Each morning that I wake, I am grateful. Alhamdulillah.
My faith is strong. My family is loving, supportive and encouraging. My job is comfortable, my friends remarkable, and my passion for helping others is unremitting. I travel the world, have a vast global business network, work with purpose and integrity, and have had meaningful experiences in engaging others in conversations on the Islamic faith, Arab culture, and being an Arab-American Muslim in a post-9/11 society. I consider myself blessed, happy, and comfortable in the life I have built.
Culture and tradition set many standards in small communities like mine. Being single at age 37 is like being 85 and never having been kissed…or having a third eye. I am approached by many “concerned” community members who ask, “When are you going to settle down and be happy?” or “We are proud of your achievements, though you will have to settle because most men cannot handle your success,” and worse yet, “Why would you go to Hajj so many times…this may deter someone who is interested in you.”
Ouf! Since when was your strength in faith or your visits to holy shrines a deterrent for getting married?
I first made pilgrimage (Hajj) in 2013 with my mother and sister. It was an amazing experience, and I ached to return to the holy cities of Medina and Mecca. The ability to visit my beloved Prophet Muhammad (p.b.u.h.), and pour my heart out to my Creator at the Holy Kaa’ba was an experience that changed my life. I returned in 2015, and then once again this year.
While in conversations with pilgrims in my group, I found that the topic of marriage was always coming up. Both women and men shared with me their concerns that I was not yet “fulfilled” without a spouse.
Since when did my being a “complete and whole” being depend on my companionship with another person? I am whole. I am complete. Most importantly, I know my value and my worth. Why settle for less than what I deserve?
I explained, countless times during my Hajj experiences (as this topic would always arise), that I am only interested in marrying someone who will contribute to my mental, emotional, and spiritual growth; a man adherent in faith, with a strong moral compass and family values, who is not intimidated by a confident and successful woman. When I’d share this, I would receive a polite nod, and reassurance that everyone would pray for me as much as possible while in the holy cities. Gee, thanks…?
The side comments were never-ending.
“You may have to settle for someone who is not as strong or successful.”
“Perhaps you need to scale back on your activities and affiliations so you don’t intimidate men.”
“Did you think of looking outside of our culture? You know how Arab men find it hard to accept a woman who may be of higher influence or importance.”
“You are not getting younger. Don’t you want to have children and raise a family?”
“Time is ticking.”
“You need someone to take care of you. Do you want to die, alone?”
I am not looking to be with someone who would find my achievements or abilities intimidating. That type of person would be too weak for me.
I am not concerned with my “biological clock,” as I am content with the path Allah (swt) has set for me. If I am blessed to give birth to a child, then I welcome that blessing wholeheartedly. If not, I welcome that path as well, and will be grateful. Allah (swt) is the greatest of planners, right?
These conversations made me think of my “wholeness.” My ability to be “whole and complete” is not dependent on another person validating my existence. I was given the blessing of passion and purpose; to have the desire to help others, and serve my community with distinction and truthfulness.
Too often, I witness young women seeking validation from others, needing to find their value and worth in another person’s acceptance or acknowledgement. Each day, Allah (swt) validates my existence as I stand before Him in prayer, when I wake each morning to begin a new journey, and when I accomplish the goals I have set for myself. My validation comes from my desire to please Allah (swt), not others.
Many have culturally defined marriage as something that “completes” you, while romantic films and foreign soap operas give us a false image of the reality of commitment, marriage, and family. Alhamdulillah I have parents that encouraged me to be a strong and confident woman, reminding me that validation should not be sought in others, and that I should focus on loving myself, strengthening my faith, and trusting in Allah (swt) and His plan.
“Among His signs is that He created for you mates from among yourselves, in order to have tranquility with them and He put love and mercy between your (hearts): verily in that are signs for those who reflect.” Quran Ar-Rum [30:21]
I know these concerned brothers and sisters mean well and have good intentions, but if you wish to continue your prayers for me, please ask the Almighty to send me a man who will bring tranquility to my soul, walk with me on a righteous path, and help me to be a better Muslim and global citizen.
37, Single, and Unapologetically Happy