The Other Side of the Equation
By Mohamedarif M Suleman – (Nairobi, Kenya)
The phase to deny is over. We are now faced with solving a problem we have long dodged and dilly dallied with – long enough to cause some social damage that while not impossible is hard to fix. Marriage is a dying institution or one may at least call this an “endangered species” or a “natural disaster”. Call it what you may, the ugly fact is at par with our shameful vision and what are we going to do about it?
One may have come across various articles in which the singular viewpoint of how the boys’ family should welcome the new entrant into the family, how they should do this and that, and all that detail was published. In as much as such admonitions are true and should be encouraged, very few writers have dared to declare the plight of our boys in the entire inequation of marital disintegration.
So here is an attempt, with due regard to our sisters, and with the overriding principle of family unity in mind, it requires great stealth and boldness to describe the current state of affairs with the boys’ perspective in mind. But first, look at the pressures of the modern day world. Marius Panzarella is a known dating advisor. In one of his “wise” counsel, he states that extrovert men are tipped highly in favour of picking up gorgeous women, and that those who are not, are generally wimps in society. He says men should not be hiding in the corner and then expect to win over good looking ladies. He goes on to state “Call me a cockeyed optimist, but I truly believe that in today’s world, if you want something bad enough and you work hard enough for it, you WILL get it eventually.”
For the well versed, the above description can assist in drawing multiple conclusions, but the key ones are that guys must circulate, because if they don’t, they really won’t get the best. And before we boil down to the actual predicament today, here’s the pressure girls face. The demand for skin-deep beauty is gigantic. Beauticians and fashion moguls the world over, have realized that each woman can be made beautiful, if she already isn’t by enhancing one other part of her body to cover the shortfalls of one of her main attributes. Therefore, apart from cosmetics, the type of open clothes one wears helps eliminate the average looking face that a girl might have, for example. For then, the divertive tactic enables a man to cast his eye on her anyway.
Our community is abuzz with divorce after marriage or frustrated boys who are not able to espouse girls from our own community. In recent times, we have a compounding result of inter-faith marriages, to the extent that the openly prohibited act of Shia girls marrying Mushrikeen boys has gone up as well.
Each one of us, depending on our various experiences, as well as our status as parents of girls or boys, will naturally have varied views. And while all of us may be right and wrong at the same time, a gory truth that has shown its evil face today affects more boys than it does girls.
Of course, it has been traditional for girl parents to probe into the financial matters of the boys, and perhaps despite the Holy Prophet’s teachings to the contrary, we have chosen to continue with this practice. Then the good family boys are not an ideal market commodity, but the extroverts or those belonging to better economic backgrounds, are preferred. Then such boys are expected to turn out to be better husbands as well as providers of security. A doomed scenario indeed. Also, with increasing levels of education, girls are now exposed to open cultures, and although they may not partake of it, they are getting vocal and louder in their demands. This is why it is common for girls to cry foul over sexual contentment against their spouses in many breaking marriages today.
The poor boy, faced with pressures of society which reminds him of essentially being a sexual man, cannot offer any halaal solutions because when he speaks of marriage, there is no recourse especially if he is not financially stable or even talks of staying with the family after marriage. It may well be argued that it is but mandatory that parents of girls should get full hand information about the boy’s status, but basing one’s decision on that alone without regard to the character of the individual, is courting failure in simple terms.
What happened to our mothers teaching their daughters to make a home out of their husband’s mediocre abode? Where are the parents who would try to mend their daughter’s homes in the event of a dispute rather than asking her to pack their bags and head “home”? And yes, whatever happened to shame espoused by Janabe Zahra (AS) when openly talking about how sexually incapable one’s husband is especially in matters where impotence is not the subject at hand? And a valid question to ask would be how did the inexperienced girl herself suddenly become an expert in sexual fulfillment in a marriage that has barely hit the half year mark?
Well you see some of the facets of shame and conformity to one’s husband are common between Islamic teachings and our Indian heritage as well. The day we decided to shrug off our Indian garb and adopt the Western “I want this and I want that” attitude, and the year in which we started misinterpreting women’s rights in Islam as superior to all other bonds of the family, we began writing a forward chapter of the book “Disastrous Marriages”.
In the past, our girls would tell their parents that they would not get married in a manner which reflected the girl’s attachment to her folks; the same statements today actually symbolize the girl’s want for freedom and liberty. Today’s girl looks up to America for her idealistic role model. A notion of broken homes and marriages, and of course free relationships.
As a community, as households, we have largely failed. Looking at the statistics today of cases in our matrimonial committees, one wonders if we truly remember what the Holy Prophet said about how divorce was an abominable act, despised and disliked.
Some of you may shout foul over this piece, but look around you again. Bolder girls, more educated girls, more vocal girls, girls who talk of being leaders themselves rather than followers, corporate-style competitive girls, aggressive girls, exposed girls. Is it then any wonder why homes would not survive? The most daft thing to do is to follow the lifestyle of people who have themselves failed, and the most clever thing to do would be to follow the footsteps of our Aimmah (AS), for whose women, their men were their world, their leaders, their protectors, and everything they did was in seeking the pleasure of Allah (SWT), not the leadership of a community, a society or even a large Multinational. Whether we like it or not, we must educate our girls to the best of our ability, but if as a parent you forgot to teach them Islamic values and principles in which the woman is the pivot of the family, a giver, you just contributed to the falling moral standards of society.
Now the last question we must then address collectively is what parents should do when their children fall in love. What should they do if the boy or the girl expresses love for a boy from the community, and when they express similar sentiments for one outside? Any bright ideas?