One of One

It has reared its unwanted and uninvited head once again: the issue of marriage in my life. In the past two months, while the focus of my life was on the Message of Karbala, there was a certain subconscious sense of peace in my life. No one thinks about or even mentions marriage in the mourning period of Muharram and Safar, but the moment Rabiul Awwal begins, wedding cards start popping out of the woodwork.

It’s as if people have been waiting, with cards already addressed, for the sighting of the new moon and then whoosh! off they go, landing in various hands and slipping through letter boxes.

Everyone makes their own choices and I daren’t criticize a single soul for their circumstances. On a personal level, however, I can’t imagine sitting in either of the two months actually dealing with wedding details while I’m still thinking of the sufferings of Imam Husayn (a) and his family.

But then, there’s no danger of me having to do that this year.

Which is where the problem is. Well, actually, it’s where other people find the problem is and their concern with this ‘problem’ is what the real problem is for me. Let me see if I can make that any clearer…

Every time someone gets engaged or married, I am forcefully reminded of the fact that I’m a thorn in the side of my community. The fact that I am past the “right age” and still haven’t done the right thing and affixed myself by the side of a man is something that makes more than one person uncomfortable.

There are constant verbal hints and sidelong glances every time the topic comes up and women seem to think that:
a) I am against the institute of matrimony
b) I’m desperate and frustrated
c)that something is mighty wrong with me

None of which is true.

I guess most people would say ignore them or be blunt and tell them to mind their own business. But it’s not easy doing that when you have a niggling voice that whispers in your ear: “What if they’re right?”

There is no doubt that Islam recommends marriage and being a Muslim, I firmly believe that. But I have never thought of Islam as being judgemental in its orders and laws. Duties are placed upon followers within reason.

I guess the main problem comes up in the fact that having re-explored Islam as an adult in recent years, I look at things differently. Where a few years ago, marriage was a grand wedding to a Prince Charming and a Happy-Ever-After life, now there seems to be so much more depth to the institute.

I call it an institute, because now I see it as seeking out a like-minded partner with whom to set up a business, so to speak. The business of forming a strong, cohesive section of society. The business of bringing new human beings into this world and moulding them into individuals who will be constructive citizens.

Propagation of the human society. It’s a huge responsibility.

The men I have come across (or heard of from friends) don’t think like that. They seem to want wives who either be will be pretty princesses or independent women (depending on what end of the gender-perspective spectrum they are on). But what about the rest? What about principles and ideals? About goals for the Hereafter and affiliations in this world? About obedience and about surrender to Islam?

Maybe I’m over-thinking all this. I’m told I have a tendency to do that and should learn to leave life to itself. That everything will fall in place when it will. But I find it terribly hard to relinquish control. Whatever I have of it.

I mean, I know that there is only so much I can dictate over my own future, but that doesn’t stop my mind considering and playing out all the possibilities. (It helps in coming up with storylines and dialogues, so I guess not all is lost!)

If and when life does make its own mind up, then rest assured that I will tell you all about it. Honestly. I don’t intend to make vague, general, non-committal statements. I’ve had enough of mystery from those around me. It’s the truth and only the plain, simple truth for me, please. Thank you.

Binte Ali

PS Had to get that off my chest and am off to work on the publisher’s questionnaire now!


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