A Crisis of Muslim Matrimony….

Muslim women are experiencing in their efforts to find love through marriage.

There exist genuine difficulties finding a Muslim spouse, particularly among women between the ages of 25 to 35, often in the context of those who are highly educated and high-achieving. Many include women who are ‘colored’—technically speaking, Black or dark-skinned.

By Nazarul Islam

‘Crisis’ is a heavy word, weighted down with emotions. I personally feel this word aptly defines the kind of situation, Muslim women are experiencing in their efforts to find love through marriage. I’ve heard this term used by scholars and Muslim leaders in two regards. It finds inclusion in the increasing rate of divorce in the community. And furthermore, most Muslim marriage counselors and imams are responding this to be unpleasant, while working on initiatives to help keep the institutions of Islamic marriage, functional, intact and integrated together.

And the other aspect, to which we won’t research—does not really exist. This happens to be community’s fast growing numbers of Muslim singles. It seems the number of unmarried women is higher than the male counterparts. In part that’s because Muslim men are allowed to marry someone from outside the religion, acceptable by many Islamic scholars. But women in general, aren’t allowed to do the same.

There exist genuine difficulties finding a Muslim spouse, particularly among women between the ages of 25 to 35, often in the context of those who are highly educated and high-achieving. Many include women who are ‘colored’—technically speaking, Black or dark-skinned. I would like to focus primarily on women who fall into this classification.

When I started interviewing people for my write up, I realized I wasn’t the only one struggling to find someone I am not uncomfortable or compatible with— but there were those who may have shared their views of what a woman’s supposed to do, or those who were raised with, or struggling with their racist parents.

Today, these core issues are magnified in the in the realm of Muslim communities in the US, where there is a definite emphasis on marriage being part of the faith. This would include Societal expectations to getting the girls married while they are young, and finally the matter of parental approval or facilitation of the marriage. Paradoxically, there is also the cultural baggage with mothers, who have fancy ideas about who their sons should marry, wanting their daughters-in-law to take on more traditional duties, staying at home.

All this is embedded with an attitude that reflects less regard for wives that are high-achieving. The male members may be biased in favor of the idea that a woman “expires” if she remains unmarried past 27. These are words that are actually said to women: ‘You’re expired, your time is running out’.

Again, these are just the core issues Muslims have seen in repetitive frequency, something that has captured a lot of what’s plaguing those ‘classified’ women—the pariahs of a corrosive Muslim attitudes.

Issues relevant to aging, begins with women being pushed to get married young. When I speak with matchmakers and women over 30, when they encounter men in their age bracket, they’re all looking for 20-something women. Nevertheless, the blame has always rested with the woman, that she neglected in her responsibilities and waited too long to start looking for a life partner. And further, that she has made the mistake of prioritizing her education and career to her search for a male partner. Regardless, we see men are doing the same and it’s only women who are beating the brunt of penalties.

We often see images portrayed in Muslim journals, depicting a woman in the ‘aging’ photos, holding a clock. This frame is not indicative of the ticking time bomb, rather her fertility and biological clock. But this image also symbolizes our society forcing her to watch the clock because of the pressures society puts on her to marry young, or else she’ll never get a chance.

Sexism in this project is about how, in the same household, you have parents encouraging daughters to be high-achieving doctors, lawyers and engineers — while encouraging their sons to marry women who are younger, who haven’t established themselves, who only want to be housewives. So in another picture, the model may be viewed to hold a teapot and a briefcase—while wearing a puffy, wedding dress.

Women are forced into ‘feeling’ like they have to choose either one or the other, or give up pieces of themselves in order to be a viable candidate for the men around them.

One of the models, who has South Asian origin actually brought ‘colorist’ issued for projections. In her counseling experience, if the word “fair” is not used written on a biodata, some South Asian makes don’t even look at that profile.

Women in America’s divergent societies have dealt with a lot of racism. Muslims are the most diverse religious group in America. People often want to stay within their own ethnic enclaves for safety and for cultural reasons. … To cut it off because they’re from various ethnic or religious backgrounds — and this has really become a huge issue. It’s not that they don’t offer their everyday mandated prayers or that they drink alcohol, a serious offense in the practice of Islamic faith. All this obviously, has more to do with culture and much less to do with religion.

In the context of black Latina women, It’s not necessarily a lack of men being attracted to women, but it’s more so like when it comes time to bring her to the male’s parents—they are likely to say, “Actually, my parents aren’t okay with me marrying outside of my ethnicity,” or even, “I didn’t realize that they’re not okay with that.” Sometimes it’s not explicitly stated.

Their parents are likely: “Oh, she’s not going to know how to make dinner this way” or “She doesn’t understand our language.”

A few years ago, one of the single girls bought a wedding dress on the fly. She said she just got sick of waiting for a man to have the experience of a wedding dress. And she wanted to give that experience to the local models. Bridal stores call them “nontraditional dresses for the nontraditional bride” because these are women that society sees as nontraditional for being wives.

Two Muslim fashion designers graciously donated these dresses to the Marriage Bureau. Of the donors, one was Laterry Mohsin, who runs Sew Modest Studio in Detroit. She’s a Black convert in an intercultural interracial marriage, and she wanted to contribute because she knows the racism she faced in life when marrying her Yemeni husband. Then there’s Ayana Ife, who is a “Project Runway” runner-up from season 16. She’s spoken before about her journey getting married really young, getting divorced, and then getting into fashion and that helped her heal.

One of the girls there wanted to make the statement:  “we’re not going to settle, even though we really want to be married and be in a loving relationship. We won’t let these -isms dictate the type of wife we are or the type of men that we marry.”

And that is how the ball is bouncing, in the present times.

Nazarul Islam

The Bengal-born writer Nazarul Islam is a senior educationist based in USA. He writes for Sindh Courier and the newspapers of Bangladesh, India and America. He is author of a recently published book ‘Chasing Hope’ – a compilation of his 119 articles.
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