In 2019, the overall divorce rate of Muslims in the United States reached around 45 percent — which is not just grave, but sad as well. If anything, it’s the consequences projected by our culture that makes divorced women suffer and adds stigma to their lives.
How the Stigma Manifests
Muslim women oftentimes feel distant from their friends and acquaintances after divorce. But, that’s just the beginning; soon they start getting stigmatized by their communities for being unable to sustain their lives with their spouses. Worse still, they get identified as mothers who failed to secure the lives of their children.
Even though our religion doesn’t even imply that divorced women are less in some way, our culture normalized this misconception that divorced women are a shame.
And, given the fact that our religion has dissolved into our man-made culture, most people either don’t know any better to stand up for divorced women, or just go with the flow because that’s what everyone does anyway and nobody dares to say “No, divorce doesn’t make me less of a woman; it doesn’t make me less of who I am or what I’m capable of as a Muslim woman.”
If anything, Muslim men don’t get the same treatment. If anything, Muslim men get accepted as friends and potential spouses after being divorced. More often than not, people don’t assume that they may be the problem, even when they are.
And it shouldn’t be the case that Muslim men become the ones to blame. Likewise, Muslim women should never be the ones to be shamed for having a divorce. But, thanks to the stigmatizing of divorced women, our society points fingers at us — marginalizing many of us who could’ve been subjected to an abusive marriage.
What’s more, it’s not every day for divorced women to have the chance to believe that they still can have the chance to love and be loved for who they are. In fact, Muslim men believe that women lose their chastity when they lose their virginity — even if it’s a “halal” marriage.
Worse still, there are Muslim women who smear divorced women — which should never be the case because if we don’t stand up for each other as sisters in Islam and truly care for one another, who will?
Where We Go From Here
Divorced women are silently suffering, and they’ve been calling for help. However, all they got was being treated as though they were no longer worthy of feeling alive. Women are already inferiorized by the overwhelming majority. And, being one of the divorced Muslim women means that you’re seen as somehow inferior, and marginalized for not being a “virgin.”
Our Muslim community needs to acknowledge the honor that our religion has given to us as women. We’re not objects that are “new,” and/or “used.”
Our worth isn’t in our bodies. If anything, Islam points out that as human beings, we’re all equal. And it doesn’t matter if you’re American, Canadian, Ethiopian, Iranian, and so forth. If you’re a “practicing” Muslim, you need to acknowledge that all human beings are equal. And we as women are no exception.
The prophet (PBUH) has witnessed many divorces in his lifetime. So, if being divorced was a shame for women, know that the Prophet would have said so. But he didn’t, and he never said that women were less than men in any way whatsoever. He always pointed out how Islam honored women and even set an example of how men in our community should treat their wives.
And here comes our role as a community:
- Debunk the misconceptions about divorce
- Stand up for women who get smeared for being divorced
- Maintain our ties with women we know if they choose divorce
- Teach children that divorce doesn’t make anyone less in value
Have you experienced the stigma of divorce before? Share your thoughts with us at @muslimgirl on social media.