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Aging Singles: How Parents Cause Delay in Marriage

Extravagant Wedding Rituals

We cannot afford to finance your wedding right now. We will need to throw a banquet with at least 400 guests. We do not have the money for that. You will just have to wait a few more years, until you can chip in to meet the expenses.”

Many Muslim parents persistently cling to culture-based rituals associated with social status, ‘honor’ and prestige when it comes to convening their children’s weddings.

Unnecessary and complex rituals and ceremonies are compulsorily held out of a sense of social obligation, if not to silence the wagging tongues of extended family members.

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Islam has not burdened a bride’s parents with throwing even one party or banquet at hernikah, nor with providing her with a dowry to that is displayed to the critical socialite naysayers.

Sadly, most do these things anyway, out of a sense of social obligation and pressure. Examples of the unnecessary parties thrown by the bride’s family are: the pre-nikah hennaceremony (mehndi), and the formal dinner banquet to see off the bride as she goes to her husband’s home for the first time (rukhsati).

In addition, at each of these parties, the number of dishes in the menu, the label and price tag of the bridal dresses, the rent and location of the venue, and the swankiness of the decor – all are indulged in for the critical appraisal of the attendees.

The sad result is that the timeliness and barakah of the sacred union of marriage is compromised, if not totally sacrificed, in over-rating and blowing out of proportion a one-time wedding party: that coveted, “picture-perfect”, grandiose reception, which is mostly aimed only at dazzling the guests so much that they are rendered absolutely speechless in awe.

Incorrect Beliefs About Sons Being a Source of Provision

Ahmad* is in his early forties and still single. His parents live a modest life in South Asia (originally hailing from a rural village), but he lives very comfortably in the quiet American suburbs, regularly sending a coveted cheque every month back home to his aging parents.

All their efforts at finding him a girl from “back home” on his flying (and consistently more spaced-out and infrequent) visits have failed, for one lame excuse or another (“Too dark!”, “Not pretty enough!”, “She has to be a doctor”).

Despite the fact that he is single, his parents’ joy at his affluence and financial success far outweighs their worries about his single status, the preservation of his faith in Deen, or the fear that he might fall into the sin of adultery because of living alone in a sexually permissive environment.

From where I hail, this is one of the classically “wishful” future scenarios that middle-class people have in mind when they pray to Allah for a son, or why they covet sons rather than daughters.

The reason why I am explaining this here is because the same poverty-based psyche makes such parents procrastinate their sons’ marriage for as long as they can.

I have had quite a few 40+ single “Ahmads” in my own extended family, and while everyone expressed concern for the marriage of their female counterparts, no one seemed too greatly bothered about why these aging bachelors were not getting married.

In the “blind” eyes of every such “Ahmad’s” parents, a son is a ‘safety net’ for their post-retirement old age; whom they believe will replace the father as the primary family breadwinner, and continue to grease his parents’ palms with cash (hopefully in a foreign currency) even after he gets married and has children of his own.

They know but the outer (things) in the life of this world, but of the End of things they are heedless.” [The Holy Qur’an- 30:7]

Further, they believe that he and his wife will serve them, whereas his sisters might not be able to, as they will have obligations in their own husbands’ homes.

There are many clear examples that exist before our eyes, of sons who go on to become unprosperous, incompetent non-achievers; who continue to fleece their fathers long after the latter’s retirement; who do not earn enough to financially support their parents before the latter’s demise; who die young before their parents, or who outright abandon their parents later on in life.

Muslim parents should strengthen their basic aqeedah, including the unfaltering conviction that any kind of provision that Allah has written for them in their Qadr – food, shelter, money, love and care – at any stage in life (either youth or old age) will reach them, no matter what,- whether they have one son, 6 sons, or no children at all.

Aging Singles: How Parents Cause Delay in Marriage

Conclusion

I know that parents are not solely responsible for the delay in the marriage of their wards, as there are many other external factors that affect this delay as well.

However, most of the time, it is the parents’ own ideals in life, the upbringing they impart to their children, the values that govern their actions, and the pre-conditions that they hold fast to regarding how, where, when and to whom their adult son or daughter gets married, which directly or indirectly obstruct their children’s timely marriage.

Parents today need to realize that they have to let go of some of their culturally influenced beliefs, ideas and desires related to marriage, in order to fulfill the moral responsibility of their children’s marriages in a timely manner.

By not sweating the small stuff, and making nikah easy and doable, they will be doing a great favor to not just their own children, but to the success of the entire Muslim ummah in general.

*Names have been changed in order to protect the individuals’ privacy.

First published: January 2014

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