There is no thriving Muslim community anywhere in the world or a future for Islam in America without strong marriages that bind our community together. It is the job first and foremost of the married Muslim couple (and Muslim marriage is exclusively heterosexual and every child is given only one mother and one father) to raise the next generation of Muslims who can carry on the dawah of al-Islam to the next generations.
Yet, despite the fact that we all agree marriage is important, and almost all will agree that there is a marriage crisis in the Muslim community, there has not been a serious discussion on how to fix these problems ( if they can be fixed while living in a non-Muslim society hostile to the values of Islam).
There is widespread disagreement in the Muslim community on ideals of when and how to get married and you will find a deep dived between various immigrant Muslim communities and indigenous American-Muslims, working-class and non working-class.
I was recently at the blog of Hijabman, and no disrespect to him because he is a nice guy, but I have to say I was thoroughly depressed after leaving. I will not go into detail about the things that depressed me because the opposition to the Sunnah and the promotion of secular ideologies such as feminism and gay rights are known on that site, so that is not what had me down. What had me down was reading an article on the marriage crisis by a Muslim sister. The article in and of itself was also not what got to me although there as plenty in it that was upsetting in its own right. No, what got me down was that in reading this there was a crystallization of the fact, that no matter how figures such as Rami Nashashibi and Azhar Usman try and bridge the gap, we as working-class indigenous Muslims simply live on a different planet than the vast-majority of second-generation immigrant Muslims.
The way that marriage is discussed with the second-generation is not the way it is discussed within the working-class Muslim community and the problems and desires discussed are alien to most of us. A lot of these Muslims, who are mostly Desi, come from very common experiences no matter where in America they may have grown up. The children of immigrant professionals, reared in middle to upper class suburbs surrounded by white non-Muslims, somewhat rebellious to their parents, educated in non-Muslim schools, Islamically educated in ISNA-style masjids, can all vibe with one another and write blogs to discuss their common issues and even publish magazines geared towards this experience. But, while they may be able to relate to the concerns discussed in these publications, these issues mean very little to your average working-class American-Muslim.
Quite simply we are not struggling with trying to find a Punjabi or Palestinian Muslim to marry to please our parents. We are also not being encouraged by anyone to marry our cousins. Our men, men like me, were reared in areas where men acted like men and we didn’t see men “getting in touch with their feminine side” so working-class Muslim men in America are not struggling to assert their masculinity and nor are they turning off some women by their softness (maybe by their hardness). The serious working-class American Muslims, male or female, are also not even contemplating marrying a non-Muslim. As Dawud Adeeb once said in a lecture I attended “I have never met a Muslim serious about their deen who has decided to marry a kafir”.
The working-class American-Muslim girl is not struggling with her attraction to her Jewish or atheist classmate; because she has not bought into some romance novel version of love. She knows that more than being about some cheesy notion of an intoxicating love marriage is about a partnership and group submission to Allah and the Sunnah of His Messenger (s.a.s.) and that will bring about a love that will not fade with time. Most working-class American-Muslim girls will recognize that the kafir sitting in the class with her may be bright, witty, and handsome; but if he is the agent that Shaytan will use to lead her into the hellfire all of those qualities are worthless.
The grounded and rooted American-Muslim girl has this mentality. Obviously there are some American-Muslim girls who do not think like this; but almost always these are girls with other problems in their lives. Their lives snowball out of control and it culminates in their laying up with a kafir. I know indigenous Muslim girls like this and they will admit what they have done and also admit that it is haram and most will feel shame. This contrasts them to many of the second-generation immigrant sisters. They will lay up with a kafir and then try and change Islam to suit their sins. Will write eloquently written articles trying to justify their acts and completely ignore what Allah and His Messenger (s.a.s.) have said.
The second-generation boys of course have their own set of problems. Like their sisters they have also been trained to marry “one of their own” and like their sisters they also may desire a kafir that they go to school with. I do not know how the parents can expect otherwise when they raise their boys in non-Muslim suburbia and send them to white schools for their education. They will grow up and think and act like those they have grown up with (only possibly with an inferiority complex or hatred of their culture).
If the boy is at a non-Muslim high school, where your average girl today is wearing clothes reserved for hookers 20 years ago, can anyone be surprised that his natural sexual desire will be aroused by those he sees? If he goes to college single with a minimal level of Islam while his parents expect him to remain celebate in this hyper-sexualized society they are dreaming. If he is not having sex it is because he cannot get any; not because the desire is not there. Just as the non-Muslim girl raised in this society has the desire to lay-up with kufar so does the Muslim young man and he is doing so at a higher-rate with less of a struggle with his parents; but I doubt Islamically the children will have any more deen than those of the Muslima marrying outside of the deen.