The Role of The Parents
The role of the parents in the wedding cannot be denied, for their decision, actions and influence are a large factor in all marriages, not just in the case of arranged marriages.
Today, how many parents want their child to be for Allah, and arrange marriages and weddings for their children purely for the sake of Allah?
Looking at the vast majority, it does not seem that parents seriously believe that they will be accountable to Allah about their children and their contribution to their journey in the hereafter. As an example, how many parents raise their children to be good husbands and wives in order for them to continue carrying the banner of Islam? How many parents educate their children about how to be responsible spouses?
The reality is that most parents focus on the attainment of dunia. They are heavily engaged in their children's exams, school activities, pursuit of careers and academic degrees, in order to ensure that their children secure good jobs and are financially sound. The education of the material world is highly emphasized, and parents ignore their duty to educate and groom their children to have the Islamic qualities of men and women. In the marriage of the children, the priority is the fancy wedding: a public display to satisfy their selfish nafs, not for the goodness of our own daughter, son or mankind.
From the outset, parents raise their children to adopt the wrong priorities in life. The typical son is pressured into earning a good income and having a sizeable bank account prior to being considered an eligible bachelor – it does not matter if he is selfish or emotionally irresponsible. The typical daughter is trained to pay attention to her beauty and cooking skills, rather than to be a pious and good hearted woman.
When parents have a say in the choice of spouse, most often their choices are based on tribalism, bloodline and culture. Our ummah has regressed to jahiliyyah, the state of pre Islamic ignorance. Many parents have prohibited marriages on the grounds that the intended spouse does not come from the right ancestry, country or even community.
On the other hand, parents are often accommodating if the intended spouse is wealthy, comes from the right bloodline and has suitable connections in society. If the groom has a passport from a wealthy Western nation like the USA or Canada, even better. If this material checklist is satisfied, parents are willing to marry their children off purely for dunia comforts, with no thought to the implications of the hereafter. They mistakenly believe that dunia criteria is enough to make their children happy and secure.
Ugly traits such as racism and class consciousness surface very clearly when the topic of marriage is on the table, and these traits take priority over Islam. Let's be honest - we admire Bilal RA, the emancipated Abyssinian slave who was one of the most pious Muslims, but how many parents today would allow their daughters to marry someone like him because of his skin colour?
As for the bride and groom, they feel compelled to please their parents, aunties and uncles, and feel pressured to the point that they succumb to the parents’ wishes to avoid confrontations and to keep the peace. In the majority of cases, Islam is disregarded or suspended, and seen as irrelevant in the marriage structure.
There is example after example of how the pious men of the early days married their daughters to those who were strong believers in preference over rulers and princes, in order that their daughters' faith remain uncompromised by material comforts and so that she would not be swayed from her journey to jannah. Today, we would not even dream of doing the same thing for our daughters. What will the neighbours say if she lives a frugal life? What will society say if our son in laws do not have status?
How many marriages have been opposed by family and society because the intended spouse did not come from a sufficiently well connected background? How many marriages have been blocked because one has not met the criteria of the right looks, color of skin, race and career? How many incidents are there in society where women are forced to marry past their prime because of social expectations in terms of income and wealth? How many people have to wait years in order to save up for their wedding because their parents succumb to society’s demands for extravagant wedding celebrations?
Parents should understand that marriage is a corporation. It is a corporation built on the taqwa of Allah, not on the enticements of dunia. Marriage is not a game, and the criteria should be the manner and character of the intended daughter or son in law, not the jobs, earning capacity or beauty. If we want the best for our children, then be kind to them, and pick someone with the qualities that really matter in the long run. Raise them well so that their beautiful qualities will attract someone of comparable quality.
Advice for the Parents
It is a serious duty to be implemented and both husband and wives have duties to perform. As parents, if we set our intention on the correct reasons for the marriage of our children, all else will fall into place, including the correct selection process, the wedding ceremony and the happiness of our children’s marriage. If our goal and intention was flimsy, unconvincing and empty, everything will fall apart, and we perpetuate our own mistakes to the next generation.
The parents can plant a thorn and the kids collect the crops, and society pays for it. Or the parents can plant a beautiful tree, the kids will reap the fruits, and society will benefit from it.