I've just returned from a weekend for converts. As always, a popular topic of conversation is marriage, particularly marriage horror stories. One particular tale (worth reciting with a torch shone upwards, ghost-story telling style) involved a Saudi brother, who on discovering his convert wife had boyfriends in the past, declared that she was "like a public toilet". Obviously the various ayah and hadith about conversion erasing past sins had obviously passed this brother by. Although I'm sure he knew the one about angels cursing until dawn. Just a hunch.
Intention is very important in Islam, yet some Muslims have intentions that are definitely not from the Sunnah. On one of the few times I prayed Dhur in the mosque, it was only me and this elderly sister in the woman's section. We exchange Salaams then come the inevitable questions prompted by my pasty pale face.
"Are you a convert?"
"Yes" I reply, not knowing what was to come after the obligatory Masha-Allah ing
"Would you like to get married?"
Stupid, stupid me: "Yes".
"Ahhh" Sister then proceeds to tell me about two brothers looking for wives.
The first is described as very religious, going to the Mosque five times a day. Of course with my shallow mind I ponder what sort of work he is doing to enable him to get to the mosque on the outskirts of town this often. The second brother is from Iraq. I am told he has a wife there, but after seeing my face hit the carpet am swiftly told that they are divorced. Seeing that I'm not particulary taken with her selection of husbands, the sister is keen to know if I know of any other Muslim converts looking for marriage, when that draws a blank, she asks if I know anyone, maybe just interested in Islam. Don't worry about location, the brothers will move anywhere at all in the country
It was at that point that I left, musing on how a bright shiny passport can be more attractive then anyone's face.
I think it is about time we called this behaviour by it's real name: Prostitution. I'm sorry brothers(and sisters), but if you are willing to marry someone with all that it entails, reducing the beautiful mercy from Allah (swt) of marriage to a business transaction, solely to get a particular passport then you are prostituting yourself.
Except that usually, both the customer and the prostitute are aware of the transaction taking place. That in these cases, there is usually a poor duped spouse, often new to the deen (how often have you read on e-groups "I've been Muslim for five minutes and I'm getting married to Brother Fromabroad next week") makes this all the more despicable.
We must stop this, Insha Allah. It is a disgusting, immoral practice which debases us all and it's about time we spoke out against it as a community and take active measures to prevent it.