The desire to find the ‘all-round’ partner has made marriage among British Muslim Iraqis unrealistic
“There is a marriage crisis in the Iraqi community. Both guys and girls need to make more of an effort with themselves.”
I couldn’t agree more with what this friend said. However, what they meant and what I meant were not the same thing at all. Today, we are faced with more young, single, British Muslim Iraqis floating free while waiting for their perfect match to fall into their laps than we know what to do with. There has been an insidious change in our thinking and our values. We want to be 100 per cent certain without a shadow of a doubt that this is the best person for the best version of ourselves. So we wait. And wait. And wait.
There is a marriage crisis in our community because we are waiting. Waiting to finish degrees, to move up in our careers, waiting for a house, to travel more, do more, live more, all before we tie the knot. Marriage seems to be the end point, something we all want but later, after, anywhere but here and now. We chase material things first because of a misplaced sense of individual development that we fool ourselves into thinking is necessary for marriage. We want to be the best we can be for our partner and we look for the partner that can do it for us. The worst of all is waiting until we’re ready, as if we will be wake up one day having acquired all the right qualities we need to make the most important decision of our life, and with this infinite wisdom we decide that we want someone who has it all and no less.
There is a marriage crisis in our community because we want it all. Guys want girls who are young, beautiful (and not the subjective we-are-all-beautiful-in-our-own-way kind, but the objective if-I-asked-a hundred-random-people-they-would-all-say-you’re-beautiful kind), dress well, have degrees, can work for a living (but will give it all up to raise their kids), raise kids, cook like their mum, run a household, be the spiritual beacon of the marriage, share the same interests and do charity. Did I leave anything out? Probably.
On the other side, girls are no better. They want tall, older but not too old, masculine but sensitive, funny but mature, clever but not geeky, kind but firm. Someone who gives them attention but not too much that they become clingy, who is brave enough to make the first move but not so bold that they’re sleazy, who dresses well but not like they’re trying to, who has a degree that girls can show off, money to spend on their weddings and rich parents to buy them a house. A man who likes art and poetry but who can change a light bulb and start a fire. The end result? Hopeless singles.
There is a marriage crisis in our community because we don’t know what to believe anymore. We’ve lost faith in marriage, in our community and, worst of all, we’ve lost faith in our faith. The irony for us Iraqi Muslims is that Islam provides us with the guidance and spiritual motivation for partner selection and happy marriages, yet the last thing many of us turn to now is that religion. Qur’anic verses about marriage are stamped onto our wedding invites but not paid heed to. I can’t help but call out to you all to turn to our book, our prophet, his companions and his family and to take comfort in our Islamic ideology.
For centuries our religion has protested the importance of family values, of modesty, generosity, humbleness, and faithfulness. To be content with God’s will. To strive for the afterlife and spend this life serving God. To choose a partner acceptable in faith and morals who can hold your hand and guide you through the twists and turns of life and fight away the taunts and temptations of a material world. A partner who will love you for who you are and all you are, accepting your strengths as blessings from God and embracing your weaknesses as tests of their faith. A partner who believes that if something is broken you fix it, not throw it away. A partner who can help you raise a better generation of Muslims than our own and one who, above all, can walk with you towards the gates of paradise.
There is a marriage crisis in our community but we can fix it, because we have one common tie that binds us all; our faith. It all comes back to that. One day we will realise that it doesn’t matter how we look, what we studied or where we live. One day we will take off our perfection-tainted glasses, we will lift the veils on our hearts and we will clear the clouds of doubt from our minds. One day we will look for and we will see each other’s souls, we will appreciate the essence of who we are and we will fall head over heels in love with that.
Image from: http://sarahcarlin.com/wedding-singer/
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