Some girls my age dread hearing that word, while it fills others with joy and anticipation for the future. Growing up, many of us were taught not to date at all and to limit our interactions with the opposite gender.
But as we got older we were taught that marriage is half of our faith and something we must do.
So how do we go from having limited interactions with men (outside of our family) to living with one for the rest of our lives?
How do we get to know someone and find out if they are “the one”, especially if we aren’t allowed to date? By the time we are expected by society to get married, many of our non-Muslim friends have been dating for years!
Now many people will answer my question by saying, “Oh that’s easy, it’s called an arranged marriage!”
Okay, but let’s go through the process.
Many parents will first start with looking to their friends and family back home, and seeing if they know of anyone for their daughters. Some girls might have no problem getting along with someone that grew up in a different place from them, but others will feel differently. Other parents may look to their friends and family here in North America to see if they know of any possible suitors.
This is usually all sorts of awkwardness for everyone involved.
The meetings can be too formal and the potential bride and groom have no chance to really get to know each other, or they are nervous and don’t make a good first impression, and in the end, it doesn’t end up working out because of some small misunderstanding. Other girls luck out, and they end up finding someone in college, sometimes meeting potential husbands in the Muslim Student’s Association (MSA), other college activities, or in classes. This is usually less awkward.
Another marriage issue girls have to face is that those who have an advanced degree and/or high-powered career intimidate many men. Khadija, the wife of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was very accomplished and a wealthy businesswoman.
But why is it that so many Muslim men, especially in this day and age, are intimidated by Muslim women that have higher education? Why are they so unwilling to accept a woman just because of her degree or career?
Perhaps they think that women with careers are unwilling to start families, but it’s possible to do both or to put a career on hold when the time comes to start a family. This advanced degree issue is a very dangerous pattern because, if it continues, younger women may be discouraged from seeking out higher education.
It’s also important to keep in mind that a man or woman is not just his or her career; there are many qualities to consider and these need to be established from the very beginning, before marriage.
It all boils down to communication, which is extremely important.
Young Muslims need more education, communication, and understanding to curb this growing issue around marriage.
It’s the only way we can ensure successful and healthy marriages in our communities.