Can religious Muslims choose to wait for love or must they settle down with the most practical match?
We all grapple with this question, especially if we hit our late 20s and have not yet married. What is it that I really want? We all desire both love and marriage, but as time goes by, we begin to wonder if we should replace the idealistic “and” with a more cynical “or.” Here is a typical situation:
Hannah has been meticulously, excitedly planning the details of her wedding day since she was seventeen. When she becomes a college student, she meets half a dozen potential suitors, some in class, some through the Muslim Student Association at her university, and some through family. None of these matches materialize into marriage, and Hannah, while a bit letdown, is fine with this. She is, after all, only 22 and remains hopeful.
She graduates and begins working, all the while taking evening classes to earn her Master’s degree. Her schedule is hectic, but she manages to make it to a few mosque dinners and ISNA (Islamic Society of North America) conferences where she has a chance to mingle with other young Muslims, many of whom are also searching for a soulmate. No luck. Now and again, she speaks to a past suitor, but nothing comes of it. Before she knows it, Hannah is 24, has graduated with a Master’s degree, but without so much as a proposal. Now the early kernels of doubt and anxiety begin to percolate.
She joins an online dating website, hesitant but hopeful that this form of new millennium matchmaking will prove fruitful. She also begins to supplicate daily and ardently that Allah bring her together with the kind of pious, educated, kind and attractive man she envisions for herself–after all, prayer is the weapon of the believer, right? That year she meets a handful of suitors, each has his shortcomings, but all are decent. Still, none of them are the husband she imagines for herself.
In the meantime, she also closes her account on the matrimonial website because of the steady stream of indecent proposals and lewd comments. She no longer attends Muslim conferences, because the lack of success coupled with the awkward, stilted introductions and conversations at these events, is just too discouraging. Hannah is 27 now, a young woman by all standards, except the one that judges Muslim women as potential wives; by that measure, her age is a liability. Hannah’s anxiety deepens and is now tinged with a bit of depression.
Around this time, Hannah’s father comes to her with the news that a man, one who had reached out before, has approached him again. This time he is earning a higher salary and even owns a townhouse. Hannah remembers this suitor; she also remembers there was nothing remarkable about him. He was a nice, polite guy, although a bit shy. Hannah prefers tall, dark skinned men, but he has a light brown complexion and stands no taller than her. She doesn’t feel a strong attraction and she certainly is not in love with him, but everything about him points to a decent, upstanding man. And here comes the choice: love or marriage?
Hannah can ignore her age, reject this man and continue her search for love and marriage. Or, she can ignore her expectations about love, consider her age and accept this man’s proposal. What do you choose?
In reality, of course, our path in life is determined by Allah; we simply make the best decisions we can we based on our limited life experience and our myopic vision of the future. Still, those decisions have to be made. And Hannah is facing one that many Muslim women can identify with.
Hannah has to consider multiple angles. First there is age. Hannah has already learned that the older you become, the less desirable society deems you for marriage. No, it is neither Islamic nor fair. Yes, it should change, but for now, this is her unfortunate reality. Rather than view a woman in her 30s as more educated and financially secure than her younger counterpart, men, and oftentimes women, judge her as inflexible, picky, career-oriented and difficult. And of course when a woman reaches her mid-30s, she might have her life together and ready for marriage, but the men interested in her are in their 40 or even 50s and don’t exactly fit the criteria for her ideal mate.
Then there is fertility. It is a rude and unpalatable, but nonetheless a very real fact that as women grow older, we are less likely to have healthy children and have them safely and easily. At 27, Hannah has at least seven or eight years before her biology becomes an impediment, but who is to say that if she rejects this proposal, she will find love and marriage by her mid-30s? She could certainly marry later in life and choose to adopt or remain childless. The desire to have one’s own children should not be the sole reason for running into a marriage, but it is a real and strong impulse that we can’t entirely ignore.
And finally, Hannah wonders if the ideal husband she envisions simply may not come into her life. It is a frightening but honest possibility. She wonders if she is willing to spend years of your life looking for love in the form of the perfect man she dreamed up–a man who may never arrive. She could abandon that notion, and take a more cynical, pragmatic view, but if she does, will she regret giving up on her dream, her dua—a dream she has every right to hold on to.
To complicate matters further, Hannah also knows that if she accepts this man’s proposal, once they begin to live together, her blasé feelings for him might slowly transform into love. So what started as choosing marriage over love might yield marriage and love. But there is no way of knowing if that blossoming will occur. She and this man might simply have a kind, respectful marriage, but one devoid of passion and romance.
Hannah represents many Muslim women today, going through the difficulty of balancing their desire for love, marriage and the myriad of options that modernity allows. We live in a world full of choices and every decision holds with it a consequence. What do you value? What do you want most? And what sacrifices are you willing to make to achieve your goals? It is no one’s place to tell women that they should settle for Mr. Ok but it would be irresponsible to ignore the downsides of searching for Mr.Perfect. Whichever path you choose do so with open eyes and with your trust completely in Allah’s plan.
Nuriddeen Knight is a writer and teacher. Her first published book is “The 40 Hadith of ‘Aisha.” You can find her blogging at bythefigandtheolive.com
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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.
My husband and I got married last week! I wanted to share our story with you. Jarred and I started talking earlier this year and had an instant connection.
Jarred is from Connecticut and I'm from Texas. He was in Arkansas for school and recently graduated and was interested in meeting someone so he downloaded muzmatch.
We started talking and realized how much we had in common and quickly became serious about each other. We complimented each another in so many ways: prioritizing our deen, family and wanting to make a positive difference in the world.
Jarred then drove to see me. After that, we were certain we wanted to get married and decided to have our nikkah before Ramadan. We've been married almost a month now and it's been a wonderful adventure!
We're so happy! Jazakallah khair for connecting us!
Alhamdulillah, thank you Allah and the muzmatch team!
I'm from Indonesia and my husband is from Germany, but he is Russian.
What a blessing it is to have a mixed raced marriage!
I knew my husband from muzmatch since May 2017 and then he visited Indonesia in November 2017. I didn't believe he was serious until he visited me and my family.
Months later, I flew to Germany and found work there because I wanted to be close to him.
I was in love.
Finally on 28 Dec 2018, we had our nikkah which fell on the last Jumu'ah of the month and in March 2019 we got officially married.
Thank you to the muzmatch team!