(When Culture, Teligion And Tradition Clashes With The Modern Times…)
My marriage was arranged. Yes, it’s the 21st century and a woman must be free to choose her husband. But I belong in a family where tradition is rich and strictly followed. One of the many beliefs in our family is to set up a boy and a girl and will them to marry each other when they reach 19. The moment my parents knew I was a girl, my future has been “sold”. That’s how I saw it while growing up and I was very rebellious back then.
I wasn’t allowed to have suitors, let alone experience puppy love. Watching teen movies and rom-coms was the closest I ever got to “having a boyfriend”. My parents were preserving me for my future husband and I will meet him on my 19th birthday. I know which family he belongs to, but I don’t know who he is exactly. In parties, my mother would say – “Your husband is here and he says that you look beautiful. Masha Allah. He says that he is very blessed that you are a pious woman darling and he can’t wait to officially meet you on your birthday.” In a way, it made me feel all giddy, but the fact still remained – my choice was robbed from me – at that time, that’s how I saw it.
One day, my mother saw me crying. I have thought about my future that time and it made me panic. What if I didn’t like him or he doesn’t like the real me? Is he a good person? Will he be a wonderful husband to me? What will happen to me after we get married? Will I still be able to finish college? I really want to work and have my own income – will my husband allow me that? I have become so anxious and that anxietywas really building up to a point wherein I was hyperventilating. My mother saw all of that and came to my aid.
She told me that she felt the same way when her 19th year was fast approaching and when her betrothed, my father, was still waiting for her. “I know how you feel and I’ve been there myself. But we are your parents and we need you to trust us. We will not choose a husband for you who will destroy your future. You will go to college and you will be able to work in whatever field you choose – your husband will support you. As for children, whenever you’re ready. All the other things, you two will work it out and me and dad, together with his parents, can suggest and recommend actions for you to do. The final decision will come from the both of you, of course.” She told me.
I asked her why she needed to sell me to some guy that I don’t love. My mother laughed and said that I am indeed her daughter because when she was younger, she asked her mom the same thing. She answered me the same thing my grandma said to her – “Selling means I have acquired money from the “transaction”, but I haven’t. We are not selling you and we will never do that. We are just making sure that when we are gone, you have a responsible husband by your side who will be your companion until Allah continues on with your fate.” Yes, we’re Muslims and for some, this situation is a sample of oppression. As I look at it, I was beginning to understand why. It’s not oppression and I don’t feel oppressed at all.
People are given their freedom to choose, but what if we intentionally pick to do the wrong things all the time? Is this right and justifiable? I feel now that my parents are just watching out for me, since I am a woman, and they don’t want me to be tainted by the “modern” culture – lies, lust, premarital sex, drugs, alcohol and more. I prayed to the Almighty for guidance and understanding.
Now, I can say, that I am waiting for this day to come. Other people may not “get” it, but this is my life and these people who are not supportive have no say in the matter. If the marriage will pose a challenge, my mother said that we can always turn to mediation and couples counseling (yes, we do this too!) which sounds really good to me. At least we are both pure when we take each other as husband and wife and we can get to know one another after that. The Almighty reserved him for me as I for him and in a way, I do have my own Prince Charming, which is romantic.