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Zaid Shakir: The Ethics of Chivalry


Futuwwa, which has been translated as Muslim chivalry, there is the story of a young man who was engaged to marry a particularly beautiful woman. Before the wedding day, his fiancée was afflicted with a severe case of chicken pox which left her face terribly disfigured. Her father wrote to him informing him of the situation and asking if he preferred to call off the wedding. The young man replied that he would still marry his daughter, but that he had recently experienced a gradual loss of sight, which he feared would culminate in blindness.

The wedding proceeded as planned and the couple had a loving and happy relationship until the wife died twenty years later. Upon her death the husband regained his eyesight. When asked about his seemingly miraculous recovery he explained that he could see all along. He had feigned blindness all those years because he did not want to offend or sadden his wife.

From our jaded or cynical vantage points it is easy to dismiss such a story as a preposterous fabrication. To do so is to miss an important point that was not lost to those who circulated and were inspired by this and similar tales. Namely, our religion is not an empty compilation of laws and strictures. The law is important and willingly accepting it is one of the keys to our salvation. However, the law is also a means to point us toward a higher ethical end. We are reminded in the Qur’an, “Surely, the prayer wards off indecency and lewdness.” (29:45)

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The Prophet Muhammad mentioned concerning the fast, “One who does not abandon false speech and acting on its imperatives, God has no need that he gives up his food and drink.” (Al-Bukhari) These narrations emphasize that there is far more to Islam than a mere adherence to rulings.

This is especially true in our marriages. Too many Muslims are involved in marriages that devolve into an empty observation of duties and an equally vacuous demand for the fulfillment of rights. While such practices are laudable in their proper context, when they are divorced from kindness, consideration, empathy, and true commitment they define marriages that become a fragile caricature. Such relationships are irreparably shattered by a silly argument, a few wrinkles on the face, unwanted pounds around the waist, a personality quirk or a whimsical desire to play the field to see if one can latch on to someone prettier, wealthier, younger, or possibly more exciting than one’s spouse.

These are issues that affect men and women. However, we men must step up and do our part to help to arrest the alarmingly negative state of gender relations in our communities. The level of chivalry the current crisis demands does not require that we pretend to be blind for twenty years. However, it does require some serious soul searching, and it demands that we ask ourselves some hard questions. For instance, why are so many Muslim men averse to marrying older or previously married women? The general feeling among the women folk in our communities is that if you are not married by the age of twenty-five, then you have only two chances of being married thereafter –slim and none. This sentiment pervades our sisters’ minds and hearts because of the reality they experience. Many brothers who put off marriage until they are past thirty-five will oftentimes marry someone close to half their age, passing over a generation of women who are intellectually and psychologically more compatible with them and would prove wiser parents for their children.

Despite this problem, and the clear social, psychological and cultural pathologies it breeds, many of us will hasten to give a lecture reminding our audience of the fact that Khadija, the beloved wife of our Prophet, was fifteen years his senior. We might even mention that she and several of his other wives were previously married. Why is it that what was good enough for our Prophet is repugnant to ourselves or our sons?

A related question would be, “Why are so many of our brothers so hesitant to marry strong, independent and intellectually astute women?” Many women in the West lack the support of extended family networks, which is increasingly true even in the Muslim world. Therefore, they must seek education or professional training to be in a position to support themselves if necessary, or to assist their husbands; an increasingly likely scenario owing to the nature of work in postindustrial societies. This sociological fact leads to women in the West generally manifesting a degree of education and independence that might not be present among women in more traditional societies and times – even though such societies are rapidly disappearing.

Many Muslim men will pass over talented, educated women who are willing to put their careers and education on hold, if need be, to commit to a family. The common reason given is that such women are too assertive, or they are not the kind of women the prospective husband’s mother is used to. As a result a significant number of our sisters, despite their beauty, talent, maturity, and dynamism are passed over for marriage in favour of an idealised, demure “real” Muslim woman. The social consequences of this practice are extremely grave for our community.

Again, we can ask ourselves, “To what extent does this practice conform to the prophetic model?” Our Prophet was surrounded by strong, assertive and independent women. His beloved Khadija, who we have previously mentioned, was one of the most successful business people in the Arabian Peninsula, and her wealth allowed the Prophet to retreat to the Cave of Hira where he would receive the first revelation.

Ayesha, despite her young age was an assertive, free-spirited, intellectual powerhouse who would become one of the great female scholars in history. The foundation for her intellectual greatness was laid by the Prophet himself who recognised her brilliance. Zainab bint Jahsh ran a “non-profit” organisation. She would make various handicrafts, sell them in the market and then use the proceeds to secretly give charity to the poor people of Medina. Umm Salamah had the courage to migrate from Mecca to Medina, unescorted, although she was ultimately accompanied by a single rider. She also had the vision to resolve the crisis at Hudaybiyya. These were all wives of the Prophet. To their names we could add those of many other strong and dynamic women who played a major role in the life of the fledgling Muslim community.

Another issue that is leading to many otherwise eligible women remaining single relates to color. If a panel of Muslim men, whose origins were in the Muslim world, were to choose Miss World, the title would likely never leave Scandinavia. No matter how beautiful a woman with a brown, black, or even tan complexion was, she would never be quite beautiful enough, because of her skin color. This attitude informs the way many choose their wives. This is a sensitive issue, but it is one we must address if we are to advance as a community. We may think that ours is a “colorblind” community, however, there are legions of women who have been relegated to the status of unmarriageable social pariahs who would beg to differ.

God has stated that “the basis for virtue with Him is piety; not tribe, race, or national origin.” (49:13) The Prophet reminded us that “God does not look at our physical forms, or at our wealth. Rather, He looks at our hearts and our deeds.” (Muslim) We debase ourselves when we exalt what God has belittled. God and His messenger have belittled skin color and body shape and size as a designator of virtue or distinction. What does it say about us when we use these criteria as truncheons to painfully bludgeon some of the most beautiful women imaginable into social insignificance?

Marriage is not a playground where the ego thoughtlessly pursues its vanities. This is something the chivalrous young man mentioned at the outset of this essay understood. It is an institution that helps a man and a woman pursue the purpose of their creation: to glorify and worship God and to work, within the extent of our capabilities and resources, to make the world a better place for those we share it with and for those we will leave it to. This role is beautifully captured in the Qur’an, “The believing men and women are the supporting friends of each other. They enjoin right, forbid wrong, establish regular prayer, pay the poor due, and they obey God and His Messenger. They expect God’s Mercy. Surely, God is Mighty, Wise.” (9:71)

Article originally published in Emel magazine.

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Imam Zaid Shakir is a scholar and co-founder of Zaytuna College in Berkeley, California. In 2001, he was the first American male graduate from Syria's Abu Nour University.



  1. Amatullah

    April 1, 2010 at 12:50 AM

    Allahu Akbar. May Allah bless Imam Zaid. Wonderful and a much-needed article.

  2. Sister

    April 1, 2010 at 1:08 AM

    MashaAllah!!! As they say, WORD

  3. Abs

    April 1, 2010 at 4:33 AM

    Ma sha’ Allah what an excellent article!

  4. Abdullah

    April 1, 2010 at 5:15 AM

    Alhmadulillah for the internet for allowing us to remain annonymous!

    I agreed to marry a sister, however when I left the gathering of our families etc I wasn’t so sure anymore. I thought maybe she’s not as pretty as I want her to be etc – our old nemesis Shaytan started whispering. Everything about the sister is spot on, but for some reason the whole looks thing kept playing up in my mind. For a guy who has always had some sort of attention from girls from a young age (and this is no arrogrance or boast, I’m just tryna explain the situation here), I thought to myself that maybe I should ‘up my game’. I could if I wanted to go for somebody better looking. Had I not been practicing like many years ago, then I know for sure I would not even consider this sister.

    I was close to calling the whole thing off as my nafs was going into overdrive having heard fellow brothers talk beauty being an integral criteria etc – so I felt maybe I’m making a mistake?

    In the end, I stuck with it. At first the marriage was slightly wierd because deep down it was still playing on my mind that I could have done better in terms of looks. Walking the streets with her, I was like I’m sure people must be thinking, dude you could have done better.

    Never looking at the inward as to the sisters constant recital of the Qur’an (more than me), firmness in her prayer, acts of charity and so on. Now I’m content in accepting here for all of her inward qualities. Having spoke to friends of their married lives, I’m getting the impression that maybe I’m the lucky one with the most obedient wife. May Allah continue to bless her and increase me in my love for her.

    Many times brothers talk of deen being the main criteria, but in reality its the looks. I’m talking from experience here.

    Shaykh Zaid’s article has re-inforced that I made the right choice.

    • yet another Abdullah

      April 1, 2010 at 7:08 AM

      Alhamdulillah, its working well for you. mashallah.

      my situation is worse; what i never really liked her. Obeyed her feelings and my mother’s orders to marry in a similar ‘ i could have done better ‘ scenario kicked in. It created a mixed feeling in the heart; To be or not to be since the day I got engaged. Lots of ups and downs happen. alhamdulillah.

      How to get that contentment thing done. what steps exactly worked for you practically to get them done? If I may ask Except for specifically asking for the Sakeenah in your heart.

      For now, I am assuming to stick on , as long as my religion and life is not endangered why not stick to marriage and do Sabr and earn reward. But in This fitna mongering society, and access to internet, its not easy. ( not impossible either) And if I am not satisfied even with that, it meant that I am not happy with what Allaah ordained for me meaning I don’t even have imaan? (Verse 14:7?)
      This is where its leading for now and i ask refuge with Allaah from shaytaan, the outcast.

      • Naseebah

        April 1, 2010 at 11:31 AM

        Jazakum Allahu khairan to you and Abdullah for being open and honest.

        I’d say the only good thing about dating in the west is that men learn their level. A lot of muslim men walking around thinking they could get Angelina Jolie (or whoever is the beauty standard of the day), when in fact they could not even get close.

        Non-muslim men get their egos crushed by average looking to even bad looking women every week in very long, costly attempts to form relationships.

        Even if Abdullah thinks he had game when young, that would change drastically in one’s 30’s and 40’s.

        The vast majority of non-muslim men would love, love, love to have regular access to an average looking woman who looks very good when she dresses up, who is chaste and obedient, cooks & cleans for him, and raises the kids right.

        They know that even so-called beautiful women look very average in the morning with no makeup and bad breath. Beautiful women on tv and magazines and Internet are largely beautiful due to make up, lighting, photoshop, and surgery.

        What you see is not in nature nor is it the norm, and even for those truly beautiful women, they are not looking for you, so get over it. (Tough love here).

        Newspaper advice columns, talk shows, relationship books, etc. regularly feature men who are trying to find ways to reconcile with their wives who have cheated on them multiple times!!

        Then one turns to muslim-based articles of men complaining when their wives don’t look good enough!

        I have honestly never seen an ugly muslim woman. Every muslim woman I know looks very pretty with her hair done, nice clothes on, and a bit of makeup. You should want her to look this way for you at home, and not in the street. So what if she looks less attractive in public, that’s a good thing, not bad.

        Every muslim woman I know strives to take care of the house and the kids, and cooks & cleans for her husband, and would not so much as think about another man.

        Brothers, you are getting the cream of the crop – Don’t let the shaytan spoil it for you!

        • Abu Ayesha Al Emarati

          April 2, 2010 at 10:25 AM

          Jazaak Allah, ukhti for the excellent comments.

          Very succint, very accurate, MashaAllah!

        • Azhar

          April 23, 2010 at 1:23 PM

          Mashallah, you put it very well. Sometimes we dont realize what we have. This makes me even more
          grateful to Allah.

    • Ameera Khan

      April 1, 2010 at 8:36 AM

      Masha’Allah! May Allah bless your marriage and make you steadfast in faith, together! Ameen. Brother, I think you should try and write about your experience as a guest author here… your account highlights an important issue that young men (and women) face when they set out to look for a life-partner. As it is, it seems we’ll never have “too many” marriage articles in the Muslim blogosphere. :)

    • ukhti

      April 3, 2010 at 9:23 PM

      I agree looks are important for brothers BUT sometimes they take it too far.
      -firstly when a sister is in hijab and abayah i think most of her beauty gets hidden, that is the main purpose of hijab. there is an opinion the bro can look at a sis without hijab for marriage. i think it may be important for some brothers to do that. hair dramaticallly changes things.
      -some women may totally change after pregnancy or other health issues no matter how pretty they were initially, they may not remain that attractive for a long time.
      -sometimes the brothers may define beauty is what they see in magazines etc, most of those women are photoshopped, they have fake tan, fake nose, fake boobs, fake eyelashes, hair extensions , list can go on
      -some women i know are extremely beautiful but they have the most disgusting personality. you dont want a woman who is extremely gorgeous but cant even raise your kids properly.
      – i beleive any woman can look attractive if she dresses well at home, puts some make up and perfume, and does her hair, even if it’s all simple.
      -your main is jannah, dont forget your wife will be the most beautiful woman in jannah, plus you have all those other hoor al ayn.

  5. RD

    April 1, 2010 at 8:07 AM

    jazakum Allahu khayran, Imam Zaid. Excellent piece.

  6. Ameera Khan

    April 1, 2010 at 8:44 AM

    Marriage is not a playground where the ego thoughtlessly pursues its vanities. This is something the chivalrous young man mentioned at the outset of this essay understood. It is an institution that helps a man and a woman pursue the purpose of their creation: to glorify and worship God and to work, within the extent of our capabilities and resources, to make the world a better place for those we share it with and for those we will leave it to.

    JazakAllah for this excellent article and advice, Imam Zaid! You’ve said exactly what needs to be said and you made me seriously wonder about the mature woman as a wife, that is… more equal in age, especially for men over 30s or in their 40s. Why is it that we still prefer for middle-aged men to marry much younger girls and overlook the women in their age brackets, who’re also looking for a suitable spouse?

    • Sammy

      April 1, 2010 at 1:30 PM

      I KNOW of too many cases and it pains me! But then I think about how Allah Ordains for things as He Wills and I begin to doubt my doubts about the men who went for the younger girls.

      What needs to be done is for mothers to inculcate ideas that liberate us of taboos and traditions. I’ve realized we usually don’t grow up with ideas of our own, per se, but accumulate them from societal pressures and drawing room conversations. A small percentage is able to break free of that and then set trends like marrying an older woman, marrying a divorced woman, marrying a single married man with children, marrying a repenting non-virgin and so on and so forth.

      • Ameera

        April 1, 2010 at 2:26 PM

        Hmm… well said. It takes a lot of courage to be part of that “minority” as you said. But then, change was never easy for anyone. :) You, me and a lot of other people who think the same way at least hope to change the way the next generation will see these issues, Insha’Allah. If we pass on the same ideas and taboos, that’s a major problem.

  7. Yawar

    April 1, 2010 at 9:22 AM

    Today is our 25th wedding anniversary – March 21st, 2010.
    March 21st is also the beginning of the Summer Solstice; interestingly a very important day in ancient calendars, where the day in the Northern Hemisphere starts to get longer – not because of our wedding of course.
    So what did I learn?
    I learnt that a marriage is a game of give and take in which the more you give, the more you take. And that unless you give you can’t take.
    I learnt that the trick is to collect memories. What kind of memories? Any kind you want. That is up to you. Only, in the end, you will only have what you collected.
    I learnt that not only can you collect memories but you also get to make them. Once again, you get to make whatever kind you want. Those that will bring a smile to the face, warmth to the heart and perhaps a tear of happiness. Or the other kind.
    I learnt that to be married is to be prepared to be surprised. All kinds of surprises – that the delicate person in lace who smells sweeter than a rose garden has a core of steel. And the day you have to lean on it, you are very happy indeed that it is there.
    I learnt that to share meant to give up your ownership – then you get back what you gave up, enhanced and enriched. She said to me once, a few days after we got married, ‘If you call everything ‘mine’ then what do I have to call mine?’ To ‘give up’ ownership is sometimes nothing more than to use the term ‘we’ instead of ‘I, me, mine, my’. I learnt that it is not about the semantics but about the soul of being married.
    She is an artist in many ways, one of which was as a painter. She was painting a seascape. Stormy clouds, lashing waves and one boat. Then she started to paint another boat in the scene. She worked on it for many days but the second boat would simply not fit into the scene. It looked out of place. It looked alien. It looked clearly as if it did not belong there. So she rubbed it out. It took me some years to realize that it was not about the number of boats in the scene but the number of people in the boat.
    I remember the strange warm glow when I was introduced for the first time as, ‘This is my husband.’ Never knew that there was so much pleasure in being ‘owned.’ My husband. Hmm!!
    I learnt that it is not always necessary to say, ‘I love you,’ ‘Thank you,’ ‘I miss you.’ But it is always necessary to say, ‘I am sorry.’ I also learnt that leaving your partner to read your mind opens you to the danger of your partner never having learned how to read minds. I learnt also that in the end even though you say the words, it is what you do, the light in your eyes, the ‘charge’ in the hug that conveys more than the words ever will.
    I learned the joy of opening my mouth to say something only to hear my words coming out of my wife’s mouth and then we both laugh. Who said telepathy doesn’t work? Maybe it doesn’t work all the time. But then neither do the phones.
    I learnt the value of being thankful. Thankful to Allah for granting me someone who I neither asked for, nor could have hoped for and to see us through highs and lows such that at the end of 25 years, all I can do is to thank Him. Thankful to my wife for walking with me on the road of life – walking on my road, perhaps at the cost of the road she wanted to walk on (never had the courage to ask her). Thankful to her for being the only person about whose support I never had to wonder or guess. Thankful to her for always being in my corner, even though sometimes that meant giving me some tough feedback (that is part of being in the corner after all).
    I learnt that in the end, the only thing that matters is trust. Not beauty, not wealth, not status or grace – although I must say that I was blessed in her with all of these in full measure – but trust. And that I was blessed with even more. I learned also that trust must be built, one day at a time; one incident at a time. I learned that trust is the most valuable of assets and so must be guarded accordingly.
    It was 1985. We had just been married and arrived on the estate. The workers knew we were coming and organized a grand welcome. They lined the road from Sholayar Dam all the way to Candura and threw flowers as we drove slowly along. They sang songs of welcome. When we reached Candura they led us to a pavilion made of branches lined with their best sarees, nailed to the wood. They sat us down in decorated chairs, garlanded us, gave us gifts and then served tea and sweets while they all surrounded us, laughing, talking and so joyful to welcome the new bride of their manager. As the tea was served, to my horror I noticed that a desperate fly perhaps in a fit of despair had decided to commit suicide in my wife’s tea cup. Before I could even collect my wits, what did I see her do? She calmly picked out the fly very discretely and put it on the saucer and drank the tea with a smile. Nobody noticed. Hospitality after all must be honored.
    It was 1987 monsoon in the Anamallais; the tea district in Southern India; perched on the ridge of the Western Ghats. Apart from the elephants after which it was named, the Anamallais was famous for its rainfall. And that year it decided to prove that to the doubtful. So it rained. It rained continuously, thunderously for almost ten days with furious winds. Result? On my estate alone – Lower Sheikalmudi – 1200 trees fell, electric and telephone lines were broken and landslides locked us in. When you have no power, no light, no telephones and no roads to go anywhere for 10 days in a row, what do you do? You sit by a roaring fire and play chess. Or rather you first teach your wife how to play chess and then watch her beat you at it after two days of practice.
    Some days after the roads were restored to some semblance of order, one weekend I decided to take my wife out for a ride. I had an ancient Royal Enfield Bullet motorcycle which I loved and we both rode along the winding road from Sheikalmudi to Valparai. It is a very beautiful ride with tea along one side of the road and forests in the ravines and a very good chance of seeing or meeting some wildlife as you ride along. A motorcycle ride is a different level of enjoyment that a car can never give you. On a bike you are in the scenery, unprotected. The wind blows in your face (we didn’t wear helmets) and through your hair (I still had some in those days for the wind to blow through) carrying the smell of the forest. The Royal Enfield has a typical signature beat which is a delight to listen to as you tool along. We came very well all the way to the bottom of the slope in Valparai Coffee Estate leading up to the Tata Tea Workshop and then Murphy’s Law kicked in – you always get a puncture at the bottom of the slope – and we did. What do you do? You learn the meaning of sharing in new ways – start the engine, use the drive to help you push the bike, guide it by alternately walking and running alongside holding the handlebars and have your wife walk up behind you.
    I learnt the difference between a house and a home. A house was what I would get and a home was what she would make it. We lived in many beautiful bungalows. To make them even more beautiful and enjoyable was perhaps not so remarkable. But one of them we lived in was not beautiful. It was set in a very beautiful location, in a small forest glade in Carolyn Estate in the Mango Range. But it had been vacant and neglected for many years and when we moved in, what I remember most vividly was a wall that was a shade of light green – the result of fungus growing on a wall damp with a mysterious water leak. We lived in that bungalow for 6 months during which I was in transition between assignments. But the result of her attention to it was that every day when I would return from the factory – I was studying CTC manufacture in Carolyn Factory – I would look forward to coming home. It was in this bungalow that I wrote the ‘Guide to Tea Plantation Management.’ I learnt that a home was where there was harmony, comfort, peace, grace, beauty and caring. And I also learnt that all this was possible to do with very little money. To give you an idea of how little; one day I went to the bank to update my passbook and returned with delighted surprise to note that I had all of Rs. 500 in my account. No I did not miss a few zeros. It was Rs. 500. So there was very little money to spend on beautifying a house.
    I learnt that support sometimes means to be left to face your own fears and to overcome your own terrors – with the knowledge that she would back me no matter what path I chose. But the decision was mine to take. I was debating whether I should risk living my dream of being an entrepreneur. I was in a very nice cushy job at that time, based in Delhi, earning a very comfortable salary. Being on your own meant the freedom to starve if things went wrong. It meant taking all the money we had and investing it in a business – management consulting – which may just as easily fail. I said to her during a long conversation, ‘If we move to Bangalore, we won’t have a house like this or a car and driver. We may not have a car at all initially.’ She said to me, ‘I did not marry you for your car or your house.’ What she was telling me was, ‘If you want to live your dream, I will support you no matter what it takes. But if you want to cop out, then you will have to face that yourself.’ Was that hard? No, actually it made the choice much simpler and I never regretted it.
    Companionship, a meeting of looks, a smile. Language and words that nobody else can understand. Shared memories over 25 years. Hard times, easy times. Alhamdulillah life goes on, each day a new discovery. A life of thankfulness for what we have been given.

    PS: Believe it or not, it is actually possible to fall in love afresh every time I look at her face – and I do. As for your unasked question, ‘All this is good. But surely there must have been something negative.’ My answer, ‘If you had to choose between keeping roses and garbage, which would you choose?’ Remember what I said about memories earlier? We get to keep those we want to remember. Having said that, the truth is that at least for me, there are none that are negative. And Allah knows that is true.

    • Abu Sauleh

      April 1, 2010 at 9:34 AM

      Beautiful post. May Allaah continue to bless your marriage.

    • Sincerity

      April 1, 2010 at 9:43 AM

      Jzk for sharing this. It was beautifully written and I almost felt ur love 4 ur spouse.

    • Sister N.

      April 1, 2010 at 10:53 AM

      This post was amazing… subhanAllah, I do not have the words to describe it. Your story is so inspiring, masha’Allah.

    • Ameera Khan

      April 1, 2010 at 12:20 PM

      No words to describe how I feel… this is a book in itself! JazakAllah for sharing it so beautifully here! :) May Allah bless your family! Ameen.

    • Faiza

      April 2, 2010 at 11:32 AM

      Wow! A truly wonderful post! An elaboration with examples of Imam Zaid’s last paragraph.
      For some reason, the middle part of your post took me to Malgudi!!! lol

  8. ST

    April 1, 2010 at 9:24 AM

    Jazak Allah khair Imam Zaid.

    I know your article addresses mostly the men, and perhaps it is more appropriate to do so. Nevertheless, a marriage needs the right attitude from both parties to survive, and its not just the men who have adopted attitudes that are harmful to a healthy marriage.

    Some of our sisters have forgotten the need to be deferential, patient and obedient to their husbands and perhaps this problem is not being addressed as urgently as it needs to be. As a man, I would love for my wife to be strong, independent and intellectually astute. But if these lead to disrespect, rebelliousness and condescension, then these are qualities that will act as a poison that kills the affection necessary for a marriage to survive.

    A good balanced article that addresses this issue can be found here.

    • Fazila

      April 1, 2010 at 8:05 PM

      You say that women should be deferential, patient and obedient. However, you fail to acknowledge that these are qualities that men must also show to their wife. The problem with men of this generation is that they will happily marry a strong independent woman because in the current economic climate it is essential for bot a man and woman to have well paid jobs to get anywhere. However, these same men expect these women to be submissive and obedient! It’s appalling and the reason why I choose to stay single until I come across a man that understands the true meaning of equality.

      For too many years men take it as their right to be the boss in their relationship. You expect to marry a woman who will abandon her dreams to fulfill yours, who will abandon her home and family to adopt yours and perhaps this worked in a time when women had little freedom and were ‘kept’. However, now you expect that we should take on the responsibilities of a man but still happily accept an inferior role.

      • Hassan

        April 1, 2010 at 10:32 PM

        Men must bear children too!!! Why women has to be pregnant. I demand men to get pregnant.

        • Fazila

          April 1, 2010 at 10:35 PM

          Wow that is so ignorant. If a couple choose to have children then a woman has to carry them as it is genetic. However, it is written nowhere that a woman’s role/job/duty is to do domestic chores. Furthermore, due to this difficult thing that only a woman can do men HAVE TO provide financially for their family. That IS written.

          • Fazila

            April 1, 2010 at 10:37 PM

            Anyway, you clearly disagree with what I am saying so instead of making random sarcastic remarks why don’t you provide some rhetoric and we can get a dialogue going.

          • ummaasiyah

            April 3, 2010 at 6:58 PM

            Fazila…you have spoken a truth which is being ignored by so many men (and their families) out there.

            Let me tell you what the expectations are from a wife:

            As a wife, you must cook, clean, have well-mannered children, look pretty and have a high-flying career, whilst also practically laying down your life for your in-laws, but not even calling your own parents. Also, be obedient and submissive.

            Of course, the above example is exaggerated, but unfortunately it is an example of certain expectations from men and their families, particularly those living in the West. If a man is steadfast on the deen, he shouldn’t have such a lifestyle where his wife has to work. There is no need for that huge house. BUT…if you expect your wife to work, then ISLAMICALLY you shouldn’t expect her to contribute to the household expenditure. Oh…but you do? Then don’t expect her to be obedient to you while you oppress her by making her work and then taking away her hard-earned cash from her and THEN turn her into a slave (in more ways than one) when she comes home from work and make her do the housework for you and your family.

            The balance of Islam is perfect.

      • Torq

        April 2, 2010 at 3:05 AM

        sister, men and women are different. A ship with two leaders sinks, and it is natural for men to be the leaders, and be responsible for caring for their family.

        But you are right, a real man would not expect her to provide. He should be willing to take care of that himself.

        • ummaasiyah

          April 3, 2010 at 7:04 PM

          I think what the sister is trying to say is that if a man wants to pursue his dreams, but wants his wife to work, he shouldn’t expect her to be obedient and submissive when he has forced her into a life of oppression by suppressing her dreams of having a high-flying career, making her work (in a job she possibly doesn’t want to be in) and then making her do the housework on top of that.

          Women are great multitaskers, but we can only do one thing full-time. Either we are full-time workers or we are full-time wives/mothers. It can’t be both full-time. And if we do choose to work, then we should have the option of working part-time and keeping our own money instead of contributing to the household income. This is where it becomes unfair.

          • Fazila

            April 6, 2010 at 8:30 PM

            I love all your comments, seems as though my remarks have been understood perfectly. I have big dreams- I want a lot of things from life. My dream is to have financial stability and security. It’s not too much to expect and is natural for a woman to want such things. Someone said a ship can only have one leader. Men and women are always arguing about who’s the boss. Fact is no1 wants to be the boss because it’s hard! The boss has responsibilities, the boss has stress and sleepless nights, the boss has all the pressure! The problem is often that everyone wants the status and respect the boss gets without the hard work. What a lot of men need to understand is that most women would LOVE a REAL MAN who takes care of his family and is loving and caring, etc. Problem is there are very few real men out there! If a husband is responsible for all the household things then he can assume the role of ‘boss’. However, the reality is men work with women to share responsibilities. Women are not the students/inferors/children of men! If a family consists of a man, woman and children and one adult is the boss, then what does that make the other adult?

            The reality is a man and a woman work in partnership to raise a family- they share the burdens and the joys together so, although it is true a ship can only run with one captain there are numerous examples where synergy is necessary for equilibrium. This fight over his and her jobs is irrelevant.

  9. Sincerity

    April 1, 2010 at 9:44 AM

    I recently turned 25 so I guess no hope 4 me to get married =D lol

  10. Siraaj

    April 1, 2010 at 11:05 AM

    Agree with the spirit of the article, disagree with the way imam zaid says it should be carried out. I don’t think any brothers should get married out of pity, or in order “to lower their standards”. I do agree that previous marital status and age shouldn’t be a factor, and if they find a sister they like who has this “against” them (if it can be called that), they should try to work through whatever mental issues they have personally to accept this otherwise compatible person.

    About marrying at age parity, there’s no basis for that – in fact, the opposite has occurred for centuries, men marrying women much less their age has occurred as the norm – the Prophet (SAW) himself married Aisha when he was more than 5 times her age, let alone half. The number is irrelevant, it’s the compatibility that matters regardless of whether the man is older or younger, by a great amount or by little.

    If brothers want to be chivalrous towards the sisters who are socially stigmatized (but are not interested in them, or are already married), some of them who are well-connected in the community can actively look out and try to match them up or find people that can help match them up.

    Romantic-sounding as the opening narrative is, I don’t think any sister would want to be married to a guy that married her out of pity, out of “taking one for the team” – she would want to be married to the man who loved her for who and what she was, both inside and out, the complete package. Put another way, you may say, “Awwwww!” about the brother in the story, but you wouldn’t want to be the one whom he married and thought was ugly (even if he genuinely could overlook her looks and still be in love with her, you know you still want your husband to genuinely find you physically attractive).

    To paraphrase one of my good friends, marriage isn’t community service. It’s easy for a leader to look above with a big picture view and see social problems that need to be addressed, and it quite something else to realize relationships are more complex than simply pairing up this one with that one – there is culture, there is family, there is much to address, and each individual has their own circumstances and needs to address which will take priority and precedence over the needs of muslim society – if the two intersect, all well and good, but if not, well, there’s nothing wrong with that either, and I don’t think anyone needs to be guilted into being made out to be “unchivalrous” as a result.


    • NahyanInc

      April 1, 2010 at 12:32 PM

      That’s a great point bro, complementary to the article.

      I liked the point on, it’s an “aww” type story but no-one wants to be in that situation. The article describes 1 mindset, a much needed one, but not suggesting it to be ideal

    • Abez

      April 1, 2010 at 12:37 PM

      I may be wrong, but I don’t think the young man in the story was ‘taking one for the team,’ so much as he was standing by his word, honoring his commitment, and finding a creative (though not very easily imitated) way of allowing his wife to feel beautiful to him throughout their marriage.

      There would have been other ways of doing so in the relationship, I’m sure, but if he simply used his connections to refer her to a nice brother with farsightedness, it wouldn’t really have been very chivalrous, would it? Instead of pointing to her physical deficiency, he sought out way that he could compensate for the situation. Instead of seeing problems, he came up with a solution. :) Perhaps that’s the greater lesson?

      And Allah knows best. :)

      • Siraaj

        April 1, 2010 at 10:21 PM

        Had the story been left without explanatory details, yeah, I’d see the point, but everything happens in context.

        I think the true romantic ending is the one where the girl finds the guy that’s attracted her in all aspects, and the other guy helps her find him.


    • alhamdulillah

      April 3, 2010 at 11:23 AM

      I’m a woman and I would feel terrible and unhappy to know that my husband does not find me beautiful and craves women he sees on the streets..NO…women know what goes in a man’s head , why should a man get married to an ugly woman (in his is in the eye of the beholder) and then have her suffer.I think she’d rather sit at home or work for ever single, appreciated by everyone rather than get married to someone who does not see her as pretty and on top of that, she knows that men have the temptation of looking… seriously…unless he himself has a certain problem… or does not really care that much about looks…

      so I agree with the brother on that one..

  11. Abdus Salam

    April 1, 2010 at 11:11 AM

    “We debase ourselves when we exalt what God has belittled.”

  12. NahyanInc

    April 1, 2010 at 12:30 PM

    Jazakallahukhair for the article.

    Excellent points on the wives of the Prophet, sallAllahu alaihiwasallam.

  13. studnet

    April 1, 2010 at 3:24 PM

    Jazak’Allah Sh. Zaid shakir,
    even though I do agree with Br. Siraj that compatibilty is a bigger issue than just the number, I think the Shaykh did bring out an important topic that we deal with in our communities. In general, the mothers are more inclined on their sons getting married to a younger more fair looking girl. Personally, speaking of my own experience, the desi mother would hate it if her son wanted to marry a somalian or somone of darker origin JUST because of the color. The deen and all that stuff doesnt really even matter at this point. However, if the girl was fair looking, then they would start thinking about it. Islam came 1400 years to abolish this same type of racial discrimination but it looks like its well alive and kicking. The only way to tackle this issue would be to lead the way. Talking about it within the communities is not going to do much. People say stuff but when it comes to marrying your son off to a person of darker color or someone older, its a definate no no.

    A question I would bring up at this point however is that why are these women getting to such an age without getting married in the first place? Shouldn’t the emphasis be on getting married at an earlier age. I understand that there are circumstances such as education and so. But even then, one can get married and still study ….

    • Fazila

      April 1, 2010 at 8:24 PM

      Marriage isn’t something a person does because they reach a certain age. You don’t just think, ‘oh I’m almost 25 better get married’ and marry anyone. I’m 27 and single because I will only marry a man that I can spend my life with. It’s not like getting a job which you can leave. Marriage is, for me, a lifetime commitment. I would rather be single forever than married to the wrong person, have children with the wrong person, and probably divorced to that wrong person!

      As for continuing education after marriage, unless I’ve woken up in a parallel world as far as I’ve seen when a man gets married he acquires a possession, regardless of what many of you convince yourselves with. He expects his wife to be his mother (cook, clean, iron,etc), to be a mother, and to be his subordinate. In the majority of cases life after marriage for a woman is always on the onus of what her husband allows/disallows. A man has a dream, a path, a purpose and that’s all very well but so do women. Women like me don’t get married because women like me want to follow their own dreams (shock).

      • Hassan

        April 1, 2010 at 10:35 PM

        You go girl, screw men, who needs them anyway, stay single and acheive ur dream!! Good luck

      • NAS

        April 2, 2010 at 3:24 AM

        The prophet (pbuh) has said “There is no celibacy in Islam.”

  14. Naseebah

    April 1, 2010 at 3:59 PM

    Khadija was twice married previously, some scholars say once divorced, once widowed, the others say twice widowed. Her marriage to the prophet (pbuh) was her 3rd. She had children from previous marriage(s) and went on to have children with him (pbuh) — and was 40 years of age and his boss!

    Despite her two marriages and children – she was titled The Pure. Which shows purity was viewed as something of character, not young age and virginity.

    She was very eligible and many wished to marry her, and this did not diminish her virtue in the eyes of the Prophet (pbuh). It was not done out of pity.

    A lot of muslim men are missing out on having great marriages and wondering why, when they block out entire categories of women from consideration.

    I agree with some of the above comments, that it is often the mothers and other aunties who end up enforcing this.

  15. Ibn Masood

    April 1, 2010 at 7:42 PM

    Although I agree very strongly with the gist of the article, I think a very critical and important detail was left out.

    If a brother is to marry a strong sister or a sister who is older than him, it is even more important for her to have a high level of Taqwa and understanding of the role a Muslim woman has in her marriage. Also, both genders need to rid themselves of the incorrect perceptions that Western society has put into us of the role of a husband towards his wife, and a wife towards her husband.

    The reason I say this is not to brush off the amazing points that the brother made in the article, and not to victimize the brothers or to dismiss the ‘strong’ sisters, but because there is a real problem of some wives who do not respect the authority of the husband and thus there ends up being a leadership problem in the household. In this way either the husband lives a life of misery or the whole thing ends up in divorce. According to the imams/marriage counselors I’ve spoken to, this problem is quite common.

    That said, it is equally critical for the husbands of such wives to not be weak or immature, and to be strong, supportive and a pillar of strength of their wives and children. A strong woman needs a strong man to gain support and strength from. And this I think is the other problem not addressed in the article, the lack of strong, decisive men who not only are capable of financially supporting their wives, but know how to love, when to give the freedom to explore ambition to their strong wives, and lastly, when to put their foot down.

    So in the end, I don’t doubt the points in the article (even I myself have no problem marrying a very ambitious sister or one who is older than me, and so far those are the sisters I usually am ending up looking into), however this issue of Taqwa, emotional/intellectual immaturity amongst males and the respect of the husband is very important and absolutely must be factored into the equation. A man primarily needs respect just as how a woman primarily needs love (although both need love and respect on differing levels). Without this the article seems to have failed to address the core issue behind the problem.

    Allahu Alam.

    P.S. I didn’t know the color problem was such an issue?

    • Amatullah

      April 2, 2010 at 12:57 AM

      If I said the color issue is a major problem…That would be an understatement.

      • Ibn Masood

        April 2, 2010 at 4:04 PM

        Really? To say that is pathetic would be an understatement.

        • Hala

          April 3, 2010 at 10:53 PM

          You’d be surprised Ibn Masood!

          Or maybe it’s cause I’m from Africa…

          • Razia

            April 4, 2010 at 3:12 PM

            No matter where you are its a problem! Be it Asia, or Africa.

  16. Fazila

    April 1, 2010 at 8:49 PM

    The main problem in marriages is men!

    Women are moving ahead while men think they can still retain their archaic mentality. What use is a man in this day and age? All they present to an educated woman is a burden. Men look for an educated woman to marry- they calculate income factoring in that the wife will be working (If I make £30k and she makes £30k that’s £60k and we can get,…) and that’s FINE but at the same time they expect that the woman should STILL be responsible for the jobs that are historically considered ‘women’s jobs’!

    If I could marry a man that works all day, then comes home and cooks dinner, does all the laundry and ironing on weekends and keeps the house clean!!! While all I do is go to work then come home and relax… Seems like there’s a major disparity!

    MEN, pick a side and stick to it. If you want a wife that is a domestic goddess then marry an uneducated woman. If you want a good standard of living and income then marry an educated woman and expect to take EQUAL responsibility for domestic chores as she is equally responsible for income.

    I am an educated woman who can take care of myself. I can support myself financially, I can feed myself, I am capable of keeping my environment ordered, I do DIY better than most men. Why on Earth would I want to get married and be no better off? In fact, getting married would mean taking on the chores of a lazy man and still having to support my family financially! Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against marriage. I would be happy to marry a man as long as he is equal to me in all things but that is something that seemingly doesn’t exist.

    As for the many posts regarding respect- love is earned but respect is lost. When you meet a stranger you start all relationships with respect. If you feel as though you are not getting respect then that, most likely, is your own failings and shortcomings. I love & respect my younger brother who will help me clean the house, who makes me tea and gets food for me. I respect my brother in law who cooks dinner after a hard day at work, even though my sister is a home-maker, because he realises how hard she has to work all day. I respect the way my dad would cook with my mum and my mum did DIY with my dad.

    As far as I’ve seen the Quran has become a book and we have all become lawyers. We extrapolate information that will support our own agendas.

    • Siraaj

      April 1, 2010 at 10:22 PM

      The main problem in marriages is men!

      Good April Fool’s joke!


      • Fazila

        April 1, 2010 at 10:27 PM

        It’s not a joke, and where I am it is no longer April 1st. Furthermore, I am not prone to following pagan practices :p hahahahaha

        • Fazila

          April 1, 2010 at 10:29 PM

          Also, you fail to address any of my points.

          • Siraaj

            April 1, 2010 at 10:56 PM

            Well, I was responding, but you may have been a bit too quick on the trigger with the reload button.


        • Siraaj

          April 1, 2010 at 10:40 PM

          Well, in all seriousness, what you wrote was one stereotype after another. I’m not saying what you’ve mentioned doesn’t exist, it’s just not as categorical as you make it out to be. For example, there are many educated sisters who don’t care so much for their education, but get one as a type of insurance policy in case something goes wrong and their help is needed, but otherwise wish to retain control of the domestic side. I think sisters can be well-educated and of their own volition choose to lead the home.

          Assuming you’re correct and that all (or most) men are lazy no good parasites who will feast on your DIY skillz that pay the billz, you may consider picking one up anyway for the sake of having children. Whether having the child outweighs the freedom from the super-sloth Y chromo-gnome is up to you to decide, and some will want them, and others will opt for spinsterhood – to each their own, as it is said.

          Just an FYI, and I’m not saying this is true of you, but I’ve often observed that the sisters who were the loudest and proudest of their education and how they would never marry before finishing their MS or PhDs were often the ones who wanted it the most and jumped at the first guy who proposed at them (well, not literally, but you get the point). Something to consider =)


          • Fazila

            April 1, 2010 at 10:49 PM

            I have had men propose to me. However, as I have previously mentioned somewhere, for me marriage is about finding a like minded individual to share my life and dreams with. I have no objection to getting married but it isn’t a thing to get out of the way. If I met Mr. Right then I would marry him, but not Mr. Right Now! I’m not desperate to marry but I am not abjectly refusing the possibility. It will happen if/when it is meant to- it’s in God’s hands.

            Perhaps in America the men are different but in the UK it’s slim pickings! I have met many men through my family who have all expected me to contribute financially but still be responsible for all the domestic duties! Everyone wants so much! I just want to live my life and be happy.

          • Fazila

            April 1, 2010 at 10:51 PM

            Oh, I forgot to mention that getting married just to have children is the worst idea! That would work equally well with a sperm donor! Having children is a product of love that is shared between a man and woman. It’s not as though the world has a population crisis and we all must have children!

          • Siraaj

            April 1, 2010 at 11:02 PM

            Can’t disagree with that (first post). Second post, like I said, to each their own – there may be some fiqhi issues on sperm donor stuff. If you think having children is a product of love, please look at most uncle and aunties, I rarely find star-crossed lovers among them, mostly family arrangements that they slog through over the years for the sake of not having a bad family name.

            The point of the children remark is not about populating the world, it’s more because people want to have their own children to raise and love, period.


          • Fazila

            April 1, 2010 at 11:16 PM

            Rare are the star crossed lovers but equally rare are the children being raised in a happy and healthy home with a balanced psychological state of mind. I don’t think it’s wrong to have 2 parents who love and respect each other raising a child/children. Most people make do with their misery. They are trapped and that’s sad. I have seen in my generation great women married to worthless men but they stay with them for the sake of the children. Marriage and having children is a gift that has been corrupted. We argue about chores and responsibilities, who’s in charge, who gets the final say. In the end, who cares!

            Fundamentally, when something has to be done, do it- it doesn’t matter what your gender is. The problem is that there is a power struggle- everyone wants to be the boss, but nobody realises what this actually entails. It’s not just getting the respect and praise- being the boss is hard! I think everyone would LOVE to have someone else be the boss if they actually did the things necessary to be the boss. My mum is a single parent and she’s the boss- that makes her responsible for everything which gives her all the stress and sleepless nights!

            The main issue with this man-woman-marriage thing is that men want to be the boss as it has always been this way, but many men fail to fulfil the responsibilities required for this title. Then their wife will take on these roles and the man still expects to be in charge and resents it that the woman doesn’t worship him!

      • Hassan

        April 1, 2010 at 10:28 PM

        She is right, men are at fault, be agreeing to marry.

        • Fazila

          April 1, 2010 at 10:30 PM

          Please elaborate, what do you mean? Are you being arrogant and condescending? You have failed to grasp the relevance of anything that has been said.

          • Hassan

            April 1, 2010 at 10:37 PM

            No unfortunately, my low intellect is failing to grasp your high intellectual points, it would take sometime for me to digest, please forgive me as I belong to a village and I am not much educated.

        • Siraaj

          April 1, 2010 at 10:50 PM

          Must be some village – you must be connecting through a 14.4k bps modem through AOL (I always hated the constant updates after logging out).


          • Fazila

            April 1, 2010 at 10:56 PM

            I hate AOL! Terrible service. Hassan, it seems as though you are perhaps intimidated by what I have said. You clearly disagree but instead of making any relevant comments you choose to cling on to the lowest form of whit and rhetoric- sarcasm. Are you married? Either you or Siraaj? If yes, I would like to know what your marriages are like. If not, then I’d like to know what your ideal marriage partner would be like.

          • Siraaj

            April 1, 2010 at 11:06 PM

            Happily married, 3 kids, having the time of my life. In fact, wife and I are hanging out right now, enjoying some down time after having put the kids to sleep (she’s next to me reading, and I’m posting here).

            Marriage isn’t as complicated as it’s made out to be, most men and women need just a few tweaks here and there to complete the picture about the other gender and how to make it work and they’re good to go.


          • Hassan

            April 1, 2010 at 11:17 PM

            I belong to village, did not mean I am in village right now.

          • Hassan

            April 1, 2010 at 11:25 PM

            Fazila, on the contrary, I am quite entertained by your comments.

            Both me and Siraaj are looking for wives, but definitely somewhat different from our current wives.

          • Fazila

            April 1, 2010 at 11:37 PM

            I just read your other post. You seem like a lovely guy and I’m glad to have spoken to you. I suppose there are some nice men out there, perhaps I’ve just been unlucky and met all the wrong ones! I wish you all the happiness and I’m sure you’ll get it and more.

          • Sayf

            April 2, 2010 at 2:51 PM

            Well, you aren’t alone sister.
            Muslim women and men are facing challenges, but with du’a and a constructive/positive attitude, I’m sure we can bring good out of this into our lives inshallah. =D}

    • Sayf

      April 1, 2010 at 11:13 PM

      Sister Fazila have you read Siraaj’s earlier articles/comments?

      You’ll see that we pretty much have the same ideas when it comes to fairness in marriage, I think the only issue is that you’ve over-generalized men and created really unfair stereotypes.

      i.e. “Women are moving ahead while men think they can still retain their archaic mentality. What use is a man in this day and age? All they present to an educated woman is a burden.”

      Ouch, low-blows hurt. If a guy wrote that exact same thing replacing “women” with “men”, he would be ingesting copious amount of mace.

      • Fazila

        April 1, 2010 at 11:22 PM

        Fair enough, my words are quite harsh taken out of context but they are a product of experience. Regarding the rest of what I wrote, is it not true!? Too much is expected of women and too little of men.

        • Muslim

          April 3, 2010 at 9:35 AM

          salam Fazila,

          i don’t think cooking & cleaning is that big of a deal to say that women do so much, i mean its not the end of the world.

          don’t you think that in Islam the husband is to obeyed by the wife – granted it’s not haram or too hard on the wife. This is key for men that they as the say in America “wear the paints” in the relationship, and Allah has given the obligation to the wife to obey the husband in Islamically allowable terms.

          thanks for your honest replies,

          • Fazila

            April 6, 2010 at 8:41 PM

            The definition of obey:

            to comply with or follow the commands, restrictions, wishes, or instructions of another

            The word ‘obey’ is offensive when directed to a wife. It is a word used for animals, inferiors and children. A wife is expected to function as a mother, a teacher, a confidante, supporter, advisor, etc in a family so when the word ‘obey’ comes into it it is offensive as the position of a wife/woman in Islam is not inferior to the position of a husband/man.

            Going by the meaning, it is definitely the duty of a good and loving wife to behave this way as it is for husbands. If there is love between 2 people then this is natural and goes without saying. A loving wife will dress and behave in a manner that pleases her husband and a loving husband will dress and behave in a manner that pleases his wife.

          • Fazila

            April 7, 2010 at 8:02 PM

            With regards to your comment that cooking and cleaning isn’t a big deal, it isn’t but would YOU be satisfied with a life that consists of staying at home cooking and cleaning? We women can do what men do and well, but men are incapable of doing what they expect women to do! Does that mean women are superior? No, it means that a lot of men are ignorant. There’s nothing to cooking and cleaning- that’s why we women just get on with it, because we can’t be bothered with the aggro- it’s you men that make it an issue.

            If a man wants a wife that stays at home and cooks and cleans then why find an educated woman with a degree? You don’t need a degree to do this! That’s my issue- there are benefits to marrying an educated woman (financial) but accept the disadvantages.

            Anyway, Islamically money a woman earns is her own and her husband has no right over it, so all the women out there slaving after their man working then coming home to do all the domestics alone when the man benefits from his wife’s cash… that’s not even allowed! SO instead just go work and spend the earned money on a maid! If husbands want to save cash he can do the domestics! LOL

          • Muslim

            April 7, 2010 at 8:33 PM

            I appreciate the honest responses. I mean i never got a woman’s perspective on this before and I wondered what one’s response would be to someone saying this. The concept of woman obeying the husband in halal actions is something that I have heard from several scholars, and they use some hadiths and ayat to support thier claim which I am sure you are aware of, like just one for eg:

            Ibn Hibbaan narrated that Abu Hurayrah said: The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “If a woman prays her five (daily prayers), fasts her month (Ramadaan), guards her chastity and obeys her husband, it will be said to her: ‘Enter Paradise from whichever of the gates of Paradise you wish.’” Classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Jaami’, no. 660

            So would you agree that the position of a wife is under that of a husband relative to each other – in that one has an authoritative positive to the other, but in relation to Allah there is no inherent disparity in being a husband or a wife, rather how devout one is to Allah.?

            You can call it an ego trip all you want but by nature men are the leaders of women. I’m not married yet, but… one thing that ticks men off (maybe the most) with dealing with women is a woman who doesn’t respect thier authority and doesn’t listen to them.

          • Muslim

            April 7, 2010 at 8:49 PM

            If a man wants a wife that stays at home and cooks and cleans then why find an educated woman with a degree? You don’t need a degree to do this! That’s my issue- there are benefits to marrying an educated woman (financial) but accept the disadvantages.

            Anyway, Islamically money a woman earns is her own and her husband has no right over it, so all the women out there slaving after their man working then coming home to do all the domestics alone when the man benefits from his wife’s cash… that’s not even allowed! SO instead just go work and spend the earned money on a maid! If husbands want to save cash he can do the domestics! LOL

            You are absolutely right on this one. The woman shouldnt be forced to contribute a dime to the household. What is your take on a man who is out of work or can’t find a job I mean in your mind does that heavily take away from the man’s role in the relationship and his leadership role w/in the family(i guess you aren’t ceeding that point or are you?)? I’m sure there is a phsyicological battle going on in such circumstances, and may Allah make it easy on them.

            I know for myself when I see a women who is educated I think she is more likely to be interesting and intelligent/competent(both really good qualities). But on the flip side she could also be more coarse (cold-hearted) and not obedient (really bad qualityies). Also a woman who works the husband thinks well what about my rights when I come home from a “long day at work” when your going to also be coming back from a long work day too, and more importantly taking care of young kids if any come out the womb. For me I would prefer an smart, able-minded/bodied who is also obedient and warm-hearted, an education can vouch for a few of those, but i wouldn’t want her to work unless in the case of need, b/c i want a wife at home not a coworker/roomate at home.

        • Muslim

          April 3, 2010 at 9:40 AM

          Salam sister fazila,

          Honestly i don’t think cooking & cleaning is sooo much work that marriages are ipt-so-facto unfair, its not that big of a deal when compared to the benefits of a true marriage.

          Don’t you think that in an Islamic marriage the husband is to be obeyed by the wife? – granted it is Islamic permissible terms. Didn’t Allah give the husband this right -as long as it’s halal?

          thanks for your honest replies,

          • Fazila

            April 7, 2010 at 8:06 PM

            see comments above…

          • Fazila

            April 7, 2010 at 8:53 PM

            You quote hadiths- these are the words of men. There is little/no documentation of what women have said. History- the word itself means his story. That is what hadith are- if this was God’s truth it would be said in black and white in the quran. Hadith, although a good source, are not factual laws- they are the opinions of men in a certain time period. The fact is logic prevails… like I discussed at length previously obedience is a quality that both man and woman must possess.

            A person obeys that obeys is a slave. If a man asks his wife for something she will do it out of love, and vice versa.

            In your version of marriage are you suggesting that a woman should wait on a man all the time. Real life example, ur both cuddled up on the sofa and you say, ‘get me a cup of tea’, ur wife should jump up and immediately ‘obey’! Hahahahaha- that’s ridiculous and if you expect that then your in for a great deal of disappointment. How about if your wife is sick/pregnant/just given birth/etc? Should she drag herself around the house cooking and cleaning for you and obeying your commands? Get real. Words are words that are rendered meaningless when taken out of context and implemented into other contexts.

            Furthermore, you say scholars have used hadiths and ayats to support their claims. If you have an idea first you will find evidence to support it- I know many learned and esteemed scholars who say alcohol is allowed, temporary marriages are allowed, and I’m sure the Taliban can give you many hadiths and ayats that ‘prove’ that women must be beaten and subjugated.

            God has given us the greates gift- inner truth and empathy. It is said that women are made of a rib of a man- does this not suggest that women possess the same needs, nafs, qualities that men do? How would you feel if you were told that you are inferior, especially in a time when you are the one doing more!

          • Fazila

            April 7, 2010 at 9:25 PM

            Why are you making things unnecessarily complicated! Let me spell it out for you:

            1. If husband works and can provide all financial comforts:

            >The wife stays home and does domestic stuff, or

            >Wife works because she wants to but still does domestic stuff and money she earns is hers to do with as she wants, even if that’s buying Armani or giving it all to her mum
            If this was to happen there would be a lot of resentment! Can you imagine- you’re slogging ur ass off to pay the bills and mortgage, Islamically ALL your income MUST support your wife and your children if you have them while your wife walks around in £300 jeans! Seriously, how hard is housework? With all the money she’s earning she takes the clothes to the launderette!Cooking takes half hour, general tidying doesn’t take much… ur wife works and spends all that money on her! It wouldn’t work right? Yet this is the ISLAMIC LAW! We are not robots (reference to Isaac Asimov’s 3 laws of robotics which result in conflictual contradiction) we are human so need to use our head and heart! No woman does this even though Islam permits it because it would be ignorant and heartless, yet men filter through religion to find laws that they can use to take advantage of women and get away with things…

            2. If husband works but can’t provide financial comforts (the level required should be agreed by both, whatever that is):

            >Wife works and her wage contributes to necessities like buying food, paying mortgage, etc
            Since the wife is taking on husbands God ordered duty to assist, husband must assist wife with domestic duties. This maintains balance

            3. Husband can’t work:

            >both husband and wife sitting at home doing nothing so both do the domestic work, or

            >wife goes to work, husband does domestic work
            In this case men often complain that this role undermines their position so they sit at home and do nothing while their wife works AND does all domestic- this is HARAAM. Islam is a fair religion- if a man seriously can’t work and his wife does then to maintain the balance it’s common sense that the roles must be switched.

            When you say a man is superior to a woman that is plain ignorance. A man and woman are EQUAL.

            In reference to your allusion that an educated woman becomes coarse and cold hearted:

            coarse means lacking in finesse which is a contradiction to the state of an educated person

            A famous Irish author once said (more eloquently) that education adds depths to emotions that an uneducated mind can not comprehend.

            How many times have you seen uneducated people (men and women) arguing loudly in public, saying and doing the wrong things, behaving in a callous manner, etc. There is no cut and dry character that will ensure happiness- if I marry an uneducated man then I can be in charge, make all the decisions, always be right, which is great but this would get boring. If on the other hand I marry an educated man he will argue and debate with me, and sometimes I’ll be right but other times I’ll be wrong which sucks but I will enjoy having an equal to challenge and entertain me.

          • Fazila

            April 7, 2010 at 10:01 PM

            With regard to educated women being coarse and cold hearted, this is a generalization. You might as well say all uneducated women are excellent cooks, have a perfect soft temperament, will never be unhappy, will always make you happy. We know this is not the case. It is always best to marry within your own level so it is a bad idea to marry a woman that is richer than you or too smart for you. An uneducated man should not marry an educated woman as he will feel inferior. However, if you are an educated man there are far more benefits to marrying an educated woman:

            An educated woman will have a good income so the family will have better advantages, such as tuition/private schooling for the kids/private health care/space (larger house), money to relax (go on holiday) which will all contribute to a more relaxed and happier family

            An educated woman who doesn’t work will be able to teach her children

            You will be able to communicate on an equal level with an educated woman. Sometimes it can help to have someone to talk to, but it’s frustrating to try and discuss a problem with a fool that can offer no assistance!

            If you die your wife will have the means to support your family and the intelligence to provide psychological support.

            Education can not make a person coarse, as the very definition of coarse is to lack refinement. Education can not make a person cold hearted, that’s a characteristic a person either has or doesn’t have.

          • Muslim

            April 8, 2010 at 10:20 PM

            Well Hadiths are statements of the prophet and he doesn not speak of his own desires, so authentic hadiths are part of the revelation in Islam. You can google ‘chain of command notes’ for more. And the Quran points to the hadith of the prophet and it’s authority- and since it is part of the revelation it has been preserved.

            Quranic proof for the authoritiative position in the relationship to belong to the man is :
            Sahih International: Men are in charge of women by [right of] what Allah has given one over the other and what they spend [for maintenance] from their wealth. So righteous women are devoutly obedient, guarding in [the husband’s] absence what Allah would have them guard. But those [wives] from whom you fear arrogance – [first] advise them; [then if they persist], forsake them in bed; and [finally], strike them. But if they obey you [once more], seek no means against them. Indeed, Allah is ever Exalted and Grand.

            “How about if your wife is sick/pregnant/just given birth/etc? Should she drag herself around the house cooking and cleaning for you and obeying your commands”
            – of course not, rather the overarching authoritative position in the family is the man, and the women is to obey the husband in what is just and fair, and not what is unjust and unfair.

            “It is said that women are made of a rib of a man- does this not suggest that women possess the same needs, nafs, qualities that men do? How would you feel if you were told that you are inferior, especially in a time when you are the one doing more!”
            – No, not neccissarily men and women have some different qualities and some similar qualities. This obvious by your own critique of men. Men and women are different and the Creator of these differences has made one the head of household – not to abuse the power, but so there is a better marriage and each partner has the correct role with respect to each other.
            – Women are not inferior to men in the sight of Allah. That doesn’t mean that within a marriage that Allah has made the authoritative status between men and women of different levels and gaven men that position over the women – that doesn’t mean one is better or more productive than the other.

          • Muslim

            April 8, 2010 at 10:38 PM

            1. I already said I agree with you that the woman keeps her money in the marriage. The husband doesn’t have any right over it and she can do whatever she wants with it.

            “Education can not make a person coarse, as the very definition of coarse is to lack refinement. Education can not make a person cold hearted, that’s a characteristic a person either has or doesn’t have.”

            – This is a very good point, and this is the case of an honest education. I was referring to more of a woman who studied hard in school and then got a nice job and works hard, and gets a little stuck up that “I’m better than you mentality” or “I can outcompete the guys in the workplace and guys generally stink anyways – and I am the greatest person ever” or “how can I work all this hard just to have to listen to my husband one day?”- that is the kinda of coarseness and cold-heartened ness I am referring to. And yes it is a broad generilization that doesn’t include honest muslimahs but nevertheless happens to the muslims and muslimahs who are weak at heart. This is something I want to avoid.

            I would like to find an educated women who is still humble and warm and smart and able, and also recognizes her role in the relationship as dictated in the Islamic religion. And not for any direct financial reason or subsequent improved lifestyle – I don’t care for a bigger house/nicer car, I prefer a healthy marriage which in turn will make me a better worker and thus earner.

  17. Ibn Iftikhar

    April 1, 2010 at 9:06 PM

    Make note, not once has this person said “Sallaahu alayhi wa sallam” after mentioning the Prophet Muhammad (sallaahu alayhi wa sallam) or Messenger. Ironically, it is typical for orientalists and modernist Muslims to disregard the eulogy.

    • Fazila

      April 1, 2010 at 10:08 PM

      Which person are you referring to?

  18. Mohamed Mospeeda

    April 1, 2010 at 10:04 PM

    With all due respect to Imam Zaid, I (as an American-born muslim male) strongly disagree with much of what you wrote. While your point regarding trying to rise above “personality quirks” and overlooking some physical traits when looking for a spouse are well-taken, I would like to take exception with the following:

    – “why are so many Muslim men averse to marrying older…women?”
    The answer is the 800 lb. gorilla that is not mentioned when this question is asked: fertility. It is harder for women to conceive as they enter their late twenties and beyond. Most Muslim men I know want to become fathers, and the simple rules of biology favor youth.
    The second answer is not so much that men are averse as it is that many of these older sisters purposefully delay marriage and willfully reject perfectly qualified suitors in order to pursue their advanced studies and professional degrees. I mostly blame their parents for not preparing them for marriage and instead fostering an attitude that “I have to complete all my advanced training and then, years later, ‘Here I am, who’s ready to marry me!’”

    – I find it distasteful that these days when I often read and hear Muslim leaders encourage Muslim women to become more assertive and independent they allude to the fact that Lady Khadija was a business woman. At least she wasn’t one in the modern sense (I.e. free mixing, traveling unaccompanied to distant locales to conduct business, shaking hands with men, etc.). We respect that the Mothers of the Believers had abilities and charisma, but they weren’t feminists (like so many of today’s empowered Muslimas) and had purer motives and priorities; and they didn’t neglect their domestic duties.

    -We honor the marriage of the Holy Prophet PBUH to lady Khadija, and clearly their age difference illustrates that marrying an older woman is noble and not to be stigmatized; but it is simply unrealistic to expect a lot of men to follow suit. It is a fact that even in non-muslim western societies it is not very common that the average wife’s age is greater than her husband. Men and women are different, and they look for slightly different things as being desirable in the opposite sex. I’m sorry, but most men will not go for an older wife. You’ll have to re-wire our brains for most of us to do otherwise.

    – “Why are so many of our brothers so hesitant to marry strong, independent and intellectually astute women?”
    I don’t think most Muslim men object to having an intelligent, educated wife. What they don’t find desirable is that some Muslim women look down on marriage as some kind of hindrance and are refusing to marry and have kids until they complete college and post graduate degrees. To make things worse, many of these women will come with hefty (interest bearing) student loans that mandate that she work full time for the first several years of their married life. This can cause a strain on the marriage that some men frankly won’t want to take on that unnecessary headache.

    – “Many Muslim men will pass over talented, educated women who are willing to put their careers and education on hold, if need be, to commit to a family.”

    I flat out disagree. It can be and often is the other way around. From my experience and that of those brothers I know, it seems that it is many of the Muslim sisters who are rejecting qualified Muslim men in order to pursue their professional and worldly ambitions. I respectfully believe that the Imam and many other community leaders are out of touch on this point, and they do not consider the fact their rhetoric over the years (in order to prove the Islam liberates women, yadda yadda yadda…) has so empowered Muslim girls to the point that some believe that they can only find worth in pursuing years and years of education and not to “succumb” to marrying early. This effect is irrespective of whether it was the intention or not.

    I really think the trend these days is to continue to bash the brothers and blame them for the current impasse in the Muslim marriage “market.” I can tell you there are many Muslim women who are exacerbating the situation by declining sincere offers from upstanding brothers to marry early in order to pursue their professional dreams. At the same time, some sisters will also desire all the privileges of a “traditional” wife such as a hefty dowry, a lavish wedding, and an ever-patient husband with will “support me” in her endeavors until she is finally ready to settle down and have a family.
    In the meantime, most Muslim males won’t bother to wait. They will either find the willing, young sister who wants to marry, or they will pursue their desires illicitly (to the detriment of their soul and that of the community). As long as our Muslim leaders don’t address the situation in a truly balanced manner with a real understanding of what’s going on, things will become more acute. I don’t think projecting our ideas of what a modern, “liberated” woman does onto the Prophet’s wives PBUH is a correct or honest approach.

    • Fazila

      April 1, 2010 at 10:20 PM

      1. The genetic material of male sperm deteriorates after the age of 30 so it is preferable for women to conceive children from younger men

      2. Having an education (with qualifications) is often a prerequisite for marrying an educated man. However, having an education enables women to recognise ignorance which many men fail to abandon which is why many educated women find it difficult to find the right man to marry.

      3. Student loans only need to be paid while working so if a woman with student loan debts chooses not to work there is no payment. Also, what about all the debts men have? How many men marry women today and are able to provide the basics, namely a house, money for food, bills, clothes, etc

      4. Where does it say that a woman is subjected to domestic duties? As far as I know there is nothing in the Quran that says a womans job is to cook and clean.

      • nafisah

        April 6, 2010 at 3:26 PM

        1. Both the male and female may struggle to have children the older they get, but more so for women. Saying anything otherwise is simply untrue.

        2. So those “uneducated” women are uninformed and are subject to making bad decisions? Maybe your own mother made a bad decision, but don’t make it seem like all those “uneducated” people are somehow incompetent.

        3. Not everyone is from Europe, where this law is the case. But that isn’t the point…

        4. Where does it say in the Quran that a man is required to cook and clean? Cooking (and therefore eating) is a human necessity. If no one is required to cook then what is the alternative? How come professional women chefs who cook for a living are not viewed in a negative light, but cooking for yourself (or God forbid for your husband and family) is? If you remain a single woman, who is going to cook for you? You.

        • Fazila

          April 6, 2010 at 8:59 PM

          1. When it comes to having children it is better for both men and women to be below a certain age. It is silly for men to argue the point that they can produce sperm until the day they die because being a father is not just about providing sperm- who wants a 25 yr old mum and a 60 yr old dad? How can a family funtion this way- this is the main point I was trying to make.

          2. It is low and base of you to bring my mother into this conversation but I will refrain from rhetoric and maintain my dignity which you clearly have not. Yes, uneducated women are uninformed and they are subject to making bad decisions? And not just women, men also. Education doesn’t mean a degree- education means to learn, to think, and most importantly to learn how to think! Studying is more than sitting classes, one can be an educated professional, an educated muslim, an educated mother/father, etc. Ignorance may be bliss but it begets ignorance.

          3. I’m lucky- I thought it was the same everywhere.

          4. There is nothing wrong with doing domestic tasks. The point is it is not subject to any individual gender. However, earning money is a man’s responsibility alone. The point I was making was that women and men need to share burdens to live in harmony. Obviously if a man is working all day and the wife is a homemaker then she should do them jobs but that doesn’t mean she must work 24hrs and do EVERYTHING obviously but majority (like cooking, cleaning, laundry, etc). However, if both are working and the money earned by the woman is being used by the whole family, as is common (such as paying bills/mortgage/etc) then both husband and wife must share domestic work. Also, if the wife is a homemaker but is unable to do the work due to illness/having a sick child/being heavily pregnant/etc the husband should do it. This is all common sense. The fact is it goes without saying- any person man or woman who can sit comfortably while another suffers is not worthy of being called a human.

    • ST

      April 2, 2010 at 2:57 PM

      Good post… I agree that a lot of points you raised have not or are not being addressed by the influential Muslim intellectuals and speakers.

      -We honor the marriage of the Holy Prophet PBUH to lady Khadija, and clearly their age difference illustrates that marrying an older woman is noble and not to be stigmatized; but it is simply unrealistic to expect a lot of men to follow suit.

      The Prophet (saw) also did encourage marrying someone younger as he did in his advice to Jabir ibn ‘Abdullah in the well known hadith, but he also accepted his reason for marrying an older lady.

  19. SonicSoriyah

    April 1, 2010 at 10:34 PM

    We should also acknowledge that the idea of “marriage” that is coming out of contemporary and popular Islamic theology in the US, mirrors the American ideal of the perfect wife plus the perfect husband equals the perfect marriage type of marriage. People are looking for their “soul-mate” or the person “they will spend the rest of their life with” type thing. People get taken up in ideas of the perfect spouse (often through their religious practices) or their soul mate and this forms the basis of the marriage. This is not rooted in Islamic history or practice but instead is a reflection of American cultural hegemony. Historically and even presently, marriages amongst Muslim peoples were not practiced in this way and it is only because of the normative power of American culture and norms that marriage is being talked about in this way in the US. Marriages are primarily social exchanges and practices so we need to be cognizant of the cultural norms and power that go into the creation of how we interpret and define “marriage.”

    So, we should acknowledge that this American ideal of marriage (perfect wife+perfect husband = perfect marriage, soul-mate type of thing) is shallow and does not function well. That is why so many young Muslims (in the US at least) are having difficulty finding spouses and creating meaningful marriages, because they are attempting to attain an ideal that is both Islamicly ahistorical as well as horribly shallow.

    • Fazila

      April 1, 2010 at 10:41 PM

      I completely agree, especially about the shallow remark. We are so institutionalized! I have met many potential suitors who think I’m crazy because my dream is to live and work abroad for a few years teaching children in poor schools. Muslims argue about minor things and are so proud of their religion but they worship something above this, the almighty dollar!

      • Abdus Salam

        April 2, 2010 at 12:51 AM

        I don’t agree with some of your comments, but you do sound like a strong-willed character and I think the Muslim ummah would do well to have a few women like that! Unfortunately, though, that may mean that you may have to wait longer to find the right person to marry. I think it is not so much that strong women delay getting married because they want to further their career; rather, the fact that they have an education and a pretty well-developed intellect means that Mr. Right has to tick more boxes. I don’t think they should be blamed for that, but they can’t complain either when they find that marriage isn’t happening soon enough.

        • Sincerity

          April 2, 2010 at 11:02 AM

          She comes across as being bitter =D If I were her then I would sit back and question myself. It is very easy to put a blame on everyone else (in this case, brothers) while very difficult to face your own demons.

          So please sit back and ask yourself as to why are you so bitter? The reason why you are not married can not entirely be blamed on brothers, maybe Allah swt wants you to work on few things before HE swt blesses you with a companion who is best for you in this world and the next….

          • Fazila

            April 6, 2010 at 9:07 PM

            I’m not at all bitter- this is an assumption you have made based on the fact that I am passionate and strong willed. The fact is there is no shortage of people on this Earth so I am not required to assist with populating it.

            It is a natural human desire to wish to find a partner, a soul mate. Inshallah when the time is right I will find it. However, I am in no rush and will wait until I find the right man. I love my life and want it to be the same until I die- I have the best time with my family and am always laughing, I don’t want to sacrifice this. I have seen many men and women marry because they feel as though they must before a certain age or they never will. I don’t believe this. I am happy to wait- and the word wait is inappropriate because I am not waiting- I am living my life.

            There is so much more to life than marriage. Marriage isn’t a chore one must fulfill before a certain age, it is a choice one makes when they find a person that has the same objectives and complementary characteristics.

    • ST

      April 2, 2010 at 3:00 PM

      I agree, many if not most Muslim marriages in the US are following the same model as American marriages, hence the divorce rates are unfortunately also very similar.

      • Fazila

        April 7, 2010 at 7:36 AM

        “maybe Allah swt wants you to work on few things before HE swt blesses you with a companion who is best for you in this world and the next”

        I just wanted to comment on this remark you made. Are you suggesting that people only marry as God wills such that all muslims that marry are deemed perfectly ready and God finds the perfect partner for them? If this is the case then you’re also suggesting that God is fallible! Marriages are breaking up all over the place! There are many reasons why this is but you must admit that one BIG reason is that people go into marriage with their eyes closed a lot of times.

        Also, I know I’m digressing from the main point, this is a comment to all the men that blame the lack of ‘obedience’ in women that causes divorce. The reason there are more divorces is not because of this (most times) but rather for the same reason divorce rates have increased after WWII, women are no longer oppressed in the western world- divorce is an option. Unfortunately many people (men and women) run to the exit too quickly. A perfect marriage is one in which a woman will do anything to make her husband happy and a man will do anything to make his wife happy. Sadly we don’t live in a perfect world and it is human nature (male and female) to take as much as we can and give as little as possible in return! When things are bad, if everyone asks themselves what they could do better instead of playing the blame game then life would be a lot easier.

        Anyway, I don’t know why people create such negativity in their lives. In the end who cares!? So you go into the kitchen and it’s a mess- clean it, big deal! Kids need putting to bed, just do it. Most things people argue about are so petty!Arguing takes a lot more time and energy, it’s depressing! Life is a wonderful gift from God and we should cherish each moment because we’re on borrowed time- when we leave this world little time will pass before even a memory of our existence no longer remains, all that we are and do fades away into nothing. The legacy that will remain is the good we do in other’s lives (charity, etc) and the morals and virtues we instil in our children.

        • Azhar

          April 23, 2010 at 2:26 PM

          Oh! fed up with ur stereotyping of men. Agreed there are some bad guys out there but dont paint all of them with the same brush. And for Allah’s sake dont dismiss Ahadith as a ‘Man’s Word’.

  20. Umm Bilqis

    April 2, 2010 at 1:10 AM

    Imam Zaid’s article is relevant because it addresses necessary concerns regarding chivalry and sacrifice.and a perspective that is severely lacking namely the beauty of a strong character that wishes to please Allah taala in all aspects.
    Sister Fazila,
    There are too many stereotypes in your statements and thus this makes it a difficult discussion to engage.
    Ultimately once you get married you may end up with a different thought process and a different way of looking at things. Obviously not all people value the same things. I am educated but chose to stay at home and raise my children. In my eyes no amount of study or work can replace the necessary input of my time and love for my family. Alhamdullilah, I acknowledge the fact that many sisters have no choice but to work and others such as yourself do not want this lifestyle. To each their own I guess. Married life if filled with the proper perspective of sacrifice, respect and a joint commitment to Islam can be a wonderous thing. In addition, if you begin with this perspective you will get the love and mercy that Allah taala places in our hearts with much dua of course.
    Your dream of helping poor children is beautiful however do not expect someone who barely knows you to sign on. Look for a brother in the community who gives of his time, wealth ecetera and once you get married and with enough investment in the relationship you can get him to sign on for this purpose Insha’Allah.
    The household chores thing is not a problem if you do not make it one by complaining. Any man worth his salt will help out if you the complaint level is down. Indeed these activities can be quite fun given the right spirit.

  21. Abu Abdillah

    April 2, 2010 at 1:45 AM

    Subhan Allah, since when is sending peace upon the messenger (‘alayhi afdhal salaatu wa salam) abandoned when presenting in written form? Such that the scholars have even mentioned that abbreviating the tasleem is disliked. The brothers and sisters who have taken the time to comment on this website have shown more open love to the prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa salam) than this Imam.

  22. Abu Abdillah

    April 2, 2010 at 2:26 AM


    This article avoids some serious issues that have been addressed in the sunnah regarding marriage, especially for men. As the prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa salam) advised the youth who are able to marry to marry, because it helps to lower the gaze and protect the private areas. Furtheremore, he (‘alayhi salaatu wa salam) recommended to see the prospective bride before marrying her (i.e to be satisfied with her beauty, as that will help accomplish two of the main goals of marriage), he (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa salam) also recommended to marry the virgin girls (except if there is a need otherwise) that you may play together.

    So there is much encouragement found within the sunnah for these actions, of course they are all secondary to the deen which should be the main priority of any Muslim seeking a spouse as it is the foundation for everything and will truly preserve the household that is built upon it.

    However this idea of marrying “independent” women, with full educations, careers where they mix with men and destroy their shyness, in their mid-late twenties who view traditional customary (since the time of the prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa salam) household duties as unimportant and not the woman’s responsibility is a very unattractive one to the level headed Muslim men. The Muslim men have a great responsibility and as such are responsible for maintaining and protecting their women, this fitrah unfortunately is being loss by the Muslim “men” who are irresponsible and unqualified leaders, and the women who have taken the examples of our mothers (like khadiya, radhiallahu ‘anha) completely out of context and have turned them into modern day feminists which is completely false and exaggerated.

    • ummaasiyah

      April 3, 2010 at 5:32 PM

      However this idea of marrying “independent” women, with full educations, careers where they mix with men and destroy their shyness, in their mid-late twenties who view traditional customary (since the time of the prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa salam) household duties as unimportant and not the woman’s responsibility is a very unattractive one to the level headed Muslim men. The Muslim men have a great responsibility and as such are responsible for maintaining and protecting their women, this fitrah unfortunately is being loss by the Muslim “men” who are irresponsible and unqualified leaders, and the women who have taken the examples of our mothers (like khadiya, radhiallahu ‘anha) completely out of context and have turned them into modern day feminists which is completely false and exaggerated.

      I resent that comment from you, brother. If these women are steadfast on the deen, they, too will be level-headed and know their duties towards their husband.
      If anything, I may come under being a Westernised, independent woman with a full education (to degree level) and have worked in a mixed office (alhumdulillah, a lot of Muslims worked there too), but this has not caused me to lose my shyness or modesty in anyway. In fact, I have become more practicing with more education as it enabled me delve deeper into Islam with a broader mind and to accept the traditional role of a woman in Islam with greater wisdom instead of a feministic point of view. I would say that Islam is pretty much a religion that is favourable to women as it raises the status of women way above that of men’s through the status of a mother.
      FYI, I can also say that, alhumdulillah, my husband (who is far more level headed than any brother I know of) is happy with the way I maintain my duties towards him and also encourages me to strengthen my relationship with my own family instead of pushing me just towards his own family.

      I don’t think Imam Zaid Shakir is telling brothers to marry feministic women who view the role of the wife in Islam as unimportant. What he is trying to tell brothers and their parents is to open up their minds and that when a perfectly suitable practicing and good looking sister in her late 20s-30s is available, then why look for anyone younger? Believe me, it is VERY RARE to find a mature sister in her early 20s (apologies to level-headed sisters in their 20s reading this…I, too, am under 25). Any girl who can uphold the family home, be dutiful towards her husband and serve her parents and community at the same time is a gem. And sometimes these sisters are the ones who are older.

      Personally speaking, I find home chores vaguely satisfying, but not exactly the end-all be-all of my life. If any brother is seeking a sister who enjoys doing the house chores, then please look in the villages back home. But if a brother is seeking a sister of strong character who can manage his home, his children whilst maintaining the ties of kinship with her own family and strengthening the relationship with his family too AND serve the Muslim community, then he is a very lucky man and he should jump at the chance to marry her. Brothers should look for sisters who have a passion to be a strength to the Ummah using their academic talents…educated sisters are a great asset to us. Open your minds, brothers.

  23. sabirah

    April 2, 2010 at 5:23 AM

    asalamy aleykum, mashallah, i love the article. I wouldn’t assume that Shaykh Zaid has omitted the tasleem on purpose or forgotten. Since it was an article written for and published in an European magazine, it could have been left out by the editors as usually every word counts

    • Abu Abdillah

      April 2, 2010 at 5:59 AM

      walaykum salam wa rahmatullah,

      that’s a good point, I should have assumed the best and not drawn conclusions, I would note that if MuslimMatters could include it out of respect for our beloved (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa salam) that would be welcomed.

      barak allahu feekum

  24. SisterOttawa

    April 2, 2010 at 7:48 AM

    This is a great article and something that resonates quite honestly with anyone in the world-whether east, or west. However, my problem is that this topic is not conveyed in most khutbas or marriage programs with such detail and honesty such that the brothers and parents are not listening. As a result, both the brothers and the parents, haven’t changed their mind frame and does create ridiculous criteria’s for their future spouses or daughters to live upto. As a result, a sister can be working 8-9 hours a day, or going to school full time, coming home and doing the house chores and trying to be steadfast to her deen (to the most of her abilities) and still be told that she’s “not doing enough”. And this continues until a sister in the family (usually the oldest girl) speaks up. However, this results in her being labeled too assertive or demanding.
    It makes me so mad that it’s usually the girl that needs to speak up about a situation, for the topic to become more mainstream with brothers and parents. We’re always talking about hijab and how to be a good spouse and being good and making dua—but we really need to start talking to brothers and parents so that girls are not subjected to this unfairness. At a recent marriage lecture, the shaykh mentioned questions to ask prospective spouses. He mentionned about 25 great questions that most people would want to ask right away—yet it seemed so unrealistic considering we have this stereotype that the girl has to be shy and modest.

  25. Naseebah

    April 2, 2010 at 10:32 AM

    – Point about fertility, this is true. Younger virgin males interested in having families would prefer to consider only younger females for this reason. However, they must prefer to have an older wife (and by the way, we’re talking about women who can still have babies up to their early 40’s!) to illicit activities. Males should not demand to have the youngest wives or go on “strike” by getting their needs fulfilled through illicit means. That is messing up the marriage market.

    – There are terrible patterns – often overseas, but here too – of women being married early for a week, or a month, maybe a year, maybe they have a child or two, maybe not, then discarded. Then they become forever unmarriageable at the ripe old age of 25. This is awful.

    – A lot of women might hate me for saying this, but when we take polygamy off the table, then men are forced to find everything in one mate. Older and same-age women are very attractive to many men. However, younger men will settle with a younger woman if they have biological imperatives they can exercise only within one marriage. Women have narrowed down the marriage market for themselves and each other too. I’m talking about this problem in general, even in islamic societies where it is legal.

    – There are a lot of divorced and widowed younger and older men with children, and they should be considering other women as well, since they already have kids. Often they end up competing with younger men for younger women as well.

    – In the hadith about marrying a virgin, the prophet (pbuh) was not scolding the sahabah for not marrying a virgin, but asking him why — the prophet (pbuh) goes on to affirm the sahabah’s choice of marrying an older woman. As Yaser Birjas noted in a seminar, this young sahabah was very excited to go to his older wife. Plus, by the prophet’s (pbuh) own actions, his choice of mature and previously married women far outweighed his choice of virgins. When Allah warns the prophet’s wives, He says he can replace them all with better wives — virgins AND previously married. So the better wives are among the previously married as well.

    • Abu Abdillah

      April 2, 2010 at 6:03 PM

      Generally speaking, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) encouraged marriage to virgins.

      There is the story of Jaabir (may Allaah be pleased with him), whose father had died, leaving him with sisters. In his case it would not have been suitable for him to marry a virgin who was young like them. So he wanted to marry a woman who had been previously married, who could take care of them and look after them, and the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) approved of his decision.

      It was narrated that Jaabir ibn ‘Abd-Allaah (may Allaah be pleased with them both) said: “The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) asked me, ‘Have you got married?’ I said, ‘Yes.’ He said, ‘A virgin or a previously-married woman?’ I said, ‘A previously-married woman.’ He said, ‘Why not a young girl, whom you could play with and she could play with you?’ I said, ‘I have sisters and I wanted to marry a woman who could gather them together and comb their hair and take care of them.’ He said: ‘You will reach, so when you have arrived (at home), I advise you to associate with your wife (that you may have an intelligent son).’”

      (Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 1991; Muslim, 715)

      According to another report narrated by al-Bukhaari (2257), “… so she could teach them and discipline them.”

      According to another report narrated by al-Bukhaari (2805) and Muslim (715): “He said: ‘The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said to me, when I asked his permission (to participate in jihaad), “Have you married a virgin or a previously-married woman?” I said, “A previously-married woman.” He said, “Why did you not marry a virgin whom you could play with and she could play with you?” I said, “O Messenger of Allaah, my father has died (or has become a shaheed/martyr), and I have young sisters, so I did not want to marry someone like them who could not discipline them or take care of them, so I married a previously-married woman who could take care of them and discipline them.”’”

      It was narrated that Jaabir (may Allaah be pleased with him) said: “My father died, leaving seven – or nine – daughters, and I married a previously-married woman. The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) asked, ‘Did you get married, O Jaabir?’ I said, ‘Yes.’ He said, ‘A virgin or a previously-married woman?’ I said, ‘A previously-married woman.’ He said, ‘Why not a young girl whom you could play with and she could play with you, and you could laugh with her and she could laugh with you?’ I told him that ‘Abd-Allaah had died and left behind daughters, and I did not want to bring to them someone like them. So I had married a woman who could take care of them and discipline them. He said, ‘May Allaah bless you,’ or similar kind words.”(Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 5052)

      Shaykh Mustafa al-Ruhaybaani said:

      “It is Sunnah for the one who wants to get married to marry a virgin, because the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said to Jaabir, ‘Why not a virgin whom you could play with and she could play with you?’ (agreed upon) – unless there is a reason for which marrying a previously-married woman is better, in which case he should choose such a woman over a virgin, in order to serve that interest.”(Mataalib Uli al-Nuha, 5/9, 10)

      And Allaah knows best.

      • sabirah

        April 2, 2010 at 8:33 PM

        Sahih Bukhari

        Narrated Jabir bin ‘Abdullah: I was accompanying the Prophet on a journey and was riding a slow camel that was lagging behind the others. The Prophet passed by me and asked, “Who is this?” I replied, “Jabir bin ‘Abdullah.” He asked, “What is the matter, (why are you late)?” I replied, “I am riding a slow camel.” He asked, “Do you have a stick?” I replied in the affirmative. He said, “Give it to me.” When I gave it to him, he beat the camel and rebuked it. Then that camel surpassed the others thenceforth. The Prophet said, “Sell it to me.” I replied, “It is (a gift) for you, O Allah’s Apostle.” He said, “Sell it to me. I have bought it for four Dinars (gold pieces) and you can keep on riding it till Medina.” When we approached Medina, I started going (towards my house). The Prophet said, “Where are you going?” I Sad, “I have married a widow.” He said, “Why have you not married a virgin to fondle with each other?” I said, “My father died and left daughters, so I decided to marry a widow (an experienced woman) (to look after them).” He said, “Well done.” When we reached Medina, Allah’s Apostle said, “O Bilal, pay him (the price of the camel) and give him extra money.” Bilal gave me four Dinars and one Qirat extra. (A sub-narrator said): Jabir added, “The extra Qirat of Allah’s Apostle never parted from me.” The Qirat was always in Jabir bin ‘Abdullah’s purse. (Book #38, Hadith #504)
        that reads a bit different if you take the whole hadith in account, not just half of it

        • Muslim

          April 3, 2010 at 10:22 AM

          good job sabirah, jazakum allahu khairun

          • Fazila

            April 6, 2010 at 9:14 PM

            In an ideal Islamic sense a man and woman should be virgin before marriage. However, it is only women that are stigmatised if they are not because of the influence of western ideals as well as the fact that it is easier to tell with a woman than a man. Furthermore, I don’t believe it is fair to say it is sunnat to marry a virgin since the prophet asked this, this is extrapolation and opinion which can be interpreted according to the reader therefore subject to scrutiny. It is natural to wonder why a person would marry anyone with ‘baggage’. A previous marriage has emotional baggage, not just the fact that a woman is no longer a virgin. There are other considerations, such as one may ask why a woman chose to marry a man who has debt, or a man with low income, etc.

  26. Lara

    April 2, 2010 at 2:10 PM

    The irony is that the reaction from some of men in the comments to this article pretty much emphasizes exactly what Zaid is saying. I must admit, it’s quite amusing.

  27. sabirah

    April 2, 2010 at 4:07 PM

    yes, i just thought the same. It’s a bit like on a cooking blog where the commentors discuss what sort of aubergines are best for the dish.
    Rasulallah (sallallah alayhi wasalam) married women of all sorts of ages, backgrounds, body shapes, status, maybe not just to show that polygamy works, but that it’s ok to marry women that were divorced, widowed, older, etc. A lot of that virginity stuff is just a cultural preference I think. I was a bit sad that I haven’t foudn the word “love” in any of the comments, maybe i missed it?

    ” A lot of women might hate me for saying this, but when we take polygamy off the table, then men are forced to find everything in one mate.” that’s an odd comment, what happens if you marry 4 women and they would still not add up to “everything a man wants” ? Get a japanese robot wife?

    • Naseebah

      April 3, 2010 at 5:29 PM

      Again, even if marrying virgins is good, there are many cases in which marrying a previously married woman is as good or better.

      It is infinitely better to marry a previously married righteous woman than to fall into unsanctioned behaviors, which many of the young men are falling prey to. That situation is certainly a test from Allah ta’ala. Be cautious o young man who dares answer that he remains unmarried for years falling prey to sins day in and day out, while he complains he cannot find a virgin girl to his liking, while the earth is full of righteous eligible women he does not even consider.

      On the topic of older women in general….From Fatwa on the appropriate age for marriage:

      “…Many of those who talk on the radio or television and speak against having disparaging ages between husband and wife are wrong. It is not permissible for them to say such things. Instead, what must be done, is the woman must look at the prospective husband and, if he be pious and appropriate, she must agree to him, even if he is older than her. Similarly, the man must try to marry a woman who is pious and virtuous, even if she is older than him, especially if she is still less than midlife. In any case, age should not be taken as an excuse. It should also not be considered a shortcoming, as long as the man or the woman is pious. May Allah make the affairs good for everyone.”

      — Shaikh in Baz

    • Fazila

      April 6, 2010 at 9:16 PM

      Also, that comment suggests that a single man can possess all the qualities a woman could ever desire!

  28. Slave of the Most Loving One

    April 2, 2010 at 4:14 PM

    In the Name of Allah the Most Compassionate the Most Mercifu

  29. Pingback: Zaid Shakir: The Ethics of Chivalry | « Random Reflections

  30. Muslimah

    April 2, 2010 at 9:55 PM

    Asalaamalaikum waramatullahi wabarakatuh my dear brothers and sisters,

    I chose my husband for his knowledge of Islam, piety, and moral character, even though some people in my family made fun of me due to his looks and lack of money (he is an Imam, Alhumdulilah). I was physically attracted to him as a result of being attracted to his character (many sisters will know what I mean by this; you can find so much physical beauty in a person due to their inward beauty), and I did not mind that he did not make a lot of money because in my opinion, he possessed the richest job in terms of the next life (insha’Allah).

    I am so thankful for the choice that I made because he follows the Qur’an and sunnah in his treatment of me, which is the perfect recipe for a marriage. Shaitaan tried to put up some barriers and problems to prevent our marriage, but Alhumdulilah, he did not succeed.

    Always remember: please Allah(swt) before you please the people (or, in many cases, your nafs).

    • Ameera Khan

      April 2, 2010 at 10:47 PM

      I was physically attracted to him as a result of being attracted to his character (many sisters will know what I mean by this; you can find so much physical beauty in a person due to their inward beauty),

      SubhanAllah! This is so true! I am not married yet but I can relate to you wholly on this… you start seeing the “physical” aspect of beauty too once you learn how good the person’s Iman is. Masha’Allah! May Allah bless your marriage, Ameen.

      • Muslimah

        April 3, 2010 at 12:44 AM

        Ameen. Jazakhallah khairan :)

  31. zaki hammaad

    April 3, 2010 at 12:06 AM

    -Comment and thread deleted. Unrelated to topic. This wasn’t a post on Zaid Shakir’s manhaj. -Editor

    • Muslimah

      April 3, 2010 at 11:48 PM

      You can disagree with something a scholar says but you should not completely discredit their years of dedication to the study of Islam. This article touches upon very important issues in Islam and the fact that many Muslims are not following the Prophet (saw)’s example properly. In this case, you can take the good fruit of this article, and leave the bad if he were to write another article in which you disagree with.

      and Allah(swt) knows best.

      • Fazila

        April 6, 2010 at 9:23 PM

        Thank you, excellent comment and a piece of advice I will endeavor to always follow. :)

        • Fazila

          April 7, 2010 at 8:13 PM

          However, I believe it was Aristotle that said an educated mind can entertain a thought without accepting it.

  32. Slave of the Most Loving One

    April 3, 2010 at 1:16 PM

    Oops…just realized the rest of my comment is missing..


    jazakAllah khair brother zaki for mentioning that… but i still think we can take the beneficial fruits if it is not against the Quran and hadith…

    may Allah grant us beneficial knowledge and help us perform good and acceptable deeds!

  33. Naseebah

    April 3, 2010 at 5:36 PM

    (I posted this comment in the wrong section)

    Even if marrying virgins is good, there are many cases in which marrying a previously married woman is as good or better.

    It is infinitely better to marry a previously married righteous woman than to fall into unsanctioned behaviors, which many of the young men are falling prey to. That situation is certainly a test from Allah ta’ala. Be cautious o young man who dares answer that he remains unmarried for years falling prey to sins day in and day out, while he complains he cannot find a virgin girl to his liking, while the earth is full of righteous eligible women he does not even consider.

    On the topic of older women in general….From Fatwa on the appropriate age for marriage:

    “…Many of those who talk on the radio or television and speak against having disparaging ages between husband and wife are wrong. It is not permissible for them to say such things. Instead, what must be done, is the woman must look at the prospective husband and, if he be pious and appropriate, she must agree to him, even if he is older than her. Similarly, the man must try to marry a woman who is pious and virtuous, even if she is older than him, especially if she is still less than midlife. In any case, age should not be taken as an excuse. It should also not be considered a shortcoming, as long as the man or the woman is pious. May Allah make the affairs good for everyone.”

    – Shaikh in Baz

    • sabirah

      April 3, 2010 at 6:38 PM

      of all 12 wives of Rasulallah (sallallah alayhi wasalam) only one was a virgin. I can only come to one conclusion when looking at the exemplary life of Rasulallah (sallallah alayhi wasalam) – that he didn’t give preference to virgins himself.
      I find this discussion is getting weird altogether. How did we get from chivalry to virgin marriage??

      • Naseebah

        April 3, 2010 at 8:16 PM

        The discussion is addressing something Imam Zaid Shakir brings up in his article, namely:

        “For instance, why are so many Muslim men averse to marrying older or previously married women?”

  34. sabirah

    April 3, 2010 at 8:36 PM

    Salam Uhktee,
    the shaykh has also mentioned the mother in law, which could develop into another interesting discussion …

  35. Siraaj

    April 3, 2010 at 9:38 PM

    The reason men are averse to marrying previously married and / or older women is not simply because they are averse to it – in fact, I’ve dealt with this situation with brothers WANTING to marry these types of sisters, but you know who gets in the way?


    And you know which parent makes the most noise? Good old mom.

    It’s not as simple and straightforward as, “Guys don’t want it.” Many guys who try get shut down by family, specifically mom, another female, ironically enough.


    • Hassan

      April 3, 2010 at 10:57 PM

      but you know who gets in the way?

      First wife as well, I have no problem marrying older divorced/widowed woman.

      • Muslimah

        April 4, 2010 at 12:04 AM

        I agree. I think it is a disease of the heart that so many Muslim women are uncomfortable with the possibility of polygamy (myself included). It is a result of the internal corruption from being raised in a Western society that idealizes and romanticizes relationships too much without weighing in the logical factors of care and security (yet, ironically, having mistresses is not against the law but having more than one wife is).

      • Fazila

        April 6, 2010 at 9:19 PM

        Hassan, you are such a pleb

        • Hassan

          April 7, 2010 at 7:09 AM

          Thanks, you too

    • Naseebah

      April 4, 2010 at 9:23 AM

      Very true.

      Part of the realization, though, is that many “good ole moms” out there are going to interfere no matter what. I’ve heard them do some strange things during the courtship process that mess everything up — even when the brother is talking to a sister the mom says is “perfect.”

      Mostly it is mom crying out for attention in the face of jealous feelings arising, feelings of grief for potential “loss” of a child to marriage, etc.. Sometimes mom takes the potential bride as a rival, sometimes she fears what the community will think of the family if their son marries so-and-so who is such-and-such

      Many moms are conflicted; emotionally invested in not having their kids get married while on the surface wanting their kids to get married. It is unconscious sabotage more or less.

      Of course the solution is not to offend the mom, but gently address the REAL issues: Take care of her emotional needs and make her feel more secure and loved.

      Take serious consideration of the mom’s objections. But if you come to the conclusion that the woman is suitable as a wife, the man has to be confident in his own choice and guide his mom to that same level of confidence as much as possible.

      At a certain point, the boy grows into a man, establishes his own family and takes responsibility for his own choices.

  36. Olivia

    April 4, 2010 at 1:11 AM

    oh my goodness. i must have been reading on the couch here by siraaj for a loooong time to now finally see all that posting (darn it fantastic four movie novel adaption on the nook!)

    “the main problem in marriages is men!” that was great. i truly lol-ed. mo’ men, mo problems. maybe that’s why we can only marry one! ha!

    “Both me and Siraaj are looking for wives, but definitely somewhat different from our current wives.” hmmm. you know, it’s the second part of that sentence that i find more intriguing than the first. perhaps you mean different as in fictitious?

    being a good wife i agree with siraaj. i do like how the shaykh pointed out some of the psychological hang-ups in the muslim community that need to be overcome. some ummah-therapy is in order there. but to be fair sisters also need to get over the psychological hang-up regarding polygyny if we’re every really going to get everyone married.

    and at the end of the day chemistry and attraction should not be undermined. by the way i totally just married siraaj for his beard. i dont know what i’d do if it ever fell off.

    • Hassan

      April 4, 2010 at 1:52 AM

      perhaps you mean different as in fictitious?

      Different in perhaps age (older), previous marital status (divorced. widowed), social status (refugee). ethnicity etc.

      • Olivia

        April 4, 2010 at 12:02 PM

        no no. siraaj would definitely marry another twenty-something white girl. and she has to be able to do at least one pull-up.

        hows that for a singles (er, well married and still looking) ad? =)

        • ummaasiyah

          April 4, 2010 at 4:12 PM

          and she has to be able to do at least one pull-up.


          by the way i totally just married siraaj for his beard. i dont know what i’d do if it ever fell off.

          I know how you feel! Erm…but not about Siraaj. About my own husband, alhumdulillah. I’ve seen him (my husband, not Siraaj) without a beard too and I prefer the beard on him, not just lookswise (I fail to understand why some women like clean-shaven men…they just look like boys!), but also Sunnah-wise.

        • Siraaj

          April 4, 2010 at 4:52 PM

          And here I thought it was only desis who were tribal :D


    • sabirah

      April 4, 2010 at 2:18 AM

      lol Olivia, that’s funny i imagine that made everyone look at Siraaj’ picture trying to imagine hime w/o beard.

  37. nusuki

    April 4, 2010 at 2:27 AM

    as salamu ‘alaikum

    with the article and all of the opinions above all taken into consideration (presumptously i might add);
    men being rigid, traditionalist, shallow, picky or the other side of the coin modernist, considarate, willing to marry older woman etc
    women being feminist, educated, independent, westernised or the flip side home maker, obidience, submissive, easternised etc
    in laws being no compromise, stuck in time warp or the otherside cultured, open-minded etc
    the world being today world with it diversity, caos, difficulties, longing for the uphoria,, the stop to get to the next life (hasnt it always been that way?)

    all of these analysis are great but each man and woman to their own and in any case the answer might be(in additions to what has been mentioned) that the reason as to why many men and women arent married yet could be that they havent found what they are looking for or in another word it is the decree of Allah (be and it is) just stating the obvious i know

  38. Pingback: Sunday Open Thread – Halal Love is in the Air |

  39. PakistaniMD

    April 6, 2010 at 3:46 PM

    I applaud Imam Shakir for writing this article. For some sectors of our community, this is much needed rebuttal.

    I recently came across this insightful piece @ AltMuslimah:

    Why is such a practice (misyar) in place? I find it to be completely opposite to Chivalry, as neither man or woman act ‘good’ faith. I really cannot articulate my views on this subject because I find it so foreign. Hopefully, someone can help me (and discuss) this practice.

  40. Naseebah

    April 7, 2010 at 9:54 AM

    Just finished reading the article on misyar marriages referenced in PakistaniMD’s post.

    The author has written an interesting article raising some fair points. The misyar marriage contracts, as she describes them, do have some stipulations I wouldn’t feel comfortable agreeing to.

    However, overall, I think the article is wrong in its various assessments.

    First, I would dispute the author’s claim that misyar marriages are the sunni equivalent of mut’aa marriages. Mut’aa marriages are temporary in nature – they have a previously designated time limit at which point they end, and as far as I know, it is this aspect that is objectionable.

    Second, the author quotes Sheikh Yusuf al Qaradawi’s legal verdict that the misyar marriages are legally valid: His verdict carries very heavy weight, and she does not make a compelling case against it. Indeed, his core argument that these marriages are valid because they are contracts with conditions spelled out and agreed to by both parties is very far-sighted. Marriage contracts that include real-life specifics for the specific couples involved, should be the norm for families who live in a global society that is much more mobile, culturally in flux, with many more variables than ever before.

    Third, while the author argues that the misyar contract demonstrates women’s weaker bargaining power, the specificity of the contract actually makes it stronger than many other marriage contracts. in which very few (i.e. the mahr) or vague conditions (following qur’an and sunnah) are indicated. The author holds up typical marriage contracts as the gold standard, but after the marriage the wife is still obliged to obey her husband, without the benefit of having discussed and explicitly agreed/disagreed to specifics.

    Fourth, the author equates misyar marriages to promiscuity and a desire for illicit sex. This is a very unjust and harmful comparison. In this false light, one could compare any desire for marriage with a desire for promiscuity. Nuts and bolts, marriage is a contract between a man and a woman that permits them to have sexual relations. What makes it legal in Islam is that the contract meets certain criteria. If the misyar marriage is good enough for Yusuf al Qaradawi, it is good enough for me.

    But the extremely serious point here is that the author’s equating misyar marriage with promiscuity and a craving for illicit sex, spreads fitna in the society, causing people to not only have internal doubts about those who are in misyar marriages, but to actively spread gossip that they are promiscuous and engaged in a quest for illicit sex.

    Fifth, while the misyar contracts might not suit everyone, it is a legal attempt to specify marital conditions that do work for many people. While the author’s concern for widows in Saudi society is commendable, does she really know what it is like to be in their shoes? There are many women there and here who would actively seek a marriage where they can be with their kids from a previous marriage, work during the week, live independently, etc. and have companionship on the weekends, or during certain times of the year. What’s wrong with that?

    Many women in other more typical or traditional marriages also have husbands who travel and are only with the family for limited times during the month or year. Similarly, our religion explicity outlines polygamous marriage situations where each wife would live in a separate household and would be visited by her husband on a rotating basis – roughly 2 or 3 times a week – what’s wrong with that?

    Some single women choose to remain that way. For whatever reason, they do not wish to marry or remarry. That is one respectable choice.

    Other single women, especially divorced or widowed women, would like to marry. They feel a dignity in just being able to say they have a husband. This is not a demeaning observation. Marriage is an honorable state. Many women do not fit into traditional categories, but they still have desires, and they still would like to enjoy loving companionship. They have the willingness and ability to make any future husband very happy, respected, and loved. This does not make these people weak, or promiscuous, or demean them in any way. This is part of their basic humanity.

    For a lot of people who have lived life and have kids, responsibilites, family restrictions, etc. the traditional marriage contract represents a heavy burden. The misyar contract appears to provide options that are more suitable for where they are in life.

    As I mentioned at the beginning, I would have a hard time agreeing to at least one of the conditions, which involves the custody of the child. But that’s just me. I’m not going to deprive men and women from legal marriage contracts because their conditions don’t happen to suit me.

    Maybe there is some leeway to tailor these agreements; the author didn’t say. Maybe that would be a direction to explore in terms of accomodating and including more non-traditional men and women into the marriage market.

    • Fazila

      April 7, 2010 at 8:26 PM

      This is ridiculous and contradicts fundamental core principles of right and wrong. Are you suggesting, first of all, that short term contract marriage is permissible? How much time is minimum and what terms are permissible. How about an hour for $200? Or a day for $2000. This seems a lot like another type of agreement entirely! The worst sin is corruption of truth for personal gain, this is exactly like that! And any man/woman who disagrees with me tell me, would you allow your daughter to be enjoined in any such thing?! I’ve never heard anything so ridiculous in all my life!

      My next point relates to the suggestion that a traveling husband may have other ‘wives’ in this short term fashion to satisfy his needs because we all know that MEN HAVE NEEDS, but don’t women? Would it actually satisfy men to know that sex is something we women hate and suffer out of love and obedience? I have a manipulation of the Quran for you that benefits women- if a woman and man divorce they can only remarry if the woman has married & consummated with another man. How about if a woman wants to sleep with another guy keep it Islamic: get a divorce, marry the other guy, divorce that guy then marry the 1st husband again! Obviously this is ridiculous, but it is no different to what men do! Study the law and loopholes will keep you out of prison, but do you believe that a loophole found in the words of the Quran will fool God and keep you out of Hell? The ideal aim of living a Muslim life is to have a simple humble existence and doing God’s work through kindness and charity- this is far from that!!!

      • Siraaj

        April 7, 2010 at 9:34 PM

        This is ridiculous and contradicts fundamental core principles of right and wrong. Are you suggesting, first of all, that short term contract marriage is permissible?

        I’d be careful of calling something a fundamental contradiction of right and wrong without having studied the details of the history of both practices (misyar and mut’aa). While it is true that mut’aa is forbidden, it was allowed at one point, and then forbidden, then allowed again, and then forbidden again. Ibn Abbas actually held the opinion that it was permissible under certain circumstances (of course, the Ummah at large rejected this opinion), and there are a number of different narrations about the reasons and conditions he gave for it.

        Misyar is not a temporary contract as mut’aa – there is no intention to divorce, and if one is present, then the contract is by default null and void. The purpose of the contract provides both parties what they want, and no one is forced into it. The article above acts as though someone has put a gun to the heads of these women who enter the contracts, but these women who give up maintenance rights are apparently sufficient of their own means and only want the conjugal rights.

        A marriage contract by definition in Islamic terms is simply a legal contract that makes a man and woman legal for one another – I agree that this definition doesn’t exactly inspire images of birds trilling out of a meadow, but it is what it is.


        • Fazila

          April 7, 2010 at 10:10 PM

          I understand what you mean. However, I think it is pertinent to mention the irony of contradictions that exists in the minds of muslim men to suit their purpose. In one instance they will tell how women are inferior to men, incapable of making big decisions and subject to various influences that render them incapable of making decisions in a home. On the other hand women are perfectly ok to get into a marriage which has pre-determined terms that may digress entirely from the Islamic version of marriage.

          Furthermore, this situation is ridiculous. We can marry but not do this and that and the other. It’s a bit like saying I’m muslim but I drink, sleep around, eat ham, etc

          • Siraaj

            April 8, 2010 at 9:30 AM

            I’m not saying the issue doesn’t exist, because it does, but at the same time, I think you’re stereotyping muslim men into one corner.

            There is a difference between a practice that’s allowed, and the people who follow that practice. It’s like saying the behavior of Muslims proves Islam is wrong. Islam is correct, Muslims need to align themselves with Islam. Same with marriage in general – rate of failure is high these days, doesn’t mean marriage is wrong, it means both men and women need to figure out how to make it work.


      • Naseebah

        April 8, 2010 at 10:02 AM

        Are you suggesting, first of all, that short term contract marriage is permissible?

        No. In fact, the author of the article equates misyar with mut’aa marriage, while I am distinguishing them. Mut’aa marriage is forbidden as its permissibility was abrograted (see Siraj’s response)

  41. a reader

    April 7, 2010 at 10:13 PM

    fazila please keep quiet. we don’t want to offend you but you are spamming pretty much everyone. peace.

    • another reader

      April 8, 2010 at 1:06 PM

      If Fazila is out, how will we be entertained? Iman Zaid Shakir’s post was “Good Information & Educating”.
      Fazila’s discourse was “entertainment” to say the least. And as someone put it, she sounds bitter.

      • Fazila

        April 8, 2010 at 7:38 PM

        Most people are closed minded and lack the ability to respond appropriately. If you fail to provide sound logical rhetoric that is your own failing. People said that sufragettes were bitter too but they made great strides towards the liberty of women. I’m not bitter, I’m an original thinker.

        Also, before using words understand their meaning. Spam means a disruptive commercial meaning- I’m not trying to sell anything. If you have ideas that oppose mine then by all means present them but people who tell others to ‘shut up’ are usually ignorant and weak minded. Are you threatened by me? Seems that way. This is an open discussion forum and I’m free to express my thoughts as are all people who choose to. Are you trying to oppress my speech? Maybe I should keep my mouth shut, put on an apron and get in the kitchen, right?

        • Hassan

          April 8, 2010 at 9:06 PM

          Are you threatened by me?

          Yes I am. You are so intellectually superior, strong willed, etc etc,

  42. muslimah

    April 8, 2010 at 4:21 PM

    Fazila, wow u have really made this post so much more interesting with your comments. Thank you for your opinions. But sweetie, you do come across a bit strong (and not in a good way, more like a bitter-i-hate-men way). The problem is, many of your complaints against men have been overly simplistic and stereotypical.

    Yes, there is a problem in our community. Too many men expect their wives to take care of all the household duties and child rearing responsibilities, even if the wife is already working a full time job. This mentality needs to be changed. I don’t think it is a part of Islam for only the women to do these things. I remember reading that the Prophet (pbuh) used to be kind to his wives and help them out. So many men expect to be served the food first. But I remember reading another story where the Prophet (pbuh) let Aisha (ra) eat first, and then he ate from her plate.

    I think the only way to have a good marriage is one in which both the husband and wife love and respect one another. They need to share the duties. If this means the husband will do most of the money earning and outside work and the wife will do most of the household work, thats fine. But both parents should be involved in the childcare. A man may come home exhausted from a long day’s work. But the woman has also been working hard all day long taking care of the cleaning, cooking, etc. So who should be the one the give the child a bath and put him to sleep? They both should, and especially the father should because it gives him time to spend with the children.

    Any marriage that is built on love and respect will be strong (God willing). But love takes a while to blossom, so first and foremost there must be respect. When there is respect, there will also be obedience on both sides. Men, do not expect your wives to obey you blindly, if you do not first show her love and respect.

    Fazila, please keep hope. Though it may not seem so (and the majority of men probably aren’t worthy of you), there are many nice, intelligent men out there who know how to respect a smart woman and is not intimidated by her success. But no one is perfect, so don’t expect the perfect man. Make allowances for some things.

    • Fazila

      April 8, 2010 at 7:48 PM

      The idea that I am bitter is laughable. I find it ironic how many men have expressed bitter and resentful words towards women, such as the idea that an educated woman is cold-hearted and coarse, or that women are inferior to men, amongst many others. I find it strange that when I express my views that women are not inferior this is translated as bitterness!

      Am I bitter? No, I see life from the perspective that circumstances have presented. My father died leaving a wife and 4 young children. My parents had a wonderful relationship and shared duties, responsibility and control of the family- neither was oppressed by the other. After my father died my mother has been both a mum & dad to us- she works, cooks, keeps house clean, pays the bills and even does the DIY because she has to, there’s no1 else to do it.

      I DO resent it when women are presented in a inferior and ignorant fashion. A lot of men hold ideologies that will not work and they are offensive. Yet this is not regarded with any contempt because it is acceptable for a man to say negative things about the role of a woman, to pick and choose passages to subjugate, and to inappropriately extrapolate. I’m not bitter, I’m a female version of most men- I have a superiority complex and I regard many men as inferior.

      • Sayf

        April 8, 2010 at 8:27 PM

        #1 : “I DO resent it when women are presented in a inferior and ignorant fashion. A lot of men hold ideologies that will not work and they are offensive.”

        Who (here) isn’t agreeing with that? You’re preaching to the converted.

        #2: “Yet this is not regarded with any contempt because it is acceptable for a man to say negative things about the role of a woman, to pick and choose passages to subjugate, and to inappropriately extrapolate.”

        Who (here) sees that as acceptable?

        #3: “I’m not bitter, I’m a female version of most men- I have a superiority complex and I regard many men as inferior.”

        Two wrongs don’t make a right.

        You have to realize sis most people here are agreeing with the issues you’re raising, but your rhetoric is that of picking a fight when there’s nobody here for you to fight with. For us it’s like being at a dinner table with a tasty dish. It’s nice to eat, but its not so nice when the host crams 10 pounds of it down our throat. The host will see people leaving the table not because the food is bad, but because they’re choking.

        • Siraaj

          April 8, 2010 at 8:42 PM

          Two wrongs don’t make a right.

          Was thinking the exact same thought when I read that line.


          • Fazila

            April 8, 2010 at 10:34 PM

            I generally have a problem expressing myself- I don’t mean to come across aggressive, it’s a character flaw! I generally don’t have a problem with anyone or anything other people do/say/believe unless it directly affects my life, however I do enjoy participating. I’m a nice-ish person but I’m very frank and to the point which comes accross as aggressive. I apologise if the way I communicate is offensive but it is unintentional. Anyway, I’m going back to uni tomorrow so won’t be posting for a while (don’t want any1 to think they’ve scared me off- which is why I’m telling you all this!) but it’s been fun and Siraaj, I’ve particularly appreciated your comments- you’re a very nice man, as is my brother (see, I don’t hate men… lol) and I hope to come across more like you.

            Take care everyone and all the best. I pray that you all find what you’re looking for (be careful what you wish for….)

            Bye :)

      • Hassan

        April 8, 2010 at 9:00 PM

        I’m a female version of most men- I have a superiority complex and I regard many men as inferior.

        And that is exactly why you are awesome and we were closely paying attention to what you were saying as there is nothing better than having superiority complex.

      • Muslim

        April 8, 2010 at 10:55 PM

        For the record I never called you in particular cold or bitter or coarse, I just said that SOME women who graduate and enter the workforce turn into a monster (and so do a lot of brothers).

        And just to respond to you, my dad died when I was 3 and my mom(who was a foreigner to America) worked&went to school/ then worked and raised 4 children, with me being the youngest, all by herself under the allowance of Allah. So I don’t think of women to be nobodies that should be beaten, and that doesnt prevent me from saying that for women it is Islamically mandated that women should obey (-yes I used the word obey) thier husband in what is fair and just and not what is ridiculous – and I believe that convo is going on elsewhere on this page but i digress…

  43. Umm Saara

    April 14, 2010 at 5:34 AM


    Alhamdullilah. mash’Allah a ‘touching’ article.

    Mash’Allah i am married and by Allahs mercy and kindness i am very content in my marriage. The ‘key’ as my husband says – is ISLAM. As we are always reminding each other – we have Allah with us and we have the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) as a role model. so stories/hadiths and above all the Qur’an are foremost in our minds. if there is something that is bothering us – we refer to the above. its not always about opinions or what we may think is ‘right’. Who are we to Question the guidance already laid out for us?
    We have to have the akhirah in mind at all times. who are we doing these things for? we have to do things for the sake of Allah, the most High. Once we instil that in ourselves and our children everything becomes easy insha’Allah.
    In my youth (not that i’m that old now!!) i was always saying that i wouldn’t obey my husband and do all the housework (Allah forgive me) and i wasn’t going to be his slave. but Allhamdullilah – i enjoy making a ‘home’ and i enjoy doing thing for my husband – but at the same time he does things for me mash’Allah and for himself. there is no hard and fast rule that because i’m the wife I have to wash the dishes or iron the clothes. mash’Allah he even stitched his own trousers the other day – why? because our beloved Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) took up chores in his own household. what other rolemodel would we want?
    where work is concerned – i worked for mash’Allah 10yrs before i got married. i left because i got married. My husband didn’t want me to work. i clearly told him the first time i met him that although i didn’t mind ‘not working’ i was against being TOLD that i couldn’t work. i explained that we didn’t know (and still don’t know) what plans Allah, the most High, has in store for us. we could end up in such a way where i would NEED to work. he mash’Allah accepted this and a year on in our marriage he was actually looking for jobs for me mash’Allah – NOT because of NEED but purely based on understanding the need for me to have a link in the ‘outside’ world. the compromise that we came to mash’Allah was that i could work but in an islamic environment. Allhamdullilah.

    Generally our attitudes come from the media and the world around us at this time. we have to keep reminding ourselves that the guidance is in the Quran and from the Prophet (peace be upon him). we have to realise that islam and ‘life’ is not a separate things. Follow islam, practice the deen and the dunya will inevitably follow. chase the dunya and leave Islam aside than know that you will be chasing for eternity and will never be content.
    Allah protect us, guide us and make us the best of the Ummah, and may we all have goodness in this world and the next ameen.
    wa alaikum assalam

    • Azhar

      April 23, 2010 at 3:06 PM

      Mashallah Ukhti. You guys followed the sunnah. No wonder, your marriage is so sweet. May Allah make it even more sweeter.

  44. BeMuslim

    May 1, 2010 at 9:42 AM

    Assalamu Alaikum,

    Ma’shallah this is a good article, and i have to say that both sides of the argument carry weight.

    I think its up to both genders to step up really. Its not just down to the brothers that are only looking for Angeline Jolie. Its true, many of them are, and that needs to stop. But like “ST” said, intellectual and independent, is all good except when it leads to “attitude”, which unfortunately *is* the case.

  45. ummmanar

    May 9, 2010 at 8:28 PM

    mushallah this is well said.this things need to be adressed in masajid and conferences there are many parents live here in usa but still have back home minds.
    barkallah fike brather zaid.

  46. nash

    May 16, 2011 at 12:41 PM

    asalaamu alaikum,

    On the subject of beauty, that was expressed in previous comments. I met a wonderful man who wants to marry me despite the fact that i was married before with children. He has seen photos of me and we talk via internet often, we also spoke a couple times on web cam. It is my feeling that men desire beautiful women. It has been confirmed now in my mind after reading above comments that it is important for some.

    I dont consider myself beautiful (my pics looks good and with good lighting and little make up maybe i looked beautiful in camera) I have a great fear that if this man sees me in person, he may not want to marry me, although he tells me I have a good character Alhamduillah.

    But will he marry me because he feels obliged too? or would he really find me beautiful?

    I am at a point where I prefer he remembers me with a good image in his mind than he sees me and regrets. I have only now accepted myself but I dont know if others will. My only insecurity is my complexion.

    Advice anyone?

    • Siraaj

      May 17, 2011 at 2:43 AM

      Pray istikhaara and then follow up fearlessly – if it works out, it was for the best, and if it doesn’t, it was for the best – win/win situation.


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