1 year ago
Ameer Shakour
Op-Ed

Tale of student who went through process of getting arranged marriage fails to represent entire scope of Muslim matrimony

Last week, I read “Love Story” on the front page of The Mercury and, I will be honest about it, I wasn’t really moved or touched by it. In fact, I cringed a bit after reading it and found myself confused and perplexed. The article stated that Nina Rafiq’s parents wanted her future husband to belong to the same “sect” of Islam, Hanafism. Therein lies the first problem. Hanafi, Shafi, Hanbali and Maliki are four schools of thought, named after their respective eponymous figures, but have never been defined as sects because of the differences among them. Furthermore, according to Nina, the justification behind marrying someone from the same school means that her husband would celebrate holidays at the same time. That too is incorrect because the two holidays in Sunni Islam, Eid al-adha and Eid al-Fitr, have direct relation to moon sighting and not the schools of thought. The differences among Muslims celebrating these two holidays on different days has more to do with the local community leaders. At times, mosques separated by less than a mile have celebrated Eid on separate days, causing much grief and confusion for their congregations.

My other issue with the article is that I do not see how anyone would find “conflicts” marrying someone who is not from within their culture or does not share their own nationality. I personally have over a dozen Muslim friends who have married someone that belongs to a different culture, school of thought and nationality. In fact, had I — a Pakistani-Muslim American — not met my amazing wife, who is an Indian American born in the United States, I would not have been opposed to marrying a Mexican Muslim, African Muslim or an Arab Muslim.

I, like countless Muslims across the world, understand marrying someone who doesn’t follow the same school of thought, nationality or culture is exactly what our world needs. How can one not overlook minor differences when choosing a spouse? Why are we still so scared of the “otherness,” especially when we live in a country that takes prides in itself for being a microcosm of the rest of the world?

I was taught that conflicts are in the minds of those who have difficulty digesting the diversity that God has put on this earth for us. My advice is to base your decision in the selection of your spouse not in backward and ill-advised cultural prejudices, but instead on the character of the person you choose to spend your life with. Verse 49:13 in the Koran clears up any issues we may have: “O mankind, we have created you male and female, and appointed you races and tribes, that you may know one another. Surely the noblest among you in the sight of God is the most god-fearing of you. God is All-knowing, All-aware.”