Sister Umm Khadijah’s article ‘Children As A Choice’ really hit home for me as a wife who is no longer newly married and having to face people’s comments about my fertility, which are mostly good-intentioned but generally a slap in the face. Initially, it was a choice to not have children right away. We are both well-educated and well-paid working professionals, who chose to postpone expanding our family due to wanting to get to know each other well, establishing ourselves financially as well as spiritually (though it could be argued there is no end point to that one). Once we agreed on the right time to take the next step, we were faced with the diagnosis of unexplained infertility even though all the tests had come back with good results.
Retrospectively, I would say we were wise to have kept this decision between us instead of sharing it with extended family, like those who are pregnant and like to keep it quiet until they are a few months down the line, just in case. Therefore, we unintentionally placed ourselves in a sticky situation. New people that we would just meet would ask how long we were married and when they hear that we did not have children would make a du’a for us out loud that God would soon bless us with children. We were expected to be grateful for this action. This assumption that we were infertile was something we had had to deal with since year one of our marriage. We initially dealt with it lightly; I would have to explain that this was our plan, we didn’t want to rush into the whole shebang; crying babies, dirty nappies, having to choose natural vs. processed baby food, etc. Eventually, we were faced with random aunties telling us that enough was enough and that we should have kids by now. Again this interference, however well-intentioned, isn’t pleasant to deal with.
The constant pressure, ironically by everyone in the community except for our own parents, openly judging and giving advice freely, was reaching a boiling point. Initially it was easy to shrug it off, but once we were facing this new diagnosis, these comments by random community members made us feel violated and judged. We are both in our late 20s and otherwise fit and healthy, but like mentioned in Umm Khadijah’s article, (may Allah bless you for openly discussing such a topic) couples have their unique circumstances and are under enough pressure, dealing with their own form of jihad or inner struggle. And no, advising us to wake up for qiyam (voluntary night prayers) or to increase our khushoo (concentration) in prayers does not count as positive advice either.
Next time you meet a young couple, or a couple of any age, who do not have kids, whether it is by choice or not, please hold your tongue. Their personal business is not open for public community discussion. If you sincerely care and want to help, make a du’a for them during your next sujud rather than out in the open and directly at them. Or better yet, the du’a that sister Umm Khadijah mentioned in her article “for Allah (SWT) to grant for her what is best for her and the patience and strength to face her current challenges with greater iman (belief)”.
Um Sufiyan Blur and her husband are trying to keep up with the fast paced professional world while standing out as a Muslims and working hard to break stereotypes, inshaAllah!
UmmKhadijah (AnonyMouse) sounds off on the prevailing for-better-or-worse pressure to reproduce.
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