“Will You Marry Me?”

// August 27th, 2008 // Blog

Is that question asked any more? Was it ever asked amongst Muslims?

Nikkah is a contract. And it seems to me, that the way that many Muslims seek a partner is conducted in a very business-like matter. One party approaches another with a proposal (a business proposal), there is some negotiation, and if there is agreement on the terms, then everything goes ahead, inshā’Allāh.

But shouldn't there be some assertiveness expressed somewhere? Where the person who is actually getting married proposes in a firm, direct manner to someone from the opposite side, whether it be the prospective spouse, or their representative. Don't ask me why exactly.

It's just that, right now, I get the feeling that many people – well, people that I am likely to come across when searching for a spouse via my parents – okay, more specifically, guys – are leaving everything to their parents. Correction: mothers, aunties, grannies… and other interfering ol' biddles (God bless them).

They're being presented with women one-by-one, like dishes on a plate, with a little taste here and there:

“No, too salty…”

“No, too sweet…”

“No, too much saturated fat…”

“No, too many carbs… I'm on Atkins right now”.

Yes, many girls do the same thing, especially as we are not required to look for spouses directly. Or rather, we'd like to, but would most likely have our delicate reputations questioned if we happened to find someone outside of the normal route {sighs @ cultural double standards}.

It's not only about being too picky. I feel that people who are not actively participating in the search for their spouse are being spoilt. They are getting the false impression that the more 'prospects' they see, the more likely they are to find that “perfect” one… the bowl of porridge that's not too hot, cold, salty, or sweet.

In addition, certain parties on either side (i.e., the “men” who like to make decisions but not do any of the leg work, and the oblivious, little princes and princesses getting hitched), think that they'll always be another better proposal around the corner. Cos it was so easy for the people who actually do all the work (i.e., the aunty network, lead by the anxious mother) to find the previous twenty potentials. NOT.

I wouldn't be writing all this if this wasn't a distinct trend that I have heard many common complaints about. The people who have it easy, are making life harder for everyone else. Like, stop it people. It's not fair.

FYI, this rant was inspired by recent events, conversations, thoughts, feelings, wonderments, the marriage revolution webcast I just finished listening to, as well as Half Date's latest drive.

If you'd like to sponsor a future iMuslim patented rant, please contact the author at the usual address.

13 Responses to ““Will You Marry Me?””

  1. Organica says:

    I fell asleep through half the talk! I missed all the good questions.

    Anyhoo, I think that cultural baggage is what is bringing our Ummah backwards. Marriage in Islam is so simple, why do people complicate matters? Just the other day I heard of a case where the future mother-in-law was literally going to destroy her son’s nikah for no good reason!

    The best advice I got from the talk, if you like the person then just go for it. Stop COMPLICATING IT!

  2. Marahm says:

    Superficial observation of the subject supports both conclusions– that marriage has become more focused on contractual matters based on measurable qualities (and quantities!), and therefore has become complicated.

    Years ago, when families stayed put, and young people knew each other (or at least OF each other) since childhood, the need for contractual details did not dominate. By the time young people reached marriagable age, moms and aunties had already spent years getting to know each other’s families, and the correct pairings had become obvious. Therefore, the question, “Will you marry me?” remained to be asked, more as a formality than a question.

    The complication and superficiality arose as people became mobile, and young people did not know (indeed, could not know) the salient details of the other family’s character or situation. How is one to choose a mate when one does not know from where the mate will arise?

    Well, one looks around, makes quick judgments on superficial qualities, only because deep qualities cannot be known, and also because many more possibliites now become available as people immigrate, emigrate, and live on the Internet.

    So, in my humble opinion, social mobility is the driving force behind both superficial, quick decisions, as well as contractual complications.

    And Allah knows best.

  3. Specs says:

    “think that they’ll always be another better proposal around the corner. ” Oh this is so true. You’ve hit it right on the head because even if this is not a ‘correct’ social observation, it is something we, at least you and i are going through. I can’t find a single point i disagree with, in your entire post.


  4. Shawna says:

    Proposals do happen, even if not in the order to which you’re referring.

    My good friend, at his engagement ceremony, got down on one knee and proposed to his wife when he handed her the ring. Then he whispered several things to her that made her cry. It was very beautiful and the whole room was buzzing with speculation about the romantic things he said. They now have a baby. May Allah bless them with good health and success.

  5. Marahm says:

    I’ve always thought the process of finding a mate is full of tension, uncertainty, and fear of missing out or making the wrong choice. Time is always of the essence, as one is young for just a few years, and youth is the best time for marriage.

    I used to think the non-Muslim customs were easier, because I was not a Muslim during my youth. Now, I believe the Muslim customs are easier because they cut through so much of the preliminary marital relationship, and lessen the possibility of falling into haraam behavior.

    However easier, the Muslim customs can be riskier because decisions are made quickly, and not always based upon correct assumptions.

    In many ways, marriage will always be more of a risk than a deal.

  6. srtuba says:

    “…have our delicate reputations questioned.” Tell me about it! Me and my aunty joke that when I go to university (insha’Allah) my dad will have his “contacts” (uncles in shalwar kameez) keeping an eye on us and reporting back to him. *giggle* We don’t want people to TALK now do we?

  7. AnonyMouse says:

    Mr. Mouse asked that question! But through my parents, not directly to me… haha.

    @ cultural double standards
    Indeed! I have a bunch of friends who all want to get married, but only one of them actually went to her parents and the local sheikh and said, “I want to get married, this is what I want, let’s start looking!” The others, though I’m trying to push them to be proactive, are reluctant to do so because their families would have a cow at this “lack of modesty”!!!

  8. Farzeen says:

    Assalaamu’alaykum wa rahmtuLlah sis

    So just to clarify, you’re not down with people depending on others to make suggestions and taking those suggestions for granted while treating potentials like food items on an already specialized menu?

    Well, the way I see it, each their own. Yah, people may take advantage of the hard efforts of others by seemingly ruling out potentials with ease over minor points that really don’t make a difference in the grand scheme of things. To them, I only have to say, grow up and prioritize. But I suspect, and hope in some way, that they end up with someone as superficial and/petty as themselves. But then again, to give them the benefit of the doubt, I figure one can be as picky as he wishes before marriage because after marriage, it’s a luxury that one cannot afford.

    As for fairness to everyone else.. I really don’t know how these cultural things work, but in your frustrations with it, just remember, you’re not going to get anything more or less than what’s written for you and is already deemed yours by His divine will. So the resonsibility lies in us treating potentials and their families with dignity and respect and to give the possibliity a fair shot. And if either girl or guy, his family or her family, aren’t feeling it… then drop it, cuz it’s alll good! Ideals don’t exist, and the marriage process is just an ever-evolving, somewhat annoying, increasingly frustratig process that requires more patience and more adab.

    As for your question “Is this question ever asked any more?” Well as far as I know, it has to be asked of both the bride and groom and an affirmative response has to be given from each (indicated verbally, or by silence if one is shy to say) in order for the nikkah to be valid. Correct me if I’m wrong.

    I don’t think the process is supposed to be entertaining (i.e. romantic per se), and given our disfragmented societies today, it’s now just a challenge. But when all is said and done, we can only hope that good people are married to good people who will be true to the meaning of marriage and all that it represents.

    Ah, been a while since I’ve rambled this much here, eh? Forgive me, and please take all my words here with a grain of salt because I’m not really familiar with these issues, for better or for worse. AlhamduliAllah ‘ala kulli haal!

  9. hema says:

    i thought you were proposing to me in the title:)
    i joined the sign language thing for sunday:0
    ive also got someone to come into my college to teach sign language for enrichment. im quite excited, might do the class myself:)

  10. Alefyah says:

    “Marry a person for his/her iman”

    When only this thought pervails, all other ‘negotiations’ etc disappears.

    Then no matter what happens in life, the strong bond and respect will always hold you together. You won’t mind sleeping on the floor knowing that the person next to you is a wonderful muslim.

    May you find him soon!! :)

  11. iMuslim says:

    Organica: That story sounds horrible! I mean, people are not so 2 dimensional that they would openly plan to do something like that for no reason… not necessarily an acceptable reason… but really, why?!

    Marahm: “So, in my humble opinion, social mobility is the driving force behind both superficial, quick decisions, as well as contractual complications.”
    Wow, never thought about it that way… interesting! Maybe that is why certain families prefer consanguineous unions?

    srtuba: Just remember that Allah sees all that we do, and hopefully there will be no need to have humans to monitor our activities! People talk anyway. Subhanallah.

    Mouse: Ok, my question has been answered: yes, they do ask. Ta!
    Some people prefer false modesty to the real modesty of marriage… what better to protect modesty than a sacred union? Sigh.

    Farzeen: “As for your question “Is this question ever asked any more?” Well as far as I know, it has to be asked of both the bride and groom and an affirmative response has to be given from each (indicated verbally, or by silence if one is shy to say) in order for the nikkah to be valid. Correct me if I’m wrong.”
    Damn… I knew someone would find the loophole! hehe. Anyway, it’s usually a third person, like an imam, who asks that question to both guy and girl. Plus, this is a long way after the proposal stage!

    hema: “i thought you were proposing to me in the title”
    You know I would… if I could… but I can’t. Yey on the signing stuff! Masha’Allah. Let me know how it goes.

    Alefyah: Ameeeeeeeeeen! Thank you for visiting. It’s been so long! How’s your new life going? May Allah bless you guys! Send me photos!

  12. Faraz says:

    Since I got this at a Taco Bell restaurant in Florida, I always hoped that I would bring it along with me whenever I eventually proposed to anyone as the lamest marriage proposal in the history of the universe.

    I still have it, but insha-Allah still have plans on giving it to that special someone when the time is right.

  13. iMuslim says:

    Insha’Allah soon.

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