Since ancient times, arranged marriages have existed in many different cultures. In this type of marriage, community leaders, matchmakers or parents choose marital partners for young people based upon religious, spiritual and cultural considerations. Although self-selecting a spouse became increasingly common during the 20th century, even in the 21st century, some cultures still practice arranged marriages.
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Arranged Marriage in Judaism
Jewish custom dictates that marriage is best based upon love and that couples should have at least met each other before getting married. In Orthodox Jewish communities, there is a system of matching and introducing eligible singles. Dating usually occurs only after parents, relatives and friends have involved themselves in finding out more about the perspective match, such as his job, character and dedication to the religion. Professional matchmakers may also be engaged by the family for this purpose.
Arranged Marriage in Islam
Marriage in Islam is defined as a voluntary union and therefore, the consent of the couple is required. Families make inquiries about potential partners, such as about his personality, education, finances or her beauty and family background. Upon finding a compatible match, a suggestion will be made that the pair meet. Since Islamic law prohibits men and women who are unrelated and unmarried to be alone together, these meetings occur in a family context and without physical contact. If after meeting several times, the couple agrees to the match, arrangements are made for their marriage.
Arranged Marriage on the Indian Subcontinent
Both Hindu and Muslim cultures of India and Pakistan consider marriage as a union between families rather than individuals, but the couple's preferences have increasingly been given some consideration since the late 20th century. In India, arranged marriages are used as a means of uniting families of the same caste, with economic and educational backgrounds closely scrutinised by parents. According to Santana Flanigan, author of "Arranged Marriages, Matchmakers and Dowries in India" around 95 per cent of marriages in India are arranged. A matchmaker, who is usually a distant relative or family friend will scout for potential suitors and act as a mediator between families, making necessary arrangements once a suitable match has been found. Marriages are also arranged in Pakistan, usually by the bride's father; however, under Islamic, law all unions should be consensual.
Arranged Marriage in East Asia
In China, Taiwan, Japan and Korea there has been a sharp decline in arrange marriages since the middle of the 20th century, with the practice now largely limited to rural areas and lower socio-economic classes. Common to all these societies is that an emphasis is placed upon the union of families and the importance of lineage over individual preferences. In China, marriages proceed only once parents accept the suitability of the match's family, and arrangements for the wedding ceremony are the domain of the parents rather than the couple. In Japan and Korea, arranged marriages take place with the help of matchmakers who match potential suitors and act as intermediaries between the pair and their families.
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- New World Encyclopedia: Arranged Marriage
- Emory University: Arranged Marriages, Matchmakers and Dowries in India; Santana Flanigan; Fall 2000
- Jannah.org; On Marriage in Islam; Dr Sherif Mohammed
- East-West Center; Tradition and Change in Marriage and Family Life; Minja Kim Choe, Sidney B Westley and Robert D Retherford; 2002