I wonder what will happen to one of my closest pal Shadab (name changed), who wants to marry a non-Muslim girl hailing from Gujarat if his parents religiously stick to an observation made by the top Islamic seminary Darul-Uloom Deoband that “children should get married by taking their parents’ consent”.
The Islamic seminary was recently asked to give its opinion on Muslim children getting married with or without their parent’s consent. The seminary was asked if a girl wants to marry a boy because he is rich and can give her a decent life and does not accept her parents' choice (as it is based only on religion) then whether the parents should agree to her choice or stick to their choice.
Referring to it, the Islamic seminary said, “Religiousness (sic) should be given first priority in choosing a proposal...And the children should follow the choice of their parents."
Going by this ruling of the seminary, my friend’s future looks bleak. His wish to marry the girl of his choice is unlikely to turn into a reality as his conservative parents would never approve his marriage with a non-Muslim girl.
By any chance, if he succeeds in convincing his parents, it would be on a pre-condition that the girl will have to convert to Islam. Shadab, as an individual, represents the liberated class of educated Muslims who look beyond the shackles of religion, caste, colour and creed. His sweet-heart also hails from a middle class Gujarati family, who wants to spend her entire life with him but without converting to Islam.
The lovebirds are fully aware that since they come from different communities and follow different religious belief and customs, things are bound to be difficult for them.
On his part, Shadab, also does not want to force the girl to convert to Islam in order to marry him and has decided to accord life-long freedom to his wife to stick to her religion despite opposition from his own community.
So what if his parents disapprove his marriage to a non-Muslim girl?
And this is not a question of someone marrying a girl not belonging to his religion and the vice versa. What if anyone wants to marry a girl from the same religion but against parent’s wishes?
The seminary also said that according to some imams, the 'nikah' (marriage) of a girl who marries without the consent and permission of her guardian is "invalid".
"If the parents are not known to have (taken) bad decisions and their consent is based on lawful grounds, their opinion should be accepted; because it guarantees goodness and safety," the seminary said but added that parents "too should ask for their children's consent and choice while finalising the proposal of nikah."
So the basic question here is how important is the parents’ consent for marrying someone and if it is so, then what about those who believe in love marriages.
There can be many arguments in favour for or against love marriages and one is free to look at it with his or her perception.
For centuries, there has been a norm in our society of seeking our parents’ consent before tying the nuptial knot. We have been told that marriages are made in heaven and if it is so then who are we to dictate as to who should marry whom?
Although the observation made by the seminary is not binding, it still underlines the age-old tradition that the decision to allow the matrimony of two souls depends on the parents, even if the couple wants the decision otherwise in opposing cases. It’s like saying that you have the option of lodging grievances against a person, as long as that person agrees to your calling him wrong, if that is not the case, you’re stuck with his decision. Now such instances may be aplenty in professional realms, but can the same logic be applied to matters of the heart?
I respect the observations of the seminary as it has given its advice looking into the larger context of things. The seminary is absolutely right in preaching that any marriage held with the permission and consent of parents will be lawful since it ensures goodness and social security of the newly married couple.
There is no one denying the fact that a marriage on lawful grounds will bring harmony between two families since a marriage is not between two people, it is in fact, a union of two different families.
The ritual of marriage is prevalent in our society since times immemorial and almost every culture has had this custom of mutual bonding between opposite genders. There is a different aspect of it also.
As per some psychologists, the custom of arranged marriage keeps the couple under societal pressure and, in a way, deviates them from all social evils. Those who turn away from this practice have chances of their marriage flopping.
Marriage should be looked as a gateway to happiness, social harmony and familial bonding. But whosoever plans to get married, must also think about the responsibilities which it brings.
I am not saying that arranged marriages have better success ratio than love marriages, but the statistics available in this regard suggest so. A majority of divorce applications filed in family courts are from the same couples who once deeply loved each other, but are no longer willing to live under same roof.
So what makes their relations worse is something to be debated. In most cases of love marriages, the two individuals come closer to each other with certain pre-conceived notions. After their marriage, when they are exposed to the bitter truth of life, they fail to meet the expectations of their partners since their priorities have changed from love to things like livelihood, getting a good household and professional success etc.
I have come across several such cases in which two people got married after courting each other for years, but under changed circumstances, they can’t even stand each other.
Be it love marriage or arranged marriage, what is important is to sustain the essence of friendship for a successful matrimonial life.
It is a matter of mutual understanding and life-long commitment of two souls that they shall remain together and keep alive intimacy and romance in their lives to keep them happy forever.