Marriage is an essential ritual of our Deen. However, for various reasons, many women remain unsuccessful in tying the knot. Consequently, they face social and physiological problems. These issues can be solved easily with guidance from the Quran. Surprisingly, one of the women mentioned by the Quran was not wedded; rather, she remained single all her life. She is Maryam (as), whose complete life is a source of inspiration.
Since men and women are created differently, their capabilities also vary. Maryam’s (as) mother might have thought of this when she gave birth to a girl, instead of a boy. Previously, she had vowed to give away her child in service to God. In her view, a male was more suitable for this purpose. The Quran records her bafflement in the following words: “Then when she delivered her [child Maryam (Mary)], she said: ‘O my Lord! I have given birth to a female child,’ – and Allah knew better what she brought forth, – ‘And the male is not like the female…’” (Aal-Imran 3:36)
Nonetheless, when there is firm faith in Allah (swt), women can achieve superior goals. Being a woman is not a weakness; rather, weakness is failure to recognize the abilities bestowed by Allah (swt) and to utilize them in a positive manner. In spite of being a female, Maryam (as) was readily accepted in the Temple of Sulaiman, where she was put under the care of Zakariya (Zachariya) (as). “…Every time he entered Al-Mihrab to (visit) her, he found her supplied with sustenance. He said: ‘O Maryam (Mary)! From where have you got this?’ She said: ‘This is from Allah.’ Verily, Allah provides sustenance to whom He wills, without limit.” (Aal-Imran 3:37)
Unmarried women generally have two kinds of fears: the fear of protection and the fear of being financially dependent. A believing woman must remain sure of the fact that Allah (swt) is Al-Hafeez (the Supreme Protector) and Ar-Razzaq (the Provider of Provisions). Obedience to Allah (swt) is the key to attaining peace of mind. Allah (swt) has His special ways of giving provision to His creation. Humans are only required to strive. It is Allah’s (swt) responsibility to grant them their sustenance.
The most crucial moment in Maryam’s (as) life was the birth of Isa (as). Maryam (as) was extremely pious as well as a staunch worshiper of Allah (swt). Conception of a child without marriage by such a pious lady was indeed a huge trial from Allah (swt); yet, she faced it with complete steadfastness and patience. Remaining single is a trial in itself. For dealing with this trial, firstly, a person must accept it as a decree from Allah (swt), and secondly, it must be faced with patience. Patience implies discarding all kinds of negativity from one’s life and moving ahead with a positive attitude.
The noble character of Maryam (as) is portrayed in Surah At-Tahrim: “And Maryam (Mary), the daughter of Imran, who safeguarded her chastity…” (At-Tahrim 66:12)
Humans have desires embedded in them. Thus, it is natural to look for ways to satisfy these desires. Nikah is the Halal way to satisfy sexual desires; however, there are some who are unable to get married. Allah (swt) has specifically highlighted this characteristic of Maryam (as), because it is the kind of behaviour that is required from bachelors/spinsters. Islam not only delivers commands but also helps in their implementation. According to Islamic teachings, a person should ward off erotic thoughts from one’s mind and should keep one’s sight and hearing safe from Haram and everything that can lead to Haram. Prophet Muhammad (sa) said: “The Zina of the eyes is looking, the Zina of the ears is listening, the Zina of the tongue is speaking, the Zina of the hand is touching, and the Zina of the foot is walking. The heart wishes and longs, and the private part confirms that or denies it.” (Muslim)
Secondly, a person should fast as Prophet Muhammad (sa) instructed: “O young men! Whoever among you can afford to get married, let him do so, and whoever is not able to do that then let him fast, for it will be a shield for him.” (Bukhari)
The latter part of the verse depicts more superior qualities of Maryam (as): “…and she testified to the truth of the Words of her Lord, and (also believed in) His Scriptures, and she was of the Qanitin (i.e. obedient to Allah).” (At-Tahrim 66:12)
Undiminished belief in the scriptures can be attained only by a thorough knowledge of them. This suggests that Maryam (as) strived hard to acquire knowledge. Single women usually don’t have many responsibilities; hence, they have a prime opportunity to enhance their knowledge and skills. However, many women waste this precious time, and the resulting idleness becomes a cause for many physiological problems. Often, such women suffer from mental illnesses, which create difficulties for their families.
A general advice for every woman is to reflect upon and ponder over the noble character of Maryam (as). She is a source of guidance for success in both this world and the hereafter, as told explicitly by Prophet Muhammad (sa): “Many men reached the level of perfection, but no woman reached such a level except Maryam (as), the daughter of Imran, and Asiya, the wife of Pharaoh.” (Bukhari)