How can Arabs find love? There are not many sites or people that openly discuss relational matters publicly within the Arab community weather it being in the United States or in Middle East. Communicating about sexuality is taboo as religion and culture strictly discourages dating prior to marriage. There are no outlets for Middle Eastern individuals to get educated on love and more specifically sex except for what is portrayed in love songs. In the United States there are more available outlets but shunned by traditional families. Some information about sex is described to young adults prior to marriage by close family members. Progressive Arab countries such as Lebanon are beginning to provide programs directed in sexual education for all orientations but the large majority of arab nations in the middle-east are uneducated in sexual matters. The idea of how sex is performed is not unknown but the idea how to perform safely or how to love is lacking.
Marriage is the main option towards establishing a sexual relationship. Unfortunately, not everyone has the means of providing a wedding ceremony or paying the dowry. In most Arab countries in the middle east, the family of the bride will ask for a dowry which must be paid prior to the marriage. The dowry may range in price depending on the bride’s family and can cut a knife into someones wallet. It is not uncommon for a male to pay up to 30,000+ dollars for dowry which may not include additional expenses such as jewelry and the wedding reception. Individuals from poor family’s may not have the resources to buy these dowry’s.
Young Adults eager for love cannot necessarily afford the expenses. In instances the only means of having love is to attempt dating by meeting in schools or common shopping areas. Now there are more online sites that allow for connections such as facebook. In each in every way the connection is made, the relationship must remain a secret. Secretly dating does occur in the Middle-East and between arabs in America. Their relationship is kept secret but the majority do not perform sexual activity. Dating is taboo but pre-material sex is a sin and has major backlash. Anyone caught engaging in these acts in the middle east may face criminal charges and suffer damage to his or her reputation. The females reputation is tarnished much more so than the males, which is why females are reluctant to dating. They have more to loose in the end.
Also when individuals do date, their love is only a means of communication of words which satisfy their lust temporarily. The two individuals in “love” would text each other poetry and or love song quotes. It is not uncommon to see young adult Arabs gathered together with friends singing love songs amongst each other to portray their feeling for longing.
Arabic music provides an outlet for lustful adults as it is very emotional and nonchalant. Every word spoken describes his or her feelings of longing. Each song is sung with heart felt emotion which makes you feel the musicians pain. Arabic music is full of love words but none of which are of a vulgar nature. Even the video clips are un-intimate with a theme that mimics a Disney Movie. The Arabic community in a whole do not approve of risque behavior and therefore most video clips are monotone with minimal sexual suggestions. The middle-east is not entirely monotone as their are sexual images in some movies, music clips and magazines. Nonetheless, this is the general consensus when it comes to love.
This brings us back to my original question. How can individuals find love or more important understand the meaning of love in the Arab community? Normally, the parents relationship will describe to young adults the details of how a relationship evolves. Most married Arabs however are humble and do not display affection publicly for one another. This can make a feeling of isolation arise or confusion. This confusion may provoke thoughts or perhaps inhibit their nature to also become un-emotional. Also the communication between adult men & women is frowned upon and can harm an individual’s reputation. An unwed female takes on ridicule and embarrassment if she is to date prior to marriage. These reasons make it difficult for both sexes to find love prior to marriage. These boundaries sometimes are reputed if the individuals are engaged.
The idea of sex and love is most often a thought well kept hidden. Every individual loves even if they’re not in a relationship. Inevitably partners are found in the Arab community and love is introduced through marriage. The arab community are strong to support one another and donate monetary needs to people unable to marry themselves. The process of support makes the merger of two more accessible than carrying the burden alone. This is not always the case for poor family’s which may seek alternative routes in finding love of which may tarnish their images in society.
In my opinion, western cultures idolize the idea of explicit sex and fornication but that imagery desensitizes the human thought of love. Marrying before love is a learning process that will teach one another equality. The Arab idea of love is difficult at first but worth the wait after marriage. As every person’s emotion is met with honor and respect to each other.
Written by A.K. Maleeke