Life after 30 as a single Muslim woman

by Anonymous

If you’ve hit 30 and are still single, you’re probably not going to find your habibti/beta/canim.

Well then, now that’s I’ve gotten you all angry at the defeatist introduction, why not stay a while and read on yaar?

I remember reading an article once about women in their 30s missing from the marketing world, like they aren’t a desirable market to sell goods to – lingerie is for toned women in their 20s, domestic stuff is for mothers in their 40s and anything ‘cool’ is for the teen market. The writer lamented about being a demographic no one wanted to appeal to, like she had no market share valuable enough to target. It got me to thinking about how in Islamic cultures women in their 30’s are seen in the same light- you’re just not a marketable product to sell for marriage. Sorry hun, you’re like an iPhone 4…Apple don’t even want to sell you anymore.

I’ve had two friends in their early 20s actually say to my face they wanted to get married soon, as they were scared if they approach my age their prospects were next to none. As bi*chy as it sounds they honestly didn’t mean any malice by it; it was a sincere fear of theirs. This is what it’s like to be a single Muslim woman in your 30s-you’re not fabulous, you’re a warning sign that girls in their 20s will hear by their aunties not to end up like.

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Single, practicing Muslim women entering their 30s are a rising demographic. I feel like my generation of friends are the first to go through this new phenomenon, the battle between feeling like a suitable and eligible candidate for prospective men vs the shelf space put aside for you by everyone else.  I never realised moving to the next age box in a survey would dictate my self-worth so much.  I wasn’t taught this in school or at Islamic classes…

I’ve lost track of how many people have asked around about me casually and stopped as soon as they found out I was in my 30s. This means people had a good impression of my character from hearsay or having met me, or in the males’ case they clearly were attracted to me physically to want to pursue some more background information – the only thing that deterred them was my age. You can also forget the scenario where a brother is interested in meeting a sister for marriage and asks around – his requests always come with an age group – and you guessed it – 30 is the limit.

Our respective Muslim communities have failed us. Muslims living in the West are surrounded by other nationalities and religions in successful relationships with older / divorced women so it’s not a foreign concept to them. Our biggest male role model the Rasul (s.a.w) married older, divorced and single mothers – in fact the only younger wife was Aisha (ra). Men rush to lead by his example and grow a beard, use a miswak and give to charity… but when it comes to his example of marriage they simply have too much pride to consider a woman in her 30s, even then they are in the same age bracket too!

The shelf life of a woman is dictated by the elders in the community who reinforce the desirable ‘young beautiful virgin’ ideal to their sons, who are actually ‘old ugly and oversexed’ losers that frankly no self-respecting woman deserves to end up with. I’ve learnt long ago that just because community elders have lived longer doesn’t mean they know what’s best for your dunya and akhira, rather they were married off in a village at 16 and don’t really know any different to the lives they’ve led decades ago.  Can you count on your fingers how many Muslim women in their 30s have gotten married in the past year or so? Probably not even a handful, and most are to reverts who they met at work/social scenes who refreshingly don’t come with the cultural stigma attached.

Then you get told to have tawakkul and faith in God’s decree. It’s all ‘naseeb’, they tell you (after making you feel like and undesirable loser). Yes, definitely have tawakkul ladies, we do not know what it written for us, but I also believe in the ‘tie your camel’ story as a metaphor for how to then go about your life. I decided a few years ago to stop waiting for my knight in shining jilbab. I had too many dreams, and this life isn’t a fairy-tale. Start a relationship with your mind. Go back to studies if there are any topics of interest you’ve put off. Start dating your passport-instead of dinners, collect stamps and see the world! A honeymoon in Fiji shouldn’t be the only travel goal left for you. The world is too awesome to wait for someone to hold your hand and explore it with you. As lovely as it may sound, the longer you wait you’ll just end up renewing that passport with no stamps after its 10 year validity.

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You are not ‘half a Muslim’ because you’re not married. The ‘half your deen’ statement pertains to the fact that half the problems you will face with your iman will be marriage-related, and that is the specific test for married people.  Allah created you as complete in every way, and if men can’t see that, it is a product of their stupidity. So just politely ignore the gossipy aunties at the next social gathering where you are quite frankly the most fabulous woman in the room regardless of how you are made to feel.

17 responses to “Life after 30 as a single Muslim woman

  1. I dnt get it. Are u complaining that u got 30 n no-one is marrying n feeling hopeless or giving hope and saying there r lot better thing to do than worry in 30s. Cox these both are contradictory to each other..if u end up 30 it’s ur fault for not marrying when ur mum was probably picking out guys for u…but perhaps u were too busy becoming “cool” n hip n exploring options… Having said that there is equal or more number of males in their 30s looking for suitable match..I’m sure u will get one

    • Not everyone has their mum ‘picking out’ guys for them, I’m afraid. I don’t think people are always single out of choice either. Some are and some aren’t-it’s hard to make generalisations about why that’s the case.

  2. Reblogged this on Emboldened Hearts.

  3. Good on you Hun. I think ppl have forgotten that it’s God that matches with the right man and if that comes after 30 so be it.

    • I think the author may have suggested it doesn’t happen for many people after 30, haha! Thanks for stopping by and glad you enjoyed the read 🙂

  4. What annoys me is myself…I hate the fact that I’m too quiet around ppl, I dont start a conversation and Im just generally shy. Ppl like me get nowhere in terms of marriage. Do you have any tips for communicating with ppl expecially guys? Sorry, bit of a tangint but I feel like I wont be able to meet someone because I dont talk. Just realised how blunt and honest this comment is. Look forward to your response

    • I think the online space is quite good for those who are perhaps shy in person. There’s a huge growth in online apps and sites for Muslims-I have an upcoming post about it, so watch this space 🙂 I also think one-on-one communication is easier than in groups, but it’s hard when a lot of Muslim functions and spaces are very crowded and full of people.

  5. I’m a guy but… From my experiences with aunts/older friends, this is very accurate in its sentiments and its realities. And also in its conclusion – you should not feel “half” a person for not being married, absolutely not. And the statement on “half your deen” is absolutely correct, and often misunderstood.

    The two logical questions that arise from this reality are (a) why is the situation as it is; is the brother above correct, that it’s just young women rejecting suitors when the time was “right” (I disagree), or is it something more than that (it almost certainly is)? And (b) what is the solution? I find one of the great problems is that women age like cheese – they get more mature, gain depth (ok the analogy doesn’t hold), pursue interests and work on themselves and self-develop. Men, on the other hand, tend not to age in such a refined way. I say this in trying to explain what I see, in that I can think of many older sisters who are excellent people, but very few older brothers who I would consider “good enough” for them.

    • Thanks for your thoughtful comment. I also agree that I don’t think women are rejecting people left right and centre, but I’m at a loss to pin down exactly what it is that’s at play here. There are so many variables, from maturity levels to financial responsibilities to societal pressures. You seem to have some interesting insights, and I’m always interested in hearing more from males-please drop me an email at lovehaqtually@gmail.com as I’d like to have you contribute further 🙂

  6. Realistic Muslim Guy

    My family is muslim from Pakistan and my sister ended up marrying a non muslim American white guy.

    We are moderately religious, fast, pray, give zakat and have gone for Hajj. My sister met a nice guy while she was in grad school and her husband is one of the nicest people I have ever met in my life. He is open minded, respectful, tolerant and very loving to my sister and my entire family.

    He comes from from an Irish family, and she met him in graduate school, they were friends for a long time, but then they decided to get married. He went to private catholic school for HS and college, and keeps isn’t really religious, but more tied to his culture. His family is also very open minded and respectful.

    My sister was getting older, almost hit 40 when she got married, and she told us about a non muslim guy she was interested in and we ended up getting to know him and his family.

    He is not a “muslim” because he hates Islam or doesn’t like muslims, but would like to raise his kids with the awareness of both Islam and his Catholic upbringing. He is very open minded and progressive and even gives zakat at our mosque and even fasted with me during Ramadan. I guess you could say he is a hybrid “muslim and catholic” in one.

    My point in writing all of this is that muslims have to be more open minded and progressive in their views. If you live in the USA, Canada, etc. You have to understand that not everyone is a muslim, not everyone thinks like us, and we have learn how to integrate and understand that the world is based on pluralism.

    I am not saying that we should all marry non muslims or do things that are against Islam, but if all of you single muslim women are older and not married, you have to try to be more open minded. Look for guys who are outside of your ethnicity.

    Don’t be stupid like these people who say “only hyderbadis” or “only panjabis” this is all bullshit. Are you ever going to move back to Hyderabad? or Karachi? or Gujurat? It’s so stupid and retarded people.

    Even my family gets people talking crap about us for my sister marrying a white guy. But who cares? What should she do? Be turned down from stupid rishta aunties and online matrimonial websites because she is olive skinned and not “gori gori” or that she is too old being over 30? My fellow muslims, we must break out of our 7th century world view and be more realistic, especially living in the globalized modern world.

    We should never lose our values, but be open to some change.

    The reality is that there are more single muslim women than males, and you should look for a guy who is loving and kind. My other cousin married a Lebanese muslim who is shia, we are sunni..but who cares? There is only one Quran and Allah(SWT) knows best.

    Even if you find a guy who is at least really tolerant and open minded of Islam, think about even finding a non Muslim.

    If you are a single muslim woman and you are getting older in your 30’s you have to be more practical in your search of a husband. There is a stigma in Arab/South Asian/Persian culture that says that single unmarried women are “undesirables” .

    I know I will get a lot of hateful responses and people calling me a kaffir or a dhimmi or a “Bad muslim” but all you haters are freaking retards. Do you muslim women really want to wake up one day at the age of 40 and visit your OBGYN only to have her say “I am sorry but you are too old now and you are unable to have children”

    You have to be more open minded and understand the realities of being over 30 and trying to get married.—-

    At a recent “Muslim match making event” my cousin attended, there were 27 men and 77 women. THERE ARE SIMPLY TOO MANY SINGLE MUSLIM WOMEN VS SINGLE MEN..

    ————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————

    THE BOTTOM LINE:

    To all of you single Muslim women getting older and pushing 40 , you have TWO OPTIONS

    1. Open your mind and start looking outside of your culture, race and find a non Muslim who is respectful of Islam and your culture. Find someone who is open minded, has a good heart, and is a good person.

    OR

    2. You can become the Cat lady. Yes, that’s right. You can become the old lady who is single and alone and stays at home all day with your cats. You will grow old and be miserable and bitter because you will have wasted the years looking for that perfect Muslim husband, when the selection of men is EXTREMELY limited. I hate to break it to you all but single , handsome, well educated and successful men really aren’t all that abundant around the age of 40.

    ———————————————————————————————

    This is just my insight and I am not suggesting anything to anyone, you should all do what you feel is best for you. Just remember to be practical and realistic in your search of a spouse and understand the TRUE realities of finding a husband as you get older.

    And remember, Allah(SWT) knows best..

  7. Completely agree with Realistic Muslim Guy up there. Frankly the Muslim community values youth and virginity above all else- if you get to over 30 and single, not only are you no longer youthful, you possibly are not a ‘virgin’ in the community’s eyes, hence damaged goods.

    Now if you are a secular woman of Muslim background, aged 30+, that probably isn’t too concerning as marrying a religious Muslim man isn’t a very appealing thought (unless they are very secular like you). You are are open to dating/marrying secular Muslim men and non-Muslim men, who tend to be a bit less judgmental when it comes to age/previous relationships etc.

    If you are a religious, 30+ Muslim woman who doesn’t “date” and will only marry a practising Muslim- well then, you’re in a bind. You’re better off looking for a young husband in his 20s, or divorcees in their 40s. Fact is, most 30 something men are either already in relationships or married, and the few who are unmarried are either gay, looking for 20-something women to marry, dating non-Muslims, or have emotional issues/Peter Pan syndrome. Happy hunting.

  8. Totally agree with your write-up! Personally for me, the biggest challengest for us the single muslim women in our 30’s is to control our sexual desire which is always have its ups and downs .Any review on this is appreciated- to not do the haram way and istiqamah in it (which is hard).

  9. I agree with realisticmuslimguy, there are so many single Muslim women and the ratio of single men is absurd. I went to a Muslim speed dating function and there were 18 men and 63 women. Even if every woman found a guy at this event, there would still be more than 2/3 of the women left without a Muslim husband.

    My biggest regret in life is not being more open minded in my youth. I am now in my mid thirties and I focused so hard on my career growing up. I got an MD/MBA from a very good university and I kept focusing on my professional goals. I kept thinking I would find a nice Muslim guy along the way, but I never did. After finishing all my training as a physician, all I do is work, work and work! It is very hard finding a nice Muslim guy. I should have been more open minded in my youth and I should have dated more non Muslim guys. I still know many great non Muslim guys from medical school, but many of them are married now. 😦

    I have started aggressively looking for a husband and at this point I don’t care if he is not a Muslim. All that matters is that he respects me and my faith. I have even talked to other non Muslim professional single women and they all have the same struggles. Finding any decent guy to marry around the age of 35 to 40 is hard for every woman, regardless of race, religion, ethnicity and such.

    I also don’t care what other people or the “Muslim community” think of me by considering a non Muslim husband. I tend to avoid Wahhabi and conservative narrow minded Muslims. I don’t need anyone else’s approval to live my own life as long as I am happy with myself and God.

  10. I just want to draw attention to one line in this article – ” Our biggest male role model the Rasul (s.a.w) married older, divorced and single mothers – in fact the only younger wife was Aisha (ra). ” I don’t know who the author is but s/he seems to be completely unaware of some basic Islamic history. Our Prophet Muhammad (SAW) married a total of 13 women throughout his lifetime (if we include Mariyah and Rayhanah) and except for Khadijah (RA), all his wives were actually younger than him. Yes one of his wives was divorced (Zainab was previously married to Zayd (may Allah be pleased with both) but none of them – except for Khadijah – had children from a previous marriage. Most of his wives were actually widows and freed slaves – please kindly research a topic thoroughly before writing any article.

    Sources:
    Book – The Sons of Khadijah by MJ Kister
    Online articles –
    http://www.answering-christianity.com/wives.htm http://wikiislam.net/wiki/Ages_of_Muhammads_Wives_at_Marriage
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muhammad%27s_wives

  11. Salam,
    How do u do?
    Wish to know you better sister..
    This is my line 2348169486410 give mé a flash then i will call u right away ok

  12. i found a very good site
    my friend found her dream muslim men
    http://www.islamic-marriage.com

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