The Shelf-Life Postulate

We all know that the average marriage age is rising, not only for Canadians in general, but for Muslims in the West too. While I couldn't find exact stats for Muslims, I am willing to take a guess that our average marriage age in Canada is still a little lower than national norms. In 2007, the average Canadian marriage age was 30.5 and 29.6 for males and females, respectively. While I personally LOVE these stats (since I'm 29.3 years of age and single!), many Muslims do not. So let's get the elephant in the room out of the way... the community's perspectives of Muslim women being unmarried after a certain age is apparently not a good sign.

"Vhy are you not married, beta? You are educated, tall, look so-so with hijab, so vhy beta?! Is there something wrong vith you? Huh? Vaat are you doing with your time? There are SO MANY brothers out there, I am sure you can find one beta, just marry one already, ok?"

Umm, how! In simple terms, it just ain't that easy. Allow me to demonstrate the hurdles I've come across due to my cultural-hybrid nature:

Concern #1: What is your cultural background? (I've been told I don't look like anything really HA!)
Concern #2: Are you Sunni or Shia? (Don't get me started on how this question irritates me!)
Concern #3: Why are you not married yet at your age? (Blood starts to boil)
Concern #4: What language do you speak, and why not Arabic? (Boiling more...)
Concern #5: Choose one of (a) Why do you wear hijab? OR (b) Why didn't you wear hijab from an earlier age?

While I don't think that all of these questions are unfair to ask, it's usually the manner in which they are asked. Often with a judgemental tone attached. The cultural questions are without fail the first thing I'm asked about. For some reason, it's REALLY hard to believe that my parents could marry since they are from two different cultures.

And here's the killer. If Muslims believe in fate and destiny, then they wouldn't be asking 'why aren't you married yet?' What you may ask is 'how long have you wanted to be married, and what challenges have you come across?' THAT'S more sensitive, and really, do you think I have even a clue about how to answer the former question? I don't know what's in my destiny, so why the heck should you?!

And apparently, the older a woman gets and she's still unmarried, the smaller the pool of potential brothers, since men in their 30s prefer to marry women in their early-20s to allow for more breeding time (sorry to be blunt, but it's true!). Here's where the shelf-life phenomenon comes in. A woman at the age of 30 can have a solid career, a solid personality and grasp on spirituality, be ready for marriage and having kids and...SLAP! Since she's past her 'prime', she's no longer a good candidate.

SubhanAllah, we could learn a lot from the Prophet's (SAW) choice to marry Khadejah (peace and blessings upon her) as his first wife.

So what can we do about this? I think that ONLY IF the Imams leading Friday Khutbas knew how challenging marriage was in their community, they would turn to finding solutions. Yes yes yes, it's wonderful to give a khutbah about the blessings of marriage, but then why isn't anything being done to help those single Muslims in the community? Really, let's NOT leave things up to aunties, since it doesn't always work out that way, and some people aren't connected to aunties to begin with!

Oh, and another popular phenomenon I've noticed! The rate at which Muslim men in Canada go back to their motherland to find wives is ASTOUNDING!!! So here's my question: what's wrong with the Muslim sisters here?

I could go on and on since this is an issue not only for myself but for other Muslim girls I know. I think the community needs to respond to this need, and even though this issue is so obviously blatant, I'm shocked that it has yet to appear on our leaders' radars.

Since if by getting marriage we are fulfilling half of our religion/deen, then we need to start doing something about it! And yes, that includes me too, so stay tuned! :)


  1. You are absolutely right. The community should do more to connect Muslim brothers and sisters. The whole age issue is very frustrating as well. I completely understand what you are talking about as I have quite a few friends going through exactly the same thing. May Allah grant you what is best.


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