School,college,marriage,kids – is there more to being a woman?

Published: March 8, 2013

One wonders where the woman is in all of this- what about her dreams and aspirations? PHOTO: REUTERS

From a very early age, girls are taught to be responsible, politically correct and open to compromise, with a greater emphasis on conformity for societal appreciation.

There is just one problem, most of these lessons are bequeathed with the view of a woman’s future home, future in-laws, hypothetical husband and even more hypothetical children.

Lessons that bring forth a form of “automatic decision- making” that is of the “school-college-marriage-kids” variety.

It is almost as though a majority of women conclude that the ultimate result of any pursuit prior to their mid 20s will be matrimony and anything different would be rather unfortunate indeed, to the point that marriage becomes the apex of their lives, their primary focus, the very reason for their existence, and this is not considered unhealthy in the least.

The achievements of women in society then become increasingly measured by how soon they get married, how cleverly they manage family relations, how happy and fulfilled their husbands are, how well their children are performing at school, when their children get married, how successful their careers and marriages are because quite obviously, that is the litmus test of good upbringing.

One wonders where the woman is in all of this– what about her dreams and aspirations?

I have come across women who reflect a sense of emptiness when they reach the later part of their lives, not because marriage is unfulfilling or because raising children is unbelievably exhausting (which it is), but because they have lost themselves in the chaos of it all.

I have also come across young women who do not even consider the possibility where marriage could be put on hold for the pursuit of some other form of self fulfilment, whether career or education related, perhaps because the notion of deviating from a predetermined, socially approved plan presents a quandary of its own, one that is too overwhelming to deal with.

I do not mean to generalise, of course, there are a number of women, both young and old who view marriage and children as something that is a part of life, not the sole purpose of it.

I have, however, overwhelmingly engaged with women who reaffirm a rather different story; the consequences of which may be more detrimental than we realise.

Women should take a moment, preferably near their early 20s, to ask themselves what they would like to accomplish as individuals; to imagine how different life could be without marriage and children, what it would mean, how it would affect others, and how it would change society.

I do not know what the answers to these questions will be.

They may lead to wanting to solely raise children which is a task in itself and tougher than most careers, but they may also open doors you had not considered before, and they may make you realise that you value a life where your personal aspirations are both recognised and pursued – whether these aspirations include reading 500 books before you turn 40, teaching at a school, starting your own company, completing a graduate education, volunteering for different initiatives every year or a million other permutations of infinite possibilities.

Many women do not have the luxury of choice, some would argue, many would say they do not have the resources; even more may say that these are the ramblings of a feminist.

Regardless of what you may say or think, however, I pray that we begin to teach our daughters that they are individuals first, and wives/mothers second, that it is absolutely critical for them to determine who they are and how they will make an impact on the world.

They should be taught that the sole purpose of their existence is not to raise the next generation of Pakistan, granted that– that is a responsibility they all share and must fulfil to the best of their abilities.

I for one am certainly grateful that my parents gave me the courage to find this sense of self, to dare to imagine how I will leave a mark on the exceedingly crowded map of the world. And whether or not my “dreams come true”, the point is that I have them, and that they allow me to recreate and redefine a “happily ever after!”

Read more by Fatima here of follow her on Twitter @zahra7891

Fatima Zahra

Fatima Zahra

Fatima is a graduate student at the University of Southern California, and is passionate about using Communication Management as a medium for solutions to social issues. She tweets as @zahra7891 twitter.com/zahra7891

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • http://www.facebook.com/mahrukh.azhar.khan Mahrukh Azhar Khan

    I totally agree with you. Recommend

  • RAMEEZ

    Why is the matter with these pseudo-educated liberals ? You live your life according to Islam. I am very well aware of the subtle and indirect attacks on the importance of marriage . Most of this feminist nonsense comes from so called “western educated intellectuals”. Recommend

  • Rameez

    A correction.

    It’s “what” not “why”Recommend

  • Rameez

    And if you do not like our(pakistani) culture then go and marry a gora. Nobody gives a hoot.Recommend

  • Working Woman

    @ author

    “Regardless of what you may say or think, however, I pray that we begin to teach our daughters that they are individuals first, and wives/mothers second, that it is absolutely critical for them to determine who they are and how they will make an impact on the world.”

    If every human being starts to be just an individual first and son/duaghter, sister/brother, mother/father, husban/wife second… ‘What impacts on the world you are talking about

    And why care for the impacts anyway???? Recommend

  • https://twitter.com/Pugnate Noman Ansari

    @RAMEEZ:

    Not surprising this comment came from a dude. Your response seems to border on paranoia. Women aren’t servants and there isn’t anything wrong with the following beautiful message:

    Regardless of what you may say or
    think, however, I pray that we begin
    to teach our daughters that they are
    individuals first, and wives/mothers
    second, that it is absolutely critical
    for them to determine who they are and
    how they will make an impact on the
    world.

    Recommend

  • Salman

    thanks for not publishing my comment ET! don’t know what you guys are upto ???Recommend

  • Salman

    who so ever reading and not publishing my comments, for god sake stop being biased you so called broad minded and open media culture thanks to Gen. Musharraf who gave you this kinda freedom…Recommend

  • Ifuconthefirstdate

    Take it easy. Being a woman is no big deal. Recommend

  • https://twitter.com/Pugnate Noman Ansari

    @Working Woman:

    Being an individual and becoming self aware doesn’t mean you become selfish. But putting your needs completely aside for others is not only harmful to your own well being, but harmful to the development of others. You might think you are doing them a great service, but it creates various issues. Recommend

  • Parvez

    You have written quite a thought provoking article.
    Getting down to basics, God gave women the capacity to bear children and not to men. This in itself puts women at a very special level as an individual. She is a women and an individual side by side, one does not supersede the other. I feel that for women its necessary to understand this important fact.
    The question of having a work career or not is entirely a personal issue driven by different dynamics.Recommend

  • RAMEEZ

    @ Mr.Noman Ansari.

    I don’t care about what you think of me or my posts. As Muslims, we follow what is ordained in our religion. Except few faults, our culture is glorious. It definitely does not need any innovation, especially from these feminist.

    Individualism and materialism is poison for societies. Our Islamic history is filled with sacrifices and courage. Our ancestors were selfless beings, unlike us. We don’t want a society filled with self-centered individuals.

    @ working woman.

    I agree with your post.I wonder what impact she is taking about. Women can’t even raise their children properly and they want go outside and make an impact. Lol … Messed up priorities.

    A woman’s primary role is to raise a healthy family. Alhamdolliah, there are many conservative, religious and educated Pakistani women who are excellent wives and mothers . They are the ones who are to be honored and respected. To hell with feminism.
    Love to my religious Pakistani women.Recommend

  • RAMEEZ

    Just a brotherly advice to my conservative Pakistani women.

    Marry a man who fears Allah because a man who fears Allah will never hurt you. A Muslim husband who fears Allah will treat you honorably. He knows very well that if he unjustly harmed you, he will be accountable to Allah.

    We need to raise our daughters and sons with good religious knowledge and understanding and that can only be possible if we have excellent wives and mothers. Recommend

  • Global Nomad

    Mr Rameez

    Stay at home moms are NO BETTER than working mothers…just because they are home does not mean that they are better at child rearing..look at all the terrorists and wastrels jaahil housewives have produced. And just because a women chooses to pursue a career does not mean that they care for the needs of their family any less…in fact, her children are likely to enjoy a better lifestyle and far better education.

    However, when you brainwash a girl child from the time she first speaks that her ultimate objective is to be a model wife and mother, you are creating an environment that encourages nothing but “susraal handling” and “bacha sambhalna”. Its not rocket science, and women are not that stupid that they cannot handle both.

    Quit blaming your own sexist exploitative views on religion. I would like to see men behave like the prophets before they ask women to behave like the prophet’s wives. Recommend

  • Uzair

    As a male I must be one of the “pseudo-educated liberals” referred to by RAMEEZ, because I fully believe that woman are as much human and capable of great things as men, and have hopes and dreams.

    One doesn’t choose to be born man or women, tall or short, etc… but every one is born with some talent and innate hope of doing something with their life. If someone is born as a woman they are entitled to explore their talent, and if they want to, to make a mark in the world. As such anyone who insists women’s role is in the home as a wife and mother only is being grossly unfair to them.

    Walking the talk, I have told my wife she can do whatever she likes in life to feel like she has achieved something, whether that’s further studies, work, or just some hobby at home. When it comes to raising kids I will consider it our shared duty, it’s not just the woman’s job to raise good kids.Recommend

  • haider

    Well said!

    Raising a family is the ‘family’s’ responsibility; not just the woman’s. I too find it unbelievably preposterous that how can someone in this day and age; with the magnitude of available information accept settling down and doing absolutely nothing apart from raising kids; cooking food and tell her saas funny jokes.Recommend

  • Some one

    @RAMEEZ:

    Dude your a male chauvinist.Recommend

  • Some one

    @Rameez:

    Giving women rights & respecting them is not a Culture its a Respect & open mind.
    which simply shows you dont have respect & you dont have a Mind Recommend

  • Sabeer Lodhi

    @Rameez

    I hope you’re just trolling and do not actually believe what you’ve said. I hope so.. for your sake. Recommend

  • Huma

    @RAMEEZ… dont forget, Islam celebrates feminism… it also gives women the right to refuse to breast feed their own child if the husband does not provide for her properly… and I’m very religous and I alsoI know that my Allah has given me rights! Being a doormat does nor translate to being a muslim. And standing up for your rights does not make you selfish and uncaring! Life is not black and white everyone… Recommend

  • Mariam

    Now that I’ve been married 10 years I realize that it’s very important to complete your studies and work a while before marriage because at the end of the day a woman can only rely on herself. it’s something completely different to be self sufficient and spend your own money instead of begging your husband for it everyday. I wish my parents had thought of this and made me study further. I will definitely not let my daughters get married without being properly educated. As parents we have to encourage our daughters to study and not force them into marriage at a tender age. I have also learnt that working women get a lot more respect from their husbands as they make their own money and contribute in the running of the house as well. Recommend

  • tj

    Very good article, it is exactly what society wants us to do, get married and all your dreams and aspirations.. And even wanting to have a career or wanting to live your dreams after marriage .. By the husband and everyone else for that matter.Recommend

  • afza siddiqui

    i agree partly with the author. i think that education ,carrier and matrimony are all parts of a woman’s life.we cannot judge and compare them as it depends on individuals on how they grade them in their lives.there are examples of women persuing with their dreams and being good mothers at the same time.its just about finding the right ballance.
    but since i have entered my 20’s i have come to this mind boggling revelation that in our social setup you cant keep flying as a free bird for long.there is a psycological pressure created every time you hear your family discussing your shadi issue atleast once in the day.
    i am no anti-shadi person but when it is supposed to happen at time that ALLAH TAALA has fixed for an individual be it sooner or later then why the aunties and the family are so hyper about it. society should let go of this pressure tactic on the ladies if they want to dream big and achieve before settling down in a family. Recommend

  • Nobody

    Great post! I wholeheartedly agree. I’m blessed because my parents always place immense value on education for both my sister and me, and getting married too young was never an option for us. Education, self discovery, travel/exploration and self sufficiency come first.
    I abhor when people or society perpetuate the vicious cycle by just making marriage the primary goal for women, and I hate it even more when women do that for themselves. It’s pathetic and self-loathing. Shows like sex and the city exemplify that nauseatingly 90’s and pre-90’s mentality that women created for themselves even in some western cultures (don’t get me wrong, I love the show but seriously, sitting around waiting for some prince charming to come along and propose…? get a life!)
    It’s important for everyone to feel a sense of self worth and marriage and babies is not necessarily it for every woman. In fact I don’t know any women who willfully restrict themselves to the wife and mother role. Every young woman in my circle is working to make something of herself before committing to another person.
    This is not to say I don’t respect women who choose to be stay at home moms, but expecting that to be the only role for all women is a problem. You can’t expect half the population to stay at home popping out babies. That’s a huge pool of talent, resources, contributors to the economy and skills you just eliminated from the outer sphere of society.
    Make something of yourself, form an identity, establish self worth and then worry about having a partner. You have more to offer the world that way. Cheers. Recommend

  • https://twitter.com/Pugnate Noman Ansari

    @RAMEEZ:
    Your interpretation of your religion doesn’t bother me, but your myopic world view that you are correct, and you are the spokesperson for Islam very much does. Self righteous much?Recommend

  • https://twitter.com/Pugnate Noman Ansari

    @RAMEEZ:

    Marry a man who fears Allah because a
    man who fears Allah will never hurt
    you. A Muslim husband who fears Allah
    will treat you honorably. He knows
    very well that if he unjustly harmed
    you, he will be accountable to Allah.

    You paint with a really wide brush. Many abusive husbands I’ve come across believe they are pious Muslims, when the sad fact is they are not.

    Women don’t fill out the child-bearing kitchen-cooking job application as soon as they are born, according to Islam. I feel sad that you believe this to be the case. It is even worse that you preach your misguided views as the truth. Recommend

  • Asma

    Well said Fatima. It all depends on one’s personal circumstances. However I would back your views and I believe that a fulfilling life is one when a man or woman plays a constructive role in society. Allah has empowered us, especially a woman, with a capacity to do multitasks and a brain that makes us asraful makhlukat. All of us have some kind of skill that can be utilised-just cooking and raising children is something even a maasi can do! However it is one’s exposure to the outside world and education that brings out the difference in the upbringing, she molds the child, of course keeping everything in context. Those who label such views as those of “western educated intellectuals” are less educated men, who have not even read the Quran from their own eyes but very conveniently accepted whatever the local maulvi uttered because it suits their lifestyle. They ‘fear’ the domination and intellectual capacity of an educated woman.
    Our society, particularly, is a male dominated society. The sad part is, unlike Western countries, the state too does not provide support to those women who are either single, divorced or widowed. For a single woman survival is a pain when she is all alone. However the woman does need to balance her life as a working mum. Notwithstanding that raising a family is the responsibility of both parents, it is the mother the children long for ultimately. A woman, if widowed or divorced, has been endowed by Almighty with special powers to raise children but a man, widowed or divorced,finds it an exceedingly arduous task. Woman has a function different to from a man’s and that is the fact. This however does not prevent a woman from pursuing her desires and dreams. Recommend

  • Shah (Berlin)

    To be honest….i think the women today are actually understanding the concept wrong….

    Man also has dreams…man also wants to achieve some thing in his life…man also has to scarifice is career for his family…and a man is also taught that till his 30’s he should get married…than why such a big fuss….man also wants to invest every thing in him..but he scarifices for his family….he also lets his dreams go away for his family …..

    Yes women day is celebrated for a reason…just dont mix up the reasons……Recommend

  • Pakistani

    I agree with everything Rameez mentioned.

    @ Author:
    Our culture, our values, our religion, our thinking-process are totally very different and far much much better (If properly understood and sincerely put into effect). If you(author) believe that being being indoctrined by the Gora-Education, you, by adopting their lifestyles, culture could improve islam and mould it as per your heart desires…..then i msut say you shouldnt have returned to Pakistan, were better off at California – home to successful nation.
    Be your true self Miss Fatima– Islam is an identity of a true muslim- a religion we should all be proud of..

    No offense.Recommend

  • Pro Bono Publico

    Very well said Miss Asma. Agreed. Recommend

  • Islam

    @ Mr. Noman Ansari:
    I am afraid but you definately need to check on your source, Thre are three(3) things under which a woman can do business , meaning work, and that too within the walls of here home (meaning in purdah).Recommend

  • I am a Khan

    The article’s title is : school, college, marriage, kids- is there more to being a woman?

    My Question: What more do you want? School, College, Marriage, Kids…are these all not more than enough?? and balancing all these with a 9 to 9 job will either mean destruction for the Woman or destruction for her Children. I personally think being a caring mother, sister, and wife is a greater rank (and more demanding) than being an MD or CFO of a fortune 500 :)) School, college, marriage, kids, shopping, picking and dropping kids to and from school, supervising their home work and Quranic studies, paying the bills, cooking, watching TV is more than enough to keep a house wife much busier than an office working woman…A tribute to all house wives on Women’s Day..Every day is your day..you are the Queen of the Home :))

    Hope the elitist feminists do not bash me in a mega fit of rage for what I have said :))

    Hope the moderators publish my comment and allow me freedom of speech :))Recommend

  • Liberal Voice

    beautifully written!
    couldn’t agree more. I, for one, am all for teaching this to our next generation. and we should teach this to both boys and girls. im going to teach this to my daughter definitely. you are very lucky for having parents like that. i remember when my mother used to urge me to work hard so i can get into a medical college, and i used to say thats not what i want to do, she would say well thats what will get you good rishtas!!
    not that i dont love her. i do, a lot. but just that what she said was wrong, but i realise it now :)Recommend

  • http://mezaajedeen.blogspot.com Deen Sheikh

    Not that I agree with Rameez, but give the guy a break, he is entitled to his opinipns…it does give some.food for thought that maybe we as a society need to work on our own custom model.of female empowerment and social equality as opposed to following a very individualistic model as followed in anglo saxan countries, cultures are not homogenous sk so why should social.empowerment?Recommend

  • Ali Zaib

    Brilliantly written, every unmarried-girl must read it. to the other guys who talk of Islam. I’ll ask you to consider yourself a non-muslim for just one hour or a day and then invite yourself to Islam. but considering yourself a critical non-muslim is important. You’ll then understand what you know about Islam and how much you understand Islam.Recommend

  • Mehdi

    @author

    Again a thought provoking article. extremely disappointed to see so many people providing their bigoted comments by using Islam as a justification. Women should define her own role in the society. Her role shouldn’t be defined by men and society.

    I would go off tangent a bit and draw a connection between the first article you wrote about Shia killings and your current blog on women issue. Terrorism in Pakistan is deeply engrained because of the rigid and irrational mindset many main stream pakistani people hold. You are providing ways for women empowerment, many here instead of supporting you, they are bashing western culture, attacking feminism and your ideas. worst is they are using Islam to justify these irrationalities. Don’t see a very bright future for Pakistan.

    Islam cherishes individualism, if we didn’t have this we won’t be producing scientists, doctors and many other professionals. Individualism not equal to being selfish.Recommend

  • Mehdi

    @RAMEEZ:
    It’s people like you in Pakistan, who are promoting extremism in Pakistan in the guise of salafism, a virulent strain of islamic sect, that is wrecking havoc to pakistani society.Recommend

  • Mehdi

    @Pakistani:

    What do you mean by gora education ? Why are you expressing your views in English then !! Please find the meaning of the word hypocrisy. Recommend

  • kinza

    oh you speak my mind, girl! proud of you! well-rounded, balanced blog, enjoyed it! :-)Recommend

  • IZ

    @Pakistani

    Do you see the irony in your demanding of the author “Miss Fatima be true to yourself” and then also insisting that you know her true “self” better than she does? Does this contradiction not strike you as being in the least bit odd? Particularly coming after a post in which she is calling on women to not bury their own individual identities under the narrow confines of society’s chosen ‘feminine’ roles?

    @Rameez

    I’ve seen plenty of evidence of what your insistence that it is the woman’s primary role in raising the family and to be docile and subservient to the needs of the family’s males leads to – sons raised to belittle women and feeling as if they are entitled to have their every whim met. Their sense of entitlement is so ingrained, as is their view that it is religiously mandated that some will go so far as to beat their wives with irons and bats all the while insisting that it is the wife’s fault for not doing the “pious” thing and bowing to their every whim. Even in your advice to women to marry ‘pious’ men you said that such men would not “unjustly” harm women, in other words implying that they may well be “justly” harmed if the ‘pious’ man feels it is justified.

    My own advice to women: steer well clear of men who believe they have the right to judge you and hurt you if you do not meet their arbitrary and self-serving standards.Recommend

  • Saima

    Totally agree there’s a problem with the role our culture has given women. I have a different take on it though.

    A woman’s primarily role in Islam is to submit to Allah and worship Him. Not to raise kids and a family like others are suggesting, nor to fulfill her own personal dreams without looking at the bigger picture. Too often we have women who’ve spent their lives without praying or even knowing much about Islam and our society continues to think that as long as they’re a good housekeeper they’re good.

    A career woman who fulfills her duty to Allah is much more successful in my eyes than a mother/wife/homemaker who does not.

    A woman is a servant of God first, and a mother/wife/career lady second.

    Only in submitting to God (and liberating oneself from all man made gods, including culture, inlawd, husbands) can a person find true fulfillment, satisfaction, and liberation.
    Marriage may be one way to fulfill this submission to God, but it is not the only way. Recommend

  • http://mezaajedeen.blogspot.com Tribune Reader

    Maybe Pakistan needs its own version of Feminism as opposed to the Anglo American version of it as advocated by this young lady here. Oh Madam this is not California, this is Pakistan. Recommend

  • Hashim

    Consider Case A:

    You achieve all your dreams and are rich powerful and famous. You have made your mark in the world and the wider solar system as well. And after fifty years you die and spend the next nine hundred gahzillion bahzillion years burning in hell

    Consider Case B:

    Live in humility and obey the quran for 50 years and one day you die and spend the next nine hundred gahzillion bahzillion years in heaven where all your dreams desires and fantasies come true instantly.

    One does not need to have PhD in theoretical mathematics to make the right choice here.Recommend

  • Asad Malik

    School, college, work and pay for your wife and kids. Is there more to being a man? It’s all unfair when you look at it from only one perspective.

    And as for leaving a mark, leaving a mark through your kids is one of the proudest moments of a parent. You can ask any of the proud mothers when their children get honors in college. When you mature, you will understand.Recommend

  • Breaking Bad

    high expectations is our culture. just to clarify pakistani males have their equal share as soon as they step into practical life.Recommend

  • Moawwiz

    grabs popcorn
    Enough said.Recommend

  • abdul

    just read the history and find out who was the man who for the first time started women liberation movement and why! and if you have a pure and sensible mind then i think there is no need for a debate here. thank you. by the way most attacks on others are the attacks from the liberals on the conservatives on this site. the conservatives are always apologetic and the liberals always outnumber them. the liberals have proven themselves to be the most intolerant, dogmatic and rude here. bye.Recommend

  • Worker

    School, college, work, marriage, work, kids, work, take care of family, work, pay for kids university, work, pay for their marriage, work and then work until you drop dead– is there more to being a man?

    P.S- Career and work is over-rated, work is just work.Recommend

  • Mehdi

    @Tribune Reader:

    Author is talking about universal concept of feminism. Pakistan and Pakistanis need to bring about drastic changes in how they practice Islam, how they treat minorities and how they govern. If not it will disintegrate.Recommend

  • Ali Khan

    Very true Fatima, I have no doubts on this universal ideology of yours.
    But I guess you missed an important point here. You see rules & ideologies are not practical in every situation, you have to integrate all factors to get an optimized big picture. You are right our women try to adhere to that ideology as much as they can but never forget that unlike liberalized societies our women do not have a supporting state, no supportive courts, no supportive police department, no supportive husbands sometimes no supportive parents, sometimes no supportive friends, no jobs that can be inline with our purposes and no supportive working environment (except a few organizations).
    Perhaps a woman who is not clear with the whole picture might suggest rebellious moves, but in the end the right decision is to get the coffee for husband when he comes back from work.
    But yes a woman should try at least once to change it remaining within the limits.

    Regards,Recommend

  • ThinkFirst

    @RAMEEZ:

    “Just a brotherly advice to my conservative Pakistani women.

    Marry a man who fears Allah because a man who fears Allah will never hurt you. A Muslim husband who fears Allah will treat you honorably. He knows very well that if he unjustly harmed you, he will be accountable to Allah.

    We need to raise our daughters and sons with good religious knowledge and understanding and that can only be possible if we have excellent wives and mothers.”

    It is wonderful that you honor women so much. However, I found this wording disturbing: “He knows very well that if he unjustly harmed you, he will be accountable to Allah” Who determines what is “just” or “unjust” harm? Shouldn’t it read “He know very well that if he harms you in any way, he will be accountable to Allah” When would it ever be just for a man to harm his wife?Recommend

  • Humanity

    And the award of the best rebuttal to @Rameez’s primodal desire to control women goes to @Global Nomad:

    “I would like to see men behave like the prophets before they ask women to behave like the prophet’s wives.”Recommend

  • Humanity

    @Rameez and @Islam:

    The Islam I love grants a woman rights that elevate her from a bachaa paida kerney kee machine to a human. Please do not transgress in your self righteousness and misguide others to deprive a woman of her God given rights.

    Please leave the Pakistani women alone. Move to KSA and practice your Islam by keeping your wife or wives in purdah locked up like cattle.Recommend

  • Humanity

    @author

    Fortunate is the one who knows what his/her passion is and is then able to pursue the passion. Blessed in the one who can pursue the passion in the compnay of of a supportive spouse, sharing the responsibility of rasining a balanced, happy family. It is an act of moderation, completely in line with Islam’s emphasis on balance as opposed to adopting an extreme path which is bound to lead to unfulfillment and regret.Recommend

  • Humanity

    @Hashim:
    Consider you were born a woman, named Hashima.

    It is quite likely that you, Hashima are married off to a Hashim who beats Hashima every day and makes Hashima bears his endless row of children. Hashim then proceeds to marry another Hashima half his age.

    Now answer honestly, should Hashima

    “Live in humility and obey the quran for 50 years and one day she dies and spends the next nine hundred gahzillion bahzillion years in heaven where all her dreams desires and fantasies come true instantly.”?

    God has given Hashima the faculties to become a productive, economically independent woman. God has given Hashima the right to get out of a bad marriage. Would Hashima not be irresponsible to deny her opportunity to be self sufficent? Would Hasihma not be ungrateful and wrong in allowing Hashim to transgress instead of dissolving the bad marrigae? Woud Hashima not be a bad mother both for her sons and her daughters, teaching them that enabling a bully is acceptable and being a bully is acceptable.

    This is not about feminism. This is about rights given to a woman by Allah SWT. One certainly does not need to have PhD in theoretical mathematics to make the right choice here.Recommend

  • kinza

    @Ifuconthefirstdate: are you one? Im sure NOT!Recommend

  • Fatima

    @Tribune Reader: Yes, and I am a Pakistani, I just moved here to study a few months ago, so this is an individual very-much-Pakistani version of what I think.Recommend

  • Really

    @Islam:
    Did Khadijah work within the 4 walls of the home?Recommend

  • Fatima

    @Rameez: If you read the article carefully, it does not attack the institution of marriage in the least, it addresses the role of women in society and their own perceptions of that role. Furthermore, in no way, shape or form does the article insult the Pakistani culture and allude to mere western ideals. It seems presumptuous to conclude that the pursuit of a woman’s individual aspirations directly negates Pakistani culture, are Pakistani women not supposed to have them? And if that is the case, who decides what kind of aspirations they are or aren’t supposed to have? And I suppose that would be defended by your interpretation of the role that Islam has attributed to women. Please, then, explain to me why the Prophet (PBUH) would marry a successful entrepreneur and in fact work for her, instead of asking her to forgo her work to fulfill her real “Islamic duties” as a woman.

    I find it utterly disconcerting that you would use a religion as beautiful as Islam, a religion that celebrates women and advocates for their liberty, as an argument for reducing the role of women to one that is conveniently narrow minded, impractical and self-serving. Working and having aspirations is not un-Islamic, teaching women to think of themselves as human beings who have a holistic role in society is not un-Islamic, and managing both work outside the four walls of your home while simultaneously raising and rearing children is not un-Islamic either.

    As for your brotherly advice, I would urge women to marry believing men who truly understand the message that Islam has to offer, men who are not threatened by women taking on larger roles in society, and certainly not threatened by their status of education. Lastly, please do not treat Islam and western education as mutually exclusive, Islam values education and the seeking of progress, regardless of whether you are a man or a woman. More importantly, diverse perspectives and education propel you forward in your struggle to become a better human being, forcing you to constantly re-evaluate yourself, which I believe is one of the essential elements that the religion speaks of, and is applicable to all Muslims no matter what their gender. Recommend

  • H.W.A

    What i don’t understand is why Every discussion these days ends up becoming a battle between the conservatives and the liberals? We look at what our country has become and we change nothing about our attitudes towards each other. Where is the tolerance for other peoples opinions and beliefs that is essential for peace, Pakistanis? Why have we stopped looking for common grounds, just to ensure That? Is Peace not incentive enough?
    What Fatima said was open to interpretation. She didn’t say women should be given the right to ‘work’ so men please stop crying about how you Have to and its over rated,that was not the point of the article. She didn’t say women should be let loose of all strings and allowed to do whatever they want, so Rameez you need to relax too.
    Her point was that girls shouldn’t be raised thinking that the sole purpose of their lives is to becomes wives and mothers.Because it isn’t. We Need to realize that it isn’t. The sole purpose of anyone’s life, man or woman, is to live this life in such a way that our Lord is pleased with us on The Day and we can qualify for the desired final destination and be saved from Hell-Fire. So isn’t That the concept we should be drilling in our daughters’ minds instead of being so specific. If all our kids understand that that is the purpose of our existence, aren’t they more likely to take the right decisions by themselves? If a girl knows that she has to please Allah taa’la in whatever she does, and then she is fortunate enough to get married, she’s likely to be a better wife and mother anyway. And in case that is Not what’s written for her (I know several girls that are as perfectly eligible as my married friends, who have now reached their early 30ies and are still single;and no they did not deny rishtas ‘at the right age’ and all that. It just didn’t happen because that was Allah’s will for them) then even in that scenario they know that their lives are not meaningless just because they couldn’t become wives and mothers. And there still is a lot they can do to achieve the True purpose of their lives!
    So when someone talks about self discovery for girls, and teaching them that they can be more, maybe the more in that could mean Better. Better muslims, better human beings, more capable of running households and raising better children (instead of just raising them because that was ‘what we were born to do’! Recommend

  • Fatima

    @I am a Khan: I have the greatest respect for housewives, and my intention is not to pit housewives against working women. Raising children is an extremely important part of our role as women, and it would be rather ridiculous to diminish that, but I would urge you to consider that what is enough for you is not necessarily synonymous to what should be enough for all women. Every woman is different, and that should not only be appreciated but nurtured. If we raise our children, especially our daughters, with a preconceived idea of who we think they ought to be, we are stripping them of the freedom of their individuality, and of their potential.Recommend

  • Ainee

    Mufti Menk beautifully said, “In Islam your freedom ends where the rights of others begin.”

    No, that wasn’t just for women. This is for everyone.Recommend

  • Ainee

    @Humanity – I totally agree with you point but where did Hashima and Hashim come from? The article doesn’t say anything about an abusive husband. The author is simply stating that a woman should pursue her dreams. And brother Hashim didn’t say anything wrong. Then why did you make that Hashima-Hashim story up, lol ?. Stick to the topic. Recommend

  • Parvez

    @Hashim: Your simplistic thinking is not just wrong in its asumptions but disturbing because who ever has schooled you on this subject has done a very poor job. Recommend

  • Fatima

    @Hashim: I see, and I suppose you missed the part where one of the conditions for achieving this eternal bliss is to “do good work”, which doesn’t necessarily equate the pursuit of becoming rich, powerful and famous. That work could include pursuing higher female literacy, educating children, protecting the abused, opening a business to provide jobs to people so they can provide for their families, creating new innovative ways for health improvement, or even playing a sport well so that your people can derive hope and appreciation from your success.

    If God intended to grant people heaven merely based on them following a code in isolation, there would be no purpose to having a “society” of people. And if God disapproved of aspirations, dreams, success, money and fame, He would not have allowed them to exist with such fervor in the first place. The real test is not shying away from these things, the real test is how you use them to help those around you, and compel society forward. So my question to you is, are you completely sure of the options that you’ve presented? I hope for your sake, that you re-evaluate your notion of what does and does not warrant eternal reward. Recommend

  • Ainee

    @Parvez – Really?. How is acquiring knowledge of Qur’an for 50 years and living in humility disturbing?.Recommend

  • Ainee

    lol I don’t understand why are you all ganging up on the poor guy?. What am I missing? What did he say wrong? :S

    @Fatima – the guy said “obey Qur’an”. When people properly obey Qur’an, they not only fulfill the rights of Allah upon them, but they also fulfill the rights of others.Recommend

  • Fatima

    @Ainee: “You achieve all your dreams and are rich powerful and famous. You have made your mark in the world and the wider solar system as well. And after fifty years you die and spend the next nine hundred gahzillion bahzillion years burning in hell”

    That, is what I find wrong with what he said. Part of obeying the Quran also constitutes using your God-given intelligence to both have dreams, achieve them, and hopefully in doing so not only fulfill the rights of others as a mere checklist, but to actively advocate for those rights and work to make society better. What I find wrong with his statement is the implication that religion is to be passively consumed and not actively and holistically practiced, and also that holding wealth, power and fame directly implies that one will burn in hell. That to me is a rather outrageous cause-effect relationship to make. Recommend

  • The Rebel

    ET…why did you not publish my comment? I took so long to come up with it. There was NOTHING wrong or vulgar mentioned in it. :|Recommend

  • Mehdi

    @Hashim:

    For case A: how you do know that person will burn in hell ? Did god anointed you with that power ?

    For case B: if you read Quran for 50 year that doesn’t make you a pious person. next it doesn’t guarantee you a place in heaven. God analyzes your deeds over the duration of your life time and applies wide range of criterion and if see if you are a just candidate for heaven.

    From the stated case studies you presented, I can infer that you have presented flawed logic for determining who goes to hell and heaven.

    Again I will reiterate to the audiences here, that people like are the reason why Pakistan is retrogressing. Recommend

  • Mehdi

    @Humanity:

    Well said. I will pay for their camel ride from Karachi to Riyadh :) Recommend

  • Mehdi

    @Ainee:

    Allah didn’t ask you to read Quran, he commanded you to analyze, logically interpret his sayings. You missed out on two key words. I am ganging up against irrationality because allah has commanded me to do . Please don’t condemn me to hell.Recommend

  • Ainee

    @Fatima – jazakAllahu khairan, yes, following ones dream is totally fine as long as it doesn’t go against the laws of Islam. Obeying Qur’an means practicing it. And yes, Allah azza wa jal doesn’t hate rich people :)

    @ Mehdi – the word was “obey”, not “read”.
    Astaghfirullah, I don’t have the authority to condem people to hell.Recommend

  • Mehdi

    @Fatima:

    When you have blocked your brain with pseudo religious dogmatic wall , all rational thoughts are blasphemy and sin. having said that I commend you for explaining your rational stance to many people here in this blog. Fatima, you will notice why Pakistan is retrogressing by only reading the comments of few. They are in majority, they don’t come to tribune blog because they don’t know English, please write this article in Urdu in an Urdu daily and engage a psychologist to analyze the responses in an Urdu blog. Trust me you will see a trend, and that can easily be a small subsection of your masters or phd thesis. How social media helps to determine retrogressing factors in a conservative society/culture that is influenced by Islam. Recommend

  • SA

    @Rameez:
    You’re an idiotRecommend

  • Baba Ji

    Who is stopping women to do bungee jumping ?Recommend

  • Aalia Suleman

    @Humanity…..

    “I would like to see men behave like the prophets before they ask women to behave like the prophet’s wives.”……..Bravo, bravo, bravo…….!! Recommend

  • Parvez

    @Ainee:
    Read @Hashim’s comment fully and do not take a small part of it to make a point and even then if you can not see the simplistic thinking behind his view, kindly think again. Recommend

  • ali1156

    classic individualism vs collectivism. Recommend

  • Parvez

    @Ainee: Please read @Hashim’s comment fully to get what he’s said and not one line taken out of context for making a point.
    If even then you don’t get it ………….there’s nothing much I can do.Recommend

  • halblooded

    There is enough of it seriously, give it a break.Recommend

  • Ajay

    @Rameez:
    Do you believe in extremes? Why can’t she hold an in-between view, you MCP, IP!!
    And what’s wrong if perhaps she is trying to bring awareness and change to you IP’s or IHH’s? Recommend

  • Fatima

    @ali1156: Those are theoretical constructs, its quite possible to practice individualism while remaining in harmony with a collectivist society. In fact, one would need both for a healthy balance I would argue. Recommend

  • http://tribune.com.pk aleena rizvi

    Well expressed, Being a woman means carrying a lot of expectations from every relation.
    One of the toughest jobs of the world.Recommend

  • Tanoli

    Dear Author,
    I agree what you said, but I believe it’s not only our woman but our man has the same problem ( most of the time). We are acting like a lost nation, Our education system doesn’t give us an individual approach. How many of us decided what they want to be in life? we left our future on our fate. We don’t target anything. There is an English saying, that if you don’t have a destiny then any road can take you there. same thing happen to us, we end up doing some means to earn money and stop progressing in our life.
    This is the story of every other person in our society, and that is one of the reason people are not energetic and motivated about, for what they doing.
    I believe we should teach our kids about there individuality and encourage them to set their goal in life so they can target them and achieve them. Recommend

  • kamran

    I doubt there is more to being.
    A man as well as man is also.
    Following this same ritual of school
    College marriage kids in this
    Pakistani societyRecommend

  • locks

    @RAMEEZ:
    Sorry Rameez but theres nothing wrong with a “western education”.
    Having been brought up outside of Pakistan, my parents were still very traditional and “namaazi”. I was pressured from the age of 21 that my focus in life should be to get married as soon as possible.
    I didnt really have a problem with that, except the kind of rishtas my parents were asking me to consider was just unbelievable. I actually once got forced to meet a gay guy…yes..GAY! They also many times tried to convince me to marry guys from “back home” which i refused to do because i felt there would be too much of a cultural clash.
    The pressure that was put upon me was disgusting – it made me feel worthless, like scum.
    I eventually got married, to a “gora” and guess what? he is a MUSLIM. so can you tell me whats so wrong with marrying a gora?
    Pakistani culture and Islam are completely the opposite of each other. In Islam, women are cherished and respected, in Pakistan they are treated as nothing but a burden or a commodity.Recommend

  • Ali Ahmad

    A child’s first school is her mother !
    A child is first fed by her mother !
    A child first learns to walk is by her mother !
    A child first learns how to talk, feel and say is by her mother !

    A woman plays a critical role in developing a human being ! and thats how important it is … so to develop a human being who is socially resposible in all senses we need to have a strong bond between a mother and her child and that comes from being in a relationship which is called ‘marriage’ –

    Look at goras where a child can say anything to his/her parents and nohing can be done about it..

    so anyone who speaks about liberal manifestos for women then go live in gora society where women are dumped imperially right left and center !Recommend

  • Fatima

    @Ali Ahmad: I think you’re missing the point here, the point isn’t whether or not women should get married, which they should if and when they wish to, the point is that in order for them to raise socially responsible children, as you quite rightly pointed out, they need to cater to and analyze their own development and role in society first. You can’t give a child a sense of self if you never developed one of your own. Recommend

  • AM

    Agreed, but would like to add that its not Just Men who expect women to get married and be all about it but more than them its the Women of our society who belive so.Recommend

  • Done Before

    Topics like these have been done to death. We get it: being a woman is hard, being a man is hard. Being a decent human being, full stop, is hard. You want equality? Quit with the down-trodden princess syndrome. I don’t see guys writing blogs upon blogs on how awful it is having a Y chromosome, why people demand they make something of themselves, just so that they are labelled a “man”.

    I’m sure this is just for entertainment value. The real comedic factor is, alongside blogs like these, there are also articles that have interviewed “high-profile” women on how they want to be proposed to. Did anyone else see their reponses? So unrealistic, like they’re living in a fairytale! What do you reckon their take on being a woman is? It’s such a subjective area. OMG just like personality and individuality!!!!!1!!11!!!

    In conclusion: Suck. It Up.Recommend

  • Stranger

    Learn to like what you get if you dont get what you like. Many women who are clear about their aspirations have quit the marriage and walked out.
    I know many women who are in the marriage and make lives hell – theirs own and the lives of people around them by talking non stop about their so called dreams and aspirations. Marriage and kids are not a hinderance for anything . Their attitude is .Recommend

  • Sab33N

    @ Rameez,

    The shariah and the religion comes into focus only when its a question about women, their education and their independence..

    There are many men i know who not only want their wives to work because they want support in managing finances but then they also want their wives to come home from work; cook, clean, tutor their kids and entertain guests .. IN such cases as well .. sole responsibility of children’s upbringing falls into the mother’s shoulder .. WHY .. Because ohh it was defined as a duty of women by our Lord .. & well we just want them to work as well coz its so damn expensive.

    And Lord help women who are working out of their own will to maintain their independence and sanity.. even a smallest of mistake from her end will be blamed on their education, upbringing and too much freedom given to them ..

    What nonsense and hypocrisy !!Recommend

  • uzma

    School______________ college __________________ marriage ____________ kids

    No one stops us women to fill the blanks in between if we want to …… as someone said!!!

    where there is s will there is a wayRecommend

  • uzma

    little correction
    where there is a will , there is a wayRecommend

  • Zarine U. Bajwa

    All is very well as the author says, but living in Pakistan, reality is very different. Pray try being a single woman living in Pakistan and see the difference. The security one gets is only from the husband, as he is your true partner as ordained by Allah, and your protection. I have lived and held a good job, at the same time trying to be a good housewife, raising my husband’s kids and our own too.
    But the moment a husband dies, everything changes, there is no security, monetary or social for a single woman, in Pakistan. after the husband’s property was distributed, and she being left with one eighth of everything! (not my case though) . Just pray that your husband does not die on you, or he leaves you well taken care of. Otherwise our laws are unjust to women.
    The main problem is the men, as MOST want a wife who is pretty, young (around 22-25) well educated, from a good family background, and preferable well off too. If she completes her education , say a masters degree (age 25) then a career, another two three years (if she gets a decent job in Pakistan) So at around 30 years of age, she will be considered too mature, hence the “rishtas” start falling thru the cracks. So the best bet for women in Pakistan is to be an educated good person with good values, modest, and most of all contented, honest and true to your husband. Believe me everything will fall in place for a happy life. But to some extend, its the men who have to be educated by their mothers, about rights of their wives.Recommend

  • Nobody

    @Ali Ahmad:
    In REALITY, their situation is a lot better than it is in traditional conservative cultures. The biggest reasons being they are left to make their own choices, financially and otherwise.
    It’s amazing the lengths eastern men will go to to make it seems as if their mindset is doing women some grand ole favor by treating them with such “respect” when really they’re being treated like dog doo-doo. Recommend