Tag Archives: single

What type of Muslim single are you?

The last post got me thinking a whole lot about the life of a single Muslim. I’ve been to four weddings already this year. Last year, I went to about six. Nevertheless, I can’t seem to shake off the feeling that we’re entering some kind of weird post-marriage era, a kind of dystopian otherworld where people are staying single for yonks longer than their parents and grandparents did. This may be as often due to choice as it is due to circumstance.

As always, I insert my tedious disclaimer about generalisations being generalisations and not granite fatwas. But enough with the disclaimers, let’s categorise people now:

1.) The cynical/bitter single

This person feels that they’ve been burned too many times to even think about putting their heart on the line. If anyone brings up the topic of marriage, they’ll often make sarcastic comments or simply try to change the subject. They pretend not to care at all about getting married, and may have trained themselves enough to believe that this is the case.

How to nab them: Underneath their somewhat uninviting exterior, they’re often deeply caring and emotional. If you’re patient enough, you can draw them out, but do it slowly or you’ll scare them off.

 2.) The meh single

This person is either indifferent to the idea of getting married or just doesn’t care quite enough to do anything about it. As a result, they’re most likely going to get married through ‘traditional’ means, and they’re indifferent to that prospect too. They’re sure it’ll happen at some point, and they’re willing to sit back and wait until it does.

How to nab them: They can be quite difficult to spot because of their low-key modus operandi, but if you do, you can probably coax them into something fairly easily. (As long as they like you, that is.) They’re pretty meh, remember?

3.)  The holding-out-for-Mr/Ms-right-single

This person has most likely been in a relationship/had strong feelings for someone and as a result, is waiting to ‘feel it’ again. They feel that they’ve experienced an intense connection and as such, anything less will just be not good enough.

How to nab them: Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do to engage this type of person. They have to really, really like you for them to actually pursue anything serious, and there’s very little you can do to try to ‘induce’ those feelings.

 4.) The preoccupied single

This person isn’t averse to marriage; rather, it’s just not high on their long list of priorities. Whether it’s career or study hurdles they’re trying to get over, they have their eye fixed firmly on the prize and very little will divert them at this point in their life.

How to nab them: Once they feel that they’re ready, they will commit fairly quickly, so you just need to wait for the right opportunity. Alternately, you may be in the same field or sphere as them and catch their eye as the perfect potential partner in crime.

 5.) The I’m-not-ready single

This person just doesn’t feel ready. This is either because they’re not quite sure where they’re studies/career/existence is going, or because they know enough of where they’re going to know they aren’t there yet. As such, they feel hesitant about expressing interest in someone, worrying that they just won’t be up to the job.

How to nab them: In order for them to consider you, they’ll need to know that you value them for their innate personal qualities rather than their job title or salary package. For some, these reassurances may be enough. For others, they won’t be able to commit, regardless of how much they like you or how much you like them.

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 6.) The cute youngling single

This person may be open to the idea of getting married, but knows that it may only happen in the distant future because they’re fresh out of high school. They often have an upbeat, rosy attitude towards marriage because no one has trampled all over their heart (yet).

How to nab them: Just ask! An expression of interest is sure to get their heart aflutter.

 7.) The oft-thwarted single

This person isn’t single out of choice. They’ve been trying to meet people and may have had a few close tries, but somehow they just never make it over the line. They’ll keep trying until they get there, and are open to considering just about anybody with a full set of teeth and a heart of bronze.

How to nab them: You just need to cross paths and their interest may be sparked. From here, you really don’t have to do all that much-they’ve got it all covered.

 8.) The clueless single

This person does in fact want to get hitched, but doesn’t really know how to go about it. They may not have the connections to meet people or the social savvy to be able to know how to express interest, and they’re left scratching their head as to how it’s all supposed to work.

How to nab them: Just extend them a helping hand. If you like them and they like you, there’s no reason they won’t extend theirs.

 9.) The playing-the-field single

This person’s detractors may label them a ‘player’, but they don’t see it that way. They just want to keep their options open. They want to see what’s ‘out there’, whether because they feel they’re too young/too inexperienced/too cool to commit to one person just yet.

How to nab them: Unless they feel you’re something out-of-this world, they won’t commit. But they will get bored of keeping their options open at some point, so if you’re there at that precise moment, you may find yourself the lucky final recipient of their attentions.

10.) The precise-fit single

This person has very specific requirements for a partner, and as such has narrowed their field considerably. Sometimes, these requirements are all of their own making, but they may be related to parental expectations too e.g. marrying a person of the same culture.

How to nab them: Their openness to someone who doesn’t fit their requirements will depend on their level of discipline. Some people stick to their guns no matter what, while others will let their feelings be their guide. Or alternately, you could be the lucky person who just happens to tick all of their boxes.

11.) (you thought I’d stop at 10, didn’t you?)

The single-who-isn’t-really-single single

This person’s relationship status is a mystery. They’re certainly not married, but that’s as much as anybody knows. Whether they’re pining over an unrequited love, secretly seeing a requited love, struggling with their sexuality or preoccupied with the whereabouts of the Loch Ness Monster, nobody is quite sure .

How to nab them: You can’t pursue them until you find out exactly what their deal is, but be warned: this sleuthing may take a while. Or maybe it won’t. After all, Muslims are pros at knowing things about people we’ve never even spoken to in person.

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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.

The most annoying things you can say to your single Muslim friends

Like pretty much everywhere else, the Muslim community can be a cruel and inhospitable landscape for singles to negotiate. If you’re too overt about wanting to get married, you’re seen as some kind of insecure, hormonally-charged weirdo. If you don’t seem all that interested in getting married, you’re seen as self-centred and are told to ‘grow up’. People are seldom shy about offering their ‘advice’ about what you can do to change or reconcile yourself to your relationship status, but this frequently descends into cute, well-meaning but rather hilarious clichés, as demonstrated below:

1.)    It’ll happen when you least expect it.

This is so incredibly clichéd that you can’t help but roll your eyes every time you hear it. What if you’re always expecting it? What if you’re not expecting it, but it just doesn’t happen either? Can you synchronise the moment you stop expecting it with the moment it actually happens?

2.) You’re just too picky.

This translates to ‘just marry the first dude/gal who isn’t certifiably insane’. Or, ‘marry your second cousin, it’s not like it’s your first!’

3.)    You gotta put yourself out there more!

To a certain extent, this is true. You’re probably not going to meet someone if you’re sitting at home and twiddling your thumbs, unless someone happens to pass by your front door and think your thumb-twiddling is really cute. But this begs the question: why is it often the most active and ‘visible’ people in the community who remain perennially single?

4.)    It’s because you’re too into your career/too opinionated/have a brain

This one is most often thrown at those poor Muslim women who are seen to be ‘intimidating’. Basically, the take-home message is this: alter your personality, lifestyle and values entirely, and then someone will love you for who you are.

5.)    One day, someone will come along and you’ll understand why it didn’t work out with all those other people.

This is one of those quotes everyone posts on Instagram in cursive writing against an ocean backdrop. Ah, the mythical Prince/Princess Charming who’ll redeem you and restore your broken trust in humankind…*tumbleweed blows*

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Image from gossipaunty.com

6.)  Being single is awesome, enjoy it!

Any state you’re in is awesome if you feel it’s one you’ve at least had some say in. But if you feel as though you’ve been relegated there and have no way out, that’s when it tends to feel like you’re a mouse in some really trippy and unethical cosmetics experiment.

7.) Don’t worry, I’m sure it’ll be your turn soon.

Marriage is not a carousel ride with an orderly queuing system, folks. There are no ‘turns’ and no way of knowing where your place in the ‘queue’ is. The simple fact is that some people may never get married at all, and that’s fine if they’re fine with that reality.

8.) You just gotta have tawakkul, man.

Obvious statement is obvious. Besides, would you tell someone not to bother applying for jobs and just have tawakkul that one will shimmy its way over?

9.) Don’t worry, you still have plenty of time!

Time is all you got as a single person, baby. Nothing but time to hug your cat, water your cactus and get into Facebook fights with people you’ve never met.

10.) Maybe you’ve left it a bit late.

Ok, good. Now will you stop talking about it?

Seriously though, duas and love (of the most Halal version) to all the singles. If you’re searching, may Allah swt bless you with the best partner if it’s best for you, and if you’re happily solo, maybe, just maybe, it’ll happen when you least expect it. Now there’s one you haven’t heard before.

The Muslim Relationship Status Dilemma

I remember seeing an advertisement for a party in first year uni and being slightly scandalised at the time. The rules of the party were that single people were to come in green, maybes in orange and ‘taken’ people in, you guessed it, red. As crass an idea as this is, Muslims could really do with some kind of system for knowing when people are actually single  and looking to get married, and when they’re just not. Instead, people are often forced to ask around, looking for mutual connections to tell them whether the person they’re interested in is already otherwise engaged. (Lame, but I couldn’t resist.)

The problem is that people generally don’t make it known that they’re getting to know someone, at least not initially. This is understandable and perfectly reasonable, because it often goes no further than the getting-to-know-you phase. You don’t want to be telling every Hassan and Hussain when you meet someone for the first time. It’s just not feasible, nor does it serve any real purpose for any of the parties involved.

Let’s say person X is getting to know Y. They could seal the deal within a couple of months, seal the deal in this case meaning progress to an official, publicised engagement. If this happens, X and Y are reasonably safe. It’s unlikely that people will ‘catch’ them in the act of getting to know each other, and even if they do, it doesn’t really matter. Things will progress quickly enough for tongues not to wag or for X and Y to have define their relationship in social terms.

But if there are complications and things don’t progress as quickly, X and Y are in a bit of a bind. Technically, they’re ‘in a relationship’, as the Facebook status goes. But Muslims just don’t utilise the relationship status option on Facebook. In fact, unmarried couples tend to try to keep their relationship secret, or at the very least, an open secret. Their friends and acquaintances might know, but the information doesn’t always trickle out evenly.

This is where things can get really sticky. Some people might know about X and Y’s relationship, some people might not. Z doesn’t happen to know, and develops feelings for one half of the couple in question. Is it Z’s fault? Or the person’s for even talking to Z in the first place? Or can the blame be attributed to this weird state of affairs amongst Muslims, where hearsay has to be used as evidence (a big no-no, as my fellow lawyers can appreciate) and no one wants to actually have the hard conversations because deep down, they’re just a big ball of confusion?

This cuts to the very heart of the problem: people may be keeping their options open. They may be talking to one person without having defined the relationship, and as such they feel like they have license to be talking to other people simultaneously. Even if they’re actually in a relationship with one person, they may be feeling uncertain. This uncertainty combined with the fact that very few people know about the relationship may lead to icky situations, like two people thinking they’re getting to know the same person. (An extreme example, but certainly not unheard of.)

The line between friendships and romantic relationships isn’t always easy to ascertain either. This is a universal issue, but is compounded by the fact that different Muslims have different boundaries when it comes to the opposite sex. This leads to all kinds of weird pseudo-relationships popping up, like guys and girls who are constantly talking but haven’t defined their relationship. Often both people like each other but are afraid to admit it, but sometimes only one person has any kind of romantic interest and the other person is simply enjoying having someone to talk to without the hassle of actually being in a relationship. (Or maybe they just genuinely like talking about photography/philosophy/video games.)

And then there are those who are secretly pining over someone who they know will probably never reciprocate their feelings. They get stuck in a waiting game, hoping the tide will turn but acknowledging that it most likely will not. These people are technically ‘single’, but are about as available as a change room at the Boxing Day Sales. The sad thing is that the object of their affection could actually be in one of those secret relationships mentioned above, which means that their efforts are doomed from the outset and may in fact bring them great embarrassment should word get out. The other common scenario is that the person they like just isn’t looking to get married, and so liking them at the present moment is just a waste of energy.

All of the above scenarios are a result of the lack of transparency around the whole issue of marriage. No one wants to admit that they want to get married for fear of looking ‘desperate’, but nearly everyone does. No one wants to admit that they’ve been in a relationship, but nearly everyone has been. No one wants to be the one to put their heart on the line and have the are-we-just-friends conversation, because they know it’ll be just awful if the answer is yes. (And if you’re afraid to ask, it’s often because you know the answer is ‘yes, we are just friends’ and you don’t want to face up to it.)

I don’t claim to have solutions to any of these issues except to very humbly suggest that personal responsibility is key. Sensitivity to the feelings of others is key. Talking to someone may mean nothing to you, but it could mean the world to them. (On the other hand, assuming every conversation with someone of the opposite sex is romantic in nature is just a recipe for disaster.) A little tact and discretion never goes astray, but excessive secrecy and vagueness can lead to unnecessary complications for all parties concerned. Human dignity should be preserved in all cases, even when you don’t care an iota for the person in question. If you know categorically that you’re not looking to get married, don’t let your guard down with the opposite sex, and if you are looking to get married, make your intentions clear at the earliest opportunity.

Do you consider yourself to be ‘single’? What’s the best way to avoid dilemmas about a relationship status?