A Question of Waiting

June 30, 2014

I don’t think there has ever before been a time of such a plethora of choice, espicially for women. Our choices come mostly from the fact that we now, in the west, bare an identical course to our male counterparts. We go to school, we work, we travel. A single woman has much the same life as a single man. Last week my sister, interdisciplinary artist Nsenga Knight, gave an excellent talk on the choices we have as women and the way we are raised to believe these choices are the ultimate goal of life, that they would secure us and make us happy. “Go to school, travel, have your career, before you get married so your not stuck” was the advice she was given by women in the community. My mother has given similar advice and so so has my father, that school was more important than marriage (in terms of order and priortiy) because if anything happens in a marriage -divorce, sickness, death, I would be able to support myself, it’s the advice most in my generation are given, and I can’t say that I now believe they’re wrong. No, it’s very logical and I believe their correct.

The problem is that it doesn’t factor in that unmarried people do more than go to school and have a career. Men and women from the very age of puberty if not earlier long for the company, love and physical unity with the opposite sex (in general). Going to school or working doesn’t turn them in to robots who no longer have these feelings. They simply express there feeling outside of marriage, some engage in companionship –phone calls and sweet text messages others in intercourse sometimes leading to an even greater burden than marriage i.e. children, heartbreak, and sexual diseases. In Islam, sex before marriage is considered a sin yet outside of the Muslim community it is clear that premarital sex and waiting to get married has had consequences on the mass society. Countless women are waking up with a great career, great education, travel miles and the dissapointment that they may not be able to bear children after years of waiting and their prince charming (or Sidi Ali) has yet to come.

Marriage has become a luxury, a final step once you have your life together, it’s become the icing on the cake –sweet but not essential. A few weeks ago I came across a quote from a well know Islamic teacher and it stuck with me. The crux of his statement was that people tell their children to wait to get married, wait until their finish school, until they start a career, etc. not realizing that they are making them face some of the most difficult years of their life alone. This quote penetrated my very being. It is powerful. In setting up higher and higher standards for marriage, both indivisually and in our society we have actually changed what marriage is. An example someone gave me only a few days ago is of Ali and Faatimah. Faatimah was the daughter of Prophet Muhammad, peace to him, being such we can imagine that she could have married anyone. Nevertheless she/ her father decided on Ali. Ali was young, he was poor and he wasn’t half the man that he would grow to be in later years but he was hard working, dedicated, loyal and a man of great faith. We can view Ali’s transformation in to a man of greatness as his destiny –he would later become a Caliph, but we can also view it as an outcome of his growth through his marriage with Faatimah.
Marriage allows people to grow in ways that nothing else can. Maybe we’re mistaken in believing that we should first be successful, chase after monetary gain and life pleasure and then get married. Maybe marriage would not hinder our growth or success but actually aid it. Maybe people should get married in the lowest and most diffictult times and maybe marriage itself would ease there difficulty and raise their status. Maybe.

What do you think? Should our society encourage more people to marry? Is it better to be successful on your own before marriage or should you get married and build success with someone else? If you have a personal story on either end of the spectrum I’d love to hear it, email: info@nuriddeenknight.com

8 Comments

  • Zaakir Abdus-Salaam

    Great read Nuriddeen! When it comes to life decisions, we should never ignore the power of culture. Culture paints the picture of married life, and according to that picture women should wait until they finish with all of their personal (education, career, etc.) goals before marriage. The problem is, culture is often wrong. History is filled with cultural norms that were not advantageous to the people of that society. You said it perfectly, women are not robots. It is extremely difficult for them to turn off their desire to connect with someone who they feel a natural attraction to. This usually does not work. They usually find a way to satisfy that desire, even at the risk of compromising their religious beliefs. This need is too powerful, especially within a culture that makes it very easy to have casual sex, and temporary flings built on very little substance. Marriage is a protection. But it is more than that. As you pointed out, marriage is a means to grow. It is an addition sign, not a minus sign. There is no rule that says that your husband can’t be your largest supporter, and motivator as you work to achieve your goals. There is no rule that says your husband can’t help you to be everything Allah created you to be. In fact, that is his responsibility. That is your right.

    I think we should reject the cultural norms that are not advantageous to us, and embrace what Allah has given us to be successful in this life, and the next. It is our choice. As always, thanks Nurideen.

    • Nuriddeen Knight

      Thanks for your comment and may. God be with all the single folks and make their life path easy and in accordance with his command whether or not they marry…

  • Safiyyah Saadiq-Muhammad

    Good read Nurideen. After growth, learning and understanding of our Religion I think we should rush to Marriage. The Prophet Sallallahu Alayhi wa Salam said “When Allah’s servant marries he has completed one half of the Religion. Thereafter let him fear Allah regarding the remaining half.” To me that’s profound. Why would we wait to complete one half of our Religion. Trusting in Allah means knowing that he is Ar-Razzaq. He is the provider of our Rizq, the job/career is only the means of that provision.

    • Nuriddeen Knight

      Hm, ma sha Allah, yeah I guess sometimes we make things more complicated then they have to be but I know everyone who advises to go to school and get a career first has the best intention and Allah will reward them for it, in sha Allah -thanks for reading and commenting <3

  • eternitysojourner

    The first time I sat in front of a prominent Islamic scholar, I found myself so hooked by the pursuit of knowledge that I wanted to put off marriage plans and go overseas to study first. A kind and wise sister advised me that it would be easier to do my traveling and studying while married and she was right. I was very fortunate to have my spouse, best friend and life partner by my side through graduate school, early career decisions, studies and travel abroad. I would advise others to “marry young” too but have candid conversations about life goals, family planning, and role expectations before marriage.

    • Nuriddeen Knight

      Alhumduillah I think it’s beautiful when people get married young and it is a success unfortunately that is not the case for most. From my own experience most of the people I know who married young, divorced young. So I don’t really think that it’s a positive thing to get married young in and of itself. I would agree getting married even if one gets divorced is better than zina… if those are the only two options one faces…

  • musty87

    “Ali was young, he was poor and he wasn’t half the man that he would grow to be in later years but he was hard working, dedicated, loyal and a man of great faith. We can view Ali’s transformation in to a man of greatness as his destiny –he would later become a Caliph, but we can also view it as an outcome of his growth through his marriage with Faatimah.” A passage to deeply reflect about… #Marriage is a FATIH, an Opening for those who do it for the sake for our Lord.

  • musty87

    The same people we meet on the way up are the same people we meet on the down, in other words the same people we expect to fit a high standard are the same people of the lower standard, as life goes up and down we also go up and down,mathematically at the end of the equation it remains only one standard which we can call the “son of Adam” . Indeed, in the middle way there is our heart, the house of our lord within us, the house of love, sometimes out of humility or desires of the Nafs ignores standards set by our reason.

    In spirituality, a soul without an intimate love or companion sometimes cannot be elevated to the horizon of human perfection. When we deprived our soul of that love, we fall into the nets of selfishness, individualism which maybe justify the “material quicksand” in which humanity finds itself today

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