Islamic Voice A Monthly English Magazine

SHAWWAL 1424 H
December 2003
Volume 16-12 No : 204
Camps \ Workshops

News Community Roundup Countdown for Hajj Editorial Features Response Features Readers Comments Insights Trends & Traditions guidelines Muslim Perspectives Living Islam Journey To Islam Children's Corner Our Dialogue Quran Speaks to You Hadith Matrimonial Jobs Archives Feedback Subscription Links Calendar Contact Us

Now you can pay your subscriptions online

TRENDS & TRADITIONS


The Nightmarish Rishta Ceremony!

The Nightmarish Rishta Ceremony!

By M. Hanif Lakdawala

In majority of the Muslim communities, the rishta is always the prerogative of the boy or his family with young girls being scrutinized under a spotlight by the groom's clan right from her complexion to her father's assets.

TIn India, 'rishta' (proposal) for the girl is one of the eagerly awaited moments. But many a times, it becomes a nightmare for both girls as well as her parents.

In majority of the Muslim communities, the rishta is always the prerogative of the boy or his family. Its rarest of rare for a girl's father to send a proposal. It is somewhat ironic that people see these to be Islamic norms whereas Islam itself preaches that a woman needs to educated and given the chance to fully explore her abilities. Nowhere does it say that a woman cannot choose her own husband and instead should be seen to be on display - similar to the goodies that are laden on the trolleys women are made to wheel out when meeting prospective candidates.

It is a common scenario in every second home in the country, as young women are scrutinized under a spotlight for the sake of being considered for the best 'rishta' ever.

The prospective bride must fulfill certain requirements, other than being beautiful, charming, talented and educated. She has to know how to cook and manage a household. Is it not therefore correct to assume that a woman's worth is judged by her ability to run a household?

Take the case of Farheen who was made to suffer this ordeal when she was whisked to Mumbai by her aunt to be presented before a suitable boy. Farheen is an attractive young woman, who secured a high position in her master's programme.

In Mumbai, when she entered her living room where the boy and his family were seated, the entire group went silent. The boy's mother carried out the usual drill of questioning and seemed to, for want of a better word, freak out when she heard that Farheen held a master's degree. The boy, meanwhile, a doctor in his late 20s, did not address Farheen at all and within five minutes of her sitting down, asked his mother if they could leave.

Imagine how Farheen was made to feel. Her aunt insisted that the family stay and have tea, a request the boy's family agreed to. They left immediately after promising to get back soon. Farheen parents meanwhile waited anxiously.

The rishta did not come through and Farheen was held responsible for this, because perhaps she was not polite enough, or educated enough, or maybe she did not know how to talk to an elder. Farheen parents later discovered that the boy's mother had been in search for a bride for her son for over two years. She didn't seem to be in a hurry to marry her son off just yet, but was keen on dragging her son along everywhere to see what was available. In fact, the boy is still single.

Farheen 's story is not a unique one. In their efforts to secure the best rishta for their sons, how many women will be made to suffer such ordeals? Do families with sons feel superior because they are at liberty to choose from a bevy of women? What makes the situation more tragic is that it is the family of the girl that suffers.

Another perplexing aspect of this scenario is the frequent absence of the man whose marital life is being decided for him by his mother. There is no doubt that every mother knows her son well, but does this mean that the son need not make a judgment on his soon- to- be -wife himself? It is equally amazing to think that the girl and her family seem comfortable with such a blind arrangement.

Take the case of another girl, Amina. Her mother was told of a family who was looking for a rishta for their son, Shahid, who was an MBA from a prestigious school. Amina and her mother then met with Shahid's mother and sister and things seemed to go well.

As expected, Amina, an intelligent, beautiful and talented girl, answered a host of questions asked by Shahid's mother. The meeting ended with Shahid's mother promising to bring her husband along the following week.

However, a month passed and despite repeated calls, there didn't seem to be much headway being made in the matter. Shahid's mother kept stalling for time, saying that they would finalize the proposal once Shahid was down for Eid and had met Amina. The night before Eid, Shahid's mother called and said, "I'm sorry, but I think your daughter is too highly educated for our son, and we are afraid that she might want to work after marriage which we don't allow."

Amina was rejected without even being seen by Shahid. Ironically, Amina was not working when this rishta came along but despite that she had to hear taunts from her mother for having "showed off" her intelligence. As a result, Amina does not discuss her academic achievements for fear of being scorned.

Who should be blamed? Amina for showing her pride in her work? Amina's parents who instead of supporting their daughter, believe that the rishtey waley are always right? Or should we point fingers at the rishtey-waley who think they can judge a girl so flippantly and do not think it necessary to include their son in the decision-making process? Society places a lot of importance on marriage and everyone believes that destiny is preordained by God, meaning that a marriage will happen when it's meant to be. However, this does not translate into young men and women sitting around idle, waiting for the proposal to fall from the skies.

It may be disheartening but such aforementioned situations, which are everyday occurrences, result in a lot of low self-esteem and depression. It is imperative for parents and families to be supportive of their children, not pressurise them or hold them accountable when a rishta does not come through, especially not on grounds of them being educated and independent, and be sensitive to the anxiety that goes with the anticipation of receiving the final 'Yes'.

(Names have been changed to protect identities.) The writer can be reached at mhl@rediffmail.com

Top


News Community Roundup Countdown for Hajj Editorial Features Response Features Readers Comments Insights Trends & Traditions guidelines Muslim Perspectives Living Islam Journey To Islam Children's Corner Our Dialogue Quran Speaks to You Hadith Matrimonial Jobs Archives Feedback Subscription Links Calendar Contact Us

Al-Nasr Exports