I have recently reached that age. Many sisters will know the age that I am speaking of. It is an age not necessarily marked by a number, but rather recognised by the way you are treated…
Having bounded through childhood, jumped the hurdles of adolescence and, alhamdulillah (praise be to God), somehow managed to trudge through the trials of university; the next obstacle seems to be approaching quickly – and it is a two-person race.
This race, or rather marathon, is marriage. It is often the first question on a sister’s lips when meeting me (‘so, are you married?!’) and the last thing on my mind before sleeping.
It seems at twenty-two, having graduated just under a year ago now, I have left the honeymoon period new graduates enjoy after university – a blissful time when you can happily do nothing for a while before ‘real life’ starts – and am now faced with an actual honeymoon period to be thinking about.
I first noticed this otherwise imperceptible shift that took me from care-free twenty-something to a care-full young woman when, at my local mosque, an auntie I recognized by face and not by name suddenly became very interested in me. Gripping me eagerly as I spoke, she excitedly enquired after my age, job and parents with a big grin and wide eyes. Naturally I was bemused; it was Friday prayer and, as my workplace was located so close to the mosque, for months I had been attending the jummah prayers and khutbah (sermon) at this very masjid – why was this Friday any different?
Only later that week when my mother told me that she had been approached by an auntie at the mosque who had, it seems, taken a liking to me, did I realize that this kind (but probing) woman had stored the nutshell of information I had given her in her cheek, like a squirrel with an acorn, to be taken home and opened before her single son.
I fear that I am giving off an impression of disinterest in marriage, that I had never thought about it before or that perhaps I don’t want to get married. This is NOT the case; I’m happy to start thinking about it, but the problem is, I don’t know what I think about it…
There is a scene at the Netherfield ball in the classic novel Pride & Prejudice in which Elizabeth Bennet says, ‘I hear such different accounts of you as puzzle me exceedingly,’ (Austen). Though the heroine of the novel is referring to her sworn enemy-cum-true love, Mr Darcy, she could just as well be talking about marriage.
Like Elizabeth Bennet’s confused opinion about the proud Mr Darcy, my opinion and knowledge of married life has been formed mostly from what others have told me on the subject. Much like a collage, the cuttings and clippings of information that I have collected and stuck on to my mental pin board are mismatched, pieced together haphazardly.
As single Muslims and Muslimahs, we are told that marriage is half of our deen (religion) (Al–Bayhaqi). Contrary to this, we are also told that once you marry, seeking knowledge and learning about our religion is put on pause and, mysteriously, we are not informed of when the ‘play’ button of our lives will be pressed once more.
So, what are we meant to feel? Are we, as currently unmarried people, supposed to want to get married, knowing that our deen is from that point onwards going to remain stagnant? Or should we put this warning from our minds, brush it off as unnecessary advice that does not apply to us, and run full-pelt into imagined marital bliss?
Just as I was beginning to worry that I was perhaps the only Muslimah to feel like this, I found my – and, it seemed, many other sisters’ problem too – worded eloquently in sister Maryam Amirebrahimi’s article Wifehood and Motherhood are Not the Only Ways to Paradise on the SuhaibWebb.com website, in which she asks ‘Why, as a general community, are we not putting the same pressure on women to encourage them to continue to seek Islamic knowledge? Higher education? To make objectives in their lives which will carry over and aid them in their future familial lives, if such is what is meant for them?’
I now understand that I am not the only one struggling between wanting to be a learned, independent woman and a learned woman in a happy unit; and the reason that my vision of marriage is so distorted is that these things are frequently presented to us as mutually exclusive.
Often the Islamic literature directed at women is on the topic of marriage; even if the book title or blurb does not directly link to the subject, somehow the text turns into a handbook on wifely duties.
So, here is what I propose to all single people: let us push away this confusing array of text, talk and tips being thrown at us, which, even whilst writing this article, have clouded my mind further. Let us return to perhaps the only words that have our real best interests at heart, which tell us the true meaning of marriage; to make us come closer to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala (glorified is He) by becoming so close with another: ‘And among His Signs is that He created for you mates from among yourselves, that you may dwell in tranquillity with them, and He put love and mercy between your hearts. Verily in that are Signs for those who reflect.’ (Qur’an 30:21)
Finally, let us strive to feel that thinking about and wanting to get married are both healthy practices, but doing this with a mind foggy with what others have told us or a heart heavy with external pressures is not a healthy approach to an institution that has been designed for us by our Creator on the foundations of love, mercy and tranquillity and not, as some might have us believe, on anxiety, idleness or doubt.
Get married, free, on muzmatch.
By Jennifer Dawson
Preparing for a date can end up being a stress inducing activity most of the time. Fixing up hair and makeup alone takes up nearly forty minutes of a woman's time on an average day. As new trends in fashion continue to pop up, it can seem overwhelming trying to maintain a consistent style and routine, while still being current with today’s fashion. Here are a few ways to enhance your beauty for contemporary styles, while remaining true to the fashion that makes Muslim culture one of the most beautiful.
Dating can be intimidating, and our own insecurities can creep up, preventing us from putting ourselves out there to meet someone special. But those fears can be overcome. We should take pride in the modesty of our culture and commitment to Allah, especially with how we wear our hijabs. It’s fine to cut loose and outfit your hijab in a way that expresses both your beauty and inner devotion. Muslim fashion continues to develop side by side with contemporary fashion, letting diverse appearance flourish within modern fashion.
Styles such as the “casual chic”, which involve letting both sides of your hijab hang loose over both shoulders, are great for pulling off an effortless look that emphasizes your natural elegance and modesty. As long as you stay true to the core principles of modesty found in the Quran, then the elegance of your fashion sense will also shine through.
Make-up is the most powerful way for a Muslim woman to express her beauty while staying true to her faith. Whether with or without a hijab, cosmetics offer the chance for women to emphasis the facial qualities that make them beautiful. Women like Asha Hussein are excellent examples of how beauty conventions of both contemporary culture and Muslim tradition can fuse to create a captivating and popular look. Taking the time to learn eye makeup application and trends, such as having bold colors or strong brows, can be completely complimentary to your visual appearance and upstand the Muslim code of Modesty.
Modern culture is more than prepared for accommodating the belief that supports the styles that support and validate Muslim cultural practices. The fashion world is embracing the empowering virtue to be found in Muslim modesty. Whether through makeup or clothing, the diversity and energy put into your wardrobe should be expressed with pride and confidence. The principles found in our faith are wonderful and should be recognized as such. Claim your style as your own and embrace the beautiful principles that enchant your dress and appearance.
The world around us continues to diversify in ways that are supportive towards the beliefs and attire of our faith. There’s no need to place unnecessary restraint on your wardrobe, as long as you adhere to the principles of modesty which already come so naturally us Muslim women. Trust in your faith and your own uncompromising beauty.
Finding Love After Divorce
By Jennifer Dawson
‘Grey divorce’ has come to be a catchphrase of the millennium, largely because in contrast to general divorce rates (which are declining), the divorce rate among people over 50 is on the rise. Longer life expectancies mean that those who are in their 50s or even 60s can look forward to many decades ahead of a healthy and happy life and for many, this is a quest they would not like to undertake in their current situation.
As noted in a study by Z. Mohamed, Muslim divorce rates, particularly in Western countries, have been on the rise in recent years, with a dramatic increase in the U.S., the U.K., Canada, and Australia.
Divorce can be liberating but also bring fear and anxiety. If you have been through a divorce and you are fearful about what the future holds, find inspiration in the Quran and consider online dating as a way to ensure those you date have the same life values as you. When you are ready, know that you can find love once again online and begin a new path in life.
Divorce is one of the highest entries on the Holmes-Rahe Stress Scale. In a way, it involves saying goodbye to many things – including (in some cases) one’s home, extended family and social circle. The Elisabeth Kubler-Ross model on the different stages of loss are also applicable to divorce. You may have to go through many stages – including sadness, anger, and regret, before you are ready to move on.
You will probably know you are ready when you feel that you need to be out and socialize. Positive ideas may pop in your head, such as the thought that you are young and have retired or have free time on your hands, you would love to try out a new hobby or sport, or you feel like dressing up in your finest garb and feeling appreciated as a man or woman once again. Check out what other singles are up to on muzmatch; what starts out as a friendship could develop into something very special.
Online dating has been a big boom for singles who may not have a huge social circle. Muslim men and women who do work and have a good professional network may not necessarily have a wide social one. This is especially true if most of your friends are couples that you only saw when you went out with your ex. As noted by the BBC, online dating is big, especially among Western Muslims.
In Islam, marriage is considered equal to half your religion. It holds great importance, so it is important to make the right decision. Online dating allows you to ‘test the waters’ beforehand, so to speak. For instance, if you are a Muslim woman with a firm believe in feminism, you can ensure the people you date think along the same lines. Because devout Muslims of a mature age may be reticent to go to bars and other establishments were others enjoy meeting,
online dating gives them the safety, choice, and discretion that is unique in the dating sphere.
You are indeed never too old to love or be loved. Muslim scripture espouses the importance of love and marriage in many passages.
“We not see for those who love one another anything like marriage,”
says Sunan Ibn Majah 1847, while Al-Adab Al-Mufrad 1322 notes: “When you love someone, you become infatuated like a child.” These and other words may inspire you to experience the beauty of love and marriage once again.
If you are a Muslim who is aged 50+ and who has just been divorced, you certainly are not alone. So-called ‘gray divorce’ is rising in numbers the world over, but that does not mean you need to be lonely.
Internet dating is booming for Muslims, especially those who don’t want to have to seek love in clubs and other establishments that can seem more about casual encounters than long-lasting ones. If you’ve never been online, sign up on muzmatch and go into it with a view to simply meet others. In time, friendships can unexpectedly bloom and you may find the love of your life.
Hey everyone, it’s Ayesha from My Big Fat Halal Blog (MBFHB)! MBFHB is one of the UK’s biggest halal food platforms where I share halal restaurant reviews, recipes and travel guides! You can find out more about what I do on my website or Instagram.
Today, I’m collaborating with muzmatch to share some of my top Ramadan recipes. We hope you try them out and we would love to see any of your recreations.
Here’s a simple recipe for this delicious, filling smoothie bowl packed with nutritious dates… the only dates you should be having this Ramadan! ;)
1 banana, plus extra slices to garnish
5 pitted medjool dates, plus extra, chopped, to garnish
250ml semi-skimmed milk
2 tsp cocoa powder
1⁄2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tbsp ground nuts, to decorate
Simply put all the ingredients in a blender, and whizz until smooth. Pour into a bowl, over ice, if you like, then arrange the nuts, extra banana and dates over the top to serve.
Let’s be honest, it wouldn’t be Ramadan without fried treats! Below is a recipe for my spicy, moreish potato cutlets. They’re always a hit with everyone!
750g Maris Piper potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks
11⁄2 tbsp garam masala
2 tsp chilli powder
1 tbsp ground coriander
Handful of coriander, roughly chopped
2 tbsp plain flour
1 egg, lightly beaten
3 tbsp vegetable oil
Chutney/spicy salsa, to serve
1.Put the potatoes in a large pan and cover with water. Bring to the boil, then cook for 18-20 mins, until tender. Drain and set aside for 15-20 mins, until cool enough to handle.
2. Add the garam masala, chilli powder, ground coriander and fresh coriander to the potatoes. Season, then mash until smooth.
3. Wet your hands, then shape the mixture into 10 round patties, about 1cm thick.
4. Put the flour, egg and breadcrumbs onto separate plates, then dip each patty first in the flour, then the egg, then the breadcrumbs to coat.
5. Heat the oil to medium-high, then fry the patties in batches for 2-3 mins on each side, until golden brown. Drain on kitchen paper, then serve with a chutney/ spicy salsa for dipping.
A feast would not be complete without dessert! Try out this delicious Egyptian bread pudding known as Um Ali. It’s made with croissants, nuts and condensed milk and it’s absolutely delicious!
850ml semi-skimmed milk
1⁄2 x 397g can condensed milk
1⁄2 tsp ground cardamom
1⁄4 tsp ground cinnamon, plus extra to serve
1 tsp vanilla extract
100ml double cream
1 tsp unsalted butter
4 all butter croissants, roughly torn
2 tbsp desiccated coconut
2 tbsp flaked almonds
2 tbsp unsalted pistachios, chopped
2 tbsp seedless raisins
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan 160°C/Gas 4.
2. Stir the milk, condensed milk, cardamom, cinnamon and vanilla extract together in a saucepan. Slowly bring to the boil and simmer gently for 2mins, stirring occasionally. Add the cream and carefully bring back to the boil, then remove from the heat.
3. Using the butter, grease a round baking dish, roughly 22cm in diameter and 5cm deep, and cover the base with half the croissant pieces.
4. Sprinkle over half each of the coconut, almonds, pistachios and raisins, then pour over the milk mixture.
5. Top with the remaining croissants, nuts and raisins, plus an extra pinch of cinnamon.
6. Bake in the oven for 20-25mins until golden and bubbling, then leave to stand for 10 mins before serving.
I hope you enjoy these recipes and will try them out! You can find more of my recipes at mybigfathalalblog.com.