AAQIB ASHRAF NENGROO
Marriage, a legally and socially sanctioned union between a man and a woman is regulated by multiple laws legislated by different religious beliefs . Every religion attaches highest significance to it .
Marriage in Islam
Islam is a strong advocate of marriage. The Prophet (PBUH) has said “there is no celibacy in Islam. Marriage is a religious duty and is consequently a moral safeguard as well as a social necessity. Islam does not equal celibacy with high “taqwa” / “Iman”. The Prophet(PBUH) has also said, “Marriage is my tradition who so ever keeps away there from is not from amongst me”. It is a social necessity because through marriage, families are established which is the fundamental unit of our society. Furthermore, marriage is the only legitimate or halal way to indulge in intimacy between a man and a woman. It, besides procreation extends its significance to the attainment of salvation and generosity.
Sure , marriage is a social institution and people have no doubts about importance and significance . But the matter is to find the appropriate age for boys and girls to get married. Bukhari and Muslim reported that the Prophet ( PBUH) said , “ O, young people whosoever among you can marry, should marry, because it helps him lower his gaze, and guard his modesty( that is his private parts from committing illegal sexual intercourse and so on ). Prohibition of Child Marriage Act (India) states that a girl in India can’t marry before the age of 18, and a boy before 21. This minimum age is aptly contained in religious books and governed by the legislative laws but the problem is with getting married in later years of life ( some 30 or 35 plus) or no marriage at all. This is called late marriage and it is a serious social concern. Late marriage is also having a distinction in itself – intentional late marriage and forced late marriage. When a boy or girl deliberately wishes to get married in later years of life it is intentional late marriage. But when poverty and social evils like dowry system, caste preference and so on force a boy or girl to remain unmarried till later age it is forced late marriage.
Forced late marriage is a grave concern and needs prior attention by society. There are numerous causes to late marriage. Among these is dowry, an extravaganza in making marriage, large expenses by rich families and so on. Dowry is the oldest social evil that is still prevailing in both subtle and obvious ways and is a well-established reason of late marriages. As per fresh reports, 20 deaths were reported in the last three years over the demand of dowry by in-laws in Kashmir. This evil has impeded the poor parents to think about wed-locking their girls.
Extra expenses in marriages are another factor that contributes to late marriages. Kashmir witnessed the new reprehensible trend of serving dishes beyond limits in wedding feasts; even currency notes of the high denomination have been presented to guests. Others have to follow such trends compulsively to evade disgrace. But, the poor families fail to withstand this pressure and find it difficult to get their daughters married. Families which are financially well of should always consider the poor section of population living around them ; instead of spending plenty of money in reception, wazwan , decoration and like things they must think of those who could not bear the cost of Mahr and bridegroom invitation even . Parents who are spending 10 – 15 lacs or even 15 – 30 lacs of rupees in the marriage ceremony of their single son or daughter should come forward as double contributors, one to reduce this huge expense by standard amount and second to help in getting the girls of poor families married in time.
Every day we see reports claiming thousands of girls aging 30-35 years remain unmarried. Besides the rich families, the local public should take caution of this severe threat. Social organisations should contribute to overcome the situation. Local Bait-ul-Mals should keenly observe this social concern and must contribute in a more rational and efficient way. People from middle class families must contribute to make Bait-ul-Mals function better.
If we ignore our contribution, we are inviting evil to our society. Late marriages give birth to various maledictions that hinder the moral development of any society. Of the numerous evils it either leads to sex slavery or even suicides. Being Muslim and faithful in the day of resurrection we must remember that we will be asked about the domain of our responsibility and these things can never be an exception.
—The author is a resident of Village Sirhama in District Anantnag. He is pursuing an MA in Economics from the University of Kashmir and can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org