Forced Marriages is often been perceived as the white elephant that has cogently parked itself in many a family home. Disguising itself as a religious requirement rather than a cultural custom, for centuries this beast has stampeded its presence by manipulating and toying with the concept of arranged marriages.
Like a bully; hanging around in a school yard waiting to latch on the most vulnerable, forced marriages has particularly targeted the Muslim community.
Such has been the ferocity of its attack that the western world have falsely been led to believe that perhaps forced marriages is in some way permissible under Sharia Law.
To conquer this misapprehension and burst the cloud of misconception taunting society, the Muslim Women Network UK joined forces with The Sheffield Federation of Mosque’s, The Pakistan Muslim Centre Sheffield and held a seminar which was hosted earlier this week in Sheffield.
‘Sheffield Says No To Forced Marriages’ commenced with the recitation of the holy Quran, and progressed with a shower of eloquent speakers whose factual and personal experienced, based presentations helped portray Islam’s actual stance on Forced Marriages.
Whilst Muhammad Ali , ( Chairman of the Pakistan Muslim Centre) , Lord Mayor of Rotherham (Cllr Lynsday Pitchley.) and the Police Crime Commissioner ( Dr Alan Billings ) gave a comprehensive presentations on forced marriages, It was in actual fact Shahin Ashraf (MBE), the project manager of Muslim Network’s presentation that received the most generous applause. Focusing on why Forced Marriages was not acceptable, Shahin Ashraf’s presentation help slay and diminish any misconception society may have held about Islam and Forced Marriages.
Speaking at conclusion of the event Shahin Ashraf said “The event highlighted misconception surrounding Forced Marriages and how these misconceptions led to thinking the act itself was based on religion. The speakers eloquently challenged that narrative. The audience participation highlighted the need for more engagement on issues such as these that affect the moral fibre of our community. “
For years the might of Forced Marriages manipulative tactics allowed it to affect so many vulnerable lives, yet Imam Sheikh Mohammad Ismail, Muslim Chaplain of University of Sheffield’s presentation on the night clarified how forced marriages was an illegal act under Islamic law. The respectable Chaplain expansively helped the audience understand the difference between arranged and forced marriages.
Given the sensitive nature of the subject matter, emotions amongst the attendees were naturally very high. The depth of those emotions was elevated further when the nationally renowned poet and philanthropist Asim Khan recited a poem he meticulously brought together concerning a victim of forced marriage. Focusing on the scope of her plight, Aasim Khan, known more openly for his role in “ Poetry in Motion “ almost flooded the auditorium as tears rushed down many a cheek. Whilst the focus of his words may have revolved around a fictitious character, the depth of that characters experience and troubles were no alien to a bulk of the guest who were failing to maintain a brave face.
The event which was hailed a success by all sectors of the community was widely welcomed by all and the Pakistan Muslim Centre was applauded for taking the lead. Chairman Muhammad Ali said , “ Forced Marriages has been responsible for destroying so many lives, we wanted today to be about sending a strong message, Islam Says no To Force Marriages , Sheffield Says No to Force Marriages. I want to applaud the city of Sheffield for coming together with Muslim Women Network and Pakistan Muslim Centre and supporting us in making this brave stand.
Concluding what has been hailed as a “ Monumental Gathering “ , master of ceremonies Hafees Rehman, director and secretary of PMC Sheffield said “ Today we have started a tsunami , the waves of which will send a clear message out to everyone : Forced Marriages has no place in society “ .
Force Marriages may have relied on the weight of its presence in some cultures and for years society may have falsely believed this cultural concept was the king of the jungle, however the seminar, “Sheffield Says No To Force Marriage” has certainly destroyed the ferocity of Forced Marriages.