By Lubna Maryam
It’s that time of the year again. The Wedding season, as it is called. Extravagant parties and candid (not-so-truly) couple photo shoots are commonplace, and the same is witnessed by the virtual population on social media. It used to be fun to attend parties being a kid, even more so as a teen, but crossing the 21 mark has made even parties miserable. ‘You’re next!’ , ‘What are the plans for your daughter’s wedding?’, ‘You need to lose weight, or else no guy will like you’ are comments that commonly befall the ears of a 20-something woman in our Asian culture. Not that I dislike the idea of marriage, it is after all a Sunnah of our Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ). What I have begun to despise and hate is the idea our society instills among our families that a girl’s ultimate goal of life is to get married (whether she has found the right partner or not) and her life is truly a waste if she doesn’t. Really? If I remember, Allah has given us this life to test our faith; I didn’t know that faith is incomplete without getting married.
Marriage, just like many other aspects of life, is simply a matter of Qadr (destiny). If it is written in our Qadr, it will happen – today, tomorrow, or maybe years later- but it will happen when it has to happen. And who is to be blamed if people’s expectations have risen so much that they fail to accept a simple and sweet-looking girl of good character just because she is short? Or maybe fat? Or brown/black? I am not saying that one should marry someone who they do not find attractive, but “perfection” is what everyone is looking for, and it is quite ironic that the same people so perfectly fail to see their own imperfections. This has become a huge issue in our Muslim Ummah, especially seen in Asian communities.
The Prophet (ﷺ) said:
“A woman may be married for four things: her wealth, her lineage, her beauty and her religious commitment. Seek the one who is religiously-committed, may your hands be rubbed with dust (i.e., may you prosper).”
(Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
But unfortunately, finding a bride has become an entertainment for many. Browsing through matrimonial, rating unknown girls for their beauty, short listing them for a further visit, making up an itinerary of visiting multiple girls in a day, and coming back home and discussing who the best was. My mother says that all this is bound to happen in an arranged marriage, but somehow this idea deeply repulses me. It reminds me of a box of a variety of chocolates, all of different flavors, which people keep unwrapping and tasting a bit of until they find the one they like. Oh, and in so many cases, people are bribed by the bride’s family with an attractive offer if the deal is sealed. Sometimes subtle, sometimes obvious.
Our Ummah is trying to sail in two boats- please the eyes of society, as well as fulfill their religious obligations. In doing so, the latter often ends up being neglected. Marriage is meant to be a simple yet sacred deal in Islam. If you like someone, approach them the right way and make it halal and it then becomes the responsibility of the parents to not get their unhealthy expectations mixed up and complicate issues that are already complicated. As for arranged marriages, we need to get a hold on our desires and look for someone who we find decently attractive, smart and most importantly, compatible with our faith. We need to stop being judgmental and remember that beauty lies in the imperfections. How do we have the authority to belittle our Rabb’s Creations? Who are we to define or standardize beauty? Who are we to decide how a person’s character is based on her family’s class in society? Who invented these so-called classes? How can we forget that we are blessed constantly by Allah’s Rahmah despite of our shortcomings and failures?
Alas, may Allah Guide us all and grant us good spouses. Ameen.