Here's an article from islamonline.net which reminded me of a question once asked by a friend of mine. She had asked me, "Is it ok if I remained single?". I think this article is a different and probably a better perspective and answer on the nature of her question than what I had in mind.
Living a Single Life *
Weapon of the Believers
By Fatimah Asmaal
A Muslim Writer
During my first trip to Makkah as a 24-year-old, I met a mother who, 11 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' (supplication) to Allah, asking Him to bless her with another child.
She said she did this during Sa`i (walking) between Safa and Marwah and that actually everywhere she went she reminded herself to make this du`aa'. She suggested that I too should implore Almighty Allah in a similar manner. I left the sister's hotel room, with a spring in my step, on a similar mission.
Supplications and Trials
Everywhere I went, I asked Allah the Bestower to bless me with a husband:
Oh Allah, grant me a husband who is a memorizer of the Qur'an.
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 did not want to go home just to live the unfulfilling and empty life I felt I had been living. I rather kept pouring these feelings out in my prayers and crying my heart out every step of the way.
When I returned to South Africa, I received a phone call from a relative, who told me she wanted to introduce me to a brother who is a memorizer of the Qur'an and an active seeker of religious knowledge. Excited that Almighty Allah had answered my prayers, I immediately agreed to the introduction.
So, I met the brother and performed Istikharah (Prayer involving supplication for guidance in making a decision). However, I did not end up married to him. After three years of not having been introduced to marital prospects, I suddenly found myself — following Hajj — inundated with calls from friends and family members eagerly asking me to meet brothers they felt I would be compatible with. I met them all, yet, surprisingly, I did not end up married to any of them.
Awareness and Change
I realized that my Merciful Lord was showing me that the time was not quite right for me to marry — that although 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. I thought, "When it is the appropriate time for me to get married — according to His Divine Wisdom, not my limited understanding — He will surely bring the right person into my life."
Uplifted by this realization, I motivated myself over again and rechanneled my energy. I continued to make sincere du`aa' for marriage; I did not stop showing interest in meeting prospective husbands. But that was no longer the obsession I previously used to have or the yardstick by which I would measure fulfillment. Thus, I began to seek fulfillment in other ways. I immersed myself in teaching Islam to women and teenage girls, publishing Islamic reading material, and performing other forms of da`wah (inviting people to Islam).
I know that some are probably waiting for the part where I would talk 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, life is not a fairy tale. Happiness does not start and last with getting the person one wants and living a life of bliss with him or her. Happiness is about passing the tests we are faced with in this world while remaining firm in our faith, with the aim of standing before Almighty Allah on the Day of Judgment rich in good deeds.
I did get married, yes. But again, it did not work. Now I am living a single life again. However, it is not half as bad as people sometimes make it out to be.
Undoubtedly, I want to get married again. The same naturally holds true for all those who are not married. So, if anyone is unmarried, he or she should want to marry and make an earnest effort toward this. How can we not do that? The Messenger of Allah, Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him), reportedly told us:
"Marriage is a sunnah of mine, and whoever does not follow my Sunnah is not of my followers." (Ibn Majah)
Therefore, we also have to remember that just as marriage is an integral part of faith, so is exercising trust in and patience with the decree of Allah, All-Wise. We have to realize that — ultimately — if we are still unmarried, it is simply because Almighty Allah has willed that we be single at this point in time.
We have to opt for one of two choices: to lose sleep over it, beat ourselves up everyday, and feel really sorry for ourselves, or to realize that the time we have in our hands is a gift from our Lord and a trust from Him that should not to be wasted in counterproductive thoughts and futile tears and fears.
Having come to grasp the value of time, we have to start spending it in the most beneficial way. We can engage in such activities that our married sisters might not always be able to enjoy. We can take part in seeking knowledge, engage in da`wah work, volunteer our time for organizations that serve the poor and the aged, spend quality time with our parents, and baby-sit the children of our married friends so that they can spend some time engaging in these activities as well. The list goes on and on.
This is how a single life should be lived. If Almighty Allah 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 in Paradise, as a reward for the patience you exhibited in this transient world.
Celibacy comes with its challenges, just like marriage does. But, this is not the end of the world. So, get up, take a deep breath, hand this affair over to Allah, and start living the life He has given to you!
* Excerpt from Sisters magazine courtesy of sisters-magazine.com
Fatimah Asmaal is a freelance writer and broadcast journalist based in Durban, South Africa. Her work has featured in many local and international publications. She is well known for her live, interactive radio shows broadcast on two South African Islamic radio stations over the past three years. She studied journalism in the late 1990s. Fatimah is also passionate about studying, teaching, and talking about Islam. She studied Arabic in South Africa and in Egypt. She taught the basics of Islam to children in the United Kingdom, as well as to adults and teenagers in South Africa.