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Alhamdulilah last night was our first community night co-sponsored between the Harvard Islamic Society and the Muslim Chaplains Office. We had Muslims and non-Muslims join us and share in good food and good conversation. I usually don’t speak in public events because I have anxiety about public speaking. But last night I could not help but to share some concerns with the community about some of the really serious problems we have in our societies - a topic that we don’t speak about and it is kind of taboo. Because I’m a direct person, I wanted to create strong awareness about the topic: the fact that many Muslim women in our communities have a really hard time finding a husband. I was trying to encourage the graduate students who are men in the Harvard community to think about marrying sisters from the community. The main problem is that men delay the process of searching for a wife for a variety of reasons. But this delay in my observation is a problem because 1.) men can marry anytime, 2.) they can marry younger women and in general, 3.) there are no biological restrictions on men marrying later in life with respect to having kids. When he is ready to marry he marries and usually puts an age requirement that the woman be younger than him. This presents a big difficulty for women that are outside of the age stipulations. Also women have a limited time for having children so there is an urgency for women for marriage that doesn’t exist for men. On top of this, the Islamic requirement of waiting until marriage before having sexual relations puts major pressure and stress on women who cannot find a husband. There is also the fact that our Muslim societies allow men to marry women that are 10 or 20 years younger than them. This is okay if they love each other and certainly there are loving and successful marriages like this. However it also presents a problem for women because usually men dont want an older woman and families enter into crisis when their daughters are getting older and don't marry, which becomes like a stigma for these women. So because this problem is obvious in the society, some families push their daughters to marry at a really young age, when they are not mature and ready to establish a family and this sets them up for problems later.
From me and my husband's experience, the only people that continuously ask about help with marriage are women, and if men ask, they are usually asking about finding someone suitable for their daughter. I run into many women who are in their 30's, ready to marry, but cannot find anyone to marry. It is to the point where many women are experiencing depression and significant loneliness and problems with their relationship with Allah as a result.
So my advice to our Muslim men in general is to marry early rather than later and do not be a cause for Muslim women to remove their hijab in frustration because they think they aren't attractive enough; or to seek a non-Muslim man because she gives up hope in Muslim men being attracted to her; or to engage in unlawful sexual relations because she thinks she must seek something Haram because the halal is not available to her; or equally worse, to make our Muslim women feel abandoned to such an extent that she becomes vulnerable to being preyed upon by some Imams and mashayikh who are predatorial and looking to exploit a woman who feels weak in her faith.
I had so much unbelievable experience in my life and perhaps there are so many other women like me but I really learned a lot. I got married at a good age, right after finishing college. I learned what it was like to live in an unhealthy, unhappy and abusive marriage. I spent years like this. Then I learned it's better to be single rather than to be in an unhealthy marriage. But after I was divorced and single for years, I learned how hard it is to be single for an extended period of time. Society has no mercy for single women. Although this post is about single women, never married before, the dilemma for divorced and widowed women is far worse and needs a different post. In the midst of all the chaos in my life, I still never gave up and had hope and used to pray to Allah all the time for a good husband. And alhamdulilah Allah gave me the husband who replaced all the pain I have in my life with kindness and support. He is the answer to my duah and he is Allah's gift to me. He changed my perspective in marriage and I dont feel loneliness anymore around him. This, I wish for every woman in general: to find a good partner to continue their life together. There is always ups and downs in marriage but if they both understand and love each other, the tough times will pass.
Anas (May Allah be pleased with him) reported:
The Prophet (ﷺ) said, "No one of you becomes a true believer until he likes for his brother what he likes for himself".
[Al-Bukhari and Muslim]
عن أنس رضي الله عنه عن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم قال: “لا يؤمن أحدكم حتى يحب لأخيه ما يحب لنفسه" ((متفق عليه))