If we were to take a look at the various communities around the world, we would come to see that there has been a major change in the social circumstances of people which has affected the lives of individuals, aswell as families, and has had a very negative impact on them. Matters which used to be easy and facilitated have now became very difficult and complicated, and this in turn has brought about a new and dangerous phenomena, which one fears will in the long run cause a major commotion in the Muslim nation and adversely affect the stability of our lives individually and collectively. This is the phenomenon of life-long bachelorhood, aswell as spinsterhood.
It is unfortunate that many young men and women are reaching the age of thirty without getting married, and some of them have perhaps never even entertained the thought of doing so. This corruption only started when obstacles were put in front of those who wanted to get married.
Being exposed to fitnah (trials and temptations) only adds to this fear and danger. Immorality, prostitution, travelling abroad to corrupt places and illegal sexual relations have become widespread due to the complications entailed in marriage. Spinsterhood has many evil consequences for this nation from many aspects, be they emotional, economic, social, moral and/or behavioural. Especially in these times when the way to corruption has become far more easy accessible then ever before.
We must remind ourselves of the dire need to adhere to the principles and basic tenets of our deen (religion). Surveys conducted show that in one lightly populated Muslim country alone there are one and a half million single women who are waiting for the man of their dreams, and the number continues to increase. Indeed, this is a distressing matter and we need a proper practical solution.
The Importance of Marriage:
Young men and women must get married as soon as possible, and they should not deprive themselves from this desired happiness and success due to the false excuse of building their futures first. Allah , the Glorious, says (what means),
And marry the unmarried among you and the righteous among your male slaves and female slaves. If they should be poor, Allaah will enrich them from His bounty, and Allaah is All-Encompassing and Knowing.} [Quran; 24:32]
Ibn Mas’ood (may Allah be pleased with him) said,
“If there was only ten days left in my life, and I knew that I would die after that, and I could get married (in the period of those ten days), then I would still do so, so that I would not expose my self to corruption.”
Imaam Ahmad (may Allah have mercy on him) said,
“Remaining single is not from Islaam, and anyone who introduces the idea of remaining single is introducing something other than Islaam.”
Rejecting suitable men and delaying women from marriage jeopardises and endangers men, woman and indeed the community as a whole. Suitable men are those whose practice of Islaam is sound, whose manners are good and who are kind, honest and from a good family. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Marry the one who has (i.e., practices) religion.” [Al-Bukhaari & Muslim]
Studies Vs. Marriage:
If we try to search for the reasons behind this phenomenon, we will discover most of them are due to traditions and customs, in addition to the ideological attack which our nation has been subject to by the disbelievers.
Young Muslim men and women are given hopes and dreams which, in reality, are illusions from Satan. Some of our youth give the excuse that they desire to complete their studies and that marriage would prevent them from doing so. The question is, when was marriage ever an obstacle? Experience has proved that a successful marriage helps in freeing the mind and relaxing the soul.
We must be very clear when we ask what good is a university degree, especially for a woman, if it means that she is to remain unmarried until old age, and may even miss the bliss of marriage altogether? What good is it if she will never enjoy having a husband or children to decorate her life and remain as a source of benefit for her after her death? Many women have delayed marriage and therefore missed out, their beauty faded away and they then wished that they could tear up their degree in exchange for hearing a child call them mother. But then it is too late, as we sadly hear all too often from those who went through this same experience.
This problem, and many others like it, are due to unclear understanding, weak faith, lack of practice and misconceptions regarding the objectives of Islam. Unjustified fears about the future, over-reliance on positions at work, being materialistic in life weakens ones reliance on Allaah and the acceptance of His decree.
Another of the main reasons for the spread of this phenomenon is because some parents oppressively prevent their daughters from marrying suitable young men, despite the fact that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “If a man whose religion and manners you approve of comes to you (proposing to your daughter), then give her in marriage to him, otherwise, there will be turmoil on the earth and great corruption.” [At-Tirmidhi & Ibn Maajah]
Some fathers breached the trust of Allaah over them by preventing their daughters from marriage. It may be that a young man comes to the father asking for his daughter’s hand in marriage and the father delays or prohibit this union for no valid reason by citing baseless excuses. It may also be solely due to their criteria of acceptance being trivial, while totally disregarding the young man’s religiosity, manners and honesty.
High Dowry Rates:
Another reason for the spread of this evil phenomenon is the exorbitant dowries that some fathers request, so much so that marriage becomes impossible for some people. In some countries dowries reach ridiculous and unimaginable levels, which results in a mountain of debt for the poor individual. The greed which some people suffer from is truly saddening; they ask for amounts which the one proposing could never afford, even if he were to save for half of his life. Such people’s greed and lust for this life has resulted in making honourable women look like pieces of merchandise, which are sold. All this has resulted in a huge increase in the number of unmarried women.
This is in fact both oppression and betrayal! Are these fathers unaware of the widespread painful, shameful and dishonoring real life stories within even the Muslim community? These stories should act as a warning for all parents to stop their heedlessness and protect their honour and dignity before it is too late. Look for suitable husbands for your daughters, just as ‘Umar offered his daughter in marriage to Abu Bakr and then ‘Uthmaan. Sa’eed Ibn Al-Musayyib gave his daughter in marriage to one of his students, indeed this was the practice of our righteous predecessors. Making marriage difficult results in destroying homes, killing chastity, ruining morality and spreading evil.
The dowry in Islaam is a means and not an objective; inflating it has terrible effects on both the individual, aswell as the community. It either prevents marriages from taking place or results in women getting married to unfit or unsuitable partners, which results in great regret and sorrow.
This greed which some people suffer from is completely the opposite of how our righteous predecessors used to be. ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) said,
“Do not inflate dowries, because if it was good for ones livelihood, or righteous to do so, then the Prophet, may the peace and blessiings of Alah be upon him, would have done so.”
In fact, the Prophet (peace be upon him) gave a woman in marriage to a Companion of his, and the dowry was what he had memorised from the Qur’aan! SubhanAllah!
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said to yet another Companion of his, ‘Abdur-Rahmaan Ibn ‘Awf, regarding the amount of dowry to give,“Give her a ring made from iron” and ‘Abdur-Rahmaan Ibn ‘Awf gave a golden coin as his dowry. How simple marriages were within theSahaabah!
Excessive Expenditure on Weddings:
The tradition of excessive expenditure on weddings, which some especially impose on the groom, only adds to the problem. Sadly, such expenditure is only done in order to boast and show-off to others.
Scholars, wealthy people and those who hold a respected position in their respective communities must address this issue and set an example for the Muslim nation. The Islamic media should also educate the people, highlight the solutions and offer them to the people.
The cure for spinsterhood lies in strengthening the foundation of faith in the Muslim nation and educating the believers regarding the correct Islamic beliefs, morals and principles.
We should facilitate marriages, reduce dowries and marry our daughters to suitable young men based on the correct Islamic criteria for choosing a spouse. We should guide people to suitable young men and the wealthy should support those who wish to get married.
The Sisters who genuinely are unable to find a suitable spouse should persevere, remain steadfast and chaste and be content with the decree of Allaah, because what Allah decrees is better than what a believer may strive for.
Finally, to comprehensively address the solution for the problem of spinsterhood, the Muslim community must give deep attention to the issue of polygamy according to Islamic guidelines. This is because there are many women who are single, divorced or widowed. Having said this, those men who partake in polygamy must be just, merciful and wise when dealing with their wives, especially the first one, because we are always hearing complaints from sisters about their husbands being unjust to them. We must remember that the Prophet said, “He who has two wives and favors one over another (i.e., by being unjust to one of them by not fulfilling his duties towards her) will be on the Day of Resurrection with one side of his face cut and hanging (as a form of punishment).” [Ahmad]