Another common orientalist trope in Western media: The sad Muslim bride forced into marriage. But this is not Western media. It is Aljazeera.
Reflect on the hypocrisy on display with Western culture. It is considered healthy and acceptable for children as young as kindergarten (5 year olds) to “explore their sexual identities” or even their gender. It is perfectly acceptable for school children (6-12 year olds) to be involved with sexting and sexual relationships (as long as it is “safe” sex!). It is natural for high school kids (13-18 year olds) to be sexually active and fornicate to their hearts’ content. Only the “late bloomers” are still virgins by freshmen year of college.
But if a 15 year old gets married, suddenly that is a human rights violation and a crime against humanity?
Western standards of sex and marriage are projected onto the rest of the world, but to understand these practices, we have to understand the larger social context. Within kinship-based societies, marriage has more than just romantic significance. It has economic and social significance as well. Getting married is an important way to connect families and to create larger networks of support and economic opportunity. Marriage is also the primary avenue of socialization and religious development for young adults.
None of this makes sense from a Western paradigm because Western states have systematically destroyed kinship structures and destroyed the family unit, forcing their populations into an atomized existence, where all must be servile to the state and its corporate subsidiaries.
Westerners can understand these marriages with a simple analogy. Marriage in kinship-based societies is an institution analogous to formal education as an institution in Western states. In the West, children are *forced* — against their will — to attend primary school education and then college. This schooling is a means of socialization (i.e., tarbiyya) and often is the only path to economic opportunity and social mobility.
Of course, “education” is glamorized in modern discourse, but the reality for many people is that their education buys them a spot as a lowly cog in the engine of corporate drudgery, and only if they’re lucky. The vast majority have to content themselves as blue collar or service workers slogging long hours to scrape out a modest living. This is what education buys them, yet we are keen to export this panacea to the rest of the world, i.e., to make sure the poor girls of Niger leave their “forced” marriages to “willingly” go work in the sweatshop. I mean, what other amazing career paths exist in the villages of Niger? Or Afghanistan? Or Iraq? Last time I checked, there weren’t many Fortune 500 companies opening offices in this locales. Only us lucky ones in the West get to enjoy deep, fulfilling, meaningful careers as corporate peons, toiling our lives away in order to ensure that investors see sufficient growth from one fiscal quarter to the next.
Islam is a kinship based deen. The family structure is the cornerstone of any healthy society. The majority of the maladies we see around us is due to the disintegration of this structure. We have to be aware of these larger dynamics and be prepared to defend the rationality, morality, and superiority of Islam if we want to address the attacks against the Sharia when it comes to the fiqh of marriage without resorting to superficial reactionism. Unfortunately, the reality is that the average Muslim would be scandalized by the uncensored, unabridged fiqh of nikah. That is why Aljazeera can publish trash like this without pushback.
NB: if you go through the details of this report, you can plainly see how insidious it really is. The father explains that his daughter was secretly hanging out with a specific boy, so, given the circumstances and his consideration of the situation, he said they need to get married. Seems like a good decision by all accounts. Preventing zina is so important and if there is no reason to delay, why do so? We need to be applauding this father and mother and learn from their example.
And the bride herself admits that her husband is treating her well. I bet she isn’t really even that broken up about it but that does not stop Aljazeera from making it look like the biggest tragedy of all time. When Muslim women are actually surveyed about their views on being married off early, the vast majority support it and for good reason, but don’t expect that to make CNN or BBC. They just dismiss these opinions as internalized patriarchy, false consciousness, and due to a lack of “education,” i.e., Western brainwashing.
Furthermore, look at how much they are pushing these UN aid agencies as the saviors who are “educating” the Muslims to avoid early marriage and to limit the number of children they have. This is the kind of social engineering being used to fundamentally disrupt and corrupt the Muslim world under the guise of aid. In reality, it is a continuation of colonization.