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Challenging Widows' Struggle: Breaking Cultural Barriers to Marriage Rights

What should a widow do? Even if she does not marry, life is a torment, and even if she does, people's constant talk will bring her to the grave.
by TNN Editor - 05 Aug, 2023 1596
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Noor Zia

Today, while coming from school, my brother said that today I have heard something from the mouth of my teacher, which is also strange. And the matter is constantly revolving in the mind. When I asked him, he said: "Our teacher has said that a shameless woman will express her desire for marriage after the death of her husband. Those who are good women do not mention the name of second marriage until their last breath."

I found this very surprising. If Allah has allowed a woman to remarry after the death of her husband, then who are we humans to call a woman shameless on this matter?

Not only this, if a widow wears nice clothes or gets dressed up a bit, she is called by different names in our Pashtun society. Should one bury oneself alive with a dead person?

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If you think about it, we are living in a society where our culture and religion are mixed together in such a way that one cannot easily differentiate between what this culture demands from us or what religion says. Just to justify themselves, they name almost everything as Islam.

If we look at Islamic history, our beloved Prophet (PBUH) married eight widows and those women were the purest women in the world. If a man does not become shameless by having three more marriages while still having a wife and is not looked down upon, then why is a widow called strange names for expressing her desire for marriage? The question is also what should we be more careful about while being Muslims; Culture or religion?

You will find many women who do not take the name of marriage just because of what people will say. And people are not even good enough to support a widow with her children.

A widow is living in our neighborhood with small children. She has to leave the house itself for every job. Instead of being praised, she is an interesting topic for all the neighbors: the husband is dead and she is amused. Even if someone goes to a wedding, people point their fingers at her clothes saying: "Look at the widow and her clothes."

What should a widow do? Even if she does not marry, life is a torment, and even if she does, people's constant talk will bring her to the grave.

When the wife dies, the husband does not even have patience. Not only this, he commits three marriages despite having a wife because Islam allows it. The question arises that a man always remembers Islam at the time of four marriages, but when a widow takes the name of marriage, why does he not remember Islam at that time?

In some parts of Afghanistan, the custom is a bit more unique: a widow cannot marry anyone other than her brother-in-law. It is not even seen whether the boy is of marriageable age or not. Or the age of the woman is not much. Often either an older widowed sister-in-law is married to a much younger brother-in-law or a very young widowed sister-in-law is married to an older brother-in-law.

This reminded me of a distant relative, Rashida, whose husband was murdered by someone along with her mother and younger brother. Rashida wanted to get married but her father-in-law was only allowing her to marry her brother-in-law. The situation was that her brother-in-law was about 15, 16 years old. Rashida said that her brother-in-law is of her child's age, so she cannot marry him.

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On this, her father-in-law said that she cannot marry anyone except her brother-in-law, and if she marries any other person, he will also be killed. Just after that, Rasheeda kept her mouth shut.

Now the question arises that Rashida was neither educated nor her children were grown up, so to whom would she be extending her hands to meet the needs?

A woman should be given her rights as a human being, a Muslim, and then an Afghan. It should not be underestimated. With the death of her husband, all dreams are shattered so that she is not oppressed anymore. Let him rest in peace. Just as a man is allowed to marry for a second, third, and fourth time, a woman should also be allowed to marry after the death of her husband.