The Kitchen is Not Our Friend! And We're Not Sorry: 8 Muslim Women on Why They Hate Cooking
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The Kitchen is Not Our Friend! And We’re Not Sorry: 8 Muslim Women on Why They Hate Cooking

Culturally, cooking was “the thing“. There was no space to just like doing it. The Kitchen was presented as a woman’s headache, so I had to unlearn everything surrounding it.

Growing up, lots of women were told that there are certain things that innately go with womanhood. Cooking, cleaning and laundering were just a few. As expected, many young women accepted their predefined missions and attempted to do these tasks with a smile and a positive attitude. However, some women soon realised that they couldn’t hold up the pretence for long as not all women are gifted with the love of things commonly associated with being a woman. While some women simply found no joy in whipping up meals in the kitchen, others just resented the categorisation of cooking as “women’s work” for which many are reprimanded when not done properly. To find out the reasons why some women have an unfriendly relationship with cooking, TMWT’s features editor, Fadilah Ali spoke with different Muslim women on why they hate cooking and here’s what they had to say:

Khadijah, Nigeria

TMWT: What Would You Say is Responsible for Your Unfriendly Relationship with Cooking?

Khadijah: When I think about it, being given the responsibility of cooking when I was much younger made me dislike the kitchen. The thought of cooking breakfast, lunch and dinner every day… felt like all I did was cook, so I never enjoyed it. If you aren’t cooking, you’re thinking of what to cook, or preparing what you’d use to cook. Plus, I am very slow with domestic chores. It takes me hours to finish cooking a meal that may take 45 mins. I’d wash and re-rinse plates and vegetables and eventually just waste valuable time.

TMWT: How are You Able to Navigate Your Dislike for Cooking with Your Need for Feeding?

Khadijah: I just hire someone to cook. It works for me. I always ask them whether or not they enjoy cooking before hiring them. This is because I don’t understand how anyone can enjoy doing it.

TMWT: Do You Feel Apologetic about Not Liking to Cook?

Khadijah: I am unapologetic about it. I joke about how I’ve used up my “lifetime cooking energy allowance” on my family. Maybe when my baby starts eating solids, I’d enjoy cooking for her. For now, I don’t know.


Muti’ah, Saudi Arabia

TMWT: What Would You Say is Responsible for Your Unfriendly Relationship with Cooking?

I guess it’s because I’m not really big on food. I basically exist on a meal a day. I never cooked after outgrowing kitchen duties at home as a child. Then I got married, and in the first few years, I didn’t cook so much until I had kids. With kids though, I had no choice. Now that they’re older, they have taken over the chores.

TMWT: Do You Feel Apologetic About Not Liking to Cook?

I was… not exactly unapologetic when I was younger; I just… didn’t embrace it. I was conditioned to think that my worth as a wife and mother was tied to cooking and cleaning. But in my 30s, I realized that opportunity cost meant the time spent cooking and cleaning meant time away from things I really did want to do; things I actually loved doing and did much better at. At the time, my kids were growing and they could do some of these things. I also had money to buy the ‘cooking and cleaning’. These days I am unapologetic about not being a domestic goddess. My gifts are elsewhere and I am not any less of a woman than the one who cooks, cleans and bakes.


Juwairiyya, United Kingdom

TMWT: What Would You Say is Responsible for Your Unfriendly Relationship with Cooking?

Juwairiyya: I just hate cooking. But I like baking. I think it’s because my mum hates to cook. She was forced to learn at a very young age, so she made sure that I didn’t have to do that! I know how to cook meals and can easily follow a recipe but I don’t like cooking and cleaning up after! If I get married, my husband better knows how to cook and clean and be independent. I do like baking though, as I find it easier than cooking and it’s also precise whereas, in cooking, you can easily experiment, etc.

TMWT: How are You Able to Navigate Your Dislike for Cooking with Your Need for Feeding?

Juwairiyya: My mum cooks on weekdays, and my stepdad cooks on weekends. If I have to feed myself, I usually go for noodles and a toasted sandwich but even that requires so much motivation and energy. My dislike for cooking might change in the future but I doubt it. I’m not one of those people who like to cook for others. I see it as a chore. I mean we have to eat to survive so I would rather have someone cook for me than cook for myself, but I can’t spend too much on eating out either. I also don’t like dealing with meat, so I prefer vegetarian food.

TMWT: Do You Feel Apologetic About Not Liking to Cook?

Juwairiyya: I’m unapologetic. I don’t like cooking and what about it? I don’t have that passion to try new recipes and experiment and all of that. I, however, love baking. I bake for others so they enjoy it and get happy.


I was conditioned to think that my worth as a wife and mother was tied to cooking and cleaning. But in my 30s, I realized that opportunity cost meant the time spent cooking and cleaning meant time away from things I really did want to do; things I actually loved doing and did much better at.

– Muti’ah

Nana, Nigeria

TMWT: What Would You Say is Responsible for Your Unfriendly Relationship with Cooking?

I think my upbringing had a lot to do with it. I grew up in a home where my parents wanted us to study 24 hours a day. Their idea of success was to get into school, get good grades, get a job and then employ whatever services you need. It wasn’t until I got into the university that I learnt to cook some meals. Yet, it still feels like a waste of time especially when I have to study. I am also generally a picky eater, and if I must cook, I have to go big (chop veggies, proper deserts, make drinks) it takes a lot from me. So the stress just discourages me.

TMWT: How are You Able to Navigate Your Dislike for Cooking with Your Need for Feeding?

I’m married now but getting married hasn’t changed anything. We buy food from one Yoruba woman who makes divine soups and stews and party rice. We have a big freezer and a steady supply of electricity. We stock up on proteins and veggies and fruits too and we generally buy cereals and nuts in bulk to snack on. So maybe, when I feel like it, I might make zobo once in a month, or make something I am craving once in a while. I, also, due to health reasons, have a very different diet from my husband so he tends to make his meals himself and I make mine myself. But my meals are usually just lots of salad and proteins which I prepare on weekends when I don’t feel too lazy. Sometimes, my husband helps me prepare my meals when I just don’t feel up to it.

TMWT: Do You Feel Apologetic About Not Liking to Cook?

I am very unapologetic about it. I guess it’s easier for me to say because I have the privileges of being from a liberal family, compared to many women. Nobody really cares whether I cook or not. I don’t feel any pressure, so there’s absolutely no cause for me to be apologetic.


Maymunah, United Kingdom

I literally forget to eat until I’m really hungry, at which point I’ll start cooking and then by the time I’m done, I’m not hungry anymore. This is why air fryers and frozen foods are such a blessing; slap it in there, forget about it and 15 mins later you’re sorted.


Rihanot, Nigeria

TMWT: What Would You Say is Responsible for Your Unfriendly Relationship with Cooking?

Rihanot: My mum was a caterer who always ensured that we stayed in the kitchen while she cooked. And this just made me hate the kitchen. It became a struggle for me when I started living alone.

TMWT: How are You Able to Navigate Your Dislike for Cooking with Your Need for Feeding?

Rihanot: When I met my husband, I told him I can’t cook. Fortunately, I stay close to my mother in law, so she does a lot of the cooking and sends it to us. Because of the things I have seen and heard about marriage and cooking, I have come to the realisation that nothing keeps a man, be you the Miss World or Gordon Ramsay. And that’s why I don’t feel the need to go the extra mile and beyond to do what I don’t enjoy, just for a man’s satisfaction. I am sure my husband didn’t marry me because of my culinary skills. I cook what I can eat. If it comes out bad, I eat it like that. If it’s delicious, I thank my stars. I also eat out a lot because I can afford to.

TMWT: Do You Feel Apologetic About Not Liking to Cook?

Rihanot: I am definitely unapologetic about it.


Sawda, United Kingdom

TMWT: What Would You Say is Responsible for Your Unfriendly Relationship with Cooking?

Culturally, cooking was “the thing“. There was no space to just like doing it. It was presented as a woman’s headache, so I had to unlearn everything surrounding it. I think my dislike for cooking also had to do with the weight and pressure my mother put on me to learn how to cook. I couldn’t cope with the expectation and the labour. I actually like creating things in general. But the labour and pressure that comes with cooking made me dislike it. There was also the lurking feeling that I wasn’t going to be ‘good enough’. Although I think I’m good at it now.

TMWT: How are You Able to Navigate Your Dislike for Cooking with Your Need for Feeding?

I make do with UberEats, Deliveroo and restaurants. Sometimes, I don’t eat at all or I simply just make staple foods like rice and chips. I’m trying to get back into meal making. I think I want to but I don’t want the stress.


Sa’eedah, Nigeria

My dislike for cooking initially had something to do with me being a small eater. The energy expended on cooking was just too much for the little quantity of food my stomach could actually hold. Then it turned into defiance as I grew older. It was a kind of protest and refusal to be fitted into a particular box as a woman.


Fadilah Ali

Fadilah Ali is the Features Editor for The Muslim Women Times. She has a B.Sc in Microbiology and she is passionate about reading, writing, women's rights, and tafsir.

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