I think there’s a flashing red sign on my forehead that says, “Ask Her When She’s Getting Married!!!!”
At my sister’s wedding almost six years ago I heard, “O’balik” (may you be next) more times than I heard “Mabrook” (congratulations) on my sister’s actual, real marriage. A year later when I graduated from college I heard, “O’bal el ‘arees” (may a groom be next) over and over again. As if graduating Cum Laude from a prestigious University was no big deal.
Two years later, after Taraweeh (night prayer’s during Ramadan) a woman whom I barely knew grabbed my hand, grazed over my ring finger and asked me, “mafeesh haga?” (there’s nothing?). I stopped going to that masjid for taraweeh and that was over 3 years ago. This woman was asking, in what I presume to be, a polite manner if I was still single. She handed me a business card and instructed me to have my mom contact her. A business card. Because apparently finding a suitor is now a business (or I guess it always has been, but now it’s a business in a mosque during prayer). I laughed about it with my sister and cousins on our drive home. But deep down I felt so belittled and demeaned. As if I was nothing because I didn’t have a ring on my finger.
As if I was nothing because I didn’t have a ring on my finger.
Last summer when my brother Bassem, may Allah rest his soul, passed away a few women came to my parent’s house to offer condolences. One woman turned to my mom and told her, “InshaAllah, next time I am here it will be for Hoda’s engagement party, just make sure you invite me.” Rest assured, this woman got an earful from me. I made sure to let her know that comments like that were inappropriate and that some people don’t ever get married. Whispers of “ba’d al shaar” (God forbid) were echoed throughout the living room. One woman spoke up and said that, parents have no say in who gets invited to their children’s marriage events anymore. Point taken, I guess that was her sympathizing with my mom.
All these people making these comments throughout most of my adult life are borderline insensitive. Here is why…
I remember as a little girl looking up to my older sister. She got married at 22 which was the average for her circle of friends. I admired that her and her husband got married “young” and began a family. I refer to them as young because my mom got married at 19, but that was a different generation and life was simpler back then (SEE: social media and unrealistic expectations from society). My oldest sister and her husband are incredible parents and make it look pretty easy to be married with kids. They actually make it look fun. They have two beautiful children (that I am obsessed with) MashaAllah and I became an aunt at the ripe old age of 12. My sister and her husband are incredible role models to their children and to me. I loved how God’s plan for them worked out beautifully and I admire their dedication to their family.
So, as a little girl I looked up to them and I meticulously planned my fairy tale future according to how their lives panned out. Graduate college at 22, already have a hubby lined up, get married at 23, start having children at 25. I could still be a cool young parent but I’d given myself a 3 year grace period to travel, maybe get a masters, etc. Great plan, right? Wrong.
Reality eventually set in and I realized that,
A). I didn’t find an eligible bachelor by 22
B). I would make a really bad parent at 25 because I was still pretty selfish at this point in my life. I was spending most of my time hanging out with friends and most of my money on trips, clothes, bi-weekly $30 manicures, etc.
My second oldest sister got married a few months before her 26th birthday. That was a more lax plan. Her and her husband were mature, they got to experience their mid-twenties being single, affording them the opportunity to travel and do some things couples can’t do if they get married “young”. They, too, worked really hard and built a beautiful life together MashaAllah. I watched as they remodeled a home and became new parents all in a beautifully woven plan by Allah (SWT).
So Plan B would go a little something like this: Travel a ton, build a good career, meet new exciting people and having experiences and stories to tell to my children. Okay, 25 it was, I’d get married by 25.
But here I am, approaching my 27th birthday and guess what lady from the Masjid – I still don’t have a ring on my finger. I became so obsessed with travel that I career hopped to follow my wanderlust streak. I battled mental health struggles that made meeting anyone and having a healthy relationship near impossible. But most importantly, God hasn’t sent me the right person and it may never happen.
Yes, I would love to get married. Yes, I would love to start a family. Yes, I would love to meet a God fearing man whom will lead me to Jannah (Heaven), inshaAllah. But guess what, science hasn’t gotten far enough for me to create this man from thin air, astaghfarAllah, and my Magic 8-Ball seems to not be working so I can’t really tell you when Allah has planned for me to get married.
I remember when my brother Bassem, Allah yirhamu (may God rest his soul), got engaged laughing to myself because at 36 some of us had assumed he would never settle down. He was a free spirit, always on an adventure, always climbing a ladder or a roof. Marriage, to me, meant stability and I wasn’t sure Bassem would ever be at that stage. Yet subhanAllah, it was in God’s plan for him to get married at 37, only to pass away less than two months later. Maybe the most “unlikely” people will get married and those who wish to settle down never will. Allahu A’lam (only Allah knows).
So do me a favor, stop asking women (and men) when/if they are getting married. Stop asking women (and couples) when they will be having children. Stop asking her and him when they will graduate college. It may not be in the cards for all of us to get these things in life. There’s enough pressure on us to accomplish so much at such a young age that these prying questions will only feed into our existing anxiety.