When Looking for a potential spouse there is much to consider especially if you are a single mum, but one thing I never thought I would have to think about was asking a man if he could think as a father rather than as an individual. Call me naive, but I automatically assumed that he would have thought about the sacrifices he would have to make as a father and also would have carefully thought things through. Maybe it’s just in my experience, but it seems men are somewhat clueless as to the degree of responsibility they face if they choose to marry a single mum. When they go to such intimate lengths to do their research on a car, check it out, make sure its worthy enough to own and don’t judge it on appearance alone, I dare say I had hoped they would apply the same formula for marriage; obviously not. They see someone they like and try to squash them into a Stepford Wife mould; they want their wife to wrap her and her children’s lives around them instead of doing it the other way around. Is this fair? Is this what we have to expect now as single mums?
I am all for doing things in the correct Islamic manner, but I’ll admit I’m a bit fuzzy on where it is stated that a woman should be happy to shift her children into a situation where they will be worse off just because the guy got a job in Saudi and decided he had no problem living in a studio flat. Studio flat? with two kids, one a girl who is on the verge of puberty?! The man still thinks of his own desires and aspirations and not of the needs of the children. It’s true, money isn’t everything and rizq IS already written, but who willingly puts themselves into a worse financial situation if they can help it in the hope that it will get better? Perhaps it is my eeman that is low but I would have trouble doing this; call me selfish, but my children have already lost so much and I simply cannot do that to them, is that really a wrong thing to do? Many brothers mashallah, have this desire to get to the Middle East no matter what, they forget that it isn’t going to be easy. They forget that you wont necessarily get the same creature comforts guaranteed as you do here, they forget you have to pay for medical care and school fees and that some foods like fish (in Dubai) is super expensive. I have lived in Dubai, I know a little of what life can be like there if you aren’t one of the rich ones. Thinking its all cushty just because your job as an ESL teacher provides you with accommodation, is naive. Those jobs are paid less than others and the accommodation will reflect this; top schools which pay the best, demand the best. You may be putting in greater hours over there, and if you are used to luxuries here, going without them for less money may not make you as happy as you once were just because you are in Saudi. If men say that this is NOT the case then every woman has the right to expect her man to never moan or complain! The brothers tell you that you have no faith and should leave it up to Allah swt, but couldn’t we say the same back to them? “Let’s stay here and raise our kids to be the best Muslims we can be and leave it up to Allah”?
My point is, I wonder if these men would say the same if it was their own children’s lives they were talking about. Is it just because the children are ours and not theirs that they don’t really care if the children have to suffer somewhat? I know many people will say “no way!” but let’s face it, you have to build up the love and many men don’t know if they will be able to love a woman’s children like their own. This saddens me because I think that subhanallah this is just ANOTHER one of the sacrifices that single mums have to make as divorced/widowed mums. Many women would refuse a suitor like this but some would consider him, maybe because they are told no-one else will want them so they should take whatever they can get. The point is though, it would be a tough decision to make and one that would hurt me a lot as a mother; take away from the kids to gain a husband and father for them?
It shouldn’t have to be this way, but it is. In Islam we are told to look at a person’s character and deen and to marry for that rather than for other things. It’s true, attraction is important, but whereas us single mums are told that we can’t have pick of the bunch so we should grab any decent guy regardless of looks; men still think that attraction = trying to get the ‘America’s next top model’ hijabi. Quite a few brothers have told me that they met really pious sisters but turned them down as they weren’t ‘feeling her’ in favour of a gobby hijabi whose eeman and deen is worse with a pretty face. Come on brothers – do the math! It’s not fair on anyone to expect this sister to suddenly fix up and change when you say so! Women are told not to try and change the man they married so why do men?? Encouraging someone to better their character for the sake of Allah swt is one thing, but having a go at her for not being the perfect Muslimah when that didn’t bother you when you married her- is wrong. We should take people as they stand now, if you can handle them and are happy with their character then so be it, but if your are not happy then move on. Where is your faith now brothers, don’t you think you will find another pretty sister with all the right characteristics?!! It’s NOT enough of a justification saying men are weak because sometimes it ends up becoming an excuse!
It’s amazing the amount of brothers I have spoken to that had no clue whatsoever what it meant to be a dad. Granted, they wont know it all but if you tell a guy you don’t have anyone to leave your children with, why do they hold it against you when you say you can’t dump your kids somewhere to go on a honeymoon?! Some men think that they can still lead the same lives they had before, they don’t understand that kids don’t get that they wont be loved straight away; if they are craving a father figure they may latch onto the guy immediately. They wont know that their step-dad needs time; HE needs to be sensitive to this. You can’t just have couple time to be intimate whenever you want during the day if you have kids, you can’t expect the kids to watch a movie whilst you get jiggy with it and you can’t expect to swan off for dinner alone whenever you want if you have no babysitter!! It’s funny, as soon as you tell a man these things his expression drops! They are in it for the reward of marrying a divorcee/widow but they forget that nothing comes easy and we are all tested. I think some brothers honestly think being a step-dad only means financially providing for the kids and taking them to the Masjid. What about being a role model and showing kids by example how to behave? What about giving up those bad habits and watching what you say? What about playing with them and doing ‘dad stuff’ ? What about remembering that the kids had a life before you and a routine and that if anything its YOU coming into THEIR family and therefore it’s YOU who somewhat has to adjust? It’s hard for children to adjust to a new dad especially if they still maintain ties with their old one, how are YOU going to tackle that? Why should it be the woman’s responsibility to fix everything just because the kids are hers? You don’t work as a manager for a company and expect the CEO to handle everything do you, or else what’s the point of there being a manager?!
Some men just assume their mothers will watch their step-kids automatically from day 1. Do these men not understand how delicate the relationship will be in the beginning for everyone – finding their feet? Do they not understand that this is one of the biggest fears a single mother has? Do they really think she will be happy to leave her children with strangers just because they are now her in-laws? You have to build the trust and love and respect, you can’t demand it straight away.
A few home truths for the brothers out there:
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A series where we tackle the many myths that permeate within Muslim dominant cultures (mostly South Asian ones, but it's definitely not exclusive to this region). The thoughts and views in each article belong to the writer/contributor and do not necessarily reflect the views of muzmatch.
“Don’t wait too long okay, or it will be too late for you” said my mother days before I turned the ripe old age of 23. “Too late for what?” I asked foolishly. She replied back with the inevitable monologue of the importance of getting married at a respectable, young age because with each year that passes by, I drift away from being a suitable life partner for a man. My counter argument of the importance of shaping a career for myself was met with scoffs and an insistence that “a job will always be there, but marriage isn’t always guaranteed”. And that’s when I realised, I would probably never fit into the world my mother lives in and the social narrative she’s been immersed in.
Growing up in the midst of a British school as a girl in a strict Muslim Pakistani family resulted in the unavoidable struggle of juggling two very different cultures and the image of the subservient daughter that my parents projected onto me. Surrounded by peers who were going out on weekends, dating boys at 16 and wearing miniskirts, I was always looking on as if something in my own life was missing. Maybe it’s the notion that the grass is always greener on the other side, or maybe the grass was actually greener on the other side. Regardless, the double life I started to lead helped to shed the image of me my parents had and I started to choose my freedom over my traditional family’s expectations.
Pakistani society is one in which culture and religion are often so interlinked that differentiating between the two becomes impossible. For example, from a young age, girls are told that they will only be valued in relation to a man. That no matter how much she accomplishes individually, the most imperative thing to achieve is to get a ‘good rishta’ and settle down. Being single and above the age of 25 is often seen as a failure and probably a sign that there must be something ‘wrong’ with the girl. However, this is much more about culture than it is Islam because even Prophet Muhammad’s ( عليه السلام) first wife was about the age of 40. Instead it is the Pakistani culture that perpetuates shame to girls who remain unmarried for a long period of time. But it begs the question: would the same be asked of a man? Is anyone going to tell him that he’s run out of time to find love?
A Pakistani man’s identity is very much different from a Pakistani woman’s; assumptions that one would make about a man are far removed from those one would make about a woman. A young unmarried Muslim woman is assumed to be less valuable and less worthy than a man. There is the assumption that her life has yet to have begun in spite of everything she has achieved thus far. And there is the notion that the dreams she aspires to achieve are only possible after she finds a man. How many times have young Pakistani girls heard the sentence “you can travel anywhere you want to, but only after you’re married, with your husband”. With options such as these, how much is the decision to get married really the woman’s?
But this isn’t a tirade against the patriarchy (well, only a little). We can all agree that obviously not every family and every Muslim girl shares the same thoughts. Some girls never want to get married. Some girls want to get married the minute they turn of age and that’s amazing. Because they’re doing what they want. Yet, in a conservative South Asian family, the marriage market is not a fun one to be in. You always feel as if you are on display and you need to be taken off the shelf before the expiry date. And if you are a little chubby and don’t know how to make the perfect round roti – all hell would break loose. Because aunties want a girl who acts the part as the daughter in law they can show off to their community; in a Pakistani society, reputation means more than people are willing to acknowledge.
Now on the other hand, being part of a generation within the west where being single and career focused is celebrated becomes utterly confusing. The age at which people get married is increasing each year as the current generation becomes more focused on experiencing the joys of uncommitted life before finally settling down, if they even do. But that first paycheck, the first promotion and the simple feeling of independence can arguably be as fulfilling as a marriage.
It would be a logical conclusion to make that I seem like I never want to get married, but the thing is I do want to one day. But I want it to be on my terms, with someone of my choosing and at an age that I decide I’m ready to share my very full and thriving life (fingers crossed) with someone who adds to it rather than consumes it. With halal dating becoming more and more embraced, men and women can get to know each other with the intention of getting married. Therefore, we have more choices than we ever had before. But that’s the point. It’s our choice to make, not anyone else’s.
I’m 23, Muslim, and Pakistani, and am not married. But I am not unique. To those trying to survive in a culture where single women are told they can’t survive by themselves, you’re not alone.
Written by Anonymous
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From travel to health tips, Muslim influencers have taken the world by a storm. Although everyone's heard of the likes of many fashion and beauty influencers like Dina Tokio or Huda Kattan, other categories have gone a bit under the radar. There are so many brilliant Muslim storytellers in the online sphere which we wanted to shine a light on!
Born and brought up in London, Nadir's creativity has really taken off in 2019. His breakout documentary 'Finding Nenek' explores issues of identity, culture and family as he goes on a journey to find out who his Grandmother was and essentially where he comes from. As a captivating storyteller, Nadir helps bring to light the issues around not knowing our roots which a lot of us have faced at some point.
I'm not Western enough to be Western, Eastern enough to be Eastern. I grew up yearning for a sense of belonging, searching for somewhere to feel home.
As a true disrupter, Suhaiymah (also known as The Brown Hijabi) isn't afraid to call out the islamaphobia and racism that is still present in our society. After graduating from Cambridge, Suhaiymah regularly writes and speaks about topics ranging from Islamophobia, racism, feminism and poetry. Her work has been featured in the likes of Al Jazeera, ITV and the Islam Channel; her most recent accomplishment is the launch of her debut poetry collection 'Postcolonial Banter' which is available this month! She's dedicated, fierce and nothing's going to stop her from standing up for what she believes in ♥️
No doubt, Halima Aden is the most influential on this influencer list, but she's arguably also one of the most inspiring. Born to Somali parents, Halima was brought up in a Kenyan refugee camp until the age of six after the family home in Somalia was tragically burned down. After settling in Minnesota in the US, Halima was the first to do many things... The first Somali American to be crowned homecoming queen in her high school. The first woman to wear a hijab in a US beauty pageant. The first woman to wear a headscarf and burkini on the swimsuit cover of Sports Illustrated. As a woman and a Muslim she's breaking down barriers wherever she goes, meaning she's definitely one to watch.
That's the thing, the stereotype is that Muslims want to come to this country and they want to change the rules, they want to change everything. That's the opposite of what I want. I just want to participate.
Currently at 4414 followers on Instagram, Fahd, the man behind @beardedpashtun is growing rapidly. Aside from an epic handle name, Fahd's aim is to ultimately 'create posts that start conversations exploring potential solutions for issues that we face as young Muslims living in the West'. He's taken this initiative to the real world as well with monthly gatherings in Birmingham where young Muslims can freely talk and build a community that many of us yearn for.
Don’t learn about Christianity from the Imam and Islam from the priest. Be fair and just.
Singapore born Aida Azlin has grown a solid community of Muslim women over the years through her beautiful love letters every Tuesday where she discusses topical issues, her thoughts and reflections of today's society. With 100s of testimonials for her letters on her website, it's clear that she connects with others on a seriously deeper level; such as one woman professing "I want to read Aida's letters over & over as it reminds me of who I am. I’m Allah’s."
As a board licensed acupuncturist and clinical herbalist, Aïcha helps women in all phases of their life starting from acne issues as a teenager to menopausal conditions when women get older. Aïcha's childhood love of nature led her to a career in natural and East Asian medicine as she believes that the human body is self healing and capable of much more than we tend to give credit to. Follow along on her social media as she instills her knowledge of all things health and wellness.
Despite the challenges that we all go through, fortunately, the human body is brilliant and has its own resilient self healing capacity that we just need to recognize and tap into.
Ever wanted to find out how to do Ummrah for a lower price, or find more Muslim friendly travel destinations? Elena Nikolova is the answer to your questions. Her travel blog has grown to become the largest website covering Muslim and Halal travel. As seen in the likes of BBC, Islam Channel, Business Traveller Middle East, Thomson Reuters and others, she's definitely making her mark. She's even written a book all about travel hacks on how to make your Ummrah experience under £300 if you really want!
We end our fabulous list of influential Muslims on a light hearted note because Abdul Aziz aka Bin Baz is probably the funniest guy in the Middle East. He's best known for his short few second videos about his everyday life in Dubai. Whether he's pranking his friends or teaching Logan Paul Arab traditions, he's always having a laugh and will definitely make you smile.
If you’re twenty something, single and not living under a rock then you’ve probably tried meeting someone online. Now this can be a struggle for everyone. But when you’re twenty something, single and Muslim, it gets hard. As if being a Muslim in this day and age wasn’t hard enough you know?!
Young Muslims normally grow up in fairly traditional households, with their parents, aunties, uncles, neighbours and random people on the street asking them when they’re going to be getting married. I mean, you grow up with your parents telling you off for even talking about the opposite sex, let alone speaking to them. You grow up with dating being such a taboo subject and the words boyfriend or girlfriend were just never in your vocab. But then one day, you turn 21, have just finished uni, and suddenly your mum turns around and is like, “so when are you going to bring home someone suitable to marry?”. Don’t worry, we’ve all experienced the whiplash you get when someone goes from 0 to 100 and its annoying AF.
Alas, with technology and apps, young Muslims have found a way around this and the threat of having to settle for marrying their cousin that’s 3,000 miles away. Known as ‘halal dating’ Muslims can now with a simple click of an app find someone they think might be the one (and someone who hopefully thinks the same). They can get to know them whilst sticking to their Islamic values. When Muslim men and women date one another, it is with the intention of marrying one another or deciding against marrying. But in a world where most dating apps are still predominantly western, the struggle to maintain the halal in halal dating is hard work.
Online dating is FULL of people just looking for a casual, one night only sort of relationship (if you can even call it that). Being Muslim and trying to date halal is hard when you go through the effort of chatting to someone for a while only to find out that they aren’t looking for anything long term (let alone marriage lol). Also don’t get girls started on the 2am’ers who come around asking ‘what’s up’ and if ‘we’re free’. Let’s just all be thankful to Allah that Muslim dating apps like muzmatch are a thing now or we’d all be single forever.
You know what’s hard? Trying to find that one Pakistani guy from the same region as your family who ticks your parents’ boxes but also ticks your boxes as well. Like finding someone who shares your sense of humour, you find attractive and not just looking to find a girl who wants to stay in the kitchen all day while singlehandedly taking care of the kids. Actually, you know what’s worse? Finding the one for you and it turns out he’s not Muslim…
Look, let’s not beat around the bush shall we, we all have urges and they’re not going away any time soon. It’s a struggle going on dates, trying to get to know the person you might potentially marry and having to jump ten feet apart if your hands happen to brush against theirs. Just remind yourself that it’ll be worth the wait.
To be honest, most Muslim parents have come a long way considering they grew up with entirely different backgrounds and social norms, but it will never be easy explaining to your dad how you met your future husband or wife on an online app. Or explaining how the whole ‘don’t talk to strangers on the internet’ mantra just isn’t really a thing anymore.
This one is more applicable to the girls really but it can also happen to guys, I’m not here to discriminate. Sometimes you’ll be chatting away to someone and they suddenly ask if they can see some more of you. Now this can be as innocent as just asking for another picture of you out and about to see what you look like. Or it can be less innocent, if you get what I mean… at least it weeds out the ones who aren’t serious about you.
The holy month of Ramadan is all about being mindful and carrying out one of the five pillars of Islam. It’s definitely not about getting to know the guy you just started talking to. Meaning that you’re basically out of commission for a month out of the year and the only date that’s going to be acceptable is the one you eat when you break your fast.
These struggles are only scrapping the barrel but you get the idea. Have fun #keepingithalal girls and boys and remember that your date might be hot, but Jahannam is hotter.