Is it a crime to be a single independent female in the Muslim community?
That’s the question I ask myself nearly every time I go to the mosque. I’m currently living in a small town in northern England which I moved to due to work. As a practising Muslim in a very white working class area of England, one of my first priorities when I moved was to get involved in my local Muslim community. I go to jumaah, joined the tajweed class and any other event I could. However, what I have found is that my choice to move across the country from London for employment, has gained a few disapproving stares and comments.
I have had sisters telling me don’t I want to get married, worried that I may become too independent or looks of pity and concern that family let me out of sight. Which of course when you have moved to an area where you don’t know anyone and you’re alone aren’t exactly the type of comments you want to hear. The very community that I was eager to join is the same community I feel judged by. Singledom is at times seen as a curse and marriage it’s cure.This has been hard to bear and I’ve had my share of sleepless nights, low mood and desperation wanting move back home. I was stuck in an awkward place not fully accepted by my local Muslims and also being looked at as alien by the local white population. But alhamdulillah what doesn’t kill you can only make you stronger, I believe that this move has helped me develop my character and get closer to Allah.
This experience has encouraged me to reflect on our muslim communities, we aren’t too keen on outliers. By that I mean that when you are a divorcee, single independent Muslimah, not from an asian or arab country etc, the community is quick to try and establish what is wrong with you, why you differ from the norm. We need to try and remember that Allah tests us in different ways and as sisters and brothers in the deen we should try and support one another instead of making each other feel inadequate. I feel that Muslims sometimes forget that not everyone comes from a traditional Muslim family and some of us have to work to survive, it’s not because I want to be rebellious or have an orthodox feminist attitude that we don’t need a man. Also in regards to marriage; maybe before Muslims ask why someone isn’t married they should consider the many possible reasons why someone is not. For example: if someone isn’t from a traditional Muslim family; they have to go through endless hoops in finding a spouse independently, or perhaps they simply have not found the right person to spend the rest of their life with, it is also possible that they just aren’t ready and realise marriage is more than the stuff of fairytales. It’s a life altering decision.
Islam is a religion for everyone no matter what stage you are in life and every type of Muslim should feel welcomed. I know this isn’t the perspective of the whole ummah and as a Londoner I know that in cities it is much easier for a single Muslimah to feel part of the community, as there are many of us and there are so many events and sisters halaqahs. But in small Muslim communities, like the one I’m in now, where I’m probably in the 1% (single, Muslimah) of an already small Muslim community, it can be every isolating. I hope by writing this I can increase the seemingly dampened voice of young, single, Muslim women.