Humankind is fast moving into an era in which life is pervaded 24/7 by technology, connectivity, and information, causing an amalgamation of diverse cultures and a blurring of identities.
One of the consequences of this, is that dating and free, ‘no-strings-attached’ romantic and sexual relationships are becoming the easier and gradually increasing norm on a global scale. The traditional institution of marriage is, sadly, beginning to be perceived as an increasingly difficult, high-maintenance, and burdensome choice, by most millennials.
This is because the nature of life activities nowadays affords little time for anything that is not profitable and instant in reaping its benefits. Everyone instantly desires to see successful results for their endeavors. Time is scarce, and people have little patience for long-term occupations that require drawn-out investment to show results.
Marriage, since centuries, has formed the bedrock of the closely-knit, happy family unit in any civilized society. Islam has endorsed this age-old social custom, and deemed it the only legal means of satisfying sexual desires, as well as, of bringing the next generation of humankind into the world.
However, with the hefty costs related to weddings, rising divorce rates, scandalous media frenzies over acrimonious celebrity divorces, and lengthy legal custody battles over children, — today, many young, single people perceive marriage as a risky, taxing gamble.
It is much easier for them to get instant gratification from casual friendships, than to pursue the long, culturally rigid, and economically expensive process of getting married.
Many youngsters, therefore, end up falling for the wrong choice.
An Age of Illusions
It is hard to imagine that merely a century or so ago, homes had no television or phone, and information was available only through physical publications that were produced after drawn-out, tedious manual printing processes.
One of the most glaring facts about the contemporary information explosion via digital media is the way false stories and fictional scenarios are depicted as alluring realities. Photographs, videos, films, novels, and other forms of meticulously curated content that appears on our screens, seem more real and authentic to us than the people and situations in our own homes.
Teams of content creators are hard at work behind all forms of digital media to splash across screens worldwide, attractive scenes of love, romance, relationships, family, friends, and parenting. These scenes are meticulously choreographed by beautifully “made up” models, actors, and other “artists” playing out man-made scripts.
As a result, most young people today grow up reading and watching such fictional stories on different media channels. These growing children are fed a steady dose of fair-seeming, fantastical falsehoods as they morph into adults. Consequently, they start believing that the media depicts the truth and reality about the correlation between human relationships and happiness. They begin to aspire to ideas that are far from reality.
They fall for the illusion.
The Reality is Obscure
In Islam, the status, roles and rights of each family member are clearly defined, in order to allow the family system to work smoothly and successfully for all. Gender-specific duties are obligated on each spouse in Muslim marriage, in order to safeguard its sanctity and to prevent society at large from deteriorating towards moral degradation.
In Islam, Marriage is often likened to a “fortress”. It serves to protect adult Muslims from many evils and vices. It also allows the next generation of Muslims to be nurtured, cared for, and raised in a peaceful, safe and loving environment.
In the liberal world today, however, where freedoms of all kinds are purported to be the sole pathway towards personal “zen”, ideological advancement, and worldly success, the restrictions and rules of an Islamic marriage might seem off-puttingly irrelevant and even ‘medieval’ in nature.
Young people feel attracted towards doing whatever they ‘feel like’ doing, and living in the moment, rather than following what Allah has ordered them to do. Desires, moods, and logic reign supreme.
The liberated, free-spirited friendships shown in the media seem so much more alluring to them than the comparatively ‘dull’ institution of marriage. They mentally compare the Instagram photos of girls and boys posing for selfies on the decks of yachts while vacationing in exotic islands, to the demure scene of humble families emerging from the masjid after a prayer and Qur’an class.
Guess which scene attracts them more!
The demure hijab and modest clothing of practicing Muslims pales in comparison to the glam and glitter of the multi-billion-dollar international fashion industry. They want the glitz and bling; the high-end labels and the designer tags. They want the fat paychecks of lucrative jobs and the freedom to grow their brand and business. They want to travel the world on a whim, without any long-term responsibilities tying them down.
Marriage just seems like a ‘deadlock’, blocking their way on the path to fulfilling their dreams.
Marriage: Veiled Bliss
There are many beautiful things in this world that Allah has kept hidden from the undiscerning, superficial eye. Marital bliss and the joys of a simple family life are among such things.
The over-rated, falsehood-based romances showcased in racy films and novels do not even come close to the joys of halal love that remains ensconced inside the cocoon of Muslim marriage, hidden away from the world. And no joy can compare to laying eyes on, and cradling, your newborn in your arms for the very first time.
Sure, marriage is challenging at times. But so is everything else that we pursue in this world, be it education, travel, career, sports, fitness, leisure, grooming, entertainment, or even hobbies.
Each and every pursuit for worldly gain, involves hard work and sacrifice. Everything enjoyable brings with it, difficulties and trials. Muslim marriage is no exception.
The only difference is that the appeal of these other spheres is beautified by the media, and their challenges glossed over. Similarly, the negatives of Muslim marriage are amplified and widely reported, but its innumerable blessings, rewards and benefits are ignored or undermined.
The youth need to wake up and realize that the media is taking them on a joyride, which is actually a wild goose chase. By eschewing marriage in favor of temporary pleasures, in the end, they just might be left with little more than the fading memories of their fleeting bygone years of youth to keep them company.