40Days to transform my life!

Feel like you are letting yourself down? Know you can do better but aren't sure how? Make great resolutions but don't follow through? Sounds just like me. Which is why I am resolving to commit 40Days to making a lasting difference to my life, insha Allah. This blog is the online home of my personal 40Day Challenge - you can join me or simply follow my progress (or lack of it!).

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

A blog too soon


Ok, after a 'hiatus' (more like a full stop and a coma, yes the spelling is accurate!), I am back (I hope).
Prompted by some manic Facebook activity and an interview slot on Huda TV, I have returned to my Flying Niqabi blog like a long-lost sheep (and yes, I do feel sheepish...)

The Shaykh who was present for most of the show was talking about marrying our children while they are young, even if that means we have to support them, have them live with us etc. because the fitnah that awaits them out in the streets, without the protection of marriage is great and too few parents pay attention to these things in their blind rush to see their children armed with degrees, high paying jobs and a one-way ticket to the top of the career ladder - boys and girls.

This means that Muslims in Muslim countries are delaying marriage until their late 20s, early 30s - and we see the societal effects of that everywhere.
But then he mentioned that, in Yemen, people get married young, I mean really young, like 12, 13 year old.

It was at this point in the discussion that I began to feel distinctly uneasy. My Islamic consciousness battled with my rationale as I listened to all the brothers agreeing that, yes, early marriage was a protection, was preferable, was the Sunnah etc. I panicked for a moment, thinking, 'I should not be here, in this discussion, right now.'

But, it was at that moment that the presenter began to introduce me and I realised I would have to say something. Would I dare challenge the Shaykh's view, would it be right to do so? Did I have any evidence for my opinion?

I took a deep breath and uttered a brief 'bismillah' before the presenter 'passed me the mic'.
I tried to compose my thoughts and sound as calm and unemotional as possible. I think, in all, I made the following points:

I started by saying that, in the West, we have seen the fruits of women and men delaying marriage in order to build their careers first. I thought of the many articles and studies I had read, in particular this one from the Atlantic in the States. And I said that that is one extreme.
- But, on the other hand, we must realise that, while the moral and social benefits of earlier marriage are clear and are supported by Islam, 'early marriage' is a relative term. The caller who rang in and said that she had her daughters married 'really young' was referring to them being 17, 18, 19. The Shaykh's definition of young was 12, 13. I said, to those of us raised in the West, 12, 13 year olds are still children.

While in most traditional societies, and certainly during the time of the Prophet sallallahu alaihi wasallam, reaching puberty meant you were ready for adult responsibilities, our youth, while being afforded many freedoms once they reach their teen years, are not brought up to take on adult responsibility at that time. This is mainly due to the influence of modern (aka Western) ideas about adolescence. The classic example being, they can have sexual relations from 16 (and are now sexually active at 11, 12) but are still considered 'too young' to get married.

So, my point is this: what 14 year old boy, brought up in modern society, is ready to get married and, by extension, start a family? He is not a man! HE IS NOT A MAN! Would you happily entrust your daughter to one of these boys who is still into playing computer games and hanging out at the mall? I could hear the brothers agreeing (I think!)

The presenter offered that different societies had different interpretations of what constitutes an early marriage. But still the Shaykh insisted: "Even if I have to support my son financially, have him and his wife stay with me, I must protect him from the fitnah that awaits him on the street as a young man. The same applies to my daughter."
He spoke more about how families should be facilitating these marriages, rather than forcing the young people to wait until they have fulfilled criteria that have no basis in Islam.

And do you know what, the more he spoke, the more I began to like the idea of my sons having a 'little wife' at 18, so that they can grow together, go on adventures together, travel, learn, see the world, protecting each other. Ahhh, what a sweet set-up.

But still, I had questions for the Shaykh: what about setting a condition in the contract that the girl finish her education, what about using birth control until she has completed her studies.
Hey, i had to ask! If you're talking about getting married at 16, even if you have an agreement that you will finish school, once the babies start coming, and for most Muslims they inevitably do, that schooling is out of the window.
Not to mention the fact that many young girls don't really know what they want out of life and, by extension, what kind of husband they would like. Would they like to work, to study, to teach, to give da'wah, to be homemaker, to travel, to live abroad? These are questions she may not have the answers to but will be greatly affected by the type of man she marries.

The Shaykh was reluctant to give a fatwa right then and there but i believe he said something to the effect that, if this fear of getting pregnant is enough to stop her getting married earlier, it may be permissible for them to do this for a while.
Pheww.... that's that sorted.

But, to be honest, another thing that concerned me was that marriage was being spoken about purely in terms of fulfilling one's desires in a halal way. Ergo, if you are ready for sex, you are ready for marriage.
Is it really that simple?
I thought marriage was a relationship between two people, a relationship that requires a certain level of emotional maturity and a high degree of responsibility and patience.
I hate to think that the kind of silliness that takes place between preteens and teenagers who are dating would be duplicated inside a marriage!

I dearly wished we could have followed up the discussion but, unfortunately, the show came to an end and all my questions were left hanging in my mind.
So i decided I had to blog instead.

I suppose, for me personally, early marriage is in your late teens, early twenties. But more importantly, both parties have to feel ready, emotionally AND physically for that crazy, wonderful journey that is love and marriage.

So, although I entered the discussion with my heart pounding and my head spinning, I left it with a different viewpoint, a lot calmer - and a whole lot more questions!

Til the next time, Huda TV - if they ever let me on again, that is!