Does origin really matter?

Great article below from a favourite of ours: The Muslim Paper.


By Zarqa Khan.

In terms of people, origin describes our ancestry, our roots, our parentage and background. For young Muslims living in a multicultural society in London, we generally have a mix of friends from diverse backgrounds and tend to leave our culture at home when mixing. However, origin is something we question quite early on when building a network of friends, because as humans, we are naturally curious and it helps us to envisage a person’s culture and lifestyle. It also helps us to build a foundation of commonality between us. Origin is such, that in the South Asian community during our childhood, quite often, instead of being treated to sunny beach resorts during the summer hols (that we often look forward to), our parents take us back to our homeland (Pakistan, Bangladesh, India etc.) Their intention being that we are aware of our roots, traditions, and culture through visiting extended family.

Many people fall in love with people of other origins. What is all the fuss about I wonder? For many British Muslims the criterion sought in a potential partner becomes irrelevant as long as they are Muslim.

Would it be fair to say that seeking a suitable partner for marriage has become increasingly difficult, since some of us Brits choose to reject proposals from back home or we are obsessed with physical attributes such as height and complexion, or perhaps material wealth and status is very important to us?

However, over recent years, singletons have succumbed to the fact that perfection does not exist. Islamic teachings suggest that we should not decline a potential marriage proposal because of a person’s ethnic origin. A Muslim matrimonial website for singles globally recently revealed through an on-going singles poll, the importance of marrying someone with the same nationality. Results reveal that 24.15% agreed that it is very important that their partner shares the same nationality: 36.31% felt that nationality is a consideration, but not an essential one. However, a staggering 40.38% felt that nationality doesn’t matter when looking for a marriage partner.

Typically, with the exception of a few, the Muslim bride joins the groom’s family and makes adjustments to her lifestyle, by moving out of her parents’ home. She also carries forward his family lineage. Because of this, the children are usually taught the father’s language and therefore, it is believed that diverse origins are welcomed by the male more openly than the female. However, people still have their reservations about marrying someone from a different origin. These include concerns of family culture clashes, losing one’s cultural identity, concerns that only father’s language would be taught to future children and some feel that it would be unfair on their future children to be brought up with a mixed background. Furthermore, the communication between two families joined in matrimony and them getting on well is something that is desired by most. Thus, quite often, Brits barricade themselves from looking further than their own origin and this has contributed to the increasing number of single people, as they are restricting their options.

Language barriers can easily be overcome by the use of common languages, i.e. English. It also depends on the individual and their flexibility and the type of lifestyle one is willing to lead. For example, if a couple live their life according to Islamic teachings and not culture, they would probably find it easier to mix. When seeking a marriage partner, it would be wise to discuss issues such as lifestyle, culture, traditions, religious views, expectations and future upbringing of children beforehand to establish a common ground for a potential mixed marriage. This would in essence, enhance the success of a potential marriage. Well go on…ask yourself, does origin really matter?

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2 Responses

  1. Hudayfah says:

    To be honest I come from a mixed background of Arabic and English and I would say that ultimately it doesn’t work very well. I feel isolated from both sides, with the English I don’t fit in because of my religion and with the Arabs because I don’t look like them and also because I can’t speak the language. Also my dad is from a 3rd world country and my mum from a 1st world country so they have completely different ways of looking at things which causes major clashes. I guess it can work but you have to put a lot of effort and both sides have to work very hard. Also it would help if both parents actively taught their kids the applicable and useful parts of their cultures, like teaching the children their respective languages so that they can communicate with their cousins, aunts, uncles etc back home.

  2. Niqabi says:

    Perhaps ethnic origin would be less important if the couple grew up in a similar cultural environment…
    @ Hudayfah, were your parents both raised in the same country? Marrying within ones culture does make things easier for the children, and it’s nice when families share cultural similarities (that aren’t against Islam). However, it could also be just as nice having a mixed family, if the children are taught about both sides of the family and both languages. Research has shown that children who grow up in mixed families, and are taught about both side are better off and become more successful than those who are taught only about one side, or neither, and those raised in families from the same ethnic background.

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