“And we created you in pairs”, these are the beautiful words from Surah An-Naba. Often overused or even misused to appeal to the hearts of young Muslim girls. Marriage is seen as making your life more rosy, exciting and even better. But what effect does this have on our sisters?
“Half of your deen”
‘Whoever gets married, completes half of their faith’, that is a phrase that many young Muslims are familiar with. It gets repeated over and over again to underline the importance of marriage in one’s life. From a young age, girls are thought that a happy marriage is what the ultimate end goal should be. But unfortunately, many lose themselves on the path to that goal.
Do not get me wrong, there is no harm in seeing marriage as one of your goals. But I am calling out the unrealistic and unhealthy ideas we give young girls according to getting married. When we tell young girls that they can’t travel, explore the world, experience things unless they get married, we are in fact telling them that their future husband is their ‘liberator’. We tell them that in order to access a certain type of liberty, they have to commit first. When our community is looking down on women above a certain age because they haven’t found their partner yet, we teach our young girls that you are a failure if you are single. When we tell boys that the younger the girl, the easier and better the commitment, we are promoting an unhealthy, sexist view of marriage.
With this problem comes also the issue that young girls develop a romanticized and unrealistic view of marriage. They approach this commitment as if it is the start of a real adventure, which is life. They put a lot of expectations and pressure on themselves and their partner which most probably ends up in disappointment.
We apply a double standard in dealing with girls in relation to marriage. The pressure for them is much more present than for boys. These problems need to be addressed, because they enhance inequality between men and women in our community.
What about focusing on growth and self-development as a girl? Your daughter may be the next prime minister, painter, professor or author but you were too busy dictating a life path for her to notice.
Let’s give our young girls the time and space to become adults. Let them explore their teenage years, guide them through it, give them the support they need. They have dreams, ambitions and plans. Do not dismiss them if marriage is not part of those plans (yet). By doing that, you raise a generation of strong independent women who know their worth.