When I was engaged, my uncle said something to me which made me reflect on many things. After asking (again) how old I was (19) he told me, “my mum already had three children when she was your age!”
Times have changed. Muslim girls are delaying marriage until their late twenties. Long gone are the days of “you still aren’t married?! *tut tut tut*” to a 19-year-old maiden girl.
Now it’s more like: “you are so young! What about your education? Your career? You really don’t want to get married…” I had a lot of this sort of talk (and a lot more upsetting things were
shouted said to me).
I was engaged during my second year of university. It could’ve been the most enjoyable and relaxed time of my life (I was to wait for that until after the marriage :-D) but family and family ‘friends’ wouldn’t allow it.
I won’t go into details but it was a very emotional and stressful time for me.
I had to face things that I did not expect. In my mind, marriage was completing half of your deen, a step toward Paradise, a protection against sin and finding a lifetime companion to help you practice Islam in this modern age.
However, it seems that only material things mattered to those around me. From “does he have money?” to “is he good-looking though?’ such things I found to be so unimportant meant the world to people. Not a single soul asked me “does he pray five a day?”
After much struggle and tears, we finally wed just before my third and final year of university was about to start. I had had a good telling off in the summer by my aunt that I wouldn’t be able to finish my studies and that “if he really loved me then he would wait until I finished university!” Lovely!
I had no concerns over my education. There were young women I knew at uni who were married and studying. If they failed, they would retake the year. It’s not desirable but studying whilst being married is not impossible. In any case, I valued my decisions for my life and future (and hereafter!) far more than I valued a man-made phenomenon that is essentially a fancy paper called a ‘degree’.
Getting married when I did was the best decision I ever made. I graduated (take that ‘aunt’!) and got accepted onto a masters course. May I also add that I was in the throws of early pregnancy during my final exams?
I write this primarily because I want any other girls who are in a similar position to know that they are not alone. If two people want to get married, it is not ‘shameful’ it is a blessing and they should be married. Getting married, ‘nikah’, is a two-minute process but some people just love to make the biggest commotion out of it.
We did not have a ‘wedding’. We had the nikah, followed by a registration at the local council. I did wear a pretty wedding dress and we had few guests. On the following weekend, we gave a meal, ‘walimah’ because it is sunnah to do so, to our friends and (available) family.
You do not need gold, a house or a car for a successful marriage. You need a good heart, Islam as your guide and trust in Allah. Everyone focuses on the wedding but what about the marriage? The one that will (inshaallah) last for decades to come?
When everyone was giving me a hard time about how many gold bangles I was given (or not given) by my future in-laws etc, my uncle privately told me, “you know, really, the gold has absolutely no importance. Getting married is all about your happiness. If you’re happy, ignore all of this and go ahead with it.” So I did!