Cruising through cyber space I'm always left with a feeling of sadness, especially at the situation of sisters.
And right now I don't even mean the speaking without knowledge, or the self tafseer of the words of Allah that are just an insult to Allah and this beautiful deen, nor am I talking about the pictures or avatars of what's probably your favorite photograph or picture (being a woman I know that you wouldn't display anything other than your favorite picture publicly).
Nor am I talking about the effect that older more experienced sisters are having on the younger ones - influencing them in their views, recklessly opening up a can of worms in discussion with no conclusion, leaving them confused, their questions unanswered.
Nor am I talking about the visible influence of western thought on the minds and thoughts of our sisters, mainly feminism, which has led to unjustified attacks against brothers - unlimited man bashing. Maybe they forget that by insulting men they are insulting our fathers, brothers, husbands, the scholars not to mention the Mujahideen. Maybe they forget or maybe they don't care.
So what's upsetting me at this moment?
Its the fear of marriage that so many sisters have. I don't mean the natural fear of having a man in your life. Or the butterflies in your stomach and natural blush on your cheeks at a meeting with your husband to be, wondering if you look okay and say the right things. Or the apprehension of wondering if the wedding day will go smoothly.
It seems to be another type of fear that is leading sisters to delay marriage as far as possible, to prefer a single life alone rather than get married. A fear of marrying a dictator, into a patriarchal relationship - where they fear they will not have a say in anything. A fear of no longer having any freedom. A fear of being burdened with too many responsibilities.
Maybe in some ways this fear is justified with the increasing divorce rates, horror stories of marriage that people shouldn't be spreading anyway, and western discussion on the mainly misperceived oppression of Muslim women.
You don't hear of many positive stories or beautiful stories about modern day marriages or family life. (Everyone assumes that good marriages only existed at the time of the Prophet peace be upon him.) What about the small things that happen in your marriage that make your heart melt? Funny things that happen that make the extended family laugh and affirm that indeed your family are absolutely crazy!
That in many ways in many instances you feel like a child again when the family play tig or hide and seek or compete in games and then the big kid (the husband) makes 99 excuses - for himself when you beat him at something!
That the beauty of any argument or bickering is that it leads you to know your spouse better and you learn together and grow together as a result.
That marriage is like the greatest challenge (for those of us who buzz off challenges!). And in fact the psychology in it is actually fun. Using womanly intelligence and power (what Muhammad Alshareef calls halal magic) trying to get your own way with something, and when you finally do get you own way (most of the time if you're clever about it) feeling that sense of 'Alhamdulillah indeed Allah has made the woman different from the man!'
I personally and many sisters I know will tell you that the good in marriage and family life far outweighs any bad in it (Note I may change my mind during pregnancy!)
Not long ago at an AlKauthar course we were discussing some adverse affects of delaying marriage, some of the things mentioned were also things that I had heard from sisters from their own personal experiences.
The following are just a few.
Marrying at a late age can adversely affect a marital relationship in that both parties are already developed in their personality and thoughts and may be less willing to give and take.
They may find it hard to adjust to married life after such a long time of being single and 'independent.'
Women need to remember that our biological clock will not tick forever and the longer we wait to have children the more difficulties we may come across in conception, childbirth etc.
Research shows that women who marry at a later age tend to be less confident in their beauty and physical disposition than younger women.
Also regarding the effect of western thought and feminism on our expectations, again here are a few examples mentioned by some sisters.
Sisters may get into marriage having a bad opinion of men, being paranoid, criticizing etc and thus negatively affect their relationship
Nobody finds attraction in a person who is defiant, argumentative and moaning all the time. If we are unhappy about something there are wiser ways of getting that across.
Going into a marriage with cynicism is unfair to the relationship to begin with.
An overly negative view of marriage may subdue anything slightly positive in the marriage
In saying all this we also need to look at the flip side of the coin - we cannot go into anything with an over zealous attitude either. If we expect the perfect, romantic, faultless husband we are going to be very VERY disappointed. Like my husband once mentioned we can't expect marital life to be liKe a romance novel. We need to be realistic. It rains in every relationship. The key is the way we deal with the rain, who we turn to, whether we let it drench us or provide for us the water to help us grow.
We need to put our trust in Allah, make sincere du'aa to Him at all times, be grateful in ease and patient in trials. Its the over negativity and over zealousness that is destroying ourselves, those around us and our societies - where is the balanced Ummah?
My advise to sisters would be not to expect too much in marriage nor sell yourself short on things that really matter to you as that may also adversely affect your relationship. And ask questions in meetings. Don't be too shy to ask questions about things that really matter to you. Clarify ALL doubts before marriage.
Make sure you do things in the right way and never have 'private' conversations or meetings with a prospective spouse. Our fathers and brothers or other people can usually see through things that may 'woo' us.
Always meet his family too and make sure family are involved in the process. Many sisters who marry without the support of family are often left with no support network. And like my parents always taught me - a guy who has no interest in your family is not someone whom you can trust.
We need to prevent ourselves from being affected too much by the horror stories we hear and remember that every person, every situation is different. There are many decent just brothers out there and I can honestly say that I know of many.
Most importantly we need to remember that we need to trust in our Lord and have confidence that He is the one who we can truly depend on, He is the one who provides, and He is the only one that can answers our prayers.
Your sister Umm Maymoonah,
Contributions by Saabirah and Umm Zaidah Nusaybah.