Written in the Stars review

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I recently read Written in the Stars by Aisha Saeed for Ramadan Readathon and it was one of the most emotional books I ever read. This book is about forced marriages that unfortunately can still happen especially within the south Asian community. The family and main character in this book are Pakistani but living in America. This does contain some spoilers.

The story begins where her parents find out that she has secretly been going out with a boy called Saif and decide to take her and her brother to Pakistan to see their family in Pakistan. Naila thinks it’s just a holiday but really it’s so they can get her married.

We follow Naila through her story and how her family force her to get married and the life she is forced to live. Her story ends when she is safely back in America but in reality this may not happen to everyone and some may spend the rest of their lives suffering.

She is drugged and locked in a room, unable to see anyone and then after she is married she lives in a little village with her in laws where she is unable to study or speak to anyone outside and her mother and sister in law try to control and dictate what she can and cannot do.

This story was so heart wrenching, but it’s a much needed story as it helps to raise awareness of the situation that these young girls and boys face. The reason which was repeatedly told to Naila as to why they were doing this to her was that it’s because they know what’s best for her and that she should have thought about the family honour.

Thankfully it is not as common as it was but it still exists, there are still people who believe they have the right to force their children to marry who they choose, by whatever means necessary and that women do not need to receive an education as their purpose in life is to look after the home and children.

Growing up I had heard of girls that are forced to get married but I never knew what they went through, after reading Nailas story it is even more heart wrenching thinking about it.

This story showed how it not only tore apart Nailas life but also affected her whole family and Saif and his family too. It did not bring back Nailas “family honour” instead it permanently damaged Nailas relationship with her parents.

I would definitely recommend everyone to read this book as it has some much needed insight into what it is like for someone who has been forced to get married and raise awareness for this issue.

I do also want to point out that although this does happen it is not the norm for every Pakistani girl. The majority are not forced into marriage and are able to pursue education and build careers. To be independent, I am Pakistani and in my house education is far more important than getting married and I know this is the same for my friends too.

Rating: 4.5/5

Also I just want to clarify that arranged marriages and forced marriages are not the same thing. An arranged marriage is where the bride and groom meet on several occasions and happily consent to the marriage. A forced marriage is where often the bride is given no choice and may even be drugged or threatened with her life to keep her docile to ensure she signs the marriage papers.

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Oppressive Marriages and the Shaming Culture

There are many women in our community that are stuck in marriages that they want to leave. They might have a husband who is emotionally or psychologically abusive, or he is physically abusive or he’s repeatedly cheated on her or that they’re so incompatible on so many levels that there is no way for them to have a successful marriage.
But they are forced to stay by family and friends because of the stigma attached to leaving their marriage. They are told to have patience and just stay with him. The reasons they are told is because “what will people say” or “stay for the sake of your children.” They are pressured and shamed into staying.
But this isn’t what we see when we look at the seerah of the prophet (saw). He did not tell women to stay because it will affect your child. He didn’t say that you should worry about what the community will think over your own safety and well being.
Women came to him asking for divorce and he never shamed them or pressured them into staying.
We forget that the toxic environment is detrimental to not only the wife but also to the children. They learn that abuse is okay. They learn that that marriage is not peace and tranquility, it’s a prison. And I always wonder why would you raise your children around someone who is not a good role model. They will learn that behaviour.
Now im not saying that we should get divorced at the first sign of small issues but there are legitimate reasons for women to separate themselves from an abusive and oppressive marriage.
We need to change our mindset towards these things. We need to stop shaming the women into staying. It is difficult enough for these women so don’t add humiliation and shame to make things even harder for them.
With this attitude we oppress the oppressed and empower the oppressor.