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jannah

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Muslim woman tries to avoid the life of a spinster
« on: Nov. 09, 2010, 08:50 AM »

And she's so pretty!!! What's wrong with you guys  :o :(

Muslim woman tries to avoid the life of a spinster

http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/life/main/6341804.html

Houston Chronicle



Sarah Ali is a single Muslim woman who is opening a business called The Transformational Studio in Sugar Land.

Sarah Ali worries that she’s on a speed train to spinsterhood.

For the past five years, she’s e-mailed and phoned. She’s downed countless cups of coffee, listened to living rooms full of “aunties,” employed professional matchmakers and written an online profile that is pure poetry.

But with many of her friends in wedded bliss, and niece No. 2 on the way, the pull of love and the push from her parents has left her nervous about finding Mr. Right.

“One part of me is very optimistic and hopeful, cheerful, bubbly and goofy,” Ali said. “Other times, I’m not.”

You see, Ali is 30 years old. And for a first-generation American with family and faith roots in Pakistan and Islam, 30 is not the new 20 when it comes to matters of marriage.

“In our culture women are expected to be married by their mid-20s,” said Mona Baig, Ali’s childhood friend — her married childhood friend.

“In American culture, being single at 30 is no big deal, so by those standards she’s on the right track,” Baig added.

Ali’s tracks to marriage have gotten a bit crossed. Like many young first-generation South Asian-Americans, Ali is committed to marrying within the traditions of Islam. But it’s a tradition twisted for the life of a bright, witty, supersocial Sugar Land resident with her own business.

So it gets complicated.

For example, Ali doesn’t date. She doesn’t get gussied up for sexy evenings of dinner and dancing to meet potential mates.

But Ali’s parents also won’t choose her husband. She expects to find him herself, with the knowledge and blessings of the two families, of course.

The setup is more an “assisted” than an “arranged” marriage, Ali said.

Until the right level of assistance meets Mr. Right, Ali must be courted.

She knows what she wants and is not afraid to be upfront about it.

Hanging out is fine; getting physical is not. She is clear from the get-go that the goal is marriage.

“It’s kind of old-fashioned, where suitors used to come to people’s homes and take the women for a walk in the garden,” she said.

It’s not that Ali has been sitting around waiting for her romantic dreams to come true.

She’s on the market, all right. But so far the aunties, the professional matchmakers, fix-ups by friends and that stellar profile on Web sites that cater to South Asians, such as Shaadi.com and Naseeb.com, have delivered nearly 100 Mr. Wrongs. (At present, she is talking with three men she met through the sites, but she hasn’t gone on a date with any of them.)

Ali doesn’t bear the battle scars of dating American-style. There are no drunken first dates or bad breakups and certainly no walk of shame — heading home the morning after a night of heaven knows what dressed in the previous night’s outfit.

Like any woman who survived her 20s and is looking to settle down in her 30s, Ali has stories to tell.

There’s the guy who dismissed her via e-mail because he disapproved of her jelly-bean habit and her humming on the phone.

Ali’s tale of heartbreak concerns a love who caved when his parents demanded he call it off so he could marry a woman from their hometown in Pakistan.

Her dream guy is worldly and educated, he appreciates different cultures, and he possesses wit and humor to rival hers.

“I’m looking for a best friend, someone I can click with, I can hang out with all the time,” Ali said.

Of course, there are a few superficial standards.

Bald, overweight smokers and cheapskates need not apply.

“I just want five good years with hair on the head,” she joked.

Some family friends think she’s too picky, but Ali maintains she’s not asking for too much.

“Sarah’s not doing anything wrong,” Baig said. “She just hasn’t met the right person.”

Her father, Mohammed Ali, considers it a matter of supply and demand.

There aren’t that many eligible bachelors for women of Ali’s background, education and lifestyle, he said. Some American-raised Muslims with Ali’s credentials marry outside their faith, he said.

More conservative men would frown upon Ali’s way of life. She doesn’t wear a head covering, she has a master’s degree in counseling psychology, and she dances to pop music.

These men prefer to marry a woman from the “Old Country,” Mohammed Ali said.

Ali is definitely not Old Country. She is more a new-fashioned “It Girl.” She has a reputation for hosting popular mixers for single Muslims in cities across the country. And like a South Asian Emma from Jane Austen’s novel, she has a hand in making matches among her friends.

Unlike Emma, she’s successful. Last summer, Ali attended the wedding of a man and woman she introduced.

Mohammed Ali thinks it’s time for his daughter to consider a “local guy,” code for someone who is not Pakistani.

“I personally think that she is a sincere and outgoing person,” he said. “I don’t understand why she is having to wait.”

Ali’s response is that of many women: She’s getting on with her life.

This month in Sugar Land she opened the Transformation Studio, which offers spa services and self-esteem counseling for women and men.

“If right now I’m not finding a guy, it doesn’t mean I’m going to put my career on hold,” Ali said. “My life is not going to revolve around the idea of getting married.”

That’ll happen, she added, but ultimately, she said, “you have to be happy with yourself.”
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Al-Qamar

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Re: Muslim woman tries to avoid the life of a spinster
« Reply #1 on: Nov. 09, 2010, 11:13 PM »

More conservative men would frown upon Ali’s way of life. She doesn’t wear a head covering, she has a master’s degree in counseling psychology, and she dances to pop music.


That did it for me... she sounds like someone who follows culture rather than deen. There are loads of practicing Muslims around, unfortunately not a lot of muslimahs (in my experience anyway...)
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jannah

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Re: Muslim woman tries to avoid the life of a spinster
« Reply #2 on: Nov. 10, 2010, 04:29 AM »

Head covering doesn't mean someone is automatically "practicing". I know many people who wear hijab but are not at the same level of some sisters that don't cover. ie one hijabi sister i know does not pray 5 times and is not active in the community, another non-hijabi i know is very dedicated about prayers and is very active in helping build the new mosque etc. It really depends on the person. Hijab is definitely a good thing but you can't judge the whole person by it. That counseling degree is a God send to the community. We really need people like her to counsel our community. And ummm I haven't met a single sister who doesn't dance to pop-music at sisters parties/hennas...maybe some old aunties?? So the point is, (not you) but guys make snap judgements without getting to know the sister. And she would probably make an amazing wife and mother.
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JenBean71

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Re: Muslim woman tries to avoid the life of a spinster
« Reply #3 on: Nov. 10, 2010, 06:29 AM »

MashaAllah she is happy with her life and Allah has made her successful. She has focused her pursuits on her education and her career.

I think the point is she chose not to marry when she was younger, which is common here but not the social norm in her parents' culture and she is caught between the two.

Even if she wore hijab she would be faced with the same dilemma. Hjab doesn't take away the cultural stigmas attached to her age and her education level.

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jannah

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Re: Muslim woman tries to avoid the life of a spinster
« Reply #4 on: Nov. 10, 2010, 09:36 AM »

I've noticed a lot of people assume that about sisters who are not married by 25. 'OH they refused to get married then so now they're going to be punished by no one marrying them, they concentrated on their career and education instead. That's what she gets.' (not you of course) Why do people assume that? Why not assume that guys are jerks and shallow. That she hasn't met anyone decent. That she's tried but it's never worked out. That there is an extreme dearth of good brothers out there and so on. (She even explicitly talks about a brother who dumped her because  his parents wanted him to marry someone from their village. But yet of course, everything's her fault.)

If you notice in the article:
For the past five years, she’s e-mailed and phoned. She’s downed countless cups of coffee, listened to living rooms full of “aunties,” employed professional matchmakers and written an online profile that is pure poetry.

(She's just turned 30 that means she's been ACTIVELY looking since she was at least 25)

She’s on the market, all right. But so far the aunties, the professional matchmakers, fix-ups by friends and that stellar profile on Web sites that cater to South Asians, such as Shaadi.com and Naseeb.com, have delivered nearly 100 Mr. Wrongs. (At present, she is talking with three men she met through the sites, but she hasn’t gone on a date with any of them.)

With people making judgments and assumptions about her, with "education" and "career" blackballing her and other sisters, it's no wonder we have an epidemic of sisters not marrying suitable brothers and even looking outside. I don't blame them.
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JenBean71

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Re: Muslim woman tries to avoid the life of a spinster
« Reply #5 on: Nov. 10, 2010, 08:48 PM »

It isn't only the brother deciding if his Pakistani parents are involved in the decision. They have a strong influence and will judge who will be suitable according to their own views which probably won't be in favour of the sister's education and career achievements and now, her age is a 'problem'. Allah is testing everybody here.

I agree, Sr. Jannah she is beautiful and eligible bride there shouldn't be anything stopping brothers. Sisters have nowhere else to look they can go outside of their culture but the whole middle east and asian countries have cultural ideas about marriage that she has to face. It isn't impossible to marry cross culturally though sometimes there is a clashing of cultural things.

But if you mean 'outside' as in outside of Islam yes it is so unfortunate they are rejected by Muslims for no good reason.  InshaAllah they insist on Islam or nothing. SubhanAllah - its a difficult test.

There are some unnecessary things that both sisters and brothers are putting each other through - for what...

May Allah match her with a good Muslim spouse (and all of us on here looking as well) - with what we need inshaAllah ameen

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skhansj

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Re: Muslim woman tries to avoid the life of a spinster
« Reply #6 on: Nov. 10, 2010, 09:22 PM »

She actually sounds like a fun person to be around. Someone with a good balance of the fundamentals and being involved in the community etc. Pity she could not find someone as yet. I do give her full marks for effort though. May Almighty Allah give her an amazing spouse who will make her super-happy :-).

The quote by sister Jannah piqued my interest:
Quote
That there is an extreme dearth of good brothers out there and so on

You know, I keep hearing this theme on this forum, and I keep hearing almost the same from the guys (with the gender of the subjects-of-discussion shifted). Is it really true, or is this a flawed perception? The statistics indicate otherwise with both men / women marrying later in life (the Western world is full of distractions... why else would everyone be on the computer right now?). The numbers should be about the same.

The 'adverse selection' assumption should not apply to woman / men here. We are talking about human being who don't 'depreciate' or have 'mechanical problems'.. not lemon cars. I think in the end it all comes down to attitude. It's amazing how being comfortable around others makes you more 'attractive'. People who think that that are luckier thus just happen to be so (at least in relationships).

For women, the strategy is simple, you _have_ to show interest. If you don't, the guy will not reciprocate.

http://www.spring.org.uk/2010/03/does-playing-hard-to-get-work.php

For men, it's really easy. If you're interested in someone, be a man, and ask them if they are married. If they say no, ask them if they are interested. It's as simple as that. You don't need to 'attract' them, or impress them, or be able to do a full Bollywood synchronised dance routine. Just express interest, and NO ONE will ignore that.

I speak from personal experience. I proposed to my wife a few days after we met, and it's been 10+ happy years since.

http://www.spring.org.uk/2009/06/why-men-prefer-direct-pick-up-lines.php


Going back to my interest in Sr Jannah's proposition... The 2010 Economics Nobel prize was on the theme of inefficient job markets; most of that analysis probably transfer well to the spousal 'market'....

Perhaps what we need is (a) better statistics on the phenomenon and (b) factor analysis to identify the most important variables, and (c) a more efficient match-making mechanism.

The recent comparative study by OKCupid and their analysis of eHarmony and Match.com was an interesting start on this. It shows why sites like Naseeb probably will not get you where you need to.

http://blog.okcupid.com/index.php/why-you-should-never-pay-for-online-dating/

.. and sister jenbean71, I agree with you that when brothers/sisters overcomplicate things and refuse perfectly workable marriages it only leads to fitna . May Almighty Allah give us all increased wisdom to do what is right.
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cinders

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Re: Muslim woman tries to avoid the life of a spinster
« Reply #7 on: Nov. 11, 2010, 01:46 AM »

Salam all,

Good comments sis Jannah & Jenbean.

I can totally relate to this thread. My sister is in the same position. She's hit the big THREE O. I feel for her. She's practicing, wears hijab (is really pretty)...& I'm not just saying that cos I'm her sister! She's got a good career, & she's the only sibling left to get married. There's this silent pressure towards her to get married. She doesn't like the idea of Matrimonial sites & has not joined any, due to safety & security I suppose. 
I can imagine what Outsiders looking in will probably think " why is she not married then, if she's so great?"
She gets accused of being picky, or she must have a boyfriend ( Why else would she say no? Apparently) Even though my family have asked her if she has anyone in mind ( so they could progress things)she really hasn't. She's never had one, let alone held a guys hand before. 
This is her criteria
• he has to read Salah, pay zakat, keep fasts.... Etc
• has to have decent job ( just so that he can support her & future kids) & not Interest based
• & he can't be narrow-minded. He cannot believe that Islam belongs to a specific cultural group & is willing to accept that Islam is for every race & that's why Allah made us of different nations

So I guess what I'm asking is "Is that too picky?" or am I being delusional because she's my sister?

 
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Al-Qamar

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Re: Muslim woman tries to avoid the life of a spinster
« Reply #8 on: Nov. 11, 2010, 03:13 AM »

Woh, I seem to have stirred up a hornets nest :D

Just to answer the point of hijab + not prayer, vs praying but no hijab... how many of you realise that from a fiqh point of view, prayer is not valid for a sister unless she is covered properly (which includes hijab in this case). Fine, whilst some only put it on for the salat... the thing that confuses me is why do they take it off afterwards? Allah (swt) can still see them!

Therefore, in terms of marriageability for myself (and this is a personal opinion), they're both the same for me... both no-go! I don't buy into the whole "Islam is about inner contentment" thing, Islam also has rules regarding external appearance, and if a sister doesn't respect herself, her potential husband and her deen enough to cover up, then she's not marriage material from an Islamic point of view... only from a cultural point of view (again, this is just my opinion).

I also just want to backup skhansj's statement... for sisters to "attract" a guy is dead easy... just tell him in clear plain english that you're interested... and your message has to be clear because our first assumption will be that you're just joking or messing with us! But if you tell us clearly enough, then you can leave the rest to us, we'll take it from there.

Cinders - that's not picky at all :)
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jannah

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Re: Muslim woman tries to avoid the life of a spinster
« Reply #9 on: Nov. 11, 2010, 07:01 AM »

Salams,

Thanx skhansj for your contribution. I have heard the odd brother say that "he can't find any good sisters" but when I inquire more about it he usually has very specific conditions, like certain age (under 21!) /career (has to have none, or has to be a doctor!) /special requirements (has to be pakistani/afghani etc) or has some major drawbacks (like no job, divorced many times, has kids (sorry but these are drawbacks)) or just plain is looking for a certain thing (the ideal muslimah girl image). For example there was one brother on this board who said 'oh i can't find anyone' but then he said he was looking for a fellow doctor only! Brothers in my area say they 'can't find anyone' but when presented with choice after choice they're not interested. Speaking as an older community member when a sister says to me 'she can't find anyone' she really means it and there really just isn't anyone, not that she doesn't like the choices in front of her.

I don't know how statistics could prove this, but I know at every single matrimonial event there are way more sisters than brothers and the sisters side regularly gets sold out. I know of many more 30+ single sisters in the community than 30+ single brothers.

Showing interest is a double-edged sword. For guys looking for the 'ideal muslimah girl image' it's a huge turn-off when they feel like the girl is the aggressor. I've heard good religious brothers say that to my face, if a sister is the one to approach they just feel it's negative.

I do think if brothers had enough contact though they could determine if the sister is interested. It's really not that hard to determine. Just ask some friends to ask, or ask yourself. If she's interested, she's not gonna say no!!
 
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cinders

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Re: Muslim woman tries to avoid the life of a spinster
« Reply #10 on: Nov. 11, 2010, 09:25 AM »

Wa'salam,

Sis Jannah you've made some very good points. Many of these resonate with my sister's case, skhanj some valid points too

•either she's not religious enough because she doesn't wear niqab or abayas (even though she does preserve hijab properly) or for some, she's too religious...
• she's too old. ( one potential was ok being 6 months younger than her, but his family wouldn't agree)
• many suitors are just Visa-seekers (& would not be marrying her for the right reasons, namely just  for a passport) Oh then it doesn't matter if she's older
• the Doctors & Engineers that have come forward have been too engrossed with work & weren't practicing, or lived too far, hence she'd be isolated
• I also can't help but think one bro was hiding something ( either he had someone else or was gay, no joke) his whole family seemed keen, we liked his family too, however his attitude was very despondant blasé about everything. My bro-in-law said, for the most inportant job in your life... Surely you'd make more effort? I happen to agree.

Bro Al-Qamar, I can understand why you may say about hijab etc, but for some sisters it's a personal Jihad. They have to learn to love wearing it, & wearing it for right reasons. I know many sisters including myself... It took 22 years before I observed hijab, but alhamdulillah I've been wearing it for nine years now. I wear it whole-heartedly. I was not forced to wear it, & I do not wear it as an accessory like some sisters do... ie. Covering head & showing arms etc...
It really is such a personal thing.

 
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reeldeel

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Re: Muslim woman tries to avoid the life of a spinster
« Reply #11 on: Nov. 11, 2010, 02:39 PM »

I do not wear it as an accessory like some sisters do... ie. Covering head & showing arms etc...
Its sometimes forgotten that hijab is not just a piece of cloth placed over the head. There are many that wear it cuz its culture.


Enjoin the believing men to lower their gaze and guard their modesty; that is chaster for them. Surely Allah is well aware of their actions. Likewise enjoin the believing women to lower their gaze and guard their modesty; not to display their beauty and ornaments except what normally appears thereof; let them draw their veils over their bosoms and not display their charms except to their husbands, their fathers, their fathers-in-law, their own sons, their stepsons, their own brothers, their nephews on either brothers' or sisters' sides, their own womenfolk, their own slaves, male attendants who lack sexual desires or small children who have no carnal knowledge of women. Also enjoin them not to strike their feet in order to draw attention to their hidden trinkets. And O believers! Turn to Allah in repentance, all of you, about your past mistakes, so that you may attain salvation.
Surah 24 verses 30 and 31;

Narrated Anas ibn Malik: The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: Indecency disfigures everything and modesty (haya') enhances the charm of everything. Transmitted by Tirmidhi. #545


Yahya related to me from Malik from Salama ibn Safwan ibn Salama az-Zuraqi that Zayd ibn Talha ibn Rukana, who attributed it to the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, 'Every deen has an innate character. The character of Islam is modesty.' " Al Muwatta 47.9

Narrated AbuHurayrah: Allah's Messenger (peace be upon him) said, "modesty is part of faith and faith is in Paradise, but obscenity is a part of hardness of heart and hardness of heart is in Hell." Transmitted by Ahmad and Tirmidhi. #1313

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JenBean71

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Re: Muslim woman tries to avoid the life of a spinster
« Reply #12 on: Nov. 11, 2010, 04:11 PM »

Asalam alaikum

The highly debatable political and fiqh aspects of headscarves aside, the point is, this Muslim American woman with south east Asian roots is looking for a spouse. She can stand on her own two feet as an adult - she can make her decisions herself, and she has a family that is willing to assist (not arrange) marriage.

The press sees this as an interesting story because of the dynamics between Pakistani and American cultural norms.

Only Allah knows a person's level of iman and haya' (modesty). Modesty is clearly prescribed for both men and women. I admire her for not resorting to cultural pretenses that are commonly associated with being a 'good Muslim' according to the 'experts' to make her 'marriagable'.

You know, I'll bet shes already married by now  :D Back to the 'so why are you still single?' thread...
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cinders

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Re: Muslim woman tries to avoid the life of a spinster
« Reply #13 on: Nov. 11, 2010, 08:51 PM »

Only Allah knows a person's level of iman and haya' (modesty). Modesty is clearly prescribed for both men and women. I admire her for not resorting to cultural pretenses that are commonly associated with being a 'good Muslim' according to the 'experts' to make her 'marriagable'.

^ I agree with sis Jenbean. Also I echo skhanj's statement too below...
  
She sounds like a fun person to be around. Someone with a good balance of the fundamentals and being involved in the community etc. Pity she could not find someone as yet. I do give her full marks for effort though. May Almighty Allah give her an amazing spouse who will make her super-happy :-).

I think this sums it up.
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Al-Qamar

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Re: Muslim woman tries to avoid the life of a spinster
« Reply #14 on: Nov. 14, 2010, 02:04 AM »

Being as I raised the issue, I suppose I'll answer it too... the whole thing with headscarves is not just fiqh or taqwa related... for some, it's just a preference.

For me, I would only give serious consideration at this point to someone who wore hijab. I don't care why she's wearing it, be it for Allah, or be it to please her husband (any other options are irrelevant because as soon as the reason goes, the hijab goes, so those are the only two options I'd really consider). It's just sufficient that she's wearing it because at the end of the day, I don't like the idea of my wife showing her beauty to the rest of the world for free, it reduces her status in my eyes.

And to pre-empt the question of hijab & no salat vs no hijab & salat, you can't pray salat without hijab as a female... and I wouldn't consider anyone who doesn't pray anyway. Thus, I'd be looking for someone who prays and wears hijab.

If the sister in question here prays... good. If she wears hijab, even better. But if she's doing neither, then it's a pass for me.

I just thought I'd throw that in the mix, because some people also have preferences as to how they want their partner to appear, regardless of reason (like some women are attracted to beards... the fact that it's a sunnah for men to have one is a bonus in their opinion)
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