Guest Post by: Nabiha Siddiqui. Nabiha is in process of going to gradschool for a masters in public administration and sustainability, her interests include scientific, political, and islamic research. While her interests vary she is certain of one thing–she is always traveling.
Caution: this article is not for the faint-hearted and is intended to simply be a rant. It is not written to offend anyone…and if it does offend you then maybe you should ask yourself why.
Hi, I’m 25 years old, which in unmarried Desi years is about 55.
I have a profile on shaadi.com that I have never seen, and a marriage resume (bio-data) floating around that denote my hobbies as cooking, praying, and reading, along with some very unattractive photos that my parents decided were “shareef” enough to share, ie old photographs from my undergrad graduation and a couple others that would give the impression that I’m “fair, educated, religious, and thin but a tad-bit chubby at the same time–indicating that I know how to cook a decent enough meal for my own consumption.”
It never occurred to me how difficult the marriage process was until I hit 25 and realized that everyone around me was getting married through matrimonial banquets (a form of “halal” speed-dating), matrimonial websites, and rishta aunties…unless you were lucky enough to interact with a single-Muslim that you got along with at work or school and the brother was respectful enough to send a rishta (chances: 1 in 75,000), or you were betrothed to your cousin in the homeland and that pretty much gave you the freedom to do absolutely nothing with your life and gain 20 lbs in the process. No disrespect to those who marry their cousins, my brother married our cousin–but they are relatively accomplished and attractive…
Up until 5 years ago matrimonial banquets, matrimonial websites, and rishta aunties were looked down upon because you were probably “dark” or “fat” if you went through those means of acquiring a suitable life partner. Even nowadays people try to dodge the question “how did you meet?” And if asked, you know immediately to make up a lie like “Oh he saw me at an Al Maghrib class and he’s a very nice respectable brother who asked for my wali’s (male guardian) number right away because of the over-pouring noor on my face and blah di blah blah blah.”
Yeah, not likely.
It’s not all attractive profiles and speed-dating that makes this rishta business so entertaining, it’s the awkward meetings and inquisitions that are truly inspiring! From “how do you feel about music in television commercials?” to “how religious are you?” to “how do you feel about polygamy?” Yikes!
And then you have mothers of short, chubby, brown dudes that want “fair, tall, skinny, hijabi/non-hijabi, educated, valedictorian, chef, tailor, Dalai Lama-esque, housewife-material, and it’s good if she’s religious and cultured too.”
I’m not saying all aunties are like that and all rishtas are shallow phonies, there are a handful of decent people as well, and I’ve also seen my share of picky girls who have certain criteria that they will not overlook when considering a rishta: from having a minimum height requirement, to mandating a beard, to only considering doctors to marry, there’s shallowness everywhere! I swear, if I had a dollar for every time a friend asked me “how do I ask him nicely to lose weight?”…
But the point of this rant is that it’s just NOT fair! This system is terrible for those of us, brothers and sisters, who are simply looking for a decent life partner without compromising our self-respect and values. Oh, and God forbid if you find a good Muslim outside of your culture, or a convert…but that’s a rant for another day.
Because of such difficulty and an endless number of frustrated single sisters and brothers, I am forced to ponder time and again: what can be the solution to this problem? I have thought long and hard, but have yet to come up with an easier process of getting married. I don’t think the problem is only with Muslims; I have non-Muslim friends that have turned to online-dating and matrimonial banquets, set up through churches, synagogues, and temples that have joined sites like Chemistry and Match.com.
By the way, if you find my profile on shaadi.com, know that it’s not me and it’s probably my dad…
Single and scared to mingle.
PS- please don’t tell me you’re marrying for Deen if the basis of your interaction is due to the paleness of her skin or his medical degree. You know who you are…