Dr.Sheikh Arshid Ahmad
Marriage (Nikah) is considered as a divine and holy alliance between two unknown souls and is highly recommended and acceptable in the eyes of Almighty Allah. In Islam it has great value and respect as it is the kind of bond through which love is celebrated in peaceful and virtous manner without considering it as a sign of wrong doing. Role model of humankind Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) explicitly stated the importance of marriage in many hadith and said in one of his sayings Marriage is my Sunnah; whosoever keeps away from it has nothing to do with us (Ibn-majah). Marriage is described as the legal contract between a man and a woman properly recognised by laws or customs and involves certain rights and duties that mark the beginning of the family. Marriage is not only physical contact but a spiritual and emotional tie-up between the two souls. It is meant for the restriction of indulging in any kind of illegitimate or sexually assaulting siuations. Marriage not only binds two persons but many families who trust upon each other on the bases of love, relationship and connection. Marriage is the only act of reproduction which is legally treated accepted in society and is properly signed on the matrimonial contract so that people may not have any sort of suspicion over the relationship. From a religious point of view, there is no specific age bar for getting married, however; after achieving the age of maturity a male should have to marry with female as soon as possible and to check the indulgence in nefarious activities such as romanticism, sexual assaults and other associated problems, this is mandatory to go for marriage but not so early. Legally the marriageable age of the girl in India is 18 and for boys, it is 21.While in Pakistan legal age for marriage is 16 for women and 18 for men and it varies from country to country but as per the Islamic point of view the marriagible age is after achieving proper puberty.
According to Prophet Mohammad (pbuh):
“O you young men! Whoever is able to marry should marry , for that will help him to lower his gaze and guard his modesty.”
” Modesty was regarded as a great virtue by the prophet. He said,Modesty is a part of faith.”
“Marriage is my sunnah. Whosoever keeps away from it is not from me.”
“When a man marries , he has fulfilled half of his religion, so let him fear regarding the remaining half”
The fact is now that we must realize and comprehend the situation thoroughly that by delaying marriages we are doing totally injustice with norms of the society, morally, ethically and religiously .
Unfortunately, in connection with marriages, society is facing a grave and prolonged problem with the parents are getting their children married after crossing the proper marriageable age that is so late that affects them socially, psychologically and physiologically as well. People have realized negative impacts of the late marriages and it has given birth to a new issue and challenge. A study regarding the number of unmarried over-aged women has shown about 10,000 girls have crossed marriageable age in Srinagar alone and equal number of men who have also crossed the age of marriage. In rural areas it has been reported that there are some evidences of those men and women who have also crossed marriageable age. Despite the fact that the late marriage is equally disadvantageous for both genders, in case of females it is and should be treated as the grave problem. Because we are living in the banal and patriarchial society where inducing a change is onerous, the birth of a girl is still looking a burden over her parents and getting her hand decorated with henna is also a kind of great challenge. Kashmir popularly called as “Pere waer” land of Saints, treated as heavenly abode where people feel a sense of cool, calm and beautiful place for worship and meditation. But with passing time things have changed now completely with the arise of numerous social issues such as late marriges, Dowry, lack of restraint in spending money on weddings, unemployment and aiming a comfortable life . These prevailing issues continuously nagging the way of style of individuals of the society in both subtle and obvious ways but late marriage is the well established social issue among all issues. Demanding of dowry from in laws, is one of the basic existing causes of late-marriages. As per fresh reports, number of deaths was reported in the last 3yrs over the demand of dowry by in-laws in Kashmir. This evil has impeded the poor parents to think about wed-locking of their girls. Money spending in extravaganza ways in marriages, especially in the preparation of those dishes which are visually pleasing to the eyes; even currency notes of the high denominations were presented to guests placed at the top of dish plates this trend induces others especially poor families negative sense who cannot bear all these expenses to elude disgrace and they succumb to huge pressure and frustration. Among these families oversensitive daughters can’t resist the humiliation and frustration and finish their life by suicide on consuming some poisonous material or hang themselves from the ceiling. Unemployment can also be the factor of late marriages as it snatches all kind of prosperity. To live the life with the aim of prosperity and comforts everyone does not succeed to fulfill this situation and even it is not possible if they are employed. So, for making a successful and happy life, getting a job (especially government job) becomes the first priority of every man. Employment being financial security also prefer to find their opposite sex if they are employed. Unemployment is rising uninterruptedly and even employment is not written in every ones fate so better is to delink marriage from employment and simultaneously a simple platform is made to do the marriages in austere way. Government can play an active role to avail the opportunity of jobs for every one or can find alternatives where every individual whether rich or poor can exercise the right equally without any negative. One more factor that is responsible for late marriage of girls is the living a life in a luxurious way as they are induced by the people who live a comfortable, elegant and enjoyable life. This has forced many young men and women to involve in those enforced activities to gain economic prosperity but they fail to do so and followed by the great change in their life this has resulted only in the wastage of right time of marriage. Apart from some serious concerns other factors have been experienced is the different attitudes of families towards cast system. In fact there are families who would prefer not to marry if they don’t find a caste match. Without highlighting anyone, this caste dependency has created huge barriers in many sections of our population. The people who belong to lower castes are getting rejected and they have to wait for longer time to find a caste compatible partner.The unnecessary trend of delayed marriages in Kashmir will have serious consequences for our future generations also. In Kashmir for the past few decades, the average age of marriage for male has increased from 24 to 32 and in females from 21 to 28 and in current past it has been increased further more and now It is the matter ofmost serious concern. National Health Profile 2015 compiled by Central Bureau of Health Intelligence, under Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, shows that mean age of marriage for females in JK is higher than any other state. In 2010, a research study conducted by the Department of Sociology, University of Kashmir, revealed that 55 percent of the total population of Kashmir never actually gets married even after attaining the standard marriageable age. This is followed by negative implications like mental depression, increase in suicide rate, indulgence in immodesty activities and other delinquent activities. The late marriages come with many biological problems also. The declining fertility rate among Kashmiri women, less ovulation calculation, late and difficulyt in conceiving a child, high risk of general maternal health problems like high blood pressure, high risk of miscarriages, increased risk of children having congenital abnormalities, preeclampsia, and prolonged labour while pregnancy. They are not also able to show motherly treatment with their babies as they are facing number of health complications so they prefer to cope up with their own health issues rather than caring of babies. To resolve this grave issue, one and all have to come forward for the elimination of above-mentioned problems. First preference must be given to eradication of dowry issue. Every individual of the society must understand the consequence of dowry and should start to work against this social evil. Anti-dowry laws should be stricter that can help to contain the problem. Wealthy families should abstain from spending money on ceremonies in excess and choose simpler way of making marriages, giving preferences to local girls for the union is the responsibility of every young man. We as Muslims need to remember Nikah has been made easy so don’t evade the realm of simplicity and austerity of it. By complicating and making it difficult we are giving space to evils for which definitely we would be asked on the dooms day. Rich families need to think of lower-classes who get suffered by their undesirable ostentation. At the society level the individuals of the society need to form social reform communities or social service communities so that they can monitor the society closely to protect any untoward happening or ceremony which is against the norms of the society or prevent the poor and lower class people from distraction. The fact is now that we must realize and comprehend the situation thoroughly that by delaying marriages we are doing totally injustice with norms of the society, morally, ethically and religiously .We have big responsibility on our shoulders to tackle the grave concern. Some greater remedial setups have already been established in the name Humsafar Marriage Counseling Cell, Nikka service centers, Center for marriage counseling have been opened to reform the social system in order to remove the social diseases or evils such as extravagance , dowry system, unwieldy customs etc from our society.
(The author is a research scholar from Kuchmullah Tral . Views are his own, email@example.com)