A single woman ponders over singlehood
Stigmatized, jinxed and pitiful – unfortunately, this is how our society regards single women. Reading columns written by ‘a single woman over thirty’ in one of the daily newspapers, I always feel that society makes sure that the greatest preoccupation of single women is to get married. The entire frenzy cooked up by the media about fairness creams, bleach creams, hair removing creams, soaps, sparkling toothpastes and what-not is geared to make her find her mate. Reality, however, is not skin-deep.
A while back, I saw a documentary that moved me deeply. It was about a woman, who was born with a birth defect. As a result of this defect, the entire lower part of her body had been amputated. Her whole life was no less than a miracle, as she was going through school and college with only half her body. Despite all of this, she got married to a normal man and had a normal baby too! Little do we realize that “When He decrees a matter, He only says to it: ‘Be!’ – and it is.” (Al-Baqarah 2:117)
It is true that marriage is one of the greatest blessings of Allah (swt) – but it is not the only blessing after all: “And if you would count the graces of Allah, never could you be able to count them.” (An-Nahl 16:18) As single women, we need to look around and start counting the numerous blessings of Allah (swt). If you are privileged enough to read this article, then count yourself among that tiny percentage of Pakistani women, who can read and write in English. Your privilege, therefore, bequeaths on you a responsibility. It is only when you sense this responsibility and realize your capability will you be able to see beyond your mundane existence.
One of my Quran teachers, who got married a while back, tried to make me treasure the time and freedom on my side of the fence. My married friends have to deal with difficult in-laws, grouchy husbands, naughty children and the whole plethora that comes with marriage. The gloss of new jewellery and clothes wears off in no time. The parties for the new couple do end one day, and that’s when the reality bites. I do not mean to undermine the institution of marriage – my point is simply to make all of us, single women, treasure the blessings of singlehood.
When I turn the pages of Muslim history to look for role models of single women, I am quite lost. Perhaps, this is a wistful comment on modern life. Today, we see numerous unmarried women, whilst in the early days of Islam we are hard put to find any. This gives rise to pressures on finding the right man for yourself. It is easy to give in here to Satan’s temptations: online dating and chatting with the opposite gender are just so easy nowadays. Only the realization that Allah (swt) is watching keeps the hormones under control. Prayer and fasting are tools which reinforce Taqwa (God-consciousness).
We learn from a Hadeeth of the Prophet (sa) narrated by Abdullah Ibn Masood (rta) that Allah’s Messenger (sa) said: “O young men, those among you, who can support a wife, should marry, for it restrains eyes (from casting evil glances) and preserves one from immorality; but he, who cannot afford it, should observe fast, for it is a means of controlling the sexual desire.” (Muslim)
I remember the time, when I got an opportunity to read Surah Rahman right in front of the Holy Kabah in Makkah. I had read Surah Rahman countless times before, but at that moment there was one aspect of this Surah that struck me the most: every description is in pairs – be it a description of fruits of Jannah or the dwellers of Paradise, Hell and Heaven, men and Jinns and one can go on and on. Allah (swt), the Only One, has created everything in pairs, which is what makes everything complete. I am reminded of the following verse of the Quran: “Glory be to Him, Who has created all the pairs of that which the earth produces, as well as of their own (human) kind (male and female), and of that which they know not.” (Yasin 36:36)
The fact that every woman and every man on the face of this planet has a pair is overwhelming. More overwhelming is the fact that all creation is in pairs! So, whilst marriage is not the be-all and end-all of our lives, we know for a fact that Allah (swt) has created a pair for us. Therefore we should pray, like the Ibadur Rahman (servants of Rahman): “Our Lord! Grant unto us wives and offspring who will be the comfort of our eyes, and give us (the grace) to lead the righteous.” (Al-Furqan 25:74)
As Muslim women – whether single or married, divorced or widowed, old or young – we have a great task to fulfill: to enjoin the right, forbid the wrong and believe in Allah (swt). I can’t help but quote Robert Frost:
“The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.”