A recent Ijtema post linked to a story of a Muslimah in her quest to secure education. On the other side of the world, Asmaa ponders over a seemingly Catch-22 situation involving education and societal expectations and raises a lot of questions in the process:
In university, I was indoctrinated with the notion of individuality, empowerment and self-determination. I was taught that what and who I wanted to be, was completely in my hands. So I made myself in those four years, out of a combination of valuable personal relationships and classroom education.
For example, if a woman of education reaches her late 20′s and is still unmarried, it seems there is suddenly a “too-empowered” stigma attached to her name. It’s as though marriage defines women, and without it we are unnatural. I do not deny there is a natural desire for partnership, but I question our community’s perception of what a woman is without it.
I often feel frustrated being in a Muslim family. I’m not proud of these frustrations of mine. Believe me, it’s a conflicting and negative feeling to have. (Perhaps the phenomenon is also found in non-Muslim families, but I speak from experience only.)
Though we’ve been taught to make decisions on our own, I find that being female and Muslim sometimes means some of our decision are made for us, and not by us. And thus there can only be one product of that: an ever-increasing frustration with the situations we find ourselves in.