I worry, a lot. I try not to, but nonetheless I cant seem to stop the endless tirade of thoughts that flow through my brain until my nerves are pulled taut and I think my head will explode. Life is not easy for a Muslim woman, life for a single Muslim mother can be much worse. I sometimes have no real support from my family (although sometimes they are great!), and I often feel like they don’t understand me too; they tell me they have their own lives to lead and can’t always help me so I feel like I’m a burden, although I’m sure that’s not their intention. My brother said to his wife once that if he went away he was worried in case something would happen to her as she was all alone in a flat with her sons, it hurt me because I thought that this is my reality.
Every time I have to let a strange man in my house be it a plumber or an electrician I wonder momentarily what would happen if he tried to rob me, a Muslim woman should not be alone with a non-mehram man, my brothers should be here with me. But they weren’t as they said they were busy and the effect it had on me was dire. I actually wondered what kind of God would allow this to happen until I finally regained my senses and saw Islam wasn’t the problem, people were. My family didn’t think I was ready to re-marry, so I tried to find a husband myself; and the men I have met, especially the ones who claim to follow Islam, have told me they could get any girl because of their knowledge but that a lot of men would not look twice at me, simply because of my situation. I ended up thinking ‘to hell with men’ and have focused instead on my faith and Iman.
It is better for a woman’s own safety to not be out alone after dark in Islam, and every time I go and pick up my children from the Madrasah and it is dark I remember this and wish I too, had a husband willing to help me stick to this. I worry about who will take my son to the men’s section of the Masjid when he is a bit older and imagine myself asking the first man I see to take pity on us and to take him inside, I wonder if anyone would help. When I pass people by in the street I see the questioning look in their eyes as they wonder where my children’s father is, sometimes I look down ashamed and sometimes I look them straight in the eye and dare them to ask so I can let it all out. I don’t feel I can relate to non-Muslim single mothers because when they are talking about birthdays and I say we don’t celebrate it I see the look of pity that comes into their eyes as they think Islam is too strict; when I go home I have no husband to console me and tell me he is proud of the way I am trying to raise our children.
I worry about my beautiful little girl growing up and getting into trouble like I did and I wonder if any boys ever harass her who will come to her rescue as her own father does not care. I mention these things so that if any sister out there who is feeling like she is the only one who doesn’t always have support reads this, she will know she is not alone. Single mothers in the Asian community are seen as damaged goods and are expected to quite happily be the 3rd wife of a 50-year-old man; people don’t realise that they are twice as picky because they have to be because of their children and their safety.
There are a few articles out there about single Muslim mothers but nothing about any support groups or how their mental health may be affected. Try it yourself, Google “support for single Muslim mothers” and see how many unrelated articles come up, there is hardly anything. If you are a single Muslim mother, and you have no support, no family to turn to when you are ill or sad, that will take your kids off your hands for you for a while and you see nothing wherever you look to make you think that you are not alone, you will most likely end up depressed. We expect more of our own families because we know other people have their own lives and look after themselves first but because our families are meant to be a part of us we assume they will be selfless and help, that’s sadly not always true. It is VERY isolating being alone every night when you can’t go out and no-one comes to see you and I think at times like this if us mothers had a group we could be a part of it may help us feel less alone, maybe watch a talk on the rewards of doing it alone or listen to some comforting words from scholars, but there doesn’t seem to be much out there.
We have role models from Islamic history of single mothers (or mothers who raised their children alone) whose children went on to become great men and prophets; Hajar, the mother of Prophet Ismail (pbuh), Maryam, the mother of Prophet Isa (pbuh), and Amina, the mother of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), all raised their sons alone. Also, the mothers of Imam al-Shafi’, Imam Ahmed and Imam Bukhari raised their sons alone, all of whom later became renowned figures that left a major impact on the world.
Why then are Muslim single mothers judged so harshly and denied compassion? Why is it that no-one wants to be the one to make a change? Who will be the voice for these defenceless women? Everyone is so preoccupied with helping the majority with more well-known issues like support for reverts that they forget the minority. We need and deserve your help too.
Isn’t it time we made a change?