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Amen Jafri: Who needs dating

Von Niina Tamura

  • Englisch-Klausur (Leistungskurs 13. Jahrgang)
  • 4-stündig
  • 14 Punkte (Rechtschreibfehler wurden korrigiert)


1. Summarize Amen Jafri 's arguments in favour of arranged marriages.
2. The author states that the nowadays common practice of dating can have negative consequences for the individual (11.37 - 38). Name other areas of public and private life, where the changing gender role has (had) negative or positive consequences for either sex.
3. Write an e-mail to the editor of Equality Today in which you state your opinion of Amen Jafri's ideas.


Amen Jafri - Who needs dating

Arranged marriages - in which the parents choose a spouse for their child - were common practice in the Western world for centuries, and are still practised by some minorities in Europe and North America. Arranged marriages should not be confused with forced marriages, in which the wishes of the bride are usually ignored. In the following text, a Toronto teenager explains why he thinks arranged marriages are better than the 'Western' way of finding a partner.

Many people cringe when they hear the words 'arranged marriage'. They cringe because it brings to mind an image of a forced union and an unhappy couple in the middle of it.
I, however, [...] beg to differ. As an Islamic teen, I believe strongly in the idea of arranged marriages. And I am not very enthusiastic about the subject of dating. To me, it has many drawbacks and sounds like a frustrating experience.
An arranged marriage is a union between two prospective spouses negotiated by the parents and sometimes the extended family. It is a system which is taken very seriously by all involved. Many cultures continue this practice, but some, such as the Western culture, have drifted off to other methods (i.e. dating).
In the past, an arranged marriage simply meant that the parents (and/or extended family) found the companion they felt was suitable for their son or daughter. Although that method is still widely used, it has changed somewhat to suit the new times. Nowadays, the parents will suggest the person they feel is qualified for their son or daughter. If their child approves (after meeting the person and perhaps a brief interview) then it's final. In some cases, the children may even take the initiative to suggest whom they have in mind.
The main focus here is simply ensuring that the married couple will have the approval and blessings of both their parents. After all, the parents play the main role in the decision - they are the ones who research and check into the background of the person their child wishes to marry.
Of course, courtship rituals vary from culture to culture. My non-Islamic peers are getting more and more into dating. The problem I see with that is that it allows people to conduct [a] relationship without worrying about commitment and responsibility.
In my view, that's where the trouble lies. People can simply run away from their prblems There is a mutual understanding that if one or both of the people want to break up, they can do so more easily than if they were married. Dating does not necessarily lead anywhere. It takes a long time for it to lead (if ever) to marriage. In the case of the arranged marriage system, it's much simpler - both sides know that they axe actually going to be getting married. The intention is clear, whereas in dating, even bringing up die subject of marriage would be a no-no. When people are dating, they are looking for a good time. Often, it's nothing more than a brief fling. With an arranged marriage, one actually knows that Mom and Dad approve of the fiance(e). In contrast, when two people are dating, no one can be sure that the 'rents will approve of that punk rocker boyfriend their daughter brings home. [...]
If the folks don't like the person, it's quite probable that we, ourselves, won't like them either. After all, we've grown up raised by our parents who taught us what was right and wrong - based on what they thought. We grew up with many of the same beliefs they taught us. And our parents have already been through the same experience. They DO know best.
What about looks? Many of us claim we are not swayed by looks. Deep down inside though ... it's a different matter.
That's what makes the dating game so unfair and dangerous. If the person's appearance is not' appealing, that's it - sayonara, hasta la vista baby ... Many people are hurt in the process. In an arranged marriage, not only would that be mean, but eventually one would discover that looks aren't that important. [...]
Life isn't a fairytale. There's no one perfect match out there. There will always be someone out there who's a better match. That's what makes an arranged marriage so beautiful. We stick with the person we chose from the start and as time goes on, we get to know them better and better. [...] [T]he emphasis is on getting along, not evaluating one another on a scale of one to ten. It is a mature relationship from the outset.

From: Amen Jafri. In Praise of Arranged Marriages',
www.equalitytoday.org/edition3/marriage.html - 24 March, 2006





In the article “Who Needs Dating?”, published on www.equalitytoday.org on the 24th of March, 2006, the author Amen Jafri argues in favour of the thesis that arranged marriages are more desirable than Western techniques like dating.
Firstly he states that great care is taken by the whole familiy in matching the partners. Furthermore arranged marriages have become more modern, enabling the children to approve or disapprove of their parents’ choice and to make their own suggestions in the first place.
Nevertheless the parents’ approval is the core element of an arranged marriage.
Jafri justifies this by saying that the parents are in the position to know what is best for their child. Due to the fact that they have raised their child teaching it certain values and beliefs, the proposed partner is likely to suit the child’s wishes, too. In addition to that Jafri states that arranged marriages prevent choices based on outer appearances, which actually do not matter much.
In contrast to dating, both partners who are to be married have a serious intention in mind, obliging them to make a commitment fot the future. Finally Jafri explains that an arranged marriage emphasizes the importance of spending one’s life with a partner, not of finding the perfect match.

It lies in the nature of gender defined as the “social construction of male/female identity” (s. “Gender Roles”), that the resulting gender roles are not fixed but flexible and have changed over the years. In the following the different consequences for either sex shall be outlined.
As far as relationships and families are concerned, the traditional concept of the man being the breadwinner and the woman being the homemaker has undergone a profound change, making it more flexible today. For example, these roles can simply be exchanged or the partners can bring in a double income by pursuing individual careers. The condition for this has been fulfilled by woman attaining access to higher education, allowing them to become professionals as well as men, although in this respect some see the disappearing single-sex schools as a disadvantage for women, but this is discussed controversially.
Not only in most relationships women have been granted equal status, but also in public life.
As a consequence of the Women’s Liberation movement in the 1960’s and the resulting feminism in general, women’s opinions are more recognized today than in earlier times. The foundation was probably laid by the right to rote established in the 1920’s. Today female politicians and artists are important attributes of a lot of societies.
Furthermore equal pay has at least in theory been guaranteed, for example in the USA by the Equal Pay Act. In the academic world, the increasing gender awareness has led to the establishment of university courses such as Gender Studies and the re-examination of history from the female point of view.
One negative consequence for women might be that being a full-time housewife is regarded as inferior to pursuing a career by many people. As far as men are concerned, the picture is more diverse. On the one hand, the reassessment of the role of men has led to insecurity since it is no longer absolutely clear what kind of behaviour is expected. This problem is increased by the lack of role models for men today. Most men neither want to appear as “machos” without feelings nor do they want their position to be completely undermined by women. The latter is a particularly frightening prospect for a lot of men since in their hierarchical concept of living together, status is an important issue.
On the other hand, a positive impact of the changing gender roles for men is that in families they do no longer carry the burden of being solely responsible. Having achieved equal status, women now participate in decisions, too.
All in all, on can say that the positive consequences for both sexes, especially for women are existent in a lot of areas, although some new difficulties have emerged, too.


Dear Sir,
In the following I would like to comment on the article “Who Needs Dating?” by Amen Jafri.
First of all it lies in the nature of an arranged marriage that the partners hardly know each other before marrying (l.13-14).
Although Jafri claims that the “research” done by parents is sufficient, I have to disagree. In my opinion the personality is most important when one searches for a partner.
In contrast to that, parents might look for other qualities like a decent family, social status or simply money.
These are basically the only aspects accessible to them since “inner qualities” only become evident in the process of two people getting to know each other. Furthermore Jafri states that parents are capable of finding a suitable partner because their taste and beliefs are the same as their children’s. This assumption may in some cases be true, but is by no means universal. If it was, it would allocate to all parents a nearly omniscient wisdom, because it would rule out the possibility that sometimes the parents’ beliefs are wrong or at least questionable.
Furthermore another condition for Jafri’s thesis is a close, intact relationship between the parents and the child, which cannot be taken for granted.
On the other hand Jafri dismisses dating as a completely useless way of finding a partner. I have to object to this because in my opinion, dating is an excellent opportunity to try and find out with whom one wants to share one’s life and who fits to one’s ideo of a relationship. It can also be a useful preparation before an eventual marriage which brings a lot of difficulties and challenges about. Moreover Jafri regards the lack of commitment and the search for a good time as necative aspect of dating.
In my opinion it is if at all better to be adventurous before entering a marriage in order to prevent the feeling of having missed some experience in later life.
Finally I must also object to Jafri’s idea of a marriage consisting only of “getting along” (l.44). By diminishing it to this extent, he does not recognize the depth a successful marriage can have after a long search for the right partner.

In conclusion I would like to say that by deciding for an arranged marriage, one unnecessarily limits one’s possibilities to the parents’ choice, which may be the easy option, but not in all cases lead to happiness.

Niina Tamuran

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