I would like to dedicate this to all the brothers & sisters who are facing criticism, judgement and insincerity from family, friends and community members for not having children. Children are beautiful gifts from Allah and He the Almighty decides whom He wants to give children to and whom he doesn’t. The ability to have children, and the inability to not have children, are both blessings and choices that Allah makes for us. Although not having children may seem like a punishment, it is in actuality a blessing in disguise. Allah has amazing things planned for us and we must make the effort to look at what He the most Merciful has enabled for us before we look at what He has disabled. This post took a lot of courage and strength to write and I hope that a bit of my strength reaches you when you wonder why your womb is empty.
An Essential Part of Life
Reproduction is a very essential part of human life. It is the process of passing on one’s genetics, DNA and family lineage. So I completely understand why having children is constantly emphasized in our society; our very existence in this world is based off of the fact that our parents reproduced and without reproduction there is no continuation of human life. In many cultures children are seen as the glue that holds a family together, a sign of happiness and an essential part of starting a family. There is no doubt that having children, and being able to have children, is a blessing in and out of itself. I realize coming into this world isn’t as easy as it may seem; we grow inside another human being for almost a year until we’re finally ready to come out into the world and even that takes several hundred miracles. Most of us look forward to being a part of this magical journey of reproduction and fertility; we strive to become parents and to raise children of our own. For some of us these plans do not follow through and we find ourselves in a very difficult and confusing situation. Many couples and families struggle with having children and this often leads to sadness and disappointment. Other than the ones struggling, it is very rare for people to acknowledge the difficulties and challenges that come up when trying to become parents. You see the want and need to reproduce and have children is a very human like desire but this desire is only fulfilled if Allah(swt) wills it. It is merely impossible for someone to become a parent if Allah does not grant him/her that ability. We must always remember that we have very limited control over matters like pregnancy, reproduction and fertility. Regardless of what plans, calculations and methods we apply it is still in the hands of Allah to decide. We can all agree that children are a blessing from our creator, but we should also acknowledge that not having children is also a blessing from our creator. Although one may seem more superior and desirable than the other, it is very important that we understand that both decisions are that which Allah has made for us. It is very natural for us to feel sadness and disappointment for not being able to have children but we must remind ourselves that out of everyone Allah has chosen a few to endure this test. Many of us will assume that not having children is Allah’s punishment, but only He the Almighty knows why He does what He does. He could be testing our patience, or increasing our faith … but regardless of what it may be Allah has chosen that which is good for us. Finding goodness in what Allah has decreed will only bring us happiness and contentment and I, for one, whole heartedly accept everything that Allah(swt) has planned for me. If His plans include an ‘empty womb’ for me than I believe there is defiantly something amazing waiting for me … something more beautiful than a child, something more meaningful than becoming a parent, something created just for me.
Judgement, Criticism and Superiority
Whether it be your choice, or Allah’s will there is no doubt that couples will face criticism and judgement from family members, friends and community members for not having children. As someone who has just recently got married I have faced a lot of judgement and criticism. My husband and I have been married for 3 years but we’ve only just started living together for a year now; explaining why I refer to us as a newly wedded couple. Although we’re both just starting our family we’re not at all against having children. In all honesty we’re both actually very excited about becoming parents one day. But in reality things are just not happening at the moment and that is simply because Allah does not think we’re ready to become parents just yet; and Alhumdulilah we’re both very okay with that. My husband and I both acknowledge the fact that we may never have children of our own or that we may have to wait years for a child but either way we’re both content with what Allah has planned for us. Alhumdulilah this year my aunt and younger sister have both been blessed with the honor and opportunity to become mothers. Every day I admire and observe the two of them as this beautiful journey has changed and improved their character and increased their patience. It’s truly a magical experience and I’m glad that I get to play a small role in their pregnancy story as they slowly prepare to do magical things at the end of their third trimester. When my aunt and sister became pregnant I was genuinely happy for them just as I should be, but I didn’t realize their next step in life would induce pressure and raise question about my fertility, marriage and overall reproductive system. I suddenly found myself in a battle with women judging and criticizing me for not being pregnant. People began asking me questions about my relationship with my husband; whether I use contraceptives, if my reproductive system is healthy and functioning, whether I was waiting until I completed my studies, or if there was something physically wrong with me or my husband. It’s as if me not being pregnant is a crime against the entire world; as if my ‘empty womb’ is a nuclear weapon and somehow invading my privacy will bring peace and safety to the world. My ‘empty womb’ has become the center of attention at social gatherings; people find the need to pass on their sympathy, advice and concerns to me as if I’m in the last stages of my life. I have become extremely self-conscience and insecure about myself in the past few months; I suddenly feel inferior to all the young mothers around me. My achievements, career, education, and ambitious have little to no meaning to people when they see I have failed at conceiving a child. These few months have been extremely nerve wrecking and stressful for me because it seems all everyone ever talks about is having a family and raising children. Some of the aunties in the community have little to no respect for personal space and boundaries. I’ve come to understand that there isn’t anything that could possibly make these women realize how hurtful and destructive their words are. But I’m learning to ignore what they say about me because I know my ‘empty womb’ is a blessing from Allah and every time I am judged, criticized and questioned about having children Allah gives me the strength to answer with confidence that: It is Allah’s will, I have no control over what He (swt) has planned.
Am I being Punished?
It’s very natural for us to assume that we’re being punished when we can’t have children especially when children are regarded as Allah’s gift. Not having children by default is assumed to be a punishment because you are being denied a blessing. What we fail to realize is the fact that being granted no child is also a very special blessing from Allah. Although it’s very hard to understand, accept it’s vital for us to see it as a blessing… because it really is. A few weeks back I was feeling really sad after being confronted by a woman from my community who insulted me in front of a room full of people about me not having a baby. Her words really got to me that day and I started wondering if I would ever get pregnant, what does it actually mean to not have children, and what have I done to be punished like this? The answer to my questions is that only Allah knows the reason behind me having an ‘empty womb’, and whatever that reason may be it is in my best interest. What really helped me during such a critical time was an article I came across that changed my entire perspective about having children; the article was called ‘Maybe Allah wants you to Become an A’isha not a Khadija’ posted by MuslimMatters. The author highlights lesson the lives of our Prophets (SAW) wives Khadija (RA) and A’isha (RA), both who were very close to his heart. In the article it was discussed how Khadija (RA) had several children with the Prophet (saw), while A’isha (RA) had none, and still they are both equally praised and respected. In fact, A’isha not having children allowed her to be one of the greatest teachers of Islam. She used her time, knowledge and education is build the future Ummah. She became one of the most influential and praised women in the religion of Islam. Despite not having her own children she raised other people’s children to be and do amazing things for our religion. Looking into A’isha’s life made me realize how much of an honor it is to be able to educate and influence others to be and do better things. Although being a mother to your own children is a great honor I cannot deny, it is important for me to emphasize the honor of being a mother to an entire community of children. I’ve realized the world needs a lot of Khadija’s but for progress, development and improvement the world is nothing without an A’isha.
Don’t Lose Hope
Allah is the most generous. If He wills He can grant a barren women and an impotent man with children and we should always pray and hope to have children of our own. But the concept of having our own children should not consume us, we should continue to look at alternatives such as adoption, and foster parenting while we hope and pray for our own. There are plenty of ways to play the role of a mother or father in a child’s life without sharing any DNA and I think it’s time we accept the fact that being related to the child has nothing to do with how you will be as parents. The challenges Allah makes for us is created only to bring us closer to Him, and there is nothing more valuable than to be closer to your creator. The struggle with infertility, impotency, and an ‘empty womb’ are all challenges that Allah is putting us through, and it is only He who understands the pain, frustration and anger behind it. Allah will only burden us with what we can bear and whatever He grants us is that which is best for us.