The Written vs.NOT Written Stuff: Customary Arranged Marriages In Muslim Communities

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First Collaborative Feature’s Part II authored by: Papatia Feauxzar

Read part 1 here by Saadia Haq

“If there comes to you one with whose character and religious commitment you are pleased, then give (your daughter or female relative under your care) to him in marriage…”

I believe this hadith of the prophet Muhammad (sallallahu aleihi wassalam) is greatly misinterpreted by a great majority of Muslims. Based solely on that hadith many Muslim families deeply rooted on cultural norms rather than other written scriptures- appropriate context wise- such as, “When a man gives his daughter in marriage and she dislikes it, the marriage shall be repudiated” (Bukhari, 67:43) give their daughters and female relatives by force to men the victims have no interest in. Or maybe they choose to play semantics, turn a blind eye, and use the scriptures that best fit their agenda. In that case, this quote strikes me, “I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to do, because I notice it always coincides with their own desires.” – Susan B. Anthony

To continue, the first hadith I laid out at the beginning is for the parents that refuse a suitor that they consider poor according to their standards. Dismissing the fact that she might like him for who he is and for the religion he practices well.

In addition, the story of Barirah fits the purpose of this post because she was an Ethiopian slave who was forced by her owner to marry Mughith; another slave. According to Bukhari, Aisha (aleihi salam) took pity on her, bought and released her. Upon her freedom, she asked for a divorce and she was entitled to it. Mughith tailed after her, crying for her to take him back and she wouldn’t even though they had a child together. She hated him with all her guts while he loved her with all of his.

So what have we learned from forced arranged marriages? We have learned that nothing good come out of them. Au contraire, they leave distraught partners such as Mughith who thought they got away with forcing someone to love them. You can’t force someone to love you. It comes naturally. Sooner or later, you will pay for your sin and you will be miserable for the rest of your life. To these stubborn individuals that blatantly disregard the right of the bride-to-be, they need to know that the story of Barirah teach us all something on forced marriages that is sooner or later-justice prevails. Whether it be in this life or the after.

Like Barirah, “Fatou La Malienne” was forced into marrying a man she didn’t want. He forced himself on her and recorded it. Sick right? Anyways, even though, the movie is fictitious, it depicts the reality of some disturbing practices in the ummah of my home continent, Africa.

On another hand, it’s not only first time brides that experienced this scourge, many widows and divorced women also see this practice imposed on them. As soon as their husbands are no longer of this world, the brothers of the late husband align up to take the wife. It’s like they couldn’t wait for their male relative to die. Please let his body cool off first before you make a move on the wife. That is if she is even interested. What is written on this matter is “O you who have believed, it is not lawful for you to inherit women by compulsion…” (4:19). The Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu aleihi wassalam) also went on and said, “The widow and the divorced woman shall not be married until her order is obtained, and the virgin girl shall not be married until her permission is obtained.” (Bukhari, 67:42)

What is not written is forcing women into marriages because you think it’s better for them, marrying them behind their back and practicing honor killings because they chose their own mate. Dear ummah, please stop incorporating your own cultural baggage, bias point of views, overbearing complexes, etc. with the beautiful Islam that was descended upon us and call ‘it’s WRITTEN in the Quran sherif and the Sunnah. No, it’s not. You inked your twisted ways in the sunnah and misinterpreted the Quran sherif. What instead is written are the scriptures listed throughout the post used in the correct and appropriate contexts.

Above all, this has to stop within the ummah otherwise, no matter how free muslimahs and feminists try to debunk the subject of wrongdoings in the name of the religion we love dear, Muslim people will never be seen as people who value the voice of their people. We will always be seen as dictators because even though a few minority of the ummah is living according to the rules and principles of Islam, there is an even larger majority living with cultural baggage they call Islamic taking us five steps behind and helping the enemies of Islam write our story in another lens. Pun intended. Is the majority of the ummah that is messing things up for us in the name of the religion truly Muslim? Yes, they are. Are they good Muslims? Probably not. Islam is perfect but not all the people that practice it-Muslims-adhere by the code and try to come close to perfection. On that note, Allahu Alim!

Jazak’Allah khair for reading,

Papatia Feauxar

Papatia Feauxzar

Papatia Feauxzar is the Online Editor of Hayati Magazine. She is also the author of the first Ivorian Cookbook in English. Visit her at www.djarabikitabs.com or www.fofkys.com .

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