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True happiness is when we embrace our seasons in life

OPINION
By Osman Abdinasir | June 30th 2018

The reality of today is that people of all ages find themselves at different points, in different types of relationship.

Facebook has given us eleven categories to choose from – “single”, “in a relationship”, “engaged”… the list goes on.

That’s good for advertisers but bad for humanity. I choose my category – a single Muslim guy - and it’s not complicated: I am just me. It is about time men and women all accepted each other as being where we are, not where we want the other to be.

Diversity is a reality and social media is here to stay. And, in fact the face of marriage has always been changing over time.

Generally, the pressure to get married is talked about for women, but men feel it too. Once you come of age, the pressure to get married is immense.

Marriage is considered to be half the religion for a Muslim. Even if I obediently perform all my obligatory prayers, fast and give to charity but remain unmarried, I am still considered lacking half my religion.

Omar Ibn Khatab, R.A., the second Khalifa of Islam and one of the closest companions of the Prophet, is quoted saying that he does not see a reason why a young man should not get married unless he is unable.

For fear of being misunderstood, I want to state that I want to attain half my religion but also, I find myself pulled in different directions.

Since the second Khalifa’s time, the reality is that finance seems to be today’s expectation and qualifier to get married, in my culture and many others.

No one wants to marry a pauper and few people have an easy journey to becoming eligible. Either you learn to become financially responsible or you might take risks to get by. For me, I will forego marrying young because I want to acquire the stability necessary to start a family. Shame on you, some say.

Marriage in many African cultures comes calling at a particular time and when you do not answer, you can be regarded as an outcast. It is a recognised measure of success.

Why else would some young leaders go to the extent of paying people to pose as their spouses to get votes? Rather than hiding and lying perhaps it is time we had an honest conversation in Kenya.

In that conversation we should care about people’s wellbeing, their happiness.

Surely we should care most about how to look after our nearest and dearest, whether they are girlfriends, boyfriends, partners, or spouses.

Beyond anything we could talk about how to care for our children, without assumption and expectation. Hollywood films and fairy tales of romance can teach us how to dream of someone we want to be with forever, but in many ways that desire is within us anyway. How to answer that calling should be our own choice.

For some, to find the right person at the right time can be a matter of luck. For others it takes longer. For those who are children of divorced parents the stress of avoiding the same endpoint adds extra burden.

As does the vetting by family: are they the right tribe, religion, background? And so, the pressure mounts. However, it is better to wait than to marry young and become an adulterer. In my religion, as in others, it is an act of worship to be with your wife while it is an act of sin to be with someone else. Yet the urge for close companionship falls on us early.

From everyone I have spoken to few feel that pressure more than young Muslims in areas like Eastleigh today, where pressure and culture rub against each other.

If we can learn to empathise and embrace the seasons of where people are at in life, their wants and culture, we would be in a better place to attain life’s happiness.

We need to see beyond the labels and heaping pressure on people to fall into categories, change categories and meet our own biases and insecurities.

Categories cause stigma, pressure and discontent. We are not categories. We must see each other as people. So I tell you – as I tell my parents, friends and community: when I get married, you’ll see, it will be the perfect time.

-The writer is a youth mentor in Nairobi. Twitter: @OusmanOusmane

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