Maryam (as): A Source of Inspiration for Single Women

Single Women

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)

Dear Haadia

HaadiaQuestion: I am a single girl in late twenties. Circumstances indicate that I may never get married. I want to know what should be my purpose in life? Can you quote any example from the Islamic history of any such females and their mission in life?

Answer: Dear sister, never be disheartened with the will of Allah (swt) and never give up on His mercy, for we have absolutely no clue what He has destined for us. The mother of the believers, Aisha bint Abu Bakr (rta), got married to the Prophet (sa) when she was 6 years old, whereas Fatimah bint Muhammad (rta) got married when she was 18 years old, which might have been considered late during that time (1400 years back). So there is no right time, except the time that Allah (swt) has willed for us.

Regarding your purpose in life, unfortunately, we, females, have been conditioned to believe that marriage is the be-all and end-all of our existence. Although the Sunnah stresses that marriage completes half of ones Eman, Allah (swt) says in Quran: “And I (Allah) created not the jinn and mankind except that they should worship me.” (Adh-Dhariyat 51:56) So irrespective of who we are, the sole purpose of our life is worshipping Allah (swt).

How do we worship Allah (swt)? The answer is simple – by living our life according to His Deen (Islam). Whatever you are doing right now, see to it that it is done with the intention of seeking Allah’s (swt) pleasure. Whether you are pursuing education, looking after your parents or working for your living, do it with all sincerity and right intention.

To discover your purpose in life, ask yourself what it is that you wish to do. Do you want to pursue further education? Are you interested in a particular hobby? Probe yourself and you will discover that there is a lot you might want to achieve – and this will boost your self-esteem a great deal.

If you are disheartened because you have a lot of time and you don’t know what to do with it, then do think about serving the community. Join a philanthropic organization, volunteer for different causes, take up some specialized courses which match your interests, start giving tuitions to your neighbourhood children or set up a home business. The possibilities are endless.

One great example from Islamic history is that of Maryam (as). She was not married, yet we know from the Quran that such was her stature that Allah (swt) sent her food through angels. She had to face great trials and tribulations as a single mother – but she did so with great fortitude.

So, dear sister, don’t believe for one second that just because you are not married yet, you have no purpose in life at all. There is a purpose out there, waiting for you to discover it.

May Allah (swt) help us all in our pursuit of happiness in this world and the hereafter, Ameen.