If you’re a rishta auntie, I’d stop reading right now. Because your life’s work is about to get trashed here, and I’m sure you won’t be too pleased with me by the end of this article. All the rest of you can safely proceed, well, almost all of you. I’m not really expecting everyone to understand *smiles wickedly*.
The subject of marriage continues to be lined with controversy for most Muslim families living in the west. God forbid, if a good kid from a Muslim home utters the words “love marriage” – harraaaam! As most parents will tell you, good Muslims aren’t supposed to fall in love. Umm… well… ok! So even though gambling is not allowed in our faith, we’re supposed to play the greatest game of roulette with our lives?! Maybe if we explored a little culture vs. religion, we’d learn something on how to find a good spouse, without having to put everything on the line!
What does Islam really say about love marriages? Well, for starters, it’s not entirely unheard of. But please don’t stop reading here, Islam has always provided beautiful guidelines for everything in life, including marriage. If you’re looking for a spouse for yourself, or for your children, then you have to know some basics. To find a good match, you have to consider 4 important criteria (Yes! There are criteria, and it’s not just flipping through pictures of random eligible strangers on rishta auntie’s phone!). When considering a spouse, you can marry for beauty, wealth, family or religious compatibility. It would be impossible to find someone who scores full marks, but if you can manage to find at least one in common, I think it would ensure a good platform to grow on. It’s probably important to know which of the four matters more to you. In order to find the right spouse, you need to figure out what you want. Know yourself first, it’s important.
So you think you’re in love? What’s next?
You see someone across the room, your eyes meet, the wind blows, there’s music in the air, flowers bloom, birds chirp. Is it love at first sight? Probably not. Sorry to bring that dream to a screeching halt, but you need to build a marriage on something a little more substantial than a hunch! Don’t be afraid, it’s ok to meet someone as long as you’re not looking to play the dating game. The modern version of dating isn’t allowed in Islam, there isn’t guesswork to this, it’s just not OK. And I can assure you that dating isn’t as glorified as it may seem. Ask someone who’s been dating for the past 10 years, and they’ll tell you how bad it is for the ego and emotions. It’s not all sunshine and roses. Dating probably isn’t permissible in Islam because it’s really damaging to a person’s self esteem and confidence. Instead of helping you find someone amazing to marry, dating actually leaves you incapable of seeing self-worth or worthiness in others. Whether you’re a boy or a girl, you’ll be left confused and insecure – my advice? Don’t head down that road.
So if dating is religious and cultural suicide, then where do you meet someone? Don’t worry, there are hundreds of halal ways to find “the one” – and parents, please don’t jump in now and start yelling! I know most of you feel it’s your right to choose a spouse for your children, but in order to choose anything for them; you have to get to know them first. To the moms and dads out there, who think they know better than their kids when it comes to choosing a spouse, well, I hope you know your kid really well, cause it’s them who’s going to be living out this marriage, not you. Parents, you need to be kind and considerate. Be open to hearing out your kid. You’ve raised them to be the person they are, now raise your expectations when it comes to letting them make decisions. In order to feel responsible for their spouse, your son or daughter needs to feel empowered when making the decision to marry.
To the spouse seekers out there, those of you who are looking to get hitched, please don’t think you can manage this task all on your own. You definitely can’t. When you’re looking to buy a car, a new phone or even a new data plan, you ask around and get the best advice from people you know and trust. If you can put that much effort into the small insignificant things in life, then marriage is definitely worth a few conversations with your loved ones. Seek out advice from your parents and family. These are your people, who know you best, and care about the outcome of your future. They’ll be able to help you differentiate between momentary infatuation, and long term compatibility. It’s important to remember that your parents love you, and you need to keep the lines of communication open with them, so when it comes time to helping you choose a spouse for marriage, you’re all in this together, and nothing makes for a better wedding, than happy faces all across the room!
So before you feel the need to label your marriage as “love” or “arranged” you need to know that in Islam you can “arrange a love marriage” or “love an arranged marriage”, and yes, both of these can coexist quite peacefully as long as there is respect for all parties involved. If you’ve met someone through friends or work, websites or volunteering, introduce the idea of the person to your parents, before you introduce yourself to your potential spouse. And if you’re ok with letting your parents take the lead, then be involved during the process. In both cases, it’s your life to live, and you’re the one who will have to cultivate love and respect in order to make your marriage work. But once you’ve tied the knot, are you living happily ever after? Or has the knot noosed around your neck? Watch this space for more marriage material on life after “I do”…
If you agree or disagree, or if you’re the rishta auntie that read through the article, give me your feedback below!