14 Questions asked to a married Muslim-American Woman

Thought you knew the life of a married Muslim woman? I hope you were told that she is not oppressed, weak, or helpless. She has her own independent life, she chose the man she married and well, she drives. Read on!

1. What does your independence look like?

My parents raised me to value education and taught me that it is the only thing I can fall back on if everything else fails. I studied something I love and I’m always involved in community services. My husband has his personal hobbies, which gives me space to work on myself and my interests. I go to his basketball games, he comes to events I volunteer in. Our interests aren’t completely aligned but we definitely do activities we both enjoy. We’re also lucky to have a few newly wedded friends and can have “married couple” outings. I still have to beg him to take walks with me and he still has to convince me to sit and watch the playoffs, but that hasn’t interfered with our personal freedoms.

2. Does he control your ins and outs?

Absolutely not! I come and go as I please. I avoid what makes him uncomfortable and take his opinion on everything because I WANT TO. There’s a balance of respect, understanding and compromise.

3. What do you do when he’s not home?

I got married about 9 months ago. At first, I would spend most of my time shopping and decorating our new home. I had just graduated and was in search of a job. College was my life for 5 years before marriage. It was my work, my socialization, my outlet for creativity. I got home in time for bed. After marriage, I had A LOT more free time. I tried singing, dancing, crafting. It was frustrating knowing that I have a broad skill set and no outlet. My husband would easily turn on the TV or go to the gym. Neither one was my cup of tea. Eventually, I became extremely bored and would wait for him to come home and entertain me. Now, I have a good ole 9 to 5 but, the question remains: what do I do alone? I’m still discovering my options and it has exposed me to some interesting opportunities. Well, here I am, writing to you.

4. Working woman: do you contribute?

Yes! In Islam, men are responsible for making sure their home is well-fed, well-dressed, and well-slept. The woman shouldn’t be depended on for the survival of the home. But, let’s face it, my husband and I both grew up in the same conditions, we had similar educations and we live in New York City where the cost of living is outrageous. Although we can live off of his salary alone, I contribute to give us both the peace of mind. I’m satisfied knowing that I’m not forced to do so and that if it were up to him, he’d give me the world without a finger lifted.

5. How do you manage anger and who gets the last say?

We deal with anger very, VERY differently. My husband is very kind…well, he’s not an angel. He can get VERY loud but, he cools off quickly. I, on the other hand, get very quiet and cool off slowly. We both always feel the need to be right but, we both always say sorry when the heat is off. As for the last say, we all know the answer, don’t we?

6. Did you love each other before marriage?

Yes! And I wouldn’t have been married any other way. My husband and I were together for 3 years before getting married: we dated, read our Fatiha (traditional “promise” when asking for a hand in marriage), attended City Hall for our Civil marriage, performed a Nikah/Katb Kitab (Islamic marriage), and finally, celebrated with a gorgeous wedding, or zaffa.

7. Did your parents make arrangements for the marriage?

My husband and I met on our own about 6 years ago. I told my family about him when I decided that he’s “the one.” In the Egyptian tradition, parents of the bride often expect that the Nikah would bear a heavy price and would often “negotiate” with the groom’s parents. But in Islam, it’s encouraged that parents make the marriage process easy and unburdening. My parents understood this and presented no obstacle to the marriage (primarily because they saw that he was very kind and genuine). They didn’t want a string on my finger but, they realized that having gold everywhere wasn’t necessary. Nonetheless, we had a lovely (costly) wedding with no regrets.

8. Is marriage really the key to becoming religious?

Not really. “When I get married, he’ll encourage me” wasn’t a good excuse to delay praying, reading Quran, becoming religiously conscious, etc. I entered marriage with the intention of bettering him and myself, of course. But, I try to be careful because there’s a fine line between encouraging him and imposing on his relationship with God. I try not to pressure him to do anything, considering I also have a lot to work on.

9. Did you start wearing the Hijab?

No. I have the intention of wearing it in the future but, neither my husband nor I expected that I’d wear it immediately after marriage. I’m still hoping it would dawn on me one day that I can’t live without my Hijab. Until then, I’ll continue to educate myself about it.

10. Sex: Why did you wait?

My husband and I both were virgins when we got married. We weren’t overly religious or had unprecedented self-control; we just both valued our virginity equally. All clichés aside, saving that one aspect of our lives for each other is the most special gift we’ve exchanged yet. Undoubtedly, we were strong enough to get passed everything around us saying “it” is easy, hot, and desired in quantities.

11. Babies, babies, babies?!

Changing our lives around while it’s just settling in doesn’t sound like the best decision just yet. However, having children is a big part of my future plans and I can’t help but daydream of how awesome parents we’d be. We do need a little life around the house though. Maybe we’ll get a fish!

12. Do you have non-Muslim friends?

Yes! We both do. Most of my friends are Arab and Muslim but, I met two of my dearest friends about 6 years ago in college. One is Polish-American and one is Dominican-American. We agree on more than just our morals and principles, we give each other great advice and seek strength in each other if one of us is down. My life would have been very different without them!

13. What is considered invasion of privacy?

a. Asking him where he’s going? What he’s up to? Who he’s with? Not invasive.
b. Looking through his phone? Vague. (Do I do it anyway? That’s another question!)
c. Complaining to friends and family? Invasive. I’m guilty of this, but I do think it’s an invasion of privacy and is a habit I should stop.
d. Exposing intimate details? Invasive!
e. Opening the bathroom while he’s inside? Vague. Beware hub!

14. Who does the chores?

We share responsibilities around the house. Women, don’t be fooled, sometimes men do a better job cleaning than you! And although he hates dishes and folding laundry, he makes a few good meals.

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Written by Jasmine Ibrahim-Issa

Jasmine Ibrahim-Issa

Jasmine Ibrahim-Issa is an American architect from NYC with a hobby of watching Ted Talks, reading Scientific American and listening to religious programs.