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Author Topic: How Hard Can It Be? The Marriage Challenge for Single Muslim Career Women 25+  (Read 4020 times)

JenBean71

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How Hard Can It Be?
The Marriage Challenge for Single Muslim Career Women Over 25

By Munira Lekovic Ezzeldine

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 in the U.S., 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 as 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, and have even fought for women's rights and the elevation of women in Islam. 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 fulfill 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 American 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," says Nagwa Ibrahim, a 25-year-old activist seeking a career as a human and civil rights lawyer.

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.

Nagwa Ibrahim feels that 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," she says.

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.

This evolution will happen once we see more modern examples of successful Muslim men and women getting married and further benefiting society by their union. Educated Muslim men and woman will only improve our Muslim communities by expecting the best from everyone, be they men or woman.

Beginning in the homes, parents need to nurture their children by encouraging them that they can have both worlds and that they can be successful in their career and marriage. Muslim women can have a huge impact on the future by modeling the multi-faceted woman of Islam to their children.

Therefore, when their daughters grow up, they will aspire to be women of excellence and ambition.  Additionally, when their sons become men, their expectations and views of a suitable wife will include a partnership with an intelligent and successful Muslim woman. With further education and communication, men and women can understand and respect one another's roles in society and in the home, which will ultimately benefit future generations of Muslims.

Munira Lekovic Ezzeldine is the author of Before the Wedding: 150 Questions for Muslims to Ask Before Getting Married.


http://www.mwlusa.org/topics/marriage&divorce/marriage%20challenge.htm
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Concerned

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This is an interesting topic and thanks sister for sharing it. But I cannot understand this infatuation with professional careers. I am writing this post to understand this love of career for muslim women.  I know I stand a chance of being called "someone against woman's progress". But still wanted to understand it.

            I can understand love for career for a woman not following islam as for her there is no religion or state system which makes the husband pay for all her expenses. But for a muslim woman where the religion guarantees her that her husband must be providing her with all her needs. And its not about the necessities its also about keeping her happy in any way. In such a scenario, why do muslim women need to puruse a career?

          I know there are sisters out there who want to have a big impact in their professional areas, be it medicine, law, education, engineering etc.  And that can be one reason for them to vigorously follow their careers, to have an impact and become famous in their field. But, if both muslim husband and wife are after their careers trying to improve it what will happen to children? I am not saying that raising children is not a man's responsibility he must also take part in that. But what a mother can impart through love, persistence, continuous care etc. father cannot. Since he is in a 9 to 6 jobs trying to improve career, to put better options for his family. Other option can be a man can become househusband and try to raise the children. But then he is not following islam since islam says that he should provide for his family.
       
         One reason for this infatuation that I can understand is the feminism movements in west. Another reason for muslim women's love for their career, is perhaps due to the attacks on the stature of woman in islam. Media tries to portray them as week or humans without rights. And in order to prove themselves strong in front  of western media our sisters are trying hard to improve their careers.

            These western feminism movements combined with the resolve of muslim sisters to show their abilities is perhaps making sisters work harder for their careers. But this begs the question that in such situation how a muslim couple can raise their children without letting them go in hands of a culture which at every step of their lives encourages them do things which are against islam.

Is househusband is the answer?
or housewife?
or a combination of both?
And if the combination of both is the solution.... does it really work in western culture where children need continuous help/advice from someone who can help them according to islam.

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jannah

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Salam Concerned,

Thanks for your honest post. I've heard this from some brothers before but not as nicely as you put it :)

99% of sisters are not pursing a career because they're feminists, to become famous or to support their families. They study because they want to be educated, and they usually work because that is how you practice what you learn. They don't want to just sit at home watching soap operas waiting for someone one day to maybe come marry them or to make their parents pay for every expense of theirs for their whole life. They wish to be knowledgeable in things that are going on in the world, contribute in their own way and also be ready to be independent if something happened to their husband/families.

99% of sisters I know do not wish to work when their babies are small. They wish to raise them as well as they can and as they grow older and go to school some wish to start working again to have a few hours away from home and supplement the family income.

It's true husbands in Islam are required to support the family but we all know the #1 argument in marriages is over money. Sometimes the husband does not want to buy certain things or uses money to control things and that is why a wife might want to have some of her own money. She might also want to have some independence as the kids get older and as mentioned before contribute to various things in society.

So as you can see, it doesn't have anything to do with outside influences, feminism or western living. It's about a woman becoming her own person so that she's able to be a healthy partner for marriage.

I'd like to mention here that Khadija [ra] was an independent businesswoman who did go on to have 6 children and have a happy married life along with her "career". Does this mean she was a "feminist" and wanted a "western style of life"? Obviously no, she was part of a noble family and continued being a that her whole life.
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Concerned

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Sister I am not saying that sisters should not have careers. They should have careers. I have seen sisters who get married at young age and due to some mishap in their marriage or some other reason it becomes difficult for them to start a career since they even did not completed their bachelors.

I think there is nothing wrong in having a career, as an empty mind is a devil's workshop.

I respectfully disagree with your point of disputes over money.  I am not aware of such differences but perhaps they do exist. But isn't it the reason Allah has made the husband imam of the family. I am not saying that he should not provide everything to his wife.  But, if the wife wants to have her options open for herself then the husband should have his options open but Islam says to him.....no nothing is yours everything is for your  family. I mean consider it this way....a husband and wife are earning equally,  for 15 years. husband spends everything on family and wife saves it for her options. What do  you think will be the balance of family after 15 years. I mean after 15 years wife will be economically superior, and he who is economically superior has more probability to make decisions in family affairs. In this case where does the fact the husband should be the imam go? I mean in this case perhaps wife becomes the imam? is it right?

some random thoughts.

regards

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SalwaR

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Asalam aliykum....


Its very very dfficult to give a ""right" or "wrong" answer to this.

From my personal experince my parents never mentioned marriage to me on purpose, so that i focused on my education, university securing a job living a single girls life, enjoying the freedom. To be honest i would of preferd them to encourage me to marry at a younger age, i am 24 i know it is not old. But im nearly hitting the 25 mark. I have had the education and career, and the social life of  single grl. But wallahi i prefer to be married. I would of prefered to have gotten married when i was 19/20 and carry on with education. At the end of the day any muslim man who practices his deen correctly will not forbid his wife from educatng herself.

I have had fun and done things, traveled and spent time going where i pleased and i have been succesful in my career, but it doesnt mean much when you do not have anyone to share that with, i mean a companion your soul partner.
And to bo honest i am more then happy to be a wife that looks after her family, i am educated, so i have nothing else to prove. I dont need to prove to anyone anything, only to Allah. And if i go to Allah with a degree and a career what is that going to do for me?


Jazakallah khier
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Concerned

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I agree that there is no exact answer to this question. I am just trying to understand things from different perspective.

I agree that parents should get their daughter/son married asap. To me an ideal case from daughter's parents perspective will be they ask her husband that he'll allow her to complete her undergraduate and even further her education if she wants to.

I also agree that undergraduate time is such a time where one is young and restless and can enjoy traveling as well education with one's soul partner. But perhaps its some ideal talk....or perhaps it will benefit our next generations.
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SalwaR

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Alahamdulillah,


I agree, this is all to late for me, but in a way it will benifit the next generation. I will teach my children,that Allah created us to be in pairs and we have a partner out there for us. i want to raise them knowing that marriage is an act of worship is rewarding, and benificial to you and the future an your community.

One shiekh from Egypt spoke to me once, he said Salwa Marriage is about protection... at the start when he told me i said how? He told me a humans number one desire is what?... To reproduce, to have sex. Shiytan knows this, and will play on this even to the most pious brothers and sisters, he gave an example of one of the companions of the prophet who went and confessed to the Prophet, "i have  bad thoughts and i feel guilty i feel distraught about this". The prophet SAW said to him this is why we must get married to protect ourselves.
He went on to tell me, in these days when our kids go to university or school, they are hit by sex openly... especially in non muslim lands. Children being quiet sexually expressive. 
It is therfore easy for our children, our innocent kids to make mistakes, and fall into temptation and commit acts of zina etc.
This Shiekh had  daughter who was 18 at university, and even though he knows his daughter is pure,he also knows she is human and shiytan exists everywhere. He does not doubt his daughter astagfirallah but he wants her to have protection from shiytan. So he allowed her to be married to someone who was also at university. Obviously she approved. But he understood education does not mean you  cat have a life, a partner and children. Education shouldalways continue even if you have a family. Just becuase you have kids does not mean you stop seeking knowladge. Seeking knowladgeis something you should do from the day you ar born until the day you die. Regardless of a partner or family or not.

So the big benifit of marriage is to protect your private parts, your mind, your heart, your family, future generations and your community.
   
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Concerned

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I agree that this can help future muslim generations.

One thing regarding sheikh's stance I really like is that he allowed her daughter to get married mashaAllah.
I think what is wrong with our parents generation is that they grew up in a controlled world....Where there was no Internet, no emails, no music on ipods etc.  They only knew what was happening around them or what at max television was telling them. And if they thought that television is showing something wrong they knew how to control it.

        So they might hear about the sins around them but they think that their son/daughter is so pious that he/she will not engage in it. I mean give me a break....Allah created us all and he knows that what our weaknesses are therefore he told us to marry early. I think the great thing about Shaikh was that he realized it and married her daughter. May Allah keep the couple happy.

  Another thing which bugs me that in muslim society we start to think of such marriages as abnormality or perhaps that parents don't trust their son/daughter and thats why they married him/her earlier. Which is something our generation should change for our children. InshaAllah
             
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SalwaR

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Subahanallah, i hae seen this mny times actually.
Parents think there child may do something, and bcuase of the lack of trustthey thrust marriage onto them. Or worse still when they have caught thier child engaging in relationships outside of marriage they force them to gt married either to someone "back home" or the person they were having the relationship with.

It seems parents can go from one exteme to the other and not meet midway. subhanallah.
LOL, my parens did not have TV when they were younger. My mother was married at 16 and my father was 23. So they were just begining thier adult life really. So they were never exposed to such things as we are. Thier environment was totally different too.

Yeah i do admire this Shiekh very much, He always smiles ad has such noor on his face is always  pleasure to speak with him or be in his presence. His wife is blessed mashallah.
Now if only i can fin me a husband like that  :D
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Shah

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I wouldn't marry a professional woman because I want someone whos dedicated to her family. I really don't think you can care for your family and juggle a career. It will be unfair to my kids and besides its not like I can cook for myself.............
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jannah

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Why would a professional woman not be dedicated to her family? Can't someone do both. I know an amazing auntie that was a mother and doctor. When the kids were young she went part time and had family to help around her, then when the kids were older she worked more and still had time to do dawah things on the side! Now they're all grown up and mashaAllah very good practicing kids. I think what will be unfair for your kids is to have an uneducated mother. And why can't you cook for yourself, it's really not that hard?
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Shah

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Well there is always those people that can do it and more power to them. I don't think my personality will mesh with someone who's making more/working outside more then I am...... Unless I can stay at home and just mooch of her earnings....thats fine too haha
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