By Xixi Gomez and Chrissie Zempuanova
“I thought marriage would be a fairy tale,” Faryal Makhdoom
When you read UK headlines that celebrity Pakistani boxer Amir Khan and his Muslim wife Faryal Makhdoom are having marriage and family problems that some predict this can only end in divorce, you can only cross your fingers that the wife’s last name “Makhdoom” does not turn out to be an omen – for her. Because a lot of young Pakistani women in these types of situations tend to end up in very dark places.
Amir is currently in San Francisco training for an upcoming fight and Faryal is with her husband; but behind the scenes, back in UK where they are based, there is a huge amount of family drama going on. It seems that the Pakistani model and her mother in law are in a clash over how she should conduct herself as daughter in law. In traditional Muslim culture, the daughter in law is subordinate to her mother in law and basically eats her mother in law’s toes (metaphorically speaking).
The aspiring model claims that living with her in-laws was at the root of the problem. “It’s not a Muslim thing to live with your in-laws – it’s a cultural thing,” she explained. “Most American Pakistanis don’t do that. There seems to be a lot more of it in Northern England. I’m not against joint families – but when you have your own space you can be more independent and I think there are fewer problems.
“For some cultures, the daughter-in-law is there to have babies, to cook and clean. They don’t see that she can be an independent woman, that she can go out and work, and that husbands can help with the babies,”says Faryal. “But it’s not about religion – I know religious families who are very sophisticated. It’s about education.”
Clearly Faryal is a very modern woman with a mind of her own and it does look like her husband is on her side for the time being as he has somewhat sidelined his family and they both are fully defensive of each other. The wife in particular came out strongly in support of her husband who was accused of infidelity with the explosive release of a sextape he allegedly made in his youth.
Be that all as it may, it seems a bit much to expect a modern woman to live with the in laws irrespective of her religious persuasions. Some mothers feel that no woman is good enough for her precious son. And a daughter in law living under the roof of her mother in law will be treated like an unloved adopted child by a mother in law who is jealous, territorial and prejudiced for any reason. It frankly is a recipe for disaster in the modern world and Faryal is totally right that it is a question of education. No educated family would subject their young son and daughter in law to this living together nonsense – no matter what religion they are. This is not about religion. It is about a lack of education. People need to educate themselves and usher themselves into the modern world and then more of these marriages (whether in the Muslim culture or not) will be saved.
The over-riding lesson for all is NEVER LIVE WITH THE IN LAWS.