How I Met My Son’s Mother

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mezbabio

“Here, I have her bio data from your aunt.” With a gleam in her eye, my mother turned around her laptop towards me. “Take a look.”

Kids, the year was 2006 and the hunt for my other half was in full swing. My parents got emails daily and all the aunties had been Put On Notice. Now, one of them had sent a biodata to my mother. Slightly curious, since I have heard so many good things about this latest prospect – who I was told could be The One – I began to read the email. Her name sounded slightly familiar as I continued to read. University education. Check. Bengali. Check. Muslim. Check. Four years younger than me. Check. Beautiful? Oh. My. God.

“This is…this is-,” I struggled to find the words to explain my perplexity. I KNEW this girl! With an incredulous tone, I told my mother who she was.

“She was a member of our student group. She has been going out with this guy since, like, forever!”

“Hmm.” With a disappointed note of “back-to-square-one-we-go-again” in her voice, my mother hit Delete. “I wonder if her own parents know!”

You see, it wasn’t supposed to be so difficult. I was a very logical person and my whole life was planned. I was brought up in the Middle East (United Arab Emirates, to be precise). I studied hard in school to ace my O- and A- Levels. I knew that the day I turned eighteen, I was expected to have gained admission into a prestigious university in the West. Which I did. With scholarship. And yes, I did party and enjoy my university life, but it was all halal fun (well, mostly; if you count saying bismillah over a Big Mac before wolfing it down as halal).

I never went after girls. The equation was simple. Time is money, and money is also money, therefore time and money spent on a girl equals money wasted. Save that money for your big dhamaka marriage because, drum roll, my parents would find me someone right after I graduate. After all, they themselves hadn’t known each other before their marriage, and arranged marriages were how all of my cousins were getting married back in Bangladesh.

Well, about that. It turned out that we now had a problem. There were no good girls in Canada. And I don’t mean no girl is good for my mother because she sees me as Imam Mahdi. No, good as in – well – good. I am not even counting the girl who said she wanted to work for the CIA or the girl with bad oral hygiene (who, ironically, was studying to be a dentist). Those were superficial issues. When I (rather, my parents) started looking for a girl for me, this was the general problem with Bengali girls in Canada.

They were too old. Let’s face it, I didn’t want a wife immediately after I graduated from college. I wanted to take it easy, go on road trips with the guys, chill and enjoy life a little. I was 24 or 25 when I started to think about marriage. And the girls, it turned out, had the same mentality. So here was a 25-year-old guy looking at a 25-year-old girl’s biodata. Seriously, how many guys in an arranged marriage scenario marry a girl of the same age? An arranged marriage is where a guy gets a girl he would never have a shot with in real life. And, for most guys, that means someone younger than themselves. If you are a girl and you want to get married to a 25-year-old guy, start looking when you are 21.

Second, many of them had been in previous relationships , which they had broadcast on Twitter, Facebook and Google+. If I can manage to keep myself chaste (and let’s face it, it wasn’t that there weren’t temptations, or opportunities – when you live on campus, there are always opportunities), is it too much to ask that my wife-to-be has also saved herself for marriage?

Third, they were trying to have it all. Everyone has bought into the myth of a perfect Bollywood marriage. For many girls, it wasn’t just about finding a guy (one who has a house and does not live with his pesky mother and has a BMW), but there should be lifelong romance, beautiful children, lots of money, and year-long summer (in Canada). All the while, the wife will be fully involved in the childrens’ lives, without compromising their work or that promotion, or time with their spouses, or for themselves. That’s not how real life works.

I wanted a wife whose priority was to find a good husband and raise a proper, Islamic family. If that meant taking a little bit of time off from work during the early childhood years, and thus not keeping up with one’s professional peers, so be it. For that, I was told I was a chauvinist.

“Why don’t you go back to Bangladesh?” my cousin asked me. “The problem is, there are only a limited number of Bengali girls in Canada. Come to Bangladesh.”

For a while, I gave that idea serious consideration. In all truth though, as a guy from Canada I really wanted a girl from Canada. We guys really WANT to give you Canadian girls a chance. However, we have the option to go back ‘home’. For many social, cultural or  chauvinistic reasons, girls don’t have that option.

And the world has changed, not everyone wants to immigrate to cold, foreign Canada when there are so many opportunities now in Asia. And we guys don’t want a doormat, we just want someone who respects us, will love us, and let’s face it – is hot and good looking and young and knows how to wear a sari (I added that last part). If I wasn’t meeting that someone in Canada, I have that option to search for her in Bangladesh.

Yet, for some reason, I was hesitant about it. What if she simply married me for immigration? There were enough horror stories in the community to go around. What if she could never adjust to Canada? What if she was a FOB?

A year later, I was almost ready to stop believing. I was ready to stop believing that I had done the right thing in not entering into a relationship. That leaving this decision to my parents was the right thing to do. That sticking to your religious morals was the wise choice, no matter how tough it got. That there was someone, somewhere, who was perfect for me, and that I would find her. Love at first sight, I was now ready to believe, was a myth.

“You can’t find someone here in Canada, and you don’t want someone from there in Bangladesh.” my uncle told me. “I think I may have someone just right for you.”

And that is how I met The One.

She was brought up in the Middle East, so she shared my upbringing. She had been to Canada and was now living in Dubai, so it wouldn’t be a huge culture shock. She shared my religious morals, but she was modern and educated. She did not like seafood, but she didn’t mind cooking it. She was into Bollywood. She loved music, and yet was mindful of her prayers. She was young, just graduated, and yes, she looked lovely in a sari. I met her only once before I said yes. We got married ten days after we first met.

Sometimes, you just know. And you have to throw logic out of the window. Was I scared, the night before our nikah, wondering what I was doing? Yes, for sure.

But now, after six beautiful years, and a son about to turn two, she still manages to light up the room when she walks in.

Eds. Note: Check out the broad spectrum of perspectives from Muslim women and men on related topics, below.

Direct responses to Mezba’s post

Aisha Saeed: My problem with traditional desi marriage 

Farah Khan: Reflections of a “good” girl

Anjabeen Ashraf on choosing to live a more authentic life in spite of pressure to marry early

Ali MohammadHow I met my Granddaughter’s Father (Originally posted at AltMuslimah)

Aisha Saeed: Why we have to talk about what hurts

M. Zakir Khan on male privilege in Towards a more perfect Ummah

Mezba Mahtab replies with When searching for right becomes wrong

Sarah Farrukh has Five ways we can reform the “traditional desi marriage” process (AltMuslimah)

Perspectives on related topics

An anonymous writer on her experience with arranged marriage and a male reader responds

Wajahat Ali on marrying a woman who had been married “823 times before” – in front of a giant cat avatar

Siraaj on She’s not damaged goods – we have damaged standards

Yusef Ramelize in Who I need to be – for you  

More male perspectives, here on the blog and in the upcoming anthology Salaam, Love featuring American Muslim men’s stories on their search for love.

Mezbauddin Mahtab is an IT professional, photographer, blogger, devoted husband and father currently based in Toronto, Canada. He is the author of a book “Teaching Kids the Holy Quran  – Surah 18: The Cave“, which uses LEGO blocks to recreate the stories of Surah Kahf. Mezba maintains a personal blog on A Bengali in TO, and is currently working on a second book on Surah Qasas (The Story).

 


157 Comments on “How I Met My Son’s Mother”

  1. Safiyyah says:

    Salaams Dear Mezba! I’ve known you for a while now from the blog world and FB, and it’s awesome to see your piece from Salam Love! I feel I “know” you a bit better now:) Welcome!

  2. Hah! Finally get to hear the *real* story!
    MashaAllah and, six years later, mabrook🙂

  3. farah287 says:

    “An arranged marriage is where a guy gets a girl he would never have a shot with in real life.”

    This mentality is AWFUL.

  4. Anjum says:

    I applaud your honesty and I’m glad you found the one.

    Its always interesting to me that arranged marriages are often touted to be the most Islamic way of doing things and yet so much of that system is completely un-Islamic, focusing on things that Islam tells us don’t matter. Now that’s not arranged marriages fault, that is culture and people.

    In this specific system, as you write quite candidly, arranged = young and ‘out of my league’. That is the reality and yet it’s not ok. That intelligent, kind, and wonderful women are being written off because of a number is not ok. That we all, as part of the system, contribute to that either with gleeful participation or silent resignation is not ok. Perhaps instead of seeing arranged marriages as a vehicle for ‘getting away with something (i.e. more than what I could get otherwise)’ they should be seen as an opportunity to look deeper into a person’s character and not the numbers and letters on a biodata (again, as Islam tells us).

    I wish you continued success and a happy healthy marriage.

    • mezba says:

      Anjum, I don’t think arranged marriages are the only “Islamic” way. All marriages are arranged, and falling in love is not haram, it’s what you do after. If you like someone, meet and get to know that someone with the purpose of marriage, and then send a marriage proposal, that to me is Islamic as well.

      From my understanding, Muslims are supposed to marry young. I am only writing of the reality that if a woman wants a husband who is 25, she should start looking when she is 21. If she is 25, she cannot expect a 25 year old husband (it may happen, but it’s rare). If a woman waits until she is 25, realistically she is looking at a 28 year old husband.

      Thank you for your prayer, and I wish you well as well.

      • Anjum says:

        Mezba, that’s my point. Instead of saying ‘this is how it is so play the game’ we need to recognize that the game is broken and unilaterally beneficial. In fact, it shouldn’t even be a game! Just because something is the current reality doesn’t mean it is right. No one should have to choose between working hard and fulfilling their dreams (whatever they may be) or getting married {suitably}. The fact that Muslim women even have to face that choice is ridiculous.

  5. DocJ says:

    Just got your book and about to start it with our kids🙂 Love the story—really hits home, as we’re looking for my brother as well….in Canada.

  6. YankeeMuslim says:

    As a Muslim male, I have to say that I find this article extraordinarily offensive.

    First of all, the author very arrogantly sets himself up as the decent, chaste guy awash in a sea of loose, bad-breath inflicted women.

    Second, his tribalism: he never questions the imperative to marry someone from his very specific ethnic group, and hence never considers other wonderful women who may happen to be not Bengali.

    Third: Describing women who have the “audacity” to want to spend a few years out of college doing something other than immediately raise a family as letting their expiration date pass (while, of course, this is the prerogative of the males!!). Because Lord forbid that a woman should want to pursue any kind of degree or career past undergrad.

    I am really at a loss to understand what the Love InshAllah editors want us to learn from this???

    • Salaam all and thank you for all your comments and for refraining from personal attacks on the writer. We asked Mezba to share this post because these are important issues that affect wide swaths of Muslim communities. These perspectives are being imparted from parents to children generation after generation. Without the honesty of people like Mezba about privilege, entitlement and double standards, we can’t begin to have a dialogue about the issues at hand. At “Love InshAllah” we remain committed to publishing a diverse set of perspectives to undermine the imposition of a single story, and to foster critical discussion, debate and awareness within communities.

    • mezba says:

      Salaams.

      First of all, the author very arrogantly sets himself up as the decent, chaste guy awash in a sea of loose, bad-breath inflicted women.

      Not sure where you get that impression. I had three specific problems with the girls I was meeting with, which I outlined.

      Second, his tribalism: he never questions the imperative to marry someone from his very specific ethnic group, and hence never considers other wonderful women who may happen to be not Bengali.

      My wife is not Bengali.

      However, if someone wants to marry only from his or her ethnicity, I don’t consider it a wrong thing. It’s a personal preference.

      Because Lord forbid that a woman should want to pursue any kind of degree or career past undergrad.

      Never said a woman should not. Again, my wife now has a Masters.

      The key thing is to be sure about what you want to do, and the practical realities and consequences. If a woman chooses not to marry at 21, pursue a masters, and delay marriage, then she should know what she is getting into.

      Then the men that will be available for her will likely be older.

      • Muslimsinarts says:

        1. I don’t wish to criticise Mezba for his honesty but I do question the editorial decision to publish this article on this particular blog. I also wonder about what appears to be a non-existent relationship between writer and editor. That Mezba only explains that his wife is not Bengali and has a Master’s degree in the comments and not in his article, indicates that the editors were not assessing much about the point of his article in its current state. Similarly, lines made in jest don’t come across that way and that’s down to poor editing.

        2. The decision appears almost tabloid-like: provocative without being thought-provoking. Leaving it up to your readers to write comments that are more introspective than your writers doesn’t fill me with faith in your publication. As a regular reader, someone who shares your articles and celebrates your site, it feels like your baiting me. Writing this comment makes me feel like I’m performing as expected.

        Furthermore, the decision to publish this article doesn’t show much respect for the other writers who have promoted and shared Love InshAllah as something refreshing, unique and intelligent.

        I don’t like every article on Love InshAllah, nor should I, but I value every editorial decision made. Except this one.

    • SSS says:

      I couldn’t agree more with you YankeeMuslim! The entire article was offensive to say the least.

  7. m says:

    As someone who is currently in the middle of the Search for The One, I’m not entirely sure how I feel about this article. On one hand, I do appreciate the author’s honesty in describing what he went through. On the other, the way he has presented his views on women he knows makes me highly uncomfortable – and yes, he has a right to those views, but at the same time I don’t appreciate the idea of if someone has been in a relationship then she’s automatically off the list, or if she’s the same age/older than him, then that’s it.

    I have a very similar list of things I’m hoping for, but I don’t want to be this person who either hides a past or pretends to be someone they are not for the sake of getting that right person. We grow up in cultures that shame women, in particular, if they try to find someone on their own – and yet, if they do find someone, and the parents reject that person or it doesn’t work out, the woman is cast on the scrap heap as if now she’s worthless (and this is true even when the relationship has not included sexual activity – just the idea of the girl having the audacity to look at a boy is enough for the local tongue-waggers).

    I want a man who I can be myself with. And I want a man who can be himself around me. I want a partner for life, someone who will encourage me to pursue my goals, and who will also be someone I can support equally. If he comes with baggage from a previous relationship, I am not going to discount him as being a good person.

    I don’t kid myself that it’s going to be easy – the guys I see at the mosque usually are young men who look for wives back ‘home’ wherever that might be, or older men who have actually approached with the intention of me being a third wife because they think it’s too bad I’m in my late twenties and unmarried, and I do NOT want any of that.

    Oh, and btw – I have gone through the whole arranged marriage drama, only to find myself being on the rejection end, each and every time, for being too independent (I live on my own in a foreign country), for wearing a hijab (go figure – I’ve had several men simply say they didn’t want a woman who covered), for being too modern or too traditional, for being too work-oriented or for wanting a family, for being too young (before) and too old (now – and both comments from the same guy’s family) … and you know what? I refuse to allow myself to always be labelled as this person who simply isn’t good ‘enough’ for global rishta market because I find it utterly degrading. So yes, this article did upset me because it reminded me a lot of what kinds of judgements happen. But, kheir, we all are entitled to our choice.

    In a way, reading this article reminded me of what’s happening at the other end, after I send off my biodata and the kinds of things people look for, and I’m kind of glad right now that it hasn’t worked out for me.

    • Amen, sister. I appreciate the author’s honesty about his chauvinism and privilege. But no one deserves to be degraded in this kind of meat-market process.

      My husband is Muslim (from Turkey), and he treats me as an absolute equal. (My background is Christian, from Oklahoma.) He doesn’t freak out that I’m three years older than he is. He likes me as a human being, not a set of numbers to check off to satisfy his ego or his culture. We’ve both had relationships before we met each other, and they made us more complete and interesting individuals, with a better idea of what we want and don’t want in life and in a partner. I spent my 20s traveling the world and working on projects I was passionate about, and I don’t regret a minute of it.

      I kept waiting in this piece for the “aha” moment when the author realized he should think of his wife as a human being and treat her as an equal, rather than someone who simply fulfilled his wishes and requirements. I guess it never came. Hopefully it will some day.

      May Allah be with them both and may they both find happiness, even in a world of double standards, hypocrisy, and openly flouted privilege. I’m glad this piece was published here — it’s a peek inside a mindset that still very much exists in this world.

      • Mezba says:

        Thank you for your prayers and good wishes, although I want to understand how I am failing to treat my wife as an equal through this post. When I was searching for that special someone, I had some criteria and qualifications I wanted. Everyone is entitled to their views and what they want in a spouse. And I don’t think I ever said I don’t want a woman to follow her dreams or studies etc.

    • Mezba says:

      I don’t appreciate the idea of if someone has been in a relationship then she’s automatically off the list, or if she’s the same age/older than him, then that’s it.

      That’s of course your preference and you have the right to your preference. And when I say previous relationship, I don’t mean someone who got to know the person for marriage and it didn’t work out, or a divorcee. I mean someone who has been in a long time relationship (a boy friend / girl friend) for a long time. It may or may not have included physical activity.

      Everyone should be entitled to their choice in marriage, and it does not have to be logical.

  8. I’m shocked at all the vitriol being thrown at Mezba – primarily because he was honest about what he wanted from a future spouse. And also, it seems, because he chose to remain chaste and wanted his future spouse to remain chaste.

    We don’t tell women off for wanting to wait for the right guy, who fulfills XYZ categories (as long as they’re “reasonable”)… so why are we being so harsh towards a man who is honest about, and recognizes, his privilege; who is merely sharing his experience without writing off *all* women (because I have a problem with the many guys who DO do that, because they’re just total jerks anyway); and who made a point of searching within Canada instead of going for the “back home” option right away (which is a major issue).

    I find it ironic that, as someone who is usually the last person to defend Muslim men’s marriage choices (because of how disastrous so many of them are), I actually find myself feeling defensive for Mezba.

    So he wanted someone “young, educated, Western, religious, who wants to be a wife/ mother” – well, in many ways, isn’t he just looking for someone who’s compatible to him? And even looking within the Bengali community as opposed to other groups, can be taken as simply looking for a higher chance of cultural compatibility (which is very important, as I was in an intercultural marriage that ended badly due to the lack of compatibility).

    We (by which I mean, most of the people in this group/ commenting here) encourage and celebrate Muslim women’s right to choose men whom *they* want, who match their qualifications of attraction and compatibility. Are we so blinded by our anger towards the general double-standards in the Muslim community, that we can’t stomach the idea of an average Muslim man doing the same as what we want for ourselves – seeking someone he’s attracted to and compatible with?

    Wrt the chastity issue, I believe it holds true for both genders. MANY Muslim women keep themselves chaste, and deliberately seek out Muslim men who are chaste (to the exclusion of men who have engaged in pre-marital relationships). And vice versa. Is it a bad thing? It’s not, if *all* men/ women who’ve engaged in previous relationships aren’t being tarred with the same brush (i.e. those who have regretted those actions and chosen not to engage in them again, vs. those who have no problem with pre-marital relationships).
    (What IS a problem is when Muslim men deliberately exclude *any* women from their ‘marriage choices’ based on shallow and selfish reasons, or who make broad, sweeping statements about women who don’t fall into their level of desirability, and so on.)

    So, while I actually encourage both men and women to look outside the box and consider all categories of the other gender so long as the important stuff is kept (religion, good character, compatible personality), I won’t say that it’s *wrong* for a Muslim woman – or a Muslim man – to hold out for someone who *has* made the effort to remain chaste in what is very obviously a hypersexualized society.

    • Mezba says:

      Thank you for your defense. This is exactly what I was looking for – someone compatible with my religious, moral and cultural values and up bringing.

  9. Afshan says:

    This is terrible. The author shamelessly admits that he would not want to marry someone HIS OWN AGE and is adamant about getting a younger girl.. That is chauvinistic and the reason why so many 25+year old amazing Muslim women aren’t married because our communities allow men to normalize these cheap ideals. Super hard to get through this article without thinking.. “Okay, when is he gonna grow up, when does he finally have an epiphany that he is being chauvinistic and that these are the kinds of ideals we should be working against in our communities?” It’s cringe worthy when that realization never comes, and I wonder why I spent time reading this.

    • Mezba says:

      So wanting a younger wife , someone younger than you is chauvinistic?

      • amal says:

        I have a question – WHY did you want to marry someone younger than you? Does being younger than you make her wiser, kinder, more patient, more understanding, more able to manage conflict? Because these are things that matter in a relationship.

        Or is it just that she is prettier? Or more “innocent” and therefore easier for you to “guide” to do what you want to do? That way, you don’t have to debate or discuss things with an equal – you get to be the leader because she will automatically defer to you.

  10. While personal reflections are the reason that the blog and books exist, I’m wondering why this is here now. There are more insightful accounts of men operating in patriarchy, accounts that involve soul searching and reflection. Offensiveness aside, what we have here is “privileged man enjoys privilege.” There’s no unusual twist, no sudden insight.

    • Mezba says:

      Please write about where the privilege is. Is it wrong to search for someone who is younger than you, who is of good character, and who is compatible with your culture? Perhaps you wish to read about how two people met in a bar and had a one night stand.

      • LilBabyTiger says:

        “Privilege” has NOTHING to do with going to a bar and having one night stands. It has to do with the fact that you are fortunate to be male, which affords you choices that women do not have. It has to do with your education, which makes you a “better choice” in the Muslim Desi matchmaking community. You have every right to your choices, particularly of your partner, but please leave our Beloved Prophet out of your justification. He did not choose his wives on superficial reasons, ie. looks and age. He treated everyone, especially women, with respect and compassion. He was careful with his words; all his Hadith indicates he stayed away from sweeping generalizations (ie. there are NO good girls in Canada). And he was deeply reflective and humble; he made a point to state that he was wrong and learn from his mistakes. Playing the “innocent misunderstood blogger” is not a defense.

  11. Nazia says:

    I read the whole piece thinking it was a joke. It is.

  12. mya says:

    I am a little baffled by all the negativity that is being directed towards Mezba here. Have we really become so self-righteous and judgmental? Mezba outlines three qualities he was looking for in his future wife: 1. young, 2. chaste, 3. realistic.

    I really don’t see why he should be criticized for any of these choices. The author was very aware of the qualities he was looking for in a spouse in order to make *his* marriage a success. There is nothing inherently wrong or problematic in his criteria. Yes, if he had been in previous relationships, we could call him a hypocrite. Yes, if he was looking for a young teenager, we could call him a pervert. Yes, if he had been demanding that his future wife be someone who cooked, cleaned, worked outside the home, raised perfect children, looked like a model etc. etc., we could call him chauvinistic and unfair.

    However, this was not the case. Here was a man who realized that it is unfair and unrealistic to expect a woman to fit so many roles(– and it is!) and he knew what type of future he wanted to create with his wife. Is there something wrong with a woman choosing to be “just” a mother? Certainly not! So, why is it wrong for men to willingly support and elevate the women who choose this role and make it possible for her?

    If we are seeking to correct gendered stereotypes and problems within our community we have to let go of the double standards. Marriages in our communities often fall apart because of incompatibility, largely due to people not being aware of what they want from a marriage/unrealistic expectations for their marriage.

    Would we say that Mezba’s wife was stuck in the stone ages/oppressed because she chose a man who was: 1. older, 2. chaste, 3. realistic and honest about his expectations (which must have been compatible with her ideals)?

    What we should really be focusing on in this story is that two people, with the same life goals, dreams, and aspirations managed to find each other and get married, build a life together and stay in love. Isn’t that what we all want?

    • Mezba says:

      Salaams, and thank you for beautifully outlining the main things I was looking for and conveyed in this article.

      There is a double standards amongst some women. They look down on any woman who chooses to be a mother and leave her career and see that person as a failure. While I disagree with the choice of women who leave kids and family very late and focus on their career first, I don’t try to force my choice on them. I also left it an option for my wife when we had our son, that she could go back to work if she wanted, or be home if she wanted. It was her choice and I respect whatever she chooses to do.

      And I tell everyone to benefit from my experience – I tell guys, and girls – get married early, and after a suitable time – have kids. The joys of both far outweigh any concerns you may have.

      • mya/baffled reader says:

        This is my experience as well. I married young and got to spend an incredible amount of time enjoying life with my husband– travelling, studying, working and getting to know one another better before we had children. When you marry young– you BOTH have time for this. Both individuals are more relaxed and can come together to really form a union and a great bond. Now we have children and are at the next stage of our lives but we have an amazing platform on which we can build our future together. And this was possible *only* because we married young. And, incredibly, despite the history we’ve shared– we are STILL young (and plan on remaining so, for quite some time!)

        My sister, on the other hand, who eloped just recently (she didn’t want to have the community at her wedding– my choice as well– so maybe, I too, “eloped”!) is now rushing to have children before her “biological clock” starts ticking. She did have her time with her husband before marriage… but marriage is a different ballgame as we all know (those who have been in relationships previously)… something just changes– and it is nice to get to know one another within that framework before the marital pressures really start to pile up. If you are working within the arranged marriage setting– the longer you wait… the harder it does get to have it all. A sad situation, but a reality nonetheless.

        If you are in your late twenties/early thirties this is the time when most people are interested in having children, getting their careers established (weighing whose career is to take priority in terms of choosing where to settle down for the PhD folks), buying their first home etc. These are stressful situations and if this is the time you are also laying the foundation of your marital life– it is going to be even tougher to make it work. This is a [generally speaking] truth for two individuals who are choosing to get married at this stage in their life. This does not apply to people who are older (where both partners are in their late 30s and above) or where one of the individuals is younger (mid 20s and under).

      • amal says:

        You and mya are both advocating for early marriage. That’s fine, nothing wrong with that.

        But, how about just saying that each person will get married when Allah intends that person to get married, and not before? For some people, they may be lucky to find the right person early in life. For some, it may come later in life or maybe not at all. Either way, it is Allah’s decision – so why judge others?

        “She left it too late, now she can’t find a suitable partner” – this is an unfair, and yes, chauvinistic way of thinking. Perhaps “she” was just waiting to meet someone who she could honestly see herself living happily with for the rest of her life. And if that means waiting till she is in her thirties, then so be it.

        Arranged marriages are fine, and so are love marriages. The problem in our community, is that we all think that our own decisions and choices are the “right” thing to do, and everyone else is wrong or misguided if their choices differ from ours.

        • mya/baffled reader says:

          Of course you are correct in your statement “each person will get married when Allah intends that person to get married, and not before,” Amal. As Muslims, we believe in qadha wa’l qadr, so this is not something up for debate. And I hope that I did not come off as judging others (I realize that having an opinion about something does have a slight judgement attached to it, but as much as it is humanely possible to avoid judgement, I meant to do so).

          I still do advocate for early marriages, but if Allah Himself wills otherwise, then who are we to judge? But, there is a difference in Allah writing marriage for a person at a specific time and someone accepting this as their fate, and a person who puts it off for their own reasons (whatever they may be). I am not saying that these reasons are necessarily bad (this reminds me of a hadith about a sahabiyat who asked the Prophet if she could refuse marriage because she didn’t think she would be “good” at it.. sorry no source at the moment… perhaps someone else knows what I’m talking about??). But, yes, there are valid reasons for delaying marriage. But, generally speaking, it really is better to marry young (I think).

      • amal says:

        mya, I agree that there are advantages to marrying young, which may be lost if one delays. However, your own experience is not necessarily a template for others.

        Some people are simply not mature enough to make a marriage work until they reach a certain age. Some people have other priorities that they would like to pursue – although usually in this case, if someone is doing something they are passionate about (higher studies, travelling, or whatever else), and if the right person happens to come along at the same time, they would be open to getting married while continuing on that path – yet if you are a woman, it can be hard to find a partner in this situation because Muslim men, unfortunately, often want their wives to give up all pursuits outside the home once they are married.

        Most people’s hormones start getting activated in their teen years and early twenties, so that from that point on, looking for a suitable marriage partner is a high priority in most people’s minds. So, if in spite of “biological urges” (for want of a better word), they are choosing to delay, they must have a powerful reason for doing so, no?

        The point is, why not just live and let live? Why must women (or men) who choose to delay marriage – or who are forced to delay because they simply can’t find someone who they feel comfortable enough to say ‘yes’ to – be judged for this decision?

        Perhaps you did not mean to come across as judgemental, but mezba’s original post certainly did come across that way.

  13. Humera says:

    Shame on you.
    Your wife is more than your son’s mother. Your wife is more than her bio data. Your wife is more than her “goodness”, her chastity. Your wife is a human being, flaws, ambitions, character – all of which you have so disgustingly, so boastfully bent to your convenience. Yes though are a chauvinist. You have reduced her to a sum of parts. That she accepted someone like you I am sure speaks to a resignation to culture so many of us face and fear because you’re a real ass. What does she read? Where does she wish to travel? What makes her sad? Were none of those things beautiful or worthy of your (your mother’s) consideration?
    Shame Shame Shame. On you and those who think like you.

  14. After reading the post and all the comments on the post, I think the only thing I have a real major issue with is the age factor.

    Wanting someone younger than himself does not guarantee a successful marriage..that’s just a shallow desire that is constantly encouraged in Desi men. If a 25 year old man marries a 25 year old girl, their marriage isn’t set up to be a failure, if a 25 year old man marries a 21 year old woman, their marriage isn’t set up to be a success, if a 25 year old man marries a 28 year old woman, their marriage is not set up to be a failure either.

    A woman at 25 is not //old// and should not have to expect that she will end up with a guy who’s at least 28. Is that a reality? Sure. Is that right in any way? No. Mezba is a man with Desi male privilege..atop male privilege in a western society.

    We need to educate our men that it’s not okay to say you only want someone younger than yourself. Age shouldn’t be #1.

    Oh, and it’s not that there aren’t good girls in Canada (whatever your definition of ‘good’ may be), it’s that you couldn’t find one within your sphere that met your expectations. BIG difference.

    There’s nothing wrong with wanting someone of a specific culture, like some other commenters have mentioned, it’s a compatibility thing. Does that mean they wouldn’t be compatible with someone from a different culture? No. It’s okay to have a cultural preference..just as long as it’s not the end all be all..if you find someone awesome from a different culture, you should be open to that..as Mezba WAS.

    I think it’s perfectly fair to say that you want a wife/husband who has a certain outlook on life, in this case, he wanted a wife who would stay home and raise the kids. Plenty of women want that too. Plenty of women don’t.

    And it’s definitely COMPLETELY okay that he wants to marry someone who has been as chaste as he has been. There’s NOTHING wrong with that. There was no double standard happening here. If there was..it’d be an issue. But there isn’t. Now if he cast aside a woman who had a broken engagement..that’s different, because there’s nothing wrong with a woman with a broken engagement, or something like that. Wanting someone who hasn’t been in a relationship outside of marriage that has been seriously romantic or sexual in nature is okay if you yourself are in that same situation.

    • Anjum says:

      Agreed! The age obsession is ridiculous.

    • Mezba says:

      Salaams, and thank you for the civil comment. About the age issue —

      It is a personal preference. Men generally prefer someone younger than themselves. Even in the famous hadith of Jabir, the Prophet pbuh asked him why he did not marry someone young (note that he did not say it was wrong to marry someone older, or that even it was desirable – just that why he didn’t). I am completely fine with someone who says age isn’t a factor for them.

      Even if someone says they don’t like someone because of how they look, I won’t say they are doing something wrong because it’s a question of spending one’s own life with another person. However, looks should NOT be the first thing that is evaluated. It should be character and piety.Then the other factors such as looks, lineage, social standing, compatibility, etc. comes into play.

      • Lotc says:

        “It is a personal preference. Men generally prefer someone younger than themselves.”

        You’re contradicting yourself. Yes, it’s your personal preference. So don’t speak for “other men generally”. Even if it’s the majority, just quit speaking for other men because more people will start believing it then, and you perpetuate the stereotype that South Asian guys are backwards. Your opinion is yours, and just leave it at that. No one person’s outlook represents that of everyone’s, this is why thankfully your article is just from your perspective.

      • healthycola says:

        This is rich.

        If it’s personal preference, perhaps you should not generalize it toward all men. The famous hadith? Not sure if you’re aware, but the prophet married Khadija, and you’re welcomed to google their age difference. Moreover, do you really think the prophet asked Khadija to put her career on hold to raise her family?

  15. Tunu says:

    This piece is so incredibly disturbing.

    However, the guy’s right to some extent: going back home for a doormat is the only way some guys will ever get married. Women in Bangladesh (and their mothers!) have such low self esteem that they would consider someone with the same characteristics as the writer to be quite a catch. This is unfortunate because women “back home” should have higher standards.

    • Hanzalah says:

      So your second para is not disturbing? “Women in Bangladesh (and their mothers!) have such low self esteem…” Wow. Talk about misguided generalisations!

  16. LilBabyTiger says:

    Well. Canada is a large country, and this lovely man seems super-sheltered. Maybe he was only searching in the Northern Territories, like Nanuvut. Or mistakenly talking to polar bears and penguins thinking that they were promiscuous, Google+- loving Muslim Bengali women. Who knows?

  17. Lubna says:

    Wow, maybe if you want someone “hot and goodlooking” you should assess whether you qualify as “hot and goodlooking” yourself? Why should women lower their standards (of wanting to marry someone their own age! of not giving up their career! of having someone who doesn’t think of them like a piece of meat!) just so you can find someone who is out of your league? Extraordinarily offensive piece, and I think the author doesn’t even realize it.

    • Mezba says:

      While hot and good looking should not be the first on someone’s list, it’s not wrong for looks to become a factor at some point. Character and piety of anyone should come first, however both guys and girls have the right to factor in looks in their marriage decisions. Or are you saying both guys and girls should NEVER care about looks?

  18. Masumak says:

    Salam,
    This was a very interesting read – it’s true that you don’t often hear from the guys perspective so it was good to hear. I found it quite disappointing though for a few reasons.

    Firstly, I have so many wonderful friends that are looking and that have been on the receiving ends of these rejections, beautiful intelligent, kind hearted women that are rejected because they are ‘too old’ or just not ‘good looking enough’. I am surprised to hear that so many of the women he encountered were not ‘chaste’, because I know so many that I know. Your statement ‘there were no good girls in Canada’ is so hurtful for that reason

    Secondly, Mezba makes the claim that he wants ‘a wife whose priority was to find a good husband and raise a proper, Islamic family.”
    A couple points I wanted to address around this from the Islamic aspect
    1. Khadija was 25 years senior to the Prophet – if Islam is his priority as he wants this to be his wife’s priority, perhaps he should consider that the Prophet as a model?
    2. The concept of wet nurses existed in the time of the Prophet, of course this doesn’t exist here and now. But often, women would send their babies away to be wet nursed and they would come back to the mother when they were older. This concept of women having to stay at home to raise children ‘the right way’ is a modern one. Having a nanny take care of your babies here doesn’t mean that you don’t have raising an Islamic family as your priority.

    Finally, may Allah bless your marriage. I really hope that as a result of the response to this post, you and your wife think more critically about the difference between culture and religion. And you learn the rights and responsibilities of marriage from an Islamic perspective

    • Bunu says:

      Khadija asked the Prophet’s hand in marriage years and years before his first encounter with Islam…

    • Mezba says:

      Masumak, salaams and thanks for your dua.

      About the example of Khadijah:

      First of all, to be technical, Khadijah (ra) was only 28 years old when she married Prophet pbuh, who was 25 years old. (Source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ExBQO7sAWY, go to 21:30 minutes when the Sheikh discusses her age).

      Second, Khadijah herself married at a very young age (her first marriage).

      Third, the Prophet pbuh also married women much younger to him (Aisha, Hafsa, Zainab) so as a model, there are multiple scenarios that can be taken as models.

      I don’t want to harp on someone’s personal choice in marriage as it’s their personal preferences, and if you prefer to marry someone older or younger than you, it’s your choice.

      • Masumak says:

        Mezba
        Thanks for your response.
        As to your point about Khadija being young – that’s the first I’ve heard of her being 25. There are other opinions that she was 40. In either case, the point is that she was older than the Prophet. I understand that you had a personal preference for someone that was younger and of course you are entitled to your personal preferences for sure. What I find confusing is that you are an educated, obviously intelligent man. I would think that the qualities you would look for in a mate would more about her character than her external attributes such as age. Especially because if you had expanded your search criteria you may have found what you would have been looking for.

        The other point I have to ask, is you mentioned that you had your 3 criteria. But did your parents have criteria as well? Is it possible that there were perhaps ‘good girls’ but they weren’t from ‘good families’ that your parents filtered out? Just wondering

  19. Hamza says:

    I was really saddened to read such a myopic article on an Islamic site that seems to be endorsing ignorance , superficiality, stereotyping, ego stroking (I thought that’s what blogs and facebook were for?)and double standard (since I recall the author through Muslim fest and from what I recall his breath was not exactly musk).

    I hope ones who have yet to marry take’s the author’s content as an entertainment piece and nothing more to it. Come on Umma we got to be better than this..

  20. nina says:

    Salam all

    Being a girl of south-asian descent myself and having gotten married by going through the ‘traditional’ match-making process myself, I am extremely disappointed to read this post by Mezba. Even if the author meant to relay his experience in a humorous context, it doesn’t work. Can this author really prove that he (or his family) in all honesty tried to meet each and every Bengali girl in Canada before declaring:

    | There were no good girls in Canada

    Seriously? Did he actually prove his own worth for *any* good girl? I’d be very interested in knowing what trick he had up his sleeve for that.

    Then, his take on the age issue:

    | They were too old….Seriously, how many guys in an arranged marriage scenario marry a girl of the same age?

    Just because he happens to be an anomaly himself, why make the naive assumption that all are the same as him? I went to university in North America. I can count off hand about 10 friends who got married to spouses their own age, *through the arranged marriage process*. There were 5 others who got married to people they knew from school…and guess what…no age difference! This is coming from someone who does not have a big social circle.

    | Third, they were trying to have it all. Everyone has bought into the myth of a perfect Bollywood marriage. For many girls, it wasn’t just about finding a guy (one who has a house and does not live with his pesky mother and has a BMW), but there should be lifelong romance, beautiful children, lots of money, and year-long summer (in Canada). All the while, the wife will be fully involved in the childrens’ lives, without compromising their work or that promotion, or time with their spouses, or for themselves. That’s not how real life works.

    I seriously hope that this guy was joking when he wrote this comment about ‘everyone’ having bought into the myth of a perfect Bollywood marriage. I wonder how many girls he met who had already gone through the process of meeting other families with picky guys or choosy mothers for whom the girl was not fair or not pretty enough? Did he ask any of the girls if they were ‘rejected’ just because they wanted to give a priority to their family lives over their careers? What about girls whose extended families did not meet the financial and educational criteria set by the guy and his family? Girls who were judged on the basis factors that were never in their own control? Does the author of this article himself have any idea about how real life works, before he criticises others of the same?

    I have read his personal blog, and used to hold a high opinion of him based on his religious opinions and his efforts to make religious learning fun and interactive for kids. I definitely can’t say that I still do the same anymore…

    • Mezba says:

      There were no good girls in Canada

      No I didn’t meet EVERY girl in Canada. This was how I felt. This article was supposed to be personal piece after all.

      how many guys in an arranged marriage scenario marry a girl of the same age

      Just because it happened with a few friends of yours doesn’t mean it’s a general reality. In reality, men (and their families) always prefer a woman younger. This is not just within the Muslim community, but for every one. This is why marriages where the woman is older makes news.

      I am not saying it’s preferable to marry someone young, I am saying it’s what I wanted, and it’s what in general people want.

      I didn’t understand your paragraph on the whole Bollywood thing and asking women.

  21. randinatorx says:

    Full disclosure, I have a few biases: 1) I’m close with both the blog editors, but they both know I don’t pull any punches when it comes to critique. 2) I’m a man, and that shapes my lens of the world. 3) I openly oppose the idea of “going back home” to find a spouse, the “biodata” practices within various communities, and the sad chauvinism that still plagues society everywhere.

    Had Mezba gone out of his way to illustrate the quality and depth of his relationship with his wife, I suspect we’d have far less bellyaching from the peanut gallery. My lone issue with the post is that we never learn anything about “The One” other than…wait for it…a few scraps of biodata at the end. That’s what makes this piece feel shallow.

    It is entirely OK for him to state what he wanted in a spouse. I see no fault in that. If you’re up front and honest about it and are prepared to wear that on your sleeve, then go right ahead. Let’s not lose sight that by taking that stance, it is he that very well may have lost out on some golden opportunities. It is the hypocritical men who preach progressive or liberal sensibilities and then clamp down on their families with backward conservatism (no offense to all you backward conservatives) ex post facto that are a bigger problem because that is fraudulent and completely unfair.

    Are his generalizations about Canadian Bengali’s off-base? Probably. But I’m neither Canadian nor Bengali, so I really don’t know the scene. In any case, if he believes that in all of Canada he couldn’t find someone smart enough or pretty enough who isn’t already openly dating, then he’s likely just impatient. Either that, or he lives in relatively tiny community. In any case, there are better ways to express one’s preference for a chaste woman than to tar the entire social media-using population of the 53rd state.

    I don’t like the fact that he decided to go bride-shopping overseas. However, some people do believe that marriage is defined by how you grow together after getting married, not by how much you have in common before you get married. To each their own. It is decidedly imbalanced, however, as women almost never look “back home” for spouses for reasons too many to enumerate here. I can appreciate why women take offense to this practice; because it really does seem to place all the value on the book’s cover and not within its pages.

    All of that said, the stinger of this piece is that Mezba describes his wife in the most opaque, distant language which makes her feel little more than a sheet of cheap characteristics. She still “manages” to look good after 6 years of marriage and having a baby. Can you feel the love? Jane Austen, you’ve met your match!

    After all that build-up, the only thing we got out of it was that she cooks food for him that she doesn’t like herself, is at least somewhat into Bollywood (is this really a positive?), and hasn’t turned into a wretched hag yet. To me, that’s where this post fell apart, and if Mezba had successfully flipped the switch from taking an unpopular stance to how he found the love of his life and how they’ve grown together as a family and how she’s made him a better person, then we’d all be praising him for his honesty instead of making self-righteous criticisms or snarky remarks.

    Alas, without contrast, we would all be blank.

    • LilBabyTiger says:

      Thank you for this response! You did a great job articulating how I felt in reading after reading this article. This site is a haven for amazing, strong mostly Muslim writers, many who are women. And we’ve seen articles about arranged marriage- happy ones, in fact. But so far, everything I’ve read is nuanced and complex; all the writers have an understanding of patriarchy and how being Muslim and a woman intersects with oppression. That analysis, that type of critical thinking, is sorely lacking in this article. I understand why the editors wanted to include this man’s perspective into the discussion, but to me, it’s the equivalent of including a lifelong neo-nazi into the conversation about race. From the defensive comments above, I don’t think this article presented a “learning moment” for the author. And the discussion, while vibrant, ranges from superficial hatred of the author to the same analysis of patriarchy and privelege. There isn’t a shred of humanity in this writing- there is not even an attempt, by the writer, to make himself or his wife seem more like a person and less like a bad caricature of Bollywood. I would at the very least respect the author if it did.

    • Mezba says:

      I have a few biases: 1) I’m close with both the blog editors, but they both know I don’t pull any punches when it comes to critique

      I have no idea who you are, so can’t comment on that.

      My lone issue with the post is that we never learn anything about “The One”

      This was supposed to be a personal piece on the search, with a few thoughts thrown in.

      Are his generalizations about Canadian Bengali’s off-base? Probably. But I’m neither Canadian nor Bengali, so I really don’t know the scene. In any case, if he believes that in all of Canada he couldn’t find someone smart enough or pretty enough who isn’t already openly dating, then he’s likely just impatient. Either that, or he lives in relatively tiny community. In any case, there are better ways to express one’s preference for a chaste woman than to tar the entire social media-using population of the 53rd state.

      You know Canada is its own country with better health care and governance, right? Mayor Ford not counting…

      Yes, I did generalize about not finding a single good girl in Canada, but it’s a personal piece on how I felt during the search. It’s illogical to think I met every single girl in Canada.

      As for writing about my wife, while I am OK with sharing bits and pieces of my personal life on the net, I don’t feel proper in sharing information about others in my life too much.

  22. I think the article, although written in what appears to be a light hearted, clichéd ridden style, perpetuates the whole “arranged marriage process” within the Asian community, places undue pressure on people, especially women of a certain age to conform to “ideal standards” and doesn’t do anything to say how the author attempted to break away from stereotypes or the shackles of certain aspects of Asian culture.

    The author appears to be very well educated, and reading his general life as a student who appeared to be desperately fighting for his independence, aspirations/ ambitions and wanting to broaden his horizons, almost westernised to the point where he could “if you count saying bismillah over a Big Mac before wolfing it down as halal”. He bows down, in respect to his elders? faith/culture or religion? I can’t believe that in the 21st century, educated Asian people are still talking about finding “The One”/ marriage as if it is a commodity.

    How can the Asian community move forward if generation after generation continues to conform to outdated or archaic expectations, belief systems and traditions?

    • Mezba says:

      I think the article, although written in what appears to be a light hearted, clichéd ridden style, perpetuates the whole “arranged marriage process” within the Asian community, places undue pressure on people, especially women of a certain age to conform to “ideal standards” and doesn’t do anything to say how the author attempted to break away from stereotypes or the shackles of certain aspects of Asian culture.

      There’s always a standard for an ideal mate that places pressure on ANY one who is looking to meet their better half. if you think there is no pressure on someone NOT going through the arranged marriage (such as say the Caucasian Christan community) then you are mistaken.

      I can’t believe that in the 21st century, educated Asian people are still talking about finding “The One”/ marriage as if it is a commodity.

      There is a whole TV show called How I Met Your Mother which is about the same . In fact, the title of this piece was a rip off from that.

      How can the Asian community move forward if generation after generation continues to conform to outdated or archaic expectations, belief systems and traditions?

      If those expectations and belief systems are that everyone (man and women) should keep themselves chaste, look to get married as soon as they are able to and start a family when they are able to and decide to, then those are not outdated. I am Asian, brown, Muslim and Canadian, and wouldn’t change it for the world.

      • 1. I was referring to the fact that you appear to be bowing down to pressure or looking to everyone else to find you a suitable partner rather than meet one independently.
        2. The title was self explanatory and obvious.
        3. The belief systems wasn’t about being chaste etc. It was about the whole arranged marriage process and the impression that a man or woman after a certain age e.g. 21, would be left on the proverbial shelf if they weren’t settled and married with children.

  23. Dawud Israel says:

    Greatest. Article. Ever on this site. This is Love, MashaAllah.

    “An arranged marriage is where a guy gets a girl he would never have a shot with in real life.”
    ALLAHU AKBAR!!

  24. Mariam says:

    Ok so I must confess that all these comments have been far more insightful, humorous and islamic that the article clearly failed to address. I also feel the need to provide some news flash to all the readers who I guess gave Mezba the benefit of the doubt by actually believing whatever he tooted his horn about (say last I checked isn’t pride condemned in Islam?). Anyway back to the point, so me being from Toronto and a Bengali, we tend to know of our ‘people’ by name, face, urban legend etc, so yes I think one thing I can attest is there were couple of girls I know off who he actually pursued and got rejected. Not sure of the details but to make it sound like no one lived up to his criteria seems a little far fetched

    • Mezba says:

      Anyway back to the point, so me being from Toronto and a Bengali, we tend to know of our ‘people’ by name, face, urban legend etc, so yes I think one thing I can attest is there were couple of girls I know off who he actually pursued and got rejected.

      I will call you out on your bullshit and say you are lying. First of all, I never pursued anyone. Second, we did our search honorably and with privacy. Third, there has never been a case where I said yes and the girl said no. So yes, you are bull shitting.

      • Abu Yaqoob says:

        The face of the author seemed familiar. Then I realized I know this boy from UAE. Verily this boy was a few years junior to me and well behaved and shy growing up. I had good opinions of him, his sister, and his parents. Reading this piece has confirmed that my good opinions of him and his family were not misplaced. Mehdi brings with him a point of view (which I mostly share) that was bound to face fierce resistence on this rather liberal site which has strong feminist inclinations. Mehdi and I are of the traditional background having learnt Islam from a young age. We were inculcated with values in school of what kind of woman is suitable for marriage. The proof is in the pudding. He has apparently found the perfect match. Therefore his experience and opinions carry significant weight no matter how much the riled up scornful female commenters on this site detest it. Almost every man on Earth prefers to marry a younger woman. This seemed to have raised the hackles of the 25+ crowd on this site. Every good Muslim man strongly prefers to marry chaste women. Again this has raised the hackles of the adventurors on this site. If all qualities are the same in two women and one of them is prettier then a man will always pick the prettier one. The not so pretty women on this site have an issue with that too. It is fashionable for women today to gang up on traditional men who only speak the truth about the nature of men.

      • Lilith says:

        To Abu Yaqoob, are you implying that the women who are voicing their disapproval of Mezba’s opinions are all above 25, unmarried, unchaste, and not good-looking (which is why they are not married)? Mezba’s attitude has bothered me, and I am happily married, Alhamdulillah, and if someone were to classify me, they would classify me as ‘religious’.

        His opinion can be classified as his own, but for it it to be called “Islamic” is a disservice to Islam. Islam first and foremost propagates respect and empathy and humility. Mezba’s article has none of these qualities. The Prophet (pbuh) did not make his first wife’s age an issue. If his (pbuh) example is to be followed it should be followed in the respect and integrity and manners he showed in whatever he did. Let us all look at the reasoning behind his actions, and the manner in which he undertook his actions. Mezba claims to follow Islamic principles, but his attitude does not embody the spirit of them, and therein lies the problem.

      • Sadiqati says:

        (Responding to Abu Yaqoob here, since I can’t below his post:)

        “It is fashionable for women today to gang up on traditional men who only speak the truth about the nature of men.”

        No, we just refuse to believe that this is the ‘nature’ of men: to treat us as nothing more than a pretty face and a young body. People like you just like to say that (“this is the truth!”) so you can stay comfortable in your thoughts instead of having to actively question your nafs.

        And you claim to have a good background in Islam. La hawla wala quwwata illa billah.

        P.S. Many of these “feminist” women advocate for the right of a woman to wear hijab, be a scholar, a good mother, and follow in the footsteps of women like Aisha (ra), Maryam (ra), and Asiya (ra). For you to posit that Islam is anti-feminism is ignorant.

      • Nomadic says:

        Note to Abu Yaqoob: The man you are vouching for is Mehdi. The man who wrote this article is Mezba. This throws the veracity of everything you have said into serious question.

        Signed,
        The 25+ Crew

  25. Wow, this is an extremely sexist post. Defense of the author’s honesty deflects attention away from how damaging the normalization of these sexist and patriarchal attitudes are. Reducing women to objects and shaming them on the basis of age, relationship history, not fitting the author’s ideals and definition of “good” (whatever that means) is beyond appalling.

    And these sentences about wanting a “hot and good looking and young and knows how to wear a sari” and “arranged marriage is where a guy gets a girl he would never have a shot with in real life” are all about male “entitlement” and power. Just because a man is “chaste” and “saves himself for marriage,” it means that he is “entitled” to marrying a woman that fits his standards of beauty and “goodness”? How typical is this notion that women need to change themselves and meet unrealistic standards otherwise they won’t be accepted by men.

    It’s disturbing how common all of this is.:/

    • Mezba says:

      Just because a man is “chaste” and “saves himself for marriage,” it means that he is “entitled” to marrying a woman that fits his standards of beauty and “goodness”?

      Yes. Or are you disagreeing that woman should NOT marry someone who fits HER standard of beauty and goodness?

      • Where did I say anything about women’s preferences in that sentence? I’m talking about male entitlement, power, and privilege, which your post clearly represents an example of. Just because a man is a virgin does not mean he represents “goodness” and gets to have whatever he wants. Being a virgin does not magically erase a man’s sexist and misogynistic attitudes. It does not mean he cannot be a jerk, an abuser, a liar, etc.

        I’m not sure there’s any point in addressing this to you because it goes beyond you. The views you expressed about women in your post are sadly quite common and needs to be addressed on a larger scale. It’s sad that so many people have called you out on it and yet you refuse to hold yourself accountable for your sexist attitudes.

  26. Orbala says:

    I can allow this writer to have his expectations and preferences in the potential wife (before he got married)–I think we all have preferences: age, race/culture/ethnicity/background/religion (for many of us, anyway), personality, level of education, etc. He, too, has that right: if he wants a woman who makes less money than he does, fair enough; a lot of women I know want to marry men who make more than they do. If they can have that right, he should have his.

    But what I cannot appreciate is this author’s advice to women. He has no such right; he’s in no position to give such advice. It’s one thing to share your own experiences; it’s a whole ‘nother to tell females, most of whom lack the bundle of privileges you come with mostly due to the wide pool of available mates for YOU and almost none for the females you’re giving advice to, what to do when and what to expect.

    I also would’ve appreciated if he’d mentioned the race and education reality of his wife in the article instead of in the comments. The article suggests one thing, the comments something else.

    Lastly, like many others, I found this to be an honest piece but very disturbing. Then again, the reality we’re in is just as disturbing. It just hurts to have it told to us like this. And in such an insensitive way in which the author does not recognize that what he’s doing is insensitive, unfair, chauvinistic, and deeply problematic. If only he’d pointed this out and recognized it, I could’ve appreciated his insight more.

    Peace to all.

  27. Anisa says:

    As much as this article infuriates me, I am glad it was written because it is certainly very telling in terms of the mentality that thrives in our communities, and at least partially explains why so many wonderful, gorgeous, highly accomplished women of character remain single (and happily choose to be, because it certainly is a better option than marrying someone of such mentality).

    There is nothing wrong with having preferences with respect to the type of partner you want, but the superficiality of those preferences is what really bothers me about the South Asian way of “arranged marriages.” What appalls me more is that it is justified by calling it “Islamic” and Islam is (mis) used to judge other women. Sure, Islam might encourage early marriages as an OPTION, as a WAY of regulating broader society where pre-marital intimacy can be detrimental for society as a whole. However, if a woman or a man is sure of his or her character and knows that it will not be an issue, there is no need to turn it into a commandment from Allah and give up on all your goals and dreams to marry despite the fact that you are financially unstable and/or you don’t have the maturity to take on the responsibilities of marriage. Marriage in Islam is much more than that and to use it as nothing but a way to tame your raging sexual desires is highly reductionist and inaccurate. If we are to speak about Islam, well here’s a piece of information. Partners in Islam are to be chosen by four characteristics for compatibility a) character b) financial stability c) family status d) physical attraction. Now, if physical attraction for a man is someone five years younger than him who looks “hot/lovely” in a saree, then that’s his prerogative. But to say that a woman who is 25 should not expect a man who is 25 is highly arrogant, because guess what, a woman has the same right to choose her partner according to those four characteristics and yes, there are men in this world who find women their age or even older than them attractive (including our Prophet (SAW). So yes, she can expect a man the same age as her, and she is entitled to have that expectation or preference. And please, if marrying young or marriage in and of itself was considered a validation of one’s faith, then surely the Sufi saint Rabia Al-adawiyya was a complete transgressor by choosing to remain single all her life and devote her life to the devotion of Allah, rather than putting her “womb” to proper use.

    To say that there are no “good” Bengali girls in a country as large as Canada is extremely shallow, given the criteria of “good” that has been laid out by the author in this article. It might actually be fair for Bengali women to say that there are no “good” Bengali men, because contrary to what the author believes, a lot of the highly educated, beautiful and kind-hearted women I know, consider “good” to be NOT a man who is young and looks good in a sherwani (or lungi), but rather someone who has a mentality unlike the author’s, someone who is of good character and will support then and encourage them in their dreams and goals (because, yes, women are humans and they can have dreams other than raising a child). For many of them, looks are not even a criteria, even though given how beautiful they are, it would be completely fair for them to expect a good looking guy. So these women are not single because they are “too old” for the young, hot hunks who look lovely in a sherwani or lungi, but because they CHOOSE to remain single over marrying someone who will only stunt their growth as a person. In my family, even my previous generation does not hold such archaic beliefs. My aunts were married in their thirties, after they finished professional and/or graduate school and were working full time. One of them married her classmate (same age) and the other one went a slightly more traditional route, where her colleague expressed interest in her and sent her the proposal. So they knew one another but were not romantically involved. Yes, he was a man who was attracted to a thirty year old, the same age as him and to someone with a professional career. They have a son who is one of the most well-mannered children I know, and no, she did not take time off from her job as a physician. A child is a joint responsibility of the mother AND father, and it is the father’s duty to help raise him/her.

    It is tragic to see that in 21st century Canada, we are creating a bubble where we hold on to such non-sensical beliefs and allow them to be perpetuated, thereby giving our culture a bad name, when many of us have never heard of such ideas even in our home countries. If the young generation doesn’t change the way they think, then we are surely progressing towards nothing but doom.

    • Mezba says:

      Salaams.

      What is superficial about wanting someone of a certain age, a certain outlook in life, pious and is of the same cultural background?

      Where have I talked about marriage as a way to tame someone’s raging sexual desires?

      Where have I said a woman should NOT have dreams?

      If you think a woman does NOT evaluate a man based on looks as one of the factors, you are either mistaken or ignoring it.

  28. mezba says:

    I wish I was given a little notice that my article was going to be posted, as I am traveling with limited internet connectivity and cannot respond to comments. I will respond in detail once I am back home inshAllah. Any comments that are vitriolic or carry personal insults will not be responded to.

    For those of you who wish to continue the conversation on Twitter, my handle is a_bong .

    • Salaam dear Mezba,

      Our apologies! It was a last-minute scheduling change. Had we realized that you were traveling we would have chosen another column to run that day.

      – The Editors

  29. Sadiqati says:

    “And, we also realize that many readers regard LoveinshAllah.com as a safe space and we understand the frustration that some of you are feeling or triggers you are experiencing.”

    This post is beyond full of triggers. I’m glad the disclaimer is up there… because the more I think about this post, the angrier I feel.

    There are no good girls in Canada? Really? While I also left it up to my parents to find me a guy (and in 7 years of looking, it hasn’t worked) the most I’m going to cast aspersions of Bengali-American guys is that I haven’t found the right one. But since the author decided he should be honest, I’m going to respond here with what it honestly feels like on the opposite end.

    This sounds like one of those ‘but I’m a nice guy” whine posts.

    Because this is how the Western Bengali marriage market works: our culture treats the average Bengali guy as the guy who deserves whatever “girl” he wants. Then when a woman who has ANY standards or preferences (even if it’s far less ambitious than the “young, educated, hot, and looks good in a sari” standard) rejects that guy, he is the victim who can’t get married AND it’s all those selfish girls’ faults.

    Plenty of Bengali-American and Bengali-Canadian women don’t want to marry men who weren’t also born and raised here because these guys often *start* the talking process with these judgmental assumptions that we don’t want families, that we don’t want to discuss balancing family life and a career (or even giving up a career), and importantly, because these guys’ mothers teach their sons that the guys are God’s gift to the marriage scene and deserve any girl.

    It doesn’t matter what he looks like, whether he’s particularly exceptional in his career field, or how interesting he is: he deserves any girl. On the other hand, there are many Bengali women who are badasses in their respective career paths, multi-talented, witty, charming, and attractive. We WORK on ourselves! Why can’t we ask for a little bit of a match in our men? Your average Bengali guy is just that: average. The ones who have a little more oomph often don’t rely on their mothers/communities to look for them (just as they don’t rely on their mothers and aunties talking them up) and then they marry non-Bengali girls who they meet on their own time. (I personally know of 7 such marriages in the last year in one small area of the US).

    The guys who are left? Instead of trying to work on themselves so they have the most to offer to prospective matches, dig deeper in their position that they deserve any girl and it’s all the girls’ faults. They judge women based on biodatas and career choices, and then when a girl does the same thing based on his biodata and rejects him, these guys get huffy and announce that there are no good girls at all.

    A lack of girls who you like who like you back is not the same as saying ‘there are no good girls.’

    Plenty of us just ask for respect for our accomplishments, recognition for our good traits, and some kind of consciousness that a good marriage is one that’s built on compatibility. These guys think because they’re halfway decent looking, have completed a degree or two, and can speak in complete sentences they deserve Miss Universe… (of course, minus the ambition, dedication, and dreaming abilities that would be inherent in someone getting to the title of Miss Universe.)

    Here’s a hint: we can tell when you bring that attitude in to the start of the matchmaking process.

    Between the guys who reject you without meeting you (“She’s a doctor or a lawyer? I don’t need to see a picture or talk to her once. Reject her.”), the ones who come in with the expectation of being handed marriage with an amazing girl because they deserve it, and the ones who are content with being just a “nice guy”, we are FRUSTRATED.

    Bengali women are not taught to settle for B’s or C’s or low test scores or non-prestigious universities or “bad” complexions, personalities, cooking abilities, or figures. But when it comes to the man we have to spend the rest of our life with: settle (“he’s a nice guy!”). When the sons adopt this mentality and then expect that same deference from us: is there any surprise we’d rather prefer to remain single?

    A great personality can fix all. What happens when the personality is lacking too?

    Ultimately, the fact that the author of this piece – despite being married to a woman who apparently fit every single criteria for SIX YEARS and having a child with her – is STILL angry at us and fine with throwing every single Bengali girl in Canada under the bus to salvage his ego does NOTHING to counter my above thoughts and instead just goes to reinforce my reasons to be fed up with this culture and process.

    • Mezba says:

      Salaams.

      Because this is how the Western Bengali marriage market works: our culture treats the average Bengali guy as the guy who deserves whatever “girl” he wants.

      While this seems to be a common complaint of girls, it is simply not true. Girls (and their folks) are pretty demanding as well when it comes to guys. Some (a minority) even say doctors or engineers or lawyers only. It is only when the girls start to grow older *gasp* *shock* that suddenly standards start to drop.

      Plenty of Bengali-American and Bengali-Canadian women don’t want to marry men who weren’t also born and raised here because these guys often *start* the talking process with these judgmental assumptions that we don’t want families, that we don’t want to discuss balancing family life and a career (or even giving up a career), and importantly, because these guys’ mothers teach their sons that the guys are God’s gift to the marriage scene and deserve any girl.

      Somewhat over generalization with some truth in it. I have written before about why for most Canadian desi girls, marrying someone from back home isn’t an option.

      Why can’t we ask for a little bit of a match in our men?

      Sure, your right to. I never said a woman should not have any standards herself for a man.

      Bengali women are not taught to settle for B’s or C’s or low test scores or non-prestigious universities or “bad” complexions, personalities, cooking abilities, or figures. But when it comes to the man we have to spend the rest of our life with: settle (“he’s a nice guy!”).

      Would be interested in hearing about your experiences and sharing your thoughts. If you dig deeper, there’s some semblance in what you are saying and what I am saying, even if you do not say it.

      I said that I set some standards and wasn’t meeting those standards here.

      You are saying as a girl you have some standards and those are being discarded, ignored.

      Note that I have not said it’s wrong for you to have standards, nor did I say my standards are better than another.

      • Sadiqati says:

        “It is only when the girls start to grow older *gasp* *shock* that suddenly standards start to drop.”

        And herein lies the rub: guys’ standards don’t have to change, do they? In fact, a 25 year old guy and a 35 year old guy can both decide they want to marry a 21 year old girl and the community doesn’t really care. And yet your conclusion from this fact – that women’s standards (shockingly) drop – is to conclude that women are the ones being unreasonable, instead of realizing that society thus places restrictions on women that they do not place on men. Why is that? Why are women’s needs and dreams and goals treated as less important than mens’?

        “Would be interested in hearing about your experiences and sharing your thoughts. If you dig deeper, there’s some semblance in what you are saying and what I am saying, even if you do not say it.”

        Again, that is the entire point of why I and other women are frustrated with the mentality you endorse: that we have similar issues when it comes to standards, and yet we as women are punished and degraded and treated like slabs of meat whereas your standards are upheld as valid and reasonable. Apparently, we are the ones who need to change our minds, who need to “see the light”, who need to rethink and be “realistic” when in fact we are behaving just as you are, i.e. normally.

        “I said that I set some standards and wasn’t meeting those standards here. You are saying as a girl you have some standards and those are being discarded, ignored. Note that I have not said it’s wrong for you to have standards, nor did I say my standards are better than another.”

        And yet your standards CONTROL. Your desires are given weight, your mentality governs most marital transactions in the Western Bengali community. By sticking to your guns on how “right”, “fair”, and “normal” your standards are, you are explicitly endorsing a system that simultaneously deems our behavior wrong, unfair, and abnormal.

        The mantra ‘Marry young or else expect to give up expectations of a compatible mate because you’ll be too old and old women are just not my preference’ is not just your individual opinion. You are the norm.

        And instead of saying, you know, maybe we should reconsider this conditioning and begin to think about compatibility differently, your point is let’s just pretend it’s the absolute God given truth and then tell everyone to work within it.

        How revolutionary: the system sucks but it doesn’t affect me negatively, so hey, everyone who’s subject to it, stop your griping and behave.

        For most of us raised to be educated women, it feels like we’ve been encouraged to stretch our wings and fly and then we hit our 20s and we’re suddenly thrown into a cage and locked in.

        Can you even appreciate how mean and hurtful that is for us?

        Instead, you look in and ask us why we can’t see the truth of the bars around us. We can see it. That’s why we think it’s unfair.

  30. […] Note: This is a response to Thursday’s controversial guest post, How I met my son’s mother. Have a perspective to share? Send it to us at stories [AT] loveinshAllah DOT […]

  31. Lilith says:

    When I read this article all I really wanted to do was smack the author and tell him to grow up. The fact that he might have been immature when he *first* started looking could be overlooked, but for him to blatantly stick to his immature attitudes even now, and to proudly showcase how they actually led him to the love of his life is inexcusable, especially in a now supposedly responsible family man who (as I conclude from the comments) is in a position of published adviser in the community.

    To the author: think for a moment, about when your beloved son grows up and reads this post from his respected father. Are these really the values you would want him to espouse? Are these the thoughts you would want him to think? Is this how you would want him to imagine you “evaluating” who would be ‘good enough’ to give birth to him? How about if and when you have a daughter: think about the moment when she grows up to read this post from you.

    What if your daughter wants to see the world after graduating before plunging into a marriage? What if your daughter wants to pursue a career *gasp* before starting a marriage or a family of her own? What if she is rejected based on the same principles you still seem to espouse? What if she *gasp* falls in love before marriage, and then the relationship does not work out for some reason or another, and she goes down the biodata route to find someone? Do you really want her to be at the receiving end of the same treatment and attitude that you not only meted out but still proudly parade?

    We all have our preferences. It is good to be introspective and know what one wants, so as not to waste time (others’ as well as our own). But I think what gets to me is not just the fact that even after 6 years of marriage, you were not able to start respecting women as individuals with ideas and preferences and goals of their own, it is also that it seems you have not given yourself the chance to have ideas and preferences of your own.

    All your schooling, your education, your privileged status in society, your ‘international-ness’, and yet, all you seem to have done with it is to stick to the same mentality that was encouraged in you from a previous more conservative and close-minded generation. You have not allowed yourself to grow intellectually. And that is the real tragedy of this piece.

    To all the ‘no good girls left in Canada’, congratulations on having dodged this particular bullet.

    • muslimah says:

      Just find a white revert. Desi guys will never grow up.
      Many western men consider 25 to be a good age. 25 is when your brain scientifically develops. 21 is so incredibly young. Even if yoy get married that young, you may wish to pursue a career. Not all women want to work after being a mother esp the first few yrs if life- true but if they want to pursue an education and gain life experiences before having kids- why not?

      Girls just leave the desi boys. They think they are all that and too special. Find a white guy you’re better off.

  32. Good Bengali Girl says:

    First I thought this was a sarcastic piece on Bengali marriage system, and then I realized he bought into the same system he was apparently making fun of.

    This guy did not “save himself” from relationships for any noble reason, not because of his Islamic teaching, or social values. He said it himself, he was just too cheap to spend money on girls … we call that “kipta” in Bengali. Mind that, only losers need to waste money on girls, the rest can do it without wasting money anyways. So when no one fell in love with him for his great qualities, he decided to be “chaste” and now he thinks he also deserves a girl who was chaste. Apparently all Bengali girls were broadcasting their sexual lives before marriage on Facebook etc. By the way, actual definition of chaste is being virgin before marriage … but his definition is anyone who dated anyone is no longer chaste. Anyways, his expectation that girls should be his kind of “chaste” in order to be “good” only because he was too cheap to spend money is a very unreasonable one and one that women need not worry about.

    Our dear prophet Muhammad (pubh) married Khadija who was much older than him and married 3 times prior to marrying the prophet, and had several children previously. A true Muslim should be at least open to this kind of a choice, even if he is too egotistic to follow Muhammad’s footsteps.

    • Naz says:

      Thank you! My thoughts exactly!!!

    • Mezba says:

      This guy did not “save himself” from relationships for any noble reason, not because of his Islamic teaching, or social values. He said it himself, he was just too cheap to spend money on girls … we call that “kipta” in Bengali. Mind that, only losers need to waste money on girls, the rest can do it without wasting money anyways. So when no one fell in love with him for his great qualities, he decided to be “chaste” and now he thinks he also deserves a girl who was chaste.

      Don’t try to twist something said in jest out of context. I am glad Allah saved me from many of the pitfalls that come at this age – smoking, drugs, sex, dangerous driving etc. I would not say I ‘chose’ to be chaste, but Allah blessed me to be chaste before marriage. It wasn’t as if there are no opportunities, these are a matter of being at the right place at the right time.

      Also, you bring up the marriage of Khadijah to the Prophet pbuh to drive your point, but ignore his other marriages, his advice on marriages, the hadith of Jabir, and many other facts of Islam (such as being in a physical relationship before marriage).

  33. Naz says:

    I totally disagree with the age thing…….. Have you forgotten our beloved Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) at TWENTY FIVE YEARS OLD married Khadijah (FORTY YEARS OLD)!!???? Mashallah their happy marriage lasted 25 years.

    • Mezba says:

      About the example of Khadijah:

      First of all, to be technical, Khadijah (ra) was only 28 years old when she married Prophet pbuh, who was 25 years old. (Source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ExBQO7sAWY, go to 21:30 minutes when the Sheikh discusses her age).

      Second, Khadijah herself married at a very young age (her first marriage).

      Third, the Prophet pbuh also married women much younger to him (Aisha, Hafsa, Zainab) so as a model, there are multiple scenarios that can be taken as models.

      • Lilith says:

        That Khadija (ra) was 28 is one viewpoint, the prevalent one being she was 40. The point still is that she was older than the Prophet (pbuh), and he did not judge women based on their age when it came to marriageability. His wives were both older and younger. There were no ‘should’s in his example when it came to the age and marriageability of women.

  34. Lubna says:

    Hahaha….I thought that the title, “How I Met My Son’s Mother” was going to be a dramatic but uplifting story of an illicit liaison, a pregnancy, and a good Muslim boy finding out years later that he had a beautiful son. And despite all the taboos surrounding this scenario, they would end up together and happy, and the little boy would have a loving father who understood that humans are flawed and make mistakes, but that Islam teaches that love and forgiveness are paramount. We are always striving. Only God is perfect.

    HOW WRONG I WAS!!!

    Guess it never occurred to be that LoveInshallah would actually think that a degrading post like this is worth of community discussion. My #1 favorite comment here is: the Bengali Canadian girl who points out that she knows several girls he wanted to marry, but rejected him. And so….6 years later, he attends to his bruised ego by claiming that “there are no good girls in Canada.” LOL.

    Also, can we have a minute to recognize that when he is presented with the biodata of a girl he knows from a school group, who he knows to be in a relationship, his response is NOT: “oh, she is in a relationship, and he parents are probably forcing her to marry someone else–disturbing to think I might be the one to break up the love she feels for this other person.” Instead, he appears disturbed because her relationship means she isn’t chaste!

    HOWEVER, my anger at this post is met by equal joy at commentators who totally get why this is so degrading….especially all the self-identified male posters. Thank you, brothers!

    And to Mezba….may God grant you children who have the courage to question and rebel against the male privilege you celebrate.

    God bless.

    • Mezba says:

      Salaams.

      First, the comment from the girl you referenced about me wanting to marry several girls but it didn’t working out is pure crap. I just called the commentator out on it.

      Second, there being no good girls in Canada was a generalization, and how I felt at the time – this is supposed to be a personal article after all.

      Third, if someone is in a relationship they should have the guts to tell their parents and work it out.

  35. Cheesecake says:

    You sincerely need to grow up. All the education and support you’ve been given has been wasted on an incredibly arrogant man who hasn’t used his privilege for good. Instead you further treat women like meat.

    You’re parents have been telling you for far too long that you are more special then you really are. Get some humility and listen to the things people are saying here. Also thank you for confirming every stereotype people outside of our deen or our culture have of us. Men like you are incredibly embarrassing. Especially considering how educated you are, I’m even more ashamed of you.

    And the very complaint you have about how you couldn’t find a “good” girl. Well I have that about the men. I can’t seem to find a man who hasn’t done drugs, hasn’t had sex, hasn’t broadcasted a stupid relationship on their facebook, hasn’t done iditotic things. But I’m 20 pounds heavier than what they want me to be so screw me right? I should have known that it was a meat market and all my accomplishments outside of that are for naught. Is it really too much to ask that Muslim men not be superficial, but be kind, giving, and accepting of their wives?

    Apparently yes.

    Sincerely,
    A Young Woman who has been “good” but has seriously begun questioning why she’s doing this whole arranged marriage thing when guys like you seem to be everywhere.

  36. Tagore says:

    I’m glad I’ve seen this post and the responses as it reflects a diversity of opinion.

    I don’t consider myself a good muslim at all, I’m better during Ramadan but have a low opinion of where I may end up after I leave this world. I feel like the only entity qualified to make a judgement of whether I’m ‘good’ or not is God.

    I had a horrible upbringing and I’m not a fan of marriage at all. My father met my mother once in Bangladesh, thought she was beautiful, they got married and he moved to the UK the next day, my mum joined him later. He separated from my mother then had an affair with a nurse (he was a doctor) when my mother was pregnant with me. To cut a long story short – he eventually married his affair had 2 future children with them, tried to dump me and my mum in Bangladesh but it did not work and from an early age I was shuffled around like a yo-yo from staying with my single mother mum (it was hard for her to find a job with a newborn) and my dad and a new step mother who disliked me – he eventually divorced her when I was 6 or 7 I think. At around age 9 I moved from the UK to the middle east and he blackmailed my mother to join him – they were at each other’s throats ever since, I’ve witnessed regular domestic abuse – physical, mental and psychological whilst growing up. Their marriage was a very unhappy one. I prayed to get out of that environment and my prayers were answered. They eventually moved back to Bangladesh (we’re all British but he just wanted to move back there) and he’s now married to someone else so wife number 3.

    The hypocrisy of both of my parents wondering why at age 35 I’m still not married is quite amusing – my mother’s response to me asking why I should get married is that she gets her happiness from her children. That’s not a good enough reason in my opinion. I live in London, have my own place, fiercely independent and I know of far too many stories of men who have lost their houses in a costly divorce after just a year or two of marriage – why put myself through that?

    I am westernised and I have been in previous relationships and I could have very nearly got married to someone apart from the fact that she was strongly atheist and I loved God so even though we were in love with each other and our personalities were perfect together, that one imperfection would have resulted in too many problems (especially the upbringing of children), she looked into Islam but decided it wasn’t for her. She was ten years older than me, I don’t have a problem with older women.

    My issue is I’ve only really encountered two types amongst my muslim friends: the type who is so westernised that faith is just a cultural practice of their ancestors ie they celebrate Xmas more than Eid, most of them drink regularly and many of them marry whoever they want as the faith part in family life is not that much of a big deal – the conservatively minded on here (which from the looks of it is probably quite a lot of people) would probably not classify them as muslims. That’s not for me to judge – it is their lifestyle choice. It is easier for them as they are not as fussy about the Islamic part of their identity.

    The other type are the one’s who want strict muslims with strict criteria, chaste, marry straight away, definitely do not want a relationship first etc. Again that’s fine too.

    I don’t fit in either category. If I had a list of requirements it would probably be ‘independent woman, owns her own house, has a career, is NOT chaste, has had previous relationships, likes children, easy going, friendly, down to earth, liberal muslim – doesn’t mind dating first’

    I’m attracted to independent strong women and I don’t care what family background she is from, I don’t care if she has a phd or masters or a degree – there just has to be that personal connection / chemistry. I have been to asian muslim speed dating and normal speed dating events, the muslim asian speed dating events are the worst one’s as I only get the superficial material possession questions and I’m much more likely to respond better to ‘what’s your favourite colour / tv programme’? than ‘can you drive / do you have your own car / what’s your degree?’ I work in PR and I see the immediate disappointment at a matching event that I’m not a doctor or lawyer ie the interest immediately wanes. The bio data stuff would not work for me anyway due to my family background not really being good at all and I wouldn’t want to lie.

    So I think I’m destined to singledom but I found this whole thread refreshing to read when someone else posted it on Facebook.

    I think the most important thing is whether Mezba is a good husband and father, if his wife is happy and he’s a good father to his son then I respect that and the process has worked for them. He’s simply sharing his experience and it has resulted in a healthy debate which is a good thing.

    • Sarah F. says:

      It was good to hear from you. People who had parents in a very unhappy marriage tend to sometimes be much more self aware in this regard; they know what to avoid.
      I really like that your standards are different, you are honest, and yet at the same time you are able to see where Mezba is coming from.
      All the best!

    • m says:

      I think you’ve hit something very strong there – if he is a good husband and father is important and whatever my discomfort with his opinions, if his wife and children are happy with him, then he is doing well as a family man – I would hope that he is open to at least consider some of the view points that others have raised, and in case his own children question things, he will be willing to listen to them too.

      Also extremely important is how you have expressed your own views, and I think you are extremely brave to share your life story and how it has shaped your views. I keep on asking, ‘what about those in between? those of us who want someone who has faith, but is also liberal?’ and it is so refreshing to see that they do exist! Good luck in all your endeavours.

    • Mezba says:

      Salaams Tagore and thank you for sharing your story.

      I hope and pray you find happiness, however you prefer it.

  37. […] the varied and emotional responses to Thursday’s controversial guest post by Mezbauddin Mahtab, How I Met My Son’s Mother, which discussed going “back home” to find a wife through a traditional arranged […]

  38. Saba says:

    Excuse me….”Hot and good looking” as if he is hot and good looking himself lol. I would not marry this guy at age 90+. Remove the shade, let me see how hot and good looking u r without the shade lol hahahaha, God forgive me, but am gonna die laughing here lol
    I am sorry, but u are a total mess (look wise, personality wise and thinking wise).

  39. M.m.lak says:

    I read the article, I read the comments, and Mezba, I read your reply to the comments. I could launch into a huge speech about how utterly misogynist this article was, how this article made me seethe with anger and how your subsequent defense of your ”views” made everything just a tad bit worse, but I will not do that (although I really, REALLY want to). I am choosing instead to appeal to your better nature. I am very sorry if any of this offends you in any way, because it is actually not my intention to do so. I am just looking to make you understand how your words hurt and HAVE A REAL,TANGIBLE AFFECT on women around you. Here goes:

    You seem to be an educated enough fellow and I am sure self-reflection is a concept that is not alien to you. So I merely I ask of you to consider this: do you not think that what you are defending as your ”personal preferences” while you were looking for a potential spouse are actually just insidious little examples of misogyny that you, by disguising your aforementioned misogyny as ”personal preferences”, are keeping alive in a world that REALLY needs to stop treating women this way? Look, I get it. You wanted a good looking woman younger than you, who was ”chaste” because you too had managed to remain ”chaste”, and who would be willing to sacrifice a bit of her career after having children to be a good mother to them. That’s FINE AND DANDY. But how ever did you think that it is okay to come to the conclusion that she HAS to be the one to sacrifice her career for the children BOTH of you have? If there was any intention on your part to ALSO give up a bit of your career to be a good father to your children, it was not reflected in your article in any way. Moreover, what is wrong with marrying a woman your age? Why is your definition of ”chastity” so narrow and frankly, quite demeaning? You mentioned in your comments that someone who doesn’t qualify as ”chaste” in your opinion could even be a woman who had a long-standing affair with a man, even if physical activity was not a part of the affair! Why do you want a ”hot” and ”good looking” wife, when you are not really conventionally attractive at all and seem to have weight problems (again, no offence. Also, it’s not nice when this is done to YOU, is it)? Do you not think that such thinking is hurtful and extremely damaging, because there is NO way you are not projecting your judgmental nature into other arenas of life, which would serve to make other people (especially women, or so it seems) feel like they are less worthy as human beings because they don’t look a certain way or aren’t a certain age, or because they fell in love with someone and it just didn’t work out? Don’t you think it will make people around you feel like they are just plain ”not good enough”?

    I think the problem is not that you were ”honest” about your preferences. The problem is that you HAVE these ”preferences” to begin with. Please, do ponder over the things I have pointed out. This is hurtful, damaging behaviour. I hope you will hold your wife today and look into her eyes and even if she doesn’t consider herself to be ill-treated, apologize to her for turning her into a checklist of ”personal preferences” and promise her that you will be eternally grateful for any sacrifices that she made in this marriage that you DID NOT RECIPROCATE EQUALLY.

    p.s. I am a 24-year-old Pakistani female lawyer. I have dated a total of 7 guys since the age of sixteen (GASP). One of these relationships was a ”long-standing” relationship and I was devastated when it ended. The man I am married to now was the person I had my second ”long-standing” relationship with. Yes, he knows about every single one of my relationships, including all the dirty details. Yes, he stills loves me, respects me, encourages me, honours me. I am stating all of this so that all you ”old and unchaste” women out there KNOW that there IS still hope in the world and not every man adheres to kind of toxic mentality displayed and defended in this article.

  40. […] Note: This is a response to last week’s guest post, How I met my son’s mother. Have a perspective to share? Send it to us at stories [AT] loveinshAllah DOT […]

  41. Yasmeen says:

    Salaam alaikum,

    When reading through the comments I wondered why everyone was so riled up. I was really surprised at all the backlash. The age thing went a little overboard (the tone can be read as something along the lines of “how dare anyone thing I would marry someone the same age as me!”) but I guess I understand because I always wanted to marry someone a few years older than I am. It was always a preference and I never said no to anyone based on their age alone. And I’ve never been reprimanded for having this preference.

    Haha, but the author went off on that girl who claimed to know him, that’s what made me slightly understand where everyone else is coming from. His response seemed very arrogant and I don’t see any need in pointing out that no one rejected him. It’s like saying, “I’m perfect so I just want to make it clear that no one ever rejected me.” Whether he was rejected or not makes no difference because being rejected just means two people want different things, not that what either of them want is wrong.

    Also, the disclaimer was a little odd. I felt the editors couldn’t take the disagreement and wanted to be sure to distance themselves from the author.

    • Mezba says:

      Salaams Yasmeen.

      I never said I was perfect. I went off on that girl because she lied. She made an assertion that I pursued a couple of girls who rejected me, which was simply not true. Some later commentators then made the assumption that this is why I wasn’t into relationships prior to marriage, and again that wasn’t true. If you see, she was the only commentator I “went off” on. Everyone else, regardless of how riled up they were, or insulting, I did not respond in a harsh manner.

      Second, I was a bit disappointed in the editors’ disclaimer as well. The disclaimer wasn’t there before. And to make one fact clear, I was approached by Love Inshallah to rework an old article of mine for the site. I did not approach Love Inshallah myself to publish my article. I thought it was apparent that the views are mine and not the editors’.

      I will publish a follow up article on my blog sometime.

      If you want to know why so many women got ticked off, the most honest comment is somewhere on this page. “It’s the truth, and it hurts”.

      • Lilith says:

        I think, Mezba, this most recent sentence sums up what irks people: you don’t seem to show any growth. There is no acknowledgement that perhaps, just perhaps, you crossed the line just a tiny little bit, and perhaps you should not have been so harsh in your proclamations. For example, you did not say ‘I thought at that time there were no good girls in Canada.’ No, you said ‘there were no good girls in Canada’. There is still no distinction made between your 25 year old self and your current early thirties self.

        Publishing this piece encourages other men to be just like you. The 25 year old man who is currently looking for a mate will see this blog post and be encouraged to follow his ‘personal preference’ no matter how shallow or misogynistic or disrespectful to the Muslim women around him. And Muslim women in the west will increasingly look for and find, companionship with non-Muslim men, because the Muslim men in their communities do not think they are ‘good’, not just ‘good enough’. Remember that they won’t be the only ones responsible for finding love with a non-Muslim — the collective community they live in is responsible for that too, including people who propagate ‘personal preferences’ like yours. Just remember, you might have a daughter one day, who will want to get married to a decent Muslim man in the west. I hope by then you will have more flexibility in your viewpoints.

        We need mature, sensitive, evolving men who adapt to the community they live in and respond to its needs and take responsibility for their sometimes misguided viewpoints. We do not need more men with your cookie-cutter preferences and sensibilities, who refuse to indulge in introspection or empathy, and show concern for the preferences and feelings of the other gender. In the end we are all in this together. Those women you are so dismissive of still live in your community and interact with you and your family. You will be living with them for a long time. It is time to start showing them some respect.

      • Anisa says:

        I wasn’t going to respond to your defensive responses, because they speak for themselves, but I urge you to reflect on this final comment of yours (or someone else’s with which you agree): “If you want to know why so many women got ticked off, the most honest comment is somewhere on this page. “It’s the truth, and it hurts.” The truth is, you have turned what you have been calling your “own personal views” in your defensive responses to “the truth,” I am not sure if you realize that you refuse to accept the perspectives and choices of others as equally valid, and that you are projecting your so-called views as the objective truth, the fact. Again, if you are going to justify your views by using Islam, please use it properly and holistically, and discard your arrogance which I hope you agree is pretty darn un-Islamic. The truth is, what you are calling the truth is NOT the truth. It might be in your limited circles, but that doesn’t mean that’s the case everywhere just because you are unable to see or perceive anything beyond it. If you read others’ responses carefully, most of them have not criticized your own preferences, but have taken issue with the fact that you project the age preference as a fact, when I have shown you through examples that it is NOT the case. Yet, you are criticizing others for simply showing you that there are other perspectives and views that people hold in this world, and discounting them as untrue. That’s not a very intelligent rebuttal, I am sorry to say. The truth is, you are the one who is hurting because people have shown you the truth (and yes, both men AND women if you read carefully), that you are incredibly arrogant in your approach and there is not a hint of remorse in your tone. The fact that you have called out on one of your commentators saying that she was lying you got rejected is an act of denial. She may or may not be lying, I don’t know. But that’s not the point. The point is you are not ready to accept that somebody might have had their own preferences and criteria based on which they were unwilling to marry you, yet you make no bones about writing about how you rejected multiple women because they are “too old” for you. Is it not possible that someone simply didn’t tell you directly that they were not interested? that they made an excuse or simply went off the radar because they didn’t want to tell you directly that they didn’t want to marry you? I am not saying that’s what happened to you, but the fact that you don’t even consider it possible that someone might have been disinterested in you without your knowledge is quite disturbing. I am sure you did not go the girls you have rejected directly and told them to their faces that you didn’t want to marry them. There are many tactics people use to reject someone and sometimes we don’t even realize it’s a rejection because the other person has a very nice way of not pursuing it any further (e.g. “I have a boyfriend,” “I am not ready for marriage,” “I would like to study further” Yes, in case you didn’t know, a lot of times these are excuses for not marrying someone). There is nothing to be ashamed of, and it happens to the best of us. Most of the time, it’s nothing to take personally, unless you are defensive and insecure and the truth is hurting you.

  42. Texican says:

    This article makes me very sad and concerned about the future of our community.

    Mezba – I’m sure you are a very nice guy who has done wonderful things, however, you are obviously missing the point of what these women, your sisters, are trying to tell you.

    As a Muslim woman who is well beyond her marriageable “expiration date,” I will try to explain where the accusations of chauvinism and privilege stem from.

    In my and many of my friends search for a suitable Muslim husband, we have been turned down for being too educated, too independent, too smart, and everyone’s favorite…too old. (This is a truncated list of the many many things I have been rejected for because I was too (fill in the blank) or not (fill in the blank) enough.) The sad part is that most of the men that did the rejecting, did so because they were intimidated. Is that my fault? I have never treated anyone as being less worthy because they didn’t go to school for as long as I did.

    Assumptions are made about me, that because I am educated, that I am too head strong. So what if I am? Are you not a strong enough man to be able to stand your ground? And if not, then why is that my fault?

    Perhaps, Mezba, you are right, the problem does lie with women…our mothers didn’t raise our brothers to be strong, confident men who are not intimidated by their strong willed, opinionated, loud, and smart sisters.

    In terms of being chaste, I do feel that this is sexist. We never question or berate our men for their sexual indiscretions. A woman’s worth and piety does not lie in her virginity. Strippers and prostitutes will go heaven too. If God can forgive and be understanding, then why can’t we strive for that as well?

    And the age issue…I don’t know about any of you women out there, but I was an idiot when I was 21. Had I gotten married then, I would have been a terrible wife. I was way too immature. But now, as a more mature woman over 30, inshallah, if I get married, I am going to be one kick ass wife!! I would love, support, and appreciate my husband. I would do whatever it takes to give my husband, my partner, what he needed. Because now I’m old enough and strong enough to do so.

    It’s a little sad though, because I have given up and I am no longer exclusively seeking a fellow Muslim…

    • R says:

      I left the desi Muslim community 20 years ago, turning my back on almost all the support I had ever had, possibly forever, because I had met an un Muslim, American man, who had a sexual past. Who admired my dark skin, my intelligence, and my desire to work while I had children. He also, incidentally, is 4 months younger than me. Despite the terrible conflicts at the time, and the ordinary struggles of marriage, I’ve never regretted the exchange. I am deeply saddened by this article, not because I didn’t know men like Mezba are still out there, but because they appear to be able to prey upon women with as much success as ever.

  43. baffled reader says:

    This discussion has been a very interesting read for me. I understand what some of the sisters are saying in that, there is a problem in the south asian community where there are double standards when it comes to expectations from a future wife versus that of a future husband. (I still do NOT agree with the large number of personal attacks on brother Mezba– his personal preference should still be respected.. and even his claim of “the truth hurts,” first voiced by another commenter stands true as well).

    These double standards ARE a problem… when we are looking at the issue as a whole. We should not be expecting two different things from men and women. However, at the same time, we should be able to respect those individuals who want similar life goals (even if they are following a different thought process from ourselves).

    I am a South Asian who was born and raised in the West, the youngest daughter in the family– but first to get married, a “cultural” muslim (I loved Allah but had no idea how to define Him, prayed to Him when I needed to, but had no idea how to perform salaah, Ramadhan was hit and miss). I slowly started to learn about Islam and then got married when I was 20 when I found the right guy. I introduced him to my family, and even though he was from a different country and culture… we were married soon after (because I wanted it). I finished my degree while married, and then decided I wanted to expand our family. My husband supports me as a stay at home mother, he encourages me to pursue my dreams, he helps me to look for places where I will be able to complete my masters in a few years, he is willing to relocate and move to wherever I will be able to find a job with ease (I am a niqaabi). But more importantly, he loves and respects me: flaws and all.

    I mention this so that you know my background: I have some idea of how south asian arranged marriages work, but have never had to go through the frustration of going through the process (and neither have my sisters… all who married at way past the “expiry date”– to really good, strong, muslim men). What I do know is that my husband adores me and respects me and cares deeply about women’s issues and the struggles they go through– as we talk about it often. He hates the double standards as much as I do. Yet, even though he is younger than me, he acknowledges that in general men prefer younger women (inlcuding him, because he always seems to forget my age— because it is NOT important). The age is arbitrary… what men and women really mean when they talk about age is that they want to be compatible with their partner.

    Men, in general (please note: this is a generalization and I, in no way, mean to speak for ALL men) want to feel like they are responsible, to be the head of the family, and have their family’s respect. I’m sure they feel that this can happen more easily if the wife is younger than them AND/OR willing to allow them to fill that role. When they happen to come across a woman who feels that it is her *responsibility* to contribute to the household expenses etc… it kind of throws them off balance. Sort of similar to how *some* women *might* feel off balance when their husbands are better able to parent/spend time with the kids/get confided to more often than themselves or when their partners help them out with certain aspects of the home life and they just don’t do it “right”.

    In general, we do have our specific gender spheres, modern technology and conveniences have changed this a little bit… but at our very core and being– this is still a truth. And from my experience, no matter what the wife thinks about her husbands worldview, she is, sadly, usually wrong. A lot of the women I know believe that their husbands are *fully* supportive of what they do, but the truth is, that they are not. I have heard countless men in our living room who come to be counselled on how they can increase their patience in their marriages because they don’t actually like that their wife is working etc. so much outside of their home at the expense of their relationship and the list goes on. Yet, these wives are unaware, because the husbands don’t feel comfortable enough to talk to them about it because they are afraid of the labels that get thrown at them (like the name-calling we see here). These are couples of all national/racial backgrounds, ages, religious “levels (for lack of a better word at the moment).. and they all have the same complaint. Almost all of these women have spoken to me and said that they feel their husbands are their best friends (which makes the reality that much more sad).

    I wonder how many of those wives would be willing to see life from their husband’s perspective when they know how close these husbands have come to divorcing them, re-marrying, practicing polygamy etc.

    No, I am not trying to say that women are necessarily the ones who MUST change. I am making this comment, because it is mostly women who are responding here and so I am addressing them.

    There is nothing wrong with women working (as we all know Khadija raa was a very successful business woman– [yet who went on travels for her?]) or pursuing higher education (where would we be in our deen if it was not for Aisha raa– [yet, what was her method of teaching?, where did she teach?]). But, what really does need to happen here is open and honest communication between men and women… without name-calling, belittling, or assumptions. We do have a gender problem in our community and it really does need to be solved. Divorce rates are at their highest, and as we can see here, both genders are extremely misunderstood and undervalued. Yes, men do have the privilege, both within our communities as well as in the world at large. However, until that changes, we have to begin our dialogue within the reality of our situation. We cannot expect to miraculously erase our reality to begin a new one.

    I hope that this was clear.

  44. […] Note: This is a response to last week’s guest post, How I met my son’s mother. Have a perspective to share? Send it to us at stories [AT] loveinshAllah DOT […]

  45. sgiado says:

    Salams brothers and sisters,
    The reason why this brother and others feel they can get away with this shocking attitude is because for generations, they have been relying on the society to perform their duty – to break the spirits of single women through gossips, tale-carrying, scrutiny, any means necessary so that all standards are lost and we accept the first man we meet for marriage.

    Every man I met as a proposal had this shocking attitude. My parents who had previously held very high standards for me in my academic and professional life had suddenly absolutely NO standards when it came to marriage, the most important decision I’ll ever make in my life. They wanted to throw me out of the house like I was garbage.

    And what were my standards, you might ask? As per the Qur’an and Sunnah, a pious Muslim with whom I can get along with and with whom I can raise a family. Not Ashton Kutcher with a trust fund. Or an Emirati ruler who’s memorized Qur’an. Someone trying to be a good Muslim like me who has Taqwa of Allah, someone who wanted to raise a good Muslim family, and whom insha Allah I could have a conversation with without wanting to run away.

    Too much to ask?

    Apparently so in my community and in my family.

    I cannot tell how betrayed I have felt by the people who should be protecting me, my family. I cannot tell you, even now though Allah (SWT) has blessed with a spouse even more wonderful than I prayed for, I cannot tell you how difficult it is for me to forgive my parents. Or the culture that instigated them.

    I have a feeling that regardless of whether I forgive, Allah Al ‘Adl will rectify these imbalances on the Day of Judgement. At least I pray for this. Because I know that I’m not alone in my pain. In fact, I have heard my story reflected back to me far too many times from far too many sisters, the world over.

    So brothers, sisters, aunties and uncles, before you act arrogant and entitled and privileged, think about what you’re doing. Think about the du’a of the oppressed. Remember Allah (SWT). Have fear of Him. Because there’ll come a day where you’ll have to justify your actions.

    • Sarah F. says:

      Sabina your experience resonates with me so deeply. I’m writing a response to this piece for the Altmuslimah editor’s column, and I will to stress that this approach prevails because women’s families LET it prevail, in fact they actively encourage it.

  46. Mezba says:

    To Abu Yaqoob,

    Salaams and thank you brother for your words. May Allah forgive all of your sins and come to your defense on the Day of Judgement as you have come to mine.

    My main point to write this article was not only to share my story, but also to tell girls who are now entering the work force, and thinking “maybe I can delay my marriage until my career is established or I have explored a bit”. She may see other women (like some of the commentators here) who encourage her.

    Yet this is not the preferred way, and as per my understanding, nor the sunnah way. She will delay her marriage and later she will suffer the Marriage Crisis and start blaming Islam, Arranged Marriage, society etc. if she only considered marriage at an early age! Then she would be free to pursue her dreams (of either academia or profession) post marriage. Marriage at an early age also means you can delay children for a bit after marriage, and enjoy each other’s company better.

    This type of love and adaab of a Muslim wife is lost in the group think that is sometimes prevalent in our society. And silly me, I thought we could disagree without being disagreeable! Apparently, some feminists approve of choice only when its their choice, not the choice of a woman choosing to be a housewife or mother, and definitely not a man’s choice!

    • Sarah F. says:

      Mezba, I’ve worked with you and hold you in high regard, but you are digging your grave deeper. Many women, myself included, are working hard at our careers and are unmarried not by choice, but by chance. PLEASE stop making the assumption that we enjoy the luxury of putting off marriage, as though it’s something we volunteered for.

      And, more generally, please try to understand that your experience per say is not the problem, it’s the fact that you’re applying it to the entire community and making broad generalizations about what one ‘should’ do in this regard.

      • Salman Khan says:

        A woman who works hard in her career has unwittingly chosen career over marriage no matter how hard her feminist friends try to convince her otherwise. There was no generalization made in the article that is untrue. Men want women who can create a comfortable clean and enjoyable space at home that a man can retire to after an arduous day’s work. Don’t believe me? Look at thousands of British Muslim men and what they want: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2113366/Muslim-women-share-husbands-lack-suitable-men.html

        Quoted from the article linke above: “He said that many Muslim men just wanted a ‘homemaker’ and to come home to a clean house and a plate of food on the table. He added the men didn’t want the ‘headache’ of being in a relationship with a professional woman.”

        This was from a professional matchmaker who firmly has his pulse on thousands of men’s needs and desires. Therefore we can make the confident generalization that women who chose a career were selfish. They chose to serve their own aspirations rather than to fulfill a traditional feminine role of serving a husband and children. Bitter pill to swallow but that’s how Muslim men see it. If you only step out of this bubble for a few moments you will have the same epiphany that some die-hard feminists had when they abandoned feminism and got married and settled into a traditional family role. But that requires an open heart, an open mind, critical thinking, and surrendering to one’s innate make up. Any feminist who has an iota of resistence to that must answer why they do not become firemen or construction workers or elite snipers? Women have their roles in society and men have theirs. Intermingling the two results in the frustration that career women face.

        While such comments and paradigms might seem inflammatory they can only widen your viewpoint on the world you live in. Men want women who are garments to them, who respect them, love them, protect them, nurture them. Men do not want women who wage war on them. (Refer to war on men: http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2012/11/24/war-on-men/)

    • Saima says:

      Be quiet. Please just stop. I’m going to enter the workforce so that I can support my family. Because all the “good” men in my life have managed to make a mess of everything. Through my entire life I’ve realized it’s stupid to rely on a man, because the men that have been expected to take care of me and my family have done a terrible job of it. Abandonment, abuse, and neglect are among the issues I have faced from them. And these were from men who thought themselves quite religious and honestly thought EXACTLY like you.

      Do you have any idea how much I would love to be married? And not to some Prince Charming, but to a nice, kind caring Muslim man who has the strength, the compassion to be loving to his children and his wife. YES! Who feels that in order to KEEP my respect he has to EARN it. Just as I must earn his. Who will take care of me, just as I will him. Who will protect me, just as I will him. Who is HAPPY to be married. Not begrudgingly tolerates me while he goes off later to see his mistress or his second wife that he refuses to tell me about. A man who has strength, humility, rationality, intelligence, passion, and sympathy. A man who can realize a mistake. A man who is open minded and rational and has the ability to be critical of himself and change for the better. And yes, I would love it if he enjoyed a cup of tea and watched a desi tv serial with me just to spend time with me.

      I’m tired of being surrounded by irrational men who blindly believe in their own goodness and faith and are wholly ignorant to their privilege. Who blame the rest of the world for their problems and who work within the oppressive system that gives them the advantage as if it were the right way of doing things.

      “This type of love and adaab of a Muslim wife is lost in the group think that is sometimes prevalent in our society. And silly me, I thought we could disagree without being disagreeable! Apparently, some feminists approve of choice only when its their choice, not the choice of a woman choosing to be a housewife or mother, and definitely not a man’s choice!”

      And this is not true. You know this is not true. The only thing being criticized is how you’re treating women as if they are some sort of object to be broken apart and evaluated. Do you realize how many non-muslim men think the SAME exact way??? You want to separate yourself from them correct? You don’t want to emulate their behavior correct? Then I suggest you find a little more compassion and empathy for people instead of arrogantly believing that you have the answers for everything.

      There are severe problems in our Muslim ummah that we have the ability to fix and change so that fewer and fewer turn away from our religion. Your mindset with regards to arranged marriage does nothing to fix them.

  47. Sarah F. says:

    A general reflection: there should be a separation between the person and the problem.

    Perhaps this reveals my bias, but: I would go as far as to call Mezba a friend. We worked in the same place for a while and have chatted many times, both online and offline. He always engaged with me and his colleagues respectfully and with good cheer. He has an MBA. He is crafting a narrative that will change the experience of Quranic stories for coming generations (http://readwithmeaning.wordpress.com/). These things are signs of a decent person to say the least. And they put Mezba far above most Muslim South Asian men I have crossed paths with. As much as this article offended me (and makes me neurotically concerned for his kids), it’s just one part in my overall regard for him as a person.

    So I was deeply ashamed by some of the attacks people are making on him. Yet, it makes sense in an odd way. Just like someone as accomplished as Mezba can view a woman as a commodity, those who are horrified by such a view can stoop low enough to make comments on his looks.

    We live in a world of pronounced paradoxes, so much so that it has become IMPERATIVE that we check ourselves before leaping down each other’s throats.

    • Aisha says:

      Yes! This!!!!! Thank you Sarah F. I’ve known Mezba through blogging for years, and this post and the other comment in response to Abu Yaqoob– couldn’t have said it better myself. Thank you.

    • Bengali Fob says:

      I was going to write a whole response to somehow defend Mezba while also calling him out on his generalizations. However, you’ve done it much better than I would have so I’m just here to say that I agree with you.

      I was going to defend him because I’ve been a long time blogger friend of his and have known him quite well through social media (but not in person) for at least 7 years. I enjoy his insight on Islam, politics, and the South Asian culture even if they are sometimes differing from my own views. Basically, Mezba has a wide range of fans for a reason.

      This piece, however, felt like a very rough draft version of what he usually writes and unfortunately it did offend me on more than a couple of occasions.

      Also, what is this obsession we have on people getting married?! If you can be a good Muslim who is contributing to society without marriage isn’t that okay? Perhaps Allah swt blesses some people to stay single? If someone is not emotionally ready for marriage then isn’t it better to not pressure them as a society? I bring this up because many 25+ year old men and women are not ready to be married. Marriage is a serious commitment so I hope and pray people prepare themselves physically and mentally for it and all it’s responsibilities. I don’t want to see Muslims getting married early just because ‘you have to’.

      Also, is Bollywood for the most part understood to be Islamic and halal? Just throwing that out there.

      With all that being said, I agree that those who are in relationships should be open about their prior relationships (ESPECIALLY EXISTING ONES) with their parents before embarking on the arranged marriage process. Wanting a partner who did not have sex outside of marriage is fine as we are supposed to want that. However, if someone has repented and is seeking a partnership that fulfils the Islamic marriage requirements then that should be acceptable. Mistakes happen and hopefully we all learn from it to return to the right path, inshallah.

      Mezba, I still think you are a wonderful asset to Canada and as a fellow Canadian who is also of Bangladeshi origin, I am proud of (most of) your contributions.

      Keep up the good work, Mezba, and inshallah Allah swt will continue helping us better our deen and improve from our mistakes.

  48. […] Note: This is a response to last week’s guest post, How I met my son’s mother. Have a perspective to share? Read our […]

  49. sk says:

    Salman – Not every professional woman has chosen her career over marriage. Some women, such as myself, had waited for years to find a husband, and when he never materialized, decided to pursue further education. I had nothing better to do. I would have gladly chosen a husband, children, and household duties over a career. But I didn’t have that choice. So please don’t act like I don’t deserve a family. You don’t know my situation or my circumstances. You can’t make these broad generalizations because you don’t know what has driven people to make the decisions that they have made. You have no right to call me unfeminine or selfish! Sometimes life just doesn’t turn out the way you wanted it to and sometimes prayer aren’t answered.

    Also, you don’t speak for all Muslim men. Some Muslim men do want a professional woman.

    Fortunately, times and attitudes are changing. Muslim men of the younger generation are starting to realize that a woman’s value does not lie in cooking, cleaning, or child-rearing abilities. Fewer men have the attitudes of the British match-maker.

    Women who stay at home and chose not to work can be feminists too, you know! And women are fire fighters, police officers, and soldiers!

    And finally to use your own words…’woMen want men who are garments to them, who respect them, love them, protect them, nurture them. woMen do not want men who wage war on them.’

    “Your wives are a garment for you, and you are a garment for them.” (The Noble Qur’an 2:187)

    • Salman Khan says:

      May Allah grant you a wealthy strong righteous husband. You are not the type of woman I was addressing. I was addressing the bullish women who choose career over marriage or delay marriage for a career on purpose or are under the delusion that any woman who has a career can also manage a household properly which is her first responsibility and duty.

      • sk says:

        Thank you Salman. However, I don’t care for a wealthy husband…righteous and strong will suffice! 🙂

        I must say to you however, I am that type of woman you are addressing. I have a career now…and I love it!

        If you saw my biodata with my age and my education, you, like many others, would pass me off.

        There is nothing wrong with having traditional values, as I myself desire a home where my husband is leader of the family. I want his career to more important than mine. I want to raise my children with strong Muslim character. But the reality is that these days traditional values are creating a dangerous situation for women. The reality is that divorce is just as prevalent among western Muslims as for non-Muslims. I don’t want to be unable to support myself and my children if I am unlucky enough to end up divorced, or widowed…(According to many here, my husband may very well leave me after years of marriage and I am old and ugly if a younger, more beautiful, more malleable, more fertile woman comes along. After all, men are genetically predetermined to hone in on these types of women, right??) The thought of being single, with children, and no way to support them is frightening!

        So it creates a “damned if I do, damned if I don’t” situation. And that’s not fair to western Muslim women. If something is unfair to Muslim women, then we need our men to speak up and fight for us!

      • Masumak says:

        I can’t seem to reply directly to your first post so I’ll reply here…

        ‘Men want women who can create a comfortable clean and enjoyable space at home that a man can retire to after an arduous day’s work’

        If that’s what men want – why don’t they just hire a maid and not bother getting married? Also – I’m pretty sure everyone (not just men) would like to have a comfortable clean and enjoyable space at home after an arduous day’s work.

        I’m not sure where these ‘bullish women that chose career over marriage’ are. I only know of women that have taken solace in their careers because they haven’t been able to find the right man

        The Prophet PBUH respected women more than that. He married his boss. He swept his own home, he mended his own clothes. If this British matchmaker is telling the truth, well then we have a sad state of our affairs. These Muslim men he speaks of need to clean up their act and aspire to be more like the Prophet.

      • ZHJ says:

        “Bullish women?” That is just plain disrespectful and inappropriate. I did not insult the author or call him names just because I didn’t find some of his views logical. That would be both rude and wrong. You do not have the right to call career-oriented women “bullish.” I am surprised no one else has commented on this. My aunt is a career woman who raised three teenage children as a widow and put them through graduate school. She raised them to have proper values all the way to adulthood. Not only that, she has the respect of her colleagues after 15+ years, all of whom see her a paradigm of a great human being and Muslim. You have wrongly insulted a great number of great women in a most disgusting and demeaning manner. Also, as Muslim men and women, our first responsibility is to worship and obey Allah (SWT), and any halal act can become worship with the proper intention.

  50. sally says:

    Mesbah, I read in one of your blog posts that you have a sister. I couldnt help but wonder if she is 21 years old yet, and if so, did she get married right away? It seems to me that you will only realize that women don’t necessarily get married late out of choice, or you won’t understand why what you call “truth” is so upsetting until someone you know, sister or daughter, goes through the desi marriage market, until you see how things are from the girls’ end.
    I have several chaste, religious and beautiful friends that started looking at 21 but did not find anyone, so they kept looking and continued their education in the meanwhile. So don’t assume that all women don’t get married young by choice.
    Also, I understand that focusing in one’s career may delay her marriage prospect. Yes, that is the ‘truth’. However, as many commentators mentioned, it does not have to be that way. We should give women the right to get a basic education so they can make the choice to work, or even if they decide to stay at home, they can have some basic skills and training so that, in case something happens to their husband, they can support themselves. Especially because, as you’ve made it more than clear, muslim men won’t be marrying widows with kids since, according to you, they will always prefer someone younger.
    Which bring me to my last point: Yes, men have the right to have their preference, be it looks, age, education or cultural background. However, when women have their preferences, you seem to think that “they want it all”. Where is the girl’s right to have someone good looking, hard working, a doctor or lawyer instead of someone with just a 3yr degree? Just as a man has the right to want a nice home made meal served by a beautiful wife when they come home, the wife should have the right to want a hard working, good looking husband who will provide her with a nice home and not make her live with his in laws because he can’t afford more than that and still wanted to get married. That is not ‘wanting it all’. There should not be double standards! As one of the recent comments said, the problem
    That is why your post is getting so many negative reactions, because it’s blatantly biased towards the girls’ choices and you keep defending them, even when people are trying to show you how life is ‘from the other side’, the “canadian muslim girl” side.

    • Mezba says:

      Sally,

      My sister is her own individual and I love her deeply. However, she is completely right to have her own views and I would never force my opinions on her. She is a very accomplished person and a bright young woman and I am very proud of her.

      I would never blame a woman if she tried to get married and didn’t find someone – she isn’t single by choice. My general gripe is with women who delay their marriages by choice which I think they should not do. Actually, I would encourage young men to get married at an early age as well.

      I have written a follow up article on my blog at http://mezba.blogspot.ca/2013/11/when-searching-for-right-becomes-wrong.html

      • sally says:

        I read your blog post.
        You end by saying: “As I expected, many feminists attacked me at once for my “privileged views” (whatever that may be). However, the truth has to be said. If people ignored their own opinions and their own “feelings” and dedicated more time to loving, understanding and following the sunnah, the Marriage Crisis that we in the Western Muslim community are facing (largely as a result of our own actions) will be no more”.
        It’s funny how following the sunnah works when it is to reinforce your views. Yes, it’s recommended in Islam to marry young. It also encouraged in Islam for men to get married once he can support his wife and family. Not every 25 year old on North American can do that nowadays. Hijab is something that is strongly encouraged in Islam, but that didn’t seem to be something as important to you in a wife as looking good in a sari. There is no islamic basis to living with the husband’s parents, but that seems to be another thing was ok and in your opinion (found in your blog) will strengthen the bond between the wife and the inlaws (yeah right…)
        The marriage crisis in the Western Muslim community is not solely because women are not following the sunnah by wanting to ‘have careers’ and ‘delay marriage’. That is why this website posted your opinions, to show that there is a crisis because of many reasons, including people like you, who mention sunnah and Islam, yet do not show piety in your judgement of women, who give khutbas about modesty, yet marry for looks first, who want women to stay at home with the kids (I have nothing against it), but also stick to cultural traditions of making them live with her inlaws and follow expectations that are purely cultural.. To show that are people who insist in marrying within their same culture, despite having moved to a multi-cultural country and trying to mix with others (yes I know your wife is not Bengali, but still desi right). This crisis will continue happening when men are allowed to ‘choose’ according to their preferences and independent of their age, but girls are called picky or have to settle because of their age.

      • sally says:

        One more point- Yes you would never blame her if she wanted to get married and didn’t find someone. Would you blame the men who didn’t marry her because they assume she will not raise the kids well due to her accomplishments or education? Would you blame the men who don’t marry her because she is not 3+years younger than them, or because they dont think she looks good (i have no idea of how she looks like, just throwing it out there), because she is too dark/overweight/whatever else? Would finally blame them when you notice they are not even considering her because, after meeting a few girls, they assume that there arents any good Canadian muslim girls? Are you going to think she wants it all if she wants a men who she finds attractive, will provide for her (without depending on his parents) and treat her well? I pray to God that she didn’t have to (or doesn’t have to in the future) go through most of my Canadian Muslim friends went through. I hope you see how damaging the way men are behaving is without one of your dear ones having to go through it herself.

      • amal says:

        Mezba – you did not want to get married straight out of university. You wanted “road trips” and other things first. Then why do you have a “gripe” with women who make similar choices? Why should you have a gripe with anyone for the choices they make at all? Surely it is none of your business?

        You – and not only you, but South Asian parents and males in general – seem fixated on this criteria of “young.” I fail to understand why this is so. As I’ve written in another comment, being young does not necessarily make one a better marriage partner.

        The advantage in being young is that one tends to be more flexible, more able to adapt to others, less fixed in one’s ways. But, it can also mean that a person is immature, lacks wisdom, experience, patience – these are things that come with age. And I really, really don’t understand why someone of the same age was unacceptable to you – where there is the greatest likelihood of emotional and intellectual compatibility.

        There are arguments to be made for both sides. As such, being obsessed with this age criteria can blind people to the excellent qualities in a person – which is why there are so many women in the in the Muslim community who are smart, pious, kind, complete human beings, and yet cannot find partners because they are past some arbitrary cut-off age.

        If you have the right to enjoy certain pursuits as a single person before settling down in marriage, why can’t a woman make the same choice?

        Anyway, looks like everything worked out for you in the end. And that’s great and I’m sure you’re very grateful to Allah for that. But in the process, displaying a little more compassion, understanding, and lack of judgement towards those who make different life choices than you would be more becoming.

  51. WaterLemon says:

    Mezba,
    What is wrong with wanting to work for the CIA?

    Also, if a man could take the time to take road trips with guys and enjoy life before thinking about marriage, why couldn’t a young woman think about furthering her professional life without being judged? After all, I would much rather want my daughter to take sometime to think about how to contribute to the society without feeling guilty than my son to take some time to just take road trips (and, not do much of anything) with a sense of entitlement just because of his genitals. Just sayin’

  52. Omar says:

    @ Sr Sara F, writing a book and getting an MBA does not by any means promote one to be a ‘decent’ person to say the least or above other south asians. Tareq Fatah writes books, Israa Manji writes books, heck Mike Tyson co wrote a book.

    So he has a MBA , every other Tom, Dick, Harry these days seek for a higher degree since the market is that much more competitive hence the bane of University of Phoenix’s existence😛. I think you are falling for the same tricks that most uncles and aunties do when it comes to face value. We all need to look at things in this day and age at more granular level. By dishing out $50,000 or so on a professional degree is not a measurement of a person’s decency.
    For an MBA grad who ‘aced’ his high school blah blah I must say his writing is a little sub par and could do with some ESL training. Gosh, I digress, my bad.

    I’m glad he wrote this article and kept exposing his narcissistic personality because this is a great learning opportunity for all of us and especially myself as a father of a girl . Just because a guy is geeky looking, has kept himself ‘chaste’ , broke girls hearts who wanted to be a dentist and CIA, claims to be religious and authored a lego book may not qualify him as a guy I want to have as my son in law . Also I wonder how close was he standing to the Dentist Sr without invading her personal halal space to have gotten a whiff.

    I’m glad he wrote this because my wife appreciated me as a person that much more after reading the article, realizing she could have had it worse! so thanks to that, I have been awarded a hall pass with no chores to do for tonight.

    Finally I get the impression the author loves attention and stirring controversy just to be the eye of the storm. It reminded me of the time when a French newspaper was adamant about publishing the controversial caricatures and most wondered why open a can of worms that is not warranted? He surely would make his city’s Mayor Rob Ford proud on the art of beating a dead horse and staying in denial. So I hope iA he seeks some real life friends who can help guide him (perhaps his buddy Yaqoob and Sarah can help him with building some humility and compassion). Ameen

  53. WaterLemon says:

    Also, quote me one verse or Hadith which says a woman is obligated to be a maid/servant for her husband. It is the husband’s responsibility to take care of everything. Please don’t hijack my religion. Those Taliban idiots have done enough damage.

  54. Mezba says:

    I have put my thoughts and responses in a followup article on my blog.

    http://mezba.blogspot.ca/2013/11/when-searching-for-right-becomes-wrong.html

    • SW says:

      For those wondering whether to click, 1 sentence summation: his opinions are Islamically correct and we’re all whiny feminists.

      • Nina says:

        Wow. Yes, he has mentioned that the ladies were mighty upset by what he had to say. I think this brother forgot about the other brothers who criticized his piece as well. Sounds like a case of ‘gotta be right’ syndrome to me.

  55. rgrenya says:

    Reblogged this on rgrenya and commented:
    Definitely a story worth reading!

  56. […] Note: This is a response to last week’s guest post, How I met my son’s mother. Have a perspective to share on love and relationships? Read our […]

  57. This is a great piece because living amongst many progressive Westerners, we forget how many of our men still think very backwards like Mezba. This reminds us of the reality about many South Asian men. This is also sad because there are also many “good” Bangladeshi men who think of women as human beings rather than checklists of criteria.

    Some readers seem to be confused why people find this piece to be offensive. It’s not that Mezba made those personal preferences, but more likely because he equated his prefenreces to the mark of “good girls.” Had he said “there were no girls that met my preferences” rather than saying “there are no good girls in Canada,” it would not have been a problem. Attacking anyone’s charachter in such a way is a very sensative issue, and Mezba was not careful at all, and from his comments, it doesn’t seem that he is sorry about it either. In fact, he says “the truth hurts”, which I am taking it to mean that “the fact that all of you girls are not good girls is the truth and it hurts to hear that and that’s why you are protesting.”

    In a time when people’s personal choices are given much respect, it’s a very easy way to avoid many questions by saying “this is my personal choice”. However, what people really want to hear from Mezba, is not that these are his personal preferences, but what makes these personal preferences okay.

    See, no one is saying he is not entitled to his preferences. Everyone is entitled to their preferences, whether good ones or bad ones. And just like Mezba is entitled to his preferences, everyone else is entitled to condemn those preferences. Like the KKK is entitled to their preferences of hating non-whites, and rest of the world is entitled to hate the KKK for that. It’s not disrespectful for someone to point out what the KKK thinks is utterly wrong.

    In fact, none of the preferences he described are quite problematic on their own – when I looked at my own life, I realized many things from my lifestyle matched what Mezba was looking for. Yet, I am absolutely enraged by his post. 1) I was chaste before marriage, 2)I am 6 years younger than my husband, 3) I can’t be so arrogant to claim myself to be pretty, but apparently I took my husband’s breath away when we met, 4) I stayed home with my baby in his early years (but b/c I lost my job when I was pregnant), 5) I had an arranged marriage. And then many things didn’t match – my husband now basically takes care of the baby and does quite a lot of cooking to let me pursue a higher degree. I do the dishes, he does the laundry, I build our IKEA furniture, fix our computers, he takes the garbage out, carries heavy groceries home. We do what we are good at doing. This all is a result of the situations that life presented us with. The difference is that we were not looking for a partner with these criteria, it just happened. But when you are looking for a partner with narrow expectations, that gets problematic. If you end up marrying a rich person, nothing is wrong, but if you say I will only marry a rich person, then that preference is nothing but wrong. If a white guy marries a white girl, no one will say a thing, but if the white guy says I will never marry a black girl – well, would we call that anything but racism? So when you look for a wife who will take time off of her career to raise BOTH of your children, without even knowing what the situation will be when you are faced with it, that is just nothing but misogynistic. It’s funny that Mezba gave her wife a choice to work or not, I wonder if Mezba’s wife would have dared to give him a choice of staying home with the baby or not.

    Oh and you also can see that it’s not the single women who are offended by this post, but rather married woman with kids that are also offended by this post.

  58. ajnabiyya says:

    Had to do some research in to the hadith of Jabir, because this hadith seems to have been used and abused and grossly taken out of context by our brothers here. Jabir, by the way, at the time of his wedding was only 17 or 18 years old. He married after his father had passed away and he needed to find a companion who would help him raise his younger (orphaned) sisters.

    A very good read here:

    http://muslimmatters.org/2010/05/27/sex-and-the-ummah-series-the-hadith-of-jabir/

    “One phrase in this hadith that many men concentrate on is the encouragement to Jabir that he should marry a young woman. However, they ignore the context of the hadith and also the response of the Prophet salla Allahu ʿalayhi wa sallam. Jabir himself was a young man, and that is why he was asked why he would marry an older lady. Typically, a young man marries a young lady. When Jabir gave a legitimate reason for choosing an older lady, he was informed that he had, in fact, made the correct decision. One should always remember that even our Prophet first married Khadija, a lady senior to him in age, and remained with her for all of her life. Khadija was the most beloved wife of our Prophet, and even Aisha could not compete against that love.”

    While I appreciate your Islamic references, I just ask you be careful before wrongfully attributing comments to Prophet or Quran or any such source without putting things in proper context, for that can indeed be sinful.

    With respect.

    • Mezba says:

      Salaams. I think you said it yourself in your own comments. “Typically, a young man marries a young lady.” — that is precisely what I said (or tried to say).

      I used the Jabir hadith once or twice in my reply here (did a Ctrl-F), and you will see that I emphasized the Prophet pbuh merely asked him why he did not marry a younger person, and not that he criticized his decision otherwise.

  59. Sh. Arpasand says:

    Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) repeatedly married girls far below his own age to set an example for all Muslim men to follow. Hence it is the Sunnah of the Prophet (PBUH) and highly encouraged for the Muslim men to seek out and marry young girls. The author of this article, as he rightfully claims, is following the Islamic path. All the westernized feminist women who are criticizing the wisdom of marrying young girls, should repent and ask forgiveness from Allah (SWT) for questioning the Sunnah of the Prophet (PBUH).

    • z says:

      He (pbuh) also mostly married widows and divorcees (sometimes with children from previous marriages). I wonder why that Sunnah is not as readily applied in practice, I wonder why Muslim men aren’t exhorted to follow that Sunnah too. And in his time, the age of most of the women he married was considered to be on the older side. Not all his wives were considered ‘young’ when he married them.

      My point is, the Sunnah is picked and chosen by men as far as it suits their existing preferences.

    • z says:

      Also, most of his (pbuh) marriages were motivated by the existing needs of society. That was the spirit behind his marriages after his first one. He was creating a sense of responsibility amongst his peers and for Muslims in general: address the needs of society through different means, including marriage.

      If Muslim men were to follow the spirit of the Sunnah, they would realize that ignoring successful educated Muslim women who are a little older in favor of a ‘young’ bride creates social ills that cannot be rectified.

      Muslim men should realize that it is their responsibility to marry responsible successful women who contribute to society. They also contribute to the taxes that fund Muslim men’s roads and schools for their kids and services for their families. They attend to the medical needs of Muslim men’s families, the education of their kids. They design the buildings that Muslim men go to work in. They win cases for Muslim men in court. They contribute funds to the masajid that Muslim men and their families pray in. They volunteer for organizations that serve Muslim men and their families.

      If you, as Muslim men, are not ready to marry such dynamic educated resourceful talented women, you should first make sure that you and your families do not partake of any of their contributions to society.

      If you do, then you cannot discriminate against them when it comes to marriage.

  60. messindress says:

    Reblogged this on A Mess In A Dress and commented:
    I found this post interesting. Whether I agree with the opinions of this post or not, I believe it’s important to learn about different cultures. It’s not important what is “right”. It’s important to understand that people and cultures are different.

  61. ZHJ says:

    Although the author is entitled to his own opinion and preferences, I will never understand the cultural context in which it is somehow weird or wrong for a man to marry a woman his own age. Specifically, the context in which a 25 year old woman is somehow too old for a 25 year old man. You can’t even argue biology/childbearing age in that situation. Even a 30 year old woman is not past childbearing age. Just to clarify, I myself only brought up the biological argument because it’s often the justification given to berate and humiliate unmarried women older than 24 (e.g., “Your clock is ticking….”).

    Honestly, there is nothing wrong with choosing to establish yourself before you decide to marry. I know a young woman who married in her third year of undergraduate education. Her husband, probably about 4 years older than her, had a stable job, but chose to leave it to pursue religious education abroad. She had goals of graduate school that she had to sacrifice in order to go with him. They had some financial and health issues, the woman had two children, and they had to come back to the states, where they continued to struggle to take care of their children and find work. Finally, the woman and her husband made the decision to go to graduate school with the support of their parents, but they are loaded with loans, and they cannot give a lot of time to their young children. The woman herself told me she regretted not finishing school before getting married and having children. This is a bit of an extreme situation; I’m not saying everyone’s situation is identical to theirs, but there is value to having established yourself before jumping into marriage and having children. My own aunt was widowed with three teenage children. Luckily, she had pursued higher education before marriage, and her husband had been a supportive and compassionate man supported her aspirations even after she was married. She says that had it not been for those degrees, she would be struggling to support her children.

    I would also like to emphasize that if you are a woman past 24 who is not married and is pursuing higher education or something else, don’t feel like you have committed some kind of horrible crime. I am of South Asian descent, so what the author has written doesn’t shock me. If you got married early and that worked for you, that’s great. If you didn’t, no problem there either. So many immature girls in my community were married early and ended up divorcing rather quickly. If you know you’re not ready, you are being responsible by choosing not to take that big step. I know a woman who got married at the age of 34. Since the time she was 28, she was bothered and berated about not being married. Older women would shove proposals of unqualified 40 year old men and would get angry at her for rejecting them. She ended up marrying someone her own age who was just as qualified as her and they are happy together. To anyone reading the article above, don’t feel like like his words are the absolute truth, because they are not, and don’t torture yourself over anything. When it is meant to be, if it is meant to be, iA it will happen.

  62. Eve says:

    “I wanted a wife whose priority was to find a good husband and raise a proper, Islamic family. If that meant taking a little bit of time off from work during the early childhood years, and thus not keeping up with one’s professional peers, so be it. For that, I was told I was a chauvinist.”

    Isn’t it also the sunnah of the Prophet that babies be given to wet nurses and raised by them away from their real mothers? After all, Halimah raised the Prophet beautifully and in effect shaped the mind in the formative years of a man who would become a great Prophet. It was in Halima’s house that the angels visited the Prophet for the first time. How about investing in good childcare according to the sunnah so that a woman’s mind is also kept busy and productive? If that means that a “good husband” has to spend some money on quality childcare, so be it.

    • Sadiqati says:

      Yup.

      “It may be suggested here that when a married woman goes out to work, she leaves her household duties unattended. Therefore, the husband is entitled, or so it is claimed, at least to a share of the salary or earnings of his wife. We have to examine this argument a little more carefully.

      The duties of a wife toward her husband, according to Islamic law, are well defined. They do not include doing any cleaning, ironing, cooking or any other household work. Marriage is a contractual relationship which allows a man and woman to fulfil their desire in a legitimate way. If a woman takes an undertaking which prevents her from meeting that responsibility, then her husband has the right to prevent that undertaking.

      Someone may ask at this point: Who is then to do the housework? The answer is twofold: If we are speaking strictly from the points of view of rights and duties, it is not the duty of the woman to do the housework in her husband’s home. If he wants that work done, he has to see to it that it is done. Life is not all about rights and duties. There is much more in the marital relationship than duties and rights. There is what Islam terms “companionship based on goodwill”. It is under this heading that he duties and responsibilities of the family are divided between the husband and wife. When we ask for guidelines on this particular point, they are readily available.

      At a certain stage, there was some disagreement between Fatimah, the Prophet’s daughter and her husband, Ali who was the Prophet’s cousin. They presented their case before him, requesting him to define their responsibilities for them. The Prophet (Pbuh) said to his daughter; “You do the work that must be done inside the home, and he does what needs to be done outside.” This division of the family work is both fair and practical.

      What we may deduce from all this is that if a woman does not do the work that has to be done inside the family home, she fails in meeting the requirement of companionship and goodwill. It is open to her husband to divorce her if she persistently refuses to do it. She may argue there it is much more to family life than strict duties.

      When a woman wants to go out to work, her husband may prevent her from doing so if he feels that her job will seriously affect the family, especially with regard to the upbringing of the children. However, if she was working when they got married, and he has not indicated to her at the time of his proposal that he wants her to quit her job, this is taken as consent on his part to her working. He may not withdraw that consent after marriage. It is not open to him then to ask her to leave her job. If she refuses, she is within her rights.”

      http://www.islamicvoice.com/january.2000/women.htm

  63. aburrows6 says:

    In a perfect world, we would all want the same thing. When I was a girl, I would never consider going out with someone older than myself. That was just my view then. My mother-in-law was older than her husband, and I thought that strange, but it worked for them. If we are honest, we all have our personal preferences for our ideal partner.

  64. JFF says:

    Interesting post! Your point of view seems to be the point of view of the majority of Muslim and/or Desi men. I applaud you for being unabashedly honest, even when it might cause insults to be hurled your way. I, too, have my own preferences of who to marry.

    I always wanted a light-skinned spouse, who was tall, and preferably with blue eyes. I knew as a Muslim this might not be easy to obtain, so I was willing to look outside my religion (and obviously ethnicity). I knew I was a good catch because I came from a wealthy, educated, pious, and good-looking family, myself being physically fit and possessing an advanced degree.

    And I stuck to my criteria. And I managed to fall in love with someone with all the physical traits I was looking for. It was only bonus that my spouse was a physician to boot who was a great cook! Does it make me sexist that I demanded all these things in a partner? Does it make me less Muslim because I married someone I fell in love with (and who loves me too)? Am I perpetuating an impossible standard, or even a double standard? I don’t know.

    All I can say is, in picking out my husband, I made a far better choice for myself than what I would have ended up with via the arranged marriage route. There isn’t necessarily a “crisis” in our community; and if it is perceived as such, the author is correct to state that both sides of the debate are exacerbating the situation.

  65. Mohammad says:

    To be honest by head is spinning after reading all these comments, and I seem to have gone back 7 years in my life when I was going through this whole process. I do understand where the author is coming from, and can sympathize with him (though definitely not with the vocal Abu Yaqoob)

    Some points:

    1) Age was not a factor for me personally, though it was for my family. However, why was it that so many Desi girls themselves could not fathom the idea of marrying a boy slightly younger than themselves ? I was 23 when I started looking and even when I was 24, I had 25-27 year old girls tell me they were looking for a boy 28 or older. I was surprised to notice this not just among girls back home, which was expected, but also among girls in the West.
    Most girls younger than me all seemed to be saying they did not want to marry as they were still studying. Maybe it was my fault for graduating at 21.

    2) I do not think there is anything wrong with wanting a chaste girl, as long as you are chaste yourself. What is wrong is when someone has “fun” and then demands a virgin

    Disclaimer: I am also a Bengali who grew up partly in Abu Dhabi, and while I do not know the author personally, his mom was one of my high school teachers.

  66. neelo says:

    Question for Mezba: you stated that most men prefer a “young” wife. Please explain why that is. Is it because a 21 year old is prettier than a 25 year old? Or is it because younger women are less independent, less set in their way and easier to “mold” into what you would like in a wife?

    I’m sure your wife has many great qualities apart from her looks but it’s unfortunate that you didn’t mention any of them. The article would have had a lot more substance (and the vitriol aimed at you would be less) if you had at least listed some non-physical characteristics you desired in a spouse, such as a sense of humor, honesty, loyalty, intelligence.

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  69. NotForSale says:

    I recently read this article through a link from another website and am unsure of how to feel about it, even after reading the comments by others.

    While I do accept that the author has a right to express his opinions and define the standards he wanted in The One, I’d like to clarify one point which really bothered me in the article.

    “If you are a girl and you want to get married to a 25-year-old guy, start looking when you are 21”

    Does this mean the author thinks that all women actually wait till they’re 25 before starting to look for someone? Has he considered the possibility that maybe, just maybe, she/her family has been looking for someone for several years and he just isn’t aware of this? Why would it be assumed that she “waited this long” instead of simply not having found someone.

    As for 25yr old girls looking for 25yr old guys: Just as the author is entitled to his preference of a younger girl, all others are entitled to a preference of someone their age or older.

    “Seriously, how many guys in an arranged marriage scenario marry a girl of the same age?”

    Depending on the maturity of both parties, this may be more normal that you think.