In The Name Of God The Most Merciful, Most Compassionate

Why is it so hard to get married?

by Imam Khalid Latif
Source: Huffington Post

Filed under: Featured,Opinion |

It seems like every time I open my email, I have a new message from someone unique saying that they are having a hard time finding someone to spend the rest of their life with. Different reasons seem to be holding each one down respectively, but the end result of sadness and confusion is usually the same.

How does one go about finding someone to get married to in the American Muslim community? When dating in most senses of the word is not religiously permissible, interaction across genders is difficult and awkward because of cultural norms, parents and children are not on the same page in terms of what a suitable match would be, and gender roles become blurred due to an obvious dichotomy in the way young men are raised in comparison to their female counterparts, it’s hard to find someone that makes sense for you. You run into too many Mr. and Miss Wrongs and slowly begin to think that you will never find the Mr. or Miss Right.

Religiously speaking, there isn’t a prescribed method for finding a spouse in our tradition. We find a variety of ways in our tradition that people utilized when getting married as well as different types of couples. Younger men marrying older women, intercultural marriages, arranged marriages and love marriages, marriages in which the woman proposed to the man, and many more. What this shows us is not that these ways are the only ways to do it, but there are many ways and no set, defined way to go about it. Permissibility does not equate to normativity — meaning just because it’s allowed to be done in a certain way, doesn’t mean that’s the only way of doing it. In general, this is something that needs to be understood because too many of us give advice based off of our own subjective experiences and understandings, and don’t really think about the reality that the other person is coming from.

I participated on a panel on marriage at a conference hosted by university-aged Muslim students. One of my co-panelists stated quite matter-of-factly that parents always know what’s best for children and when it comes time to get married, one should fully rely on their families to help them find someone. Afterwards a young girl came up to me quite concerned, stating that not only is her family not Muslim, but they don’t even like Islam. So how can that be the way for her to get married? So how can that be the way that she finds someone for herself? The reality is it can’t be and Islam teaches us to deal with reality. But like most issues in the Muslim community, we’re not looking at the reality of the situation, rather we are stuck in a black and white understanding that isn’t helpful in finding relevant and authentic solutions to problems. And like most lectures that are given at our conferences, the subjective perspective of the speaker doesn’t take into consideration the diverse realities that are present in the room.

The one thing that is clearly impermissible is marriages that are forced. Forced marriages are completely not allowed in Islam but unfortunately run rampant in many Muslim communities. The focus becomes only on getting your child married, rather than on whether the marriage makes sense in terms of communication and compatibility. You aren’t doing your part as a parent if you force your child into a marriage. It’s haraam and there is no other way of looking at it. Ruqaiyyah Waris Maqsood, a female convert to Islam and author, writes about the case of Qaylah bint Makhramah and her daughters who were potential victims of a forced marriage during the time of the Prophet Muhammed, peace be upon him, in her essay entitled “Forced Marriages Condemned”:

“I will close by quoting the case of Qaylah, which is perfectly clear on the points I have raised. Qaylah bint Makhramah had several daughters. When her husband died, her husband’s brother Athub b. Ashar seized them, intending to arrange their marriages to the persons of his choice. None of the girls wanted these particular marriages. Qaylah managed to rescue and hide one of the girls, Hudaybah, and set off with her to find the Prophet, peace be upon him. Hudaybah was rolled up in a woolen blanket. They got away, but were so terrified of Athub that when their camel suddenly refused to go on they supposed he was using sorcery against them. By the time they got moving again, they could actually see Athub in pursuit in the distance. However, they got to Madinah, where Qaylah had a sister residing, but Athub caught them before they could gain shelter in her house. A struggle ensued, in which this ‘Muslim’ man struck Qaylah with the flat of his sword and knocked her bleeding to the ground. Then he seized the terrified girl and carried her off over his shoulder. Qaylah managed to get to her sister’s house, and in the morning was able to join the deputation of Bakr b. Wa’il of Banu Shayban that had come to see the Prophet. They arrived at the mosque at the time of fajr prayer (sunrise), and in the darkness Qaylah joined the rows of men until the man next to her realised she was a woman and directed her to the women’s rows behind them. When the sun came up she got her interview with the Prophet, who passed judgment in her favor, and had his scribe write for her on a piece of red leather: ‘Qaylah and the daughters of Qaylah should not be oppressed or forced to marry. Every faithful Muslim should offer them help. Muslims should do good deeds and not evil ones.'”

As tough as it is to be alone, don’t let yourself agree to be a part of something that doesn’t make sense for you. It’s not the correct solution. So what is the correct solution then? For starters, we need to explicitly demand of leaders, experts and religious scholars in our communities to come together and develop a more a practical and authentic approach to dealing with this issue. Not just standing by while culture wins in clashes with religion or young people lose their faith because they don’t understand why Islam makes it hard for them to find someone, when in reality it’s not Islam at all, but Muslims that are screwing things up. If I don’t know what I am “allowed” to do when trying to find someone, make it clear for me what is OK in the given context. But do so with the aid of mental health and relationship experts who understand the cultural context and the complexities of the situation and what it is doing to people, and with their help come up with a practical solution. Solicit expert advice and opinion in the development of matrimonial services for the Muslim community that takes into consideration more than let’s charge someone tons of money and stick everyone in a room where all the men chase after the prettiest girl and people leave feeling more dejected than when they walked in. The intention shouldn’t be to make a business out of someone else’s life issue, but to help people find meaning in their life by putting their needs first. And in those instances where intentions are good, you still need to know what you are doing. If you don’t have the skill-set or credentials to build this type of service, bring someone in who does, even if they are not Muslim. There are many comparable services for other minority groups that should be analyzed and understood — why start from scratch?

There are a lot of other things that are in my mind on this topic. We need to have something that guides men through this process, as most of the rhetoric seems to revolve around women and what they need to do and change about themselves in order to be more appealing. It could be the problem isn’t with our women, but with our boys, and they need to be the ones to change.

Eng Abdirisak
Eng Abdirisak 5pts

i don't know where the authoris but where i am In Somaliland the situation is really different. and a olot more easy

irhamni 5pts

this issue is completely difficult for me personally, til I reach my mature age. No one man taking me serious in this sort of love matter to bring the next level #marriage. So far I've been doing this 'find Mr. Right process' fit with Islam, and my parent didn't set any arranged marriage. I do a lot of friendship and acquaintance with anyone, mostly Muslim men who single and not in the complicated situation. I tried to ponder, if I were picky, it turns out I'm not a kind of picky person. and the results there has been no serious guy and really want to move a mountain with me. I always keep praying and trying, even though in my mind often say 'oh my God the most Merciful and most Compassionate, when you will bring me to the right man???"

MohammedAbdalla 5pts

Salamo alaikom all. the question resonates with most, if not all, of us young Muslims. It's base of our sufferings, if we give it a closer look. it's very hard to get married because we're not even following Islam as sent to us by Allah through His messenger. We rather follow the alterations of Islam. Islam is a set of holy rules related to each other, so you cannot impose Sharia law without making it possible for all men and women to get married at affordable costs or without costs (( because you cannot apply the punishment for fornication when the young people cannot even think of getting married for mere financial reasons and the only sex they can get is outside of the marriage framework)). you cannot impose Sharia if the people can't find food ((because they have to eat, and if they steel for eating there's no law except the human needs, that's Islam, that's the religion of Allah, not these laws passed under the name of Islam which punish the hungry for steeling and punish the helpless young people for sexual relations.  

togazer 5pts

salams brothers and sisters, Its been a really bad experience. but here my experience with a girl even from my distant family, with hijab and the whole dress code. being a technology expert I caught her talking against me to family. That burnt me and yet her parents are really beautiful people. Im stuck in disbelief and shock. Im now very worried approaching with pure heart. as Im still keen on searching and understand that I should keep looking. I would like to believe that there is someone out there. Its just become so difficult to trust people overall. I am in New Zealand so I can relate to the muslim community in the other Western societies. I would really appreciate some help as to how I could start and where to look and how. Jazakumallah 5air

thesharpenedpen 5pts

The reason that everyone, of all faiths is having increasing difficulty finding someone can be summed up in one word :'feminism'. Feminism is a force which works to divide men and women. With everyone spending so much time searching for careers, no one has any time to search for what is infinitely more important - love.

So all of society is faced with this problem, and if you doubt it, you need only look at western birth rates - below replacement levels in every case. This is no accident or happenstance. Muslim countries have fared better, and I think this has to do with their resistance to feminist influences, and strong emphasis on the family unit. As Muslim nations 'liberalize' or 'feminize', their birth rates start to drop through the floor as well, and increasingly men and women find themselves lost and alone.

I think we should pray to Allah that Muslim nations and Muslims in general, do not embrace the lie of feminism - the clear work of Shaitan.

n. usman
n. usman 5pts

I am married but so many of my family and friends are looking and looking but cannot find anyone. My cousin just accepted an engagement, even though she knows he is not what she is looking for in a husband but she is worried that she is getting too old. (She is in her mid 20's) The parents in my family push all the girls to get married before they are ready or to someone they do not like because they stress that if you get too old, nobody will like you. All the women in my family talk about now is how hard it is for girls to find guys to marry. It is true that today it is harder, but I still believe there are many nice guys in the world. It is just a matter of finding them. Our world today is technology based, everyone has a facebook page or tries online dating. More and more, people are meeting online than anywhere else. That is ok if you take the time to really get to know each other and the guys are screened carefully!

Mohamed Safras
Mohamed Safras 5pts

i don't think this problem will ever come to an end until and unless we come back to the teachings of our Master Mohammed (PBUH): he commanded the men to look for pious girl. The Prophet (PBUH) said: "A woman may be married for four reasons: her wealth, her lineage (family status), her beauty or her religious commitment; Choose the one who is religious and you will prosper.”
{Sahih Bukhari, Book 62, Hadith Number 27**
Her wealth is Imaan and Modesty.
Her Linage is Islam
Her Beauty is obedient and loyalty
Her religion is Quran and Hadith.

shaam 5pts

Difficulty is finding a spouse is a big problem for Muslims specially in western countries. The issues that lead to such problems are many. Firstly, muslims living in western countries only maintain 'acquaintances' with each other seldom are there any real deep friendships within the community. HOW DO YOU EXPECT TO MARRY EACH OTHER IF YOU HARDLY VISIT OR KNOW EACH OTHER? It is not too late, go to your local to people become friends and grow the circle of people that know you and know that you are looking for a spouse.

Secondly, we're all scared of approaching each other because of the sickness muslims have about their cultures...people reject considering spouses from other ethnicities. I once approached a girl for marriage ...and her first question was whether I was Egyption (pfffft) ...i hope she is still not single waiting for her Egyption Knight! Tho she did blame it on her father. DROP YOUR PRE-CONDITIONS FOR MARRIAGE...SPECIALLY THOSE THAT WANT ONLY FROM THEIR OWN COUNTRIES. The prophet Sallalahu Alaihi Wasallam...said that when someone approaches you for marriage ad they are sound muslims MARRY THEM..OR THERE WILL BE WIDESPREAD DESTRUCTION.

Thirdly, our sisters have got to start considering more seriously the idea of polygamy. FACT: THERE ARE MORE WOMEN THAN MEN Hence there will never be 100% marriages in societies that only have 1 man marrying 1 woman. FACT: THIS RATIO WILL ONLY GET WORSE AS TIME PASSES. (REFER HADITH FOR SIGNS OF DAY OF JUDGEMENT WHERE WEN WILL OUT NUMBER MEN BY 50:1). I d not like to call it being second wives (all wives in an islamic relationship are1st wives). PEOPLE RISK COMITTING ZINA...BUT WILL NOT CONSIDER MARRYING A MAN WHO HAS A WIFE (what is with you). Is the fire of hell that will turn your skin inside out worth that?? I would like to marry and take out of danger another single sister...but too scared to approach anyone caz muslims now make a great sunnah of the prophet and a command from the infinite wisdom of allah seem like pimping (wal iyadhu billah). Your sick...horny and all the tags come along..simply for doing what everyone knows is needed.

I could go on forever :)

S Ali

sister 5pts

I've noticed many sisters in the community who don't practice Islam well, there to into their skinny jeans and jewellery. Their expectations of a brother is lots of money, good looking and young...brothers don't fall for this stupidity by the sisters around, you can do better InshaAllah and don't look at a sister in a hijab and abaya as the beez neez, I know and agree there isn't anything more beautiful in terms of dress code than a sis dressed the way she should but watch out for the sisters who dress like this that also unfortunately have a strange way of thinking of this dunya. Sisters there are many brothers who walk around with a big beared and pray in masjid but have to buy their house on riba, have the worst past but still judge sisters who made a small mistake in their life, can't understand Islam properly and put their silly cultural things first, sisters beware. Just cause he's good looking and young dosnt mean he will be a good role model for your children. Alhumdulilah I found my husband he is amazing, the reason I wrote so straight forward was because I used to think that the tall good looking man with money was what I wanted, I realised Alhumdulilah that its not what is important. Salam InshaAllah I didn't offend anyone that isn't my intention and there are so many great bros and sisters out there, stay strong make dua

Alesyrch 5pts

@sister Asalamualaikum, MaShaa Allah and thank u sister.

human 21
human 21 5pts

Good topic -Yes ,I do agree,many restrictions are there in Islamic community letting ppl misunderstand the real Islam or just go ahead with their traditions which don't belong to Islam ..
For instant arranged marriage ,how can man or woman marry the one they chose while there is an arrange one by their family? .How to refuse that ones when the whole family think that is the right life partner for him-her!!

How to deal with this case,what's the Islamic view?


ahmed 5pts

funny, i meet women without any problems at all, ohhhhh thats right, i'm christian and so have complete freedom.

momina 5pts

There are two things worth mentioning in this article why is it so hard to get married: Islam is not about forcing but facilitating; the boys thinking may need to be changed.

Male dominance is to be balanced with that of acknowledgement of female choices or space. However, common observation is that of men taking control (whether protective or taking advantage) as their upbringing makes them so. Yet the real issue underlying beneath is that of finding the right person, be it by hit and trial or recommendations by family or friends.

Practically it all comes down to the person's attitude/interest/expectations/demands/taste/choice etc. that build up with time. We also believe that marriage is more of destiny bringing two people together. But are we really contended with what we have? or do we move on for more of this and that? Then its our own choice that matters!

Sister_M 5pts

Salat Istikhara.
Why decide on such though life decisions when you can leave it to the creator to determine? Let Allah ta'ala decide who is the most worthy for you to marry. If you rely on someone or your self even, you will always eventually be let down. If you rely only on Allah He will never let you down.
All the other factors really boil down to common sense - taqwa, tawheed, steadfastness.... It is hard to find - but if you put Allah ta'ala priorities FIRST... and leave the other dunia things aside (money, secular credentials, race) Allah will reward you inshaAllah by blessing you with a beautiful life companion that you can share your hereafter with inshaAllah.
La Hawla wala quwwata ilah Billah!

S.C 5pts

Nice highlighting of the issues affecting us. A resulting issue with culture over religion affects the priority of parents rights over children rights. If, children are chosing spouses for correct reasons, does it entitle them to marry without parents' permission? Especially, if parents are mixed with culture, worldly oriented and children are inclined towards religion? It is true, parents, don't always know best but it is probably best for children to understand this is a test from Allah swt and not act in vengeance to hurt their parents' feelings by marriage without parents' permission but keep steadfast towards the one whom they seek to marry and ask Allah for help and guidance.

May Allah guide us all with good pleasing spouse who are a coolness to the eye and heart. Ameen.

The worst thing to do is argue bitterly over your rights.

matrimony 5pts

I find most women are too picky and unapproachable. Many are also busy pursuing their careers.

sean 5pts

This is really a useless article. All he does is state the problems, and in a way that almost makes it seem hopeless.

anonymous 5pts

this si written in American context, for a muslim woman living in australia in her 30's a can honeslty say for me and my frieds is that there arent enough marriagible males out there, and the ones that are sligible have a pick of about 20 amazing women each, wel that's what it feels like anyways.

Soapbox 5pts

C'mon two people love each other they are both muslims enough said leave the parents, the bloodlines, the denominations out of it. Give love a chance.

Metta Ferguson via F
Metta Ferguson via F 5pts

Men need to lead by example. They need to be the partner they want. The Prophet (pbuh) should be all the role model they need. Even by todays standards, he is superior.

Naaila Dalati El-Mou
Naaila Dalati El-Mou 5pts

lol notice the article used the word 'boys' my opinion this is a huge problem for women finding a spouse because 'boys' want their toys! Man up boys!

abdulah.z 5pts

I'd like to input a small opinion, which isn't heavily referenced, but I've done some research.

Generaly the idea that mature aged young adults, say like university students or persons who are in a sensible mental frame, to meet other persons, and know they are not dating or playing the field, and instead are "courting" to learn about the person, and mutually and comfortably discuss their ideas expectations on marraige, without the cultural restraints.
I'd like to think that it is possible and sensible for parents and young persons to see that courting another person for the soul purpose of observing(learning about) them and their potential as a life partner, can be done without contravening an Islamic protocols.

Abu Khadijah
Abu Khadijah 5pts

Reason 1: Parents.
Reason 2: Culture.
Reason 3: Incredibly insane expectations.
Reason 4: Pickiness, on both sides.

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