Monday, February 18, 2008

Does not being able to get married make you a better Muslim?


Check out this article on the front page of the New York Times


There are two separate issues in the article as I see it, and the unfortunate part is that they have melted them into one... Well, and they made the return to practicing Islam in my generation of Egyptians seem like a bad thing.

I agree that the two main ideas that marriage is being blocked for many young people in Egypt and that many of the same generation are returning to practicing Islam are both true. BUT BOTH THINGS OCCERING DOES NOT MEAN THEY ARE RELATED!!! Ugh. What's that they teach you in science about a positive correlation not always indicating cause and effect?

It is my opinion (since I can say that I have seen my DH's & SIL's friends all who married at a "normal" age) that there is no reason to believe that only people who don't get married are becoming more religious. All the people my DH grew up with are more religious now as adults. Most of them are more religious than even their parents, I know my DH and his younger sister are. I think that Egypt is just experiencing the normal swing of the pendulum when it comes to expressing your faith and practicing your deen. Now, I am no sociologist... But it seems like that is a natural thing in societies. We go from one extreme to another, and when the government came down hard on the brotherhood of Islam in Egypt it forced the pendulum to swing towards a very secular type behavior. Now, some of that has gone away and we are seeing people coming back to Islam for a variety of reasons. I don't think you can pinpoint it... For this guy maybe it's culture, and that girl it's political, and then that guy see's it as reclaiming something of his identity lost while he was young... Who knows. But to put it in such simplistic terms is well, being simple (which in this case means stupid).

I guess that I have a knee jerk reaction to these articles because on a gut level I feel like the implication is that Islam is for losers and if you were happy in your life you would never turn to this "extreme" religion. You'd just be happy like all those "moderate" (in this case I mean non-practicing) Muslims out there professing your Muslim identity and doing nothing different in your daily life because of it.

As usual, just my two piasters on the subject.

***Edit 2/19/08***
I read the article to DH and he had some thoughts. Mostly he wanted to say that not getting married until you are older does lead you back to the religion... Because that is what is at the heart of avoiding fornication. The longer you wait to marry the more opportunities you have to become sexually active and the more tempting it becomes. So, you focus on the salat, you fast you do dhiker. Basically you try to keep your mind off of this temptation.

He also mentioned that of all the things that are tempting this one is the worst, because it is a God given instinct and unlike drinking and other things that you might do in college this one could be legal under the right circumstances.

Finally, he and I have always talked about trying to be sure our children DON'T wait until their 30's to marry.

Anyway, just wanted to share the thoughts of an actual Egyptian male who DID wait until he was about 30 to marry... *WINK*

13 comments:

Ummhana said...

Very interesting topic. I agree with you that two things happening at the same time does nont mean they have to be coorelated. Now for my two sense...I think that because people are chosing to focus on other aspects of their life before marriage there are more and more people not married. I also believe that as you grow older you tend to try to connect with religion becuase the idea of mortality starts to sink in. I totally agree with the pendulum thing though and you will definently see differences between generations. I also think that an outward appearance of being "muslim" doesn't always mean that the person is more religious or practicing. I think your previous entry of what I call "hijab-sheek" is a great example of a need to assert identity with little knowledge of what hijab means.

Molly said...

Did they study the fact that its harder to get married in Cairo now because there are very few flats open for purchase, and those that are open are being sold for disgusting amounts, and that most fathers will not marry their daughters to a man unless he has a flat?

I'm too sleepy to read the article at the moment, but I promise to go back later and do just that.

I will probably comment a second time after that.

Maybe I should just not post this comment...

ah well..

ummsafeer said...

Salam Ummlayla,
I have been tuning into ur blog for a while and have come across some other good blogs through it so thank you.
I read the article mentioned and have to say that it feels like its trying to scare Americans into fearing an Islamic revival. Watch out - the fanatics are growing in number. No education, no job, no prospects, no hope?.
I agree that many people become more religious as they get older. Many prophets did not attain prophethood until they were 40.
Perhaps I am misreading it but I felt a little uneasy about the article. Plus I live in Saudi Arabia and believe me Cairo is still party capital for many of the gulf arabs.

Wasalam
Ummsafeer

UmmLayla said...

Ummhana, I think that you are right about a general trend towards focusing on your degree/career and that raising the age for marriage. I will admit though that in Egpyt there are real standerds for marriage that are pretty hard to meet unless you have parents helping. My own DH has said that he was relieved to marry me because it didn't come with all this gold, apartment, appliances, dowry, huge party stuff that he would've had to do in Egypt... And his father was a retired judge working in Qatar... So how does the average guy whose father works for the government in Egypt feel?

Molly, they didn't mention it specificly but you know it is a factor. I think that it is hard to get married in Cairo unless you are independently wealthy... But I don't think that is the only factor in the Islamic revival that is happening in Egypt right now. Allahu alim.

Ummsafeer, Ahlan was ahlan. Thanks for commenting and I'm glad you have found some good links, there are some great sisters out there bloggin, masha'Allah. I agree that Cairo is the party city for Saudis, and Egyptians know it (and hate it!LOL). But overall Egyptians are pretty conservative people Christian or Muslim. I do think there is this air of watch out for the Muslims in every article I see like this. What people in the US don't realise is that the origonal "war on terror" started in Egpyt. When the Brotherhood of Islam (the father of all these other groups) was causing trouble there they really cracked down hard on them, and I seriously doubt that Mubaruk will allow any extremist movement to happen without squasing it as quickly as he can!LOL I just think the article goes to show that Islam spreading is scary for Americans in general... They don't understand it.

Mona said...

Ack, this article really bugged. Wordy Mcword to what ummhana said about appearing religious.
Another factor in addition to the apartement shortage is the demands that getting married in Egypt entail. Who buys what,etc... It is expected to pay a high dowery, buy fancy (garish gold) furnishings, curtains and it's just not easy going like it is in the States.

Aeryn said...

Asalaam Alaikum,

Don'tcha just love that two unrelated things can become related to satisfy someone's bias? It is interesting to note, from my own experience, that sometimes it is better to wait until you are a bit older to marry. I think really a person needs to do self evaluation to figure out if they are in a place where they can be in a marriage. Too many people think it is such an easy thing to do, and really a marriage takes a lot of hard work. I don't think there is one "best" age to get married. Just my two cents.

May Allah bless you and your family,

Aeryn

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