The recent statement by Miss Malala Yousufzai in an interview with the British ‘Vogue’, has caused quite a stir. I asked myself; was it the stir that she wanted to create or does she really buy into her own statement? She talks about her view on marriage and says, “I still don’t understand why people get married. If you want to be with someone in your life, why do you need to sign marriage papers? Why can’t it just be a partnership?”

Now, there can be several reactions to this including: support, anger or even disappointment. Your response depends on your thought process and basically your own understanding of life.

For me, I am actually quite mused as to what would make her say this? The wind beneath her wings must be her family who has helped and supported the “icon of the world”. [Actually for me, it seems like a forced or a planted limelight that continues to shine upon her without valid reasons. But this discussion is for another day]. Her father is a simple schoolteacher while her mother is a housewife who encourages marriage. Malala herself says, her mother would respond to her views on marriage by saying to her, “You have to get married, marriage is beautiful.”1

Here, I would assume that a girl with a troubled and traumatic childhood, can very well have an emotional baggage where she can claim marriage to be a burden or consider it as an insignificant relationship. If she has witnessed her parents in a strained relationship with a lot of showdowns, it makes sense for her to react with these preconceived notions about marriage. The statement as given above, coming from a girl who has seen love, values and respect in her family seems a bit odd and quite questionable. It is almost as if she has been “trained” to parrot the statement rather than really believe into the concept of marriage. She saw what she calls “an arranged love marriage,” where both her parents worked together to fix it all. So, there seems to be something amiss in her dialogue of what she understands a relationship between a man and a woman to be and would like it to be a functional contract that does not require a marriage to take place between them. The statement seems like a cry for attention and a muddled up understanding of the reality of the bond or it may be an attempt to sabotage the grounded ideologies that exist in Islamic societies. Only Malala knows the reason behind her spoken words.

In her interview to ‘Vogue’, she continued on: “Even until my second year of university,” she continues, “I just thought, ‘I’m never going to get married, never going to have kids – just going to do my work. I’m going to be happy and live with my family forever.”2 This is generally the naive outlook and the psyche of the young girls today who are still finding their way to understanding life and experiencing it as it unfolds for them. Of course, their families or they themselves find a partner not to temporarily stay with and spend time with but to settle with permanently and spend their lives with. It is not a temporary contract, but rather a lifetime commitment and investment yielding in high profits of the future generations to come. This is the structure upon which families are built and grow to create a nurturing and a complete way of life for all across the globe.

I cannot help but even empathize with this young girl who has yet to understand the broader spectrum of what is called ‘life’. Here I see a girl who was given fame by chance or maybe by a conspiracy theory if I were to believe she is an “agent of CIA,” as many have tweeted and quoted against her. Nevertheless, she has yet to understand the reality as it exists for many people. I can see she clearly lacks the wisdom and understanding behind a beautiful relationship which is a grounded and an established bond. This leads me to the next reaction that may be obvious and was felt by several Pakistanis and Muslims globally. This was of anger – immense anger.

Why is this so? This is mainly because it contradicts the teachings of our Creator who has designed a perfect “creation plan,” where the men and women both have been given roles. Their togetherness has been duly explained in a dignified and wise manner.

The Qur’an calls the married women – fortified (muhsinaat). In Surah An-Nissa, Allah (SWT) says:

وَالْمُحْصَنَاتُ مِنَ النِّسَاءِ إِلَّا مَا مَلَكَتْ أَيْمَانُكُمْ

And [also prohibited to you are all] married women except those your right hands possess.
[An-Nissa: 24]

The word “muhsinaat”, comes from the Arabic word حصن . ‘Hisn’ is actually a fort. So here in this verse, Allah (SWT) is forbidding marriage to who are married women but are called “fortified women.” They are women residing in fortresses! Let’s go deeper in the study of this word and ask yourself: what could a women in a fort have that is special or different from other women who are single? A fort is a building surrounded by strong walls and especially designed to be defended from all kinds of attacks. Usually, soldiers are placed for protection in a fort. It provides security and safety of a kind superior to other residences. A fort is a strategic location. A fort not only signifies strength and power but also serves as a warning of being careful for those around.

I marvel at Allah (SWT)’s ultimate wisdom to call married women ‘fortified women.’ I understand that it is that marriage contract that becomes the foundation of this security for a woman who is saved from all kinds of vulgar attacks of the environment. And also vice versa. The woman becomes the means where the man finds love and peace right at home with a wife who provides comfort. What an amazing concept is used in the Qur’an in one word that encompasses a relationship of a lifetime!

Malala, actually does not realize that this beautiful relationship is actually a contract. It is a partnership of a kind that no other relationship has to offer. It is formed under the virtue of being called an ‘uqdah’. An uqdah means to tie or one that binds, like a contract. This contract is formally called: uqdahtun nikah. This is the sacred bond of nikah that is emphasized in our deen.

In the English language is simply called, “tying of the knot.” Hence, that is also binding. It is actually this binding that holds the partnership but it is with the blessed and sacred relationship of a marriage and not by an act of merely living together under some frivolous cooperativeness that offers no security or long term gain. Rather, the living of two people in a forbidden relationship leads to heartbreak, misery and a breakdown of the morals of society as a whole.

Malala simply lacks the insight of the enlightened connection between two people with value, protection and love that Allah (SWT) places in the hearts of two people who vow to love and care for each other in the best of manner. Allah (SWT) urges all to adopt fearing Him while we interact with each other to maintain a bond of respect and understanding.

Allah (SWT) says in the Qur’an:

وَمِنْ آيَاتِهِ أَنْ خَلَقَ لَكُم مِّنْ أَنفُسِكُمْ أَزْوَاجًا لِّتَسْكُنُوا إِلَيْهَا وَجَعَلَ بَيْنَكُم مَّوَدَّةً وَرَحْمَةً ۚ إِنَّ فِي ذَٰلِكَ لَآيَاتٍ لِّقَوْمٍ يَتَفَكَّرُونَ

And of His signs is that He created for you from yourselves mates that you may find tranquillity in them; and He placed between you affection and mercy. Indeed in that are signs for a people who give thought.
[Ar-Rum: 21]

From this verse, we learn how the contract of marriage can actually become a place of emotional settlement for both the man and the woman. We also learn that Allah (SWT) places affection and mercy between the hearts of a married couple which will not be a condition for those merely living together in what Malala calls “a partnership.” We are ever in need of affection as well as mercy from Allah (SWT).

In fact, her statements over the years on the Islamic perspective are quite naive as to how she sees her own religion. In an interview with CBC, she has been heard to respond to the interviewer’s question on the covering of a woman’s face in the following manner: “When you cover your face, it means you cover your identity. You cover your inner-self. Why should I cover myself? This is my identity.” 3 People raged over her statements as she sets out to make bold but belittling responses about Islam. We see a consistent pattern of how she opposes the views of Islamic ideology.

Hence, Malala’s understanding who she is as a Muslim girl completely negates what Allah (SWT) has ordained for a woman. Her outlook is against the framework created by the Islamic Shariah and has become a cause of rage for many and rightly so. In her interviews and dialogue she continues to talk about the attire of a woman as a ‘cultural aspect,’ rather than it being a command of the Creator. This is quite naive of her to put it in so many words and call it “culture” rather than Islam.

This clearly tells me that she is one who is just going in her own flow without any thought or maybe she is forced to be made to flow in thoughts that are projected as hers but really there is an agenda behind her each and every dialogue and action that has ever been brought out in front of the world and have been made to be unnecessarily dramatized and made heroic.

For those who support the statement, my question to them is: why did they choose to get married? What is the wooing all about if you are not going to follow suit in the statements you support? Let’s watch all those including Malala herself actually live up to her own statements. They will not because what they state is against natural framework that exists where the next step between a man and a woman is to tie the know and live respectably in a society that supports values and ethics and condemns promiscuity. This is the decent framework that Islam provides us with which is of nobility, dignity and respectability and nothing short of that.

To sum it up, I urge you to understand news with an open mind. I encourage all to come to a conclusion that is well suited to a clever mind as Allah (SWT) has created humans. We are designed to choose the best form of actions and the best form of thoughts that pave way to a better future that is permanent and not transient. A way that leads to future generations to come and settle with simplicity. Let’s adopt the Islamic way of life which serves our purpose of an enlightened mind and a pure way of life. This is what our Creator wants for us – and that is the best. Let’s adopt the best, In Sha’Allah!

  1. https://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2021/06/04/1003236671/malala-yousafzais-interview-in-british-vogue-sparks-anger-in-her-native-pakistan
  2. https://www.vogue.co.uk/news/article/malala-vogue-interview
  3. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xo8EA83cmpk&ab_channel=CBCNews%3ATheNational
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