I think everyone has valid points but are coming from different angles. Some are coming from the point of view of women who are unable to get married, whilst others are coming from the point of view of women who are. It is certainly possible for a woman to contribute to society in so many ways, whilst being a wife and mother. However, we still need to recognise that wifehood and motherhood are extremely noble and valuable roles. I felt that some statements mentioned earlier seemed to downplay these roles:
Allah (swt) did not create women for the sake of wifehood or motherhood. This is not our first goal, nor our end goal. Our creation was to fulfill our first and most important role—to be His SLAVE.
From the articles I linked to earlier:
There is nothing in the Quran or the Sunnah that specifically says women your primary obligatory roles are wifehood and motherhood.
When the Qur’an mentions other women, it is very evident that in praising any believing woman it praises her for possessing similar qualities. If she is a married woman the Qur’an would praise her as a wife, supporting her husband and being dutiful to him. If she is a mother, the Qur’an would praise her for her important role as a nurturer of the next generation. I have not witnessed the Qur’an praising any woman for her contribution outside of this framework. For example, we don’t see the Qur’an praising a woman for her political involvement, da’wah activism, level of knowledge, social engagement or even leadership. This article cannot possibly include the stories of all women mentioned in the Qur’an, but a simple analysis should confirm this finding.
The wife of Imran mentioned in Surah ‘Aal ‘Imran is another example of an exemplary woman. She was a wife and a mother. The main quality mentioned in Qur’an about her is what is mentioned in the verse,
“(Remember) when the wife of ‘Imran said, "O my Lord! I have vowed to you what is in my womb to be dedicated for your service, so accept this from me. Verily, you are the All-Hearer, the All-Knowing."
According to the exegete Ibn Kathir, the wife of ‘Imran mentioned here is the mother of Maryam, and her name was Hannah bint Faqudh. Muhammad bin Ishaq, the famous biographer and historian, mentioned that Hannah could not have children and that one day, she saw a bird feeding its chick. She wished she could have children and supplicated to Allah to grant her offspring. Allah accepted her supplication and she became pregnant. She vowed to make her child concentrate on worship and serving Bayt Al-Maqdis (the Masjid in Jerusalem). She did not know then if she would give birth to a male or a female child. The fact that this is the only thing mentioned about her indicates that this is the most important contribution that distinguished her and placed her in this praiseworthy position. It is evident from the story that her goal was to be a mother and when she knew that this was likely to happen she vowed to dedicate her child to serve Allah’s cause in order to thank Him for what he had given her. Similarly, Maryam’s chief contribution was her giving birth to a great Prophet and then taking care of him. The same may be said about the contribution of Musa’s mother. Their role in the lives and achievements of these great men was indispensable.
In this vein, a person might ask himself, why was it that Allah sent male Prophets and not female? He says, “And We sent not before you (as Messengers) any but men." It is noteworthy that Allah sent over a hundred thousand Prophets, three hundred and fifteen of them messengers and all of them were men.
If we survey the sunnah of the Prophet (peace be upon him), a similar understanding is found. The qualities of devotion to Allah and their families were at the centre of the praiseworthy qualities of women. For example, the Prophet clarifies the Islamic view regarding the best women and the central reason behind it saying, “The best women from the riders of the camels (the best Arab women) are the righteous among the women of Quraish. They are the kindest women to their children in childhood and the most careful of women in regards to the property of their husbands.” In this hadith the Prophet explains their goodness by being good wives and good mothers.
It is true that there are a number of Qur’anic verses and Prophetic traditions that mention the contribution of women in military activities, their political participation and da’wah work, however an analysis of these incidents confirms that they were carried out as complementary activities to their principal role as wives or mothers. In fact, we can go so far as to say that we do not find an emphasis in the shari’ah on any role for a woman except her role as a mother, a wife or a righteous servant of Allah. For example, we find that the shari’ah considered jihad as one of the noblest activities for men but did not encourage women to take part in it despite the military contribution of a number of female Companions...
Even in the original article of this thread, it mentions:
Shaykh Mohammad Akram Nadwi mentions in his introduction to his Dictionary of women hadith scholars, Al Muhadithaat, “Not one [of the 8000 female hadith scholars he researched] is reported to have considered the domain of family life inferior, or neglected duties therein...So all this seems to indicate that being a wife and mother are principle roles to which other activities are complementary, whether alongside them or in situations where marriage or children are not possible. Of course the first and foremost role is to be a slave of Allaah (swt), but the Qur'an and Sunnah provide us with guidance and examples as to how to be the best slave possible.
Female scholars in our history were focused on being family women when they had families to whom they held responsibilities, and when able, they also had goals and objectives in life which extended beyond the roles of wifehood and motherhood. So what about someone who is not yet married? Many single women are using their time to the utmost, focusing on improving their skills and abilities to contribute back to the ummah (community) and society at large.
And Allaah (swt) knows best.