The Prophet (SAW) said, “Take advantage of five before five: youth before old age, health before illness, riches before poverty, leisure before work, and life before death.” (Tirmidhi)
Back in 2008 I wrote an article titled Living the Single Life, which detailed my personal journey from being an unmarried woman, obsessed with the idea of marriage, to being an unmarried woman content with Allah’s Will, and committed to making the most of the blessings her single status affords her. The article really did its rounds on the Internet and I was amazed at how many sisters contacted me to say they had drawn comfort from it. What really struck me was that most of these sisters were in their early to mid-twenties.
This really got me thinking: it is not only sisters 25 plus who allow themselves to get sidetracked by their ‘unmarried plight’; it seems that most Muslim women, regardless of their age, feel – at some point or the other – disadvantaged, or even inferior if they are unmarried.
How each sister handles these feelings or thoughts will dictate how much she will gain or lose, whether she will stagnate or grow, during her single years.
For the sister who wallows in self-pity and pessimistic thoughts such as, ‘I’m never going to meet the right person,’ and ‘What if I’m alone for the rest of my life?’ I have the following advice: REFRAME your situation. Instead of thinking, ‘There is nobody out there for me’, think, ‘There’s somebody out there for me, but before I meet and marry him, Allah wants me to make the most of the time He’s blessed me with.’ And why not be even more courageous? Instead of asking, ‘What if I’m alone for the rest of my life,’ ask, ‘SO WHAT if I’m alone for the rest of my life?’
Don’t get me wrong. Wanting to get married is a good thing and, insha Allah, the right brother will come into your life at the right time. So open your mind and your heart, fill your du’as with a husband wish list and make the effort to get married through pursuing the various Shari’ah- compliant avenues.
But beyond that, realize that there is nothing YOU can do. So you have a choice. Complain, obsess, get stressed out, be negative and waste the precious commodity of time that’s been given to you.
OR reframe your situation, throw the blankets off you, get out of bed and LIVE your life, making the most of the time that has been given to you. How? Let’s leave that to the experts. Here’s what some married women advise their unmarried sisters to be grateful for and make the most of…
Dedicate your time to seeking knowledge, whether it be religious or otherwise, and to memorising the Qur’an. Use your single status to the max.” (Umm Junayd, 23, married for 5 years, UK)
I would advise a single woman to make the most of the freedom she has with regards to spending time with her family because that decreases when you get married. (Anonymous, 36, married for 7 months, South Africa)
Go to school and finish as much of your education as you can. It is possible to study and take care of a family but it isn’t easy. (Freda Shamma, 65, married for 40 years, USA)
I wish I had traveled more before I was married. I love to see foreign countries, and learn about their cultures, but after I got married my husband was tied to his job with limited vacation time and once children came along (fairly soon after) it became much more difficult (and expensive!) to go to new places and see new sights. (Pamela Taylor, 43, married for 20 years, US)
Find out what your skills are in life, develop them, and use them for the benefit of others. Challenge yourself to have good character and make good decisions you can feel proud of later on. Read as much as you can, get out and learn about the world. Experience some hardship. Do not view the prospect of marriage as the end of your freedom but as another stage of life that will bring new challenges and opportunities for personal growth. Don’t forget to learn practical skills like cooking, sewing, etc. No one is above that, and that is actually what makes home life run smoothly from day to day. (Anonymous, 33, married for 16 years)
Fatima Asmal is a freelance journalist and life coach, living in South Africa.