Written by Anonymous
I am genuinely happy for Ms. Markle. The outpouring of support of her union to HRH Price Henry of Wales, and the love which they clearly show for one another is uplifting and refreshing. In a way, some people (and I strongly emphasize, some) within my close and extended family and community could learn from it.
To illustrate, let us replace Ms. Markle with a Ms. Malik (a fictional character for the purpose of this article) and more often than not, a contrast scenario will play out than the positivity that came through since the announcement of Ms. Markle’s engagement.
In this scene, Ms. Malik announces that she has chosen as her life partner a younger man – who is not of the same religion (or even the same sub-set of her religion), a different race, from a different country that has a completely different culture (plus anything else you wish to add to the mix) – to her family and close friends. This news is initially embargoed by her parents or guardian until the initial shock wave diminishes or someone blurts it out to her family’s news broadcaster (i.e.; interfering uncle/aunt) when the announcement, along with embellished commentary, spreads like wildfire to the ears of associates and whomever else feels the need to comment on Ms. Malik’s choice – essentially questioning her judgment.
I bet the most she will hear is how she is dishonoring herself, her parents, her grandparents, uncles, aunties, siblings, cousins, ancestors, the people who yet to be born into the family and some other random she has never ever met. She will also hear how she is un-Islamic, she is too modern, independent and that she should have been married off straight after school. If she has any siblings that are unmarried, she will be told that she has ruined their chances and her immediate family (which includes her cousin’s cousin’s cousin’s cousin’s cousin) will forever be in hiding for the shame she has brought on to them and everyone will have to either change their name or move to another location where they are unknown. If she has any married siblings, they will clearly state the dilemma of having to explain her choice to their own in-laws: something that she has imposed on them and they will never make her forget it.
These snippets show how the followers of what is principally a tolerant religion has a lot of intolerant followers…
Ms. Malik will also be told how stupid she must be for making such a poor choice and that love, happiness and romance are only for Disney or H/Bollywood stories, not reality. She will discover that people she thought were her close friends will turn their backs on her as they cannot be associated with such as person as their own reputation is at stake. She will be told that her chosen partner must have bewitched her to accept him or that her whole family must be cursed by the evil eye. She will have special duas, specifically created amulets, and verses of the Holy Quran thrusted upon her to read and recite so that she can begin her repentance for she is now considered an unworthy human being and needs to be saved from Hellfire (she will also be made to feel like she really is the worst person on Earth).
Even if the man wishes to accept Islam (for whatever reason he chooses for himself), it will not be considered genuine and will never be seen as a ‘proper’ Muslim. The worst she will probably hear is that she is like a whore, forever dammed to Hell, that all her relatives, including those who have passed away, will now be condemned in the afterlife also due to her behavior, and any children that she may have will be considered illegitimate.
The best she will hear, from a minority within the community, is that they will be with her all the way and that they are happy for her as it is so hard to find a partner that they feel comfortable and happy with but sadly, these individuals do not proclaim their support for Ms. Malik in public or are silenced if they dare to. There is hardly the notion of ,“Child: if you’re happy with this man and he treats you well, then I am happy too.”
These snippets show how the followers of what is principally a tolerant religion has a lot of intolerant followers instead of being a family and community that should stand together as one and help each other instead of just wasting time on negativity.
Moving back into real-life, I have never married yet I still face criticism for my choice and I am considered soiled goods now as well as too old. Unfortunately, the man I chose and loved dearly, who treated me with much more respect that the arranged and non-arranged married dates, as well as other men I met outside of the religious circle, decided to leave as he could neither understand nor bear the sheer hatred towards him when his Catholic family was so loving and welcoming to me. I could hardly bear it and went into a meltdown myself so I do not blame him at all – I mean, who wants to marry a mess? I certainly wouldn’t have married the person I turned into! Regardless, I am different person than I was back then but my thoughts on love have not changed. My only regret, if one can call it so, is that I wish I had been the strong person I am now back then, but all this is ultimately Allah’s (SWT) will, whether I understand it or not. The most beneficial part of that episode is that my trust and love in God has increased, Alhamdulillah.
In an attempt to end on a positive note, I was listening to an old song by Rozalla (a Zambian-born singer) whilst writing this and having never concentrated on the words before, they now resonated with and inspired me: When hopes are shared, love should shine much more brightly than the darkness people like those I described above naturally find themselves in or jump towards when the simply do not know what to do when they are faced with a situation they are not prepared to deal with. So, should we not all choose peace, respect, love and understanding (i.e., the very essence of Islam) instead of fascist-like, hateful and hurtful behavior when our children have found who they believe is the right person for them as surely, they know themselves better than anyone else in this world?