Were women created solely for the purpose of becoming wives & mothers?

I take a deep sigh and brace myself – I know exactly where this conversation is heading. It troubles me to see yet another sister has shifted her entire focus on marriage and motherhood. Of course, marriage is a highly recommended Sunnah and brings many benefits for us spiritually, mentally and physically. But when our struggle and strive overwhelmingly revolves around marriage and motherhood then know that there is a problem in our understanding of the religion.
And what causes an intelligent, hardworking, ambitious single sister to now accept that her goal is simply to be a married woman with children? Since when did the ONLY purpose in life revolve around matrimony and offspring? It begs the question – were women created solely for the purpose of becoming wives and mothers?
God answers this in Chapter 51 (Surah Ad Dhaariyaat) “And I did not create the jinn and humankind except to worship Me.”
Our goal in life is to worship God. This is not to say we sit in prayer all night and day but rather the beauty of Islam is such that (with the correct intention and staying within the Islamic framework) worship takes numerous forms. Being a mother, a daughter, a friend, a student, a public speaker, a poet, a writer, a teacher, a doctor, an artist, a scientist, a political figure, a news correspondent, a blogger, a babysitter, a hair dresser, taking part in discussion and debating can all fall under the umbrella of worship.
Despite this, the community pushes forth another ideology that a truly ‘successful’ person is a married one who quickly progresses to parenthood! The amount of pressure that is applied on Muslims getting ‘hitched’ is not the same as it is on bettering themselves spiritually, improving their character or engaging in political matters. Marriage is only a tool in becoming closer to God it is not the end goal. The purpose of our life is not ONLY to become spouses with children.
Let’s look at some examples of women who thrived in the Deen. The wife of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) Khadija (may Allah be pleased with her) was a successful business woman with her own caravan trade managing a number of agents. Rufaidah Aslamiyyah was a specialist in medicine and surgery and was known to tend to the sick and injured in the battlefields. Khansa bint Amr was a renowned poetess whose poetry was said that none could match. In fact, the Prophet (peace be upon him) would encourage her to recite more of her poems! Umm Umara was a warrior blessed with many honors. And her most honorable role came during the battle of Uhud where she stood firm fighting against the enemies when others had fled.
Women were also very much involved with politics. They contributed and advised on numerous issues; voicing their opinions and criticizing matters regarding the state. The Prophet (peace be upon him) himself would seek advice regarding state matters from his wives. It was Umm Salamah’s consultations that eased the heated situation surrounding the treaty of Hudaibiah whereby the weak terms of the treaty had angered the companions. Similarly Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) would often consult Shifa bint Abdullah; an intellectual and scholastic woman in certain matters.
Another academic and competent scholar was Fatima bin Qais. Her counsel was sought on the selection of the next Caliph by the nomination committee when Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) died. Amra bint Abdur-Rahman gave legal verdicts in Medina after the time of the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) Companions, and some of her opinions took precedence over opinions of other authorities.
Shifa bint Abdullah ibn Shams was appointed by the Prophet (peace be upon him) himself as the administrator and accountant of the largest market at that time; Medina. She was also later reappointed by Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) during his time of reign as Caliph. Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) was a female jurist whose rulings are till this day studied in Universities across the globe. Umm Salaam was also known for giving several legal rulings during her time.
The list goes on. And we see from these few examples that Muslim women flourished religiously, academically and politically. They worshipped God through specialising in their fields to defend their religion. They worked to protect the Ummah, they used their knowledge to benefit others and they used their skills for the betterment of society. This is something we can all take heed from male or female; married or single.
Those scholars who study the role of women in Islam will notice that throughout the different periods of history, women were actively engaged in every field of endeavour, be it politics, government, or learning. Women were not confined, as some have assumed, to mothering and household occupations.” [Salah al-Din al-Munajjid]
Many of us have heard/read the famous Hadith of the Prophet (peace be upon him): The Muslim Ummah is like one body. If the eye is in pain then the whole body is in pain and if the head is in pain then the whole body is in pain”. Our bodies, families, friends and neighbours all have specific rights over us but at the same time so do the millions of other people around the Globe. Their welfare is also OUR responsibility whether we are male or female.
Yet, there is an imbalance in determining priorities in the minds of Muslims. We are infatuated in following a self-interested version of Islam whereby our own needs and desires are placed above anyone else’s. And this epidemic has distracted us from the higher purpose in life – worshipping God and following His commands in their entirety. Do we not see that by focusing on fulfilling only a specific segment in Islam we neglect other imperative commands of God? We create an imbalance not only in our lives and religion but also in society affecting the Ummah as a whole.
Let us refrain from exerting all our focus on only one aspect of our lives and focus on building our relationship with God instead. Let us learn our religion, let’s embrace opportunities to do Dawah, let us work on our relationships with others, let us improve our spiritual state and let’s help fulfil one of the most important duties of a Muslim – to love, support, defend and protect the Ummah. For nothing, nothing is more tragic then standing in front of our Lord on the Day Of Judgement knowing that we neglected one of the most critical forms of worship…
Beautifully Written by Iram