Teen Perspective, a column on Muslim teen issues

November 2002

Teenagers and Marriage:
Not a Lethal Combination

by Shezena T. Mohammed

As I start to get older and begin to experience adulthood, I don't think any aspect of growing up has hit me so hard as the concept of marriage. Not only marriage, but marriage and me. The first time someone I considered to be one of my peers told me that she was getting married, I couldn't believe it. No one our age ever got married. We weren't at the age where it's normal to get married and I wondered why anyone our age would want to do so anyway. And then suddenly I realized that we were at that age.

Everyone Has an Opinion

I often hear people saying that teenagers should never get married. They are too young, they say, why would they need to get married now, they need to study or finish growing up or even find themselves first, and then can think about marriage, but they have no business getting married now. And then of course there are those who say teenagers must get married while they are young, it's sunnah, living in America without a spouse is just too much, and they will surely go astray if they don't. With all these opinions floating around and a different one coming from everyone you ever knew, it can be hard for parents, walis, and unwed singles to see what they should do.

Marriage is very important not only for us but our Ummah as well. Family is one of the building blocks of Islam and we should take our roles very seriously. Getting into this is something we should do with much care and consideration. We need to know what comes with it and what is expected of us. Going into marriage prematurely can have irreparable consequences and could really damage the marriage. But we cannot wait too long to get married either. This is half our deen, we should not wait needlessly. I've never heard anyone object for a teenager to perform Hajj which is a pillar of Islam, but I've heard over and over again objections to teenagers getting married which is even more. Our Prophet (SAW) said that marriage is half our deen. We shouldn't make this something only attainable to older people. Marriage protects us from immoral behavior and the sooner we have that guard the better off we are.

The Question of Readiness

It is expressed over and over again in the Quran and sunnah that Muslims should get married as young as they can and are ready to. It's no use being able to get married if you are not ready, you must have one with the other. I think a lot of the problems people have with teenagers and marriage is knowing when someone is ready. They assume that teenagers are not capable of being ready because of all the other teenagers around them. I think that most devout Muslim teenagers are not like other Western teenagers and really should not be treated like such. We aren't just overgrown children and we are raised in a much different manner and most of us don't have the same attitudes about marriage and that kind of commitment as other non-Muslim teenagers do, so we would be ready at different times than other non Muslim people. Of course just the ways things are, not everyone would be ready at the same time and should not be rushed to becoming ready. This is a huge part of your life and Islam and rushing it needlessly can only bring problems. We should only get married when we are ready, not when anyone else thinks we are ready. We should stop concentrating so much about if other people think it is the right time for us and think about if we and our parents think it is the right time for us. Our parents play a very important role in selecting a mate, they will be able to see things that we don't just because they are able to look more critically at the person than we can and they are looking out for our best interest.

Doing it for Allah

Getting married is a big thing and is something that should not be taken lightly. It's your life that will be changed, so you need to be the one who is sure that the time is right. But being ready doesn't mean as soon as you reach a certain age or as soon as a woman can change a diaper in thirty seconds and make dinner in an hour or when a man has a steady job and can afford to buy his wife a new piece of jewelry every six months and the necessities for having a baby. Marriage is much more than that, so preparing yourself for marriage should be much more than that too. In order to have the best marriage possible, the intended should try to be the best Muslims possible, not only during marriage, but before it too. No one would expect a bicycle to ride well with one flat wheel and especially not two. You may feel that you are financially ready, and that you are mature enough to do something like this and know and understand what comes with marriage, but you also need to want to get married. Not many would want to marry someone who doesn't really know if they want to do this yet. You need to want to do this for the right reasons. Getting married is half of our deen and we should want to do it because it will please Allah (SWT), not because anyone else wants us to, or you are capable, but for Allah (SWT) only. This needs to be the number one reason, for this and everything else we do in life.

Have Realistic Expectations

I think that a lot of the expectations people have of marriage could lead to disappointment. We live in a world that portrays marriage as either this wonderful commitment that is filled with rose petals on satin sheets, or a miserable prison with a nagging spouse as the prison guard. Marriage isn't either of these, it's not bliss and it's not a trap either. I'm sure marriage is wonderful at times but I'm sure it won't be without problems either. If people were to understand what marriage is and all that comes with it, I'm sure there would be less problems. A lot of people I know say that they try to have low expectations of marriage so they won't be disappointed, but we don't need to be fatalistic or cynical, we just need to have realistic expectations of what's it going to be like. We also need to know what is expected of us when we get married. We must know what we are getting into. Marriage may be not a steamy romance, especially at first, but we need to have the kind of compassionate love that will last for years and grow all the while. Psychologists have said this is the kind of love that will last, not a crush or anything like that. If we go into marriage knowing that this is what it's going to be like, it'll be better. We need to know the requirements and the expectations of us when we go into this. This is a commitment for your whole life and Insha'Allah jannah too, so you need to know what you are getting first.

Trust in Allah

We also cannot let this become a cause for great stress and let ourselves become overwhelmed when we aren't getting married as soon as we like. Allah (SWT) has a plan for each of us, all the pages have been written and the ink has dried so we just need to trust in Allah (SWT) for what is to come and in the meantime we can always better ourselves and prepare ourselves more. We should all know what comes with marriage, the things that are required, the right ways to deal with different situations, your and your mate's rights and duties to one another.

Although marriage may seem complicated at times, it doesn't have to be. And teenagers getting married doesn't have to be complicated either. We need to think about what would be best for us and not play a passive role when deciding when the right time is and who we should marry. We shouldn't let it overwhelm us. It is something to be treasured for all our lives and when the time comes, Insha'Allah if we trust in Allah (SWT) and keep to our faith, we will have marriages that will last forever.

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