough for her to return to college. Allahu ‘alam.

    But I do wonder how many sisters actually delay their marriage solely due to their desires for education, and not because of some underlying fear of what marriage means for them personally?

    UmA: Inspite of the cliché that is the geeky, socially awkward, graduate student, most of the people I have met through academia have been quite personable, masha’Allah. In my field, and perhaps most academic fields, students often have to give lectures and seminars, and attend colloquiums to meet other academics. So one has to have some level of social skill to network effectively. I think there are few scientists these days who fit the hermit-stereotype – they wouldn’t survive! :)

  71. Avatar

    TheSussist

    June 19, 2008 at 4:18 PM

    At the end of the day

    Make plenty of dua and hope for him to pop out the corner

    I personally think “smart Muslim chicks” are the best thing that ever happened to the world

    As far as you being educated and earning alot more, you needt o ensure you don’t ever talk about your salary

    If you are earning alot more, ensure you buy him a nice car and take him on holiday

    And ensure at the same time, you behave like a housewife when you’re at home and make him feel like the Man, the Lion of the household

    And behave in a fragile lovely manner

    Even if you are bloody ballsey.

    You’re contentment and satisfaction in who YOU are should always help in lowering yourself to him, especially if he’s not as edcuated

    As long as you never go on about your educatioand salary, you should be able to find the right man inshaAllaah. Provided all youre minly looking for is deen and not a rich man.

  72. Avatar

    Muhammad

    June 19, 2008 at 10:25 PM

    Islam has the answer but the muslim sisters have become too ‘westernized’ to notice it. Interestingly, they continue to quote the Prophet PBUH and the Sahaha but fail to see how life is lived. As Ali RA stated, majority of us will wake up after we have died. And that will be too late!

    There are muslim men who meet your reqs but how many of you single sisters would consider being a second wife?

  73. Avatar

    Seeker7

    June 20, 2008 at 1:51 AM

    Do you all get these comments in your inbox? Must be a pain, 73..I mean, 74 new emails for every comment! :)

  74. Avatar

    HalfDeen

    June 20, 2008 at 3:38 AM

    Nice writing, ma-sha-Allah.

    IMHO, the best way for brothers to find a wife is to close their eyes and bump into someone, otherwise they’ll remain picky (and single).

  75. Avatar

    abuAbdulla82

    June 20, 2008 at 10:46 AM

    Interesting topic….May Allah bless everyone for participating.

    I am going to stand with my brother Hassan — who has been described as a leftist FOB :P

    The reality of the matter is that Allah gave both men and women certain responsibilities and priorities that we are supposed to follow if we want to fulfill our purpose in life — to worship and serve Allah.

    Men are supposed to be the leaders, enjoin the good and forbid the evil, take care of the family financially and spiritually, take shura in their homes and in the society, and treat their wives kindly according to the sunnah of the Prophet (peace be upon him)

    Women are supposed to make their families and their homes the primary focus. Allah in the Quran tells women to remain in your homes. This does not mean that it is haram for them to leave but scholars say that if she leaves the home it should be for good reason. The home is supposed to be her abode. SubhaanAllah….women would come to the prophet peace be upon him and be jealous of the men because they get to go to jihad and either become martyrs or return victorious….the Prophet said: “YOUR STRUGGLE TO BE A GOOD WIFE EQUALS ALL OF THAT.” Allahu Akbar…. In other hadiths it is narrated that “Your struggle to be a good wife equals the reward of someone standing all night in prayer and fasting all day”. Allahu akbar……Another women once asked the prophet a questions and he asked her if she was married. She said that she was and the prophet asked her how she was with her husband. She said that she does everything for him according to her capacity. The prophet told her: “Always be aware of your position with him because he is your jannah or your fire”. In another hadith…”any women who dies and her husband is pleased with her will enter jannah”. And yet another hadith regarding women: “if a woman prays her 5 prayers, fasts her month, gurards her chastity, and obeys her husband she will be told TO ENTER JANNAH FROM ANY DOOR YOU WANT

    The problem is that in many cases women want to compete with men. I have heard women say that there is really no need for men because women can do everything that men can do……at least almost :)

    I have heard of religious women who neglect their husbands because they are off GIVING HALAQAS, teaching classes, or attending seminars. COME ON…..we have to properly understand Islam and submit to Allah and the sunnah of the prophet.

    I am sorry for the long post but this is something that i am very emotional about…..I met a Christian women on the airplane and she was about 27 with a BA degree and she had a very traditional view on marriage. her perspective was that the husband was the leader and that the wife should lovingly obey the husband. when i told her that although this is the correct muslim perspective, some muslim women give priority to classes and seminars over their husbands, she said that these actions will most likely NOT BE ACCEPTED. I was so surprised, I told her you would make a great muslim….and her name was KHADIJA…may Allah guide her.

    Anyway, I know a lot of great brothers who are looking for traditional wives who will put her husband and family first. I don’t care of she is a noble prize winning rocket scientist, as long as she makes her first priority her husband and making sure that he is happy and her kids then inshaAllah she will be on a rocket to the highest levels of Jannah and that should always be the focus….let us not forget.

    salaam alikum

  76. Avatar

    Abdullah Brown

    June 20, 2008 at 11:38 AM

    Assalamu alaykum.

    Of note is the fact that Western academics have been tracking for years steady declines in the numbers of men relative to women who are applying to college and completing degrees. There have been conferences addressing the subject and considerable hand-wringing. Interestingly, non-Muslim Western academics, far from being elated at the educational advancement of women, are concerned and are struggling to understand what this will mean for society down the road. Whether such concern is well-placed or not would be the subject for another discussion. The point is that this is a universal phenomenon in the West, not one limited to the Muslim community. As for solutions, Western academics are suggesting educational separation of the sexes from a relatively young age, recognizing that boys seem to do better academically and maintain greater long-term interest under such conditions.

  77. Avatar

    iMuslim

    June 20, 2008 at 10:23 PM

    Wa ‘alaykum salam wa rahmatullah

    TheSussist: I understand the point you make about ‘bowing’ to the natural male ego. It’s not necessarily something one likes to do, but I guess marriage is about mutual sacrifice. For instance, men probably get sick of having to constantly reassure their wives that they are not getting fat, or wrinkly. Remember, small lies between couples are allowed in Islam, haha. :)

    Muhammad: I really don’t want to open the worm can of polygamy on this thread! I think those who are open to it know who they are, and those who do not think they are suited to it, know who they are.

    Seeker7: No, I subscribe to the comments feed for this post, so I get them in my feed reader. The wonders of technology!

    HalfDeen: I don’t really want to bump into any kind of man, or have them bump into me, thanks! I think there are better ways to deal with pickiness. :)

    abuAbdulla82: I get your point, but I guess the issue is why should it be automatically assumed that an educated women would not put her family first?

    Abdullah Brown: Jazakallah for that information. Speaking from personal observation, many teenage boys seem to display an attitude where it is “cool” not to be an academic achiever, perhaps out of frustration at their own lack of progress. Whereas girls have more pride in their academic achievements, or at the least, they do not downplay their significance. So even the popular girls can be top of the class, and not have their “reps” affected. Not sure if the same can be said for teenage boys.

  78. Avatar

    Qas

    June 21, 2008 at 1:54 AM

    (quote)
    So even the popular girls can be top of the class, and not have their “reps” affected. Not sure if the same can be said for teenage boys.
    (/quote)

    Sigh…very true.

  79. Avatar

    Brother

    June 21, 2008 at 1:02 PM

    Assalamwalikum,

    nice post. I personally have no problem with education. I think education is just the way which keeps the mind of a person busy and helps grow certain faculties of mind very important both as muslim and also as a descent humand being. Having said that someone only with degrees and witout Deen/akhlaq is also uttely useless cuz then knowlesge without deen is like a car without the engine. Anyhow…alhamduliah I thnk its better to keep learning new stuff both deen and dunia and keep ur brains busy then keep them idle cuz ” empty brain is devil’s workshop”. I myself have no problem if my wife is Phd or even post doc and me being wht I am now ( graduate degree , in worldly measuements) as long as she knows wht her prioroties her in life in terms of islam. I also agree wth the author that just cuz the wife is educated doestn mean that necessarily be careeristic person. Its possible that she might be working aftet the the kids are grown up or sometime before the kids are born and so forth and raise the kids full time whn they are young. I mean the important thing is the balance. I myself think an educated mom ( both in terms of deen and dunia) can be a better role model/guide for the kids than otherwise. Alhamduliah I thnk that if the wife is PhD or educated then it might actualy help me pursue my PHd ambition (although I am working now Alhamduliah!!!)as she might be more undestandable of the situaltion and be able to provide me the right support. I see no conflict with eduction and marriage and being a gud wife. The crux of the deal is that if the person that u are marrying has the right attitude and is a gud person by the virtue of deen, heart and mind then her degree will not make her any worse , rather it might actually make her better. Anyhow…..enuf blabbering….. I hope Allah(swt) grant all the single muslims their rigth match including me :). Also just wanted to conclude that I agree that its gud to get married soooner than later as the whole life is a learning process and one can also go to school even after marriage….cuz one very crucial thing esp. for older women is that(we like it or not but its medically true ) its harder to conceive the baby and all other physical and natual problems/restrictions comes up and unlike male who hit those symptoms a little later into the age just by the virtue of the way how we have been created. So I thnk its very importatn to keep all these practical issues in mind besides other things and not just delay things for MR perfect. ………

    wassalam

  80. Avatar

    Um Hana

    June 21, 2008 at 1:15 PM

    Assalaamu Alaykum,

    A “good wife” to her husband is one that pleases him. This can take many shapes and forms. As diverse as diversity of men. Some men prefer a wife at home cooking all day. Others would not like that.

    I suspect a lot of men simply don’t know what they want. Or they have an expectation – usually taught to them by their mothers and sisters – about what they should like, then they don’t really like it. They never really learned to listen to their own individual hopes and desires for a wife and marriage. I think they get frustrated and end up blaming their wives for failing to live up to a set of expectations that the husbands themselves are ambivalent and confused about in the first place.

    Men can suffer from stereotypes of what they should like, versus what they naturally prefer. For example, they may actually prefer taller, larger women, but be affected by societal norms that say they should prefer a thinner woman who is shorter than them. Or a younger woman, a quiet woman, a brainy woman, etc. Some men will prefer an intellectual woman who like to give halaqas and would not feel this is neglect. Other men will prefer a dedicated homemaker who never cracks open a book.

    A man should know it is part of his right to select the wife that will please him in the kind of home he likes. Whether that is the loud, funny wife who is constantly chatting, cooking, making phone calls, screaming at the kids, but he somehow finds her exciting and endearing. Or the quiet, reserved wife who likes attending lectures, makes a meal in 20 minutes, doesn’t clean particularly well but is a great listener and adviser; he finds great comfort and safety in her.

    Unfortunately, I’ve known quite a few cases of a husband and wife who got on very well, until the husband started listening to other brothers and accepting their criticisms of how he was running his home. “You should be more strict”, “You let your wife talk to you like that?” “Brother, you spend too much on your wife – this will spoil her”, etc.

    I think this is unmanly. It is unmanly to stick your nose into other men’s households and start criticizing what is going on. It is unmanly to let another man stick his nose into your household or let others run your household for you.

    If there is a real problem in the marriage, go to a real scholar and get some real advice and religious direction. Not from your brother at the masjid whose name you don’t even know. This is insulting.

    Run your household. Don’t run what’s -his-name’s household.

    Marry the kind of woman you like. If she is older, great. If she is fat, alhamdulillah. If you like a chatty woman, Subhan Allah. If you like a quiet woman, Allahu Akbar. If you like 5-star cuisine served to you at 6pm on the dot every night, then find that woman. If you don’t care if you get spaghetti 5 nights in a row and eat out the other 2 nights, or if you like to cook – and there are quite a few brothers out there who like to cook – then find a woman whose sense of self-worth does not revolve around her cooking.

    I say, “Vive la difference”. But be realistic. We are only human wives here. We are not in jennah yet.

  81. Avatar

    Alima

    June 21, 2008 at 1:20 PM

    BWT – Masha’Allah great comments, loads of lessons :)

  82. Avatar

    Abdullah

    June 22, 2008 at 12:29 AM

    Interesting and preplexing stuff here :-()

    I am a little confused though. Are we taling about Islam or Americanised Islam. If its Islam, I would like to know what profesioon Allah chose for women since He created them. The last time I checked it out her first professon is making a home a place of tranquility.Where in islam are we told that a woman is smart by having a JD or PhD. Or are we smarter than Allah to help define who is smart or not. Do not forget the female astronaut who did stupid things liek kdinapping another person . Not to forget the hundreds of thousands of ‘smart women’ like her who get drunk and do other stupid things

    What we seem to have done/are doing is to have taken Islam into a high tech lab in say Havard, remvoed some of it original genes, grafted in the ones we feel are cool by our standards more lilke a genetically modifined food or the genetically engineered pets people buy these days – and yet we still want to call it islam.

    Describing muslim sisters as chicks also relfects a deep level of depravity. Were they described like this by their Creator? Its even worse to now show the picture of real chicks in the post. How can we stood so low? Why? Because we have lived in environments that encourage describing women with the name of animals – bitch , chicks, etc. Have we strayed from the path so much that we cannot see falsehood as falsehood. Rather we feel chique to call our sisters chicks. This reminds one of Soorah Tin were we are told that we have been created in the best of form but late rbecome debased. Chicks are used by men to describe women to intermingle with men in a manner that is at the very least derogatory…..Check this source out. http://wiki.answers.com/Q/From_where_did_the_slang_use_of_the_word_chick_originateIs there not one amongst you whois s giuded

    IMuslinm says: abuAbdulla82: I get your point, but I guess the issue is why should it be automatically assumed that an educated women would not put her family first? The rbother should sincierely probe himself and ask: Is the sort of ‘smartness’ and education they spend a large part of their youth in getting the type that prepares them to put her family first? Or establish a muslim home? Gimme a break Lets face reality and stop avoiding the truth. The educational system -for males and females- does not in anyway prepare them or even the men to achieve a home that will place seeking the pleasure of Allah as #1 priority. No. What we hear is: my career, my profession and all stuff.

    We really need to ask Allah to make us truly submissive to Him and not Islam being submissive to our American chicky ways

    Abdullah

  83. Avatar

    Abdullah

    June 22, 2008 at 12:46 AM

    One more thing

    “I think the only people who avoid this pride trap are those who don’t attach their self-worth to their careers, or other worldly markers of success. The best of whom was the Prophet Muhammed, sallalahu ‘alayhi wa salam, as exemplified by his decision to accept the proposal of Khadija, radiallahu anha – a very successful business woman, masha’Allah.”

    Its really sickening to find sisters and brothers stretching the seerah to fit their whims and always using Hadhrat Khadijah radiyallaahu anhaa- as evidence for their deviation from the sunnah. We fail, intentionally or otherwise, to look at the later part of Islam were laws were codified and replaced the happenings in Madinah. We just pcik what we seem to like as if Islam were a buffet dinner! Fatimah, the daughter of the Prophet and Khadijah- was not relieved of her duties to Ali’s household though such were stressful to her. The first place for a woman is her duty at home : if it were not, the Prophet would have relieved his daughter of such duties and given her a slave as she did request. What is even more sickening is that those who know this keep quiet…they will be asked about their knowledge on a day smart chciks and bachelord degrees are of no use

    • Avatar

      sarah

      June 16, 2009 at 6:51 PM

      Salaam brother Abdulla,
      I appreciate your comments about educated Muslim women. Our first priority should be our families and home. That is why I work. I am a Muslim woman with 2 college degrees alhamdulliah. When I met my husband he was a high school graduate. So what. I married him for the sake of Allah (swt). When we married his salary could not support our family. Alhamdulliah with my education and career, I am able to relieve him of a burden and contribute to the well being of our family including-putting our school age children in a private Islamic school instead of the horrible local public school. Since we have been married I have been able to sponsor and support my husband in attending trade school. We both work in and out of the home. Our children ask for dad’s famous baked chicken and rice on most nights. I love my husband because he works hard and loves Allah. My husband’s ego is not a problem. He supports my education and career. I support him as well. Recently, I had the swine flu and was hospitalized, alhamdulliah, my husband took great care of our children and home and went to work. May Allah reward him. I was able ro relax and get better because I knew that our children were in the best of care. Marriage is about sacrifice and love. I did not have a big marriage ceremony with a big ring. But I got a wonderful and supportive (and romantic) husband who brings home the halal bacon with me and we cook it TOGETHER. If we say that Muslim women can not work-what about Muslim men who do not have the means to support a family? Should these men not be able to marry?

  84. Avatar

    Ammar Diwan

    June 22, 2008 at 2:53 AM

    @ iMuslim:

    You said to abuAbdulla82: “I get your point, but I guess the issue is why should it be automatically assumed that an educated women would not put her family first?”

    It’s assumed because it is generally true. It’s quite obvious that a person who spends 4 years working towards a degree in X field will have a higher desire to pursue a career (in that field). This usually causes problems as parents usually have children early in the marriage. If not in the first 3 years, not long after that. If the wife takes up a job she just got, it will be harder for her to quit after just a few years (just when she is getting promotions!). Indeed, many Muslimas just choose to dump their kids in a daycare and continue working.

    Ironically, the very article you quote describes one man as “open-minded and progressive.” I wonder if this is the man that had no problem with his wife working? ;)

    Reading the whole article, you can easily get the feeling that men who prefer that their wives don’t work are “backward” and “closed-minded.” Of course, the article just throws out Islamic principles when this point is mentioned.

    It is not a generalization to assume that sisters with masters and PHDs are more interested in careers than in being housewives (ah look it’s the wonderful derogatory word of our times!)

    Just to clarify in advance before I get a 100 muslimahs calling me names: I’m not saying women should not go to college. My intent was to respond to iMuslim’s specific comment towards abuAbdulla82

  85. Avatar

    Hassan

    June 22, 2008 at 9:34 AM

    iMuslim said:
    …but I guess the issue is why should it be automatically assumed that an educated women would not put her family first?

    It was assumed in same statistics that assumed that there are more “good” muslim women out there then “good” muslim men.

  86. Avatar

    amuslimah

    June 22, 2008 at 4:55 PM

    Abdullah, brother if you perhaps were a bit soft in your advice, it would be easier to follow.

    As for your assertion about the home being the first place, you have to realize that for a lot of women, they are not confined to their home because of kids or kids that are older or perhaps they’ve gone away to college. A woman then quickly just finishes up her chores at home and has alot of time to give to society. Example: aisha was a teacher. Some women may have help at home, this is the case for a lot of sisters back home in Pakistan or saudi for instance. Also you have to understand that having a degree means having education. Education, if its regular / secular education as opposed to an islamic degree is not something to be looked down upon.

    I also feel that perhaps you are not married. I am married with two young kids and I’ve seen first hand the need for good professional and practicing Muslim gynecologists, anesthesiologists, etc.

    During my last labor, I came to a point where I could not go on any longer after hours of long labor. And I opted for an epidural. Do you know who gave me the epidural? Yes, it was a man. Believe me not all women are married. Everyone’s situation is different. Sometimes when we talk about women, its as if we are only talking of women within a certain age bracket, w/ specific unsaid circumstances that only apply to the women between 20 and 38 or so who are married. This is not realistic. For instance, I know of a morrocon sister who is single and works in a dentist’s office. Should this sister quit her job and stay home? Should she not pursue any knowledge? Should everyone leave their professions and their education and only study Islam? Is that what Islam calls for? Can a muslim state be established if all we have is islamic scholars and no other profession? That would be a very narrow minded view.

    Now it could be that I am read more into your post than you meant. In that case, I apologize. However, either way, I’d like to assert what i’ve said here :-)

  87. Avatar

    Um Hana

    June 22, 2008 at 7:06 PM

    Assalaamu alaikum,

    The sahabiyat had many “professions” some based inside the home, some not. Teachers, nurses on the battlefield, traders, craftspeople.

    This does not negate the place of the home for women. At this time in fact there are more and more opportunities for professional work from home.

    In addition, women should “professionalize” their motherly and wifely duties. Can we become more excellent in our roles? Yes, I think we can. I know women who spend their days chatting for hours on the phone while they do their laundry and cooking. Their husbands are happy because their wives are at home. But what about all the gossiping and complaining going on in the midst of the house chores?

    We need to not only stay at home out of a sense of duty – that we checked off that box and put in our time – but go beyond that to perfect our experiences in our homes. To bring religious excellence to this sphere. Why do we often denigrate the home and imply that the only “real” world is outside the home?

    I am sadly lacking in my home skills. I ask Allah SWT to make me a better steward of the home.

  88. Avatar

    ummafnaan

    June 22, 2008 at 8:15 PM

    Assalamu alaikum,

    Brother Abdullah I absolutely agree with you. May Allah reward you.
    It is really sad to c how we have taken the role as housewives which Allah has termed as something very honourable in the Qur’an, when HE clearly tells us that the BEST place for the woman is FEE BUYUTIHUNNA(in their houses). Yet we bring up so many excuses and misinterpretations from the Qur’an and Sunnah to justify our neglecting our duties at home.
    In my humble opinion that is one of the contributing factors as to why the Ummah is in the state that it is in. It is very easy for us the women to blame the muslim men, the muslim governments, etc. But have we stopped for one moment to ask ouselves that maybe if these men had had the proper tarbiyyah from when they were young, then things would have been different? And this tarbiyyah means to teach our children to have love and awe for Allah and HIS DEEN first and foremost. Now clearly we as women are failing miserably in our duties as compared to our pious predecessors, and this fact as I said earlier, can be seen in the reality that whereas Allah honoured their generation with victory and dominance over the world, the Ummah today are living in a status that is worse than that of animals. Like it or not it is the truth.
    My advice to the sisters is to please go back and really read about the Sahabiyyat. They were definately not career women but were wives and mothers first and foremost before anything else. Yes we need gynaecologists, teachers, etc, but why must we study at the expence of our childrens hereafter. Cant it be done in say 8 years part time instead of four years full time; can’t we study at later times in our lives when at the very least all our children are over the age of twelve, or there abouts? Why should we be so content as to trust some stranger or even worse, the television to raise our children for us?
    I speak in this way as a woman, who is married with a daughter with a Bachelors in Engineering and who from time to time has the same whispers from the Shaitaan to take it one step further and get a Masters, and then a PhD and then, and then, and then,… Where does it stop. For goodness sake why would a Muslimah need a PhD? How would it help her in the hereafter; Is that not our sole purpose in life as Allah tells us in the Qur’an that ‘I did not create the man and the jinn for any purpose except to worship ME!’ Shouldn’t we stop and assess every action we do in this life and ask ourselves whether it is of benefit to our hereafter or not. Do women need PhD’s to be good doctors or teachers, etc. COME ON SISTERS who are we kidding here? Is it not truly the case that we have fallen so deeply into this ‘feminist’ ideology of the kuffar and don’t even realise it? And yet we have the nerve to call a brother ‘backward’ simply because he objects to the idea of his wife gaining a PhD.
    Remember sisters, our Beloved Nabi told us women would be the majority in the hellfire. I think we should be more careful and seek to do the deeds that Allah and His messenger have stated CLEARLY will lead us to Jannah. And that is first and foremost being a good and supportive muslim wife and mother and encouraging our husbands, sons and daughters to struggle with all they have got to defend this Ummah and raise the banner of LAA ILA HA ILLALLAH.

  89. Avatar

    abu_abdulla82

    June 23, 2008 at 12:37 AM

    salaam alikum,

    WaAllahi I am truly honored by the fact that so many people have commented on the words that i have said and taken the time to consider them. I love you all for the sake of Allah and apologize if I came off harsh in any way. Thanks for the words of advice from amuslimah.

    There are definitely people here who have much more experience in life and marriage than I but the reason why I felt it necessary to comment is because of a disturbing trend, namely Muslim women looking down at the role of being a wife and a mother. It is truly a travesty — there is no one more influential on a man than his wife and no one more influential on a child than his mother. It is narrated with a hasan chain of narrators that Napolean said: “the woman who rocks the cradle with one hand, rocks the world with the other.” :) — didn’t see that one coming did you……

    It is definitely great for women to gain an education and even to gain advanced degrees as long as we never collectively forget our purpose. Ummafnaan made an interesting point asking why not get your degree part time in 8 years while being a wife and mother as opposed to getting it in 4 years and delaying marriage or neglecting marital/motherly responsibilities. Why do we have to fall into the western mold…..graduate high school, university, career……..and then maybe look to get married when you are 25. This is not the sunnah. The prophet peace be upon him told the young people to marry if they have the ability — for women, this means not to reject people who come asking for your hand because you are still focused on school if the person is of good character, deen, able, and compatible. Allah knows best, and I would appreciate feedback on this point, but if a woman married early (assuming she is mature) and completed her college while being married and fulfilling her role as a wife in the best way and THEN pursued an advanced degree it would be much better. She would be more “centered” and have a more balanced outlook on life and, I assume, that with this outlook she would be able to integrate her family life as well as academic/professional life with the proper set of priorities. The problem is that it is almost HARAM in many parents eyes to get married before finishing college…..why?

    Sisters, I truly sympathize with you…..it is a challenge to balance these priorities and to try to consciously and subconsciously escape from the western mold of success. Is is a challenge to take an unorthodox path, an Islamic path. This is a path that we must negotiate as Muslims in the west in a way that allows us to be true to Allah, true to ourselves, and true to our families. May Allah help us to find the straight path and keep us on it and make us all meet in the highest levels of Jannah.

    salaam alikum

  90. Avatar

    Abdullah

    June 23, 2008 at 12:39 AM

    Amuslimah;
    Shukran for your advice. You are right its good to be soft in advice. This was the way of the Prophet. I’ll take note of this. However, there are times also in the sunnah it was necessary to pump up the volume. We should not forget that. In my opinion, the gross disregard of several aspects of the sunnah in this post warrants serious talk:-)

    The assertion that the home being the first place is not mine: this is from the understanding of the sunnah as passed down by the righteous ulema. The verse in Chpt 33 is one pointer in this direction. STAY IN YOUR HOUSES. Period. Simply out, staying at home is and should be the norm for really ‘smart’ muslimahs’ since this is what their Lord demands. But because His shariah is also wide and demonstrates His Knowledge and Mercy, exceptions are allowed. But these exceptions do not become or replace the norm. Or do you agree tjhat is what should happen. A muslimah, a smart one too, submits to the norm, and where necessary and validated, exercises the provision of the exceptionality clause. And is with our ‘smartness’ we determine what’s exceptional or not. No. Especially where such smartness is from a high school or college that probably teaches evolution and removes Allah from the scheme of things( one of the several unsmart things ‘smart’ people get ingrained with from colleges). The ulema have explained these exceptions that are based on the necessity to serve the ummah: in this falls the need for doctors, epidural techies,gynecologists, anesthesiologists, dentists and so on that you mentioned.Islam has no problem with that. And you must remember they go into these professions primarily to serve a need for the ummah not a need to be professional and become a breadwinner and career -only minded individual. Is that what most of these ‘smart’ muslimahs are doing. Are they purusing these professions based on the needs of the ummah. Or other than that? I’ll let you be the judge. Working on the floor of the stock exchange, jumping from an oil rig as an engineer or being a combat troop or jet pilot – are these needs that serve the ummah and must be occupied by ‘smart’ muslimahs?

    “Everyone’s situation is different. Sometimes when we talk about women, its as if we are only talking of women within a certain age bracket, w/ specific unsaid circumstances that only apply to the women between 20 and 38 or so who are married. This is not realistic. For instance, I know of a morrocon sister who is single and works in a dentist’s office. Should this sister quit her job and stay home? Should she not pursue any knowledge? Should everyone leave their professions and their education and only study Islam? Is that what Islam calls for? Can a muslim state be established if all we have is islamic scholars and no other profession? That would be a very narrow minded view. ”

    What I mentioned above is clear- that there are exceptions: we should earnestly seek the advice of those who have authentic knowledge of the Deen and still fear Allah rather than the times or place we are in: they would be in a better position to advice to advice the sister on her specific situation. Generally, if their profession is one which serves a need in the ummah that is best fulfilled by sisters, the ulema allow this. if their profession is just one that follows the feminist disease a lot of us have been afflicted by and now try to justify with massaged up evidence of the sunnah, you gotta problem there. Even if a woman is not married, if her job entails disobedience of Allah like mixing with males, I don’t see how that is a smart choice. The sad thing is that if one’s profession entails such disobedience routinely, how can the person make tawbah. I am talking about repentance as laid down in the sunnah.

    FYI- I am married with kids

    Um Hana

    :The sahabiyat had many “professions” some based inside the home, some not. Teachers, nurses on the battlefield, traders, craftspeople.”

    This sort of evdence keeps cropping up all the time. The questions to ask are: were the sahabiyat the full time 40-80hrs a week professionals some of our ‘smart’ muslimah are today? Are the professional teachers today not engaged, for the most part, in mixing with non mahram males, which is a sin? Exception would be were she’s teaching girls and all that stuff. Are you saying that the sahabiyyat would engage in professionals that lead them to being sinful as occurs with a large number of our professional ‘smart’ muslimahs today? I urge you to be careful – these are the companions of the Prophet- watch how we just compare them to people in our times.It is related from some women of the salaf that they would tel their husbands not to bring home haraam provision. That they preferred to be hungry rather than be fed from haraam. Today’s muslimahs: we need to get out there and do it ourselves- after all we are smarlt with PhDs and all. And remember, they are smarter than the sahabiyat they can mix with men and travel without a mahram. Right?

    This does not negate the place of the home for women. At this time in fact there are more and more opportunities for professional work from home.

    Her first and foremost profession at home is to make the home a place of tranquility. Others are secondary and may need to be activated based on real needs not just flowing with the consumerist times we live in

    ‘In addition, women should “professionalize” their motherly and wifely duties. Can we become more excellent in our roles? Yes, I think we can. I know women who spend their days chatting for hours on the phone while they do their laundry and cooking. Their husbands are happy because their wives are at home. But what about all the gossiping and complaining going on in the midst of the house chores?’

    A good sense of continuous reminder at home should help remind us all of the evil of gossiping,etc While they are defective in that aspect, they are fulfilling by staying at home. And who tells you that the ‘smart’ professional that are not at home do not gossip. And more for them, if the job is not based on needs of the ummah, it becomes double whammo

    Any ‘smart’ muslimah not worried about how what she does professionally leads to disobedience of her Lord cannot really be smart. Check this out – http://islamic-world.net/sister/three_women.htm

  91. Avatar

    Musilmah

    June 23, 2008 at 2:52 PM

    iMuslim: May Allah ta’ala bless you with a righteous spouse. I think for the most part it truly does not have anything to do with educational level. Most brothers here who have completed (are completing) thier university degrees actually prefer marrying sisters who have some university level instruction and look down upon them if they don’t. Not to rub more salt in the wound as you would say, but if the sister was 22 and completed her Phd….I doubt she’d face as great a challenge in marrying (I know a sister here who is so it isn’t an impossibility). If there is any one underlying reason it’s age. Also, the greater problem the youth face is networking and finding out about available singles, I think the difficulty of sisters in your position find when marrying is really a product of that. Have you really been exposed to all the available single Muslim men in Britain? No, so perhaps you could focus on solving that with sisters you know in a similar position…it’s when we start working together we find viable solutions. [PS: this was meant to give encouragement :) ]

    Anonymouse: Masha’Allah, that’s refreshing to hear, may Allah ta’ala preserve your marriage! Please considering wriitng an article [also!] so as to lend encouragement to brothers and sisters who [much to the chagrin of their parents] share similar priorities. Advice on early marriage, educational levels when marrying, and getting parents to see the light :)

  92. Avatar

    bernie

    June 24, 2008 at 11:12 AM

    Assalamu Alaikum

    As to a fear of being unappreciated, abused and disrespected, Allah forbid, perhaps if you were not so concerned with your man being down with the Deen, you could find a man who respected women.

  93. Avatar

    abuAbdulla82

    June 26, 2008 at 3:31 PM

    Salaam alikum,

    It looks like this thread is dying out but i wanted to make one more comment after speaking with some scholars about this very issue:

    The issue is not that men are SCARED of smart Muslim women, on the contrary, what man wouldn’t want a smart wife and a smart mother for his children. The issue is that Islamically the man is responsible to take care of the family financially and whatever money the women makes is typically her’s. Of course, there could be a caveat that if the woman’s working will interfere with her ability to truly devote herself to her husband and her family and there is a tradeoff that the husband accepts, he could rightfully ask for her to contribute to the home.

    In any case, there is an inherent concern that the wife will demand a standard of living above what the man can afford because she has her own money. She can buy a car more than what he can afford and take on a payment plan because she has her own money. It is possible that if she has a kid she will need to continue to work to keep of the lifestyle she demanded. Allah knows best, this is definitely a concern with men.

    The other issue is that she may not look at him as the leader of the house and instead look at the two of them as equal partners which, with all due respect, is not what the quran says. At the same time, the quran says that men are the manitainers of women due to what Allah has preferred some of them over others and due to the wealth that they spend. If the money that the man spends is no longer essential then a part of his leadership role is being compromised. I don’t think any man would ever like to hear in a disagreement — “well i bought this and that and i spend on the house and work just like you…..you have no right to tell me what to do…..” The leadership is out the window…..

    Of course, the two spouses can decide on whatever they want but I am trying to give some insight on this perceived “phobia” that men have of “smart Muslim chicks”

    and Allah knows best.

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  95. Avatar

    forsoothsayer

    July 6, 2008 at 7:36 AM

    well ladies, am not a muslimah myself but i can tell u: all over thw world everyone’s noticing that there are tons of smart accomplished beautiful funny kind women and no men of similar quality. that’s what the whole show “sex and the city” was about. and you want him to be devout as well! no, they haven’t been taught to acheive that much. we’ve been pushed, and push ourselves, father than young men these days are. their families let them cruise on their penis ownership – they’ll still get a fantastic woman no matter what!
    i will say this – i’ve dated tons of fabulous muslim dudes. if i was prepared to marry one i’d have gotten married long ago. but i do have to say that most of the muslim men i encountered who know “deen” had strong misogynist attitudes. it’s hard to find a dude who doesn’t buy into the patriarchy along with the religion.

  96. Avatar

    Abdullah

    July 16, 2008 at 10:47 AM

    forsoothsayer

    You definitely have lessons to teach us here with your post.

    Firstly – you were bare and blunt as regards how your experiences have honed your views.Sincere muslimahs , and their male counterparts, ought to be pushed and molded by the Quran and the life of the Prophet. Saldy this is not often the case here …and in reality you cannot be truly accomplished(you may be deceived you are) if your life is not according to the Quran

    Secondly , your relationship with the tonnes of muslim dudes you dated – however deep, revealing,graphic or superficial it might have – was also sinful islamically. You need to remind them all- dig out there emails :-)- that they need to repent (its called tawba) and open a new sheet . In Islam, Allah accepts repentance without you needing a go between. That’s just part of the the beauty of Islam your dudes may or may not have gotten across to you when you were err..

    Thirdly and most importantly, its an opportunity for you to know the meaning of Laa ilaha illallah: there is no deity worthy of worship exceot the One true God whose Best name is Allah. Think about really helping yourself out to all the beauties and tranquilities this statement guarantees you inthis short deceptive world and in the next life. If your dudes failed to explain its meaning and implication to you ( or not well enough) do not lose hope: here’s your opportunity.Think about it and accept Islam

    DON’T WASTE YOUR TIME try www,shareislam.com

  97. Avatar

    Abdullah

    July 16, 2008 at 10:55 AM

  98. Avatar

    Ahmad ibn Philip

    August 3, 2008 at 7:33 PM

    Interesting discussion indeed but I do have to wonder why doesn’t the Muslimah who is in school, say anywhere around 20-25yrs old try to get married during that time and go to school part time instead of trying to attain an PhD and wondering they’re not married when they’re 25-30yrs old? I don’t see the sense in waiting until AFTER you attain so many degrees. Is it because of the parents? That I can understand. But it doesn’t make much sense to me that a Muslimah would spend so many years of her life in school knowing full well its better to get married and focus on her husband and soon to be kids. Not saying she can’t go to school, she can, but why put off marriage aka Islam itself? Just my opinion, wanted to know what others think.

  99. Avatar

    iMuslim

    August 4, 2008 at 7:09 AM

    Salaams Ahmad

    Who says sisters are delaying? I know many, including myself, who were actively looking all the way through their studies… if no-one comes along during that time, well, at least we got a few degrees out of it, haha. Umm, seriously though: in my knowledge many sisters are not delaying marriage until the completion postgrad studies, but exploring both avenues simultaneously. Maybe undergrad sisters will wait till they graduate at 21, which is a typical marrying age, Allahu ‘alam.

  100. Avatar

    Ahmad ibn Philip

    August 4, 2008 at 1:57 PM

    iMuslim

    wa 3lay kum assalam

    Interesting indeed, but I was wondering if sisters do wait until they finish college as I know it does happen quite a lot in my community. Just seemed wierd to me. If they’re actively looking during their academic career, are they looking in their own colleges maybe? Perhaps their MSA (Muslim Student Association)? There are good brothers and sisters involved in those organizations and I think its a great place to look. Allaahu’3lam.

  101. Avatar

    Anon

    September 3, 2008 at 4:17 PM

    The problem with “smart” muslim girls is that they label themselves as “smart”. They are around uneducated women all day and furiously try to create an intellectual image for themselves. An intelligent person does not need to use a five syllable word in normal conversation. Two two syllable words would be just fine. It is this inherent desire to prove yourselves that is offputting. Just be humble and don’t try so hard would be my advice.

  102. Avatar

    Ibnatul Islam

    September 11, 2008 at 5:23 AM

    Kudos.
    I agree with you… well written mashaAllah :)

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  104. Avatar

    AbuAbdAllah, the Houstonian

    October 10, 2008 at 7:45 PM

    innalhamdolillah. bismillah. mashaAllah, another thread with over 100 comments in it. well, i skimmed it all, alhamdolillah, alaa kulli haal. i pray i digested enough of the comments not to be redundant.

    what motivates me to comment is that less than an hour ago my sister sent me an e-mail asking me if i would be interested in learning more about a woman my cousin had found out about. and, i realize now without even making istikhara, i replied that it was a very long shot. and all i knew about the woman-in-question was that she is a doctor, foreign born, mid-30’s, and working full time.

    being foreign born is no problem to me.

    a doctor working full-time in her mid-30’s was all it took for my reply. my assumptions: here is a woman who has invested in her degree/profession a lot of time, maybe money (medical education for women in many foreign countries may be subsidized, but in some it has become a cash cow for medical schools), and certainly a lot of hard work.

    and mincing no words at all — i want my wife to be married to me, not to her career.

    so how could my sister have sparked my interest in this woman?

    my gut answer to my own question: convince me of her taqwa. perhaps i am not a good enough student to accept without reservation the advice of the scholars: that a man ask last about a woman’s religiosity, so that he does not turn down a woman of high taqwa on less noble grounds. but in stating my gut reaction, i am being 100% honest.

    no matter who i may end up marrying, what i want most of all is a wife who fears Allah. i do not want a wife who will fear me — i want, inshaAllah, for us to have joy in our home. if i know my wife fears Allah, i honestly believe i will not have to worry about much else, not even her career.

    here’s one of my stories:

    a short time before i moved back to Houston, my local masjid hosted its own version of “speed-dating” for people needing to get married. subhanAllah, there really is no better/worse description of the event itself, but i will clarify that this was “group-speed-dating” — 8 tables with sisters on one side of each table. 8 groups of brothers rotating among the tables as groups. i do not endorse the event-format, but i went trusting that my masjid had thought all this out. i was (even?) more naive then.

    it was amazing the range of religiosity among the Muslims who showed up — from men who did not answer the adhan at all, to men who refused to miss salat (because the organizers — not the shaykh who had left by then — did not put the event on hold for salat — and remember, we were AT the masjid. i asked pointedly about this and one organizer, may Allah Guide him, said that they had not wanted to pressure anyone to pray!!!). from women who did not cover at all, subhanAllah, to women who were quite strict (though not one munaqqabah in/on sight/site).

    there was one sister about whom i was interested enough to ask the organizers to make inquiries about. she was 31, she wore hijab but not julbab, she has an MBA and a degree in Islamic studies from al Azhar, and she was hafidhah of 25 juzz of Qur’an, mashaAllah. and she also taught in her local Islamic school, mashaAllah. she had a pleasant personality, and yet also seemed shy.

    at first my desi parents were not keen. (understatements are not lies… are they?)

    but they did consent to fly out from Houston to meet her and her parents.

    and alhamdolillah, they loved her and her parents quite a bit. especially after the sister got up on a stage in front of all the people in the masjid (a different masjid) and spoke to the jamat about Father’s Day. okay, it was an event organized by the masjid, and she was one of three invited speakers — she was the only woman. after that my parents — may Allah Guide them, have Mercy on them, and treat them kindly as they treated me when i was a child (and still do today) — told her she should be on TV.

    and she — subhanAllah — told us her dream was to be the Muslim Oprah. and forget her toastmasters experience, she had brought with her a demo-DVD of herself shot in a Muslim-owned studio demonstrating her TV presence.

    and i know Allah subhanahu wata ala wants me to repent for every little sin, because right then the words from the Talking Heads song came over me like a rush, “this is not my beautiful wife.” (and i do repent for all the music i listened to, and happily i do not remember all the words to the song — though the beat does echo a bit like reverb for this post.)

    there is more to the story, but i will say that alhamdolillah, we both came to realize that we were a bad match well before anyone proposed marriage.

    and needless to say, in part because of their reaction to that woman, i have to suppress a gag reflex when my parents suggest any woman to me. unless their description has been accompanied by words that indicated her akhlaque, scholarship of Islam, and more. and in those cases i have always been receptive except once when an issue of incompatibility arose between my family and the woman’s.

    and i think the best reason i have for focusing on taqwa — which is hard to measure, but can be reflected in akhlaque, scholarship of Islam, and the amal with which a person keeps busy — is that growing up in America programmed me to look for the worst spouse imaginable. modesty? shyness? those were boring qualities in a woman. aggressiveness in speech, dress, and behavior were all qualities that growing up here made seem appealing.

    the story i gave bears witness to the negative influence of this culture on men and women. the hafidhah of 25 juzz? after i returned to Houston, she asked me what music i listen to. i told her that i had given up music, and that i found now that listening to music made it harder to learn Qur’an or any other good thing. and she told me that in Egypt she had never had time to listen to music because she was always working on her hifdh. but here in America all her friends listened to music, and she had grown to love it.

    do you think you know where that conversation was going?

    she used to wear julbab in Egypt. she used to spend so much time in the masjid learning from shuyukh. and she USED to be actively learning hifdh.

    in four years of living in America she had not learned one more ayat. besides music and her new friends, she had also “freed herself” from the restrictions of life in Egypt.

    and, subhanAllah, she pitied me because i was on the brink of becoming more like she had been. indeed we pitied each other.

    • Avatar

      Mohammed Rabee Al-Zo

      June 5, 2012 at 1:42 AM

      Subhanallah.

      This is sooo, mashallah I can’t find the right words.

      Brother America is a test in itself, but Allah swt would have sent that women to heaven had she lived in Egypt her whole life, that is why Allah (SWT) has commanded us to live far away from fitnah, to take only the pious as friends. and she is the biggest example.

      She did not learn the true deen, and all that time in the masjid taught her no more then what is haram and halal and verses and chapters of the Qur’an and that’s it.

      She should’ve learned WHY, If I did not know why this was Haram, why this was Halal, or why I pray, or why I fast, or why why why why why.

      I would be sucked in by these kafaar in Canada.

      Nay, Al-hamdulilah the first thing I prayed for when I started praying when I was Twelve was Wisdom and Knowledge like that which was given to Yusuf (May peace be upon him) and Al-hamdulilah Allah has given may knowledge of his Deen, and the wisdom to understand it’s perfection.

      Jazak Allah khair.

      Always know why, and If you know not then ask someone of wisdom (A scholar) and use his concept/methodology and apply that to other hadiths and so on to understand it’s benefit.

      For instance the Salah brings us constant remembrance of Allah, constant remembrance brings us constant fear/reminder that Allah is watching us and that there is a hereafter thus lessening our chance to answer the Shayton and to do haram.

      It also brings us a musky smell, memorization of Qur’an and the pleasure of Allah, thus it is a great gift for mankind and not a burden. If she had known this she would not have stopped praying etc.

  105. Avatar

    Khanverse

    November 17, 2008 at 4:40 AM

    uhh, where ARE YOU?

    I’m dyin to meet someone my age who can intellectually intimidate me… (make that ‘stimulate’ cuz the former def. ain’t happening) A degree don’t make you smart sister, IF you still watchin Desperate Housewives and believe in the political process. Specialized knowledge ain’t nothing. A mechanic will eat you alive when it comes to pistons, turbos, and intercoolers. Most of ya’ll are trying to be doctors and might know some chemistry, but that doesn’t make you “smart”… I measure intelligence by the vastness of the spectrum of subject matter you can elaborately discuss…

    Come test, homeslice.

    As for the subject, the problem is people not willing to look for themselves and going through the whole “rishta” ritual. If you’re tight on your deen you might consider opening yourself to the idea that your man will find you or you will find him without the antiquated methodological rigidity of your folks, because that severely LIMITS the number of men you will find.

    Also, open up to the idea of polygamy, polygyny. Because the REAL men, such as myself, who have all those dreamy qualities that mesmerize you in your fantasies and the movies you habitually khansume DO EXIST and they are so rare, they SHOULD marry multiple women and leave behind many many righteous children who will operate on God’s law.

    check out this book review I wrote about the subject on my website:

    http://khanverse.com/news/2008/10/female-solution-book-review.html

    Peace & Blessings

    -Me

  106. Avatar

    May

    December 30, 2008 at 8:27 AM

    Re: Abdullah

    Dare I say the ‘stay in your homes’ ayah was directed at the Prophet’s (saw) wives?

    Furthermore, your excuses that Muslim women should not work because that tends to involve ‘mixing’ with non-Mahram men belie the double standards that so many Muslim men employ. Why then do you not have a problem with Muslim men working and ‘mixing’ with non-mahram women?? This concept of ‘free-mixing’ that keeps getting bandied about as an exuse to keep women indoors has nothing to do with Islam, but the mysogynistic interpretations of a patriarchal society.

    I’d like to add that increasingly, career and family are not mutually exclusive. You do not need to spend 24 hours at home in order to have a ‘tranquil’ family life. What on Earth are women supposed to do all day when the kids are off at school?

    And so many people who push this tired argument also tend to be blind to a huge social problem in our societies. That of single/divorced/widowed women who, having been told to ‘stay in their houses’ and denied any chance of potential career, are thrown into poverty because they cannot support themselves.

    Of course, some of us are lucky enough to be so naive as to think that every Muslim woman can afford to live off her male relatives’ incomes. In poorer countries this is simply not possible. Men are hardly able to feed their own kids, let alone have to worry about their dependant female relatives. Having known plenty of women in this situation, I can safely say that they would all prefer to work with their dignity, than depend on handouts and suffer poverty.

    Please understand that for some of us, education and work is not a luxury, it is a necessity.

    • Avatar

      Mohammed Rabee Al-Zo

      June 5, 2012 at 1:28 AM

      I hate when people like you comment on Islam as If you are scholars.

      No, men should not work with women that is haram, unless it is impossible to do otherwise. and when I say women I mean short shorts, short skirts or tight jeans which is very common in western culture.

      In my religion it is better to work then to beg.

      The prophet (my peace be upon him) said: If you can work even If it be hardest kind/hands dirty job rather then begging for money then do this.

      Women are allowed to work, in a government that is Islamic the government would provide the women enough money to live off of and take care of her children, an islamic society would not be “poor” because of Zakat and extra charity.

      the places you talk about are practicing one part of Islam while not practicing the other, No government on earth other then MAYBE saudi Arabia has just Islamic leaders who actually follow the Qur’an and the Hadeeth down to the word.

      Yes, If you follow one part (don’t leave your homes other then it being a necessity) then you’d be screwed in modern day soceity.

      Also it does not say don’t leave your homes, It says “do not forbid the women from going to the mosques to pray” and we muslims have big families we aren’t bored, our women don’t stay at home all day, they go out to their parents houses, and other relatives.

      They go shopping (that is okay but it’s better If the man take that responsibility)

      You act as like we forbid our women from going out completely?

      No, as long as someone who is a brother/father/husband/uncle/nephew is with them they can go wherever they like.

      That is the ultimate cure for rape, and female abuse.

      and yes muslim MEN AND WOMEN agree upon going to this extent to keep themselves safe from Rape or otherwise disrespect.

      My mother follows this, she is happy she is always praying for me, and she always tells me how much she loves me.

      MY brothers wife never stops smiling she’s always happy and she’s pregnant with her 3rd kid!!

      If your worried about muslim women, don’t be. As long as they are following Islam properly then they won’t be sad/unhappy or misused/disrespected.

      unless of course they live in america, or worse England or other brit countries, where they can’t walk down the street without being robbed, attacked, abused by anybody over 10.

      Instead of looking at others and saying “they are bad they need to change themselves” Look at yourself and fix your own faults first.

      That is an islamic belief as well, Good day hope you learned something new.

    • Avatar

      Scottish Ukhty

      November 21, 2013 at 5:55 PM

      PREAAAAAAAAACH IT God bless you fellow Muslim

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  108. Avatar

    Hansa

    January 3, 2009 at 11:35 PM

    @Khanverse – please get over yourself. You seem like easily one of the most arrogant people I’ve ever come across, I’d be surprised if you found even one sister to marry let alone multiples. Arrogance is not one of the “dreamy” qualities women are looking for.

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  110. Avatar

    Osman

    November 22, 2009 at 9:51 PM

    I think at the end of the day fob cultures are a bunch of garbage that need to be wiped out like the plague (except for the biryani… that can stay :-) )

    • Avatar

      Sayf

      December 8, 2009 at 12:34 AM

      is butterchicken also acceptable?

    • Avatar

      Abu Rumaisa

      January 4, 2010 at 10:46 AM

      And American/Western culture is not?

  111. Avatar

    Light

    November 29, 2009 at 9:48 PM

    A religious girl is 10 times better than an educated one. a religious girl who’s also educated would be a nice combo. A religious, educated, and beautiful girl is JACKPOT!

    lol may Allah(swt) bless as all with the right one.

  112. Avatar

    Mark

    December 31, 2009 at 2:44 PM

    Maybe you should stop limiting yourselves to only Muslim men and move out of the fourth century?

    • Amad

      Amad

      December 31, 2009 at 3:19 PM

      Move out of the 4th century???

      News flash: we are in the 21st century now.

      • Avatar

        Tim Walther

        January 3, 2010 at 9:11 AM

        Amad, you may have missed that Mark suggested to look outside the muslim diaspora for a suitable match. However, we all know this to be a rather foolish idea for such a lady could risk being ostracised by her family at best or even risk her life (“honour killings”). Having lived in Germany for a few years (me, working on large scale IT projects worldwide) where a large turkish community is present that sort of fate occasionally happens to turkish girls who are trying to break with centuries old traditions (see Mark’s comment about the 4th century). Under rare circumstances (as witnessed in London) muslim men marry women of different faiths. Needless to say only of course if that woman converts to islam.

        • Avatar

          Mohammed Rabee Al-Zo

          June 5, 2012 at 1:14 AM

          Rather, you speak as If the women are being forced, No the reason they marry only Muslim men and vice versa is because that is what Allah has commanded in the Qur’an because If she married someone non-muslim, They would agree on nothing, he would tell her to not wear hijab, he would drink, eat pork get annoyed by his wife for asking for halal meat, and eventually fight over which religion their children will be.

          Honor killings are not justified, regardless of what religion you are.

          and turkey does not represent Islam, rather most of them have turned away from the basic fundamentals of Islam (no alcohol) not unlike the Christians who don’t go to church on Sunday and never read the bible, or don’t follow their own religious laws (No adultery)

          So, basically she does not want to marry a non-muslim man nor do I want to marry a non-muslim women.

          because we are the best of mankind and thus we are the best life partners.

          Disagree? every muslim in the world agrees that a true muslim is the best life partner and human being on this earth. that’s 2 billion to 1 ;)

    • Avatar

      Sayf

      December 31, 2009 at 8:21 PM

      lol! nice try Mark.

  113. Avatar

    Yoda

    April 21, 2011 at 8:08 AM

    Salaam..
    WOW…
    That’s the best articles I have read in years…
    Hats off…

  114. Avatar

    Nayyar_ali6

    February 7, 2012 at 3:26 AM

    Hi brother u r doing the nice work for human being. may almighty give u the strength and courage in ur noble deed. i lost my 6 years old son because of same black magic who was too cute and intelligent. but i dont know who did so. he got feared of some thing at night and developed the neuro disease…. finally he expired. i m so sad that one cant imagine. all the aamils tell that it was black magic but no one is telling the name of exact person. can u brother guide me in this regard. i ll always be greatful and will pray for u. thanks

    • Avatar

      Scottish Ukhty

      November 21, 2013 at 5:52 PM

      Salaam,
      I don’t know what ‘aamils’ are… it sounds desi.I’m sorry for your loss, may allah swt grant your brother and family peace, Ameen. Stay away from peers etc and if you experience any freaky stuff happening at home or two any members of the family get ruqya done on them, play surah al baqara on your laptop in the room its happening in. Even just type it in on youtube and let it play for hours on a medium volume and read aytal qursi and 4 quls every morning and evening to protect yourself and your family.

  115. Avatar

    im happy being who ii am

    February 7, 2012 at 12:11 PM

    subhanallah may allah grant us all paradise and lead us to the straight path may allah swt keep us from doing evil may allah swt help us become pious and wake up for r fajr salah may allah subhana ta’ala help us in this life and the hereafter

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  117. Avatar

    Scottish Ukhty

    November 21, 2013 at 5:49 PM

    I think certain Men should stop being so insecure and intimidated by sisters who have went to University and attained degree(s) and PHD(s) and stop assumming that if a Woman has or wants a career, it somehow automatically means that she won’t be a good wife and/or mother! This assumption is absolutely ridiculous LOOOOL
    Its SO IMPORTANT for women to be educated subhanallah imagine if ones husband loses his job, gets made reduntant, involved in an accident or dies (god forbid) how on earth will women support themselves?
    There some idiotic men out there who think they can support a family or more than one wife plus all their kids with a pizza delivery wage?! Come on, be realistic. I am an Engineering student alhamdolilah and Inshallah I do want a great career. I want to use my degree to help contribute to the ummah as well as help my family. I have two autistic brothers and a baby sister, after my parents, it will be my responsibility to provide for my family. So I believe its important for me to have a good income inshallah so that I can financially support myself and my family. And I also hope to be an awesome wife and mother inshallah. I don’t see how a degree or job prevents women from being great mothers and wives. And I hope brothers realise this inshallah.

    • Avatar

      O H

      November 21, 2013 at 7:02 PM

      There are certains truths to your points but there is nothing wrong with a person looking for a wife who stays home and looks after the children and household. Just because you may disagree does not make the other group ‘idiotic’ and insecure.

      “Men are the protectors and maintainers of women, because Allaah has made one of them to excel the other, and because they spend (to support them) from their means” [al-Nisaa’ 4:34]

      This does not mean women cannot work BUT if a brother wants his wife to stay back and she agrees then that is not an issue. However some brothers allow their wives to work and that is their preference which we the other group should not condemn and criticize unconditionally as well. If the sister wants to work she should look for a husband who is cool with that. If a brother wants her wife to stay indoors he should look for a wife who is cool with that. The main thing is both these groups should learn the Islamic Guidelines as mentioned in the Qur’an, Sunnah and what the righteous predecessors/scholars have said as with all matters, especially in marriage which is half of deen!

      Al-Haakim narrated in al-Mustadrak from Anas, in a marfoo’ report: “Whomever Allaah blesses with a righteous wife, He has helped him with half of his religion, so let him fear Allaah with regard to the other half.”

      Hadeeth classed Hasan by Shaykh Albaanee (May Allaah have mercy on him)

  118. Avatar

    A

    June 4, 2014 at 4:07 AM

    JazakAllah Khair for this advice: ‘Perhaps if we try to humble ourselves more, live simpler lives, and recognise success in all its forms, it wouldn’t be a case of finding the “perfect” guy – but rather choosing from a large pool of very good guys, inshā’Allāh.’

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#Life

5 Tips for Surviving Ramadan. In The Summer. When You Have Small Children.

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By Afaaf Rajbee

This time a few years ago, I anticipated Ramadan with anxiety. I had 3 children, all under the age of 5, and was part of a large, busy household of working men and women.  When Ramadan finally arrived I was petrified inside at whether I would be able to cope with running after my youngest daughter, managing the school and nursery run with the older two, as well as keeping the house in order and preparing iftar for the family in the evening.

A year later, that anxiety has been replaced with something more positive; Ramadan is challenging there is no doubt about it. But I wanted to share some practical tips, as a mum, that made last Ramadan that much more manageable and a time of spiritual benefit.

1. Prepare the evening meal first thing in the morning. Decide on your menu and write it down into checklist form. This is the time to marinade, whizz up chutneys and even get out serving dishes. All the effort you invest early on will give you more time before Maghrib. It’s amazing how hectic it can get in the kitchen just before Maghrib – and when you’re dehydrated and tired it’s difficult to cook quickly. Instead, try to make your mornings your most productive time in preparing iftar.

2. Use salah times as the markers that divide your activities. I always set myself a target to get everything done in the kitchen before dhuhr. This way I avoided that feeling that I’m taking time away from work to pray salah. Dhuhr salah was a great way to end a productive housework-focussed morning in the kitchen and helped me refocus on the next tasks – whether that was having to go out or completing more housework or listening to a lecture or reading Qur’an.

3. Make sure you pray Asr before you start getting iftar on the table! So many times I’ve nearly missed Asr because of getting carried away in the kitchen – and this is true for so many mothers I’ve spoken to. I’ve found after the kids get home from school and I’d fed them and helped them with homework or reading, ‘Asr was a good marker to tie up that stage of the day.

4. Put the kids to bed as early as you can. Your evening ibadat, Qur’an reading and taraweeh depends on this. Leave bedtime any later and I guarantee you’ll most likely fall asleep with your kids and you’ll wake up 6 hours later feeling awful just having missed sehri, still wearing your day clothes and still having your contact lenses in… That was not a great evening.

5. Ramadan is not the time to deviate radically from your normal routine and responsibilities – else we would simply not receive its benefit. Yes, we should increase in certain types of ibadah – read more Qur’an, pray more nafl salah – but running a household, going out on errands, engaging with our children and keeping them safe is also part of life and hence part of our ibadah. Fasting was not prescribed for a week, or just a few days, but a whole month. The beauty of this duration is that it’s not so long to be a physical or mental burden but also it’s not so short that you can suspend your daily activities like a holiday. By normal activities, I’m referring to that ironing pile, the paperwork, hoovering. I found that even during the 20-hour fasts I could still pursue my normal routine but at a slower pace. If you do this, you’ll have no build up of housework that you’ll have to spend ages compensating at Eid time.

As you can probably tell, I’m a big fan of routine. But routine becomes monotonous and depressing if there is no time invested in personal growth, pursuing your passions or helping others. But generally, mothers of small children are tired; remember that Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) knows your situation and that every aspect of our daily life can become an act of worship if our intentions are to please Him.

Afaaf Rajbee is a graduate in International Relations from the LSE, which surprisingly didn’t prepare her for life as a mother to 3 children. She is part of the Charity Week team and volunteers her skills for a variety of different organisations.

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#Life

Are You Prepared for Marriage and Building a Family?

Mona Islam

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High School is that time which is ideal for preparing yourself for the rest of your life. There is so much excitement and opportunity. Youth is a time of energy, growth, health, beauty, and adventure. Along with the thrill of being one of the best times of life, there is a definite lack of life experience. In your youth, you end up depending on your own judgments as well as the advice of others who are further along the path. Your own judgments usually come from your own knowledge, assumptions, likes, and dislikes. No matter how wise, mature, or well-intended a youth is compared to his or her peers, the inherent lack of life experience can also mislead that person to go down a path which is not serving them or their loved ones best. A youth may walk into mistakes without knowing, or get themselves into trouble resulting from naivety.

Salma and Yousef: 

Salma and Yousef had grown up in the same community for many years. They had gone to the same masjid and attended youth group together during high school. After going off to college for a few years, both were back in town and found that they would make good prospects for marriage for each other. Yousef was moving along his career path, and Salma looked forward to her new relationship. Yousef was happy to settle down. The first few months after marriage were hectic: getting a new place, organizing, managing new jobs and extended family. After a few months, they began to wonder when things would settle down and be like the vision they had about married life.

Later with valuable life experience, we come to realize that the ideas we had in our youth about marriage and family are far from what are they are in reality. The things that we thought mattered in high school, may not matter as much, and the things that we took for granted really matter a lot more than we realized. In retrospect, we learn that marriage is not simply a door that we walk through which changes our life, but something that each young Muslim and Muslima should be preparing for individually through observation, introspection, and reflection. In order to prepare for marriage, each person must intend to want to be the best person he or she can be in that role. There is a conscious process that they must put themselves through.

This conscious process should begin in youth. Waiting until marriage to start this process is all too late. We must really start preparing for marriage as a conscious part of our growth, self-development, and character building from a young age. The more prepared we are internally, the better off we will be in the process of marriage. The best analogy would be the stronger the structure and foundation of a building, the better that building will be able to serve its purpose and withstand the environment. Another way to think of this process is like planting a seed. We plant a seed long before the harvest, but the more time, care, and attention, the more beautiful and beneficial the fruits will be.

 

Sarah and Hasan:

Hasan grew up on the East Coast. He had gone to boarding school all through high school, especially since his parents had died in an unfortunate accident. His next of kin was his aunt and uncle, who managed his finances, and cared for him when school was not in session. Hasan was safe and comfortable with his aunt and uncle, but he always felt there was something missing in his life. During his college years, Hasan was introduced to Sarah and eventually they decided to get married.

The first week of his new job, Hasan caught a really bad case of the flu that made it hard for him to get his projects done. Groggy in bed, he sees Sarah appear with a tray of soup and medicine every day until he felt better. Nobody had ever done that for him before. He remembered the “mawaddah and rahmah” that the Quran spoke of.

Knowledge, Skills, and Understanding:

The process of growing into that person who is ready to start a family is that we need to first to be aware of ourselves and be aware of others around us. We have to have knowledge of ourselves and our environment. With time, reflection and life experience, that knowledge activates into understanding and wisdom. This activity the ability to make choices between right and wrong, and predict how our actions will affect others related to us.

Preview:

This series is made up of several parts which make up a unit about preparation for family life. Some of the topics covered include:

  • The Family Unit In Islam
  • Characteristics of an Individual Needed for Family Life
  • The Nuclear Family
  • The Extended Family

Hamza and Tamika

Tamika and Hamza got married six months ago. Tamika was getting her teacher certification in night school and started her first daytime teaching job at the local elementary school. She was shocked at the amount of energy it took to manage second graders. She thought teaching was about writing on a board and reading books to kids, but found out it had a lot more to do with discipline, speaking loudly, and chasing them around. This week she had state testing for the students and her finals at night school. She was not sure how to balance all this with her new home duties. One day feeling despair, she walked in her kitchen and found a surprise. Hamza had prepared a beautiful delicious dinner for them that would last a few days, and the home looked extra clean too. Tamika was pleasantly surprised and remembered the example of our Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him).

The Family Unit in Islam

We always have to start with the beginning. We have to ask, “What is the family unit in Islam?” To answer this we take a step further back, asking, “What is the world-wide definition of family? Is it the same for all people? Of course not. “Family” means a lot of different things to a lot of different people across the world. As Muslims, what family means to us, is affected by culture and values, as well as our own understanding of Islam.

The world-wide definition of family is a group of people who are related to each other through blood or marriage. Beyond this point, is where there are many differences in views. Some people vary on how distantly related to consider a family. In some cultures, family is assumed to be only the nuclear family, consisting of mom dad and kids only. Other cultures assume family includes an extended family. Another large discrepancy lies in defining family roles and responsibilities. Various cultures promote different behavioral norms for different genders or roles in the family. For example, some cultures promote women staying at home in a life of luxury, while others esteem women joining the workforce while raising their kids on the side. Living styles vary too, where some cultures prefer individual family homes, while in other parts of the world extended families live together in large buildings always interacting with each other.

 

Layla and Ibrahim   

Layla and Ibrahim met at summer retreat where spirituality was the focus, and scholars were teaching them all day. Neither of them was seriously considering getting married, but one of the retreat teachers thought they might make a good match. It seemed like a fairytale, and the retreat gave them an extra spiritual high. Layla could not imagine anything going wrong. She was half Italian and half Egyptian, and Ibrahim came from a desi family. Soon after the nikah, Layla moved across the country into Ibrahim’s family home, where his parents, three siblings, and grandmother lived.  Come Ramadan, Layla’s mother-in-law, Ruqayya, was buying her new clothes to wear to the masjid. It was out of love, but Sarah had never worn a shalwar kameez in all her life! Ruqayya Aunty started getting upset when Layla was not as excited about the clothes as she was.

As Eid approached, Layla had just picked a cute dress from the department store that she was looking forward to wearing. Yet again, her mother-in-law had other plans for her.

Layla was getting upset inside. It was the night before Eid and the last thing she wanted to do was fight with her new husband. She did not want that stress, especially because they all lived together. At this point, Layla started looking through her Islamic lecture notes. She wanted to know, was this request from her mother-in-law a part of the culture, or was it part of the religion?

Marriage

The basis of all families, undoubtedly, is the institution of marriage. In the Islamic model, the marriage consists of a husband and a wife. In broad terms, marriage is the commitment of two individuals towards each other and their children to live and work together to meet and support each other’s needs in the way that they see fit. What needs they meet vary as well, from person to person, and family to family. The marriage bond must sustain the weight of fulfilling first their own obligations toward each other. This is the priority. The marriage must also be strong enough to hold the responsibility of raising the kids, and then the extended family.

How are we as Muslims unique and what makes us different from other family models? We are responsible to Allah. The end goals are what makes us different, and the method in which we work. In other family systems, beliefs are different, goals are different, and the motives are different. Methods can especially be different. In the end, it is quite a different system. What makes us better? Not because we say we are better or because we automatically feel better about ourselves due to a misplaced feeling of superiority. But instead it is because we are adhering to the system put in place by the most perfect God, Allah, the Creator and Sustainer of all the worlds, the One Who knows best what it is we need.

Family Roles:

Each person in the family has a role which Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) has meant for them to have, and which ethics and common sense tell us to follow. However, our nafs and ego can easily misguide us to live our family life in the wrong way, which is harmful and keeps us suffering. Suffering can take place in many ways. It can take place in the form of neglect or abuse. In the spectrum of right and wrong, Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) tells us that we are a nation meant for the middle path. So we should not go to any extreme in neglect or abuse.

What are the consequences of mishandling our family roles? Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) calls this type of wrongdoing “transgression” or “oppression”. There are definitely consequences of oppression, abuse, and neglect. There are worldly consequences which we feel in this life, and there are long term consequences in the Akhirah.

Razan and Farhaan

Razan and Farhan had gotten married two years ago. Since they were from different towns, Razan would have to move to Farhaan’s hometown. On top of the change of married life, Razan felt pangs of homesickness and did not know many people in the new town. However, Farhaan did not realize what she was going through. He still had the same friends he grew up with for years. They had a die-hard routine to go to football games on Friday night and play basketball on Saturday at the rec center.

Razan was losing her patience. How could he think it was okay to go out with his friends twice on the weekend? Yet he expected her to keep the home together? Her blood started to boil. What does Islam say about this?

Mawaddah and Rahma

The starting point of a family is a healthy relationship between the husband and wife. Allah SWT prescribed in Surah 25: verse 74, that the marriage relationship is supposed to be built on Mawaddah (compassion) and Rahma (mercy). A loving family environment responds to both the needs of the children and the needs of parents. Good parenting prepares children to become responsible adults.

Aliyaah and Irwan

Aliyaah and Irwan had homeschooled their twin children, Jannah and Omar, for four years. They were cautious about where to admit their children for the next school year. Aliyaah felt that she wanted to homeschool her children for another few years. There were no Islamic Schools in their town. Irwan wanted to let his kids go to public schools. He felt that was nothing wrong with knowing how things in the real world are. However, every conversation they started about this issue ended up into a conflict or fight. This was beginning to affect their relationship.

Parenting

Two significant roles that adults in a family play are that they are married and they are parents. It is important that parents work to preserve and protect their marital relationship since it is really the pillar which supports the parenting role. Parenting is a role which Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) directly addresses in our religion. We will be asked very thoroughly about this most important role which we will all play in our lives.

There is a hadith in which the Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) reminds us,

“All of you are shepherds and responsible for your wards under you care. The imam is the shepherd of his subjects and is responsible for them, and a man is a shepherd of his family and is responsible for them. A woman is the shepherd of her husband’s house and is responsible for it. A servant is the shepherd of his master’s belongings and is responsible for them. A man is the shepherd of his father’s property and is responsible for them”. (Bukhari and Muslim)

Islam has placed a lot of importance on the family unit. A family is the basic building block of Islam. A strong family can facilitate positive social change within itself and the society as a whole. The Quran asserts that human beings are entrusted by their Creator to be his trustees on Earth, thus they need to be trained and prepared for the task of trusteeship (isthiklaf).

Asa youth, it is important to make a concerted effort to develop our family skills so that we grow into that role smoothly. Proper development will prepare a person emotionally, mentally, spiritually, and physically for marriage and family life.

Mona Islam is a youth worker, community builder, motivational speaker, writer, and author. For the past 25 years, Sr. Mona has been on the forefront of her passion both locally and nationally, which is inculcating character development in youth (tarbiyah).  Sr. Mona has extensive knowledge of Islamic sciences through the privilege of studying under many scholars and traveling worldwide.  An educator by profession, she is a published author, completed her masters in Educational Admin and currently doing her doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction. Sr. Mona is married with five children and lives in Houston, TX.

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Emotional Intelligence: A Tool for Change  

Imam Mikaeel Smith

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Why do we consider emotional intelligence to be half of the Prophetic intellect? The answer lies in the word “messenger.” Messengers of Allah are tasked with the divine responsibility of conveying to humanity the keys to their salvation. They are not only tasked with passing on the message but also with being a living example of that message.

When ʿĀʾishah, the wife of the Prophet ﷺ, was asked to explain the character of the blessed Prophet ﷺ, her reply was, “His character was the Qurʾān.[1]” We are giving emotional intelligence a place of primacy in the construct of Prophetic intelligence because it seems implausible that Allah would send a messenger without providing that messenger with the means necessary to exemplify and transmit the message to others. If the Prophets of Allah did not have the necessary knowledge and skills needed to successfully pass on the message to the next generation, the argument would be incomplete. People could easily excuse themselves of all accountability because the message was never conveyed.

We also see clear examples in the Qur’ān that this knowledge was being perpetually perfected in the character of the Prophet ﷺ. Slight slips in his Emotional Intelligence were rare, but when they did occur, Allah gently addressed the mistake by means of revelation. Allah says in the Qurʾān, “If you (O Muḥammad) were harsh and hardhearted, then the people would flee from you.” This verse clearly placed the burden of keeping an audience upon the shoulders of the Prophet ﷺ. What this means is that the Prophet ﷺ had to be aware of what would push people away; he had to know what would create cognitive and emotional barriers to receptivity. When we study the shamāʾil (books about his character), we find that he was beyond exceptional in his ability to make people receptive. He took great care in studying the people around him and deeply understanding them. Only after the Prophet ﷺ had exhausted all the means of removing barriers to receptivity would the responsibility to affirm the message be shifted to those called to it.

Another example of this Prophetic responsibility can be found in the story of Prophet Mūsa when he was commissioned to call Pharaoh and the children of Israel to Allah. When Allah informed him of the task he was chosen for, he immediately attempted to excuse himself because he had a slight speech impediment. He knew that his speech impediment could potentially affect the receptivity of people to the message. He felt that this disqualified him from being a Prophet. He also felt that the act of manslaughter he committed might come between the people and guidance. All of these examples show that Allah’s Prophets understood that many factors can affect a person’s receptivity to learning something new, especially when the implications of that new information call into question almost every aspect of a person’s identity. History tells us that initially, people did not accept the message of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ; they completely rejected him and accused him of being a liar.

One particular incident shows very clearly that he ﷺ understood how necessary it was for him to remove any cognitive or emotional barriers that existed between him and his community. When the people of his hometown of Makkah had almost completely rejected him, he felt that it was time to turn his attention to a neighboring town. The city of Ṭā’if was a major city and the Prophet ﷺ was hopeful that perhaps they would be receptive to the message. Unfortunately, they completely rejected him and refused to even listen to what he had to say. They chased him out of town, throwing stones at him until his injuries left him completely covered in blood. Barely making it outside the city, the Prophet ﷺ collapsed. Too weak to move, he turned his attention to his Lord and made one of the most powerful supplications made by a Prophet of Allah.

اللهم إليك أشكو ضعف قوتي، وقلة حيلتي، وهواني على الناس، يا أرحم الراحمين، أنت أنت رب المستضعفين وأنت ربي، إلى من تكلني؟ إلى عدو يتجهمني؟ أو إلى قريب ملكته أمري؟ إن لم يكن بك علي غضب فلا أبالي، غير أن عافيتك أوسع لي، أعوذ بنور وجهك الذي أشرقت له الظلمات، وصلح عليه أمر الدنيا والآخرة، من أن ينزل بي غضبك، أو يحل علي سخطك، لك العتبى حتى ترضى، ولا حول ولا قوة إلا بك”

“Oh Allah, only to You do I complain about my lack of strength, my insufficient strategies, and lowliness in the sight of the people. You are my Lord. To whom do you turn me over? Someone distant from me who will forsake me? Or have you placed my affair in the hands of my enemy? [2]

The Prophet ﷺ felt that he was the reason why the people were not accepting the message. His concern that “my low status in the eyes of the people,” informs us that he understood that people naturally judge the seriousness of a message based on the stature of the message bearer. The people of Ṭā’if were extremely ignorant, so much that they adamantly refused to enter into any dialogue. In reality, this was not due to any shortcoming of the Prophet ﷺ; he demonstrated the best of character and displayed extreme patience in the face of such ignorance. But the beginning of the supplication teaches us what he was focused on: making sure that he was not the reason why someone did not accept the message.

Because his message was not geographically restricted like that of other Prophets, those who inherited the message would have the extra burden of transferring the message to a people with whom they were unfamiliar. The intelligence needed to pass the message of the Prophet Muḥammad ﷺ around the world included an understanding of the cultural differences that occur between people. Without this understanding effective communication and passing on of his message would be impossible.

A sharp Emotional Intelligence is built upon the development of both intra- and interpersonal intelligence. These intelligences are the backbone of EQ and they provide a person with emotional awareness and understanding of his or her own self, an empathic understanding of others, and the ability needed to communicate effectively and cause change. Emotional Intelligence by itself is not sufficient for individual reform or societal reform; instead, it is only one part of the puzzle. The ʿaql or intellect that is referenced repeatedly in the Qurʾān is a more comprehensive tool that not only recognizes how to understand the psychological and emotional aspects of people but recognizes morally upright and sound behavior. After that this intellect, if healthy and mature, forces a person to conform to that standard. Therefore, we understand the ʿaql to be a comprehensive collection of intelligences analogous to Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences theory.

Taking into consideration the extreme diversity found within Western Muslim communities, we see how both Moral Intelligence and Emotional Intelligence are needed. Fostering and nurturing healthy communities requires that we understand how people receive our messages. This is the interpersonal intelligence aspect of EQ. Without grounding the moral component of our community, diversity can lead to what some contemporary moral theorists call moral plasticity, a phenomenon where concrete understandings of good and evil, right and wrong, are lost. Moral Education (Moral Education, which will be discussed throughout the book, is the process of building a Morally Intelligent heart) focuses on correcting the message that we are communicating to the world; in other words, Moral Intelligence helps us maintain our ideals and live by them, while Emotional Intelligence ensures that the message is effectively communicated to others.

My father would often tell me, “It’s not what you say, son; it’s what they hear.”

Interpersonal understanding is the core of emotional intelligence. My father would often tell me, “It’s not what you say, son; it’s what they hear.” From the perspective of Emotional Intelligence, this statement is very accurate. The way we interpret words, body language, verbal inflections, and facial expressions is based on many different factors. The subtle power of this book lies in the simple fact that your emotional intelligence is the primary agent of change and thus the most powerful force you have. You must understand how people perceive what you are communicating to them. What is missing from my father’s statement is the primacy of Moral Intelligence. Throughout this book, I attempt to show how the Prophet Muḥammad ﷺ demonstrated a level of perfection of both of these intelligences.

*With the Heart in Mind is available for pre-order at https://www.qalam.foundation/qalambooks/with-the-heart-in-mind

[1]Bayhaqī, Shuʿb al-ʾĪmān, vol. 3, p. 23.

[2] Ibn Kathir, al-Bidāyah wa al-Nihāyah, vol. 3, p. 136.

 

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