I was talking to a group of single young Muslim ladies about marriage. They were in the age range of the late twenties to early thirties.
One sister said that she was searching for both a husband and a job. She was looking for a job because she wanted “the autonomy” that came with making her own money. Even after marriage, she explained, she still wanted to make sure she was still her own person and a big part of that was making her own money from a job. Relying fully on her husband’s money even if he’s wealthy, she said, would make her “feel icky.”
I’ve heard this exact same sentiment expressed by many modern Muslim women before her, said almost verbatim. Down to the “feeling icky” part.
Why does it make Muslim women feel so icky to have the traditional gender roles in their marriage? Why is it icky that the wife dedicates herself to the family, home, and children, while the husband dedicates himself to earning money for the family?
Where did we get our fears from? When did we learn this mistrust, this suspicion, this anxiety?
I understand that it’s multi-faceted, and I want to appreciate the complexity of this situation.
It is certainly a reality that in some cases, there are in fact some Muslim men who fail to take their role as providers seriously, forcing the females in their life to fend for themselves. Some husbands and/ or fathers have dropped the ball, showing their daughters or wives or sisters through their actions that perhaps men are not to be trusted, that men don’t fulfill their obligations and don’t keep their promises. Such men have failed to meet the Islamic standards for the wali/husband/ father, and this is a problem. There are weak men, undisciplined men, incompetent men; they let their women down.
Is that the main reason, though?
Because…how often does this happen? What percentage of Muslim men are “deadbeats” in this way? Is it the majority of Muslim men? Half? A quarter? 5%?
Yet the way we women worry about this issue and sometimes talk about it, you’d think it was 99.3% of all Muslim men who fail to provide.
This particular problem of irresponsible men, while it definitely exists, is highly exaggerated in the female mind.
Because stories get told again and again, spreading until they seem more prevalent than they truly are. Women hear about other women’s experiences and extrapolate from that certain lessons and come to certain conclusions, even if it’s all simply hearsay and they’ve never seen such irresponsible men themselves.
The other factor here is liberal education-indoctrination and feminism brainwashing. Let’s just call it what it is.
The modern programming of women goes as follows: “You are on your own for the most part. Men are not to be trusted! Your husband will probably turn out to be a stingy tight-fisted miser! Or he’ll be a useless unemployed deadbeat! Or he’ll cheat on you and leave you and the kids for another woman! Or he’ll beat you and be an abusive monster! What if he ups and dies? What if you get divorced for no reason? So many bad scenarios! Better be safe and get your own job to make your own money so you can keep your independence from him and not be forced to rely on the unreliable or trust the untrustworthy. Gotta be prepared for anything. Just in case. Cuz you never know. Just saying.”
Sowing seeds of doubt, of mistrust, of insecurity.
No tawakkul on Allah, but solely on one’s own desperate efforts. We’ve forgotten the hadith about the tawakkl and rizq:
حديث عمر ، قال: سمعت رسول الله ﷺ يقول: “لو أنكم تتوكلون على الله حق توكله لرزقكم كما يرزق الطير، تغدو خماصاً وتروح بطاناً.”
“If you were to have full tawakkul on Allah the way He is due, He would provide for you the way He provides for the birds; they leave their nest hungry and return full.”
But the modern brainwashing trains women to have bad expectations from the start, to assume the worst before anything even happens.
The husband is shot down before he can even do anything.
In war, this is called a preemptive strike.
How can a marriage survive under such conditions?
The most intelligent, sensible, and effective division of labor is an exchange between the genders.
Each gender has something that the other lacks. They trade in a mutually-beneficial exchange for the benefit of both parties, the children, the family, and society.
Historically, this is how it has always worked:
Men, with their larger frames and stronger physique, have a greater capacity to work hard jobs and put in long hours, which we can call surplus labor.
Women are the only ones who can have babies, which we can call reproductive ability.
In marriage, the man offers the woman his surplus labor and she offers him her reproductive ability in a system that benefits both parties and builds a family. It’s actually a brilliant system because it accounts for each gender’s nature, God-given abilities, and temperament.
Each gender can focus fully on their respective abilities and play the role that comes most naturally.
This makes marriage smooth, seamless, complementary.
But now in these modern times, women are being fear-mongered and brainwashed into trying to fulfill BOTH roles: chasing surplus labor and reproductive ability. At the same time.
This is too much for any one person to do simultaneously and still be okay, still be rested, still be sane.
Women, you are being pressured into doing too much.
This “icky” feeling that’s been planted into your psyche hurts you. That’s external to you, implanted by feminism. Let go of it.
We as women need to pick good Muslim husbands (vetted by wali, istikhara, and consultation). And then we need to LEARN TO TRUST THEM.
And of course, the other side of the equation is that Muslim men need to live up to the Islamic standards for the wali/ husband/ father and fulfill their responsibilities toward dependants. They need to be in charge, as Allah has commanded. The great majority of Muslim men already do, mashaAllah.
Once men are firmly in their masculine role, and women let themselves rest in their feminine role without feeling “icky” about it, our marriages can thrive inshaAllah.