I Don't Want to Marry a Stranger!

>> Monday, July 26, 2010

I really don’t want to marry a stranger….and I don’t want to marry my cousin, either! I know dating isn’t allowed, but I just can’t imagine spending my life with someone I don’t even love yet alone know. I’m only 17, so there’s still time before I get married, but I can’t help thinking about this.
Hopeless Romantic

Dear Hopeless Romantic,

How about you marry my cousin and I marry yours? LOL! I’m just kidding! Seriously, though, marriage in Islam is a beautiful and sacred partnership. Husband and wife are described as garments for one another and Allah calls their relationship ‘a sign’:

And among His Signs is this, that He created for you mates from among yourselves, that ye may dwell in tranquility with them, and He has put love and mercy between your (hearts): verily in that are Signs for those who reflect. (30:21)

You’re not alone in your fears though. Many of us harbor the fear that our parents are going to shove us at a random stranger who we’ll only meet a few weeks before the wedding night….and who twenty years later, we’ll be wishing we never met.

Fears aside, let’s try to look at the marriage process a little more realistically.

How does the marriage process really work? Usually, it’s a community effort. No joke. What basically happens is that when you feel ready for marriage or sometimes when your mother (or real aunty) feel like you are ready for marriage (but you just don’t know it yet-LOL-), operation “Get her married” begins. Yup, the word starts spreading throughout the community. Other mothers pass the word. Neighbors join. Mothers of neighbors join. Neighbors of mothers of neighbors join…LOL! Somehow or another the entire community discovers that Helpless Romantic, X, Y, and Z are all eligible bachelorettes. Next, the community rolls up its sleeves and starts looking for Mr. Charming for each one. Essentially (and ideally), they look for someone with the same status, an appropriate age gap, similar education, similar level of religiosity, etc.

The next step is a little more interesting. Once they find someone who appears suitable, they give him your wali’s number. When he finally gets the nerve, Mr. Potentially Right calls up your wali. If your wali decides he’s worthy enough to meet you, you two get to meet. (Insert: dramatic music. Just kidding!) Before he comes, though, you should pray istikhara and make lots of dua.

Of course, while Daddy or Big Brother ( literally! or whoever your wali is) is present, you two start talking. You ask him all kinds of questions- about his child hood, his family, his views on: religion, money, parenting, etc. And of course you ask him about himself: what kind of traits he admires in himself, what he wants to improve, his pet peeves in general, his hobbies, etc. (Check out the The Big List of Questions! for a comprehensive list of questions- be careful though that you don’t bark these questions at him but that you work your way around them)

You don’t necessarily ask him all these questions in the first meeting. And that’s just it- you don’t only need to meet once. So long as you follow the Islamic guidelines and you have a wali present, you can meet a couple of times just to decide whether or not you think he really is suitable.  (After this, the ‘background criminal record check begins’—well, at least in my family’s side, lol. Seriously, usually your family will ask a few people who know this person’ what he’s like/his good qualities/his not so good qualities’, etc.)

But anyways…are you going to be singing  in the rain while all this  is happening?  Probably not. Are you going to be sighing all the time? Probably not. Are your toes going to curl? Again, probably not. (What is that supposed to mean anyway?!) You’re still going to feel your heart flutter a bit, excitement, nervousness, fear, etc but you’re not necessarily going to be in love with this person. Not yet. Is that really a bad thing, though? They say love is blind and for a reason. Do you really want to pick someone only with your heart? Wouldn’t you rather pick someone with your heart and mind?  That’s basically what Islam promotes. It doesn’t say ‘just marry anyone or any random stranger’- it says pick someone carefully. What’s so wrong about that?

  Also, don’t forget that in the Islamic way of getting married there is the nikah, or the “signing” of the contracts, a time period, and then the wedding night. It’s up to you- nowhere does it say you have to sign the contract and live with the person the very same night. You can take as long as you want to get to know the person (after you’ve signed the contract if you don’t want a wali to be present) before you decide to live with the person.  

But you know what? What you need to focus on, Hopeless Romantic, is not about marrying a stranger but that the person you do end up marrying doesn’t end up becoming a stranger! Honestly, cooperation, patience, open communication- these are all things  you need to focus on improving in yourself so that when you do get married, you don’t find yourself resenting Mr. Right.  I mean: let’s be honest with ourselves- right now, does your family really know YOU? I mean, the real you? Or are there some members in your family, who you’ve been seeing for the past 17 years everyday, who are just complete strangers to you? I’m not talking about “Oh- my brother is some weirdo from Mars” either…if you know what I mean?  

We’ve been brought up in a culture where the “magic kiss” transforms people’s lives to the better and “happily ever after’ is around the corner. Little Miss Aunty is going to tell you something….

Marriage is not all about holding hands and smooching under the patio with happy healthy kids jumping around.
  Marriage is a lot harder than that.

I once heard the expression: Love is not only a noun. It’s a verb. It requires doing. Every day. I also heard another quote that goes something like this: “I can’t tell you if you married the right person. I can tell you that if you treat him like the right person, it’ll work out”.

The truth is life changes us. Even if you marry someone you fell in love with, they could end up becoming a stranger as time passes. When you have phone bills, school fees, a roof that’s leaking, a sick child, and you can still smile at your hubby and laugh, then that’s true love.

And that kind of love requires work.  

Wishing that you find 'true love',

P.S. One really great series that deals with this issue from A-Z was written by sister Megan Wyatt. You can read the most important article, “The Fairytale that Never Was” or you can start from the beginning, which is also VERY important:  The Stupid Glass Slipper

P.S.S. While we’re on the subject, you should also check out “ Ten Ways to Marry the Wrong Person (Great link! Very good advice).

15 wonderful sprinkely thoughts:

Anonymous,  July 26, 2010 at 6:48 AM  

Blue Pearl: Awww, jaziki Allah khair. :D

Anonymous commented: "I also want to add one thing, when I was younger I had many opportunities to get married to people from good families. My parents were especially keen on one person, a doctor and hafiz-al-quran. I declined because I did not like the feeling i got. Today when I am not married and hoping that I was, I often think of the stupid choices I made."

Jaziki Allah khair for sharing that with us.*Big hug* I just want to tell you don't be too hard on yourself,though. You did what you thought at the time was the best thing.The important thing is that you learned from your experience. And you know what: hopefully, we've ALL learned from your experience and you've stopped someone from making a similar mistake. So many of us are approached by good suitors but we just don't realize how good they are until after they're gone because we've set incredibly unrealistic standards/ expectations. That's why it's really important that we start teaching teenage girls to enter marriage with realistic expectations and hopes.

May Allah bless you with someone even better :D inshaAllah. Keep making dua and stay optimistic, like the Prophet (salah Allah alayhee wa salam) told us to do. :)

Anonymous,  July 26, 2010 at 11:42 AM  

salam alaykum, where can i send a question?

Little Auntie,  July 26, 2010 at 11:53 AM  

Anonymous, you can send one to the email dearlitteauntie@gmail.com

If it's a private question, be sure to mention that :)

Farah,  July 26, 2010 at 12:41 PM  

Assalamu Alaikum! I recently found this blog and think it's a fabulous idea! ("great" didn't sound great enough) Not only is the idea great, but I think you guys have followed through with it very well and your advice is very comprehensive and does not come off too condescending (which is a HUGE problem in the Muslim community). Keep it up!

As for this specific... article? I'd like to say that I'm also 17 and although I'm not considering marriage for awhile (meaning 4 years at least), it's still something that I think about and me and my Muslim friends talk about. I don't think there's anything wrong with that either, because I need to think about improving myself before I can be ready for marriage or have any standards for whoever I end up marrying.

In my youth group the other day, we actually went off on a tangent on marriage as a result of discussing why we don't date. We talked about that verse of course, but also how Islam values marriage and the bond that a husband and wife have more by making dating, etc. haram. When you're dating, you're not thinking about marriage and you're only setting yourself up for heartbreak, there are no guarantees. I know that the sister understands dating is haram, but I think it's also important to remember why it is and see it for what it is, especially living in this society. It certainly helped me.

I apologize for the length and rambliness (yes, I make up my own words. Like Shakespeare and Sarah Palin :P) of this post. I'm almost done. Do NOT marry someone you do not know. It's not smart and most definitely not what Islam recommends. You have to get to know someone first, but with marriage in mind and with a wali present (this doesn't mean they have to be heavily involved in the conversation or listening to every word, I mean, can you say awk-waaard!). Something I try to remind myself is -while it doesn't mean sit back and relax and do nothing for yourself - that the person you're meant to marry is walking around somewhere, it might even be someone you know (creepy much?), you've just got to be patient and rely on Allah SWT. I hope I helped and did not just waste anyone's time.

Little Auntie July 28, 2010 at 12:39 AM  

Wa alaykum as salaam, Farah :D

Jazaki Allah khair for the sweet words! They're really encouraging :)

I definitely agree with you- the more we understand why dating is wrong and all the heartache it brings with it, the more we realize how blessed we are. Just think: a guy can't even hold our hand without putting a "ring" or talking to our dad- that's how special we are and how much Allah wants to protect us.

LOL about making up words! I do that too so I guess I can add my name to your list.

And of course you didn't waste our time! We love it when you guys add your thoughts- and mashaAllah, you're right: we should all work on ourselves from now. (I've actually started reading some books on how to make marriage work. I mean parents-to-be usually start reading all about raising their little young ones...why shouldn't we start learning the secrets behind a successful marriage.)

Hope to see you again! :D

Anonymous,  July 28, 2010 at 7:34 AM  

Just wanted to throw in - dating isn't haram :P As long as you're married! :)

I think, going with your last couple points, that we think about all the 'before marriage' stuff and the actual wedding (what are you going to wear?!) and then when it comes to the 'happily ever after' part, we assume it'll just... work. That part is the most important and requires the most effort... and I'm sure, dating would help quite a bit :P inshaAllah.

Little Auntie,  July 28, 2010 at 1:34 PM  

Haha, good point, bistmushtaq! I should have known better to write it properly:P In fact, that was one of my points in the 'haram advice' thing(I was basically saying that not everything is haram but somethings just have a certain context).

Anyways,Jaszaki Allah for sharing, :D

ishqia July 29, 2010 at 1:55 AM  


i got married on an arrange basis. i just had a peak at my hubs photo b4 marraige. other than that we didnt speak,meet or anything of the sort.

i trusted Allah and made lot of dua for what kind of hub i wanted. and i also trusted my parents.

Alhamdulillah Allah gifted me with a wonderful hub. for which i thank him each day of my life.

At the beginning we were complete strangers. But Allah put so much love in our hearts for each other that it is amazing.

other point is when searching for the groom, to ask other people about him and make enquiries. and Alhamdulillah in my case he seemed so popular.. whoever u ask they were like he is so good... he is so good.. he is so good.. hehe

and it is Allah who put love between spouses.

Many time people fall in love and get married but in the end it doesnt work out.

put ur trust in Allah and make lot of dua to gift you with the one who will be the best one for you.

and marraige isnt going to be just a happily ever after.

for me initially it was blissful..

lator on my expectations had reached a very high level and i often used to get depressed for my expectations werent met. and since i m an emotional freak i used to cry cry and cry.. but my hub kept patience and dealt with me nicely..

Though i disliked my crying type i coudnt help it.. then Alhamdulillah i prayed to Allah to give me a happy married life.. and atlast i overcame that phase and hence keeping my expectations to the lowest.. cause when expectations are the lowest u end up getting surprised even for the least of things..

The secret to success is i feel dua..and trust.. and patience..

A completely arranged marraige will also then turn into a hopeless romantic one..:-)

Maryam Zahoor... August 25, 2010 at 10:47 AM  

great post!!! following u now little auntie :)

Little Auntie,  August 26, 2010 at 12:58 PM  

Asalamu aliakuam, Maryam!
I went to your bloggy and wanted to post this but it wouldn't let me-- about the land mafias....that's so sad to read :( La hawla wa la quwata illah billah. Our thoughts are with our dear brothers and sisters in Pakistan.

Keep writing- we need to hear the voice of Pakistan.

Little Auntie June 27, 2011 at 11:34 PM  

thanks :) sister
but what if u dont love the one u marry ?
he can marry 3 other but ur stuck in the loveless life..
i understand you.. allah didnt want u s to get hurt but umm i am sure there will be others if my bf doesnt marry me ..
but thanks sweetie :D


Little Auntie June 27, 2011 at 11:48 PM  

Thanks for your concern, anonymous :P

Actually, research has now proven that you can fall in love with a person just by gazing deep into their eyes for 2 minutes or more. you can try looking up that fact, if you want.

The truth is, love is something that 'grows'...and it also diminishes. Basing your marriage only on feelings and how someone makes you feel, is actually not the smartest thing, then....Marriage is about behavior as well as love.

Btw, isn't it a bit contradicting of you to to tell me that 'I'll be stuck in a loveless life' and then go on to say that for yourself 'I'm sure there will be others" ?

The same is true for me. AS you originally stated, divorce is always an option, if anyone of us is stuck in a 'loveless marriage' or with someone we can't bear. And I'm sure there will be others, for us, as well :)

The truth is, part of the problem with having relationships outside of marriage is that your whole life becomes a search for the 'perfect one'- the one who if you marry, you'll live a perfect life with.

The reality is that you will never ever have a perfect life or a perfect marriage. There will be hard days- no matter who you marry. But if you go in with your mind AND heart and not just feelings, things can be a lot more smoother.

We're telling you to marry someone who is compatible with you and shares the same values-- that's what will make a marriage last...not just someone who thinks you look cute today.

muslimah who tries,  February 15, 2013 at 9:10 AM  

You remind me of myself at that age, and a lot of friends I have who feel the same way. I remember how I was at 17, maybe you're more mature then me, but you seem to have the same view about love that I did. I completely, even without meaning to, bought into all the ideas sold by the media, countless shows and the views of non-muslim friends. I know what it's like to view things from our parents point of view, at that time where we really seem to rebel at their judgement, which may or may not be wrong. It sounds almost like you wish 'dating' was allowed in Islam (pardon me if you don't) but that's because you don't really understand what it really means. You see dating as the way it's portrayed in movies (twilight etc) is false. Can you tell me you’d want a guy who wants you for superficial reasons? Because that’s what dating does, both parties present the superficial fun aspects about themselves. It’s all a parade of illusions. Wouldn’t you much rather prefer a guy who likes you for not just your looks, but for your brains, you heart, and soul. Think of someone who appeals every part of you. The intellectual part, and the spiritual part combined with everything else. Because a guy who you just feel ‘fluttery and bubbly with’ that kind of thing won’t last. And wouldn’t you rather have guy who respects you so much, that he addresses your father (or wali) before he takes any other step. To me that is the kind of ‘white knight’ appeals to me. A girl should be treated like a queen!! Remember that!!!! And today sadly, women discard that, they just want a guy that makes them feel all lovey-dovey, not caring how he treats them. But I kind of feel like the problem is your view of Islam. I would suggest evaluating you see things and why you feel islam is saying you have to marry a complete stranger or your cousin.

muslimah who tries,  February 15, 2013 at 9:10 AM  

Before anything you have to judge whether your perception is skewed. There might be some misconceptions or expectations that aren’t real that you hold that cause you to feel that Islam is unfair in matters of love.
First off, do you judge Islam from your parents point of view, or the point to view given by a majority of “Muslims”. Everyone knows (having gone through this stage myself, which I can’t really say I’m over) that we reject what our parents say. We see them as ‘so lame’ and ‘so uncool’ cause they’re always making ‘rules’ and they just don’t ‘get it’. Trust me I have felt this way. Either they are not modernized and so we don’t take their point of perspective as anything that counts. I never did with my own parents. If you have that kind of relationship with your parents, in which you don’t trust their outlook, and see them as dictators who impose rules to take the fun out of everything. As a consequence you come to see Islam in that way. Let me give you an example. It’s about me and my sister. There was a book that my sister liked, I planned to read it myself because so many people were recommending it, and praising it, it was well-written, with a beautiful story. But because my sister read it first, and enjoyed it so much, I refuse to read it. I wouldn’t. Why? The book was supposed to be really, really good!!!! But because I never liked anything she liked, because her taste was ‘lame’ I said I disliked it without ever giving it a chance, without even finding out if it was even good. The fact that it was tainted by her ‘liking it’ I didn’t want to have anything to do with it. Is that childish? And silly? Yes. But I didn’t care. It didn’t matter to me if it was the greatest thing ever at that point, just because it was associated with her, I didn’t read it. We see Islam the same way, just because it’s associated with our ‘uncool’ parents we think it is ‘stuffy’ and ‘sucks the fun out of life.’ We have ‘study the religion, not the Muslims.’
I’m not going to explain about the process, since they aunties did it so well!!! But I’m just going to say, don’t think its ‘outdated’, give yourself a chance to understand. So you can be satisfied AND happy in the long run. Isn’t that all you want?

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