I Don’t Want to Be a Wife; I Don’t Want to Be Oppressed

25 March, 2020
Q Assalamu alaikum,

I’ve got quite a trivial issue, but I still feel the need to seek a counselor about it. I am a female who feels strongly about women's rights and overall well-being. I am tired of the unfair judgement of women by Muslim men and, unfortunately, Muslim women. Whether it’s scholars or laymen, it makes no difference.

Some examples of this backwards thinking is the idea that women are inferior to men, that their sexual needs are of less importance than men’s, that a working mother is blame-worthy, and that a wife must be an obedient servant of her husband.

The ideology that a woman must be the puppet of her husband, that women are less intelligent, evil, a source of sexual misconduct and thus men's corruption. A woman should be quiet; she should be the only one who must sacrifice; women are less capable than men; a woman has to tolerate abuse from her husband and he is her lord; women need less education.

I’ve had days of crying, fear, and insecurity. There’s a lot to say about cultural oppressive practices on women. I started to fear marriage and feel insecure about physical relation. There is so much emotional blockage, and I realised that it’s not possible for me to carry the duty of a wife. If I ever marry, I’ll be doomed and cursed because I can't fulfill my husband’s unreasonable and harsh demands.

I would have to sacrifice my freedom, happiness, talent, dreams, and everything. It’s also not possible for me to embrace the agony of motherhood. Now, alhamdulillah, I am trying to learn the real Islamic teachings, but I have become extremely sensitive about women's issue.

When I face something unfair I think of the authentic fair Islamic counterpart and it leads to me overthinking and makes me mentally exhausted. I feel sad and worn out. I don’t know how I can overcome this and I’m not really sure what is wrong with me.

At first, when I thought this unfairness was a part of Islam, it seemed more like spiritual trauma, but after I started learning the true Islamic values, I’m not sure anymore. I want to be more optimistic. Please advise me on how I can cope with my situation and feel well.

I don’t want someone to tell me to get married because I've taken the decision already and I have no strength nor stamina for it. I also think scholars wouldn’t recommend me to marry if they knew my condition. Thank you.

Answer


In this counseling answer:

The issues you are mentioning are not confined to one religion. They are problems everywhere.

If you fear marriage or are confused about how a woman should be treated in Islam, just look to our Prophet (PBUH) as an example.

Surround yourself with like-minded sisters who are uplifting, positive, and joyful.

After you have substantially recovered your true self and healed, you may want to ask yourself: how can I make a difference?

You can choose to redirect your fear and turn it into a positive platform to educate other Muslims on the status of women in Islam.


Assalamu alaykum dear sister,

Thank you for writing to us with your concerns about the treatment and expectations of Muslim women. Sister, no problem is trivial when it comes to our emotions, feelings, and well-being.

Women’s Rights

Your concerns about women’s rights and their overall well-being is, in fact, a big concern worldwide for a lot of Muslims in general.

This is not to say all Muslims are concerned about this issue, but enough are that it is becoming a global movement.

There are many organizations, small and large, that are working on addressing some of the problems and issues that you mentioned.

Issues of Oppression

Some of the issues you address include issues of limiting rights, questioning intelligence, being called evil, getting accused of being a source of sexual misconduct, claiming that women should be quiet and that they are less capable than men, and that women have to tolerate abuse from the husband.

I Don't Want to Be a Wife; I Don't Want to Be Oppressed - About Islam

These oppressive and misguided ideologies concerning women can be seen worldwide. It is not exclusive to Islam, but can be seen in other religions as well. Therefore, it is a problem that is not confined to one religion.

Information Sources and Trauma

There are plenty of news programs, articles, lectures, and so forth outlining belief systems, atrocities, abuse, and other vile offenses against women being readily available to read and hear about.

This serves to further bring to light this problem. What you are feeling is a kind of a trauma.

It can be traumatic to hear and learn about what is going on in the name of Islam, especially when we know that many of these treatments, thinking patterns, belief systems, and behaviors are haram.

It is traumatic to see that this it is so rampant and accepted. It is also shocking to see that things are not being done quick enough to correct the situation or thought patterns.

Movements Towards Truth-Our Prophet (PBUH)

Sister, there are movements worldwide that are seeking to correct these faulty behaviors and thinking patterns. Much of it has to do with misunderstanding spiritual scripture as well as following cultural practices over Islam.

The simple example of how a woman should be treated in Islam comes from looking at our beloved Prophet (PBUH) and examining how he treated women and his wives.

If you fear marriage or are confused about how a woman should be treated in Islam, just look to our Prophet (PBUH) as an example.

As you know, he treated his wives and other women with the utmost respect, kindness, and mercy.

He was not abusive, cruel, nor condescending. He did not beat his wives nor oppress his wives or other women. In fact, the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) gave women many rights they did not have prior to Islam.

Women had/have an elevated status as Muslims. Perhaps those who claim to follow the Sunnah of our prophet (PBUH) need to revisit his life and see how he lived, especially regarding his treatment of women.

If someone wants to follow the Sunnah of the prophet (PBUH), then they must treat women with respect and dignity or they aren’t doing it properly.

Traumatized and Scared

Sister, it is understandable that you spent days being scared and feeling insecure, and it is understandable that you started to fear marriage.

After learning about all of those ideologies and abuses, it is natural that you ae scared and traumatized. After all, how could this be Islam? How could it be accepted as Islam?

The answer is: it is not. According to you, you’ve developed many emotional blockages because of this information, which is completely understandable.

While I won’t tell you to get married right now, I kindly suggest that you examine, in-depth, our Prophet’s life and how he treated his wives and women in general.

In shaa’ Allah, you will find all your qustions answered there, and truly see the light. I also ask that you, in shaa’ Allah, take a moment, breathe deeply, and relax, and leave it all up to Allah.

Self Care and Reflection

I suggest that, at this point, you surround yourself with like-minded sisters who are uplifting, positive, and joyful.

You need to take a break from all you have learned, as it is quite traumatic. Take time to absorb what you’ve learned, of which most is wrong and haram, and decide what you want to do with it besides further traumatizing yourself.

During this time away, I ask that you do some good things for yourself to heal. This may include getting proper sleep, and eating good, clean, and healthful foods.

Do things you enjoy such as working out at the gym, taking walks in nature, going to lunch with a friend, enjoying a movie, etc.

I also ask you to read Qur’an with a fresh mindset. Do some dhkzir, make duaa, and seek Allah’s blessings. Allow yourself to feel the love, nurturing, and protection from Allah SWT.

Directions

After you have substantially recovered your true self and healed, you may want to ask yourself: how can I make a difference? Making positive changes from bad situations takes courage.

If you decide that you would like to advocate for Islam, truth, and the righteous treatment of women, you could contact Islamic organizations in your area who are already doing so.

As stated, there are a lot of Muslims around the world taking the initiative to do the very same.

There are organizations that give lectures, teach at Islamic universities and Islamic centers, create petitions, campaigns, and educate communities both locally and globally.

You can choose to redirect your fear and turn it into a positive platform to educate other Muslims on the status of women in Islam. You may choose to utilize the Prophet Muhammad as an example as he was the best to his wives and treated women honorably.


Check out this counseling video:


Sister, I understand that this may seem like a big undertaking, however, by assisting other Muslims who are already teaching and advocating for women’s rights, you may actually find it fulfilling.

A Courageous, Caring Heart

Sister, it is clear you love Allah and Islam very much. You have taken the time and initiative to learn about Islam with specific reference to women. Sister to sister, I thank you for this. However, it turns out some of the things you found which are not in alignment with Islam have been traumatizing for you.

Rightfully so, we expect more from our Muslim brothers and sisters in conversations, references, and behaviors regarding women’s rights and status in Islam. You have so much courage and a very beautiful spirit for truth-seeking and righteousness. May Allah bless you for your efforts.

Trials and Tests

These are the kinds of tests and trials that can make us stronger women. Learning about atrocities committed and oppressive thought patterns regarding women can cause distress, anger, and fear. That is not Islam. Islam does not promote these feelings.

However, by holding fast to the truth, you can turn that fear into positive constructive actions and outcomes both personally as a Muslim woman and socially as an advocate.

This is the test. What will you do with this information? Retreat from Islam? Or will you trust in Allah and stand up for your Islamic rights, not only for yourself, but for other Muslim women who may feel the same way?

Conclusion

Sister, I kindly suggest that you take a break for a while from learning and studying about these negative and destructive issues. I suggest that so you take time to heal, process, and decide what your next move will be.

We all need to take time for self-care as it is incredibly vital to our mental well-being. Self-care is an ongoing process, however, there are times in our lives where we need to take a break from whatever it is that is causing us distress.

We do it so we can move forward and be of benefit to ourselves, our own thought processes, and to others who are also scared and seeking the truth. I am confident that you will, in shaa’ Allah, see the true light of Islam and carry it with you wherever you go for women worldwide.

We wish you the best; you are in my prayers.

***

Disclaimer: The conceptualization and recommendations stated in this response are very general and purely based on the limited information provided in the question. In no event shall AboutIslam, its counselors or employees be held liable for any damages that may arise from your decision in the use of our services.

Read more:

Did Prophet Muhammad Really Oppress Women?!

Does Islam Oppress Women and Reject Education?

I Feel So Oppressed, How Do I Cope?

About Aisha Mohammad
Aisha received her PhD in psychology in 2000 and an MS in public health in 2009. Aisha worked as a Counselor/Psychologist for 12 years for Geneva B. Scruggs Community Health Care Center in New York. Aisha specializes in trauma, depression, anxiety, substance abuse, marriage/relationships issues, as well as community-cultural dynamics. She is certified in Restorative Justice/ Healing Circles, Conflict Resolution, Mediation, and is also a certified Life Coach.
Aisha works at a Family Resource Center, and has a part-time practice in which she integrates healing and spirituality using a holistic approach. Aisha plans to open a holistic care counseling center for Muslims and others in the New York area in the future, in sha' Allah. Aisha is also a part of several organizations that advocate for social & food justice. In her spare time she enjoys her family, martial arts classes, Islamic studies as well as working on her book and spoken word projects.