“But our relatives have dreams too, na?”
This seemingly innocent statement brings to light a deep-rooted and alarming problem in our society — one which cannot be eradicated by just one, or even two, families or generations.
The first question to ask ourselves — a basic one — is ‘what do we define as Deendaari or piety or being “Islamic” or righteous?’. It is sad that we need to remind our community’s elders, reformers, guides and leaders to revisit their roots and get a check of themselves and their faith, by asking what they think a righteous and pious person does. Is piety measured by how much charity a person gives, or how many optional prayers they offer, or by their status in Islamic organisations / institutions; or to be specific, their official post in Tahreek (Islamic Movement)? Sure, these things count as good deeds, but are they an effectively defining factor for someone’s piety?
The fact about these good deeds is that society doesn’t rationally judge you while you’re performing them. Instead, they look up to you as a pious figure for your outwardly deeds like charity & your Nawafil. As such, you’re doing these good deeds under no societal pressure. But all the pressure starts showering in when it comes to important socio-religious contracts such as marriage. It is in weddings and marriages that family puts up its expectations for us, society forces its norms onto us, and whether we like it or not, we succumb to these norms and pressures. It is in weddings and marriages that our “Deen” comes almost crumbling down like a house of cards, for the house we built had a weak foundation. This might sound harsh – especially if we took pride in our faith, if we were in the delusion that our way of practising the Deen is perfect – but we must remember that no matter our lofty positions in society, we are all humans, and we are imperfect, and thus in need of continuously revisiting our roots and checking our faith.
All our efforts at simplicity & minimalism come crashing down when it’s time for weddings; the excuse that youth give is, “Things are not in my hands”. However, if a young man or woman is old enough to be trusted with a relationship such as marriage, they’re also old enough to be trusted to make major decisions when it comes to their own wedding, its overall planning and execution. Allah will hold the youth accountable for the way they perform their own wedding – not their relatives – hence it is the duty of the to-be-bride and to-be-groom to voice their concerns in the light of Islamic guidance.
Piety is not merely giving charity, for charity is easy; piety is not merely praying extra Salat, for that is easy too. And even easier than these, is to merely hear and give lectures about Islamic system of marriages. The real test of piety comes when you have to stand up to the tide of society’s unnecessary & unislamic norms, when you need to look beyond the seemingly harmless statements that are twisted to look like “we need to keep society and our relatives pleased and happy with us”. If one is really “pious”, one must be able to ask and correctly answer the question “I will keep my relatives happy, but at the cost of what?”, “Is tradition above religion?”, “Are family’s wishes above Allah’s commandments and His Prophet’s ﷺ directives?”, “Are societal norms more important for me than the Prophet’s ﷺ Sunnah?”.
All these questions are crucial for every Muslim’s introspection – the common man, the intellectual, the one who aspires to be a change-maker – and even more so for the leaders of Tahreek, for it is them that the Cadre look up to, it is they that have been endowed with the responsibility of setting the right example for society and the Ummah.
Are we really placing importance to humans before Allah? Are we prepared to answer Allah when He calls us to account for the duty we had as leaders and change-makers? Or is our faith so feeble so as not to build a strong foundation of our Deen which then comes falling apart under external pressure from society? Or will the same relatives and “well-wishers” be willing to stand up for us on Judgement Day when Allah calls us out for extravagance & wastefulness and clear violation of the Sunnah?
The Prophet ﷺ said, “Whoever turns away from my Sunnah is not from us”.
At this point, every single Muslim youth needs to pledge to abide by the Sunnah, and struggle against useless traditions and unislamic rituals, strive for minimal weddings, keep Nikah easy, and vow to make the beginnings blessed by Allah, and then the rest of the marital journey as well, by protecting it from unwanted external disturbances and by following the Sunnah of the Prophet ﷺ. Let us take a moment to ponder, “if Allah is not at the center of our marriage from the very beginning, in what direction will the rest of the married life go?”.