When Indianmuslim women think about marrying

 Many of my single women friends are over 30, and some are now over 35. Together we either laugh till we cry, or cry till we laugh when we talk about the challenges of meeting and marrying Muslim men. The situations we find ourselves in today are both funny and sad – at the same time.

I’m glad to have women (and now men too) with whom I can share my myriad of emotions and observations on this topic. I feel much less alone now than I have in the past in this regard. I know that Allah is with me, which definitely does give me solace, but having support that I can see and feel makes a big difference.

For a long time, I felt shut out by the community for not fitting into their little box. Why am I an ‘outlier’? Well, I have been above that arbitrary line-in-the-air called the ‘socially acceptable’ marriageable age since I was 27. I have a mind and speak it. I care about more than make up. I am not drop-dead gorgeous. And last but not least, I am not a doctor (or the daughter of one). I know that I don’t sound very different from many other single women out there, but those are some of my reasons for being an outlier.

How many times in how many ways have I been judged (we all have) by the community? We are creatures of our environment and the judging has affected me. By the same token though, how many times have I judged (again, we all have) the community? I don’t know whether they are affected by me, but I am sure that I mimic the community in its behaviors more than I know. The community ties us together, but can also bind and gag us, to conformity and to unachievable expectations, thereby causing us to limit our own aspirations in efforts to be more ‘acceptable’ to the community.

I have recently realized that whatever I do, the community is never going to embrace me. Some parts of the community will, but others won’t. Even InshAllah if and when I do get married I will never be a young bride or a young mother. The time for that has passed. I will never be in sync with my friends and their kids age wise. I will always be an outlier. It’s not where I wanted to be, no one likes to stick out, but there is wisdom in everything, and despite the fact that I am willing to speak honestly and directly, I am not willing to question and condemn things I don’t know and definitely don’t understand.

I spoke out about three weeks ago on my feelings and observations on the ways and means of meeting and marrying in the Muslim community. I made a sincere request on a friend’s blog to the Muslim American community, eligible men and their mothers, matrimonial sites and event organizers, and rishta aunties. I asked them to pay attention to me, and other women like me who are part of a growing population of single Muslim women over 30 (I am over 35) in our community.

I am glad I did, and was heartened to receive such resounding support for my observations. I was certain I would be stonewalled, but my words seem to have started an interesting dialogue. We have reached an impasse on marriage and talking helps. Even if we are opening up a Pandora’s Box full of complex issues, open and honest dialogue can raise the level of discourse on this topic and others throughout the community.

Some soul searching is in order for us to understand why meeting and marrying are so tough these days in our community. We haven’t even touched the topics of staying married and dealing with divorce. Perhaps meeting and marrying are difficult because we judge and critique ourselves and others constantly. At some point, we need to let go, to live and let live. We are Allah’s ambassadors on this earth, not His police force. Allah is very particular in asking us not to be judgmental, and to be tolerant. I wonder if it will be possible for us as a community to follow Allah’s Will in letter and in spirit – seeking to find solutions to the challenges we face instead of creating more problems.

Back to meeting and marrying, I have personally become extremely ambivalent, after many years of being very hopeful. It’s not that I wouldn’t like to get married, I just feel that I have wasted time, money, worry and effort. Maybe it’s all just emotional baggage, but I don’t want to dismiss my ambivalence quite so casually.

We know rising singlehood among women and conflict between genders are universal phenomena affecting our societies. Thus far, our community’s response to these phenomena has been particularly weak. Perhaps we can use our keen critiquing skills more usefully, to create very Muslim, very American solutions to these issues?

 

The issue of marriage is discussed ad nauseum in our community. With so much discussion we should have a deeper understanding of it all by now. We don’t though because behind closed doors parents are beating their chests and women are being asked to repent for being accomplished, educated and independent. Ironic because that is exactly what our parents wanted for us when we were growing up. Somehow we have failed by being successful, pretty counterintuitive.

“A bad marriage is better than no marriage at all”, “so what if he doesn’t read, he’s rich”, “marry someone who likes you more than you like them”, “men can have their pick, don’t hold your breath that some great guy is going to come and sweep you off your feet” – are typical ‘helpful’ pieces of advice that I am given. I don’t find any of them helpful, or enlightened, but I do find them ringing in my head, raising questions and doubts about my own powers of reasoning and perception.

Gender conflict is also an issue. Already due to the general lack of dialogue between the sexes, and the lack of a proper framework for decisions relating to marriage, there is a great deal of ill will and misunderstanding between the genders. Normalizing basic gender relations between Muslim men and women is critical to smoothening the path to marriage and a stronger community overall. Our men admit to having become increasingly passive (or passive aggressive) and our women admit to having become increasingly aggressive. The gap in trust and understanding between the genders is further complicated by issues of identity, insecurity, judgment/criticism and social pressure.

As we look forward will we develop solutions that are responsive and thoughtful? Muslims can be cautiously conservative in the practice of their faith, but Islam is progressive and encourages directness, simplicity, tolerance and openness. How will we incorporate these into our answers to the questions, “What will we do within the framework of Islam to help our single women over 30 get married?”, “Is a halal form of dating a viable option in the community?” and “What happens if some of our women decide to marry non-Muslims or nominally converted Muslims?”

Regarding a framework to help our single women over 30 get married, at minimum, we need to engage actively in discussions and endeavor to foster relevant and meaningful interaction and dialogue between the sexes in forums for broader discussion and guidance (“khutbas” or sermons, dialogues, discussions, roundtables on Islam, marriage, gender relations, sexual relations, etc.). Additionally, if there are matrimonial events and sites, the events and sites have to be more nuanced than the current options. The goal is coming together in halal settings with other Muslims who seek to get married.

On halal dating, I think it’s a viable option if we are clear on the terminology and the parameters. Dating encompasses the communications and interactions between a man and a woman based on mutual interest and potentially leading to marriage. These interactions can be controlled and adapted to be halal, relevant, thoughtful and transparent.

From the perspective of Muslim singles today, there are limited options to meet other Muslims, and historically, marriages were arranged. This is not the case anymore. Now, we are on our own. Family and friends may suggest individuals, but once the introductions are made, it’s just us.

There will be some Muslims who decide to marry non-Muslims or nominally converted Muslims. In fact, the suggestion has been made that single Muslim women should start looking outside the community (after all that’s what Muslim men do right?). Conceptually, I agree with my friend who says that it’s a form of ‘dawah’ (educating non-Muslims). She mentioned to me that in her very conservative community there is a position that women should be allowed and encouraged to marry non-Muslims who take the ‘shahada’ (the proclamation of faith in Islam) because Islam has the capacity to evolve in one’s heart over time.

The way we respond to these issues will dictate the future complexion and makeup of our community. If we choose to marginalize, the community will continue to stratify ethnically and ideologically. If we choose to include and accept, the community will be more united and more diverse.

By not considering progressive, inclusive and pragmatic positions on issues like marriage, dating and gender relations we are allowing the community to be crippled by emotional underdevelopment. I wish that all I could think about when I think about marrying was roses and chocolate. That’s not the case, but maybe someday it will b

‘Men think, while women desire.’ Gone are the days when ‘demanding sex’ was considered exclusively a man’s forte. Today women demand sex greater than men. And they have no qualms about getting vocal about it. “I read these funny E-mail forwards that stress on men begging for sex and women denying it. It sounds so funny to me. It’s totally the opposite in my case. While men can have a good laugh over it believing that this notion exists, I literally have to seduce my husband to get him hooked on to the act,” quips production assistant Megha Mehra. And she is not alone. Many girls/women had a similar story.
* Unwelcome sexual behaviour like physical contact
MEN THINK OF WOMEN AS SEX OBJECTS, STUDY PRELUDE TO OUR NEXT ARTICLE ON THE CONFESSION BY SWEET ANAK MAMI GIRL WHO WAS SEXUALLY HARASSED AT WORKPLACE A TRAVEL AGENCY

‘Men think, while women desire.’ Gone are the days when ‘demanding sex’ was considered exclusively a man’s forte. Today women demand sex greater than men. And they have no qualms about getting vocal about it. “I read these funny E-mail forwards that stress on men begging for sex and women denying it. It sounds so funny to me. It’s totally the opposite in my case. While men can have a good laugh over it believing that this notion exists, I literally have to seduce my husband to get him hooked on to the act,” quips production assistant Megha Mehra. And she is not alone. Many girls/women had a similar story.
We spoke to women from different backgrounds to figure out what is making them addicted to sex.

It’s physically pleasurable
Amongst all the other reasons to remain glued to sex, this is the most prominent one. Good sex satisfies your physical urge, which is very normal for anyone to experience. Psychologist Seema Naina opines, “Sex is the most basic need of any person. And I am increasingly getting cases where women are complaining that men are unable to satisfy their physical needs.”

Creates positive feelings about oneself
Ideally, great sex means you are enjoying the sexual act and participating equally. It makes you feel good about yourself, thus adding to your self esteem. Shares housewife Neelam Nehra, “When my husband comes back from a whole day at work and we have our sack session, it increases my self esteem. The very feeling that I am able to satisfy him is a great pleasure. And since I never want to go out of shape to look unappealing to my husband (and other men), it even acts as a motivation to work out and feel desirable.” Wondering why?

“Sex has healing powers. It generates positive emotions and makes one feel more confident. When a woman sees her man passionate in the act, admiring her body and moves, it infuses a lot of good feelings within her,” opines psychologist Sunaina Bajaj.

Brings them closer to their man
Physical intimacy releases hormone Oxytocin, which is also known as the love hormone. Agrees relationship expert Vandana Mitra, “I have always maintained that couples should never take sex casually. It’s a very important ingredient for any relationship to sustain. It helps couples to nurture the relationship and strengthen the bond.” So whoever said having more sex with your partner means lesser cases of infidelity, made sense Infidelity, marriage and attraction.Marriage is a beautiful emotion and in MALAYSIA,

Believe it or not. Men are born beasts, but a majority of them aren’t bestial. Be it fornication, adultery, consensual sex, rape, sex without love or call it what you may. Biologically oriented to be easily excited, giving vent to their pent-up carnal urge comes naturally to them. Alas, the animal instinct in their DNA nudges them to get into the physical at the slightest pretext, provocation or titillation, real or imaginary. They may be rich or poor, young or old, rustic or sophisticated, the trait of promiscuity is common to them all. Their end-aim is to consummate what they might initiate as it’s-all-too-innocuous. Mind you, they generally don’t get beastly in public, but in private they do.
However, in the absence of the mandatory green signal from the opposite sex, they dare not even touch a whore soliciting them in the dark alleys let alone their maid or paramour within the confines of their home or hearth. So, whatever the legal status of Shiney Ahuja case, the truth behind what appears to be transparent but is actually opaque is known only to the two persons concerned. They, and they alone, know the naked truth. The rest, including the legal eagles, speculate in the realm of the surreal.
I for one don’t defend the indefensible, the accused in this case, but I add a caveat that taking all that the victim says at its face value would be a travesty of justice. We are, neither morally nor legally, qualified to condemn the prisoner to death before the case is decided on the basis of its legal merits. Nobody is above the law but at the same time everybody is entitled to a free and fair trial. Public opinion snowballing into an outcry that the accused be sent to the gallows pending a just trial merits no consideration.
Let us be brutally frank about it. When was it last that you didn’t ogle a pretty, young lady with your eyeballs popping out to have a look over your shoulder when she is past you?. Must have been just a couple of minutes or hours ago, I suppose. You, indeed, would be a hypocrite if you denied having had such an amorous look at the anterior or the posterior of the diva who passed you by. At a public forum you would vehemently denounce such an attitude as socially unacceptable, bohemian — a behavioural aberration which needed to be shunned and the person concerned castigated. In private, however, the animal instinct in the man would come to the fore(play) and advances of the baser kind follow as a corollary. Howsoever abominable, every one of us at one time or another has behaved in that cussed a manner.
But you don’t stretch your fascination or the epicurean urge to the extent of being a psycho so as to force someone into the act against her wish. That’s where you ought to draw the line between the voyeurist — that a man by nature is — and the evil rapist. And worse, if the escapades don’t stop at that you are most likely to end up as a serial stalker like Jack the Ripper or our neighbourhood gentleman-turned-Nithari-serial-killer. They, too, must have been the ordinary folks just like any of us before their lust overtook them and the well-meaning psychological self got transmutated into the psychopathic. That is where the behavioural anomaly gets better of the the once-disciplined self. The same holds true in the case of the young teenagers who go on a killing spree in US schools, or back home where a young man in a fit of rage fatally pushes off the terrace his spouse and mother. Or a young woman, blinded by the passion of physical proximity to her paramour, hacks into pieces her spouse.
Love is supposed to be sublime and this subliminal when taken to a higher plane transforms the relationship into the metaphysical as exemplified by the divine devotion of the mystic poetess Meera for her idol Lord Krishna.

However, the metamorphosis from the metaphysical into the outrageously physical is the cumulative culmination of a series of processes, both at the physiological and psychological level, which manifests itself into an action of which Shiney and numerous others of his ilk are guilty of.
However, on the legal front, modern jurisprudence on consensual sex between two adults does provide the accused with a fig leaf of an escape route provided the forensic and circumstantial evidence is corroborative of the fact that the consummation of the act occurred with the explicit consent of the victim and not under duress or any unlawful inducement. More so, the onus of proof in the case of alleged rape being on the accused, it makes all the more difficult for Shiney to extricate himself from the quagmire that supposedly is of his own making. Whether this episode will turn into India’s O J Simpson trial remains to be seen.
The study Perceptions and Experiences of Gendered Violations in Public Places of Delhi had a sample base of 630 respondents and threw some interesting facts. Perhaps the most glaring, albeit unsurprising, was that 97% of the respondents admitted that they had been sexually harassed in a public place. That Delhi doesn’t care also came out in the study, with 86% saying the public turns a blind eye when such harassment takes place. No wonder then that 44% of the abused respondents said they preferred to remain silent rather than going to the police. From parks, empty roads and parking lots to cinema halls and buses, every public space seemed a potential harassment spot for the respondents as 95% admitted that their mobility was restricted due to the city’s unsafe nature

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