With “spoopy” season coming to a close, we’re quickly approaching the greatest time of year for rishtay wali aunties, or match-making aunties: cuffing season.
If you’re a woman in your twenties, this might be year round for y’all. You’ll get stopped at random dinner parties and questioned about your life plans by aunties you’ve never met. Your dad might come home from jummah, saying he just ran into some dude you went to elementary school with, who’s an engineer now at a tech start-up. Your grandmother will ask (lacking any kind of subtlety) when you’ll be getting married.
And maybe you’re open to the idea, or having some serious FOMO sifting through engagement announcements on your Facebook homepage. Maybe it’s a mix of PMS, and baby fever. Or maybe the pieces have actually (alhumdulillah) come together, and you feel ready to get married. Whatever the reason, you’ve started to consider your options. You’re out of school now, and hadn’t really liked anyone in the MSA.
What are your options? You scour the web pages of your local masjid for upcoming events. There’s that woman in the community who knows the scoop on almost everybody. And then there are dating apps.
So I, and our Social Media Editor Hadeel, endured the awkward cluster of Muslim dating profiles so you don’t have to (you’re very welcome). Here’s what happened. Hadeel will be like an interjecting ghost throughout this article. She just wants somewhere to vent.
As I’ve gotten older, my relationship with marriage has been quite tumultuous. Too often, it feels like a chore, an item to check off on society’s list of expectations. I was raised thinking that I would graduate college at 22, begin working, and get married soon after. At twenty-five, I’ve learned that that proposed timeline is often unrealistic. There are outliers of course, exceptions to the rule, but for many women, it might take a little more time.
The culture around marriage within South Asian Muslim communities can often breed toxicity—something I’ve had the unique opportunity to witness first-hand.
The months, or years after, however, can be difficult on our self-image, making us wonder if there was something we had done wrong for not having the fairytale at twenty-three, fueled by the comments made to us by other women we know. There are comparisons made between us, unsolicited advice offered, suggestions to reconsider men you had turned down for legitimate reasons. The culture around marriage within South Asian Muslim communities can often breed toxicity—something I’ve had the unique opportunity to witness first-hand.
You see, my mother is our local rishtay wali auntie; she is the person people turn to when trying to get their children hitched. Her email is cluttered with folders full of information on eligible men and women provided by their concerned parents. They’ll call and offer the basics: name, age, occupation, a promise to send their kids’ photos within the hour. Their voices are always rushed, worn down with worry because their child is on the brink of, or has already aged out of the post-grad timeline I had mentioned earlier. Depending on the parent, they might also list their requirements; these will vary from “must come from a good family” to “doctor”, and “fair skin, skinny”. Having to endure these conversations second hand, it’s not surprising that I would be skeptical of the process, seeking out other avenues that could be used to get married.
A live look at my mom during her standout performance in Mulan (1998).
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Muslim World Today.