Many people see marriage as an end to their career aspirations. However, a woman can continue their education and pursue their careers after marriage. It is not unheard of, on the contrary, it is very common nowadays. I can understand the confusion in your mind. As a Muslim woman, Allah Subhana wa Ta’ala asks us to make our husband our first priority after our Deen. So, it is natural for us to worry before taking up any sort of task, whether it be volunteering at the local masjid, taking the new Tafseer course, or continuing our worldly education or getting that job you dreamed of as a child.
Questions like, “Will I be able to manage it?”, “Am I being unfair to my husband?”, “Am I shirking my duties?”, etc. are but natural. So, here is the article to help you with the decision of pursuing a career.
Is my career Islamically Appropriate?
The first thing you need to consider is whether your career is within the bounds of shariah. If not, you need to make a compromise and decide on a profession that helps you stay within the bounds of the guidelines made for women.
Letting him know you are pursuing a career
This is a very important conversation that must take place with your potential husband prior to the marriage. You will need to tell that you want to pursue a career, why you want to pursue a career and what that means to you. And if he’s unsure about how you’ll manage work-life balance, then explain to him the different ways that both of you can adopt in order to keep the family running. Don’t wait to have this conversation until later, the sooner the better.
The communication that goes down to letting your husband know that you want to pursue a career is important. Communicate with him in a calm and understanding manner. If this conversation takes place prior to the marriage, then make sure that although you’re in the presence of a mahram, you’re the one speaking. You need to let your future partner know your goals, and if there is an incompatibility due to this reason – then it’s up to your best decision on whether you compromise on your side or decide otherwise.
As a muslim woman, it is our duty to be obedient to our husband as he will be our caretaker and provider. But this doesn’t mean that we can’t state our goals and talk about the compatibility. In the end, though, you will need to follow his decision because it is the command of Allah – this does not mean that you give up entirely. There are several work-from-home options that can aid you in having a career and following your husband’s wishes.
Full-time jobs that accommodate maternity leave
One of the ways you can adapt to starting a family and pursuing a career is going for jobs that accommodate maternity leave. In some countries, maternity leave can be applied for 9 – 10 months after giving birth, and you can get back to your full-time job once the leave is done. If your husband does find this a feasible solution, then this can be a very effective solution.
However, you might need to make arrangements for day care once your leave has collapsed. There are regions where you might be able to find muslim/islamic babysitters or daycare facilities. From a young age, raising the child in an islamic environment is very important. It is our responsibility to make sure their islamic upbringing stays intact.
Work from home
Another option for mothers who want to raise children alongside establishing a career is working from home. Working from home is also a feasible option if your husband is doubtful about you being able to handle work-life balance. If you’re pregnant, nursing or raising toddlers, working from home is a great option. In a world where everything is slowly going virtual, getting an online job will take some research but it is absolutely possible. For wives who have tricky in-laws, this might work as well.
A pro is that you’re able to fix your own work hours depending on where you decide to work. There are plenty of online islamic organizations that pay for work, as well as companies that have a virtual platform that they need to manage. This is definitely an option to look into.
Entrepreneurship has numerous pros and possibilities to it. Your skills as a muslim business woman can be showcased at a global level. Becoming an entrepreneur requires numerous skills and is seen as a very respectable career. You can hold a virtual business or a physical business as well. The muslim women of our ummah need representation in the business sector, and business is such a versatile career that you have the potential to be able to have a tremendous worldwide impact without extensive travelling. This is another career that can be started from home, so taking care of children and other responsibilities should be in your control.
Just an example is to start your own islamic babysitting business. It’s like hitting two birds with one stone. You are able to earn a halal rizq from it and assist other muslims in raising their children in an islamic environment. You can start simple, small and in the rooms of your home. A virtual business doesn’t require too much budget to get started, and you can build your way up.
In whatever we do, we mustn’t forget our purpose, and should double-check our intentions. Our career should never get in the way of fulfilling the obligatory acts on you and your responsibilities.
Children! Help your parents
The children also play a very important role in helping the household run, when they have working parents. Older siblings can take partial responsibility for the younger siblings or house chores. Not only does this collectively make it a properly functioning household where everyone is contributing, but it also helps to instill a sense of responsibility in your children.
For working parents, I strongly feel instilling proper traits in your children from a young age is very important. It doesn’t have to be very extensive, perhaps you could start from small tasks such as letting them fold their own clothes or clearing up the dining table. As they grow up, they will come forward themselves and help around. A house can’t be run by one person, rather a house is run collectively with all the family members’ contribution to it.
Dealing with harsh comments and judgment
Sometimes, you may find yourself stuck, either your parents don’t support your career goal or you husband doesn’t or perhaps it’s the in-laws who don’t or maybe you have relatives slipping snide remarks of how you aren’t as successful a wife or mother or daughter-in-law simply because you chose and dared to have a career. Perhaps they’ll be unsupportive, and try to burden you and put in extra effort just to make sure you don’t have the time or energy to keep pursuing a career. They may dump certain impossible expectations onto your head and expect you to fulfill them because you are the wife/mother/daughter-in-law of the house. Sometimes, maybe you can’t get away because you live in a joint family setting, or perhaps your own confidence may be whittling away because of how hard they work just to make you feel like you don’t need that career.
If they tell you aren’t being a good enough wife, you can tell them about the new dish you recently cooked, you can tell them about how conscious you are about the detergents you use in your house, or the new method you employed to save money – every time people decide to criticize you, you can let them know what your efforts are. A lot of the times, the reason people try to drag others down from doing something is because they don’t think it’s possible. They don’t think it’s possible that you could ever have a career and yet be a good mother/wife – and by telling them the efforts you put in, you’re proving that you’re no different in your dedication than another woman who prefers to look after her family by staying home.
If the people around you decide to drop snide comments about how you don’t spend enough time with your children, instead of holding your silence, you can choose another route. You can tell them the efforts you put into your kids. Maybe you make sure to go to the park with them, even if you’re tired, or maybe your kids sometimes bug you but you make the effort to listen to them. Even if they brush you off, let them know what you’re doing.
Every single step of your journey towards keeping this work-life balance requires immense amounts of patience and proper communication with those who matter and will play an important role. Notice that I mentioned about communicating with those people who matter, because they are your well-wishers, they are the ones who will truly appreciate you and respect your goals/priorities.
And again being married, and perhaps even having children should never be seen as a barrier. Your skills, ideas, and passion towards something are unique to you and must be represented. Always see your difficulties as stepping stones to something greater. Don’t hesitate to achieve your goals and manage your priorities, Islam doesn’t restrict us from this.