Yes, this is about marriage


Tell us we’re being picky. Tell us there is no perfect man. Tell us our standards are impossible. Tell us to compromise.

Say what you want. The truth is: you don’t understand.

Our entire lives, we are taught to be driven and motivated, to set high goals, that women are just as capable as men, that societies are built on the backs of strong women, that we should never give up our dreams because we face obstacles.

Then we grow up. We are told that good girls don’t go away for school. Good girls live with their parents until they marry. Most of us comply, many reluctantly so, but we comply. We convince ourselves that it’s not the school or its rank that define our success, it’s how we use the knowledge we gain. We excel. We outshine everyone in our classes, we are our professors’ favorites, we rack up more grants, scholarships, honors, awards, recognitions, and leadership experience than all of our brothers and our friends’ brothers combined. We are scholastic superstars. We are the immigrant success story, the smiling face on the cover of diversity brochures advertising our universities, we are the ambassadors of our foreign religion and culture, we are the articulate tan face that always has a question or a comment or a caveat to add.

We are blessed. Our parents encourage us, our communities support us, our universities celebrate us. Then we graduate and the facade crumbles.

“Why aren’t you married? Why are your priorities so out of whack? You’re getting old and all of your friends are married! Hurry up, time is running out!”

“It’s ok,” they comfort us, “at least you’re doing something to pass the time… Maybe you’ll meet him at work or in grad school.” And just like that, we are permitted to advance another rung on the ladder to career success, I mean permitted to begin a new hobby as we “pass the time.”

We are aware that we are single. We are aware that he has not come. Some have come, but he hasn’t. “Kul shee ismeh wa naseeb,” they remind us. “Don’t worry, you’re a good girl: smart, pretty, religious, educated, from a good family, nice, and any guy would be lucky to have you.” You know most of them don’t see it that way. You’re too tall or short, not curvy enough or too chubby, too argumentative or too hard to read, too ambitious, too assertive, too strong-willed. And old.

All of a sudden, the things you’d been conditioned your entire life to embody are your greatest faults. Making your community proud, representing them in a positive light, your student activism for causes everyone in the community silently supports, and your densely packed resume make you undesirable.

You wonder, why would they raise me to be this way if they despise it so much? Then you realize. These values they instilled in you were not intended to be applied to your own life. No, you are taught these values so that you can be a quality mother, the kind of mother that teaches her kids to be successful and ambitious, so that one day her sons can make the community proud and her daughters can marry young and raise boys like their fathers. You realize that your entire life, you were being groomed not to be a doctor, lawyer, academic, journalist, or professional. Rather, you were being groomed to be a mother who raises sons who assume these important societal roles and professions.

Now, all of a sudden, you find yourself single, over 24, and on track for a great career. You have attainable goals, a multitude of contacts, and perfect and relavent experience in your field. You really are headed places. You are making real plans and the career of your dreams is within your reach.

Instead of wasting your time obsessing over something beyond your control, like marriage (everything is naseeb after all, right?), you dedicated yourself fully to benefitting your family and community with whatever contribution you can make. You know where you want to live, what institution you want to work for, and the kind of hours and work environment you seek.

Then someone knocks on the door. He’s ok, not perfect, but neither are you. He lives in Siberia though, or Nairobi, or Mongolia. These places are all great and you’d love to visit them one day, but you have a plan. All of your contacts and your experiences are somewhere else. You have worked too hard. They can’t expect you to throw it all away for him because they can’t see anything wrong with him, right?

Now you’re “immature and shallow.” “It’s because he’s not very handsome, or because he isn’t very wealthy, or because his hairline is receding. Your priorities are warped and ridiculous. Good–well, decent–men don’t come by often and, if you refuse him, you don’t know if/when another will come. Your career can come later.”

“It’s ok if you aren’t excited to see him or talk to him, it’s just because you’re still nervous around each other. It’s ok if you always get a headache when you think about him and despise discussing him with your family and friends, you’re just shy and this is still new. Crying and nausea are normal for soon-to-be brides. You’d be crazy not to agree to his proposal, another one may not come along!”

I am stubborn, but I am willing to make sacrifices and concessions when they seem worth it. I will give up aspects of the career of my dreams for a man I think can keep me happy and treat me well. But I don’t think this is him. Just because he doesn’t have a glaring fault, doesn’t mean I am not entitled to refuse him. This MY future we are gambling, and I’m not comfortable with this wager. I will be half of the composition of this marriage, don’t my preferences on where we live, work, and raise our family matter? No, apparently, they don’t.

“If he whose character and deen (practice of religion) pleases you, approaches you in marriage, then marry him, for if you don’t, there will be fitna in the land and vast corruption.” (Tirmidhi) You have been defeated. Submit. Don’t fight. You lose. It’s over.

All of your upbringing was a lie; you are not a valuable person whose critical thoughts and challenging opinions have worth. No, you are a wife. A wife with a good resume, but only a wife nonetheless. Do not expect more and do not aim to change norms. Submit. Don’t fight. You lose. It’s over.

Maryam I. is a Palestinian-American Muslimah raised in Texas. She studies law and hopes to soon return to Palestine and put her degree to use. She is deeply committed to her faith and her family, but struggles to reconcile her ambition with the future her parents envision for her. Follow her on twitter: @48refugee

This piece was originally posted on her blog.

108 Comments on “Yes, this is about marriage”

  1. imuslimaah says:

    So True. Amazing posts. Looking forward to read ur upcoming posts in sha allah.

    • Hi Mariam,

      Wow, you are an awesome writer! I just want to relay to you that it is not only among Muslim women but also Christian women who come from ancient societies. I say to you to PLEASE MOVE AWAY FROM THESE IDEOLOGIES! AGAINST THE ADVISE OF YOUR PARENTS/SOCIETY THAT WANT TO HOLD YOU DOWN!!

      1. Even this late, Please find another city and move away from your hometown! You will be free and you will ever appreciate life!! Get away from these put down humans that continue to devalue your beauty and lovely; nature that God intended to live happily.
      2. I wish I knew you then but please understand that marriage does not mean perfection! So, just take your time and even if you have to, adopt later on. It is not worth following these ideas ( and based on those looser ideas) to get married! You are more worthy than that!
      3. Until you move to another place where these types of ppl exist; or find a Master’s program and move, spent the least amount of time with these people! It will make all the difference!
      4. God bless you and Jesus is on your side!

  2. nys1065 says:

    So true. SO SO TRUE

  3. Bint Sadiq says:

    Assalamu alaykum warahmatullahi wa barakatuhu.

    Upon reading this article, many thoughts came to mind, similar in someways to yours.
    It’s upsetting to feel that everything we were taught to be contradicts the way our situation plays out during these difficult 20’s..
    Your upbringing is not a lie, it is important to be smart and educated, inquisitive and ambitious. And of course all these will be used for the right reasons, like upbringing good children, and benefiting others/the community at large. It is not arrogant to want someone who sees eye to eye with you, and values the things you value.
    You’re right, even if there is no apparent “fault” you may just not be compatible in various other ways like mentally, or culturally and those things are important to consider.

    Parents do play a role in this and we want to be obedient and quickly stop being “burdensome” upon them, but be true to ourselves with respect to our happiness as well…
    I do not think that one necessarily will get “butterflies” to know he is the one however…I think if his personality is pleasing to you, his looks do not make you turn away, and if he is fearful of Allaah, you have found the one.

    On the contrary if there is something displeasing to you about him, that thing will continue to displease you even in marriage. Lastly the things we value carry on after marriage whether in raising children, employment, culture, family among other aspects, therefore it is important we seek and find a person whose values are similar to ours… and trust Allaah.

    • GinaS says:

      Marriage is from Allah (SWT). Make Du’a for the best husband. May Allah (SWT) find you the best husband, who will be good to you and your children, who will be the light of your eyes and a comfort to you when you are down. May Allah (SWT) provide you and all our siters with every best thing. Amen. Thank you for your post.

      • Huseyin Aktas says:

        May I suggest that Allah (SWT) has more important issues to deal with than helping you decide if that chubby guy wooing you with half baked truest is the right one? Have you considered how every religion is designed to secure continuation of a social order that favors one group over another, be it a class or a gender, but always one that had the power when religion showed up?
        Just consider being sinful for a for moments (don’t be scared, you can repent and be forgiven) and ask the question: would all powerful and merciful almighty ever order his lowly object behave the way the guardians of virtue, almost always male guardians of religion tell us to behave? Would an all merciful almighty send down sura of Al-Anfal?

  4. Ali says:


    You’re an incredible writer that captures the essence of what many Muslim girls experience – and know. Reading through the article, I couldn’t help but notice that there’s an underlying tone of discontent, yet grudging obedience. I acknowledge that you – along with all other girls – have the ambition, scholarship, and vision to lead a successful and independent life. If one is so defiant in their writings, why be compelled to mute that very defiance… and why shape your life in the image, expectations, and tradition of a practice that your upbringing teaches you isn’t ‘you.’

    If you live, dream, and shape a life in the shadow of the expectations of others; when do you start living?


  5. Anon says:

    I’ve spent the last few days reading the hundreds of comments on the piece I wrote about my “arranged” marriage. It’s been an emotional rollercoaster; to realize how many women have been through what I went and am going through, how many fought and won, and how many gave in and lost.

    This piece was just the cherry on top.

    I do not exaggerate when I tell you that every single word of this is identical to what I went through. Every single word.
    It doesn’t make the path of women like us any easier. But just the knowledge that you’re not alone, soothes a little. Just a tad.

    I can’t tell you how many times I’ve thought to myself over the years “So why educate me?! Why not have just sent me to the kitchen to learn how to cook and stopped my education at high school if all they want for me is to marry and have babies? Why send me outside the cave to see the sun if all they want is for me to stay inside the cave in the dark?”

    It takes mammoth effort for women like us to balance, to compromise. Mammoth.

    You will always be alone in the middle of your family. Always. They will never understand. Ever. Your efforts to make them understand will always fail, miserably.

    I knew this. But I got tired of fighting. So very, very tired.

    It is true they do have your best interests at heart, and that they love you and would never intentionally do anything to hurt you. I would console myself with this: they surely don’t want to harm me. But the reality is, they don’t know you. They don’t understand you. They may be our parents, but they know nothing about us, and what would make us happy. They are in no position to judge.

    Imam Ali ibn Abi talib said: “Do not raise your children they way your parents raised you; for they were created for a time other than your time.”

    I wish parents would do that. But sadly, they don’t.

    I have a tendency to write lots and lots, so I’ll try and cut straight to the point:

    We are not the women who cave and adapt and mold ourselves.

    We will try. And it is our very strength that allowed us to do all we did, to break all those boundaries and navigate all those obstacles, that will allow us to try and break ourselves.
    The problem is, you will not be able to break yourself.

    You will damage yourself very badly, as I have done to myself. But there is something in our very core that will rebel. On a deeply fundamental level. That will refuse to have you live a life that does not fit in with who you are.

    We are not the women who cave, even if we do.

    I caved. I married who they wanted me to marry.

    But I only caved on the outside. Even if I stay in this marriage for the rest of my life, I will never be able to be happy and content about it. I can’t. Because I wasn’t raised to be that kind of woman.
    I did everything a human could do to try and change myself. But I can’t. You cannot change who you are. At best, you can change your behavior and actions.

    Do not cave.

    Because you know what’s the biggest thing you’ll lose when you do?


    I am a mere shadow of who I used to be. I have become a useless parasite, really. I no longer contribute anything to anything. Everything that made me who I was, is gone. I have lost respect for myself, and I have lost the passion and drive and ambition that shaped my life.

    And to my family, it doesn’t matter. This one crowning achievement: a ring on my hand and a husband they approve of at my side, has overshadowed anything I ever did. And if I do nothing for the rest of my life but churn out children, I am a massive success in their eyes.
    But I am a failure in my own. And what kind of existence is it when you loathe your very self?

    Mark twain said: “A man cannot be comfortable without his own approval.”

    I have everyone else’s approval. But I itch inside my own skin, every second of every day.

    “If he whose character and deen (practice of religion) pleases you, approaches you in marriage, then marry him, for if you don’t, there will be fitna in the land and vast corruption.” (Tirmidhi)

    They threw that hadith at me. Day after day after day. And others about naseeb and istikhara and tawakul and the like.

    But I want to share something with you that a sheikh shared with me. I wasn’t brave enough to follow his advice. I hope you are.

    “It is not being ungrateful or not accepting of Allah’s decrees getting married to the brother that [your] family wants.

    In my experience living single for the rest of one’s life is […] definitely better than marrying someone that one will be burdened to fulfill his rights/or have any feeling for. […] There is a big difference between what we are and where we aspire to be. Where our heart is and what we talk about, what we read, teach and what we really are. No doubt that someone with Allah, living by Allah and For Allah will have no problems marrying a disabled person and can feel happy, content and able to perform all marital rights with ease, for he is with Allah and sufficed by Him. But to expect that from one self and then BY CHOICE push one in such kind of a test and responsibility while Allah gives one a choice not to, can lead to a devastating result when one finds that he has traces of a Nafs and that he is incapable of reaching that maqam!

    Imam Ahmed when he wanted to get married and went to propose, learned that the one he wanted to propose to had a sister, that is equally righteous, but had only one eye. He then proposed to the one eye-d sister instead! That is very chivalrous, and for someone in the maqam of Imam Ahmed very doable.

    But does that mean that we demand the same from everyone? We would like to reach that Maqam, that we are so connected to Allah that we can GIVE so much to the creation, but since we are not yet there we should not force ourselves in a situation (by choice) that will demand from us that which we know or feel most likely we cannot achieve.”

    The hadith your parents quote is true. But only if you are in such a maqam that marrying a man just because he is a good guy is sufficient for you. If you have no other dreams or plans.

    Do not sacrifice yourself. Women like us are not going to be content if they marry a man they do not love. Simply because we have a different set of priorities and expectations. I know lots of women who married men they don’t love and are content. But they are content because they wanted other things: they wanted the security of a husband, they just wanted children, they wanted someone to take care of their expenses, etc.

    But we are not those women.

    I wish I could have been the defeated woman. In one way, I am.

    But deep down, where it counts, I have never submitted. And I never will.

    You won’t either.

    • ay says:

      I read your initial article, your reply in the comments and this comment now. I can’t offer you advice but I just want to say that I hope you find peace in life, you deserve to get out of the situation you’re in. Peace.

    • says:

      To whoever wrote this comment, and the “Arranged Marriage” post…I feel your pain. I cried reading your article. And I cried even more reading that this was a few months ago and you are now trapped in this new, miserable life. I’m in an almost the exact same situation…and I feel your pain. I know how scared and hopeless you felt. The stifling fear of hurting and disappointing and worst of all. shaming, your family…the fear of leaving them behind. All those same things lead me to make the same decision you did. I married a man I don’t love and left the man I love behind. There is not one day I don’t regret my decision. My email address is above…please, reach out to me. Don’t give up on your life just yet… you are stronger than you believe.

    • SCM says:

      “I am a mere shadow of who I used to be. I have become a useless parasite, really. I no longer contribute anything to anything. Everything that made me who I was, is gone. I have lost respect for myself, and I have lost the passion and drive and ambition that shaped my life.”

      No sister, you are not, this is not true! How do I know? Because I still see the strength in your writing, the strength you have to fight back. I wrote you several comments in your other article. I told you how I left a marriage with someone I did not love. The fact is that you are right when you say that you have not and will not submit. You still have your strength, your passion, your drive, and your ambition, no matter how trapped you feel, or how smothered those parts of you feel. Those things are still a fundamental part of who you are. I wish you did not marry, but it is not too late! You must have the courage to forge your own path, even if it is rocky. Believe me, it is worth it. You are right when you say: “In my experience living single for the rest of one’s life is […] definitely better than marrying someone that one will be burdened to fulfill his rights/or have any feeling for.” I know this too well. But you know what, I doubt you will be single for the rest of your life either! I have seen a girl like you, multiple times divorced, desi, who is now married with three children! Times have changed. Fight back sister! Fight and never give in!

    • sa says:

      “If he whose character and deen (practice of religion) pleases you, approaches you in marriage, then marry him, for if you don’t, there will be fitna in the land and vast corruption.” (Tirmidhi)

      Remember that this hadith can help you just as much as it was/is used against you! It is also against the teachings of Rasullulah for parents to deny a righteous man/women of their child’s choosing! Its the way you choose to view the hadith!

    • Usman says:

      Assalamu Alaykum.
      I have gone through this article of yours and I can imagine how painful it is to have to live with someone you are not comfortable with for the rest of your life. But there are two things you should be able to take solace in, 1) You have obeyed and respected(at the expense of your happiness) the desire of your parent, the very people that gave birth and brought you up. By so doing, you have chosen to please not only your parent but Almighty Allah. 2) There are people out there that the only thing they want would be to live in peaceful environment, not to even think of the type of person they will have future with. All these youthful dreams have deserted them due to oppression and crises. And remember, we may not have all that we dreamed of here but we may have the best of happiness in the hereafter inshAllah. You still have reason to be grateful to Allah.

    • Komal Faiz says:

      I loved what you wrote! The thing that i want to add to this is that its not just happening with American- Muslim women but its the case with all the liberal minded women and families of the Muslim states of the world! Here’s my blogpost on the same matter!

    • Hannan says:

      Anon, you should share your concerns with your husband and your family. I hope you realize that you can make a difference. There is so much you can do even if it is writing an article. You can make a difference by educating one person for example by teaching them how to read. You can write a book, gather data on people’s experience & yours, & hopefully help others. You should find your niche. In biology, I learned about how each species had their own niche that made them unique, so all of us humans have their own niche, we are all unique, and we should find that path.
      Many girls get pressured to marry at an early age. Or they get pressured to marry once they are educated & their expected to leave their careers. It seems like that mindset is common here. In Iraq for the majority of families both parents work.They get married & they raise their children together & they both have careers. But Muslims that live in Western nations, most men make a big deal about women getting an education/career. It doesn’t matter where you live, if you can make a marriage & career work then do both.
      If a girl is educated and her husband lets her continue her career then good for him. We need women to be educated. However, some women are content without being educated. If we are illiterate how do we expect to raise future generations.
      I understand some of the parent’s concern about wanting to marry their daughters at a young age. Parents always tell their kids that they will not always be there for them. That is true. Or some parents want their kids to get married b/c they feel pressured by society. Some parents worry that if their kids hit their 20s if they don’t get married then no one will propose to them. But if parents only care about making sure their daughter has a wedding ring on her finger, then there is a problem.
      People don’t realize that marriage is a responsibility and commitment. Your life is going to change. Both husband and wife need to work together. Before you get married you need to make sure that you both have the same goal and the same mindset. You also need to talk about how you will raise your future children. All this needs to be discussed prior to marriage, so you both have an idea of your roles and responsibility. When the Prophet Muhammad married Khadija although he was illiterate in the beginning he improved himself and became literate. Khadija a businesswomen helped improve the prophet’s life and Prophet Muhammed worked to improve their condition. Both tried to improve and learn from each other. Imam Ali’s marriage to Fatima was successful because they both knew what their role was. Fatima wasn’t only responsible for the children so was Imam Ali and he helped around the house which didn’t make him any less of a man.
      My mom has always told me this quote of “Imam Ali ibn Abi talib said: “Do not raise your children they way your parents raised you; for they were created for a time other than your time.” So if a women’s marriage falls apart she will still have her education. She can still work & support herself. Your education can never be taken away from you.

  6. Zehra says:

    I think you perfectly captured the hurt, anger, and sense of betrayal many women feel for the community turning words like “independent” “ambitious” and “intelligent” into explanations for reasons we’re “intimidating” and not married. I’m disappointed in the state of current affairs in our community, but not for my upbringing. I’m grateful I can stand on my own two feet and am grateful my parents raised me to build a strong foundation based on a balance of education and career, groundedness, and faith, because these serve as lenses through which I explore and understand the world – with or without a partner. Parents panic b/c they want what’s best for us and after a lifetime of raising us the way they thought was right, they worry that we might end up alone. We might. We might not. Regardless of how it turns out, there’s a world ready to be explored out there, adventures to be had, and experiences to be lived out thanks, in part, to those lenses we’ve been given.

  7. not-a-muslim-girl says:

    I think many girls experience whatyou’ve described, not just muslim women but also christian or even atheist depending on their cultural background! Nonetheless, I hope for all the women in a situation like this to have the courage to choose their own happiness, and to break this pattern step-by-step by raising their sons with different values with regard to the women in their life. Be the change!

    • hannah says:

      I read the above blog with tears in my eyes. I cannot begin to describe the pain,hurt and fear that I can relate to. I was a child bride at the age of 16…I am now 32 years old and divorced. I cannot share more than that but this sort of indignation is not only rife in Islam…in Christianity as well!! The need for a “covering” of a man through marriage is the height of a single Christians ladies life and you are heavily frowned upon as to why you are not married! OR WORSE…why are you divorced? Words such as rebellious and unsubmissive is thrown at you and get brushed with “you have unforgiveness” and “bitterness”. I lived a married life of manipulation and abuse of all kinds so that I can “make right” with my Creator. I endured it as I thought that was my lot in life. I eventually broke free but there was a heavy price to be paid. I lost all my family and friends, every one of them! Do I regret it? No. I continue to love and pray for those who have hurt me and still continue to do so…I have since found a new Love. One with no conditions. Keep on fighting the good fight of faith.

  8. MashaAllah, an amazing article and one I can relate with. I just got married last year at the age of 30. I truly believe it was a miracle! I pray that you find your soulmate InshaAllah. Also, about the age thing, I believe in destiny and fate being written for us. Looking back, I understand why Allah made me wait until I was 30 to get married…I found my destined soulmate and everything Alhadulillah fell into place. You’re right, you deserve to be with someone who respects, loves, and honours you as you do with them, among many other traits. Do not settle. I found that Istikhara helped me immensely and there were no red flags along the way. Many of my friends are my age and not married, for the same reasons you describe. We are trying to solve this issue in our community by creating a halal environment for single Muslims to meet one another. We’re planning our 3rd in-person matrimonial event and feel compelled to do something, since the big-wigs in the community will not. InshaAllah your destiny will soon reveal itself. But don’t think about age…it’s all a number and a stereotype about women getting “too old” for marriage and childbearing.

  9. SisterinIslam says:

    This is not just about women — this is about parents who do not raise their sons appropriately. In my opinion, it takes a man with a healthy self esteem to marry a women who is successful in her respective career. I know of many women who are extremely successful engineers, doctors, lawyers etc and its almost as if men “can’t handle it’. What is wrong with that picture? To all the mothers and fathers out there — teach your sons to learn the chivalry of the Prophet. He married a successful, older businesswoman — and sA their relationship was THE most beautiful mA. I have a son and trust me, I am trying my best to teach him how to respect and love women for who they are iA. We need to be a generation that raises real men who follow the characteristics of the Prophet (SAWS).

  10. Every thing I ever thought about myself in my life has been explained in this article. It hit a note so close to home that I know many girls who go through the same thing. Finding the strength to move on once you come to this realization is probably the hardest thing.

  11. Ben says:

    I typically don’t read this kind of article, but I am glad that I did.

    I am a man who has SOME of the pressures that women face from parents who are concerned that their kids won’t marry the righteous partner of their dreams. “Get married, have babies, you’ll grow to love each other.” Many small little jabs that put on the pressure…things like “if you marry someone I don’t approve of I can’t be part of your life.” Oh, it isn’t said just like that, but the undertone is clear. Also, the “very attractive” potential partners that are brought for introduction tend to be…not our type.

    But that is just some of the pressure.

    I hadn’t thought about what the women must go through, they have to deal with everything we men have to deal with, but then you have the added pressures of: Once you are married you are often expected to stay home, cook and churn out babies. Culturally an unmarried 25 year old is pretty much ancient. Dreams that you have for yourself are expected to be put aside. And perhaps worst of all..many men don’t know how to treat a woman properly. Especially an educated and intelligent one, because they are used to the “man runs the family and woman submits” mentality.

    I just wanted to tell you that there are some of us out there who want a righteous wife who can actually challenge us. We want to know what your dreams are and want to help you make them happen. We want to learn from you and grow together. We want these things because we want to share in a partnership where you help us become better men and we help you become the woman that you want to be.

    We want to know what dreams and experiences you have because our horizons will expand with you. We truly want a woman who isn’t a lump of clay, to be molded as seen fit by her family and then her husband.

    I hope that women reading the article above remember to stand firm for what they want for their lives. Remember, the Prophet (PBUH) married a business woman after working FOR her. There is precedent in Islam for strong successful women and if the Prophet picked one then how can a real man do any different?

    Stay true to yourselves, your parents probably won’t understand what that means, but in the end there are men who will value you for the experience that you’ve built and the woman that you have become, not the one that you are expected to be.

  12. Feiza says:

    This brought tears to my eyes – thank you for having the courage to capture and communicate, with such poignancy, what I and so many other women feel. It is such a relief to discover that you’re not alone in feeling this way. And yet, even so, my heart hurts deeply for you, and I wish that you had never had to know this pain. May God strengthen you with a beautiful patience, make this a means of your spiritual elevation, and grant you the coolness of your eyes, both in this life and the next, inshaAllah ameen. “Truly, God is enough for us, and He is the Best of Guardians.”

  13. Aqusa says:

    I agree that in today’s world, girls are faced with the exact same situation that you have described; the very pressures, the very comments, and the very criticism. However, I don’t believe our parents’ upbringing to be a lie or any sort of compromise whatsoever! That, frankly, is quite an insult to our parents’ upbringing, and all their hard work, which btw, can never be repaid. If I wasn’t raised to be confident, intellectual, and educated, I wouldn’t be complete and content with myself…and I wouldn’t be a valuable member of society, even if you restrict it to the role of a mother. I’m also in the same boat where I feel no guy sees me for who I am, but rather than attributing that to your selfless, loving parents, it is IMPERATIVE that we highlight the sheer materialism of guys and their parents in general! Their parents, who forget that they have daughters too, that their sons may have daughters one day.
    Also, I don’t like the way you’ve quoted the hadith….you should definitely check out its context in more detail.

    • Maryam says:

      It’s unfair to blame boys and their parents without blaming ourselves and our parents too. Our expectations are different from what potential husbands are seeking because of our upbringing.

      For girls who grew up in families like mine, we were pretty much raised the same way our brothers were: to excel in school so that we can have promising careers that contribute to the community and help the Ummah. I was never taught that the only significant contribution I could make was being a mother. I always understood that motherhood was a very important role for a woman to serve, but never the only role she should serve. I was never taught–and still don’t believe–that a career and motherhood are mutually exclusive. Women can build a generation of pious and high-achieving Muslims without giving up on her professional goals.

      When I reached, and passed, the ideal age for marriage, all of the ideals I was raised with were flipped upside down. Now, I’m expected to give up everything for a husband. Many women would be willing to do this, even I would be willing, but that shouldn’t be demanded of us. It should be a sacrifice we WANT to make for the sake of our relationship and growing family. But when we are expected to marry men just because we can’t find a fault big enough to justify our refusal, there is not incentive to make these sacrifices.

      The contradictions in the way we are raised are just as big of obstacles as how shallow and superficial the hunt for a bride often seems to be. I love and respect my mother and understand she did her best raising me. I do not blame her for the struggle I have faced in finding a spouse. My mother raised me in the best way she knew and exerted extreme effort doing so. But my mother wasn’t educated and didn’t have a career. She wanted those things for me and raised me to work for them, but she also wanted a traditional marriage for me. She left it to me to reconcile the two and I have found difficulty. Part of that difficulty has been in finding a balance between these two things (marriage and a career) my mother raised me to strive for.

      You’re right about the manner in which I quoted the hadith. It’s wrong and should be reconsidered. But this is precisely how the hadith is quoted to me; it is used to place guilt on me for refusing a man I don’t feel comfortable with, a man I don’t want to marry. I am told I will spread fitna; that my personal decision with fill the earth with corruption. That is a lot of pressure. My struggle is rooted not simply in culture and pleasing my parents, but also in following the teachings of Rasool-Ullah (SAW). I don’t want to be a source of fitna. I believe in the hadith, but I have no idea how to apply it without ignoring my own happiness.

      I love my parents and they would never force me to do anything against my will, ever. They want only what it best for me and to see me happy, but this process is just on hard on them as it is on me. I recognize that. I want them to be happy and I want to please God, but I also want to use my education and training to serve my Ummah outside of my home. I’m working on finding a way for these things to coexist.

      Thanks for your comment and good luck to you, sister Aqusa, on finding a man who sees you for who you are and appreciates you.

      • anon says:

        Salams, A hearfelt article and I can really relate. The commects are also very intereting. On reflecting on the hadith, i think there is a key in “character” and “understanding of the religion”… if you unpack those two concepts it is actually very profound, and needs to be emphasised and explored more.

  14. Brownbetty86 says:

    I agree with this article but not all families are all like thisnmaybe the majority. I am married and have seen both sides. However , this is more CULTURE than our RELIGION. In ISLAM these things are not looked down upon.

  15. Yin Yang says:

    If you will permit me to comment here as a Muslim man, I would actually like to thank you for this post you’ve made.

    You see, this may come to you as a surprise, but as an alhamdulilah (all modesty aside) successful and religious young Muslim male, I’ve been sitting on the other side of this proverbial table, exasperatedly trying to explain without much success why the girl of the week I’m being introduced to is, despite all outward appearances, just not for me.

    Your post actually gives me hope and faith that perhaps not all is lost. To me, it is inconceivable that I can actually *connect* with an individual with whom I am to share the rest of my life and treat this person as an *equal* if she has been raised and groomed from day one with no other purpose than to get married, have kids, and care for her husband and children.

    I do not understand how the hundreds of Muslim sisters I have met in studies, travels, education, and work can live with knowing that their ultimate ambition is to get married. I confess to being simply dumbfounded the first time I heard a Muslim colleague explain how she was studying engineering because while a successful and attractive Muslim girl with a liberal arts degree might land a husband who is an accountant or an engineer, as a Muslimah with a degree in engineering she would become more attractive to a Musilm doctor looking for a wife.

    At their most ambitious, my Muslim sisters would speak of having something to do and a means of caring for themselves and their children should, la sama7 Allah, their husband be out of the picture for some reason some years after being married.

    How can I live the rest of my life and share my most deepest secrets and desires with someone who has no ambition in life other than to marry and immediately quit her job and become a stay at home wife/mother? How can someone like this be able to inspire confidence and ambition in her own children, preaching what she knows to be a lie when her daughter one day asks her about the real world and what she has the potential to be? How can this individual without ambitions and dreams of her own possibly share, understand, and value mine?

    How can I come home at the end of the day and look my wife in the eye and share with her the latest obstacles and opportunities that presented themselves to me in my day knowing that it is the intellectual equivalent of rubbing salt in my wife’s proverbial wounds as I complain about obstacles I’m encountering in a road she was not permitted to set forth on herself?

    We complain about the lack of mutual respect and equality in modern Muslim marriages and yet, is it any wonder that the man considers himself superior to his wife whom was raised and groomed to be subservient to his needs, whims, and desires?

    Yet when I voice my opinion that I am searching for a true equal to marry, someone whom I can honestly call my better or other half and neither be condescending nor patronizing, I am met with blank gazes of nonplussed confusion or outright disapproval. Our ummah has come to equate ambition and accomplishment with as synonyms for feminism and a rejection of Islamic ideals.

    Like you, I have given up. I’ve given up because despite what you say in your article, I have yet to meet a Muslim woman who knows what she wants, sets her aims high, and is ready to embark on a journey of accomplishment and exploration together. I have seen nothing but sisters who will “continue to work if they have to” and “prefer to stay at home from the beginning, if possible” that honestly have never aspired for more than a wedding band and a house full of kids.

    Maryam and all the other sisters commenting here: I’ve been led to believe you didn’t exist. Perhaps the world isn’t as gloomy and hopeless a place as either of us may have thought.

    • Lady_T says:

      We have been made to believe that guys like you are nothing more than a fantasy.

    • Zainab says:

      Men like you exist? I married a man who claimed to want all these things and was very supportive of my dreams and career aspirations during the engagement period. That all stopped the minute we got married. Suddenly he was doing me a “favour” by “letting” me work even though he wasn’t making enough to support the both of us and we had agreed before the engagement that I would work and pursue my career path after we got married.

      I realised pretty soon all he really wanted was a well-connected, well educated wife who could open doors for him in his career while she sat at home and had babies and cooked.

      That marriage fell apart within 5 months of the Nikkah, not because of the work/career issue but rather domestic violence that was being encouraged by his parents and his sisters. And signs of mental illness in him and members of his family

      My parents and relatives are extremely supportive and everyone keeps claiming I will find the right guy for me since I’m only 23. The only problem I have is actually trusting one to keep his word and not be “intimidated” by me to the point where he feels jealous of my success and feels the need to try and destroy me as person to make him feel better about his aspirations/career.

      I have been seriously contemplating never marrying a Muslim again, if I ever choose to get married that is.

      • Usman says:

        Assalamu Alaykum
        It is sad to really hear a breaks up of marriages especially in their early stages. But if u are not guilty of anything trust me, Allaah u will compensated with the best of husband in the future. But saying u were contemplating never to marry a muslim man again even though u are a muslim I feel u are going to make the biggest mistake of life. In the muslim world there are issues in marriage that are quite disturbing especially when it comes to raising children and sort of, but we have never sat down and asked ourselves if only we were not given the best of up bringing by our parents where would we be? What if we were just these children that abandoned in the street? What if we were just orphans without a single parent? We still need be thankful to Allaah what we are and who we are. We should not allow some fantasies to take control of our emotions and stear us away from reality.

        Allaah knows best.

      • muslimah says:

        Don’t give up sister!! iA the right guy is out there for you. this sounds so cliche but iA you’ll find your soulmate. 🙂 you’re in my duas! ❤

    • u seem says:

      Some women Dont like the “career ” life. They would prefer to raise a happy family. This is a high aspiration too. Don’t look down on them for this reason. And perhaps they quit their job because they want children and they want to raise them not give them to a babysiter to raise. You greatly underestimate what it takes to raise children. Many men now are quiting their jobs when their wives make more money just to take care of the kids. Wake up! Or you’ll mess up the next generation worse than we have been.

      I’m sorry but its one thing for a lady to want to have a career etc. That’s fine and respectable but the lady that wants to be a stay at home mother deserves respect too. What’s more, a big problem here seems to be on your own perspective. People are looking for fairytales. What I see most Muslims asking for in marriage seems to mirror western marital ideals. Or at least a westen courtship model. We forget that in the us here we have a majority of marriages failing. So there is much more to this problem than family pressure or Muslim/ethnic tradition. I think it has to do with what our society has done with us. We as a generation may have achieved great degrees in college but we are supreamly immature and spoiled. That is but part of why these ladies cannot find suitable men. Its because society has incubated grown boys not grown men. Grown boys that are slaves to their desiries and carry no sense of responsiblity and a misguided perspective. People carry themselves through life with no higher goals or purposes. These higher goals ii speak of are not about careers but about bettering society and cleaning our souls.

      • u seem says:

        To clarify I am talking more to this guy who thinks that women who don’t have career aspirations are zombies. That’s what upset me here. This is not to say that women who have such aspirations are bad or wrong they are also right and also deserve respect my message came across wrong on rereading. What I would also say is we need to talk about the next generation. Who is raising the kids. When both spouses work. Men and women have to step up here and take responsibility and realize that both have to compromise and work together here. As a parent if you are putting your career over your family and your children. You are wrong. This is for men and women. I see so many ppl sacrificing family for career thinking that will make them happy but it is wrong. We put so many obstacles in between us and happiness that we never achieve it. The key to happiness is to be happy. Look for excuses to be satisfied with your life instead if looking for reasons to be sad or disappointed.

      • SC says:

        The issue here isn’t about career vs. motherhood, or other such false dichotomies. It is about being given one’s Islamically given rights to make a choice. Families pressuring their kids to marry someone they do not want, when they want them to, etc. is not Islamic. It’s all about choice. The choice to stay home with the kids, the choice to work, the choice to do both, the choice to work part time and then go home to your kids, the choice to stay home then work when the kids are older, whatever, point is, it’s about being allowed to make one’s own choices as an adult woman. Also, marriages in the “West” don’t just fail because of the courtship model we have here. Marriages in other countries are often held together by family/societal pressure, economic needs, etc. regardless of whether the marriages is healthy or not, or produces healthy kids or not. In short, it’s much more complicated than the false dichotomies and simplistic assumptions we set up.

    • Hayahassan says:

      What ever you are saying , if you mean it, mashallah ur wife is going to be a lucky one, but the world is not like this, practically people are diff , and we need to be realistic in life. And for my sister who have posted this post , its an advice that whatever Allah has done for us , its good coz for now she is young but after her 35 plus she will realize that all those dreams and ambitions were nothing , coz its better to have someone than being alone.

      • SC says:

        It is better to be alone than in terrible company. I’m divorced, so that’s my advice to other girls. I hope those in these situations fight for their rights.

  16. Ghulam Hussain says:

    I believe you guys are having the wrong view of this. Do not blame anyone other than Allah. There are plenty of succesful woman who are married and some who aren’t. It isn’t success or lack of it that someone isn’t married. It is from Allah. He is the best of planners.

    Marriage was written for everyone before they were born. If you were succesful in a career or not has nothing to do with that. It has everything to do with your emotional/mental/spiritual state of mind. When you are capable of handling a husband that Allah deems you worthy of than he will send him in your life.

    I also think its wrong to measure success by a career. I personally like to measure it by how close and near and dear someone is to Allah. There are signs for people who know how to look for such people.

    Lastly, Be Thankful – Many women are in abusive relationships. As a man I must say that if I was a woman I wouldn’t marry such low minded people. How many are seriously struggling to approach nearness to Allah? How many will become Wali’s in their life? How many will waste their lives going after the dunya and not aiming any higher?

    May Allah guide us and protect us. Do not feel bad for being single, feel bad for what you have left to accomplish before you die.

  17. Bride 2 Wife says:

    really. just over 24 and freaking out so much? I live in Pakistan and got married in my 30s and i am a lawyer too. i had to face the pressure, the stereotypes and the nagging questions as well. That is life. And sometimes, you do have to make a choice. It’s the same for men. They have to make a choice too. But if you are a rational, strong willed, intelligent and reasonable adult and you make the choice to remain single and hold on to your ideals or marry and bend a bit of your ideals because the man you are marrying will probably be doing the same as well, then don’t be apologetic about it. Don’t be guilty about it. Don’t whine about it. We are our choices. Live them bravely.

  18. Mona says:

    I honestly do not understand the plight. As women , and muslim women.. Marriage should be the first priority. Career second. If you were brought firstly as a submissive being to be pushed into career mode then told to get married have only urself to blame as you allowed someone else to pull ur strings..and if you let others pull ur strings..then be a puppet always whose strings are pulled.
    You have chosen this path while some of us sisters have chosen to be strong headed not letting these things affect us. We are women who have responsibilities as wives, mothers , to build the ummah and at the same time contribute to the Ummah as individuals. We understand this we don’t fight this. We understand a career is important, but at the same time we were smart enough to look for Mr.Right in halaal ways because we understood the importance of marriage and family as women. We didn’t jus blindly run after a career then let family bring us prospects and like sheep be told what to do.
    Come on!
    You have a choice every step of the way. I just don’t understand the what the fuss is about. Use your intelligence to identify good prospects, to decide the potential in an balance out career and marriage. I totally disagree that we are reduced to just a wife.
    If you are smart, society can never reduce you. You allow yourself to be reduced!
    I am a career woman. I am an individual contributing to society. I am a wife. I will be a mother insha-Allah. I will raise great daughters for this ummah that will be wives and mothers first and at the same time contribute as individuals to this world. I am a Muslim Women , brought up the same as you. I believe we are never reduced to nothing and we can have everything. This is how Islam empowers us.. Tired of all the submissive women who let society pull their strings. Start pulling your own strings.

    • Naz says:

      Mona, I totally agree. We are definitely wives and mothers first. Allah has uplifted our status by being such. Yes we can have full time careers, but what would we be giving up? Our husbands and children should always be our priorities. We are meant to be equal to men but not the same as them! Raising your children in the proper Islamic way is the greatest contribution to the community that you can ever make. By all means, make use of your education, but never put it before getting married to the right person when he comes along. The hadith is true and we have no right to question it because it was said by our beloved Messenger (SAW) who has much more wisdom than us. If he has given us that advice, then we should take heed. It doesn’t mean marry anyone. But yes, if you are happy with their character and deen, you should seriously consider it. This is because a man of good character will always take care of you well and not mistreat you. And if you do find a man who is worthy of marrying, then please, do not let moving to another country stop you. Those “contacts” will not make a difference 10 years down the line, maybe to your career but not to your happiness. As much as we may want to deny it, as women we were created differently and we yearn to be taken care of and take care of others. If the right man has not come along, then it is a different story. Why should you be pressured? Islam doesnt say you should. As an educated, intelligent women of society, stand up for yourself. Move past the culture. The choice is yours.

  19. Ijaz says:

    Why do American girls never point the finger at themselves? Women have to be women. When they try to be like a man no one wants them. Being better than boys in academics doesnt make you a man. Its when a woman loses touch with what it means to be a daughter, sister, Mother, wife. Show me a woman with a masters degree who knows and understands the depthness of love and respect? When a woman becomes highly educated she starts becoming haughty. That cooking, cleaning, ironing, raising kids/being a mother are beneath her. Inside she wants to be a man but outside she looks like a woman (Dude looks like a lady). Her capacity and ability for love diminish with her level of education. Love is not something that originates from the brain, it comes from the heart. But in scholastic environments people become accustomed to using their brains but when was the last time they used their heart?

    Women are creatures made from love for love. They have ability for such deep levels of love that every child of a good parent can attest to.

    • SCM says:

      It is this kind of thinking that ruins things for everyone else. So women who get an education, work, have a brain are less than women? they are trying to be men? They have lost touch with some sort of nourishing side in them? That is nonsense! If you have not met a woman with a master’s degree who understands love and respect then you need to go out and meet more people. If you want to live by this thinking then by all means do so, but do not hold back the many more who are quite happy being educated, working, having rights, AND being a loving wife, mother, sister, etc.

      • Muslim says:

        I have to disagree with you, Ijaz and agree with SCM.
        I have my masters in engineering and am employed full-time. And I am not trying to be a man. Whatever it is you meant by that. I do not think I am beneath any of the things that a mother is “supposed” to do. Although I do believe that the cooking and the cleaning and ironing and the raising kids should be shared equally by both parties. I am 23 so I am not yet married. However I have met someone who I love and I have definitely thought of having kids in my future. I take care of my family with more love than I had before I went into university. So I can say that it is not education that morphs you into a heartless woman. It is something that only you can do to yourself. As was said by another reader, you need balance in your life. Balance of religious, personal, professional, and educational activities. I can say from experience that a woman’s education and career will not destroy her depth for love and respect. I know and work with many highly educated women who are also very family-oriented. It is not the education that ruins you. It is the lack of balance.

        Anyways, after reading through this beautiful article and all of the emotional comments above and below, I just want to say good luck to all you women and men who are struggling with this issue. Remember that life should be challenging so don’t be disheartened. Stay strong and Inshallah it will all work out.

    • MarYam says:

      Err i have double master and double majors in network audit and data security ! I was the first cissp in pakistan !! I am now a wife who cooks meals for husband n cleans the house! And i am infact deeply in love with my husband ! I dunno why people have to make evrything so personal :s

      • Ijaz says:

        Maryam you are a Pakistani girl not American. American girls are much different hence the trouble they have in getting married.

  20. muslim says:


    your article is beautiful except for the last part. you should submit to allah. have you heard of istikhara?
    for example a guy comes along, he lives in nairobi, he _says_ he is a good muslim but ‘you are gambling on your future”. pray istikhara and leave it up to allah. allah will make it plain to you

  21. Lady_T says:

    Beautiful article.

    I read a post a while ago that has the exact same issues though it’s about divorce. A woman wanted a divorce from her husband who treated her badly. As a Revert she went from Imam to Imam. None of whom granted her a divorce because the husband refused to let her go, finally she resorted to social media to ask what she should do. All the comments to the post said, the women should be patient, sabar, seek mediation and also reminding readers that this is only one side for the story. All failing to remember the one most important factor, what about HER choice? They quote hadiths but not the one where the wife of Thaabit ibn Qays came to the Prophet (SWA) stating that she found no fault with her husband but did not want to be with him. The Prophet (SWA), upon her agreeing to give back the dowry, instructed Thaabit ibn Qays to divorce her.

    People ask do Muslim women have rights, the answer is yes. What they should ask is, are Muslim women given their rights? The answer is no.

    And yes this is a culture thing, not a religious one, but this is a societal issue. A society that is made of people who honour their culture before they honour their religion.

    • Traveller says:

      On point! I want to do illegal things to these fools in Imam’s clothing.

      Don’t ever get advice from a man who is paid by a community of men whom beat their women and are from places where women are beat. In other words, anywhere. Look for that calm sheikh who shrinks from the limelight and earns a living by sweat. Ask him for aid. He will aid you, inshaAllah.

  22. tasuvali says:

    May Allah make all your dreams come true, I married the man I fell in love with, and am a stay at home mom with an architecture degree and 10 years of experience. Some days it gets to where I question my worth, but they are few and far apart. So your worth is what you make it, be it a single woman doing her bit to make the world better or a mom raising her kids so they can make the world better. Forge your own path.

  23. Huqita says:

    Life is not bed of roses. I hate when someone doesn’t take responsibility of their life. Blames, excuses and whining doesn’t solve the problem.

    I’ve done some of my life’s important decisions based on my preference and at the cost of culture. Trust me it was (and is) very hard with the cultural context but I surely feel I made the right choice and am better off so far. It not 18h century that you’ll be thrown out of clan to death.

    And then, there is just so much you can do about hardships of life.

  24. Fatima says:

    Hi Maryam, This is Fatima from Karachi.
    I am turning 30 this July, and whatever you wrote, it seems like we know each other because i can relate to every word that you wrote.
    Reading this made me feel better actually. Great post!

  25. Traveller says:

    I apologize our communities don’t have many real men or real women who can set an example for us youngsters.

    The fact is, you have many valid grievances, and even worse than your grievances is the rampant domestic violence and abuse inside the homes of these “muslims.”

    That being said, you have to widen your gaze. Women and men are inherently different. For some reason having a career may be a more fulfilling option in your mind than raising a family. If you think this is true, go for it. Maybe you aren’t cut out for the bore and chore of raising kids.

    No, they aren’t mutually exclusive, but I can tell you that your nature is more likely to find tranquility in one than the other, and so is your future husband if his fitra is intact.

    I want to add that women who choose their career at the expense of time with their kids do a great disservice to their children. Children need the love and affection and guidance of a mother. Not hired help, not a daycare.

    But maybe more important than all of this is find out if that guy is a misogynistic moron from a violent background. They have many red flags, and they seek victims.

    • SC says:

      For goodness sake, as you yourself state, these things are not mutually exclusive. A woman can work and be educated and STILL be a loving, dedicated mother. In my culture, most of our women work and are still very dedicated to being wives and mothers. People find the right balance. Also, this posting assumes to many things about what the right way for women and men to be is. Smh

    • Lady_T says:

      “I want to add that women who choose their career at the expense of time with their kids…” I can say the same for men.

  26. BeenThereDoneThat says:

    SubhanAllah this post captures to the T what many of us have and are going through as educated young women, but I’d like to lend a different perspective on things.
    Yes alhamdulillah I went to college, represented my university, spoke at commencement, got an engineering job, moved out and lived on my own. And I hated it. I was lonely. I longed for someone to share my life with. So yes, when my now husband (who doesn’t have a degree) came along, I quit my job, moved out, and am now unemployed living the married life, and I couldn’t be happier. Because my perspective changed.
    Corporate America is designed for workers who spend the vast majority of their waking lives making money for other people. Money is not what sets you free. Free time is what sets you free –to do what you enjoy doing, if you have a husband who you allow to take care of you (and most will if you let them, and are thankful what they can provide without comparing it to what you can), you have all the time in the world to do what you enjoy. If it’s having kids, great. If its working because you love working, great. But no need to shove in his face that he doesn’t make as much as you. Spend your extra money in positive ways. Donate it, build a masjid, take your family to Hajj, take vacations with your husband, enjoy your life.
    Sure it’s a little confusing to be raised with the notion that we’re always on the grind, but then immediately after graduation you’ve got to take a seat and be satisfied with your husband’s grind.
    In reality it’s not that difficult, it’s just a perspective change. And then you have someone to enjoy your life with. If he is pious and has good manners, see of you can put the degree thing aside and like him. Don’t force yourself, allow yourself to see if you do. If you do, marry him and get on with your life. If you don’t live it, no one else is going to for you.

    • MashaAllah I love this! I was wondering how to put into words what I was thinking and this is it. At the end of the day, this is not jannah so no matter how we try to customize everyone around us to be able to understand us and respect our thoughts, things are never going to be perfect here. Also, cultural notions aside, it’s not ‘just’ wives we end being and I’m not trying to dress it up with romance or whatever. We find such greaaaaat rewards in Islam for being dutiful wives and sure it’s hard sometimes because we find we have to cut down on our ego so much but at the end of the day isn’t that a good thing. InshaAllah expect your reward from Allah and most definitely you’ll not be dissatisfied.

  27. Romaica says:

    So many women share your experience and go through the same dilemma. It is the same in Middle Eastern countries as well.
    I think nowadays our community, in Egypt, is slowly getting to understand that there will be a huge number of smart, beautiful, strong, educated women who are single. Some of these single women would continuing fighting for their right to be happy, while others would fall prey to pressure, be it from their families, peers or society, just to fit in the ultimate role of a woman, which is a wife and mother. I believe it is an important role and to make the best out of it, you have to meet a man who will help you. However the lack of responsible, understanding, caring men is the reason many women prefer to stay single.
    If it is “naseeb” then there is no need to push it, what if Allah has other plans for me and marriage isn’t one of them. Why do people discard this thought?
    Trust Allah, follow your heart and do what makes you happy, at the end of the day it is your life not theirs.

  28. Sarah Hashmi says:

    So true… this is what happens to us. But now I’ve given up and have made peace with myself.

  29. Ali Azghar Rajab says:

    May your courage and spirit (and insight) never falter.

  30. NaairahSS says:

    This article is very well written but the concept is crap. Im sorry that the world lied to you, in the words of my best friend ‘Life sucks, and then you die’. No one has it good. Guess what, guys get the even bigger shaft. My brother is an amazing entertainer, singer, comedian, visual artist etc. He was told that he could be whatever he wanted up until he turned 16 and started applying for colleges. Then he had to be one of the big three (D-L-E), so he can marry a good educated girl and be able to support his family and support the masajid. Dreams down the toilet, who cares if you like cars, or photography, you must sacrifice in order to be the man of the house.

    The guy who came to see you, he was definitely not your top pick, and guess what, you aren’t his either. He met girls like you in college, girls who, with their career goals and ambitions turned him down, girls who emasculated him in every social setting by being loud and obnoxious and overly argumentative. Life is a sacrifice. Guys dont have it better, they dont just go from house to house creating a line up and sit down like the bachelor and choose the best. At best, you have one or two families who will actually see you (because the girl is so stuck up and thinks she’s so much better than any guy, or she’s so career oriented that she’s ‘not ready right now’)

    So the big question is, why do the men have to fall into their traditional roles and understand it from a MUCH EARLIER AGE, and we should be let free to pursue our own personal career goals until we decide its time to get married? Now the man has completed all the steps, made all the sacrifices, and the reward he gets is a wife who doesn’t respect him, who puts her career ambitions first over him and wants to delay/never wants to start a family. You get what you put in, thats the long and short of it. When the man pursues a career, its usually a selfless family oriented move, when a woman pursues her career, its usually a self-serving personal goal achievement.

    And we wonder why the guys here skip us and go get one from overseas 😦

    TL;DR: life sucks, man or woman, suck it up

    • SC says:

      I completely disagree with this: “So the big question is, why do the men have to fall into their traditional roles and understand it from a MUCH EARLIER AGE, and we should be let free to pursue our own personal career goals until we decide its time to get married? Now the man has completed all the steps, made all the sacrifices, and the reward he gets is a wife who doesn’t respect him, who puts her career ambitions first over him and wants to delay/never wants to start a family.”

      So many of the Muslim men I know are running around being big kids and not wanting to settle down or grow up, while so many Muslim girls are distraught looking for a mature man to marry. I think it’s totally the opposite of what you state in your post. And why is it always assumed that a woman who has a career or education is automatically selfish and anti-family? This is a massive (and insulting) assumption and generalization.

    • Vicky says:

      In my experience, people using words like ’emasculate’ are usually male. It seems that ‘Naairah’ is no exception. He may have chosen a female name to post this comment, but it links to the Gravatar profile of ‘kmans76’, and a quick search shows that this is a man.

      I’m sorry you feel threatened by strong women, kmans, and that you view them as selfish. That’s your own loss. You might find the whole concept less upsetting if you reconsidered the traditional gender roles that you seem to take for granted. There are more valuable things than gender roles – not being the sort of person who lies and misrepresents yourself online, for example.

  31. Fatima says:

    I am going through a similar situation of an “arranged marriage” and I just somewhat feel so shallow. Not due to the guy or anything, don’t get me wrong he is nice and all, but when I tell my parents about him, like how MY interactions with him been so far on dates, they don’t understand. For instance, he eats haram chicken, I don’t eat haram at all in this western society even though I was born and raised in the west. He’s did something I didn’t really approve of either. I’m not the best Muslimah either, but I have a fine boundary and level of respect for Islam. Alhumdulillah, my parents have raised us as liberal Muslims and I know enough to see what’s good for my Imaan and not. Anyways, as I was telling my parents about him, they’re like “Oh you can guide him after marriage, and set him on the right path.” This really did not sit well with me because I don’t want to marry someone that I can change, plus you can’t change somebody no matter what. That’s a guys parents job to guide him, not me.
    Another thing is my parents are so pressured by society, me finishing up my undergrad Inshallah, and they feel burdened, and have this urge to just get me married for namesake. I don’t get it because I worked so hard to get where I am with my parents help and support too. I just don’t understand why they want me settled with whoever comes by. It’s funny because I told my father “You’ve given me so much freedom and taught me independence, and all of a sudden you want me to just get married? How I have so much to do myself, for me and my life. I don’t want to marry someone so I can just become someone else’s responsibility.” I feel like my parents take marriage as a joke per se, I tell them all the time that marriage is not a joke. It’s a lifetime commitment, and I need to make sure I’m comfortable with who I will end up. I give my parents that hadith of Imam Ali stated in this article, but they don’t understand. I’ve been so upset recently, I honestly don’t know what to do but cry. I feel like I have no worth or respect of say. I can’t settle, compromise, or blindly marry due to a guy being stable. I need someone that I can spiritually and mentally connect with. Sisters, I would really appreciate your comments and feedback as I see some of you are already married and single. I really need help. I don’t have sister siblings either so it’s another challenge for me to go thru this on my own.

    • fd66 says:

      Dear Sister Fatima,

      May Allah help you through this time. Try to get a sheikh or imam to understand your situation and explain to your parents.

    • Fatima, perhaps you should share the fact that you need to mentally & emotionally connect with someone and perhaps you don’t with this man, regardless of what kind of chicken he eats. It seems that the lack of a connection is really the issue and the chicken is an excuse. You are absolutely entitled to find someone with whom you share your views. Never let anyone tell you otherwise.
      I’ll give you a very good piece of advice that a mentor gave me, “manage your perceptions.”
      You might think that you’re liberal, but others might not. You might think that eating non-halal chicken is a big deal, others might not. So just be careful with passing judgment on anyone or anything, because we all know “judge not, let ye be judged.”
      No two people are alike. So we all have similarities and differences. Some things might be “deal breakers.” Take time to really examine what is important to you and what you are looking for in a life partner. We all have things that we absolutely must have. It might be education or location or any number of things. One way to tell what is important and what is not, is to ask yourself “if I change this factor about this person, will it seriously change things between us?” For example, if he did eat halal only, would that change your feelings toward him? If the answer is “yes,” then that idea/factor is very important to you, and you must keep looking. If you ask yourself a question like “Does it matter that he’s from NY and not California?” And the answer is no, then that factor is probably not important. Either way, figure out what YOU want, because you are the only one who has to live your life. I know your parents seem like they are pressuring you. But you have to give them the benefit of the doubt. No matter what, they LOVE you and they want you to be happy. So when they say things like “you can change him” they are trying to ensure that you don’t miss out on a potentially great guy and a chance at happiness. But if you are really not okay with marrying this person because you lack that spiritual and emotional connection, then explain that to them like the adult that you are.
      Trust me, if you connect with someone on their values and way of life, the chicken will be the least of your concerns.
      Keep the faith and inshaAllah you will find what you are looking for.

      • Fatima says:

        Thank you my sisters for your supportive replies. I truly and greatly appreciate them as they have given me lot of insight. Alhumdulillah, I have spoken to my parents about this and I feel much better now. You are right That Single Brown Girl,I just had to convey my feelings to my parents and everything is much better. May Allah bless you for your help.

    • Nadzil says:

      I hear you!!!! Been there!!! Just DON’T DO IT….. Unless your heart say it!!!!! Please don’t…. Read the book al chemist by Paulo coelho…. Write to me I can share something that you would be able to relate to!!!!! Just don’t do it no matter what anyone says listen to ur heart it’s already guided
      Please be brave n trust yourself u sound like a nice well grounded person
      You can never change anyone.!!!! Don’t do this to yourself

    • Hannan says:

      Fatima, if you feel that you can’t change this person now, it will be difficult for you to change him during marriage. You should ask yourself if you have the power to change that person? You have to ask yourself is conflict going to occur b/c you both hold different views. Will that create obstacles for you in your marriage. If he is doing actions you don’t approve of now what will he be doing when you guys get married?
      You know best of your relationship. Some women get married & they can change a person to be a better person. Other women get married & they can’t change that person. You should talk to your parents & ask them for advice & you need to tell them your concerns. Inshallah you will figure out how to handle your situation.

  32. Mus says:

    This was deep and profound. The ending though was quite dark, there is always hope with Allah. Never lose hope~

  33. Thank you says:

    Thank you – you’ve reminded me not to doubt myself.
    With love and dua’s.x

  34. Flint says:

    Very true and believe it or not some of those things can be seem from the male perspective too. Im looking for a wife myself and people wonder whats wrong with me if I just cant see myself with a girl or something just doesnt feel right. Its our whole lives that we’re playing with and they just want it to be easy. No.

  35. Ola says:

    This is one of the best opinion pieces I’ve read in a long time. She may as well have interviewed most of my extremely impressive Muslim girlfriends and wrote this about them, except many of them haven’t lost. This gives good insight into the lives and struggles of many successful Muslim women, but paints a really sad ending which does not have to be the reality. An ending that I think can be avoided if we think for ourselves when interpreting Quran and Hadith and not just go by what someone else thinks- or worse, cultural interpretations.
    The subject of the piece allowed a narrow interpretation of one Hadith make her give-up everything she had ever worked for. She quotes the Hadith about akhlak and deen (character and faith) as the attributes you should never turn away when assessing a life partner and assumed that because he is an all around good guy he meets the “Holy Checklist”. But I wonder this: how can a man with true character and faith ever allow the potential future mother of his children to be taken away from everything she worked so hard to accomplish and allow her success to dwindle at his whim? To me, that man is not a person of character, he is a man that is selfish and blind, and a roadblock to his partner’s deepest passions and successes. If he was blind to such a large part of her desires, what else will he be blind to in the marriage? Akhlak, I think not.
    If Quran and Hadith are core to your forming your faith, then don’t let them hinder what is good for you, but let them support you, especially if you know that what you’re reaching for is right. Never underestimate the power of your own intellect and instincts. Hermeneutics and interpretation are both the ugliest and most beautiful disciplines that supplement religion, I suggest we learn to use them in their most beautiful means to support our knowledge, growth, and success.

  36. cmileyfreaky says:

    Reblogged this on cmileyfreaky and commented:

  37. Saba Hasan says:

    Wow. Exactly my thoughts! Really liked the transition from a girl to a successful woman.

  38. Ashar says:

    Inspite of all these odds Pakistan is no. 1 in the marriage durability. Who compromised or sacrificed means nothing if you get all type of insurances, loving kids and of course a new start. We have a culture and it suits best to our needs, u please see our results and dont go for the nights we spent to pass this exam. Our girls are best in world in obedience, loyalty, sharm o hiya and much much more and in reward they get 99.99% sucessful marriage ratio and status of a daughter, sister, wife and then mother who has a heaven in her feet. What else one can expect from one’s life and be sure mountain climbers need to reach the top on foot and NO SHORT CUTS…

    • SC says:

      Women also stay in horrible marriages because of family/societal pressure and no viable alternative way to support themselves. Marriage “durability” is no indicator of the health of those marriages. It would be wise to think about this more from the perspective of the women. I have enough Pakistani friends to know these marriages are not all ideal or loving in any way.

      • Ashar says:

        Your Pakistani friends should have told you that 99.99% Pakistani women are house wives, the status they get inspite of this is tremendous not being given any where inthe developed world. The fact is that there are some people grown up in our society who consider easy to abuse themselves to look more libral which is actually not a reality. There are of course some extreme situations abut their ratio is very very less and we cannot call them as indicative. These so called family or social pressures are necessary for both male and females to give them time to settle down and make their own ways (Westren courts do not allow divorce at once, they too give a lot to time so that partners may reach some agreement). Most importantly, world is now result oriented and 99.99% result is not bad

  39. kiran says:

    This is exactly what i am going through. I am being brain washed and being degraded and everyone keeps throwing my age at my face. This sucks .. I wish one of my elders reads this and understands.

  40. PalestinianDrToBe says:

    That was an amazing and entirely accurate depiction of what many well-raised, ambitious Muslim / Arab women face today. It has become an uphill battle if one decides to pursue her goals academically/ work wise and her personal life.. If only they could see differently. Thank you.

  41. Nina says:

    Though I’m not of the Muslim faith, I experienced the same in my younger years. I did marry the one I knew was for me, but I’m not so sure my parents approved. You see, due to their actions, I am no longer connected to them. If I hadn’t married the one I knew was right for me, I would still be single. It’s a hard road to walk, but we do it. Blessings to you, my sisters.

  42. R says:

    Hello All

    Let’s say my name is R… half arab and half latino, Catholic raised. 30 yr old male.

    I would always get into arguments with my family on the arab side because they would always emphasized these certain rules…”women are meant to be in the kitchen, quiet, subservient, cover-up (even though they know I’m Catholic), do everything you please.”

    I’m sorry I want a women who is respectfully outspoken, is proud of her body and shows it off, is a good cook yes but I would like to help cook and clean as well :), is not subservient and speaks her mind. Just because she has a vagina does not mean she cant be a mother, wife, and CEO as well…. it may be hard yes but you see shinning examples of women who make it all work. (New CEO of yahoo).

    Do you want the rest of the world to respect Muslim women? Educate they women and make sure you put that to use. I met in an Egyptian girl, covered-up, in college and was going to medical school. She stated that she will not practice medicine because she had to get married… why go to school in the first place! One, med school is expensive, two, someone else is dying to get into medical school and practice medicine and you just took away their seat.

    What I’m trying to say is that Islam is has been and is becoming more and more extreme with the passing days, women are only used to to be baby pushers in order to double the population and “take over the world” with Islam.

    You want the world to look at Muslims in a positive light? Uncover your women, let their hair flow free, educated them, and let them take that education and encourage the world in a positive manner.

    I asked my uncle one day are young girls (15 to about 5 years old) cover up it they’re not developed women and can’t really make that decision to cover themselves up yet…. he said that if they were not covered then the men would look at them in a sexual manner. Then I said, so the men are so weak and demented that they cannot look at a girl and not think sexual thoughts about them?? He said nothing and was silent… they pissed me off sooooo much!!!

    Enough with these ignorant young jihadist men taking over your lives….

    Live free, learn free, let your hair flow, be the equals on this planet as you were meant to be

    • Maryam says:

      I disagree with nearly everything you said. Islam is not the problem here and neither is hijab. I find it very offensive and patronizing that you think the solution to the problems Muslim women face can be solved, at least in part, by “letting [our] hair flow.” I chose to wear hijab at age 11 on my own and I was very capable of making my own choices; some of us raised strong-willed and pious. I was 13 on September 11th and my parents told me they would support my decision to remove my hijab, if I so chose. I lectured them for an hour about how we don’t change who we are for other people, we don’t sacrifice our beliefs when we face prejudice, and that they should worry more for the poor, ignorant soul that decides to mess with me. I believe in hijab and so do the vast majority of Muslim women. We don’t need you (or anyone else for that matter) to “free” us from it.

      I don’t wear hijab because I think men are disgusting, sex-obsessed perverts. I think that is a problematic way to look at half of the world’s population. I wear hijab because I was ordered to do so by God and because I think modesty (for men and women) is a good quality to encourage.

      You are in no position to judge Muslims, in general, or any individual’s choice to practice or not practice a career in any field. Clearly, we are educating our women and the fact that women like me and the thousands who have read or commented on or shared this post are fighting the parts of our Arab/South Asian culture that disempower us is proof that we are more than capable of “freeing” ourselves.

  43. […] Yes, this is about marriage I am so glad that I found this site. Thanks, Mala! […]

  44. Le-Ann says:

    Amazing..aboslutely agree with it 100%, its long time coming and its called change, this is our real jihad every single day.

  45. Abdul Hakeem says:

    I understand the author of d article, though renowned for piecing epilogues, summarily blamed her circumstance on parenting and society while structurally hinging her catastrophe on Islam and what it represent. Senses of sensibility and trite understanding of the religion should be abused in d manner she worded her story thus presenting a contemporary misconception in respect of leveraging on full women actualization in marriage without one infringing on the other as a pandemic occasioned by the religion.
    In the first instance, seeking knowledge, of the religion and any other useful ones is an obligation, in Islam. Knowledge liberates, I understand. Since the writer is well educated westerly, it further to that becomes an obligation upon her, taking time out of her record curricular to seek the knowledge of the religion (Islam) inadvertently so that she can comprehend her true position in the society and thus seek to apply it accordingly. Pointedly, her knowledge of the religion of Islam could indeed be her strength to further engage her parents and the society on the need for her to be allowed to occupy her natural niche as permitted by the religion.
    It should be recalled that Islam reflects on all aspect of human livelihood. A candidate seeking consciousness of His Lord should use the mirror offered by Islam to gauge his/her endeavours. Allah the almighty expounds that the best of all examples is in the Messenger of Allah, Muhammad the son of Abdullah, SAW.
    The life and time of the prophet, and its exemplification in the seera of ummul muminin, some of them exceedingly successful should be carefully studied before rushing to the tab piecing episode capable of undermining the true positions of Allah and His Messenger as encapsulated in the Kitab (Al Quran and Ahadith).
    The foregoing becomes imperative to reiterate as it is absolutely incongruous to attempt in the minimum to use a happenstance in the enclave of women liberation to assault the noble positions of Allah and His Apostle. Islam is not the making of anyone other than Allah. He created us in the first instance and we are to remain obedient to Him in all His rulings on matters of our livelihood.
    While it is regrettable a practice in some part of the world wherein women are coerced into marital settings against their wish and/or forbidden assumption of responsibilities approved by our religion, the women fold are better in the know that these practices are distinctly not a representation of Islam. To blame parenting informed by Islam on practices sanctioned by Allah is tantamount to committing a sacrilege.
    It therefore follows, in the summary, that while everyone should identify with the situation of the writer it becomes equally important to do so within the confines of Islam.

  46. […] source :  Yes, this is about marriage […]

  47. pp says:

    As a 29 year old arab american professional, I can totally relate! I used to blog about my experiences back in the day, reading this makes me want to blog again!

  48. Naseer says:

    The society plays a major role in shaping men. It tells them a women is an object, utilities her in a way that society utilizes her. Most men want a perfect gal that not only possesses a great body, but is freaky. Why? Because that’s what society portrays. Women want rich lawyers, doctors, tall handsome men. Well, I got news for you. Ain’t going to find any. If you do, its probably someone’s leftover. Nothing will alter, unless we re-route our thinking and standards.

  49. […] Yes, this is about marriage […]

  50. […] read this article about a week ago, and it’s been stuck in my head ever since. It’s a woman talking about […]

  51. Aiman G. says:

    I was with you for the most part until you said “but only a wife”. How insulting to say a wife is ONLY a wife – I would argue a wife and eventually mother (working or not) are the most important jobs in the world because they’re essentially decide what the future is going to be like. As the saying goes, teach a man you teach one person, teach a woman you teach a nation. After that one line you said this just seemed like a rant to me, and although I agree with alot of what you’re saying and how frustrating this part of life can be its part of growing up. Also, I couldn’t help but fee you (like the rest of society) were downplaying women who choose to marry young or play it safe and marry the person they may not be madly in love with at first sight – are you trying to say they’re wrong? Practicality is essential in the world we live in and we for sure can’t have it all. Everyone hs to make compromises that may not seem worthwhile at the time but inshallah will be.

    I like to think of it this way, what exactly is our purpose on this Earth? We can have the degrees in the world, the best spouse, the most knowledge, but if we don’t use it towards what our purpose is then there’s no point in anything. I guess the best way is to strike a balance, between every aspect of our life including choosing a spouse, accepting that we as women have our issues as well as the society around us, and our lifestyle in general.

    That’s just my opinion based on my life experience and upbringing. However I really liked reading your article and could relate to most of it. Our society really needs to shape up when it comes to issues of age discrimination and such.


  52. Fatima Khan says:

    Maryam I,
    I liked your article, you expressed the 2nd generation immigrant girls’ predicament really well, except for the defeatist note at the end.
    You are a lawyer, you can use your education well whether you are nurturing your family or your community.
    Make more opportunities to try to match women like you, to good men, you have to find the solution yourself. Don’t wait for parents to find a non-match & then submit to a lifelong misery.

  53. Najla says:

    Love this

  54. […] Yes, this is about Marriage, law student Maryam wrote about the struggle between personal and professional ambitions and the […]

  55. aliyah says:

    It is as if I wrote it. There is another dimension. You manage to thicken your skin and manage to attain some of your goals; study abroad, travel, get a great job. All the while continuing to meet these “prospectives” and you consider them – for your parent’s sake. Your heart is not in it. They don’t work out. Then the family of one of your closest friends approaches your family. You did not have a clue they would do this. You knew they liked you…but that they’d propose you didn’t know. You realise this is it. This is perfect. You thank God ..only to find out that your family refused even to meet them. “They were not from the same lineage! Have you seen him next to you? How do you even find him attractive?” .. But I can talk to him, we share the same values, same principles, I know he is God fearing. “oh please who all will you keep telling this. You are 33 we did not expect you to be this stupid.”
    The disbelief. The sheer shock. The only proposal your heart ever accepted has been rejected because he doesnt look good enough. (but neither did any of the proposals you brought up mom).. because he is not from the same lineage.. (but didnt you just tell me last year to just marry anyone at all?) .. arguments don’t work when its share hatred and racism you are facing. You can’t fight. Your parents also feel you were a party to it. Maybe this is why you said no to all those good proposals because of him ( No! thats not true.. but if it was then shouldn’t you just let me marry him). Not him, Not until we live – you will not disgrace us like this…they say.

    What do you do now?

    • Fatima says:

      This sounds so sad but don’t just sit & write about it, get active with it. Forward it to some other sensible members in the family, someone who will talk to your Mom, forward it to the Imam in your masjid for some intervention, forward it to the man’s family (who you say are close friends). Give the example of Khadijah (ra) if they say you are a girl & you have be quiet about this& can not take a lead. It is your life after all.
      If she still doesn’t listen go ahead with an agreeable ‘wali’ & later on she will come round to accepting you & him back if you maintain good behavior with her even if she treats you horribly now.

  56. Hiba Al-Haimus says:


    Just wanted to say you’re not alone. This article rings true with me.


  57. John says:

    Sister , As salamualikum wa rahmatullah .. Let me tell you , allah never burdens a soul more than it can bear.. Marriage is always full of imaginations for a girl.. But reality is always different , girls hv to compromise n adapt to the new environment . Allah has given them this potential , they can do this very well.. Dont worry just trust Allah.. Men are women are different , raising a family can b full of fun, realise this fact .. Women have been given a high position by Allah , dont underestimate ur status ..

  58. Anonymous says:

    Why can’t a couple get married and support each other to achieve great things while married?

    Love and support have been proven to help individuals attain more lofty goals than those who try to do so alone.

    The problem with getting married at an older age is that you would have gained more knowledge and skills, and ironed out many of your personanity flaws that you then expect perfection in a spouse. Getting married younger allows a couple to learn, grow and improve together and this creates a more lasting bond.

    Later in life, you tend to approach marriage as you have approached many of your other obstacles. You identify a lofty goal (the guy of your dreams) and you want to work hard and demonstrate your worth to achieve this goal. The problem is that that this “goal” is a human being who has his/her own expectations. You have fallen into the trap of thinking you can achieve anything you put your mind to and, therefore, can find the man of your dreams. It doesn’t work that way unfortunately.

    Marriage is not just another achievement to tick off in life. Marriage is a union between two people with some level of commonality that can help the partners to gain solace in the hardship of life and to gain support to do extraordinary things.

    Get married when an reasonable opportunity presents itself. Make sure he has the qualites to help you succeed in the area that’s important to you (eg. religion, education, activism) and then support each other to do great things – TOGETHER.

    Stop feeling sorry for yourself and start seeing the big picture. You are only one person in the world. A spouse is potentially the biggest source of support you will have. Grants, scholarships, honors, awards, recognitions, and leadership experience don’t make you better than anyone else; they only make you more valuable in the areas of your achievement. Life is much greater than a university degree.

    If you ask me, you need to become more humble and more thankful, and do away with your pride and your nafs. This is my earnest advice to you.