Regardless of one’s association with a given belief system, marriages in the sub-continent are generally complicated. Unfortunately, Muslims who live in the region lack basic understanding of the very religion that they belong to. For this reason they have accumulated practices that are against the spirit in which Islam views the institution of marriage.
Hence, here is a look at 7 marriage customs that Muslims living in the sub-continent need to understand better.
In most cases in Pakistan marriage means either a grand wedding ceremony or no wedding at all! Display of dowry, lavish food and out dated customs only add to complicating things to the point where families are literally forced to unnecessarily delay marriages.
From Islam’s perspective Nikkah followed by a simple Walima reception is all that is needed to unite a couple.
Hence, depriving people of marriage simply because they don’t have enough money to meet the expenses that arise owing to absurd local customs is supported neither by Islam nor the West.
It’s Ok to Marry Outside One’s Family
Islam allows cousin marriages but they are certainly not a compulsion. A number of families in the sub-continent don’t let couples marry outside of their community, family or caste. This then leads to various medical as well as social complications.
Needless to say, by placing such restrictions, Muslims consciously or unconsciously go against the spirit of the religion that the Almighty has chosen for them.
Female’s Consent is of Paramount Importance
Even in this time and age, in some parts of the sub-continent taking a female’s consent is considered a taboo.
This is especially mind-boggling given the fact that Islam clearly allows women the right to choose their spouse and no marriage is considered valid if it is forced or if consent isn’t taken from both the bride and the groom.
Muslims hence, need to obey the commandment of the Almighty and stop being ashamed of taking consent from their women when the practice is well in line with the teachings of Islam.
Marrying a Widow or a Divorcee
Marrying a widow or a divorcee (again!) is considered to be a taboo in our society. As a matter of fact, there are a number of communities in our part of the world that will never allow widows their basic right to re-marry.
This is against the teachings of Islam and there is no way one can justify this under any pretext.
We can’t possibly choose from the religion what suits us and let go of what is not in line with the absurd cultural values of the region that we live in.
No Sin if the Spouse is Elder to You in Age
People have their tongues wagging particularly, if a wife is older than her husband. This is yet another misconception and something that is neither an issue nor a problem in Islam.
We as a society need to learn to mind our own business when someone in our community gets married to a person who is elder to them.
No Sin for a Man to Have Multiple Wives
It is true that most incidents of violence that take place in the name of honor are reported against women. However, recently I read a news story where a man was killed in the name of honor as he decided to get married for the second time.
There is no doubt that it is preferable for a man to have one wife at a time. However, four marriages are very clearly allowed and from an Islamic perspective, stereotyping men who get married more than once is certainly unfair.
That said, in such a case it is extremely important for a man to try his level best to keep a balance between his partners. This means that a man who chooses to have more than one wife at a time is obligated to ensure that he effectively meets the rights of his wives, including their physical, mental and financial well-being.
Mehr and Divorce
Mehr is a gift that the husband is committed to give to his wife at the time of marriage. The mehr then serves as a means of empowering a wife financially.
However, Muslim men in the region either don’t pay the mehr or the agreed amount is deliberately kept so low that it denies financial security to the wife.
On the other hand families in the sub-continent also use mehr as a blackmailing tool. In a number of cases men are forced to commit to a mehr at the time of Nikkah that they can’t pay so that they are in no position to divorce their spouse. This is done because divorce is considered a taboo and people in the region prefer a marriage to remain intact even if the couple is not compatible and even if one or both the partners find themselves in an abusive relationship.
From an Islamic perspective mehr is a women’s right and hence, it has to be paid. Divorce on the other hand despite being allowed is not encouraged. Nevertheless, it is neither forbidden nor haram.