My sister's friend, Summayyah, is a very good lady. She is a successful Muslim woman, being high class doctor. She is a devoted Muslim. She uses the hijab, observes salat and does everything the deen requires of her. But something is missing. She is not married yet. So everyone in the family and neighbourhood ask every time: “What is wrong with her? Why is she not married at 34?”
The questions keep coming and the confidence keeps waning. She is a first class graduate. She works in a private hospital in Abuja and earns close to a million in a month. Yet she is still unmarried. Unfortunately this is the sad reality among many successful Muslim women today.
Many Muslim women are successful graduates and professionals (contrary to widespread belief in the media). They are outspoken and active in their Muslim and non-Muslim communities. They are intelligent and beautiful, and yet they are unmarried. The same women who are ambitious and focused on their academic and professional success are finding it difficult to find or attract a suitable spouse!
Twenty years ago about the time I was born, young Muslim boys and girls that were being raised in Nigeria 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. I remembered telling my parents I wanted to either become a Lawyer like Femi Falana or Gani Fawehinmi or become a well known journalist like Dele Giwa.
With these kind of ambitions in mind, girls excelled and they continued to struggle to attain an education or a profession. They worked twice as hard because they were Muslims and succeeded as their parents encouraged them. But today, the pressure on these women is to get married as early as possible.
Penalty for Success and Ambition
Are women to blame for being successful and ambitious? Apparently given the kind of society we have today women are now being penalized for their ambition. When 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.
In Recent decades, men have also become highly educated and progressive. Many of them have been fighting for Muslim women’s rights and elevation. These men are impressed with successful and active women. But, they seem not to consider them “marriage material.”
Despite their struggle for the elevation of women, many men have maintained traditional ideas as to the type of wife they seek. 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 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 these traditional role.
They defend the rights of other people’s women. Yet they deny their women the befitted rights.
While I hurl all the blame at men, women are also at fault. I have heard some of these successful sisters say they can’t allow any man to control them or their finances. Some of them have even said they can’t be bugged down by house chores when they can employ the service of those who do it and they go on and on about gender equality and the same old stuff we hear from non-Muslim women.
Couples that don’t talk about life after marriage will always end up in this kind of quagmire. Women usually fall victim of blames about not doing house chores. They need to talk and agree with their spouses how the house will be run after marriage. By default, the society assumes that it is a woman’s duty to carry out house chores, even in the developed world. But with sincere discussion and agreement, she can reach a deal with her spouse.
Unfortunately, the tantrum of premarital love blindfolds many women from remembering the many woes their married friends are passing through until it is their own turn. Women should learn how to manage pre-marriage relationship with post-marriage responsibilities right before they get married.
Khadijjah the Perfect Example of Successful Muslim Women
Many Muslim women want to be wives and mother. At the same time they want to be respected for their profession. Current expectations of marriage have changed for women. Even so, these expectations can be aligned with the examples of women during the era of prophet Muhammad.
The prophet’s first wife, Khadijjah (RA) was an establish career woman. She was 15 years older than her husband. Khadijah (RA) was a very confident and successful woman who actually proposed to the 24 years old prophet Muhammad. Yet, the prophet (SAW) was not intimidated by her nor found her “unmarriageable”.
They maintained a strong marriage as she continued to be a business woman, as well as wife and mother. The Prophet and Khadijah were married for 28 years, the longest of all his marriages!
In the same vein, many Muslim women today do not seek to compete with men. Rather they want to establish a partnership with their spouses. Ultimately, those women want to be cherished and loved in their ambitions and priorities in life.
Many have seen the same way the prophet (SAW) LOVED KHADIJAH. This type of partnership in marriage can only exist when both people are accepting and respectful of one another.
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