Friday, 10 October 2008

The Marriage Challenge For Single Muslim Career Women Over 25

Marriage for me is a touchy issue. I'm 26 years old and still not married...which is a crime and sin to some f#$%ed up folk out there. It makes me sad because its NOT that I DONT want to get married...on the contrary...but it has just never happened. Some guys did like me, but its not like anyone was ever serious enough to want to propose. And yet, I'm labelled and tainted by this sick society I live in. The first thing everyone wants to know is "What is wrong with her?".

Well there is absolutely NOTHING wrong with me. I am actually the Perfect woman seriously I am...LOL. And no one knows me better than I do thats why I firmly believe that the man who marries me, will be the luckiest guy alive.

Well only Allah SWT knows. I can relate to this article by Munira Lekovic Ezzeldine and it resonates with me....

How hard can it be?

My husband and I recently tried to match-make a couple of our friends. Omar began telling his friend about a really nice woman we knew at 33, successful, beautiful. His first response was, "So, what's wrong with her? Why is she 33 and not married?" Looking at the 30-year-old man before me, my first thought was, "I could ask you the same thing." However, the reality set in that there's a double standard when it comes to the issue of age and marriage.

Many Muslim women are successful lawyers, doctors, professors and journalists. They are outspoken and active in their Muslim and non-Muslim communities. They are intelligent and beautiful, and they are unmarried. The same women who are ambitious and focused on their academic and professional success are finding it difficult to find a suitable spouse.

Twenty years ago, as young Muslim boys and girls were being raised, they were encouraged to excel academically and professionally. Parents placed a huge emphasis on education and hard work for both boys and girls. And apparently, they were taken seriously. Girls excelled and never felt they could not attain an education or a profession. They worked hard and succeeded past their parents had encouraged all those years. Now, these same women are in their twenties and thirties and the same parents are now pressuring them to get married.

Are women to blame for being ambitious and educated? Apparently so. Women seem to be penalized for their ambition. Once a young woman passes the age of 25 and remains single, she is considered "old" and often finds it difficult to find a suitable spouse. Suddenly, others tell her that she has become too picky and her expectations of a husband are unrealistic and that she should hurry up and get married already. "There are some of us who went to college and are successful in our careers and we are not on a search and destroy mission to get married," says Suhad Obeidi, a 39-year-old former banking manager with an M.B.A. The reality is that Muslim women have worked hard for their education and careers and they will not give it all up in order to get married.

In recent decades, men have also become highly educated and progressive. However, while these men are impressed with a successful and active woman, they do not consider her "marriage material." Despite the elevation of women, many men have maintained traditional ideas as to the type of wife they seek. After all, they do not see anything wrong with the way their mother was.

Consciously or subconsciously, many men seek a wife who will fulfil the traditional role of a wife and mother and one who will maintain a traditional home life. She should be educated, but she should also be willing to put her education and career on a shelf while raising a family. These women in their late twenties and early thirties appear too established in their career and lifestyle and therefore, more difficult to marry because they will not fall into this traditional role.

Many Muslim women want to be wives and mothers while at the same time be respected for their profession. One big problem is that, rather than embrace her ambition and success; men simply tolerate it and expect something in return. Current expectations of marriage have changed for women and become more aligned with the examples of women during Prophet Muhammad's lifetime. The Prophet's first wife, Khadija, was an established career woman who was 15 years older than her husband. Khadija was a very confident and successful woman who actually proposed to the 24-year-old Muhammad. Yet, the Prophet was not intimidated by her nor found her "unmarriageable." They maintained a strong marriage as she continued to be a businesswoman, as well as wife and mother. Prophet Muhammad and Khadija were married for 28 years, the longest of all his marriages. The year that Khadija died was also referred to as the Year of Mourning by Prophet Muhammad.

Many Muslim women seek not to compete with men, but rather to establish a partnership with their spouse. Ultimately, these women want to be cherished and loved in the same way that the Prophet loved Khadija. This type of partnership in marriage can only exist when both people are accepting and respectful of one another's ambitions and priorities in life. Men have succumbed to negative cultural stereotypes that are contrary to Islam when selecting a spouse. We (Muslim women) are the way we are because we are trying to be good Muslims.

Thus, a partnership in marriage can only be developed when men and women really follow the principles of Islam and learn to communicate their expectations of marriage as well as be understanding of one another. Communication is vital to any successful marriage, but now more than ever, women must feel comfortable in expressing their expectations of marriage to a potential spouse and in return feel that they are being understood, respected and encouraged.


  1. im sendin u a mail..

    and dont shoot the messanger

  2. This past week, a friend of mine raised similar questions as to what went wrong? Are smart, educated, independent, gorgeous women really such a threat to the weakling men who are too chicken to make a move or just not that into us or do we need to dumb down for them to actually want to marry us. And then there are those who make assumptions from afar without actually knowing the truth - oh she must be choosing a career over getting married and having children - but did anyone ask her if that was indeed true? Perhaps the career is just filling the void. But does she need to choose between the two? I know of one girl who, like you, would be the perfect wife, mother, cook, partner, lover, etc, but no ones bothered to ask because of what they assume. She's been so long on the shelf that cobwebs are growing and there's talk of sending her off giving her away to an antiques store. There's another who's soon to be shipped off to the archeology museum. Old maids, they are not~! So where are the real men?

  3. btw you might wanna read one of my old posts: In search of an Arabian Knight

    Somehow related. :)

  4. Being the eternal Devil's advocate, let me state that alot of Muslim women have been influenced by western ideals of the acceptable women. The writer expresses that subtly, dresses it in Islamic virtue. Ok, i've been asked what i think of "working" women and "educated" women. And i'm being completely honest. She shouldn't be dumb. She should be someone appealing enough to me not to want to cheat on her. That's it. Generally i think i would attract highly educated people, future wife included, and what the hell would future wife do sitting home. How many times could i come home every day and show her the balloon animals trick before we got bored? Maturity is important. And you cant get that very often with some hardly experienced life 20 something. Well not often. So i dont think i could deal with a dumb, hop on one leg wife.

  5. Killa - I agree you get the work skanks..Not all of us go to work to F@#$ around...I work with alot of middle aged (45-65) white Engineers...that I have absolutely NOOOO interest clevage stays hidden and my legs covered...and since I'm the only Muslim Indian person there, the lack of interest is mutual.
    Like I said, some of us really have to work, not out of choice...

    DD - Read your blog and I'm so relating to it...It really does sound like most men want a dummed down trophy for a wife. And here I was stupid enough to think I could be a companion...someone who will see him through the good and bad times...and be committed 100% to the relationship...stupid me.

    OH - I agree with what you said about women trying to fit to the western ideal of a what they should be. But I want to point out to you...the world is not what it used to be...things have changed dramatically over the past 5 decades...and I often wonder how the Prophet SAW would have lived in these contemporary times...For instance, most people cant afford to live on just one salary in the house and it is necessary for the spouse to go and work...that is life today.

  6. Azra,

    you are not the only one, i have actually been told on my 25th birthday that I am pass my sell by date to which I said that only perishable items have a sell by date. But the point is, if you are not married by the time you are 24, it is considered that there has to be something wrong with you. Even having high standards is considered wrong and that phenomenon is universal.

  7. At least no one can peg you! How about have just the same amount of mixed heritage and looking completely Indian!! Do you know how I want to die when people ask me, ‘Which part of India do you come from?’ Or, they get shocked if they find out I’m Muslim. And no, its not because I’m not wearing a scarf. The whole of the UJ bollywood crew don’t wear scarf’s, but because they are ‘lighter’ in complexion then me they don’t get questioned!! People don’t understand the concept that CULTURE and RELIGION are not the same!!

  8. Your modesty knows no bounds :-D its fabulous (dont worry- im the same, think im pretty damn good stuff maself *cough*).

    I dont think its a matter of anything except Qadr.Allah Ta'ala has written someone for everyone and its a matter of time as to when they are meant to unite and become one in the bonds of Nikkah.
    However, i do have issue with the people who think that their spouse and mr/miss perfect is going to fall out the sky and neatly land in their lap! It doesnt work like that. Nabi SAW himseld said- we must tie our camels, then whatever ultimately happens is meant to be.

    I cant find fault with those people who are actively searching because they know they want to get married (although if youre anything like me, that always felt too contrictive and almost like you were trying too hard)! and in that situation i truly believe it will happen when its meant to. However those who sit on their lard ass- have nothing really to offer a potential spouse but have a list the size of Africa of what they want in a spouse just get my goat!

    Answer honestly though- do you really not believe that people get fussier as they get older or they have higher expectations without looking at what they can offer in return? Granted some people i know have so much to offer and some guy/girl is gona be very lucky someday. However, they do seem to get fussier! and they seem to become very set in their ways and arent willing to compromise. If you find what you want then thats excellent for you- more power to you but i sometimes wish i could explain the dynamics and complexities that a marriage brings with it where if you dont compromise and communicate then quite frankly youre doomed!

    I agree with you regarding the wanting your spouse to motivate you, encourage you, support you and allow you to grow and develop as a person. Alhamdulillah i am lucky enough to have found that and i asure you- there are plenty of guys out there who would do the same :-) These guys dont have egos or inferiority complexes and they are simply a joy to be married to.
    My priorities have changes and in honesty the way i imagined my life to be is somewhat different to how it is. I saw myself as a high flying career woman, working in central london, taking my prodigy children to flute lessons (loooll) and being an active member of many do-gooder charities.

    Im in SA, i hardly go out without my mehram, im pregnant and i dont work (i love staying at home and it suits me perfectly fine at the moment). MY husband has different reasons for not wanting me to work- they are in accordance to Shariah and as far as i am concerned- he fulfills all my rights and goes out of his way to make me happy and content that i have nothing to complain about. Yes ofcourse in the future i want to work and maybe do the things i always wanted to-but for now, i am happy where i am and whats even mroe ironic is that i never thought this would be a state of existence that would become mine or one that i was so unbelievably content with.

    Heres to you finding a spouse who loves you, cares for you, understands you, is spiritually and psychologically uplifting and one that posesses all the qualities you look for in a man! AMEEN! :-D

  9. Zahera - Ameen!

    You know I agree with you that people tend to become fussier as they get older...I actually believe that people have too many expectations when it comes to looking for a spouse.

    I believe most men want an Aishwarya Rai that cooks..I say mos tmen because I'm aware that not all of them are like that.

    My modesty? know why I said that? Because I would literally move mountains for the ones I love...thats just the type of person I am in general...and I wouldn't want anything in return toher than unconditional love.

    I truely believe in Taqdeer...and I know from experience...many many times already (Jobs etc.)...that Allah SWT ALWAYS gives me whats best for me (- and most of the time its better than what I originally wanted)...regardless of whether I can recognise it at the time or not. Sometimes I just have to wait a little while HE puts the plan in action. So I dont mind waiting, believe me, because I know when it comes, that it will be perfect for me..that that it was sent by my Creator SWT.

    Personally, I dont want to work when I have kids...I want like 4 to 6 kids..and I want to engage in their lives...maybe join the PTA...and some Islamic Fund Group - I want to work...but I want the work to be more recreational...I dont want a corporate job.

    As a person, I am not materialistic and I have few expectations - I dont need a mansion or a Ferrari...while they are nice, those things dont impress me. But Honesty, kindness, manners, intelligence, loving nature, respect, compromise, trust, and a little fiesty-ness will do it for me :)

  10. >>kindness, manners, intelligence, loving nature, respect, compromise, trust, and a little fiesty-ness will do it for me :)

    Good job i found my husband before you did huh :-P loooolll. Can completely relate though and yeh- has to be fiesty and assertive without being an arrogant dickhead. Cant stand those guys who get their kicks out of shitting on others. Fiestyness is :-D *swwoonn* (or maybe its got something to do with me giving as good as i get- dont like pansy boys).

    Allah Ta'ala ALWAYS gives us what we want :-) like you said. Our duaas are always answered whether we realise it or not- and im exactly like you. Ive said it over and over again that i have always been blessed with exactly if not even better than what i wanted/expected.

    As for the expectations-if you have them you'll be disappointed. LOL thats not me being cynical- i just think its reality. When we expect so much, we prepare for our pwn downfall, whereas if we just trust in Allah and seek guidance from Him, things always seem alot clearer.

    4 or 6 kids?!?! bleeders are you man woman!? :-P looks like i need to post more pregnancy boohoos and give you all a reality dose (lol its actually wonderful- and im all babylovestruck cos i just met my midwife again).
    InshaAllah all your plans will come together and ofcourse if not- then i trust youre the kind who believes Allah is the best of planners! So its a win win situation all round :-D

    And yes.. i look like Ashwariya Rai and i can cook *coughs and chokes on laughter*

  11. I like my men Fiesty...I like a man who can indulge my craziness and at the same time, if I'm too much, he can put me in my place...respectfully of course...I like that whole giving what you're getting scenario...

    I also like Men who have minds of their own...HATE Pansies and arrogance lol

    The only real expectation I have is travelling...I'm not willing to compromise there...because travelling is my life...everything else I can do without:)

  12. hey u...

    first time reader at your blog, and i just got carried away! this one totally blew me away, as did the late night phone dialogue :P
    i have a story with my sms's gettin sent to me dads phone (just one time) but wayyyy freaky. sigh.

    ok but back to the post here, its an awesome one, but interesting to note is that people's interpretations of our lives past the 25 mark is a reflection of the chains of drama that they choose to hang on to. it took some realisation on my part to get that. and it makes sense that they build on these expectations, based on these 'warped' definitions of what it is to be unmarried at a certain age. believe it or not, theres more and more late twenty's, thirty-something professionals who are now ready to start considering a mature healthy communicable relationship. re to mj's post, u could find them in bookstores:P, stuttafords and well just about anywhere.. more and more people are well aware of the demands of a healthy relationship and the work that goes into it, and are realistic about the support for each other. women are aware that career goals must be able to fit into the desire to start a family, without compromise. i know an attorney who takes home projects so that she can stay with her two year old. my sister is a health professional and works around having a one year old..etc. re indianness, just a year ago,i was involved with a muslim non-indian male who took issue with my career. so there's a whole range of drama's beyond traditionalist culture and such things. the point, though, is that there are numerous people capable of more than the be-married-at-18 paradigm. and many who are perfectly adept at making the effort to a sustainable and wonderful marriage. and some (yes, muslims) who encourage an 'open relationship' for what they consider to be good for the relationship (this makes for a whole new post!) and so a pretty colourful mixed bag of sorts. but, if you exist, then theres bound to be someone out there just made for you! and lucky to be with you. and very much aware of it!

    on another note, i have a friend whose just 23 and divorced (within two months of an abusive marriage). and she said to me, its easier for a 26++ year old single woman to get married than a 23 year old divorcee. and i thought, gosh, even i wouldnt want to marry a guy who holds such prejudices... speaks much of the mindset,etc...

    i shud tag u in a post rather than ramble on here.. thanks for sharing:)

  13. Shafinaaz - Thanks for your insight :D

    I really believe that the world we live in has changed dramatically in the last two much so that it has changed a threads in our fabric of society.

    What people dont understand is that culturally, we are changing all the time (Religion is more constant)and therefore its slightly ignorant to believe that we can only live our lives in a certain manner. Alot of what we practice culturally is antiquated, and with the knowledge that exists in abundance today, may be deemed ludicrous.

    I'm not saying people shouldnt hold on to their cultures (because its a sense of belonging and security to most)...I just believe we should be less rigid and more open to and accepting of (Positive) changes in society.

  14. Lets hope the current generation dont take that train of thought with them as they get older. I cant see myself thinking like that though.

    I'm married for 4 and a half years and people think something is wrong with me because I didnt fall pregnant after 1 yr of marriage. I dont care what they think anymore.

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