My friend recommended this TV show called "Strictly Soulmate's" to me via Facebook. It's a series of documentary show's on BBC3. It look's into the lives of several single people within different religion's looking to get married. I missed the other's but did catch the Muslim episode last Thursday at 9pm.
Here is the link to view it on BBC iPlayer if you'd like to watch it before reading the rest as it contain's a few spoiler's. It's available until Thursday 23rd February 2012.
My husband and I watched it together. I was hoping it would be quite refreshing, after all it was being aired on the BBC.
I have to say it was quite a pleasant show, however there were a few hiccup's and we each had our own opinion's on it.
The show looked at 1 Muslim man and 2 women. I was hoping for a happy ending for at least one of them during the show, but it didn't happen. I hope it will work out for them in the future, inshallah.
During the filming of the show you see different way's of going about marriage within Islam. One young woman, an accountancy student had her parent's searching for her and once a meeting was arranged, it was up to her to decide if he was "the one"or not. She even said that it was like 'Blind Date' with her Mother being Cilla Black which was funny and brought a modernity to the show. I loved how it showed her sky diving in the beginning (something which i'd love to do myself) showing that we aren't all boring and fuddy-duddy without being too much in your face. It also showed you a section in the mosque when she attended a workshop on Muslim marriage relationship's which i'm sure would be an eye opener for many non Muslim's!
The guy, an engineering student went to a Muslim marriage service for advice on meeting women for the first time and Muslim matrimonial event information. He only had a short time to look for a spouse as he was heading back to Pakistan for charity work and actually wanting to live there. On the show we saw that he spoke with one prospect and she wanted to meet him again only if he changed his mind about going back to Pakistan, as she wished to stay in the UK. Having a beard and doing stand up comedy he broke down a few wall's but throughout the programme he always jokingly mentioned how women would go no-where near him because of their assumption's based around his beard, but you could tell it went deeper than that. Speaking with my husband during the programme I said that that's strange as alot of women actually prefer a man with a beard as it's a sign of masculinity . It's a shame how you can see it eat at the confidence of brother's in the UK, not only having to put up with judgement from non Muslim's but other Muslim's too. Although it did get to a point in the problem where I thought the song choice was a little OTT, using Lana Del Ray's song "Video Game's", like he was about to commit suicide or something, that was a little over dramatic!
The other woman who was older than the first relied on her brother's and Aunty to act as her Mahram because her Father had passed away. Each had their own hurdle's to pass. The older woman of the two was set on finding a Doctor (like herself) and was very specific on characteristic's which naturally narrowed thing's down.
I think was a good example for anyone else out looking for a partner. You will not find someone with everything on that checklist of your's. Again whilst discussing the programme I said to my husband some of the comment's I have got from girl's about my husband. I remember in college how they used to wish they could get a man "like that" (mashallah!!). The thing is that when two single people meet they then build on top of what they already know from textbook advice with practical experience. After time you both change and become better people for each other. Single people don't see this because it is hidden in a personal relationship (so i'm sharing the secret!) and they just want the 'end product' of a person from the level of a 10 year marriage for example. Therefore a married person may do a particularly romantic thing 2 years into the relationship but not have known to do so or act in such way when single. I hope that make's sense. So to want everything out of a man, just isn't feasible. Just like how he could want the world from you would be unreasonable! Never forget that one major part of marriage is compromise, so it doesn't hurt to do a little whilst on the hunt!
My husband said it may just be how the producer's of the show intended, to make Islam look difficult with having necessary rule's in place, and not allowing free mixing. I can understand this completely as I mentioned I was hoping they may show at least one happy ending.
Inbetween each of the 3 stories they showed snippet's of interview's with random Muslim's for extra insight. Some married, some just started looking and other's still looking. I thought this was great as it show's a wider range of people's experience's.
As the show went on, you couldn't ignore that they translated a few Arabic phrase's which Muslim's use in day to day speech e.g. 'inshallah' meaning God willing. These were great as it include's more non Muslim viewer's and demonstrate's how we are kind, spiritual people e.g. Asalamu alaikum = Peace be upon you, which is said when we meet and greet fellow Muslim's. The only problem that I had and i'm sure more people would have spotted it was when they put "Hamdulilah" on the screen, it's actually "Alhamdulilah" meaning all praise is due to Allah, said when remembering the blessing's in life. I don't know if they got this from an uneducated Muslim, or it was just plain rubbish research.
My husband who is a born Arab also pointed out that although they intend well, some of their action's for the show may come across a little shameful and doubted that you'd find anything like this by religious Muslim's in the middle east..
For example, the free mixing event's that went on, some resulting in one-on-one talk's without a mahrem. There are some rules in Islam that are there for a reason and modern society is a real example as to why we stick to those as best as we can, so it's sad to see people ignore them when they can be of so much benefit. Now i don't mean to insult anyone here, but when a hopeful bride is in the public eye and you have random men saying how 'beautiful' she is (thus placing that thought in male viewer's mind's), I wouldn't be happy if I was her. Everyone want's to hear that they are beautiful, don't get me wrong, but as a Muslim I wouldn't want other strange men to be looking and having these thought's about me, i'd only want that from my eventual husband. Privacy, modesty and dignity are ranked very high in Islam and I wouldn't want anyone else to risk those just for a TV show.
Although this programme was good viewing I think some thing's should still be kept private between both parties away from the public eye (maybe this is why thing's didn't work out whilst it was being filmed).
I don't know about you but I wouldn't want to see some Kim Kardashian style Muslim wedding any time soon!