Living the Single Life
By Fatima Asmal
During my first trip to Makkah, as a 24-year-old, I met an inspirational mother of one, who eleven years after giving birth to her first child, desperately wanted another baby.
Three years after going through a divorce, I too, was desperate – to get married again.
When I told this sister about the feelings of disillusionment and loneliness I was experiencing, she told me how she was addressing her need during her time in this blessed city, and advised me to do the same. She told me that in every step she took during her pilgrimage, she would fervently make du'aa to Allah, asking Him to Bless her with another child. She said she did this during tawaaf, between Safaa and Marwa, everywhere she went, she reminded herself to make this du'aa, and she suggested that I implore Allah in a similar manner.
I left the sister's hotel room, with a spring in my step, on a similar mission.
Everywhere I went, I begged Allah to Bless me with a husband: 'Oh Allah Grant me a husband who is a haafidh,' 'Oh Allah, Bless me with a husband who loves knowledge and is actively seeking it,' 'Oh Allah, Bless me with a husband who is willing to give up his life in Your Path.'
I didn't want to return home, to live the unfulfilling and empty life I felt I had been living, and poured these feelings out in my prayers, crying my heart out every step of the way.
When I returned to South Africa, I received a call from a relative, who told me she wanted to introduce me to a brother who had memorized the Qur'aan and who was actively studying the Deen. Excited that Allah had answered my prayers, I immediately agreed to the introduction.
Well, I met the brother, I prayed Salaatul Istikhaarah, and you know what? I didn't end up marrying him.
After three years of not having being introduced to marital prospects, after Hajj I suddenly found myself inundated with calls from friends and family eager for me to meet brothers they felt I would be compatible with.
I met them all. And I did not end up married to any of them.
You see, our Merciful Rabb was showing me that the time wasn't quite right for me to marry, that though there were hundreds of brothers in the world who possessed the criteria I was looking for, they were not necessarily the marriage partners He had destined for me, nor was the time right for me to marry. When the time was appropriate for me to marry, in His Divine Estimate, not in my limited understanding thereof, He would bring the right person into my life.
Uplifted by this realization, I re-motivated myself, and re-channeled my energy. I continued making du'aa for marriage yes, and I didn't stop making an effort towards meeting prospective husbands, but it was no longer the obsession it had become, the yardstick by which I had measured fulfillment. I sought fulfillment in other ways, immersing myself in teaching Islam to women and teenage girls, publishing Islamic reading material, working for Islamic radio stations and engaging in other forms of da'wah.
You're probably waiting for the part where I tell you about my happy ending – that, a few years later I met the man who had everything I wanted and more, and we got married and lived happily ever after.
But dear sister, influenced by the West, we attach different meanings to concepts which Allah Subhaanahu wa Ta'ala has already defined, in the Qur'aan and through the teachings of Rasoolullaah sallallahu alayhi wassallam. Happiness doesn't start and end with getting the guy you want and living a life of bliss with him. Happiness is about passing the tests we are faced with in this world, remaining firm on our faith in spite of these tests and presenting ourselves to Allah on the Day of Qiyaamah, rich in good deeds.
I did get married, yes. But again, it didn't work out.
So I'm living the 'single life' again. And dear sister, it isn't half as bad as people sometimes make it out to be.
Of course I want to get married again. And if anyone out there is unmarried, of course, you too, should want to marry and make an effort in this respect. For did not the Rasool of Allah Sallallahu alayhi wassallam tell us, 'Marriage is a sunnah (way) of mine, and whoever does not follow my Sunnah is not of my followers. Get married because I will display your outnumbering the other nations on the Day of Resurrection. Whoever has wealth should get married, and whoever does not should fast, because fasting is a restraint (of desire) for him.' (Ibn Maajah, authenticated by Al-Albaanee)
And this beautiful union has undeniable benefits. Allah Subhaanahu wa Ta'ala has told us in the Qur'aan: 'And among His signs is that He created for you, from yourselves, spouses that you may dwell (in joy and security) unto them, and He set between you love and mercy; surely in that are signs for those who reflect.' (Surah Ar-Room 30:21)
And: 'They are a garment for you and you are a garment for them.' (Surah Al-Baqarah 2:187)
But having said that, we have to remember that just like marriage is an integral part of faith, so too is exercising trust and patience in the decree of Allah.
People may say that you and I are not married because we are too fussy, or difficult to get along with, etc. etc. and perhaps we can analyze what they are saying and if we conclude that they are correct, then we can work hard towards rectifying that aspect of our character for the Pleasure of Allah. But having done that, we have to realize, that ultimately, we are not married because Allah Subhaanahu wa Ta'ala has Willed for us to be single at this point in time.
Now we have a choice. Either we can lose sleep over it, beat ourselves up every day, and feel really sorry for ourselves.
Or we can recognize that the time we have on our hands is a gift from Allah, an amaanah, not to be wasted in counter-productive thoughts and futile tears and fears.
And we can start spending this time beneficially, by engaging in activities which our married sisters might not always be able to enjoy: seeking knowledge, being active in da'wah, volunteering our time to organizations which serve the poor and aged, spending quality time with our parents, babysitting for our married friends so they can spend some time engaging in these activities, the list goes on and on.
And this my dear sister, is how the single life should be lived. If Allah Subhaanahu wa Ta'ala Wills, somewhere in the midst of living and reveling in the joy and fulfillment such a life brings, Mr. Right will come along. And if he doesn't, so what? Perhaps he will be waiting for you in Jannah, a reward for the patience you exercised in this transient world!
Being unmarried undeniably comes with its challenges, just like marriage does. But it isn't the end of the world. And it shouldn't be. So get up, take a deep breath, hand this affair over to Allah, and start living the life He has given you!