A couple of weeks ago as I was skimming through the Huffington Post, I came across an article titled, “Pregnancy Cost: Is Having Kids Becoming Unaffordable for Middle Class Women?” Middle class here is not meant to mean Mitt Romney’s definition of middle class with salaries ranging from 200-250 thousand dollars a year. No, the middle class in this article reflects a more realistic number, with one couple interviewed grossing over $100,000 dollars annually while living in a posh D.C. neighborhood. Yet, because of their student loans and high cost of living, they are delaying having children. Another couple was quoted as saying, “I wanted to have three children. In this economy, where we could lose our jobs, get a pay cut, and utility, gas, grocery and medical costs increase almost daily, it would just be too much of a risk for us to have that third child,” Jeffery said.”You need to make sacrifices to get by,” she [his wife] said. “Our sacrifice is baby number three.”
This reflection can’t provide a holistic solution to the deterioration of healthy families in our culture. However, I did find these couples’ views in stark contrast with the way many Muslims decide to grow their families. Several years ago, while attending a seminar on the linguistic miracles of the Qur’an, the instructor, Nouman Ali Khan, lowered his voice and tauntingly asked, “Would you all like to know the secret to avoiding poverty?” The students nodded their heads as he responded, “Have children.” He went on to quote two verses in the Qur’an:
“And do not kill your children for fear of poverty, we provide for them and for you,” (Al-Israa’:31).
“Do not kill your children out of poverty, We will provide for you and them,” (Al-An’am:151).
Ibn Kathir mentions in his tafsir that in Surat Al-Israa’, Allah mentions the children’s provision first because of the concern for them. In other words, do not fear becoming poor because of having to provide for them. Allah will take care of that. But in the second verse, poverty is already a factor, so Allah says, “We provide sustenance for you and for them.” because that is more important in that case.
There are many reasons why couples delay having children- they may first want to finish school, establish their careers, have health issues, etc. etc. However, it is comforting that the Quran reassures us that our children will be financially taken care of. Anecdotally speaking, I have witnessed Allah’s provision raining down on our family every time I have been pregnant, subhanAllah. This seems to be pretty consistent with all my friends as well. Whether it’s a change in career paths, new job opportunities, or simply a raise at work, time and time again Allah reassures us with His plan. We shouldn’t forget that the rizq of the child comes in many different forms as well. It may come in having more tranquility descend upon a busy household, more flexible working hours for the parents to ‘co-parent,’ or a supportive network of helping hands.
There’s no doubt that our entire system needs work. Young adults are not finding jobs while drowning in student debt. We need to find creative ways to alleviate these pressures. But life will always be a constant struggle filled with sacrifices, and there will always be an endless list of worry especially for parents and parents-to-be. Allah’s reassurance is something that we can use to allay our fears as we swim, and sometimes wade, through the tough decisions.
Marwa Aly loves reading, writing, volleyball, and tacos. She enjoys spending time with her young family and connecting with other like-minded dreamers.
Parents, are any of these feelings consistent with your experiences having children? Share your thoughts in the comments below!