In this counseling answer:
“Perhaps, sister, you need time to grow, experience life independently as well as getting a chance to see different perspectives regarding marriages. I would kindly recommend also you advise your family you are not ready for marriage at this time and that you do seek counseling to sort out your root issues with not wanting children and feeling no desire for a man. While not wanting children doesn’t mean there is anything wrong, as some women do not want children and it is a personal choice, I just get the feeling there is more going on than just the fear of taking on responsibilities.”
As Salamu ‘Alaikum my dearest sister,
Thank you for writing to us. Your question is most important in terms of your personal choices as a Muslimah and as a young woman. While the norm in Islam is to marry young and begin a family, a few sisters are opting to prolong marriage, pursue careers as well as deciding not to have children for various reasons.
As I read your question, I am wondering if this desire to not marry and take on the responsibilities of a husband, children could be due to your age. Many young women your age are not ready, and that’s okay. As far as I know, there is nothing in Islam saying you have to marry right now. Perhaps, sister, you need time to grow, experience life independently (as you stated you would like) as well as getting a chance to see different perspectives regarding marriages. It sounds like you have been exposed to a great deal of culturally based marriages wherein yes, sometimes the wife is treated un-Islamically. However, all marriages are not cultural or confining in the sense that wives are “slaves” to husbands, children, and in-laws.
In fact, it is not your obligation to be a “maid” to your in-laws (if you marry). You are to be kind to in-laws and treat them with respect, but you are in no way expected to be their servant. Our scholar states that “Second, a wife must be considered as an equitable partner in her relationship with her husband. That means that she cannot be seen as the servant of the husband, the children or the in-laws. A wife is not “here for this purpose” i.e. to cook and clean. It could well be the cultural understanding but there is no sin in revising cultural practices that seem to oppress our sisters.” So as you can see sister, what you may have been observing in other marriages is cultural, not Islamic.
A marriage in Islam is one of joy and comfort, not servitude. However, when we do marry, it is natural that we enjoy taking care of one another and do things that are pleasing to our spouses as well as making the home a comforting place. Even as a single woman, you would want to make your home comfy and nice, wouldn’t you?
Islamic marriages based on Qur’an provide the woman with many rights and freedoms. For instance, you are “allowed” to work and keep your own earnings. The man is to support you and provide for your basic needs. That makes sense unless you want a husband who is lazy and expects you to support him or a man who is sick and unable to provide, but that is another subject. So, in reality, an Islamic marriage is one such as you described that you desire “I believe it should be based on friendship and spending time together and being there for each other”. It is this and so much more!
Husbands and wives are to be a comfort to each other, to uplift each other and protect each other as well as growing together Islamically. While any relationship does entail responsibility, even friendships, marriage in sha’ Allah puts an affection and love between two people and as stated previously, they naturally want to help each other and do nice things for one another. This is not “owning” or “oppressing” but rather it is human nature to care for those whom we love.
There are many benefits in marriage, dear sister, and as you know, it is recommended we marry as a safeguard. Marriage is a safeguard not just for prevention of zina, but in so many other ways. When we marry, we have someone (ideally) who protects us, takes care of us when we are sick, laughs at our jokes, up builds us when we are down, and shares our life. Being single right now may sound exciting and alluring (and it is); however as you get older, you may find loneliness creeping in, you may get tired of doing everything by yourself, you may wish you had someone to talk with late at night, and you may wish you had someone to hold you when times get tough. Marriage should be a beautiful, lifelong experience.
In fact, our scholar advises“the fact that your experience of marriage has been negative does not in any way prove that all marriages are the same. Success or failure of a marriage is dependent, in large measure, on the kind of attitudes of life one brings to it. As Muslims, we believe that the recipe for good life is contained in accepting the sovereignty of Allah and acting upon the guidance He has sent down. Allah says,
“Verily this Qur’an guides (humanity) to a state of being that is most upright (and fulfilling) …” (17: 9)
Concerning your issues with not wanting children, I would suggest dear sister that you spend some time thinking about why it is that you do not want children. Is it because you fear childbirth? Do you feel there are already too many children in the world and perhaps you feel you would like to give an orphan child a home? Do you fear you cannot get pregnant?
While some women do choose to have careers and forgo having children, your choice to do so coupled with your statement “I have no desire” leads me to question the root of your fears regarding marriage. If truly you do not want children, you may find a husband who does not want children either. It will be hard unless he is older, but many young people today are socially conscious and feel that bringing more children into the world is irresponsible when there are so many children who are orphans due to wars and other tragedies. They instead, focus on helping these children as a couple or work together in altruistic ways for charity and solution focused work regarding social issues.
There are so many things which you wrote that need to be addressed besides your wanting to be independent and not having a lot of responsibility in life. These feelings may change as you get older, sister. Once you have a chance to see different ways of life and examples of happy marriages, you may feel differently.
Also, you stated you “feel no desire for a man”. As you are of age wherein our hormones and desires are awakened, I would kindly ask you to examine why you do not feel desire. Desire is a natural and normal thing which Allah (SWT) gave us to help us bond for marriage, and yes, to procreate. I urge you, dear sister to look deeper into these two variables: 1, your not wanting children and 2, your lack of desire for intimacy.
Please do seek out a counselor in your area who can help you sort through these issues. I would kindly recommend you advise your family you are not ready for marriage at this time and that you do seek counseling to sort out your root issues with not wanting children and feeling no desire for a man. While not wanting children doesn’t mean there is anything wrong, as some women do not want children and it is a personal choice, I just get the feeling there is more going on than just the fear of taking on responsibilities.
You are in our prayers dear sister. Please let us know how you are doing.
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