Sorry for keeping you waiting

The Marriage Seeking Struggles of a Melanin Rich Girl

Shahira Mohamed chronicles abuse heaped on dark-skinned single Muslim women.

Sept 2013

Increased melanin leads to dark skin. Decreased melanin leads to fair skin. The increase and decrease of melanin on one’s skin depends on one’s genes. In short, a fair/dark face is simply a genetic lottery. Then why does the Indian community give so much preference to one skin shade and almost detest another? Who has given us the right to call one group of people “ugly” simply because of their skin tone?



This post is by a dark-skinned/dusky/wheatish/whatever is it that you describe an increased melanin girl who is of the marriageable age. So what I speak here is not some fictional situations or feelings, unfortunately it is simply raw, personal experience.




A day ago it was remarked, by someone really close to me, that I should lower my expectations in regards to marriage and to consider the fact that, “People are not liking you”. It simply broke my heart. It was not what I ever expected to hear from that particular person and also made me comprehend, finally, that I should accept that I live in an “unfair world”. The earlier I accept it, the better for me.




I am often directed to what colour dress or hijab I should wear when a prospective husband comes to see me. Apparently certain colours “make you look darker”. Once a prospective came to see me, took one look at me and never spoke a word. The rest of the conversation was done by his father.




What I seek in a spouse is spirituality, piousness and education, as the bare minimum. Which parts of those criteria are unacceptable? Should my increased melanin make me say yes to a person who is not strong in his faith and is not at par with my educational level?




My heart bleeds thinking of the fact that when a prospective comes to see me, what he or his family will singularly see is my face, not the fact that I am an intelligent, ambitious, God-fearing girl (alhamdulillah). Apparently, the increased melanin masks all other characters and qualities I possess and have to offer.




The saddest part of these episodes is when one’s own immediate family members and distant relatives remark hurtful comments. Family is supposed to be the place where you gain your confidence and build your self-esteem. In such a situation, the exact opposite happens!




Does the success of a marriage depend on the content of melanin in a bride’s skin? Or does it depend on the compromise and effort a couple is willing to take for their marriage? Can the kindness and compassion of a person be gauged depending on their dark/fair skin? How can a person’s skin tone be a source of achievement or a reason for being belittled when it has been given by God Himself?



Imagine a situation where everyone had the same features and skin tone. What a dull world we would be living in! Diversity creates beauty in this world. 64 shades of human skin is a feature of God’s perfect and beautiful way of fashioning His creations. Subhan Allah.




Let’s recall and embrace these stories from Islamic history. The Prophet Moses (RA) was the only messenger, with whom, God Almighty, spoke directly. Scriptures have it that he was dark-skinned.




Bilal (RA), who is widely known to have been dark-skinned) was one of the earliest followers of Islam. Prophet Muhammad (SAW) once said that he heard Bilal’s footsteps precede his in Jannah:

Abu Huraira reported that Allah’s Messenger (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) said to Bilal: “Bilal, tell me which act you did at the time of the morning prayer for which you hope to receive good reward, for I heard during the night the sound of your footsteps before me in Paradise?” Bilal (radi Allahu anhu) replied: “I did not do any act in Islam for which I hope to get any benefit, but this, that when I perform complete ablution during the night or day I observe prayer with that purification, what Allah has ordained for me to pray.” (Muslim)




The Creator did not see these great men’s worth according to the quantity of melanin in their skin. Then how can we, as creations, judge a person so?




Sept 2016

I got married exactly nine months after I wrote my initial frustrations for this post. How Allah changes our situations. Subhan Allah. For the right person, melanin does not matter. Though years have passed and the pain lessened, I can still not forget how depressed I was during my groom – hunting phase due to people’s racist attitude towards me. How my worth was entirely dependent on the melanin content of my skin.




May Allah accept the duas of single sisters and brothers looking for a righteous spouse. I know the loneliness of that phase very well. Special dua for my friend “A”. Please include her in your duas, too.




Shahira Mohamed is a dentist by profession. Currently on a sabbatical and is enjoying being a stay-at-home-mother to her one year old baby girl. She blogs at Shahira and can be contacted on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. She is passionate about her faith, creative writing, books, public health and of late, baby wearing and gentle parenting.




African-American, Muslim, Woman