Love is in the air and marriages are blooming. It’s officially post Ramadan wedding season. Coincidentally I came across a new reality show called “Married at First Sight”. It features 6 strangers (3 couples) who first meet each other at their wedding. A real legally binding marriage. They don’t even know the others name until at the alter.
It is basically a social experiment where they are matched by a professional a sexologist, spiritualist, psychologist, and sociologist to find their perfect mate. After meeting with thousands of people these 6 were matched and chosen. They were followed for 6 weeks and in the end have to decide if they want to stay married or get divorced.
When i first came across this show my mind immediately went to traditional matchmakers or as we south Asians like to call them “rishta aunties”. Arranged marriages have become something that is now looked down upon and considered backwards, even in our muslim community, even though they have been successfully working for ages. The concept of a romantic marriage is fairly new. In America wealthy colonial families traditionally arranged marriages to maintain ethnic, cultural and economic ties in the 17th and 18th century. I know my parents and their peers (majority) had these arranged marriages where they didn’t get to speak to or interact with their prospective spouse until after the “nikkah”, and guess what- 90% of them are still happily married.
Just like how these “professionals” in the show studied the couples, their family background, their religious followings, income level, and so on to make a match is exactly what our deen says to compare when making matches. Through dating to find a spouse people have been choosing each other for the wrong reason and bringing in a “matchmaker” helps them make decisions based on the right reasons. Another thing i found interesting that was mentioned in the show is, “When you’re married it forces you to work on the relationship no matter what.” Once someone is married they have more of a motive to make the relationship work. Dating began after marriage so from the get go their intentions were to make this work, and were looking to move forward. I am curious to know what these couples decide in the end.
I just want to clarify this is completely different from forced marriages where one or both of the people involved dont have a say. The arranged/blind marriages I’ve been talking about are the ones both husband and wife agree with and are okay with marrying the other without dating/meeting before the wedding. Forced marriages are unislamic, inhumane, and i am completely against them.
In regard to arranged marriages I am not pro or against, to each their own. I dont think it’s that black and white for me to be able to say “yes that is the way to go”, or “no, not a good idea”. A lot goes into it, and everyone has their preference. I just found it interesting that the idea is being explored again, be it for entertainment purposes, these were still real lives and real marriages. I am just in awe and love how the beauty of our deen and what it teaches shines through. Dating after marriage has been such a foreign concept to my non muslim friends and coworkers. They just couldn’t fathom that educated Americans would be having arranged marriages and would link it back to Islam being an “oppressive” religion. Hopefully, maybe? this series will help show arranged marriages in another light- Show that it takes the pressure off of finding a spouse and actually getting to enjoy the dating process knowing that “this is the one.” To show that there are many fish in the sea, but you dont have to go through all of them to find yours, instead spend that time getting to know your fish and making it work. (corny i know..lol)
Would love to hear your thoughts, so please do share!