Thursday, March 4, 2021

On love, unions and conformity

Love does not have to be limited by the differences between two people, and it does not have to conform to the concept of sameness to which we are accustomed.

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The past week saw the ceremonial union of a Johorean lady and her partner in Punjab, India. The ceremony sparked controversy as it was deemed un-Islamic due to the lady’s participation in a Sikh religious ceremony.

Within the same week, a friend of mine got married as well.

It began with a consultation followed by a month-long preparation. From the initial plan for a simple nikah, it grew into an arduous and exhausting experience for those involved.

Documents on taklik and sighah for the procession were made and repeatedly reviewed. Satay minang recipes were googled and followed to the letter by the stressed cook for the ceremonious makan beradab. A simple altar was prepared for the two lovebirds ahead of the pivotal moment when everyone could let out a sigh of relief over the ijab kabul vowed with nervous breaths.

My friend went through the same experience as other couples: the nervousness and excitement of anticipation, the stress of planning and the awkward glee of wording sentences to officiate the union.

In spite of this, they did not conform to the general understanding of union and marriage.

Looking back at the multiple instances of marriages which bred controversy and dismay among Malaysians, the opposition ranges in reasoning but comes down to the basic argument of conforming to societal norms, even when it comes to loving someone else.

Does love need approval and consensus from the general audience that has nothing to do with the love itself? Is love exclusive to conformed norms? Is it justified for love to be a crime just for the sake of isolating the differences between people?

Love as an act of faith under the perceiving nature of the object of belief has been the building block of oneness. Marriage is a union of love built on the basis of sharing experiences and commitment.

The most basic way I have been perceiving marriage and union is as a clarification of a bond between those who love each other dearly. Thus, if there are two individuals who will themselves to love and care for each other, willingly commit and share responsibilities as well as the experience of being together through thick and thin, what more should we demand from them?

If all the boxes that solidify a couple’s reasons for being together are checked, why is there still a need for them to seek approval from us for a relationship that is mutually exclusive to them?

I know that people will have a hard time understanding a bond between two distinctive personalities, but love does not have to be limited by the differences between two people, and it does not have to conform to the concept of sameness to which we are accustomed.

At the end of the day, it is still a bond, a union for the sake of love, witnessed by all who may perceive it, and the universe created by that bond that will stay in motion whether we approve of it or not.

Maybe a discourse on unions for interfaith couples and sexual minorities is yet to come. Perhaps it will take years and countless debates for us Malaysians before we can inch towards readying ourselves to be open to such a concept. But there is no reason for love to be invalidated and dictated by our need for others to conform to our idea of a union in overcoming separateness.

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