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Some musings on kids and divorce in the Muslim community


Divorced Muslim women get treated like damaged goods. Divorced converts get treated worse than dogs. How many of us have stories from the masjid about how, because we are now outlet mall sloppy seconds we are only good in our masajid for being married off to the ex-con, drug addict/mental case, or the dude who needs papers and doesn’t even speak English?

Of course, if we say something about how unfair this all this, at best we get a “beggars can’t be choosy” remark, or at worst we get some platitudes about chaste virgins.

Since the dudes are so picky with me, I am picky with them. Call me unfair, but guess what, my life as a been around the block convert at the bottom of the matrimonial pile IS UNFAIR.

I would prefer a dude with no kids. I don’t have any so there you are. But the one rule I have is I won’t consider a dude with young kids. By young I mean under 3. I’m more likely to consider a dude with 7-9 year old kids, and a dude with kids who are old and out of the house are almost on equal footing with dudes who have no kids. A dude with young kids is pretty much a no-go and the only way to go there would be everything else has to add up and be squeaky clean. This is for several reasons.

1. In a short-ish marriage, you aren’t sure if things aren’t going to work out pretty early on so you protect yourself. Here I am talking about a scenario with a dude who was married a couple years and has a young kid or two. I understand marriages fall apart and being widowed happens and condoms break etc etc, I want to know what a dude’s intentions were (because it takes two to tango) to have children in a less than stable or not fully developed relationship and then leave that relationship before the kids are old enough to even know what family is (again, we are talking about under 3). What implications does that have should he choose to procreate with me?

2. Any dude with young kids who offers up a possible explanation as to why he says he has a “crazy” ex baby momma is suspect for me. This raises two big red flag possibilities: a) he is an abuser and ALL HIS EXES ARE CRAZY AND HE IS PERFECT; b) he is way out on the family interference tip and married a crazy person/had babies with her to placate his family. I have been known to badmouth dude, but I ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS said that what went down was my fault as much as his, and I consistently bring up his qualities and good points (of which he has many, notably his extreme generosity). Give him a ma sha Allah, he has the potential to be a great husband. Point is, when you talk to me, my anger is qualified and nuanced. If a dude thinks his ex baby momma is a “crazy bitch” with no redeeming qualities whatsoever, I’m outta there.

3. Coming from a blended family, I’m not convinced that equal treatment always happens or works in practice. Even when people try their best. I’ve seen it in my own family, where everyone was full of good intentions but it didn’t always translate to reality. Wanting to do the right thing and doing the right thing are two different things. And in case you can’t read between the lines, I’m talking about myself as a step-parent: I’m not confident for myself, much less for other people. I want to know why your marriage was so bad you took the chance on raising your kids with someone else. Or not raising them at all and letting some other dude raise them. More specifically, why are you going to do that to a kid who is too young to even remember what mommy and daddy together is like?

4. Now you will say that I’m speaking in gendered ways and that if you replace dude with chick, I would never say the same thing (a woman with a crazy ex is crazy, etc). Check yourself, because being a baby mommma is different from having a baby momma. Dudes get remarried. Women don’t. Or they do, but to scrubs or FOBs. Women get it shoved down our throats that having children is like ALL OF TEH ISLAMZ AND ZOMG WE ARENT REAL MUSLIMAHS WITHOUT KIDS but then the whole Paradise Beneath Her Feet is bullshit when the dude leaves as far as the community is concerned. Single mothers aren’t revered but men get second and third and fourth chances and leave a string of babies in their wakes. My GREATEST FEAR is being left to carry the can as a single mother of a young child with an absent father and I want to know why a “good Muslim brother” has a baby momma whose chances of getting remarried in the community now are slimmer than mine.

5. People say I am CF. That isn’t true. I identify with some aspects of the CF community. I don’t think having kids is a “human right”- why are you going to bring a human being into this world just to feed your ego’s desire to spread your genes or whatever? I don’t understand what people talk about with this “biological need” to have bio kids. I literally do not understand it because I have never felt that way. I don’t feel like less of a person because I may not have any. I’m not arrogant enough to think I will leave a legacy in this dunya, so leaving a “piece of me” isn’t appealing either. The only thing we take with us to the grave are our good actions. That is just how I am, and that is why I call bullshit any dude who comes at me with the whole spreading his seed biznass. If that is how you feel fine, I can admit that some people “feel the need” even if some people can’t see my POV, but if we disagree on something so fundamental that is a reason in itself not to make babees anyway. I think you make the choice to have kids when you are in a good relationship and a good situation, and those two elements provide a strong foundation for when things go bad financially or personally.

6. Which leads me to another point: I listened to my gut and, at great detriment to me personally, chose not to have kids when I saw my marriage wasn’t stable even though we could have easily financially taken care of several kids. I made that sacrifice even though it now means I may never have kids. Let me say that again: I CHOSE NOT TO HAVE KIDS IN A LESS THAN OPTIMAL MARRIAGE EVEN THOUGH I MAy HAVE SIGNED AWAY MY CHANCES AT BIO CHILDREN. I want to know why a guy was so hell bent on having bio kids- is it because he is a “cultural” Muslim whereby everyone’s worth is based on their ability to procreate? Did his family force him into it? Did his “crazy bitch” ex poke holes in the condoms? What made him make the decision to go ahead and have kids?

7. I’m only 33, why am I talking like I’m pre-menopausal and will never have sex again and never ever be able to have babies? Maybe that is because, as I mentioned above, divorced Muslimahs and divorced convert Muslimahs are at the bottom of the marriage pile. Way to go, Muslim brothers, way to go. Get those virgins and go P, but let’s forget about the divorced sisters. I get why sisters leave Islam after a first failed marriage. I’m not saying it is right, I’m saying the ummah sucks and check yourself before you start blaming ex-Muslims. Anyway, if my first shot at my best marriage didn’t work out, I need to be realistic about my chances here. I’m not saying none of us have ever had a good second marriage. I’m saying that the statistics show my chances with a “good brother” (if I marry within the community) are slim to none and I STILL CHOSE not to have kids with the last one. That, my friends, is commitment to my own personal ideology.

8. Why am I saying under 3 is bad? Because the situation (presence of kids) is so new. What had to happen for a dude to bail like that, or for the sister to bail like that, when the kid is in diapers or barely out of them and not even in school? How bad did it have to be, and why? I’m not saying no plausible excuse exists, and I’ve seen some great guys with older kids in divorce situations but if your kid is just born or barely, I’m scared and want to know why. Scared the same thing will happen to me. Tangentially, the same thing goes for dudes who go P. I’m disgusted by men with young children or pregnant wives who are “dying to fulfill the sunnah.” Um, don’t you think you should be focusing on your first family? I do, and I am judging you in private. And in public.

I get that relationships fail and sometimes it isn’t “anybody’s fault”, or sometimes good things fall apart in spectacular ways. I’m living proof. But kids add another factor to the equation where I start asking questions about the dude’s decision-making, motivations for having kids, and coping skills. Like I said above, I also think you owe it to your unborn to make sure you know exactly what the hell is going on when you bring a child into the world. Of course, the time is “never right” to have kids and if “some people applied that logic no one would ever have kids” yadda yadda yadda. I’m not willing to take that chance. The dunya is such that finances change, marriages change, but there is a difference between coping with a shitty situation -car accident, unemployment, late infidelity, y’all just don’t like each other anymore- and making a poor decision from the get-go, e.g. in a marriage where things were never right.

So yes brothers, y’all judge me. I’m judging you. And Allah knows best 🙂


Author: Nicole Cunningham

American Expat and convert to Islam living and working between Lausanne and Zurich, Switzerland.

14 thoughts on “Some musings on kids and divorce in the Muslim community

  1. I’m with you all the way on all this, Nicole. I hope a decent and reasonable man finds you and knows he got a great deal and thanks the Lord that you got divorced. I had a friend who was like that; she got divorced, and this other guy pounced for marriage without batting an eye.

    You know I’m like that too vis a vis kids. It’s nice to have kids; the companionship etc. But are there people sans kids who are as happy as the rest of us? yeah!

    BTW I got married at 33 too. Take your time. I’m glad you’re not giving in to the pressure to hurry hurry and marry whoever. Be happy.

  2. I think your thought process here is very rational. You should tack it up at the masjid bulletin board. Don’t settle and take your time, Nicole. You deserve someone awesome.

  3. Bravo for knowing what you want and why!!

  4. May be is time to start a new life with people who think like you do instead of continously ranting about how you don’t fit your current community?
    Or may be also post sometime about the positive things, because it all look like self-inflicted torture if you ask me…

  5. Moi je pense que ta philo s’applique outside the Muslim box aussi! Mais en particulier inside cette boite.

    I cheer you and your musings and am inspirée! You are true to your croyances et ta philo and THAT weighs much dans la balance à la fin.

    Besides, is there un homme as good as Monsieur Pablito out there? Ça existe?

  6. I always wonder if the reason men are looking to marry so quickly after a divorce is that they need wifey #2 to take care of their children. I shouldn’t be so judgemental but in my community, this is exactly what happens. Nevermind analysing what might have gone wrong with marriage, looking for a better match etc etc.

    • yeah, like why can’t they take care of their own damn kids? reminds me of a letter i saw in dear abby or something the other day. this asshole was all “yeah I married this chick but i think she is a little strict with my four (all under age 10) kids and sometimes she snaps at them” Well let’s see, you’re pushing paper all day and she is herding cats at home CATS THAT DON’T EVEN BELONG TO HER and you are “concerned” when, at the end of what is probably a 14 hour day for her, she gets snappy?

  7. Knowing what you want makes you unique in this particular case. Go Nicole Go 🙂

  8. And after a second thought, the best musical match for this post would be Tina Dico – Count to Ten 🙂

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