Age like wine, age like milk?

An old white lady standing at her doorstep, holding a one-pint glass milk bottle.

This morning I was alerted to a video on Twitter by an Internet personality who calls himself “The Sunnah Guy”, a young man with no apparent qualifications dishing out advice to whomever might be unwary or foolish enough to listen to him. The video was posted last Tuesday and he claims that ten young women approached him at “an event” asking him if they should go to university. He claims:

They were about 17, 18, and they asked me if they should go [to] uni or do something else because their mums are pushing them to get a degree, and you know what I said to them? “Why are you girls not thinking about marriage in the next few years? So you finish your degree, you’re now 22, and you don’t want your degree to go to waste so you end up looking for a graduate job with the aim to be working until you’re 25, and then you’re going to start looking for marriage? This is why a lot of sisters [Muslim women] are in their thirties and are still unmarried, and you need to know something, and that is that women age like milk, men age like wine. This is how hypergamy works: women want an older, taller, richer, more successful man than them. They marry sideways and up, and the more qualified you as a woman are, the smaller your choice pool is because a man doesn’t want a woman more qualified than him. Look, I’m not telling you not to go [to] uni, but put things in place so that you’re mentally preparing yourself for marriage, and if something’s going to disrupt that or be an obstacle, then avoid it.

This is stupid, baseless, offensive advice. No Muslim organisation should ever be booking this man to speak at their event, because he is plainly unqualified and ignorant, lacking basic manners or knowledge. It is not a valid point insensitively or clumsily made; it is a falsehood accompanied by a slur on all of us. Would he tell his mother or his aunts that they’ve gone off like old milk (which, by the way, smells as foul as what has been getting dumped in our rivers lately)? Not in front of his dad unless, to use an old milk marketing slogan, he’s “gotta lotta bottle”.

First off, it’s offensive in Islam to liken people to commodities and especially to haraam things like wine. For Muslims, wine is impure when it’s new and it’s still impure when it’s been sitting around in a cask for however many years they keep it like that, while milk is wholesome and it’s meant to be drunk fairly quickly, or it can be turned into yoghurt or cheese which keeps longer, but it’s not used for the same things as milk is. People are not wine or milk; they become adults, then middle-aged people, then old people. A young woman grows into a mature woman, then an old lady and that’s not the same as going off. I’m sure we’ve all known older men and women we have looked up to and learned from, whether they are married and have children or not; we don’t have to be sexually attracted to them to benefit from their company. Good men and women who look after themselves (and who are fortunate) grow respectably old. They won’t always be attractive to young people, it’s true, but that’s not all there is to life. There are plenty of women in their late 20s who are still attractive, even if they would not interest most 21-year-old men.

Second, men who are highly qualified do not usually want to marry simple or uneducated women. A lot of young Muslim women in the West seem to want to marry doctors, but a man who has studied for many years to become a doctor or to go into another highly skilled profession that pays a lot will want a woman who is on a similar intellectual level to himself, who knows the same literature he knows, for example. It’s true that women are more likely to marry upwards, but men will only marry so far downwards, so if a woman really wants to marry a man who is highly qualified and has high earning potential, she does actually need that degree. (We also really need to not be so obsessed with STEM degrees; people studied arts degrees not only to become artists but also to become cultured spouses and civil servants. If your aim is the former, forget public health and study English literature or history, any arts subject you find interesting.) A degree is not just a bit of paper or a passport to a better job; it’s a sign that someone has read, has studied, has learned, is intellectually capable. In addition, a man capable of a high-powered professional job will want his children to follow in his footsteps and if he marries a woman who is both intelligent and mindful and capable of the discipline necessary for studying, the chances of his children achieving this are, in sha Allah, that much greater. So by taking the so-called Sunnah Guy’s advice and abandoning their studies at 17 or 18, these girls are not increasing their attractiveness to eligible men, only to low-quality men, to losers and drop-outs.

Third, it’s also a fact that both men and women are capable of being attracted to one another on other things than the ‘standard’ tests of attractiveness. Couples will sometimes work to put each other through college so that they can better their standard of living, for example. Both will often be attracted to someone with an obvious deformity or disability, often partly because of being in love with them, but also because they otherwise have the characteristics their partner finds attractive. If their community is oppressed or in an ongoing conflict, an injury associated with it (e.g. a Palestinian injured by Israeli military or settler action or a Northern Irish person injured by a bomb or a rubber bullet) would very likely make them more of a catch, not less, unless they were wallowing in self-pity.

This advice clearly shows that “The Sunnah Guy” has never really studied Islamic knowledge at any serious level. It is nothing but pseudoscience, cod psychology and sociology, influenced by misogynistic social media influencers, including Andrew Tate, directly or indirectly. The actual Sunnah states that religious uprightness is the first criterion and that, for example, an Islamic scholar or judge is a suitable match for any Muslim, regardless of her father’s profession (though the specifics of this differ from school to school and are sensitive to how these things work out in a particular society); wealth is of lesser importance as it can come and go, and colour is of no significance at all. While it’s true that young men are encouraged to marry younger women and preferably virgins, there’s no encouragement on women to keep themselves uneducated, especially if they are living in a time when they might actually need to be educated.

I would add that there are too many people nowadays, Muslims and others, men and women, presuming to teach, tutor and coach others without any qualifications or any real life experience. We have too many unqualified “life coaches” and other hucksters around writing books, offering courses and peddling spurious advice (for payment, of course); people telling others they can teach them how to run a successful business and yet we don’t know what business they have ever run, and for how long and how successfully, how they managed conflicts and difficult decisions, changes in markets and so on; they are often too young to have done much of this. There are people telling others how to run their lives, telling them that things they are doing send “hidden messages” they don’t realise which keep them unattractive and unmarriageable, and the advice is often absolute hogwash (like this). Nobody should be taking advice from an ignorant person to forsake their education and let themselves become reliant on a man who may not have paid much attention at school himself. At worst, some of these people are selling outright scams, but often it’s useless advice with no scientific or real-life experience basis. The Muslim community needs to wean itself off its addiction to such people, and to learn to take both our secular and religious education from people who are qualified, and advice on living our lives from those who have lived theirs. They have not aged like wine or milk, but matured like human beings.

Image source: BBC Archive, via Twitter.

Possibly Related Posts:


You may also like...