SRINAGAR - Increasing numbers of young Muslims in India-ruled Kashmir are going to courts to tie the knot away from their parents, a troubling phenomenon blamed by experts for family opposition and economic conditions in the disputed province.
Marriage is a relation that bonds two unknown souls in lifelong relation, Ishrat Tabasum, a graduate student, told OnIslam.net.
He said in the past, young couples could not tie the knot without the consent of their families.
But the trend seems to be changed as everyone who attains age of maturity is aware of his right to choose partner of his/her choice.
Estimates show that increasing numbers of young Kashmiris opt to tie the knot at court if they face opposition from their parents.
Figures show that between six to ten marriages are registered in courts in Kashmir every day.
I and my wife contracted court marriage in 2011, Shabir Ahmad told OnIslam.net.
He recalled that he was rejected by the girl's family because he lives in a backward village and for not being an employee.
I was working as labor in the area of my wife and fell in love with a girl who used to come to our quarter for delivery of milk, he said.
But her father did not accept the relation and we decided to contract court marriage at Jammu.
In Islam, marriage is based on the free choice of both partners, i.e., the man and woman.
The couple should exercise this choice with due consent and approval of their parents.
Nevertheless, it is ultimately up to them to decide whom to marry so long as they are religiously compatible.
Religious Awareness Experts cite poverty and economic conditions for the rise of court marriages among young Kashmiris.
I think poverty and unemployment are the main cause that people prefer to contract court marriages, Sajad Hussian Wani told OnIslam.net.
Court marriages spare young couples from paying dowry.
To register their marriage, the couple should fulfil Nikah and marriage agreements, which are prepared by an imam and by the notary public before the court as documentary evidence.
Notary is like a proof in which the statements of both the parties are recorded in a marriage agreement like any other contract.
Sociologist Khalid Hussian blames the lack of religious awareness for the troubling phenomenon.
Many reasons are responsible for court marriages as in the present era people are not abiding by religion, family and social norms, he said.
And those who take their matrimonial decisions against the will of their families are victims of modernization etc.
He also blames families for pushing young Kashmiris to court to tie the knot.
A professional boy wants a professional girl with good family background but if families don't agree to their decision, they are forced to take such steps.
Though the court marriage is legal, scholars discourage young Kashmiris from the practice.
Court marriages are legal as per Islamic procedure but the practice is not liked in Islam as per Shari`ah, scholar Molvi Abdul Qayoomm Qasmi, from Mohtamim Dar-ul-uloom Sheeri of North Kashmir, told OnIslam.net.
We should not encourage this practice as it has become a social evil.
Kashmir is divided into two parts and ruled by India and Pakistan, which have fought two of their three wars since independence in 1947 over the region.Pakistan and the UN back the right of the Kashmir people for self-determination, an option opposed by New Delhi.