I don’t like going to weddings. But in every summer I get to go to more than my fair share of them. It’s just one part of the social obligations that come with the ties we talked about before. And with the high number of young single men in the family, it seems there is always a wedding around the corner. We had one last month, another this week, and we have three upcoming weddings in one household scheduled for later this year. Below is a short video I took during a family wedding two days ago.
This comes from teh Green Truth today:
Many Saudis are lamenting the way family ties in the Kingdom have become weak, something that seems to have become one of the hallmarks of modern life and is in stark contrast to how people in the region used to live not so long ago.
I, for one, am not. I think family ties in the Kingdom are still strong. They are too strong, actually, that distant relatives somehow believe they have the freedom to intervene in your so-called modern life. This freedom, nevertheless, is limited to them and cannot be extended to you because first, who are you? and second, what do you know?
“Families are no longer what they used to be. The entire family system has disintegrated. You can nowadays find fathers and sons at loggerheads and cousins hostile to each other,” said one Saudi old man in Makkah who asked for his name not to be published.
Not what they used to be? The entire system disintegrated? I’m sorry, is there a heated debate about gay marriage in the country that I’m not aware of? And btw, fathers and sons disagreements are ancient. In other places they are called “generational differences,” and I think you should know this, especially since you like using 17th century vocabulary like loggerheads and stuff. Also, what’s up with the privacy freakishness, old man? But I will cut you some slack. I understand that you probably don’t want to get in trouble like those kids who appeared on MTV.
Saudi woman Latifa Ali said she has not been on speaking terms with her sister for over 10 years and has tried to make up on numerous occasions. “My sister is adamant in boycotting me. She wanted her son to marry my daughter but I refused for several reasons. My daughter is a university graduate while her son has only studied until secondary school. He was also unemployed at the time. My daughter refused to marry him and there was no way I could force her,” she said. Latifa Ali misses her sister whom she loved and was very close to. “I felt safe with her. I still long to be with her but she doesn’t want to be with me. She considers my daughter’s rejection of her son an insult,” she added.
Aww… inter-family marriages and their never ending drama. I have seen this happening in my family hundreds of times, but would that ever stop them? Never. Despite recent evidence to the disastrous consequences of such marriages on those much cherished ties, my mom is still willing to lose an arm just so I agree to to marry her niece. Not. Gonna. Happen. Not because I care about the oh-so-important ties, but simply because I hate congenital diseases. Not to mention that I find this way of getting married arbitrary and outdated.
Hassan Ali, another Saudi who lives in Makkah, said he fell out with his brother after he argued with his sister-in-law who used to meddle in his personal family affairs. “My brother became angry and sided with his wife. We’ve not spoken for five years. We’ve failed to make up even though I’ve tried a lot to do so,” he said. “I love his children who also love me but he’s threatened to kick them out of the house and deprive them of their inheritance if they even dare speak to me,” he added.
See? That’s exactly what I’m talking about. When close becomes too close, you are just asking for trouble. I can’t help but notice though that Hassan’s brother is too influenced by old Arabic movies and their stupid oft-repeated family feuds. Deprive his children of inheritance? Classic.
Uncle Saad is 72 years old. With tears in his eyes, he mentioned that his children are alive and yet do not see him. “My children left me and their mother who died just two years ago. They only ring me on occasions and just visit me out of duty,” he said. “My neighbors help me and take care of me. They give me money and clothes. My sons and daughters are also busy with their own families,” he added.
I won’t say anything here because this is just sad.
Huda Al-Fahim said it has been a year since she had a dispute with her brother. “He asked me to give up my share of inheritance after my father died. He had been pressured by his wife. I refused and complained to the authorities who then allotted me my share. He then kicked me out of the house and has not talked to me since,” she added. Huda has tried hard to reconcile but her brother refuses to budge. “I do not know how long this will continue. It is totally against the teachings of Islam to boycott your own kin and blood,” she said.
That is a typical case of the familiar brotherly bullying after the father’s death, and I’m afraid it has little to do with the lamented weakening of family ties allegedly caused by changes in modern life. I don’t see why Ms. Huda is so keen to make up with a brother who is acting like a jackass. Until he starts to use his brain again, I say good riddance.
Commenting on the issue, Raid Kurdi, an education expert, said family bonds are not as strong as before but that the problem has not reached a worrying level. “Families should look carefully at the reasons why they are falling out with each other,” he said. “We need to, however, deal with this issue. We need to reject it and make efforts to keep families together. This is important,” he added.
Enter the expert. Our expert analyzed this incredibly fascinating, although admittedly troubling, phenomenon and came up with the perfect solution: “We need to reject it.” Totally. Because, you know, “This is important.” You heard that? Im-freaking-portant. If you don’t realize this by now, and we are nearing the end of our very interesting “news story,” then you might as well want to kill yourself or something.
He also said such matters do not usually worry non-Muslim societies because family bonds are not very important for them in general. “We do not have the same respect for the elderly as we used to have in the past. We’ve also become impatient with each other,” he added. Kurdi also called for more efforts to inculcate love and respect among members of the same family.
However, this piece cannot be complete without some good ol’ bashing of “the other,” so before I go allow me to say: damn those infidels! It turns out the weakened family ties are not merely the result of changes in modern life — whatever that maybe in our little corner of the world — but also due to foreign influence, because we, as God honest infallible Muslims, never do anything wrong.
Love and respect. Hell yeah.
Ibrahim Ismail Kutbi complains in this article from Arab News that most restaurants and cafes in Jeddah are catering to families only, excluding single men or those unaccompanied by their female relatives. If this complaint is coming from Jeddah, the most liberal city in Saudi Arabia, you can imagine how is the situation in Riyadh and the rest of the country. Abdu Khal wrote something closely related in Okaz last week: “If you count the number of youths who have nowhere to go to because malls, parks and beaches are dedicated to families, then you would be appalled. What will the youth do when they find themselves trapped and discarded?”
Well, they will do other things that you probably will not like.
My cousin Ahmed al-Haddad, who got married last summer, has been blessed with a baby boy he named Mohammed after his beloved father. Both mommy and the baby are doing fine, and the whole family is happy.