‘True Love’ and the ‘Perfect’ Life Partner

A SPECIAL INTERVIEW WITH THE WORLDWIDE HEAD OF THE AHMADIYYA MUSLIM COMMUNITY

Source: Review of Religions

By Amer Safir, London, UK

For some, it happens in college or university. For many, it happens after spending years on online dating apps. For others, it comes about through suggestions made by parents or friends.

One thing is for sure, finding true love is as central to our lives today as it was in the past. The search for a perfect life partner is high up in most people’s life goals. And once we discover our perfect match, the highs and lows of relationships consume much of our energy and emotions. It’s no wonder that the majority of fiction, movies, songs and television shows have strong themes of love and relationships.

But how do we find our soul mate – the one whom we can deeply connect and spend the rest of our lives with happily?

love-umberalla

Of course, the way we search for true love varies hugely, depending on our background, culture, religion or upbringing.

Here in the Western world – and increasingly in more traditional societies as well – the dating scene has evolved in our high-tech digital era, with online dating becoming commonplace. In the UK, over 7 million people are registered on dating sites and it is estimated that one in three relationships starts online. In the USA, 40 million people are said to be using dating websites.

In contrast, in Muslim communities, parents or friends often suggest a suitable match for arranged marriages. This is not to be mistaken with ‘forced marriages,’ where young couples have no choice. Here I am referring to the millions of such marriages where parents, elders or friends, knowing the person well and having experience in life, play a role in helping to suggest a suitable match and where ultimately the couple themselves are the decision makers and make their choices under no compulsion. If they both agree, the couple embark on a relationship, which truly begins after they have been formally bonded in a marriage ceremony. This is not the case only in Muslim communities; rather even now in many Hindu and Sikh societies, friends and family play a prominent role in suggesting matches.

There was a time in the West when it was customary for the male suitor to ask the father for his daughter’s hand in marriage. Interestingly, according to one survey from 2016, 77% of men in the USA asked permission for marriage from the father or parents of the girl. Whilst this indicates the tradition is seemingly alive and well in the West, does it hold anywhere near the same significance as in the past, beyond it being a formality? For those Western couples that do value this custom, it would demonstrate that the influence of parents in their children’s relationships isn’t unique to just Muslim communities.

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