The Outsider

Some months back at my sisters introduction, I had an old lady who was seated under a tent beckon me from where I stood with my cousin. I had absolutely no idea who she was and was feeling agitated; why was she calling me?

I crouched by her side and thereafter she asked if I was the bride’s younger sister, and I answered on the affirmative. She then offered the same prayer everyone else had offered me that is: ti tie no ode meaning ‘your own (husband) too will soon come’. I smiled and answered ameen.

I assumed that was all she wanted to say so I waited for her to dismiss me, but instead she leaned closer as though trying to make herself clear to me when she said “you see that your sister married from home and you see how happy everyone is, you too must marry from here (my eyebrows twitched at that moment and I tried very hard to stop them from flying high). We don’t want any white man or an outsider. Ilorin have you heard? God will bless you with a good man”.

I looked up at her at that moment, surprised that she didn’t finish up by saying  a ‘good Ilorin man’ but instead she mentioned a good man; contradicting her whole statement. I thought to myself, what if that good man is from the broad list of men you just excluded? I forced a smile on my face, nodded and answered ‘yes ma’ just to show I heard her words and to be respectful.

She grinned and dismissed me. As I stood up and walked away, her words resonated on my mind for the next couple of days. She’s not the first or second person telling me that. I started to worry, could this be what my parents want too (after all my sister is marrying someone from home and both my parents are from the same place) or should I say my father (because I already knew my mother’s stand on the matter)?

As fate would have it, my father sat me down some days later and shed some light on the matter without me having to ask. I can’t quote him word for word but his stand was: his kids can marry any practicing muslim they love, our happiness is what he seeks. It does not matter to him where they come from (with the exception of one particular tribe) but that if we married someone from the same place (we are from) it would make him the happiest, he confessed.  He backed it up by mentioning a number of logical reasons as to why its good to marry from your home town, that it aroused a new feeling in me.

To break it down here are some of the reasons why people think it’s best to marry from your place:

  1. No language or culture barriers.
  2. You both share the same ‘home’. For example during Eid if its tradition that you and your family return to your hometown to celebrate with everyone else, you are BOTH going home to celebrate with your family. Whereas if you married someone from somewhere else and you’re the girl, you’re more likely to forfeit that and go to your husband’s hometown to celebrate Eid instead. Unless you both alternate every year to visit each others home town to celebrate; therefore you’re not leaving your family completely as they always fear.
  3. Emergencies. Both families can gather up at the same place and address the matter quickly. Whereas if you marry someone from someplace else, you and everyone else that is supposed to be present would have to plan a journey to get to the wife or husbands family house to address whatever issue it is, which takes time having to wait for the others to arrive.

Now usually when I think of marrying someone I don’t have a specific person or a place I would want him to come from. The only specific thing is that we both call on the one and only God and have islam as our guide, as well as other obvious things such as health compatibility and a deep interest in the person.

I felt extremely relieved at my fathers words. Ilorin man or no Ilorin man, I just need them both to stand by my side and approve of the choice I make simply because he is the man I want to spend the rest of my life with. The man I would want my kids to call their father. The man that brings coolness to my eyes.

That being said, the reality of things is that even though its the 21st century and almost 2016, you still find many families who refuse their daughters and sons from marrying a person of their choosing that also shares the same faith (be it christianity, islam, judaism) but because he or she is from another country/town or tribe, they refuse to let them marry. I’m not even sure whether to call it a backward thinking; it’s racism, tribalism, ignorance and bigotry fused together.

I’m not against marrying from your home town. I’m against refusing two compatible people from marrying on the grounds that they simply do not come from the same town or tribe as you. It’s not even logical. Tell me is the marriage any merrier if you do? The kids any more righteous or blessed?

Culture if you don’t know is simply a way of living built up by a group of beings that’s been transmitted from one generation to another. There are people out there who value and take pride in their culture so much, that they choose it above every other thing even their religion that may go against it.

Muslim parents that insist their adult kids must marry from their hometown, are indirectly saying; I don’t care what Allah says, my culture and wish comes first. They say things like “you must marry a nigerian or a pakistani, yoruba, fulani, bengali and if you do not, I’ll disown you and may Allah’s curse be with you for disrespecting me, after all i’ve done and sacrificed for you? Why? It’s heartbreaking and traumatising if they do not know.

The same parents then wonder why years into the marriage with another, there is talk of the husband demanding a paternity test for the children. Or the young adults who are ready and seeking the halal way of doing things by tying the knot but the parents refuse on similar grounds; those young adults then result to engaging in zina and having countless abortions that the parents know not of, or the very final one that claimed her life.

The Prophet saw said “If someone comes to you (for marriage) and you like his Deen and ethics, then accept him as a bridegroom to your daughter. If you do not, there will be a fitnah on earth, and a big corruption.”

The only criteria here for someone choosing a life partner in islam is very clear and simple and it’s to look at the deen and character of that person.

As for choosing a wife the prophet saw said “the woman is married for four things: for her deen, her beauty, her family status, and for her wealth. Choose the one with the deen you will be safe.”

The four things mentioned above you’d agree are important, if the origin of a person was important it would have been included in the list. Culture is just a means of identification, it’s not supposed to be a barrier that it serves as today.

Allah said in suratul hujarat “O mankind! We have created you from a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know one another. Verily, the most honourable of you with Allah is that (believer) who has At-Taqwa. Verily, Allah is All-Knowing, All- Aware.” (49:13)

In another surah Allah said:

And hold fast, all of you together, to the rope of Allah (ie. this quran) and be not divided among yourselves, and remember Allah’s favour on you, for you were enemies one to another but He joined your hearts together, so that, by His grace, you became brethren (in islamic faith). (3:103)

And the final ayat I wish to share is the one where Allah said in suratul As Shura:

He (Allah) has ordained for you the same religion (Islam) which He ordained for Nuh (Noah), and that which We have inspired in you (O Muhammad SAW), and that which we ordained for Ibrahim (Abraham), Musa (Moses) and Iesa (Jesus) saying you should establish religion (to do what it orders you to do practically), and make no divisions in it. Intolerable for the Mushrikin (disbelievers) is that to which you (O Muhammad saw) call them. Allah chooses for himself whom he wills, and guides unto himself who turns to him in repentance and in obedience.

The verse if applied is telling us if our parents find it difficult and intolerable to do what Allah says; that is marry kids that are permissible in the eyes of islam but because one of them is not from the same place as you are, you then refuse to marry them together, you are a mushrik because the verse says only the mushrikins will find it difficult to accept the message and rulings of islam. Not only that, you have set up your own rules that goes against Allah’s and setting it as precedent.

We should not let our selfish desires lead us into making unfortunate decisions that can ruin lives. If it is so that your child will marry from your place then alhamdulilah it will happen. But if Allah wills it for your child to marry from somewhere else by placing in both their hearts the love and desire to want to be together, who are you to disagree? Fear Allah and do the right thing for your kids; what’s in their best interest and not yours.

Allah gave every individual rights: parents, husbands, wives and children. Whichever you are don’t abuse and transgress those rights, for you will one day account for every informed decision and act you made in this life.

The pictures below had me feeling all emotional, if animals can find love outside their own specie, why can’t we? Animals implement the ayats in the quran more than we; and we are the ones the Quran was sent to.

Have a blessed week ^.^

5 thoughts on “The Outsider

    1. Alhamdulilai ! Kudos to you dear daughter for this beautiful and instructive piece . May Allah (SWT) increase you in knowledge and Imaan .
      Ahmed Nagode


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