Muslim Women Need to Make Their Dreams Come True
by Tahira Rifath
Assalaamu alaykum warahmatullahi wabarakaatuh
In the first few years of my life, until I finished my ordinary level examinations I went to an all girls Islamic school. It’s been five years since I left, and the friendships that I’ve made then with those people happens to be many of the strongest bonds I have even today.
Majority of my friends there grew up or still grow up with the notion, “You can dream, but you can’t *really* pursue your dreams.” This isn’t something that they themselves came up with, but from their parents or culture. This is something that really bothers me and makes me angry even today. But that’s basically how it is. Their parents know they are smart. They know they are ambitious—but that’s good enough. They don’t have to seek the success they can get.
Muslim girls (majority of them) grow up with this expectation of marriage. You know you’re going to get married, so everything in between now and your wedding day is leisure time. Many girls become productive and acquire a degree, or degrees, depending on how much time you have. You can even think about what you want to do with your degree. You can plan your future, and you can start your future—again depending on how much time you have. But then marriage. See, your plans can’t get in the way. Once you get married, or start having children, your dreams should just remain dreams. “Your husband should be able to provide you with everything you need.”
No. It is God Who provides and we need to show God we are ever grateful by using what He has given us.
They say, “Your husband is your ticket to Jannah.” But, that’s not the core value Islam has instilled in us. Islam wants us to be good. To me, being a good wife is not good enough, because women have so much more potential than that. We were not born and raised to be wives. God gave us life to serve Him by doing various acts of good.
Let’s look at it from a financial perspective: you spend thousands of dollars or pounds on a degree you’re not going to use. They say, “What’s the point of getting a degree when you’re going to be wiping the butt of your baby later?” Firstly, I’m not going to clean my baby’s butt because they think I have to. I’m going to do it out of the goodness of my heart and because it is in the nature of a caring mother. Your excuse is that you’re getting an education so that you can help your children with their homework and to maintain a conversation with your husband. Sure, those are beautiful reasons for others, but is that really using your education to its potential? What about for yourself? You did invest so much time, effort, and money into this. Don’t you want to use it? Of course, having a degree doesn’t mean you have to work in a corporate environment, but it means you have learned tools that can help start an organization, a movement, a private class, or any other source of benefit for society. You want to be an athlete and motivate other girls? Be one. You want to start a designer business? Open it. You want to be a doctor? Wear that white coat. Seriously, just do something. We try to use the excuse that working towards what we want is selfish and will jeopardize a happy family structure. But…
Aishah bint Abi Bakr RA is known for memorizing ahadith, having knowledge of judicial Islam, being skilled in medicine, and advising Muslim leaders in war. Muawiyah ibn Abi Sufyan came to Aishah for advice before pursuing a war. Later, during his Khalifah he consulted Aishah, who told him, “Please Allah and you shall please His people. If you please the people before pleasing Allah, know that Allah will be displeased with you and eventually the people will soon be displeased with you.”
Khadijah bint Khuwaylid RA was the ambitious woman we know to have proposed marriage to the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) while he was employed by her. She managed a business and raised the children of the Prophet (pbuh). He ran for hours down the mountain, Jabal Al Noor, to her when he needed comfort and advise after the first revelation. She went to her cousin, Waraqah bin Nawfal to discuss her husband’s revelation.
Umm Amarah Naseebah RA was one of the first two women of the Ansar to accept Islam. One of her most important activities was taking part in the fighting of the battle of Uhud with her sons and husband. They always surrounded the Prophet (pbuh) and continued to protect him when the Muslims were threatened with defeat. The Prophet (pbuh) told Umar bin AlKhattab RA that wherever he turned, right or left, he saw Umm Amarah fighting to defend him.
These women and all our Sahabiyat are our role models. They were amazing wives, mothers, business women, and advisers. They didn’t wait for the Prophet (pbuh) to tell them what to do—they did it. We need to apply their historical examples today. Also, I think it comes down to having Barakah (good fortune) in our time. We need to be more productive. We need to be better at time management. We need to be better planners and executors.
You don’t have to abide by today’s cultural standards of womanhood, wifehood, and motherhood. Marriage is not something that shouldn’t be sought, but it is not something that should hinder your performance in anything you have dedicated yourself to. Just look at what the best women of Islam have done for us, because without them, we would not be Muslim. Prove to our society today that we can be just as influential, vital, and powerful towards the success of Islam. So, please pursue your dream. For the sake of God and for yourself. Be a good wife, mother, and member of society. Don’t ever settle, because we are travelers in this life and we must keep moving and changing and trying.
Image Source – Iranian photographer, Shadi Ghadirian, from her “Qajar” series (http://shadighadirian.com/index.php?do=photography&id=9#item-1)