by Jasper Hamill - http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/home-news/muslim-leader-find-wives-in-britain-not-pakistan-and-india-1.1029860
23 May 2010
Muslim men have been told to marry women born in Scotland rather than import wives from Pakistan and India.
Shaykh Amer Jamil, a Glasgow-born Islamic scholar, warned that Asian women who have grown up in Scotland are being left on the shelf in favour of wives
from outside the country.
Parents often prefer their sons to have arranged marriages with women who grew up in the Indian sub-continent, as they are seen as better partners. But
this means there are increasing numbers of British women unable to find a husband.
Islamic dating events have been set up to try and address the situation, but the balance is so heavily weighted towards women that few marriages result
from these events.
Shaykh Jamil, an Islamic scholar who set up a family counselling service called Unity Family Services, said: “I would say the situation is at a critical
level. There are many well-educated women up and down the country who want to get married but are not finding the right match. There is an acute shortage
of suitable male options and the ones who are available are getting married from back home.
“Consequently, this leads to many women reluctantly having to bring someone over from south Asia and that can lead to problems. The men coming over have
a different mentality and are not used to seeing a female working or having a life outside of the home. It makes sense to marry from within the UK as both
partners will speak English and will be familiar with British culture. This will also make raising children much easier.”
There are also community cohesion implications to the trend, as women come over from Pakistan who cannot speak English and are unused to the culture.
Arranged marriages are often facilitated by an informal matchmaking network of women called Aunty Gees. Shaaista Yousaf is one of these women and she has
been arranging marriages for more than a decade. Currently, she knows 30 eligible males and 80 females.
She explained: “There are mothers who insist their daughters only marry within a specific caste. They don’t like them getting married outside of the biraderi
[extended clan affiliation]. Such an issue automatically narrows their choice.
“There are also girls who are not prepared to stay with the in-laws. They want their own home, their own privacy. Girls brought over from Pakistan know
how to live with the extended families and the family politics that come as a result of that. Girls from here are not used to that.”
Naseem Khan ran Muslim marriage events in Glasgow for five years. She said that attitudes are changing amongst the younger generation, who want different
things from a relationship.
She said: “Our mothers came here and brought with them some cultural baggage that led them to get their daughters married within the family, within the
same caste or someone who they had given their word to back in Pakistan. Such attitudes are not prevalent amongst me or my friends. We are more flexible.”
Figures from the Home Office show that 12,700 husbands or fiances were admitted in 2008, a 16% reduction from 2007. Almost twice the number of wives or
fiancees were admitted, with 24,100 in 2008, although this still represents a 14% decrease from 2007. A high proportion of these partners were from Asia.
Amina is a 38-year-old single woman from Glasgow. She is currently unemployed, but worked in accounts before retraining with a degree in music. Amina (not
her real name) then worked in London’s music industry for five years before returning to Glasgow.
“People ask questions if you don’t have a partner by my age,” she says. “They realise I’ve had a career and done other things, rather than brought up children.
“Parents want men to marry from back home – it is one of the biggest problems in the Asian community. Mothers think the girls [here] are not good enough;
they don’t have the attributes of girls back home, who will be better wives. They think girls here are too independent.”
Interesting article, and sadly very true! The Glasgow situation that I live in is representative of a wider problem across the Muslim world in Europe, the US and almost all non-Muslim countries where the Diaspora have put down routes. I’d love to say it was an exclusively Asian problem, or that it existed primarily among one branch of Islam or another; but it doesn’t; its every where; all across the board and growing! There are multiple layers to the marriage problem facing young Muslims today. From the moment they learn to talk, the prejudices are taught; no black people, no white people, no disabled people, no one from outside our cast, no one unemployed, no one without a masters degree, no one older than you, .., and so on, and so on! Thus making the shortlist incredibly short, (maybe narrowed down to 2 cousins and a family friend in some cases). The youth are never given logical guidelines for finding a spouse, and little concern is given to what Islam says about marriage and the criterion for selecting a husband or wife. The result is that we have rising proportions of forced marriages in this country, and as the article describes, vast numbers of women in their thirties and forties who have been unable to marry despite their best efforts, and with every year that passes, their prospects dwindle further still!
Men, on the other hand, often get their cake and eat it so to speak! Many of them shack up with white women for a while, play the field and experiment with their own kind, before asking ami jaan to ship over a nice pure untouched virgin from the mother land to give them their jollies! There is no age bracket during which men are duty bound to do this; only last week, I heard of a 67-year-old man who brought over a 25-year-old bride from India, with no one batting an eyelid!
As well as the indigenous Muslim communities, reverts have their own marriage difficulties! No one wants a black/white revert in the family, they are not from their “own communities”, (you thought we were all Muslims? …, think again!!). The assumption also tends to be that reverts will have been quite loose and promiscuous, and therefore not worth taking a risk on. If reverts do marry, it is often to unscrupulous types from other countries (as happened with me), who soon hot foot it away when their visa papers come through and they have their red passports in their hands!
The majority of our UK based Muslim Scholars are in agreement with Shaykh Amer, in that men/women should marry from within the UK, and for 7 years I tried to do just that! 7 whole years, where I met more potential spouses than I could begin to count, each of them smiling awkwardly and recoiling nervously at the fact I am white, blind an divorced!! 7 years, where like all of my counterparts, I was losing faith in the very institution of marriage, that is, until I met my future husband!
While Reza and I are happy together, and I know I’ve finally found the right match for me, it would have been much easier for me to marry from within the UK, I would not have all the expense of travel, lawyers fees, immigration barriers and other assorted headaches. Neither of us would be forced to juggle conflicting family priorities on opposite sides of the world, while one constantly carries a burden of guilt for forcing the other away from their land and all that is familiar! Had I been able to marry in the UK, I might have found a man that my family could relate to, who would better understand the fact that my parents are not Muslims and help me work through that. We would both be near our parents and would be able to manage our responsibilities without resentment, expense and conflict! We would have more uniformity on how to raise our children, and would have a shared understanding of how things are done here and how to make this Non-Muslim society work for our Muslim offspring! But, I never had any of these advantages, was never given the option because I had non-Muslim parents, because I didn’t resemble a particular Indian actress or other, and wasn’t from the preferred Pind where my prospective husband’s Grandparents haled from! If British Muslim men are reading this, I hope they feel shame enough to do something about it! and as for the parents, if your children are suffering, wake up to the reality that is around you: its 2010, you have made a home here in Scotland rather than Pakistan, and perhaps you should embrace it for the sake of your kids and their kids! If you don’t like the diversity here, jump on the next banana boat and let us build the multi-ethnic community of Muslims we deserve rather than creating a miniature Pakistan fresh out of the sixties!