What does it mean to be a Muslim Woman? It may sound cliche to say we are the ones shaping our next generation, however – this is a billion-dollar truth.
As a woman, you are always nurturing, taking care and growing yourself, others or both. As a Muslim woman, you are an asset to your generation, the generation before you and the generation after you. Your education, your career, your goals, your wisdom and overall confidence as a proud working Muslim woman outshines all. When another Muslim woman requests a female doctor, a female nurse or a female surgeon, you are going to be that ‘female’.
As you study and educate yourself and put yourself out into the world, and express yourself, you are allowing the world to understand the importance of presence and the skills you hold.
The struggles women go through, most of them can be resolved maybe even avoided altogether by proper communication. This communication isn’t only to your husband or potential husband but also with your family and parents. The right way and time to communicate is crucial here. Whether you’re married or not, you will face struggles as a career-oriented woman.
As an unmarried working or career-oriented woman
With your family and parents
The reason I’ve divided this article into different scenarios is because I’m aware of the difficulties our career-oriented Muslim women face in every walk of life.
- Further Education
When you’re completing high school and are now given the choice to choose a career and further your education, there are many limitations that can limit you, especially as a Muslim. But, there is always wisdom in what Allah commands us to do.
Of course, the sky’s the limit when it comes to choosing a career, but with a few restrictions. When choosing your career keep in mind a few things: the work environment, the people you’ll most likely be in contact with and work attire.
Your work environment, colleagues and work attire is crucial because this is the place you’re going to be spending 8 hours or more a day. As a Muslim, you don’t want it to violate our principles. You need to ask yourself questions like ‘does this career require any kind of physical contact with the opposite gender?’ ‘Are alcoholic drinks regularly served here?’ ‘Is the work environment going to have free mixing?’ ‘Can I wear modest clothing?’- based on what career interests you, you’ll need to ask yourself questions depending on that. Choose a career that’s safe, halal and ultimately does not affect your relationship with Allah.
The reason these factors matter is, when wanting to communicate with your parents that you wish you pursue so-and-so career, you’ll need to communicate with yourself first before communicating with others. Ask yourself if is going to violate any Islamic obligation or your relationship with Allah. That’s first and foremost.
In the Indo-Pak-Bangladesh culture, parents play the most important role in choosing a career field for you to further your education. If there’s a career you’re interested in, communicate with your parents and voice your interests.
I understand that parents have dreams they want their child to fulfill for them. But, the remainder of your life is going to based on this. In the Indo-Pak Bangladesh culture, if you decide not to pursue education as a doctor and decide to choose a career in teaching or therapy, it’s looked down upon.
If I could relay a message to parents, I would say this – your child, is not only your child, she’s an Amanah that Allah has given you. As a woman, your child is going to represent the remaining women in our ummah. What she does, expresses and gives back to the community and society, is going to echo worldwide. Don’t limit her potential by restricting her with your expectations. Your expectations with your child should be geared towards the career your child has an interest in.
Conversations must take place with your parents, with regards to what career you want to pursue. Express in a calm manner, the pros and cons, the fact that it’s an overall halal workplace and is something you can do best.
- In pursuit of seeking a spouse
Imagine yourself, completing your 6th and final year in doctorate in a pharmacy program. Your parents have found your spouse now since you’re done with your education. You get married and are now settled with him, a few months into the marriage. Now is the perfect time for you to find a job and work in your dream career, for which you’ve worked relentlessly for. Only to find out that your husband doesn’t approve of you working, and wants you to stay home. This should not be the case!
Communicate with your potential husband, prior to getting married regarding your enthusiasm to start a career. This is included in his and your compatibility. There must be a sit-down talk with your parents about what conditions you want in this marriage. Prior to the marriage, there must be a sit-down talk with your potential husband as well. Perhaps your parents did communicate well with his parents, but you need to talk to him directly about matters that are important to you. You must not have to stay in a home that doesn’t accept how you are. Communication is the key. These are important conversations that must take place in order to have a successful marriage.
If you have priorities, be confident and state them!
The safest way is perhaps to mention it in your marriage agreement that you both agree upon letting the wife work regardless of the financial circumstances.
The most underrated advice: Sabr
The first thing you need to be doing after you’ve picked your career goal, is to make dua. DO istikhara – seek Allah’s counsel. Pray two nafl rakat, and read the dua of istikhara. Allah Himself will help you and guide you to your destination.
The most underrated advice you’ll probably ever receive is to have sabr. Often times when we envision a goal, we are fuelled to roll up our sleeves and get to work! This is a natural part of passion, that we want to start doing practical things to achieve our career goal. But we cannot let go of the rope made of tawakkul, dua and sabr.
When the Muslims migrated from Makkah to Madina to escape the torture from the people of Makkah, the Prophet SAWS noticed how different the women of Madina were from the women of Makkah. The women of Makkah were usually quite subservient and silent and rarely dared to do anything. However, the women in Madina were bold, they never let their haya get in the way of them attaining knowledge, they took an active part in the social life and even did things that should have been harder for them compared to men owing to their physique. And the Prophet SAWS praised those traits of the women of Madina.
If that isn’t the difference between who we want to be as career-oriented women versus what our society expects of us, I don’t know what is.
That’s why I’m telling you that the most underrated advice you’ll ever hear is to have sabr. Sometimes you’ll be successful, you’ll get there, and then you need the sabr to pull through. Sometimes, you’ll be surrounded by obstacles tossed in by the people around you and you feel like you’ll never get there, then you’ll need the sabr to hold on and keep trying. You have it in you.
Communication with those who matter
Find the right place, the right time, the right tone, the right information and most importantly, the right people. There is no benefit in communicating with people who will not or rather should not have a say in what decisions you make. Your parents and perhaps potential husband come first, the rest will come later.
Changing someone’s mentality or convincing them through words can be difficult and will take time.
As a career-oriented woman, you will face difficulties in choosing the career you love, in finding a home that accepts your inclination to work and other difficulties that are on a micro-level, but all can be conquered. Take the example of the women of Madinah! Communication with yourself first, then your parents and potential husband is undoubtedly the best you can do.