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Author Topic: Wifehood and Motherhood are Not the Only Ways to Paradise  (Read 2632 times)
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« on: Oct 08, 2011 06:36 AM »


Unfortunately, pretty sure our community is not ready to accept a message like this. They're still living with the traditional view that being a wife and mother is the pinnacle of being a good Muslimah. To the detriment of our Ummah. --J.

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Wifehood and Motherhood are Not the Only Ways to Paradise


http://www.suhaibwebb.com/relationships/marriage-family/wifehood-and-motherhood-%e2%80%93-not-the-only-ways-to-paradise


Wifehood and Motherhood are Not the Only Ways to Paradise
Maryam Amir-Ebrahimi | October 7, 2011 5:00 am

“Why are you majoring in that field?” I asked a sister in college. She sighed, “To be honest, I just want to get married. I don’t really care about what I’m studying right now. I’m just waiting to get hitched so I can be a wife and a mother.”

“It’s awesome that she wants to be a wife and a mother, but why would she put her life on hold?” I wondered. Why would a skilled, passionate young woman create barriers to striving for self-improvement and her ability to be socially transformative when she doesn’t yet have the responsibilities of wifehood or motherhood? Being a wife and a mom are great blessings, but before it actually happens, why exchange tangible opportunities, just waiting for marriage to simply come along—if it came along? I didn’t have to look far to find out.

“I’m already twenty-six,” another sister lamented. “I’m expired. My parents are going crazy. They think I’m never going to get married and they pressure me about it daily. My mom’s friends keep calling her and telling her I’m not getting any younger. She keeps crying over it and says she’ll never be a grandma. It’s not like I don’t want to get married; I’ve been ready since college! I just can’t find the right guy,” she cried.

Why, as a general community, are we not putting the same pressure on women to encourage them to continue to seek Islamic knowledge? Higher education? To make objectives in their lives which will carry over and aid them in their future familial lives, if such is what is meant for them? Perhaps it’s because we’re obsessed with the idea that women need to get married and become mothers and that if they don’t, they have not reached true success.

We all know the honorable and weighty status of wifehood and motherhood in Islam. We all know that marriage completes half your deen1 and that the Prophet ﷺ (peace be upon him) has told us about the mother, “ […] Paradise is at her feet.” 2

But getting married and becoming a mother is not the only way to get into Paradise. And not every grown woman is a wife and/or mother, nor will ever be. Some women will eventually become wives and/or mothers, if Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala (exalted is He) blesses them with such, but for others, Allah (swt) has blessed them with other opportunities.

Allah (swt) did not create women for the sake of wifehood or motherhood. This is not our first goal, nor our end goal. Our creation was to fulfill our first and most important role—to be His SLAVE. As He tells us in Surah Dhaariyat (Chapter of the Winnowing Winds), “And I did not create the jinn and humankind except to worship Me.” 3

Worship comes in such a variety of forms. Being a housewife (a.k.a. domestic engineer!) can be a form of worship. Being a stay-at-home-mom can be a form of worship. Being a working wife and mother can be a form of worship. Being an unmarried female student can be a form of worship. Being a divorced female doctor, a female journalist, Islamic scholar, film director, pastry chef, teacher, veterinarian, engineer, personal trainer, lawyer, artist, nurse, Qur’an teacher, psychologist, pharmacist or salon artist can each be a form of worship. Just being an awesome daughter or house-fixer upper can be forms of worship. We can worship Allah (swt) in a variety of ways, as long as we have a sincere intention, and what we do is done within the guidelines He has set for us.

Unfortunately, however, that is not the message our community is sending to single sisters – both those who have never been married, and those who are now divorced. When I speak to many women and ask them about the ways they want to contribute to society and the ways they want to use their time and abilities, a number of them will tell me that they have no idea and that they’re only going through the motions of school or work while they’re waiting for Prince Muslim to come along and with whom they can establish parenthood.

However, Prince Muslim is not coming along quickly or easily for many awesome, eligible Muslim women. And for some, he has come along, and he or the institution of their relationship turned out to be more villainous than harmonious. Single and never married or divorced — very capable and intelligent Muslim women constantly have to deal with the pressure of being asked, “So…when are you getting married? You aren’t getting any younger. It’s harder to have kids when you’re older.”

The amount of tears, pain, stress, anger and frustration which these awesome women are constantly dealing with because of a social pressure to get married (especially when many already want to, but are just not finding the right person!) and have children is not from our religion.

Islam gave women scholarship. Our history is filled with women who have dedicated their lives to teaching Islamic sciences. Have you ever heard of Fatimah Sa`d al Khayr? She was a scholar who was born around the year 522. Her father, Sa`d al Khayr, was also a scholar. He held several classes and was “most particular about [his daughters] attending hadith classes, traveling with them extensively and repeatedly to different teachers. He also taught them himself.”4 Fatimah studied the works of the great al-Tabarani with the lead narrator of his works in her time.  You know who that lead narrator was? The lead narrator of Fatimah’s time was not named Abu someone (the father of someone, indicating that he was a male). The leading scholar of her time was a woman. Her name was Fatimah al-Juzadniyyah and she is the scholar who men and women alike would study under because in that era, she was the greatest and most knowledgeable in some of the classical texts. 5 Fatimah Sa`d al Khayr eventually married and moved to Damascus and eventually to Cairo and she continued to teach. Many scholars travelled specifically to her city so they could study under her. 6

Fatimah was brought up in a family that valued the education and knowledge of a woman to the point that her father was the one who would ensure she studied with scholars from a young age. Before marriage, she was not told to sit around and be inactive in the community out of fear that some men would find an educated woman unattractive or intimidating and would not want to marry her. She was not going through the motions of studying random things in college because she was stalling until she got married. She sought scholarship and Allah (swt) blessed her with a husband who was of her ranking, who understood her qualifications and drive, and who supported her efforts to continue teaching this religion even after marriage. She left a legacy we unfortunately have most likely never heard about because we rarely hear about the over eight thousand female scholars of hadith who are part of our history. 7

Why do we never hear about Fatimah Sa`d al Khayr and the thousands of female scholars who were like her? I think that one of the reasons—and it’s just a personal theory—that as a community, we are so focused on grooming our women to be wives and mothers that we lose sight of the fact that this is not even our number one role.

Servitude to Allah (swt) is our number one role. We need to use what He has given us, the means that we have at the moment we have, to worship Him in the best of ways.

We call for revival of the Sunnah through encouraging marriage and populating the Ummah—let us follow the sunnah (tradition) the Prophet ﷺ has left for us through his wife, Aisha (may God be pleased with her)!

Who was Aisha? Was she a mother? She was never a mother. She was a scholar. She was versed in medical affairs. She was the commander of an army. She was a leader, an educator and a devout worshipper of Allah (swt). She was not known to be a great cook—even though she was the wife of the final Prophet of God! And where do we see the Prophet ﷺ admonishing her because of that? He loved her and he trained her in scholarship.

Islamic history is filled with examples of women who were wives and mothers, who focused completely on their tasks of being wives and/or mothers, and produced the likes of Imam Ahmed rahimahu allah (may God have mercy on him). 8 We take those examples as a community and we reiterate the noble status of such incredible women.

But we also have examples of people who were not only wives and not only mothers, but those who were both of those, one of those, or none of those, and still were able to use the passions, talents and skills Allah (swt) blessed them with to worship Him through serving His creation, through calling His creation back to His Deen and leaving legacies for the generations to come. Some of these women were wives and mothers and dedicated their lives to focusing on their families completely and some of them continued to serve the greater society at large. It is possible to balance both; it just needs drive, stamina, support and planning.

Shaykh Mohammad Akram Nadwi mentions in his introduction to his Dictionary of women hadith scholars, Al Muhadithaat, “Not one [of the 8000 female hadith scholars he researched] is reported to have considered the domain of family life inferior, or neglected duties therein, or considered being a woman undesirable or inferior to being a man, or considered that, given aptitude and opportunity, she had no duties to the wider society, outside of the domain of family life.” 9

Female scholars in our history were focused on being family women when they had families to whom they held responsibilities, and  when able, they also had goals and objectives in life which extended beyond the roles of wifehood and motherhood. So what about someone who is not yet married? Many single women are using their time to the utmost, focusing on improving their skills and abilities to contribute back to the ummah (community) and society at large. They are loving worshipping Allah (swt) through investing in their abilities and using those for the greater good. Perhaps we can all take from their example.

God, in His Wisdom, has created each one of us differently and in different circumstances. Some recognize this, love any stage they are in, and develop their abilities to the fullest. Let us, too, use the time and abilities God has given us to maximize our worship to Him and work for the betterment of society and humanity as a whole. If wifehood or motherhood comes in the process, then at least we were using all of our ability to worship Him before it came and can continue to use the training and stamina we gained before marriage to worship Him with excellence once it comes along.

If there are parents, families and communities that are pressuring women to get married and have kids: Be grateful Allah (swt) has blessed you with daughters, married or unmarried, mothers or not, as the Prophet ﷺ has said, “Do not be averse to daughters, for they are precious treasures that comfort your heart.”10 We are putting more pressure on our sisters than they can emotionally and psychologically handle. Let us give them space, let them find themselves and establish their relationships with Allah (swt).

Allah (swt) created us to worship Him. That is our number one role. Now, let us do our part and figure out how best we can fulfill the purpose for which we’ve been created.

  1 Al Bayhaqi [↩]
  2 Al-Nasaa’i [↩]
  3 Qur’an, 51:56 [↩]
  4 Nadwi, Mohammad Akram, Al Muhadithaat, Interface Publications, (2007): pg. 93. Print. [↩]
  5 Ibid [↩]
  6 Nadwi, Mohammad Akram, Al Muhadithaat, Interface Publications, (2007): pg. 95. Print. [↩]
  7  Nadwi, Mohammad Akram, Al Muhadithaat, Interface Publications, (2007). Print. [↩]
  8  The Code of Scholars, Muhammad Alshareef. EmanRush, 2008. CD [↩]
  9  Nadwi, Mohammad Akram, Al Muhadithaat, Interface Publications, (2007): pg. XV. Print. [↩]
  10 Al Haythami, Majma al zawaid, vii. 286, as cited in Al Muhadithaat. [↩]
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« Reply #1 on: Oct 08, 2011 09:21 AM »

Nice article sister.

You know what worries me most? Many women, for fear of being stigmatized tend to marry just anybody for the sake of being a 'Housewife.' It's so frequent here that that you will see a decent sister marrying a dead drug-abuser  and their kind. They would tell that they couldn't find a better husband and cant stay single. No wonder many of such marriages end up with divorce. It's high time our sisters and their parents start thinking that way. I suppose if sb could find sth doing to keep him occupied, one wont have time to think of other things.

"Whoever rejects false deities and believes in Allah has grasped a firm handhold which will never break." Q 2:256"
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« Reply #2 on: Oct 08, 2011 11:51 AM »

I completely disagree with the premises of the article. Women wanting to be married, early should be applauded.
I see the article as completely judgemental against those women.
And the majority of degrees in universities are completely useless, especially if the women has no intention of using them because she intends to be a housewife and mother.
It is true there are women in Paradise who may not be wives and mothers, but being a wife and mother are more so on the root to paradise, than studying a bunch of useless degrees in some useless mixed sex Kaffir universities. And then working in some mixed sex work environments. Your whole life, paying taxes which Kaffir countries use to kill Muslims. Going up the career ladder until retirement, and then dying with no Children around you to give you company during your retirement while you wait to meet your maker.

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« Reply #3 on: Oct 08, 2011 12:16 PM »

I completely disagree with the premises of the article.
No surprise there. We all know your views. This doesn't have anything with "wanting" to get married or even "trying" to get married. It's the mindset people like you have that wifehood and motherhood is the be all and end all of Islam. And even in the face of evidence from Quran, Sunnah, Seerah and Righteous examples, y'all still don't get it.

The only ppl who say university degrees are useless are ppl that don't have them.

Not true that "being a wife and mother are more so on the root to paradise". Bring your evidence if you're going to say something will lead someone to Jannah and another thing will not.

"studying a bunch of useless degrees in some useless mixed sex Kaffir universities. And then working in some mixed sex work environments. Your whole life, paying taxes which Kaffir countries use to kill Muslims. Going up the career ladder until retirement,"

Hmmm I believe this is the life of all MUSLIM MEN in the world. So what exactly are you condemning them to again? And lest we forget you also reside in a "Kaffir country" and do all of the above.

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« Reply #4 on: Oct 08, 2011 11:37 PM »

Asalam alaikum
I really enjoyed this article, Jazaki Allah Kheir for sharing, sister. It's been so long since I've been online here; salams to everyone. I can explain why the article resonated so well with me, first and foremost as a muslimah, is because it addressed sisters as human beings. Everyone has different experience. Consider the sister whose husband cannot impregnate his wife. She can choose to remain with him (as did the wife of our sheikh) or move on - my point being, sometimes that myth of motherhood being the way to paradise doesn't happen at all..because of what Allah has willed (consider too, the sister who physiologically cannot produce offspring), etc. Whatever Allah wills, Alhamdulillah in every situation.
In addition to one's situation or predicament (sometimes a Muslim or Muslimah doesn't find a suitable match), everyone has their own way of dealing with what they face. Remembering that Allah is the judge is important..just sayin!
Peace.

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« Reply #5 on: Oct 09, 2011 12:06 AM »

Asalaamu Alaikum bro

It a sad indictment of the Muslim Ummah that we pay lip service to educating our Sisters.

I think it was Sh Hamza Yusuf who made a wry comment that if a married woman knew the extent of what she could demand as rights from their husband, then no Muslim man, in this day and age,  would ever be able to discharge such a responsibility.

In practice, married women in the Ummah tend to involuntarily give up more of their rights in order to save their husbands from undue hardship.

Sisters really need to study the fiqh of marriage and discover what a wife is really entitled to, rather than observing cultural norms which seem to have become prevalent in the Ummah and which allow substandard Muslim husbands to behave oppressively and unjustly.

Acquiring knowledge is obligatory on all Muslims, man, woman or child.

Say: "O ye my servants who believe! Fear your Lord, good is (the reward) for those who do good in this world. Spacious is God's earth! those who patiently persevere will truly receive a reward without measure!" [39:10]
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« Reply #6 on: Oct 09, 2011 04:38 AM »

salam,

ok i know this is going to come up. the article is not saying wifehood and motherhood are not good things! they are no doubt fulfilling in their own right. they can bring someone contentment and closer to Allah, but they can also be great fitnahs. for men as well. every person will have their tests. there are single people out there, married ppl, divorced ppl, widows, ppl with kids, ppl with no kids, ppl who's kids are messed up, ppl who's kids passed away, empty nest parents, etc etc. there are just innumerable combinations and circumstances and conditions of ppl as sister jeanbean mentioned. why must we go against the teachings left to us and want to pigeonhole ppl into a certain way or culture. and if they don't follow that culture they are ostracized or worse told they are "not following the sunnah" and "wrong" and "basically going to hell" because that's what ppl are saying when they say there's only one way to get to jannah!

the truth is a woman's purpose in life is not to be a wife and mother, just like a man's purpose is not to be a husband or father, even if that is a part of our lives. our true purpose is to worship Allah only and be His 'abd, not the 'abd of any human being. (some ppl seem to think a woman's life is about being in servitude to men!)

this overemphasis on certain possible aspects of a sister's life is pretty dangerous if you ask me. all of a sudden clear sunnahs like educating women are thrown out the window. not to mention the prevalence of forced marriages, dowries given to men and marriage to unsuitable grooms just for the sake of getting married and other ills.

i see this coming out in the younger girls in the community that i teach, especially those that come from abroad. their goal in life is to get married. of course to someone wealthy like a doctor. and that's it. really that is their life goal. not being a good muslim, not having a good fulfilling life, not being educated, not being someone or doing anything. not even the goal of having a husband and family as part of that good islamic life. culture/society/ppl have done such a good job making them think that there is only one be all and end all, that there's just nothing there. it's so sad and bleak really.
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« Reply #7 on: Oct 09, 2011 08:12 PM »

Thank you for this article sis Jannah. I really enjoyed reading it, and I agree with you fully.
There are many ways to Paradise, each way being beautiful in its own way. I agree that education is really important, if not equally as important as being a good wife and mother.

I also agree that being a good muslim is the basis of our existance. Everything we are, everything we do, should be done for the sake of Allah.

I do believe the mindset is such that despite how educated some women might be, its still not fully accepted for the mother/wife to work while having children, or work as much as they would like to. Many parents guide their daughters into careers that are "acceptable working hours for family life".

Its difficult to change mindsets, but I do think that our generation is quite different from our parents; in terms of breaking away from tradition slightly.

Jazakallah for such a wonderful article Smiley
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« Reply #8 on: Oct 09, 2011 08:41 PM »

I completely disagree with the premises of the article. Women wanting to be married, early should be applauded.
I see the article as completely judgemental against those women.
And the majority of degrees in universities are completely useless, especially if the women has no intention of using them because she intends to be a housewife and mother.
It is true there are women in Paradise who may not be wives and mothers, but being a wife and mother are more so on the root to paradise, than studying a bunch of useless degrees in some useless mixed sex Kaffir universities. And then working in some mixed sex work environments. Your whole life, paying taxes which Kaffir countries use to kill Muslims. Going up the career ladder until retirement, and then dying with no Children around you to give you company during your retirement while you wait to meet your maker.



No one is saying that marrying early shouldnt be done. The point is, that a woman shouldnt consider marrying/having children the ONLY part of their life, and if they havent done that they shouldnt consider their life wasted or useless. There are many ways to fulfill our main purpose in life, to worship Allah.

The majority of degrees in university are not useless, everyone in society has their own place, and no one job/position should be considered less than another. A degree is simply a way to help a person make a career so that they are able to support themselves and their families. It is not fair or right to call degrees and universities useless.

A career doesnt mean that a person cannot have a family, or be someone who has outstanding qualities in both their career and as a wife/mother. And it definately doesnt mean that a person will be alone at their retirement. As sister Jannah said, a career can be a fulfilling way to further knowledge and practice of Allah in many ways.

Also, the world isnt black and white, good or bad, right or wrong. There are many shades of grey. Just because a university is western based, doesnt mean its a "Kaffir university" that has no value. What you should do is extract the good you can, discard what doesnt appeal/apply to you as a muslim. By so blatantly labelling things as "Kaffir" (which Ive noticed you tend to do), there is a feeling that you are implying there is nothing good or of value within. By having such harsh views/statements, it will not help show any non-Muslim the true meaning of Islam- peace and tolerance, patience, acceptance, equality, etc. Such statements only fuel anti-Muslim feelings, giving them the opportunity to say that we are rigid, unaccepting, and always criticizing.

I think sometimes you jump to an opinion too quickly, and then just defend it with all your might without trying to see someone else's viewpoint.

Applaud the women who feel that wifedom/motherhood is their true callling.
Applaud the women who feel that they are just as successful Muslimahs through other means.

At the end of the day, our worship of Allah is the most important no matter what path(s) we choose.
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« Reply #9 on: Oct 10, 2011 01:56 AM »

 salam

I agree, austmuslimah and I am reminded whenever I hear or read statements that are off-putting that firstly, I need to improve and am asking duas for protection against shaytan.  Lips Sealed

Secondly, I should maintain a level of respect when addressing people (Muslim or otherwise). People, regardless of faith are here by Allah's decree. Poor treatment of others is not a good sign - we all have weaknesses, shortcomings, and levels of maturity and knowledge and Iman and when there is nothing beneficial to add, it wastes people's time.  There is a difference between outright hostility/angst/condemnation and constructive criticism.

Thirdly, if it is difficult to communicate a point of view with kindness, well..it might be sign to stop and think about why this might be...and Allah knows best.

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« Reply #10 on: Oct 10, 2011 09:47 AM »

salam


My take is that every single Muslim should be educated to the hilt.

Firstly it is dawah, I always find it very amusing to see people glance at me and dismiss me according to my appearance, then I speak and every single person I have ever met is forced to sit up and do a very fast re-assessement. Being clearly educated, articulate, confident and pleasant does more for dawah than anything else.


My view is, by all means aim to be a wife and mother if that makes you happy, but as a Sr Jenbean pointed out earlier some women may not have children for whatever reason, some may not marry, some may end up divorced or widowed.

I am not one to advocate living off the state, in my experience living off the state is very very hard, you lose a lot of choices, you live hand to mouth because unless you're scamming it you do not get much in the way of state handouts.

Not all women have male family members to rely on either, one could be an only child, or be related to men who do not wish to support a grown woman.

I personally would not wish to throw myself at the mercy of any person on this earth.

I think I'm pretty well placed to say that education is imperative for women. I thank Allah every single day for my dad's emphasis on education. If I didn't have the level of education I have, right now I do not know where I would be, I do know I would be relying on the kindness of strangers, who mostly are not disposed to continual altruism.

Every single day I make dua that Allah save me and my children from ever being reliant on anyone but Him.




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« Reply #11 on: Oct 10, 2011 12:37 PM »

Assalaamualikum,

The purpose of a human being,be it man or a woman is too seek paradise and strive for it.He/she can choose any path to do so..the is no hard and fast rule that he/she should select just one aspect of a life to fulfill this purpose.

Got a point to make here...there are men who 'think' that a woman is best when she is at home serving husband and raising kids...Also there is increasing trend of many men who 'want' a paricular 'degree holder' as their wife for the purpose of 'showing off'
or  'letting people know' that they married women with degrees which they themselves failed to attain when  tried ( including men who want a wife with a prestigious degree but do not want them to use it)
 or banking on their wife's income which their degrees would otherwise not provide.








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« Reply #12 on: Oct 10, 2011 10:22 PM »

I agree with Mubaraka, in that there are many men who want a degree holder for various reasons. The list of demands from a woman seem to be getting higher and higher...
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