Marriage Patterns in A Rural Agglomeration

Mohammad Afzal, M. Iqbal Hashmi, N.H. Nizami


Marriage is one of the most significant events in the life of
an individual and from demographic point of view is a vital event
leading to further repro¬duction and continuity of the human race. The
concept of marriage has been common to all societies, though it carries
structural and functional variations according to different
environmental conditions. A Muslim marriage is both a devotional act as
well as a contract between the spouses—based on the mutual acceptance of
the bride and the groom and the fixation of mehr, which a husband has to
give as a gift to his wife. Because of the sanctity of marriage as a
religious institution and the only acceptable recourse for fulfilling
the mating instinct between the male and the female the tendency in many
Muslim societies has been to involve the two individuals into the bond
of marriage as early as possible. The emphasis in Islamic traditions on
virginity tends to favour marriage at an early age. Even though the
value of mehr should be fixed equal to an amount which a man can easily
afford to pay to his wife, economic and social considerations of the
present-day society have increased the acceptable value of mehr
considerably, which tends to increase the age at marriage of both the
male and the female. The explanation for this is that the male spends a
good part of hi# life to reach a level of economic independence. The
female, on the other hand, has to wait for her marriage until her
parents have saved enough money for the arrange¬ment of dowry and also
for the expenditure to be incurred on the marriage ceremony. It may be
pointed out here that the religious values do not favour large
expenditure on dowry, but the present-day economic considerations
determine, to a large extent, the nature and the amount of dowry. A
higher expectation of dowry is usually associated with a higher demand
of mehr to be pledged by the husband. The main purpose of fixing a high
mehr is to use it as a deterrent to divorce by the husband. The age at
marriage and the value of mehr, therefore, are influenced by the
socio-cultural norms of the society.

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