3 Problems with Muslim Weddings Today
By Ajmal Masroor
September 1, 2013
What’s wrong with our weddings?
This month I have attended many weddings and I have invitations for many more. I am invited to conduct the nikah for most of these marriages. I thoroughly enjoy getting people married as this brings people of various backgrounds together and most importantly it unites two people in love and commitment. Marriage is the only way we can maintain a healthy and sustainable society. There should be more weddings and we should celebrate that.
However, I have noticed three terribly disturbing things in wedding celebrations in our community:
1. The wastage and extravagance: Many of these wedding functions cost tens of thousands of pounds. People vie for outdoing each other in wedding halls, décor, costumes, wedding dress, wedding cars, jewelry, and gifts. I have even seen people hiring helicopters to arrive at their weddings! The food is the most expensive part in these functions. Yet in most cases the over spicy and greasy food causes great distress with indigestion, heartburn and other digestive complications!
I can understand people spending reasonable amounts of money to make their special day memorable but spending to show off is certainly in total contradiction to the spirit of weddings in Islam. People should always spend within their means but I am hearing people are borrowing huge amounts of money from banks, remortgaging their properties or using multiple credit cards to pay for their wedding bills.
If marriage is an act of worship in Islam and is performed to seek the Grace and Blessings of God, surely contravening the principles of God would be the cause of disgrace and misery. The question is, are all these expenses for one day of celebration really worth the heart ache and waste?
Allah warns us against those who waste and are extravagant. He calls them the partners of Shaytan (the devil). “Eat and drink, and do not be wasteful or extravagant.” And in another verse he says, “surely the wasteful and extravagant are partners of the devil”. You can never buy true happiness with money or materials. The true happiness is found in moderation, humility and selflessness. Marital bliss is embodied in the spiritual and physical heart of two people coming together to create a safe space for their emotional, physical and spiritual journey and growth. It is in this safe and tranquil space God bestows part of His Love (Mawadda) and Mercy (Rahma). You can never buy this with money. Weddings should always be modest!
2. Atrocious timekeeping: I went to a recent wedding where the guests were asked to arrive by 1pm and I was told to be there at 1.30pm at the latest.
Unfortunately the bridegroom didn’t turn up until after 4.00 and the bride until 5 and lunch around 5.30pm. People were hungry, kids were distraught and to make things even more complicated, the event was organized outdoor in blazing heat of the sun. There were elderly people who were suffering from diabetes and were feeling their blood sugar level altering to alarming levels.
I asked one of the organisers about the reasons for the delay and any indication of time. I was told it was an Asian wedding, what do I expect?
There is no excuse that can justify this rotten culture of bad time keeping. It has become so acceptable that everyone assumes everyone else will be late and they deliberately set off late for such functions. Unfortunately the Muslim community has gained notoriety for the abuse of time to such a degree that now many people would ask, if the event is following GMT (Greenwich Mean Time) or GMT (generous Muslim time)? It is a disgrace that people do not keep to time and it is terrible that Islam has been tarnished by the attitude of some Muslims.
I have learned from waiting for hours, I ask those who invite me to conduct their Islamic Marriage ceremony to give me the precise time. Sometimes they complain about the Imam being late for their ceremonies. Lateness is bad but Imams turning up late is very disturbing. I have been told that many imams do not turn up on time, and that is the reason the families give an earlier time so that Imam would arrive on time. I was very sad to hear that and I make it my duty to arrive on time.
There is a direct connection between time and God. We should all remember that God is time and to abuse time is to abuse God. Not keeping to time disturbs other people’s programme and causes unnecessary pain. I remember I had to leave a wedding reception event recently without performing the Nikah because the bride and the groom were 4 hours late.
3. Too many pretentious people: I have attended so many weddings in my life and have met so may amazing people who are genuine and are truly great inspiration. I have also met people who are extremely pretentious and fake. I have failed to understand the real merit in such people.
Many people attend weddings for the wrong reasons. Some attend purely to show off. They wear clothes for people to take notice of them. They wear luxurious suits or dresses for people to recognize their wealth. They talk in the most artificial manner and worse they pretend to be your best friend.
Wedding celebration is all about bringing friends and families together to rejoice in the physical and spiritual union of two hearts. The heart is ruined when artificiality and pretense is at play. People who vie for false attention contaminate the wonderful blessings contained in marriage. Such people attend weddings for promoting themselves. They will make deriding comments about the décor; they would snigger at other people, complain about the food, provide unsolicited advice, be critical for the smallest thing and demand to be the centre of attention.
I can spot such people from miles away. I do not enjoy their company and it is hard for me to pretend to be unaware of their pretentiousness. They really lack confidence but pretend to have loads of it. They are in constant need for attention and other people’s approval. They do not have sophistication but pretend to be most cultured and sophisticated. You can notice this in the way they dress and their mannerism. Unfortunately, weddings tend attract such people.
Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy conducting nikah and attending the celebrations. I thoroughly enjoy meeting and talking to people but I do not like phony people and I do not like people who live to showoff. I long for simple, classy, naturally managed, time maintained and unpretentious wedding celebrations. I desperately look forward to easy, relaxing, entertaining and fun filled weddings. You don’t need to dress to impress or seek other people’s approval to have fun. Wedding celebration does not need extravagance, wastefulness and pretentiousness.
© Ajmal Masroor September 1, 2013. Reprinted here with the author’s permission.
Conversations with a Pregnant Wife, Part 3: What’s in a Name?
By Yasser Aboudouma
Writer, Civil Engineer – Egypt
Husbands, you have reached the final stage of the pregnancy marathon! The last three months of pregnancy can be called the months of mass destruction. The pregnant wife will be fond of knowing the baby’s gender; you too, of course. She will start shopping for the baby. She will have emotional “alterations” — in some cases, depression!
Month Seven (Boy/Girl)
Sure, the doctor can tell the baby’s gender. It is common in Egypt that most families dream that the first baby is a boy, which means your wife will dream of that too
Wife: That doctor is really weird. She is telling us “may be a boy, may be a girl.” What does she mean that the baby can be a girl? I want a baby boy, and all my friends and family are prepared for that. If we had gone to a male doctor from the beginning, he would have told us, easily, whether the baby is a girl or a boy.
Wife: Huh! I need to think about baby girl names. What you do think? Layla, Dalia, or Du`aa’? or let’s call her after my close friend. You know, I want her name to be unique — something that combines Arab, Egyptian, Western, Islamic, and Pharaonic cultures all in one name!
Husband: (teasing her) Don’t worry about the name. we’ll give her the name “Saffron.” I’ll complete all the official paperwork before you leave the operation room after delivery.
Wife: WHAT? Saf … what? No, please. Let me choose her name. I want to name her after my mom, your mom, or your sister — just don’t choose that name.
Of course, the name choice argument will give you some power to control her mood, but remember, don’t use it too much ; otherwise, you will find yourself flying out of the window!
Month Eight (Clothes)
Various researches describe this month in different ways, but they all agree that the pregnant woman wants to buy the entire world for her baby. She will feel jealous if she knows or hears about other mothers buying something for their babies, and she will do her best to buy the same or better. You as a husband have to accept that and get prepared to spend your savings on it. Husbands, never ever dream of saying “no” or complaining if she asks for baby shopping.
Wife: My colleague came to work with her baby today, and the baby wore a very sweet, pretty outfit that made her look like a princess. In the evening, I’ll go shopping.
Husband: OK! We can shop at the weekend.
Wife: Thank you, honey. I knew you would agree, so today I bought fancy brand-name clothes for her from that famous store. Our daughter must get the best!
Husband: I thought we were going to do the shopping together.
Wife: Don’t worry. There’s still a lot to buy. Hey, see this is a shampoo for the baby when she sleeps and that shampoo is for when she wakes up. These are diapers from the US, and this is a brush for her hair.
Husband: WHAT? Shampoo for what? How do you know that the baby wants to sleep or not to and how to decide ahead of time which shampoo to use? You might bathe her with shampoo used for waking up and then she will want to sleep… oh yes, then you’ll wake her up quickly and give her a shower with the right shampoo?
Who told you that the baby will be born with hair; as I understand it, a lot of babies are born without any hair, so that hairbrush is useless. In addition, why did you buy diapers made in the US? What’s wrong with the ones made in Egypt? It’s just a diaper, not a fancy thing!
Wife: Arrrgh! Don’t worry, babies know the right shampoo! She’ll sense which is the correct one and then act accordingly; that’s what’s written on the bottle. And I got the US-made diapers because I want my daughter to feel unique. Anyway, I bought three towels for the baby, one to use after shower, the second to dry her as the first one will be wet, and the third to cover her the second we are sure she is properly dried. Also, I got her hair clips, skin cream — one for night and the other for the morning, three pair of shoes, socks, underwear, and four dresses.
Husband: Are you sure you’re shopping for a baby, not a girl who is getting ready for marriage?! By the way, did you buy her a make-up box? There’s something especially for babies. You have to run to buy it now, and don’t forget the baby’s teeth brush, too!
Wife: Oh my God! You’re right, I really forgot that. I’ll arrange with my mom and sister to go out with me to complete my shopping.
Wife: By the way, you have to be more careful; my close friend told me that anger and nervousness are not good for pregnancy. Today at the meeting, all my colleagues were perfectly behaved; once any one just thought about arguing with me, I told them that I was in the eighth month and the baby would be delivered prematurely if I argue! There were no arguments, and the meeting ended in 10 minutes!
Husband: I think you’ll get fired soon.
Days pass slowly, and the pregnant wife returns home with many things she bought from different stores. The husband gets used to seeing his wife sitting on the floor and spreading all the baby’s stuff around her to check, kiss, hug them and find out what is missing!
Husbands, congratulations! You’re in the ninth month. You have waited eight months to reach that final month. You controlled your temper throughout, you worked and helped with the housework, And you are tired; you deserve some relaxation.
The pregnant wife knows that the time of her being spoiled will end; finally, she will be responsible for a baby, so she will start acting as poorly, trying to show you that she is weak and powerless. Do understand that she is worried about delivering her baby — it is her first time, and she knows virtually nothing about giving birth. So you will have to –be, even more, patient!
Wife: Honey, I feel sorry for you! The past eight months have been very hard for you. I rarely cooked and you stopped eating dinner, while your breakfast was just a cake; you lost 20 kg. I have to cook today. I’ll make a surprise for you. I’ll boil some eggs and prepare white cheese, but would you please prepare the salad for us?!
Husband: … .
Wife: Do you think I’ll deliver the baby naturally or will there be a C-section? You know, most of my pregnant friends had a cesarean. Maybe my doctor will deliver it naturally as she is a female doctor.
Husband: Ah yep, but the doctor’s gender doesn’t affect the type of delivery.
Wife: Anyway, I prepared two suite cases for the baby and me.
A natural phenomenon: All pregnant women become nice and kind to their husbands just a few days before giving birth. So be careful, because that kindness will turn to hell if you were at work while she starts labor.
Wife: OHHH, HELP! Mom, Father, Brother, Sister, Uncles, Aunts, United Nations, Egyptian people, the Universe, … any one! Help me, I’m in pain! The baby!
Wife: (addressing her husband) Honey, I’m in pain, tell that doctor to give me any painkiller. I can’t handle it any more. I feel weak. Promise me if anything happens to me, never ever get married again! Don’t give our baby a stepmother. Please, promise me!
Husband: You’ll be fine, and everything will be OK. It happens to all women; you’re not the first one. Just a few minutes from now, and you’ll hold in your arms a sweet baby girl.
Wife: Did you bring a video camera with you? Don’t take any shots from my left-hand side; my right side is more photogenic! Choose good angles for the shots, I want to look pretty in the video. Take shots while I’m not screaming and before my face appears in the video screen, just tell me to smile.
Husband: We’re recording the birth of our baby, not making a movie! You’ll be in the operation room, and you won’t care about anything of that sort.
Wife: Labor hurts. I’m crazy and stupid; I don’t want to get pregnant again. This is the first and last time. If anyone had told me about that pain, I would’ve never thought about marriage.
A big scream from the pregnant woman calls for the baby to come out and get introduced into this world to join the mother’s community.
Wife: Honey, what is the gender of the baby?
Husband: What? The baby is a girl. We knew that a long time ago.
Wife: Yipeeee… I thought the doctor would change her mind. Is she pretty?
He: (Teasing her) Who, the doctor? Yes, very.
Wife: No, silly! I mean the baby.
Husband: Oh! yes, she’s very, very pretty.
Wife: OK, next time we’ll have a baby boy. Now tell them I want to hold her.
Husband: (in amazement) Next time? You just said … You were … What happened? Women! Women! Women!
Husbands, don’t worry. Pregnant women are all like that — in a state of confusion and amazement. And they will continue to be like that until the last second of their lives. Congratulations!
Yasser Aboudouma is an Egyptian-Canadian who lives between Cairo and Ontario. He holds a B.Sc. in engineering and a diploma in project management. He is interested in issues of social and cultural differences.
Divorce in Islam: Procedure and Rulings (by IslamOnline)
|Date: 09/Sep/2003Name of Mufti: Muzammil SiddiqiTopic: Divorce: Islamic Procedure & Rulings
Name of Questioner: K. from United States
Question: Dear scholars, As-Salamu `alaykum. Please explain what the proper Islamic procedure of divorce is. If a person divorces his wife in anger three times, is it counted one divorce or three divorces? In case he feels sorry about his words and wants to keep the marriage relationship, what is the proper procedure to annul the divorce? A detailed answer will be very much appreciated.
Wa `alaykum As-Salamu wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh.
In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.
Dear brother in Islam, we commend your keenness on getting your self well-acquainted with Islam and its teachings, which is the way Allah has chosen for the welfare of His servants.
We must state clearly that divorce in Islam is the most abhorrent of all permitted things, and, as such, it must be resorted to only in extreme cases of necessity, and that too following certain stringent procedures and conditions. Among such procedures and conditions is: One must resort to divorce only after having exhausted all efforts of proper reconciliation and mediation. If, all efforts fail, while pronouncing divorce, one must be in a sober state of mind, and having clear intention to divorce. Just as marriage in Islam is contracted in a sober state of mind, and with clear intention, divorce must also be made in the same way.
In his answer to the question in point, Dr. Muzammil H. Siddiqi, former President of the Islamic Society of North America, states:
“Divorce is the most hateful thing to Allah, but it is allowed (halal) only in the case of absolute necessity. If a couple tried their best to reconcile their differences, but they still could not agree and they found impossible to live with each other, then only in that case they should separate in a proper and decent manner.
Divorce can be initiated by the husband or by the wife. The husband has the right to pronounce the words of divorce (talaq) to his wife. He can also give her a statement of divorce in writing.
The wife can seek divorce from her husband through khul`, but if he refuses to grant her request then she can seek the dissolution of marriage through the court of law. The Shari`ah has not given the right to a woman to divorce her husband, because only the husband has all the financial obligations of the family.
After divorce he will be responsible to provide her maintenance during her `iddah and if there are any children in the family then he will be responsible for their expenses. Thus to grant her that right equally with the husband while she has no financial obligation is unfair and unjust. The wife can, however, divorce her husband if her husband gave her that right either at the time of marriage or afterwards.
A husband who wants to divorce his wife should use the words of divorce with full awareness after much thinking and consideration. Using the words of divorce in haste or anger is not right. The proper procedure is to give divorce when a woman is not pregnant and is not going through her monthly menstrual cycle. Divorce can take place by saying one time “I have divorced you” (talluqtuki) or “You are divorced” (anti taliq).
After this the woman should spend the time of her `iddah. During the period of `iddah the husband can cancel his divorce and can resume the matrimonial relationship, but if it does not happen then the divorce takes effect and at the end of the `iddah period their marriage ends. There is no need to repeat the words of divorce more than once. Even one divorce is sufficient to terminate the relationship.
The provision of the second and third divorce is given for a husband who divorces his wife one time and then cancels his divorce, but then after sometime changes his mind and divorces her again second time. Then he changes his mind and resumes the relationship and then again after that he divorces her. The Shari`ah says that now this relationship should end.
Marriage is a serious matter. One cannot keep divorcing one’s wife and returning her back. After the third divorce he cannot take her back. The third divorce is called the “irrevocable divorce” (talaq mughallaz). The wife now becomes forbidden to her husband completely. She cannot go back to this husband who has divorced her three times, unless she marries another person who out of his own free will divorces her and then after the `iddah she and her previous husband want to remarry. This is called halalah in the language of the Shari`ah. This rule is given by the Shari’ah to reduce the occurrence of three divorces and to protect the honor of the woman.
Some people misuse this procedure out of ignorance or willingly. There are some people who think that the divorce (talaq) would not happen unless one makes the statement three times. There are others who repeat the words of divorce for emphasis and have no idea that this could be very serious. The jurists (fuqaha’) have discussed this issue for the last fourteen hundred years. There were some jurists who took the strict position that three divorces whether uttered at once or separately would be considered as three divorces. According to them, whether a person misused this right knowingly or unknowingly the affect would be the same. If some one uttered the words of divorce three times, then this would be talaq mughallaz and his wife would become totally forbidden for him and they could not reconcile without a halalah.
There are, however, some other jurists who emphasize the role of will in marriage and divorce. They say that if the husband used three divorces intentionally as three, then they will be counted as three, but if he repeated the words in anger or to emphasize his point then this is one divorce and he will have the right to resume the relationship with his wife. I feel that the second position is closer to the spirit of the Shari`ah. I am pleased to see that there are now some Hanafi jurists also who are inclined to this position. There were fatwas issued to this effect by the `Ulama’ of Deoband and Nadwa in India as well the `Ulama in Saudi Arabia.
The issue of a divorce given in anger is also important. The basic rule is that divorce must be uttered with full consciousness and without any coercion. If a person pronounced the words of divorce to his wife, in a fit of anger, while he lost all control over himself or due to the influence of intoxicants which he sinfully consumed, or he was forced by someone else to do so, then in all these cases his words of divorce are null and void and have no effect.
In conclusion, let me say that Muslims must protect their family life and must avoid divorce as much as possible. If it becomes necessary to have divorce then use the Islamic methods and procedures. Obviously we cannot give all the details here. Those who need more information they should consult special books on this subject or speak to those who are knowledgeable.”
Market Day on the Tajikistan-Afghanistan Border, and a Tajik Wedding
By Christine and Jelt from their blog
Cross Border Markets and our First Tajik Wedding
It’s Friday afternoon, 4:30 pm and a colleague mentions, by-the-way, that Monday is a holiday as Constitution day falls on Saturday, 6th November. A long week-end with places to go and things to see!! To hell with a two week pile of unwashed clothes! Here in Khorog, every Saturday morning there is a cross-border market, which is the closest we can get to actually visiting Afghanistan.
At 10 am Jelte, Rod and I hail a ‘cab’ and for the price of just one Somoni each (the equivalent of 30c or 20p) we share a ‘golf cart’ – commonly known as a Chinese van – with 4 other passengers to take us to the site of the cross-border market. When we arrive, things are just beginning to come alive.
We wander around the few stalls of fruits and clothes and odds and ends. Jelte and Rod sit down to breakfast of ‘choi’ and bread with Halva. Christine is too busy watching one of the stall owners cook ‘pilav’ on an open fire.
Within half an hour the market-place is teeming with vendors and shoppers; Afghanis and Tajiks and the odd smattering of foreigners (apparently in the city of Khorog – pop: 30,000, there are a grand total of 20 odd ‘expats’).
Also present, but not in any way threatening, are Tajik police, busy taking photos of themselves and each other. We suspect they are there to keep an eye on the Afghani merchants, who, by the way, look distinctly different from their Tajik neighbours. Beautiful, strong faces and distinctly different clothes, many barefoot on their ‘stalls’ which are just pieces of canvas or cloth laid out on the ground with their wares displayed. The Afghanis are the ones who sell the exotic spices and used American boots.
So, our American friends, you know where your tax money goes!! Funny thing; Tajik food is not a culinary delight so we look across the border to be supplied with turmeric, cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, screw-pine (bet you’ve never heard of that), ginger root, pepper corns and a host of other totally unrecognizable spices and ground minerals.
On the way back we stopped at the regular ‘bozor’ and stocked up on the usual Tajik staples, dried fruit, dried nuts, lentils, rice, beans, and cheese and bread for the next day’s hike. The local cheese here is the North American equivalent of cheez whizz which I had never tasted until arriving here in Khorog.
Since we arrived, with the exception of just one day of rain, each day has been much like the previous – blue, blue skies, with bright sunshine. The valley traps the heat and by mid-day it’s in the high 60s. Beautiful! And perfect for hiking. Sunday, we are off to Bogev, a neighbouring valley just 15 km away, which has been recommended by expat ‘Bo’ an avid mountaineer and climber.
The culmination of the climb is an ancient Zoroastrian fire temple, probably @ 2,800m above sea level. The climb was steep and more challenging than we thought. So Christine chickened and hung out on a convenient ledge while Rod and Jelte scaled further to the top of the mountain. Their reward was sighting a couple of grey foxes and incredible views. After our lunch of bread, cheez whizz , dried apricots and pears we made our way down into the valley, to a little village and stumbled upon a wedding party.
The Tajik hospitality is legendary and after introductions to the family of the bride we found ourselves in a traditional Pamiri House, celebrating our first wedding, surrounded by friends and family who were preparing for the evening’s celebrations. In spite of this, they took time to spread a feast for us and provided us with live entertainment to which we all danced and celebrated.
We can’t say we were not warned about the proliferation of Tajik weddings. Our co-volunteer, Jeremy, who we met in Dushanbe, said he clocked up 72 wedding attendances in 18 months of living in this country.
So far, every outing has been full of wonderful surprises, especially the Tajiks. We have never felt so safe and welcome in a foreign country; and we don’t even speak any of the languages … yet.
There’s more to the long weekend but, we’ll leave that to our next blog, when, we suppose, we should write something about our work…..
50 Romantic Things to Do for Your Wife
These ideas for romantic things to do for your wife were all suggested by real wives. Some are expensive, while others cost nothing at all.
No matter your budget, there’s always something you can do to make your wife feel special!
In no particular order:
- Take your wife on a drive to a place where the two of you can watch the sunset together. Make sure you hold her hand or put your arm around her.
- Give her a back rub or massage.
- Make her a handmade bookshelf (or buy it if you prefer, but making things by hand is always romantic). Fill it with books you know she will love – either books she already owns, or new books that you buy for her – and set it next to a snug loveseat sofa just for her. On the other side of the sofa put a small tea table. It will be her special place to relax when you’re not home (or when you’re watching the football game).
- Give your wife a gift when she least expects it, even if it’s something small.
- Surprise her with a dream vacation. Make all the arrangements (babysitters for the children, plane tickets, hotel reservations), so that all she has to do is pack a bag. Imagine how thrilling it would be to say to her, “Honey, pack your bag, we’re going to Paris tomorrow)… However I must add two caveats about this one: First, if she works, let her know about the trip well in advance so she can arrange time off from work. Secondly, know your wife’s personality. If she needs time to mentally prepare for new things, then plan the trip accordingly.
- Make her dinner and have it cooking in the oven when she gets home from work. If you don’t know how to cook, take a cooking class and learn!
- Bake her a favorite pie, or make her a cake and decorate with a message of love.
- Write her a poem.
- If you’re hopeless when it comes to writing poetry, hand-copy a famous love poem onto a card, and write, “This is what I would write for you if I had the words.”
- You can never go wrong with a hug.
- Have a bouquet of flowers delivered to her at an unexpected time, along with a love note.
- Write your wife a letter listing the things for which you feel grateful to her.
- Write a book and dedicated it to her.
- Write “I love you” on the bed in flower petals.
- Leave a small wrapped gift under her pillow – for example a piece of jewelry.
- Buy her a day at a spa where she can be pampered with a facial, massage, manicure and pedicure, etc.
- Dress her.
- Undress her.
- Brush her hair.
- Take her bungee-jumping or skydiving.
- Whisper something loving in her ear when you’re in public.
- Blindfold her and kiss her all over her body.
- Look deeply into your wife’s eyes and tell her how beautiful she is to you.
- Put a love note in her pocket for her to find.
- Read to your wife.
- Pray with her.
- Sing to her.
- Dance with her.
- Write her a love letter and draw a flower on the envelope. Take your time and draw something really nice. If you can’t draw, trace it from a magazine photo.
- Let your wife sit on your lap.
- In winter, make love in front of a roaring fire in the fireplace.
- Carry your wife to bed.
- Call her from work during the day to tell her you love her (just be careful – if you’re calling her at her workplace, make sure that it’s not going to get her in trouble with her boss).
- Lie together in the backyard (or any secluded, peaceful place) and watch the stars.
- Take a bubble bath together.
- Kiss your wife lightly just below the ear, and then whisper, “I love you.”
- Buy her a ring. It doesn’t have to be an expensive ring, just something pretty in a style she would like.
- Speaking of buying gifts, pay attention to what she likes. When you’re out together and she sees something in a window and says, “Oh, that’s lovely,” make a mental note, and when you get home, write an actual note in a notebook do you don’t forget. On a special occasion, buy it for her.
- Go camping together in the woods or the mountains, just the two of you.
- If you’re on a business trip, call her often to chat (even if only for a few minutes) and tell her you miss her.
- Know that she needs time with her friends just like you do, and be nice to her friends (without being flirty of course).
- Learn from her, and let her know that you do.
- Make sacrifices for her.
- Learn to say sweet things in foreign languages, including sign language.
- Defend her when someone says something unkind about her, no matter who it is.
- Go go the playground and swing on the swings as if you were still teenagers. Just remember to get up if a real kid wants the swing, ha ha.
- Exercise together. This can be great fun and is a good bonding experience.
- Go shopping for her, wash the dishes, clean the house (including the bathroom). Share the chores, and some days just do them all.
- Draw a picture for her of some pretty nature scene (it’s okay if you’re not artistically talented, just do your best) and write some sweet caption beneath, like, “You are as beautiful as a sunset. I love you.”
- Tell her every day what you love about her. Be specific and mention actual things that you appreciate about her.
Love for your partner what you love for yourself
Imam Zaid Shakir writes:
As Salaam Alaikum,
To summarize the duties of brotherhood and sisterhood in Islam, we should love for our brother and sister what we love for ourselves.
This is an incredible teaching that if implemented would go a long way towards improving relations between us. This spirit of love is especially important between husbands and wives, as we often treat each other as abstract enemies as opposed to Muslims, first and foremost.
- Imam Zaid Shakir
This is an excellent observation and insightful piece of advice. Many of us are familiar with this hadith but have not thought of it in terms of husband and wife.
When we want for our spouse what we want for ourselves, it takes our marriage to a new level of love. We begin to think about our partners needs and wants, we pray for our partner just as we pray for ourselves, we work for our partner’s material and spiritual success as much as our own.
We also forgive them for their mistakes just as we would hope to be forgiven. We praise them for the good they do, thank them, hug them, and when they need it we correct them in kindness. That’s love, and it’s what a good marriage is made of.
Islamic Marriage Khutbah (Wedding Speech)
This is a typical Muslim nikah khutbah (wedding speech) that would be given by an Imam at a Muslim wedding. This particular speech was translated from Arabic, I believe. I do not know the author’s name:
“Thanks be to Allah that we praise Him, pray to Him for help; ask Him for pardon; we believe in Him, We trust Him; and ask Him to guard us from the evil of our own souls and from the evil consequences of our own deeds. Whomsoever He leaves straying no one can guide him. I bear witness that there is no God save Allah, who has no partner, and I bear witness that Muhammad is His servant and messenger, whom He has sent with truth as a bringer of good news and a warner.
The best word is the book of Allah, and the best way is that of Muhammad, on whom be peace. The worst of all things are innovations and every innovation leads astray, and every thing that leads astray leads to Hell.
Whosoever obeys Allah and His messenger will be guided aright and whosoever disobeys will cause loss to his own self (and thereafter). Hereafter, I ask the refuge of Allah from Shaytan, the outcast.
O mankind! Be careful of your duty to your Lord who created you from a single soul and from it created its mate and from them twain hath spread abroad a multitude of men and women. be careful of your duty towards Allah in whom you claim (your rights) of one another, and toward the wombs (that bear you). Lo, Allah hath been a watcher over you. [Surah Al Nisa' 4:1]
O ye who believe! Observe your duty to Allah with right observance, and die not save as those who have surrendered (unto Him). [Surah Ali 'Imran 3:102]
O ye who believe! Guard your duty to Allah, and speak words straight to the point; He will adjust your works for you and will forgive you your sins. Whosoever obeyeth Allah and His messenger, he verily hath gained a signal victory. [Surah Al Ahzab 33:70-71]“
Marriage is one of the most important acts of worship in Islam. The Prophet Muhammad (Sallallaahu layhi Wasallam) has told us how to live as Muslims. One of the branches of faith is marriage. It has been thus narrated in a Hadeeth that when a person marries, he has complete half of his religion and so he should fear Allah regarding the remaining half.
Shame, modesty, moral and social values and control of self desire are just a few of the many teachings of Islam. Furthermore, these are just a few of the many worships that a person can complete by performing the ritual of marriage. Through marriage a person can be saved from many shameless and immoral sins and through marriage he has is more able to control his desire. Therefore, the Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) has said:
“O young men! Whoever is able to marry should marry, for that will help him to lower his gaze and guard his modesty.” [Sahih al-Bukhari]
Marriage is a strong oath that takes place between the man and women in this world, but its blessings and contract continues even in Jannah. It is the way of our beloved Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam), and whosoever goes against this practice has been reprimanded.
Hadhrat Anas ibn Malik narrates:
A group of three men came to the houses of the wives of the Prophet (Sallallaahu layhi Wasallam) asking how the Prophet worshipped (Allah), and when they were informed about that, they considered their worship insufficient and said:
“Where are we compared to the Prophet as his past and future sins have been forgiven?”
Then one of them said: “I will offer the prayer throughout the night forever.”
The other said: “I will fast throughout the year and will not break my fast.”
The third said: “I will keep away from the women and will not marry forever.”
Allah’s Apostle came to them and said, “Are you the same people who said so-and-so? By Allah, I am more submissive to Allah and more afraid of Him than you; yet I fast and break my fast, I do sleep and I also marry women. So he who does not follow my tradition in religion, is not from me (from my followers).” [Sahih al-Bukhari]
Therefore, Islamically, we are all encouraged to get married and not turn away from the ways of our beloved Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Salaam). It should be remembered that this duty of marriage is for both men and women. Just as men complete half their religion through this act, it is also the same for women. However, in today’s time, there are many marriage-related issues which arise in people’s lives, as today we see many people abusing the laws of marriage in Islam.
When marrying, each becomes the other’s lifetime companion. Each should understand and appreciate that Allah has brought them both together and that their destiny in life has now become one. Whatever the circumstances: happiness or sorrow; health or sickness; wealth or poverty; comfort or hardship; trial or ease; all events are to be confronted together as a team with mutual affection and respect.
No matter how wealthy, affluent, materially prosperous and “better-off” another couple may appear, one’s circumstances are to be happily accepted with qanã‘at (contentment upon the Choice of Allah). The wife should happily accept her husband, his home and income as her lot and should always feel that her husband is her true beloved and best friend and well-wisher in all family decisions. The husband too should accept his wife as his partner-for-life and not cast a glance towards another.
Allah’s Messenger (Sallallaahu layhi Wasallam) said, “The best of you is he who is best to his family”. (Mishkat)
It was the noble practice of Nabi (Sallallaahu layhi Wasallam) to counsel spouses about the awareness of Allah before performing a Nikah by reciting the verses (Nisa v14, Ahzab v69, Al-Imraan v101) from the Quran. All the verses are common in the message of Taqwa (consciousness of Allah). The spouses will be first committed to Allah before being committed to their partner. There can be no doubt in the success of a marriage governed by the consciousness of Allah. I hope and wish every person a very happy and prosperous married life. May peace and Allah’s blessing be upon you.
Conversations with a Pregnant Wife, Part 2: Watch Out, She’s Moody!
By Yasser Aboudouma
Writer, Civil Engineer – Egypt
Wife: See? As I told you before, you have to stop defending them.
Husband: What happened?
Wife: The meeting today! The attendees have not given me my prestige even though they knew about my pregnancy.
Wife: Imagine, once I entered the meeting room, just five people stood up, and the others didn’t care.
Husband: WHAT! You had the chance to choose between five seats!
Wife: NO, all people have to stand up and let me choose where I want to sit.
Wife: I’ll ask the manager to limit the meeting for three to four people max.; a congested room is not good for my pregnancy.
Husband: Why do you bother? You know, why don’t you ask him to cancel all meetings!
Wife: Poor me, you’re always mean to me. Even one girl felt sorry for me and let me sit beside the window, and she opened the door too!
Husband: That’s not fair for them.
Wife: What! You’re worried about them and not me? Men!
At this stage of pregnancy, all husbands have to learn how to control their temper and be patient. A little piece of advice for husbands: Don’t try to get involved in any arguments with your lovely, pregnant wife! It’s useless, as the argument will end with accusations as if you’re the reason for all the destruction and wars in the world! You have to learn that if speech is silver, then silence is solid gold.
The fifth month means a lot of activity, so don’t be surprised if your wife starts to become more active and looks for extra work to do. As the baby starts growing, the pregnant wife starts getting less sleep and, normally, she won’t accept that you sleep while she doesn’t! Husbands, don’t be scared when your wife wakes you up in the middle of the night with a certain look on her face. In fact, the look is telling you something.
Wife: HURRY! Wake up!
Husband: What is it? What’s wrong? Are you sick? Did you hear something? Did someone call? Is there a thief in the house? Is there a fire in the neighborhood?
Wife: No, nothing like that! I just wanted to tell you that I felt the baby move.
Husband: (horrified) WHAAAAAT! You woke me up at — what time is it? – 3 a.m. to tell me that! I have to go to work early tomorrow morning, and I can feel the baby in the morning.
Wife: (looking hurt) You don’t like me or our baby. I thought you’d like to share with me these moments.
Husband: OK, OK, let me feel the baby.
You can spend the rest of the night waiting to feel the baby move, which never happens! It’s normal. Simply, say you can feel it and make your life easier.
The pregnant wife normally feels that she needs care and attention, so be ready to expect any weird request, at any time!
Husband: Honey, I’ll take a nap until the food is ready.
Wife: WHAT! You want to go and rest while I stand in the kitchen preparing food instead of coming to give me a hand? OK, your highness! Where is the UN, human rights organizations, and gender equity rules?
Husband: OK, OK, I’m coming. I’ll give you a hand; sorry.
Of course, your help will start by washing the raw vegetables, and you’ll end up preparing everything while your pregnant wife takes her nap!
Wife: Honey, you can leave the dishes and I’ll put them in the dishwasher after I take a nap, but if you insist, it’s OK.
Husband: (vexed) OK, honey, I’ll put them.
Wife: Fine. Could you bring a glass of water with you. If you prepare tea for yourself, don’t forget my cup.
Husband: Ummm, but you said you’ll take a nap!
Wife: Yeah, I will after I drink my tea. While you’re waiting for the water to boil for the tea, please put the clothes in the washing machine. Plus, there are clothes that need to be folded. Can you do it? I’m very tired.
To all husbands: Be careful of that word, “honey.” It’s usually followed by “do that” or “don’t do that”!
With the sixth month comes the weight gain — around 15 kg in the beginning! The pregnant wife is forced to replace her normal clothes with larger sizes. She starts feeling the baby move, and gets disappointed with what she is beginning to look like.
Wife: Why are you smiling like that? Haven’t you seen a pregnant woman gaining weight before?
Husband: (trying to hold down his laughter) Of course not. You look the same, but why do you walk like that?
Wife: I’m pregnant; have you forgotten or what?
Husbands, don’t expect the lady you married to remain the same girl who likes to share in your thoughts and/or life difficulties. Their focus changes, and as pregnant women they always like to talk about the pregnancy, and they don’t intend or desire to talk about anything else.
Wife: I read online that in the West pregnant women deliver their babies without anesthetics, and sometimes it happens when they’re sitting or swimming in a pool. I’ll check with my doctor to see about the possibility of doing the same.
Husband: Honey, you’re still in your sixth month, and remember that you’re in Egypt, not in the West. Tell me first, do you spend all your working day searching for information about pregnancy on the Net? Sweetheart, I tell you what, let’s forget about that now, I need to eat.
Wife: I’ll prepare something special today. Just go and sit in front of the TV until I finish.
(A couple of hours pass.)
Husband: Honey, where’s the food?
Wife: It’s not ready yet, it’s only 10 p.m., why are you in a hurry?
Husband: Honey, you think 10 p.m. is still early? Let’s eat anything, even some cheese.
Wife: (now mad) You’re a typical Middle Eastern man; there’s no appreciation whatsoever for my effort! Just for your information, my close friend never cooked anything throughout her pregnancy and up until four months after she delivered the baby.
Husband: So what did they eat for the year?
Wife: (in a low voice) Her husband was out of the country for a year, and she stayed at her parents’ house.
A wise man once said that parents who failed to raise their son properly shouldn’t worry, the wife will certainly do the job!
Yasser Aboudouma is an Egyptian-Canadian who lives between Cairo and Ontario. He holds a B.Sc. in engineering and a diploma in project management. He is interested in issues of social and cultural differences.
L.A.’s Volunteer Muslim Matchmaker
His matches have sparks of tradition
Mohammad Mertaban is a volunteer matchmaker who helps observant young Muslims searching for a modern path to marriage that stays true to Islam.
By Raja Abdulrahim, Los Angeles Times
September 23, 2011
The one-line email that greeted Mohammad Mertaban came straight to the point.
“Mertaban, find me a husband, k? I await your list of potential suitors,” wrote a woman who lives on the East Coast.
Mertaban was not surprised, although he knew the woman only slightly. “If it comes from a brother or sister whom I don’t know very well, I know that she would do it out of frustration, desperation or a strong desire to get married,” he explained later.
An information technology project manager who lives in Fullerton, Mertaban, 30, has grown accustomed to urgent requests — by phone, email and in person — since he began dabbling in matchmaking for friends and acquaintances about eight years ago. Those he helps are observant young Muslims searching for a modern path to marriage that stays true to Islam.
American Muslims regularly speak of a “marriage crisis” in their communities, as growing numbers of Muslims reach their late 20s and early 30s still single. Young religious Muslims tend to avoid Western-style dating, but many also reject the ways of earlier generations, in which potential spouses were introduced to one another by family.
Traditionally, in South Asia and the Middle East, older women — often called the “aunties” — and parents recommended matches by drawing upon their extensive networks of family, friends and acquaintances. Marriage criteria were typically limited to religion, ethnicity, jobs and looks. But in the U.S., their little black books of contacts are significantly thinner and many second-generation American Muslims see such methods as decidedly old-world.
So, many turn to young volunteer matchmakers like Mertaban, who have connections in their hometowns, college circles and vast online networks.
“The aunties don’t really know people very well and I think they’re just shooting in the dark,” said Mertaban, whose parents emigrated from Lebanon. “I think people have veered away from that.”
Amir Mertaban, Mohammad’s younger brother and a matchmaker as well, said the goal was “to keep this as close to Islam as possible. I’m trying to get people hooked up, but we’re trying to do this in a halal (permissible) manner.”
What is and isn’t allowed is debated within the Muslim community. But those who seek a matchmaker’s help tend to steer clear of anything resembling dating and to avoid meeting one another without a chaperone. And even though they may see their parents’ methods as too traditional, they are still more comfortable seeking help from a go-between than online matrimonial sites or singles’ events held at mosques under the guise of “networking.”
Mertaban, who is lively with a quick laugh and a wide, almost Joker-like smile, says he didn’t choose to be a matchmaker but fell into the role after he helped a number of friends.
He grew up in Diamond Bar and has lived in Los Angeles, Irvine and Fullerton — where he is now a youth mentor at the area mosque — which helped him establish a wide Southern California Muslim network.
In his senior year at UCLA, Mertaban was president of the campus’ Muslim Student Assn. and the following year he was president of MSA-West, an umbrella group covering much of the West Coast. With chapters at universities nationwide, it has jokingly been called the Muslim Singles Assn.
He was well-liked and known for making other students, especially freshmen, feel welcome. Many turned to him for advice about their problems.
“He’s a leader… everybody trusts Mohammad,” said Lena Khan, 26, an independent filmmaker who attended UCLA with Mertaban. “If you need something at 2 a.m., you know Mohammad is happy to help you.”
In a community that observes a certain level of gender segregation, Mertaban, because of his leadership roles, interacted regularly with both men and women. Soon, students began asking him for help finding potential mates.
His first attempt involved one of his best friends, of Palestinian descent, and an Indian woman the man was interested in. It didn’t work, partly because of their different ethnicities — a cultural lesson Mertaban now keeps in mind when suggesting pairings. He organizes his lists of single men and women by nationality.
The “Single Sisters” directory on his laptop begins with a 28-year-old Afghan woman and ends with a 25-year-old Syrian. In between are almost three dozen women, ranging from their early 20s to early 30s with details such as “Algerian only” or “wants to marry an Egyptian dr, mba or engineer.” Other notations include “not hijabi,” referring to women who don’t wear a head scarf.
His “Single Brothers” list, which is kept separate, is longer.
Mertaban, who has been married since 2005 and has two young daughters, said he has become well known as a source of reliable information about single Muslims — perhaps too well known. “I’ll get random emails from people that I’ve met once,” he said. “And sometimes it’s just really overwhelming and I don’t want to take these cases on.”
At a recent Muslim conference, Mertaban volunteered at the information booth of a relief agency with projects in the Middle East and Africa. But some at the conference still wanted to talk matrimony.
A man from Northern California stood awkwardly beside Mertaban, saying, “Maybe you can mention potentials” as young women walked by. The man, whom Mertaban had previously tried to set up but without success, stayed at his elbow as conference-goers browsed through religious books and other materials. Too polite to mention his discomfort with the request, Mertaban escaped only when the call to prayer was made.
He had greater success with Khan, the filmmaker. On Valentine’s Day 2008, he called to say that a friend, Ahmad, was interested in her. For a few weeks, Khan peppered Mertaban with questions about her suitor.
Mertaban told her that Ahmad was devoted to his prayers and very involved in volunteer activities, both of which were important to her. He helped fill the gaps in a courtship that took place mostly over the phone, Khan said.
“Mohammad told me he was funny and it would have taken me forever … to find out because he’s not going to start busting out jokes on the phone with a girl he wants to marry,” she said. “If you want to know about a guy, you need someone like Mohammad.”
She and Ahmad were married 10 months later.
Twice previously, Khan’s parents had entertained suitors for her — young men and their parents — and both efforts ended the day they began. “It’s just not as fruitful,” she said.
Even though Mertaban is a new-style matchmaker, his methods are relatively conservative. He is wary of suggesting matches for couples of different ethnicities and he declines to help any man who doesn’t plan to approach the woman’s father first for permission.
“I mean guys and girls shouldn’t be talking freely,” he said. “If you have the intention of getting married, the parents need to be involved.”
Sounding not unlike an “auntie” himself, he says those interested in marriage need to decide if they are compatible as a couple before emotions get in the way. He was introduced to his wife, Ferdaus Serhal, by his older sister who had worked with Serhal at a mosque. The couple emailed and spoke on the phone for two months before their families met.
Now he often consults with Serhal to get her opinion on a young woman or a possible pairing. He has matched eight couples who married and has about half a dozen more in progress. Still, he says he spends too much time counseling men with unrealistic expectations.
Two days after he ran into a college friend, Mertaban got a call from the man. They spent time catching up, and then the man volunteered that he was struggling to find a wife. Mertaban asked what he was looking for.
“He said he wants a girl with beautiful hair, tall, slender body and he wants her to have really pretty eyes and on top of that, get this, he wanted a girl who would not talk back to him,” the matchmaker recalled. “I thought this is not worth my time, this guy needs a lot more maturing.”
But he felt obliged to say something. He told the man, a doctor, that his criteria were unrealistic and noted that the prophet Muhammad encouraged men to marry women for their faith and character. He tried to be sensitive, knowing that asking for his help can be a humbling experience.
The man seemed to understand, but at the end of the conversation he just reiterated his requirements.
Mertaban hung up feeling frustrated.