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 In the name of Allah, We praise Him, seek His help and ask for His forgiveness. Whoever Allah guides none can misguide, and whoever He allows to go astray, none can guide him.

Spinsterhood phenomenon among young women represent a significant problem in many communities. And in particular that it is complementary to the problem of bachelorhood for men. The phenomenon of spinsterhood has serious implications and consequences for the entire Ummah (nation), whether these effects are psychological, economic, social, or ethical , especially in these times where there are many temptations and deviated means of satisfying desires. There is no way to prevent slipping into vice and moral corruption, but a lawful marriage. In a Hadeeth on the authority of Ibn Mas‘ood, may Allah be pleased with him, the Prophet, peace be upon him, said:  “O young men! Those among you who are capable of getting married should get married as this is better for lowering the gaze and maintaining chastity. However, those who are not capable of that should fast, as fasting would extinguish their desire.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim] Sahih. 

Spinsterhood causes vary according to the different communities, religions, customs and traditions of each society. Nevertheless, they all lead to the same result: making marriage difficult and placing hindrances in its way. Hence, It must be noted that women's education is one of those causes which has recently become a stumbling block in the way of marriage in many societies. Why and How? First, we must clarify some points regarding this problem:

-Islamic attitude towards women's education and its importance:

Islam admits and encourages the right of women to education. The first verses revealed in the Qur'an urge humankind to seek knowledge and delve in critical thinking, Allah says:

"اقْرَأْ بِاسْمِ رَبِّكَ الَّذِي خَلَقَ * خَلَقَ الْإِنْسَانَ مِنْ عَلَقٍ * اقْرَأْ وَرَبُّكَ الْأَكْرَمُالَّذِي عَلَّمَ بِالْقَلَمِ * عَلَّمَ الْإِنْسَانَ مَا لَمْ يَعْلَمْ" (96: 1-5)

" Read in the name of your Lord who created, created man from a clinging form. Read! Your Lord is the Most Generous, who taught by means of the pen; taught man what he did not know."  (96:1-5)

In another verse in the Quran, Allah says:

"قُلْ هَلْ يَسْتَوِي الَّذِينَ يَعْلَمُونَ وَالَّذِينَ لَا يَعْلَمُونَ إِنَّمَا يَتَذَكَّرُ أُولُو الْأَلْبَابِ" (39: 9)

"Say: "Are those equal, those who know and those who do not know? It is those who are endued with understanding that receive admonition." (39: 9)

The question here is used in denial. The intention is to prove the inequality between the two teams, i.e. favoring those who know to those who do not know.

 In the light of the Sunnah, There are also many Hadiths given by the Prophet, peace be upon him, that encourages seeking knowledge  for both men and women without discrimination.

Anas ibn Malik reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Seeking knowledge is an obligation upon every Muslim. Grade: Sahih (authentic) according to Al-Albani.

Also, it was narrated from Ash-Shifa', daughter of Abdullah,:

The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) entered when I was with Hafsah, and he said to me: "Why do you not teach this one the spell for skin eruptions as you taught her writing." Grade: Sahih (Al-Albani)

 

From the first Hadith we infer that education is not a right but a responsibility on every Muslim, male or female. In the second Hadith, emphasis is laid on the education of women when Allah's Messenger indicated that Ash-Shifa has taught his wife Hafsah how to write.

 

Thus, Islam does not prevent women's education because she as wife, mother, daughter ,or sister has a significant role in the integrity of any society and the direction of any nation, and her education helps her to play her role fully and properly. Hafez Ibrahim, an Arab poet, said in one of his famous poems (what means): a mother is a school, preparing her is like preparing a good nation.

 

So what makes women education one the causes of Increased spinsterhood?

 

In light of the scientific renaissance and continuous development, the growing demand for education by women has been noticeable, but some of the girls have made education a top priority in their lives; preferring education to marriage. The worst is the insistence of some girls on the completion of their education (Masters and PhD) before getting married, which in turn leads to delayed marriage and thus spinsterhood.

Not only that, some of the families require the right to work for their daughters at marriage, since she devoted her life to education and obtain the certificate. Some of them also require that the educational level of the fiance is no less than her level of education, which makes the issue more difficult and complicated, and therefore, the girl has to wait too long in order to find a suitable husband.

On the other hand, some men, in some communities, refuse to marry girls who are higher than them in the education, for fear that this would lead to arrogance, or contempt of their educational level.

In addition, some men see that her insistence on completing her studies is an obstacle to the continuation of married life. He sees that this may limit her ability to completely fulfill all her responsibilities as a wife and a mother; when she devotes part of her time and energy to study or job.

In view of that, many men often prefer a woman who is dedicaated to domestic responsibilities, her husband and children more than education.

The remedy

Islam is a religion of moderation  in all things, and whatever contradicts this purpose leads to a wrong and dead-end. Allah Almighty says:

" وَكَذَٰلِكَ جَعَلْنَاكُمْ أُمَّةً وَسَطًا" (2: 143)

" Thus, have We made of you an Ummat justly balanced" (2:143)

As long as Islam does not prohibit women's education, rather it urges it, it is not permissible to prevent the girls from education under the pretext of marriage nor to make their education an impediment in the way of  marriage and building a stable society. Women should be fully aware that hindering marriage because of education is considered a violation of the purposes of Islam behind marriage: succession and stability, as Allah says:

"وَمِنْ آيَاتِهِ أَنْ خَلَقَ لَكُم مِّنْ أَنفُسِكُمْ أَزْوَاجًا لِّتَسْكُنُوا إِلَيْهَا وَجَعَلَ بَيْنَكُم مَّوَدَّةً وَرَحْمَةً ۚ إِنَّ فِي ذَٰلِكَ لَآيَاتٍ لِّقَوْمٍ يَتَفَكَّرُونَ"(30: 21)

"And among His Signs is this, that He created for you mates from among yourselves, that ye may dwell in tranquility with them, and He has put love and mercy between your (hearts): verily in that are Signs for those who reflect." (30: 21)

Moreover, the community, especially parents, should educate the girls from an early age on the importance of marriage and its great effects on the psychological, and physical stability. The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said, "Any woman who dies while her husband is pleased with her will enter Jannah". Grade: Hasan [At- Tirmidhi].

We infer from the previous Hadith that the Prophet ensures Paradise for a woman  who obeys the husband, regardless of her level of education. However, we can see that the rate of spinsterhood in the past was much lower in spite of the lack of women's education, in fact, the majority of them were illiterate. On the other hand, we see in this era increasing rate of spinsterhood in light of the continuing renaissance of education. Therefore, the problem is not in education itself, but in our approach to education.

We ask Allah to guide us to the way of righteousness.

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