Long engagements inevitably freak everyone out. And I mean everyone. For some reason, every family member, friend, or family friend that you have feels the need to comment or question your decision.
Why don’t you get married? Why don’t you wait to get engaged? Why so long?
Why don’t you mind your own business? We literally speak three times a year.
Of course, when you’re Muslim, there’s always a third option people bug you about: Why don’t you get your nikkah done now and have the wedding later?
[bctt tweet=”I’m not even going to go into the reasons why we’re waiting. Because it’s no one’s business.” username=”wearethetempest”]
Quick aside for those not in the know: marriages in Islam, regardless of culture, traditionally include two events— the nikkah and the walima. The nikkah is the actual marriage ceremony, consisting of the bride and groom signing a legal contract in the presence of two witnesses. The walima is basically just a wedding banquet either held during the wedding procession or at some point after the nikkah, depending on your cultural or family traditions.
In some cultures, people often hold off on having an “official” walima, or more specifically, moving in together post-nikkah for a while. The couple will get married, but then wait anywhere from days to months to years before actually living together as husband and wife. Couples often do this for financial, immigration, or practical reasons; they need to wait to move in together but wish to make it official, either because they want to have a more intimate relationship or they don’t believe in alone time together at all before marriage.
South Asian Muslims will sometimes have the Nikkah done and then do the whole three-day shebang anyway, whether it’s a day later or a couple of years.
This has become such a mainstream practice in Pakistani circles that I’m often seeing it treated as an engagement period. It’s not uncommon to hear of a couple having a nikkah because their parents found out about their relationship and pressured them to get married.
Now, this is totally fine; you do you.
But just because others are having a nikkah rather than a long engagement, doesn’t mean my fiancé and I have to as well.
My fiancé and I got engaged three and a half years ago, and we plan to get married next year. I’m not even going to go into the reasons why we’re waiting because it’s no one’s business.
But to my utter bewilderment, multiple people have had the audacity to suggest to our parents—not us, but our parents— that we get our nikkah done. Aside from the problematic attitude that anyone has a right to that decision other than the two people getting married, this is an indication of an issue that Muslim communities seem to struggle with: minding our own business.
[bctt tweet=”Unity is supposed to be present in how we support each other, not control one another.” username=”wearethetempest”]
It happens with everything.
Far too many Muslims seem to think they have the right to dictate what others eat, drink, wear, and where they go and what they do. There are 1.8 billion of us. We’re going to have differences and practice our religion differently. What’s right for me might not seem right for you. It is simply not possible for all of us to do things the same way, nor are we supposed to.
The pressure to have an early nikkah has become so pervasive that both my and my fiancé’s mothers have repeatedly brought up the notion of an early nikkah, despite the fact that they both had long engagements themselves. Cousins whom I’ve never discussed my life with have suggested it.
Aunties and uncles that barely know a thing about me try to persuade my parents to push it.
Getting engaged and waiting to become husband and wife was the right decision for my fiancé and me. We’re three-quarters of the way through our engagement, and I don’t think either of us would have done things differently. But we could have done without the uncalled-for pressure and needless nosing in.
[bctt tweet=”It is simply not your place to try and convince my parents to have my nikkah done.” username=”wearethetempest”]
Even more obviously, it has absolutely no bearing on your life whether or not someone else is engaged, nikkahed, in a civil union, or part of a domestic partnership.
“To you, your religion, and to me, mine” [109:6]. It has more than one meaning.