Short Answer: There were many great scholars in Islamic history, both male and female, who chose not to marry. To marry is undoubtedly a strong Sunnah.
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To begin with, when it comes to the recommendation to marry, Islam does not distinguish between men and women.
Yes, Marriage is Good
To marry is undoubtedly a strong Sunnah recommended by the Messenger of Allah and his Companions.
Furthermore, if we marry, we should seek to marry a spouse of good character and religious practice.
And marry the unmarried among you and the righteous among your male slaves and female slaves. If they should be poor, Allah will enrich them from His bounty, and Allah is all-Encompassing and Knowing. (Qur’an 24:32)
Allah also says:
And of His signs is that He created for you from yourselves mates that you may find tranquility in them; and He placed between you affection and mercy. Indeed in that are signs for a people who give thought. (Qur’an 30:21)
The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) once said to us,
O young people! Whoever among you is able to marry, should marry, and whoever is not able to marry, is recommended to fast, as fasting diminishes his sexual power. (Bukhari)
The Messenger of Allah has also said,
Of my tradition is to marry. So then whoever turns away from my tradition (Sunnah) is not from me (my nation). (Bukhari)
However, this does not mean that there is any sin on those who choose not to marry – so long, of course, that they do not fall into danger of zina or engage in inappropriate and Islamically-illegal relationships.
Many Great Scholars Never Married
Indeed, there were many great scholars in Islamic history, both male and female, who chose not to marry.
Their passion was to seek knowledge of the Deen and to focus on worshipping Allah with all their hearts. Their choice to remain unmarried did not detract from their great contributions and legacies to the Muslim Ummah.
In fact, two of the most famous female scholars of Qur’an did not marry: Shaykhah Nafeesa bint Abu’l Alaa, and her student, Umm Sa’ad bint Ali Najm al-Iskandariyyah.
The reason that these individuals did not marry was primarily related to their dedication to the pursuit of Islamic knowledge. They were focused on learning and teaching it.
True scholarship requires serious commitment, one that can often make it difficult for someone to maintain close personal relationships (especially marital) quite difficult.
This is true of many fields, as numerous doctors, lawyers, and others in highly intense fields of expertise can attest to.
Marriage Is Your Choice
If you choose not to get married, then know that you are missing out on a Sunnah of RasulAllah – but also know that your worth as a human being, as a woman, and most importantly, as a slave of Allah, is not diminished in any way.
Your value lies not in your relationship to a man, but in who you are and what you choose to do with your life.
There is so much you can do with your life!
Dedicate yourself to memorizing the Quran or pursue Islamic Studies (or any other kind of education). Use your own unique skills and talents to benefit your Ummah and the people around you.
You don’t necessarily have to become an outstanding scholar of the Islamic Sciences (although it would be wonderful if you did!).
Da’wah is done in many ways, and you know best where your interests lie and how best you can contribute to the Ummah.
Always pray Salatul Istikhaarah before making serious life decisions, and know that Allah wants the best for us – and that He is the Best of Planners.
Whether marriage is something you choose to pursue now, later, or never is up to you. No one can force you to do something that you do not want to do.
Whatever choice you make, I pray that Allah blesses you in all that you do, and makes you a great force of benefit for this Ummah, ameen!
(From Ask About Islam archives)
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