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Can a Woman Live Alone?

Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam

Question: Assalam alaykum

I am single and I am working full time as a health professional.

I have recently successfully applied for another job which might require me to consider moving away from home. There is the option to stay at home but for other reasons I feel there may be benefits to move.

It is worth noting that I do not any have any issues with my parents.

My parents are not against me moving but have asked me to consider the Islamic perspective before making my decision of whether to move out or stay home and commute. What should I do?

Answer: Wa alaikum assalam wa rahmatullah,

This is a sensitive issue. Many scholars do caution against single sisters living alone and away from family when there is a reasonable option of residing with or close to them. Generally, being alone was something that the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) also discouraged.

However, if there is a reasonable need, and this has been confirmed with some elders whom you trust, medical professionals, or a scholar who knows the details of your situation, it would be permitted to do so provided that you are somewhere safe and are confident in being able to uphold yourself to religious standards there.

If it’s reasonably an option, look into the possibility of living in a shared space with other believing sisters and the like. At any rate, do pray the prayer of seeking guidance (salat al-istikhara) and make the decision which you feel will be best for your religion in this life and the next.

Please also see this answer and this one.

wassalam,
[Ustadh] Tabraze Azam

Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadh Tabraze Azam holds a BSc in Computer Science from the University of Leicester, where he also served as the President of the Islamic Society. He memorised the entire Qur’an in his hometown of Ipswich at the tender age of sixteen, and has since studied the Islamic Sciences in traditional settings in the UK, Jordan and Turkey. He is currently pursuing advanced studies in Jordan, where he is presently based with his family.

I’tikaf: When The Aching Bones of Your Wives May Testify Against You

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I’tikaf is intended to be a blessed time for those who have the opportunity to engage in it so why is it causing so much marital discord between couples who Jazmin Begum-Kennedy is counselling?

Iʿtikāf (Arabic: اعتكاف‎‎, also i’tikaaf or e’tikaaf) is an Islamic practice consisting of a period of staying in a mosque for a certain number of days, devoting oneself to worship during these days and staying away from worldly affairs. The literal meaning of the word suggests sticking and adhering to, or being regular in, something, this ‘something’ often including performing supererogatory (nafl) prayers, reciting the Qur’an, and reading hadith.

Every year, I read wonderful social media updates from brothers preparing to go to i’tikaf followed by others praising them and requesting them to make dua. This ought to be a beautiful thing but unfortunately for the wives left behind, it is often a nightmare.

Few men make enough fanfare or even mention who will

  • pack their things for them,
  • do grocery runs,
  • cook fresh food each day,
  • send the fresh food to the men in i’tikaf each day, twice a day – for iftar and suhoor,
  • take care of the children and the school runs,
  • serve their parents,
  • serve their in-laws
  • take care of her own health, while pregnant or otherwise

All this on often little to no resources.
For these women, engaging in more prayer, Qur’an reading and quiet reflection during the blessed 10 nights of Ramadhan are a remote possiblity.
Don’t get me wrong- I am all for i’tikaf but men need to make provisions for their womenfolk first before they set off. Every year I am left counselling mothers who have been left to take care of young children and demanding inlaws, as well as send freshly cooked food to their menfolk at the mosques. Often, they are not left with much money or resources to barely feed the children and elderly in their care, let alone send food to their men in i’tikaf.

“But My Wife Doesn’t Mind”

I don’t just listen to the women’s side of the story. I have spoken to many men about this. Last year, one brother messaged me saying how the companions of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ  often left for months and years and no one complained. He insisted that his wife didn’t complain either. When I asked him if he had asked her, he did not reply.
We do not live in societies that allow for such privileges. When the companions of the Prophet ﷺ went away, they left their families in a community with extended families and friends. They had maids as well as wet nurses for support.
These days, women have to do school and mosque runs, shopping, take children to appointments, chores for in-laws etc. Everything is done by one person – the mother.
On top of the daily grind of life, there’s the added stress of arrange the delivery of fresh, pipping hot food because she doesn’t want to upset or anger her husband who has gone to get closer to Paradise.

Is This The Path To Paradise?

What blessing is there in striving for Paradise, off the back of another human being?
I acknowledge that being in service to those in worship is a form of worship itself, and may Allah reward all who engage in this to the best of their abilities. However, on the flip side, there is a disturbing element of injustice and oppression.
Just before I wrote this, I was consoling a mother who is experiencing a very difficult pregnancy and has a toddler to attend to. She can barely keep her head up due to the sickness and exhaustion. Her beloved husband set off for iti’kaf leaving her with strict instructions on making sure his two meals are delivered at the right temperature.
I try not to aggravate situations like this. I try to hold my tongue, for what it’s worth. I advised this woman to go to her parent’s home so she can get some much needed respite. She is drained. She is carrying life in her womb. It is her God-given right to be nurtured during this fragile time and her God-given right to request her husband stay home and make himself useful. I told her to print this profound hadith and hang it in her home so all can see what our beloved Prophet ﷺ had to say:

The best of you are those who are best to their wives.

SubhanAllah, it is time to reflect on why we do things and how our actions, even if it’s to do something good can be so damaging for our hereafter. I was reminded by a fellow mother, Sumayyah Omar on Muslim Mamas that the Prophet ﷺ said,

“The most beloved people to Allah are those who are most beneficial to the people. The most beloved deed to Allah is to make a Muslim happy, or to remove one of his troubles, or to forgive his debt, or to feed his hunger. That I walk with a brother regarding a need is more beloved to me than that I seclude myself in this mosque in Medina for a month. Whoever swallows his anger, then Allah will conceal his faults. Whoever suppresses his rage, even though he could fulfill his anger if he wished, then Allah will secure his heart on the Day of Resurrection. Whoever walks with his brother regarding a need until he secures it for him, then Allah the Exalted will make his footing firm across the bridge on the day when the footings are shaken.”

Scholars and Imams, Insist On A Checklist

Wouldn’t it be great if the imams in all our mosques would read this hadith out during Friday sermons in Ramadan? And then advise the men to follow basic protocols before packing their bags? Moni Akhtar, another mother from Muslim Mamas made a great suggestion: the masjid should give out a form of prerequisites before men are accepted into i’tikaf:

  • Have you asked your wife if she can cope without you?
  • Have you left her with provisions?
  • Have you paid for a cleaner to come and help?

Guidance and prompting from the ulema is sorely needed to raise greater awareness.
I would love to leave on a good note but instead I am forced to leave a warning. Your women and those in your care may not utter a word  now but their aching bones will testify against you on the Day of Judgement. May Allah have mercy upon us all, ameen.

Photo credit: Juliana Cunha

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Jazmin Begum Kennedy (JBK) is a ‘Qualified Housewife.’ By day she is a mother, wife and teacher; by night she wages war against oppressors and writes books. She is an experienced teacher of primary and secondary education, an acclaimed professional artist (JBK Arts) and published author of Mercy Like the Raindrops, Blessed Bees, No School Today and the upcoming novel, Fifteen. Jazmin is an online counsellor specialising in domestic abuse, rape and child abuse. She also physically helps victims of domestic violence flee their abusive marriages. She is the co-founder of the Nisa Foundation, working as a women’s aid worker for victims of domestic violence. JBK currently homeschools her three children, whilst managing a network for Home Educators in the Greater Manchester area of the United Kingdom.

On Fences and Our Neighbours. Dr Ingrid Mattson reflects.

Religions for Peace USA’s Our Muslim Neighbor Initiative  is a national effort to end Islamophobia. Since the Paris attacks the U.S. has seen an increase in anti-Muslim rhetoric that isolates our Muslim neighbors and feeds into a culture of fear. What can you do to counteract this trend?
Ingrid-MattsonFor the last three years the Our Muslim Neighbor Initiative has been on the ground in Tennessee buidling communities of trust across racial and religious lines. Over the years, they have developed strategies and resources to help people reach out and relate to their neighbors, to understand Islam and Muslims better, and to build communities of trust that break down stereotypes eating away at the goodwill that is so necessary for strong communities to thrive. To that end, they invited Dr. Ingrid Mattson to address the issue. Dr Mattson is a professor of Islamic Studies and the London and Windsor Community Chair in Islamic Studies at Huron University College, at the University of Western Ontario. She is also the former president of the Islamic Society of North America.
Watch Dr Mattson’s lecture below and read her article on the same topic.

Resources for seekers:

Staying Connected to Your Purpose Even When Your Marriage is Rocky


divorce marriageDo you feel pressured into having a perfect marriage? Do you engage in self-blame or blaming your spouse for imperfections to your marriage? How do you stay grounded – and fulfill your duty as a vicegerent of Allah, which is your primary purpose in life, while facing trials in your home? Ustadha Anse Tamara Gray offers some clear and sound advice at the 2nd Annual Wives of Jannah Online Conference.

divorce Tamara grayResources for seekers:

Full House at Muslim Marriage Seminar

Seekers hub Toronto - Marriage Seminar“Full house with two of our teachers, Shaykh Faraz Rabbani and Ustadha Shireen Fatima Ahmed at SeekersHub Toronto’s Marriage Seminar”, on 14th February 2015. Photo credit: Sadia Qaderi.

Resources for Seekers:
Understanding Marriage – A conversation with Imam Zaid Shakir
Lasting Love: What Makes for Successful Marriage?
When Love is Not Enough
Getting Married Seminar Helped make Marriage A Reality for SeekersGuidance Student
The Intentions of Marriage – Shaykh Ali bin Abu Bakr al-Sakran
Is Marriage Sinful? – Faraz Rabbani
Women, Debts, and Marriage