Parents are considered to be the real well-wishers for their children. Allah has made them the means of giving us life and blessed us with unmatched care, love and affection through them. It is the instinct of a child to expect nothing but good from parents and trust them blindly when it comes to making a decision about the good and bad of the child. Parents have always gone to extremes to fulfill even smaller wishes of their children. Notwithstanding the fact if parents are good individuals or not, they are the best guardians a child can ever imagine. They, happily, spend their life-long savings for the education of their children and sacrifice their comforts for the well-being and contentment of their off-springs. Admittedly, in this modern-age, everything is adulterated but the only un-corrupted and altruistic care comes from our parents.
The problem is further aggravated by society in general and our parents in specific, as they have been increasingly inventing new pre-requisites for the marriage of their children. For a boy to start earning before he gets married, is fathomable, but seeking Ph.Ds, Post graduate degrees and worst of all, a job from a daughter or a would be daughter in-law, as an eligibility for her to get married is the worst oppression a parent could inflict on her daughter. Unfortunately, when many of them succumb to the natural pressure and take different course, which has been made easy by the impact of the Bollywood culture, we demonize them. And if they decide to marry a wrong person due to their inexperience, parents should also share responsibility, as they had delayed her marriage at the right time. Many families are under the deluded impression that if they make it impossible for their daughters to marry, then the girls will simply sit tight until the permission and possibility of marriage comes. Certainly many do; but of course, as is human nature, many don't. The importance of an early marriage of our daughters is reflected in the Hadith when Prophet (SAW) said in a khutbah: "Jibra'il came to me from the Subtle and Aware one [Allah (swt)], and said: "Indeed, virgin girls are like fruit on a tree. When you take the fruit from a tree, then you do not have to fear that the sun will spoil it or that the wind will scatter it away. Similar is the case when a woman is taken in the way that they are taken (meaning marriage). There is no remedy for this problem except that they take a husband, and if they do not, then one will have to fear that they will become corrupted." However, we have forgotten the teachings of the Prophet (SAW). The growth of a middle-class throughout the Muslim world has led families to become more concerned with their daughter's education and work than with their spiritual life. They apprehend that if they marry their girls at an early age, they won’t be able to complete their education. The fact is that it is not true that girls will somehow fail in life if they marry at an early age. A woman can balance the demands of her marital life and her educational/professional life, and should be allowed and encouraged to do so. Yes, it may take them longer to get the masters degree or at times may tell upon their grades to some extent, but we have to prioritize if we value some additional percentage in their results or a safe and happy life for them.
Moreover, for my friends from medical sciences, they should know that a woman who conceives before she is 25, has very minimal chances of developing a breast cancer, which is growing rapidly in Kashmir. I have studied and lived in America and Muslim immigrants there have already started getting their girls married even as young as 19 years. So, I request my society with folded hands to institutionalize a custom of not delaying marriage of our daughters without compromising too much on their educational career, before the western terminology of ‘Boyfriends and Girl friends’ engulf us completely, which to be candid, has already permeated into our society to a great extent. But it is still not very late. Let us help our young ones by saving them from hell-fire.
(Mehboob Makhdoomi has a research degree from England and is a member of 'American Marketing Association'. Feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org)