ARRANGED MARRIAGE IS NOT FORCED MARRIAGE
By Peerji ojha
Arranged marriages are the cultural norm for (many) Muslims across the world. Men and women who are ready to get married may meet their future spouse through family or friends. Since, generally, Muslims do not “date” in the popular Western cultural sense, many couples look to arranged marriages as a means to wedded bliss. The expectation is that the seed for love is planted and will continue to bloom after the marriage. Before any potential candidates are considered, families as a unit decide the values and characteristics that potential spouses should have so the couple have a satisfying life together.
The traditional period of courtship is relative from culture to culture, family to family. After the initial introduction, some families grant the prospective groom and bride a chance to meet in private, under supervision; others allow them to get to know each other on the telephone, via text or email. Some families encourage the potential couple to go out in public, usually in a group setting. People can be introduced through families, well-meaning community members, matchmaking services, on-line matrimonial sites, through imams, teachers and friends with the preplanned goal being marriage. Perhaps a better term for it should be arranged courtship.
Since couples in arranged marriages come together as a result of their extended family and community, they naturally think of their relationship as part of something bigger than just the two of them. Many couples have extremely happy, arranged marriages. Half my siblings and friends are in varying degrees of arranged marriages. My cousin had a totally arranged marriage. She did not meet her husband until the day before she got married. They are one of the happiest couple I know, māshā’Allāh. I chose not to go that route, I met my husband in college but my marriage included the consent of my parents and my husband’s family.
Just like non-arranged marriages, not every arranged marriage or proposal works out for a variety of reasons. Nor are arranged marriages the only way a Muslim can get love marriage.
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