Sisters! Do not turn off your brain when you become Muslim.
Okay, it is time for some tough love here. First of all, let me tell you about me, just a bit. I have been Muslim for twenty-one years, by Allah’s Mercy and Grace. So believe you me when I tell you I have been there, done that, seen that, shaken my head at that, clucked my tongue at that, and walked away in disgust at that. Okay?
I consider myself a normal woman. I have hopes, dreams, abilities, skills, strong points, and weak points. I was a dynamic person before I became Muslim and that did not change when I accepted Islam. Now here’s the important point – it also did not change when I got married.
I am seeing a host of strong Muslimahs becoming absolutely stupid when they get married, and I’m pretty doggone tired of it. I want to tell you now, and tell everyone who hasn’t gotten stupid yet, that you need to take back your SELF and never ever give it to anyone again.
What am I talking about? Here’s what I’m saying. Sister So-and-So has been Muslim for several years. She is, oh, let’s say, 28 years old. She grew up in the US and had a normal upbringing. She graduated high school, got her bachelor’s degree from a local college. She lived on her own in her apartment, worked a job, and supported herself as is pretty common for women in the US. She fixed the broken toilet when her landlord was too lazy to do so. She takes her car in for regular oil changes and can fix a flat in a pinch. She shops for food, jogs her favorite trail, volunteers at the food bank, and pretty much lives a busy fulfilling life. She is, in a word, competent.
Then Sister So-and-So meets a guy, in person or online. Brother Such-and-Such talks a good line. He tells her that Islam is so merciful towards women, that she shouldn’t have to work, that if he marries her he will take care of her and she won’t have to deal with the Big Bad World. Sister So-and-So finds this appealing. The idea of being nurtured and taken care of is nice. She hasn’t really considered that her lifestyle is terrible or harsh or haraam, but she feels like this man will be her Knight in Shining Armor and take care of her. They marry and start their new life together.
Okay, so here is where it gets weird. Instead of acting as a team and working together to build a good solid life based on respect and mutual consultation, Sister So-and-So abandons ALL of her critical thinking skills and becomes extremely aware of her husband’s position of Khalifah (leader) of the home. She knows that she is “supposed” to obey him when he tells her something, as long as what he says is not something that “goes against Islam”, which is like the broadest catchall term in the world for some men.
He tells her she shouldn’t work because it is haraam to be around non-related men (even though he works in an office with men and women). He tells her she should just stay home. He tells her she shouldn’t really drive because what if the car breaks down and some terrible kidnapper comes across her. He tells her she shouldn’t shop for groceries alone because the marketplace is the domain of the Shaitan and she might be accosted or have to interact with a non-related man (You want paper or plastic – haraam!). He tells her she should not go jogging because she should only wear an all-encompassing abaya and she can’t run in that, plus there are rapists out there and he doesn’t like the idea of her being out in the woods (which is actually a public park with exactly four trees and an asphalt path next to a major thoroughfare). He tells her she shouldn’t go see her mom and sister across town because they are kaafirs and they might influence her with negative behavior. He tells here that they won’t get cable for the TV because there is haraam content, even though she only watches news and the food channels. He tells her she shouldn’t use the internet very much because, well, you know, haraam.
Does this sound like a healthy partnership between two adults? No, it sounds like a paternalistic man lecturing a weak, timorous child. And women put up with that.
And women put up with that.
Lady, you can do better. You fixed that clogged toilet. You clipped coupons to get the best deal at the grocery store. You drove every single doggone day to work and back without being kidnapped by international slave traders. You jogged every day for years and the only attack you suffered was when someone’s yappy dog nipped your heel. You worked a job, collected your pay, paid the bills, went to school, memorized the quadratic equation, argued with a professor about a grade and didn’t fall in lust with him and try to jump him in his office, watched TV without ever clicking on “adult pay-per-view”, visited your family without being sprinkled with holy water, and did all that without succumbing to the vapors because the Big Bad World was too much for you to handle. So what happened to your brain when you got married?
Wake up! Muslim women are not supposed to be doormats for men, even men, or should I say especially men who are supposed to be their partners in this world. You need to take back your strength. You need to take back your SELF. And if he won’t give it back, well, you’ll have some decisions to make.
I am not a man-hating, bra-burning, men-and-women-are-exactly-the-same feminist. I am a conservative, covering, praying, fasting, Qur’an and Sunnah following Muslim woman. I don’t believe that you have to give up your self to be a good Muslim woman! If some man tries to make you, well, he is wrong.
Muslim women can be home makers, home educators, nurturers of children, architects, pilots, auto mechanics, doctors, teachers, soccer players, weight lifters, and all that stuff. They can stay in their homes and they can drive. They can work a job or start their own business. They can work out at home or jog a trail or ride a bike. They can be all they can be well within the bounds of appropriate Islamic behavior. They can run to the store to buy a gallon of milk. They can live. We can live. We have to live.
If you are chafing at the limits a paternalistic society or a paternalistic spouse is placing on you, push back. Push back with love and tact but push back. If you are not satisfied with the direction of your life, figure out what you want and figure out how to make it happen. You will have to make compromises along the way, because that is the nature of this world, but don’t just give up and wait for happiness in Jannah. You have the right to live a fulfilling life in THIS world, too.
I have a lot more to write on this topic, but that’s all I have for now, because part of my dynamic lifestyle includes laundry and I have to go throw in another load. I’ve written a lot, but not near enough, so discuss among yourselves while I go look for stray socks.