Let's change our minds

There are a lot of girls in Kashmir who have attained marriageable age but don’t get married for the reason we have made marriages too difficult for the ordinary people. The reason is that the traditions and practices added to the simple act of Nikah have made it a burden on those who are not capable of fulfilling all these “norms”.

A boy and a girl are legal spouses after the ceremony of Nikkah, but Kashmiris by their narrow thinking don’t limit it to that until all the lavish, and exhibitionist activities are performed by the hosts. The paying of huge sums of dowry by the bride’s side, providing a massive feast on a number of occasions to the groom’s side.

Nikah in Islam is important for many reasons and because it is a Sunnah of our prophet (SAW) it holds a high position in our values. In an authentic hadith Prophet (SAW) said: “Nikah is my sunnah and whoever follows it is from me and whosoever doesn’t, is not from me.”

It stops one from indulging in wrongs activities. It safeguards one’s gaze, builds a society and makes a man responsible. However, In Kashmir the tradition of marriage has been turned into a burden; it is all about showing off one’s wealth and status, which totally contradicts the real essence and motive of a Nikah.

Poor families in Kashmir see it as impossible to get their children married and when a poor father gathers a satisfying amount to marry his daughter off, she is over age by then. Late marriages also result in unhappy marriages because spouses are unable to spend time together and all they have are responsibilities to handle.

Here in Kashmir the bride’s side of family is seen as indebted to the groom’s family and on the majority of occasions are disrespected in many ways. As an Imam puts it: “ I have on many occasions seen the bride’s side of family, be her father or uncle, usually sit near the door at the time of Nikah and on many occasions the bride’s father is not present at all. They think themselves as inferior to the groom’s family and believe that they do not deserve to sit in the Nikah ceremony.”

We must remember the fact that our prophet (SAW) was himself the father of four daughters. Being a father of a daughter is not an element of shame, but something to be proud of. In pre-Islamic times when a daughter was born in someone’s house, they used to put their heads down in shame and decided to bury their daughters alive. Prophet (SAW) was sent to eradicate all these ill practices.

The new generation in Kashmir has a responsibility of changing the things. It is up to the new generation to change how the families think. It depends upon the groom to refrain from asking for dowry from the bride’s family and to give the bride and her family the respect tehy deserve.

Marriage is a bond between two families and if one family lacks the respect for other, the relationship between spouses won’t be a happy and productive one, the structure of society would be badly affected and there will never be mutual agreement between spouses resulting in bad parenting, hence affecting many generations and doing an irreparable damage to our society.

Change starts within; one can reform a society and save it from deteriorating. We must free our minds from the wrong thinking and open to changes that make our lives better.