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The Four Predictors of Divorce

Four horses

Four destructive behaviors that lead to divorce

Couples who exhibit these “four horsemen of the apocalypse” are almost certain to end in divorce.

By Eric Brodwin

Ever been in the middle of a heated argument when suddenly the other person pulls out their phone and starts texting?

If the answer is yes, and if you find it happening constantly, we hope that person isn’t your significant other.

This behavior, known as stonewalling, is one of four reactions that John Gottman, a psychologist at the University of Washington and the founder of the Gottman Institute, has identified as a telltale sign that all is not well with a married couple.

In fact, when Gottman and University of California-Berkeley psychologist Robert Levenson lumped stonewalling together with three other behaviors — contempt, criticism, and defensiveness — and measured how often they occurred within the span of a 15-minute conversation, they found they could predict which marriages would end in divorce with striking precision.

When the psychologists added questions about things like relationship satisfaction and how many times the research subjects had thoughts about separating to the mix, they could predict which marriages would end in divorce 93% of the time.

The figure, which comes from a 14-year study of 79 couples living across the US Midwest (21 of whom divorced during the study period), was so striking it spurned the researchers to label the four behaviors “the four horsemen of the apocalypse.”

While that initial study, published in 2002, was small and focused on a specific population, a decade of research into marriage and divorce has lent further support to the idea that divorce is associated with specific negative behaviors.

One recent study of 373 newlywed couples, for example, found that couples who yelled at each other, showed contempt for each other, or shut off conversation about an issue within the first year of marriage were more likely to divorce as far as 16 years down the road.

So what do these four “apocalyptic” behaviors actually look like in a relationship?

1. Contempt

Contempt, a virulent mix of anger and disgust, is far more toxic than simple frustration or negativity. It involves seeing your partner as beneath you, rather than as an equal.

This behavior alone, says Gottman, is “the kiss of death” for a relationship.

Take an everyday argument about buying groceries, for example. When you come home and realize your significant other has picked up habanero peppers rather than bell peppers for tonight’s stir-fry dinner, do you listen while he explains that perhaps you didn’t ever tell him what type of pepper you wanted? Do you think this over, and, when you realize that maybe he’s right, do you apologize? Or do you adopt an attitude and think to yourself, What kind of an idiot doesn’t know that bell peppers are for stir-fry and habaneros are for salsa?

The reason contempt is so powerful is because it means you’ve closed yourself off to your partner’s needs and emotions.

If you constantly feel smarter than, better than, or more sensitive than your significant other, you’re not only less likely see his or her opinions as valid, but, more important, you’re far less willing to try to put yourself in his or her shoes to try to see a situation from his or her perspective.

2. Criticism

Like contempt, criticism involves turning a behavior (something your partner did) into a statement about his or her character (the type of person he or she is).

Say your partner has a nasty habit of leaving his or her used cereal bowl — calcified, uneaten cereal-and-milk remnants and all — around the house.

Do you wait until he or she gets home to mention that the behavior bothers you, and gently suggest that he or she put the emptied bowl in the sink or dishwasher instead? Or do you think to yourself, “Why am I dating the type of person who abandons half-eaten cereal bowls around the house?”

Over time, these personal detractions can add up, feeding darker feelings of resentment and contempt.

3. Defensiveness

If you find yourself regularly playing the victim in tough situations with your partner, you might be guilty of being defensive.

Take being late to a cousin’s wedding, for example. Are you the first to say, “It wasn’t my fault!” when you finally arrive? Or do you think it over before you accuse the other person, realizing you probably shouldn’t have taken a 2-hour shower when you only had an hour to get ready?

Taking responsibility for your role in a tough situation can be uncomfortable, but it’s often what keeps a bad situation from escalating, says Gottman.

He’s found that for couples who divorce within the first several years of their marriage — one of the times when divorce rates are highest — “entering negativity is like stepping into a quicksand bog. It’s easy to enter but hard to exit.”

4. Stonewalling

You know when an argument is about to start. You can feel your heart rate increase and your voice get just a tiny bit louder. But the moment things start to get heated, do you pull out your phone, walk away, or simply ignore your partner?

Stone wall


Blocking off conversation can be just as toxic for a relationship as contempt because it keeps you from addressing an underlying issue.

We know: Getting into arguments with your partner is the opposite of a good time. But these temporarily uncomfortable situations are oftentimes the place where you can start to come to big realizations about your own behavior and solve potentially damaging problems.

Don’t panic

It’s important to keep in mind that occasionally displaying any one of these behaviors — or all of them, even — is completely normal.

It’s when these negative behaviors happen so frequently that they replace more positive interactions with your partner that can be cause for concern.

Simply recognizing that you’re doing something that could be hurting your relationship is the first step to actively combating it. If you can figure out how to avoid the behavior or replace it with a more positive one, you’ll probably make the relationship even stronger.

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Enough about wives! What makes the ideal Muslim husband?

Muslim men at Friday prayer

Men at Jumah prayer

By B. Aisha Lemu
Reprinted from

Much ink has been spilled, and much breath, in defining the role of Muslim women; the rights of Muslim women; the duties of Muslim women, what constitutes an ideal Muslim wife. Maybe because there has so much misunderstanding of the role of women, we seem to give it special emphasis in lectures and books.

However since men and women are interdependent, it is not wise to concentrate on one and remain silent about the other.

The last time I was invited to speak about “The ideal Muslim Wife”, I made a promise that my next assignment would be to prepare a lecture on ” The ideal Muslim Husband”. Many men seem to feel that women, and their wives in particular, should be ideal Muslims, while they themselves and their fellow men behave as they like without reference to the Qur’an and Sunnah, and unchallenged by the Shari’ah.

This paper is therefore intended to redress the balance; to turn the spotlight on to the men, so that they might be aware of the Islamic standard for an ideal husband, as they try to reach that standard as much as they wish their wives to reach the standard of an ideal Muslim wife.

The obvious place to look for these standards of behaviour is in the Qur’an and Hadith.

Let us therefore start at the beginning. How does the ideal husband behave before marriage? After all, a man does not totally change his character with effect from his wedding day. The bride is joining her life with that of another person whose personality and habits have been in some degree already formed. What then should be the behavior towards women by a young man before marriage?

Islam does not accept the view common in the western secular society that before marriage a young man is expected to “sow his wild oats” – whether by frequenting prostitutes or by sleeping around, or having any form of “trial marriage”. For all such activities the Qur’an has prescribed a legal punishment of 100 lashes. [Qur’an 24:2]

The Qur’an moreover says;

“And as for those who are unable to marry, let them live in continence until Allah grants them sufficiently out of his bounty….”
[Qur’an 24:33]

To assist young men in this situation the Prophet (saws) in a Hadith recorded in Bukhari further advised;

“Young men, those of you who can support a wife should marry, for it keeps you from looking at women and preserves your chastity; but those who cannot should fast, for it is a means of cooling passion.”

For those who have the means to get married, how should they go about it? We have mentioned that the modern western practice of having girlfriends and trial marriages is emphatically unlawful for Muslims. Instead it is expected that the family and friends will play a big role in finding out in detail about the character and circumstances of the proposed partner before allowing the feelings of the boy and girl to be aroused has several advantages. Its effect is to cut out a lot of the embarrassment, temptation and heartache which are common in the western system of courtship and intimate relations before marriage.

The boy is expected to share with his parents certain priorities in the type of girl he hopes to marry, and this is mentioned in a Hadith related by Abu Hurairah in which the Prophet (saws) advised:

“A women may be sought for her wealth, her birth, her beauty or he religious character. But do look for the religious women. And if you do it for any other consideration, your hands be rubbed in dirt!” [Bukhari and Muslim]

In other words the key to success in marriage is seen as the moral quality of the partner. The ideal Muslim bridegroom therefore goes into marriage with the responsible attitude of a person establishing a family on the best possible foundation of love and mutual compassion, and not of infatuation over beauty, ambition for wealth or social position. The Qur’an has described the marriage relationship in these terms;

“Among His signs is the fact that he has created spouses from among yourselves, so that you may find tranquillity with them; and he has put love and mercy between you. In that are signs for people who reflect.”
[Qur’an 30:21]

and again:

“They (wives) are garments for you, while you are garments for them.”
[Qur’an 2:187]

Having sought his bride in an honourable way, and married her in the manner prescribed by the Prophet- that is with public celebration but the minimum of fuss and ostentation- what are the Muslim husband’s duties?

His first duty is maintenance and protection, and overall responsibility for the welfare of his wife, which is prescribed in the Qur’an:

“Men shall take full care of women with the bounties which Allah has bestowed more abundantly on the former than on the latter, and with what they may spend out of their possessions….”
[Qur’an 4:34]

This includes feeding, clothing and shelter for the wife and for any children of the marriage. This is a legally enforceable duty, which remains even after divorce until the expiry of the Iddah or even longer in the view of some of the scholars. Financial responsibility for the family therefore rests squarely on the husband, and the wife has no duty to contribute to family expenses unless she has the means and the wish to do so.

The legal obligations of a husband do not stop with provision of the basic requirements relating to maintenance and protection. He is also expected to give her company and marital relations, and to avoid doing anything that would harm her.

These obligations are enforced by the Shari’ah. If a man fails to maintain his wife or fails to visit her for more than a certain period of time, the wife has grounds to be granted a divorce by a Shari’ah Court. Similarly, if she can prove to the court that the husband is doing harm (Idrar), be it by drinking alcohol, or beating her without lawful cause, or abusing her or her parents and so on, she is entitled to be granted a divorce. In none of these cases can the husband claim back any part of the dowry or presents he has given to the wife. I would like to make a note here that every situation has to be evaluated on its merits and circumstances by a Shar’iah Court. These points mentioned above are general precepts in the Shar’iah.

The Husband is however urged in the Qur’an to avoid divorce and try to preserve marriage even if it is not ideal. This is to be done in the first instance by exercising patience with his wife’s faults. The Qur’an say’s;

“Live with them on a footing of kindness and equity. If you take a dislike to them, it may be that you dislike a thing while Allah brings about through it a great deal of good.”
[Qur’an 4:19]

The Prophet (saws) also emphasised the undesirability of divorce in a Hadith found in Abu Dau’d’s collection:

“The most hateful of all lawful things, in the sight of Allah, is divorce.”

The ideal husband should therefore, if need arises, make full use of Qur’anic provisions for reconciliation and arbitration [Qur’an 4:34] before proceeding with divorce

If a man does divorce his wife, he should follow the steps approved in the Qur’an and Sunnah regarding a revocable divorce. This allows for cooling off and reconciliation before it becomes final on the final pronouncement. The divorce is not to be pronounced while the wife is in menstruation, but when she has finished menstruation and not yet resumed marital relations with the husband. (Qur’an 65:1) In other words divorce is not to be pronounced in anger or at random, but at a specific time when the husband is in control of his reason, and the wife herself is not in the state of emotional upset that sometimes occurs whilst she is pregnant or may accompany menstruation.

The husband is to continue good treatment of his wife even if divorce decided upon. He is to keep and feed her as before in his own house until the expiry of her iddah (waiting period) without harassment, [Qur’an 65:1, 65:6] and to make provision for her according to his means.

He is not to take back any of the gifts he may have given her before or during the marriage:

“The parties should either hold together on equitable terms or separate with kindness. It is not lawful for you (men) to take back any of your gifts from your wives.”
[Qur’an 2:229]

On the contrary, the husband is to give her a gift or some form of maintenance to sustain her after divorce [Qur’an 2:241]. Moreover, he is not to interfere if after divorce she wishes to marry someone else:

“……and when you divorce women and they have reached the end of their waiting term, hinder them not from marrying other men if they have agreed with each other in a fair manner.”
[Qur’an 2:232]

The husband should also know that according to the Shari’ah he is not always the one to have custody of his children after divorce, contrary to the common practice in some countries. It is the wife who is given priority in custody of children in many cases, in accordance with a Hadith related by Amru b. Shu’aib in Ibn Majah, which tells how a woman came to the Prophet (saws) and said:

“Truly my belly served as a container for my son here, and my breast served as a skin bag for him (to drink out of), and my bosom served as a refuge for him; and now his father has divorced me, and he (also) desires to take away from me.” The Prophet (saws) said: “You have a better right to have him as long as you do not marry again.” [Ibn Majah]

We would also like to point out again however, that the decision as to the custody of the children has to be evaluated by a Shar’iah Court, which will consider the particular circumstances surrounding the family and the children’s best welfare.

In the Maliki School of Islamic Jurisprudence, this rule is systematised to give priority in custody of children to the mother and to 5 other relatives before the custody could be claimed by the father. This custody lasts until puberty for a son and until marriage for a daughter, while the financial responsibility for their maintenance remains with their father.

The knowledge of the necessity of separation from his children must certainly act as a reality check when a husband is indiscriminately deciding to divorce.

It should also be realised the husband is required to be faithful in marriage as the wife must. The punishment for adultery of a married person, male or female, under the Shari’ah is death. The fact that the punishment may not be applied in this world, does not make the sin any less in the sight of Allah. A sin that is not expiated in this world is after all going to follow a person to the grave.

Therefore the husband should not fail to follow Allah’s command in the Qur’an:

“Tell the believing men to lower their gaze and to be mindful of their chastity: verily this will be most conductive to their purity (and) verily Allah is aware of all that they do.”
[Qur’an 24:30]

Those married men who cruise around in their cars looking for school girls to pick up are surely disgracing themselves, and forfeiting all right to require chastity of their wives.

If for some reason, the husband cannot manage with his first wife but does not want to divorce her, he is not prohibited from contracting another marriage, provided it is done in a legal and honorable way.

The permission to marry more then one wife at a time is however conditional:

“…….if you fear you cannot do justice between them, then marry only one.” [Qur’an 4:3]

This condition is often taken very lightly in some countries, where polygamy has long been a social custom. No words in the Qur’an, however, are without meaning, this verse should not be taken lightly. A weak husband will not be respected and will not act fairly between his wives, whereby, his marrying more then one is likely to lead to injustice, constant disharmony and the break up of his family. This is not in his interests or theirs or in the interests of the Muslim Ummah.

If having married more then one, however, a husband finds his heart inclining to one at the expense of the other, he is warned that this inclination should not reach the stage of neglect of the needs of the other wife:

“And you will not be able to treat your wives with equal justice however much you desire it. But do not incline towards one to the exclusion of the other, leaving her as it were in suspense.”
[Qur’an 4:29]

This warning against injustice is strongly reinforced by the Hadith in which Abu Hurairah (raa) reported the Prophet (saws) as saying:

“Whoever has two wives and does not treat them equally, shall come on the day of resurrection with half his body hanging down.” [Abu Da’ud, Nasa’i, and Ibn Majah]

We have so far examined the legal framework of marriage and divorce as outlined mainly in the Qur’an. This now needs to be filled in with illustration and elaboration drawn from the Sunnah, since the Qur’an tells us :

“You have in the apostle of Allah a beautiful pattern of conduct for anyone whose hope is in Allah and the last day.”
[Qur’an 33:21]

How did the Prophet (saws) then, behave as a husband? Obviously he observed the legal framework, but how did he behave in his day-to-day relationships with his wives?

A lot of information is to be gathered about this from the Hadith, both directly and indirectly, and also from the Sirah (the biography of the Prophet (saws)).

His guiding principle on the treatment of wives is stated in some well known Ahadith;

“From among the believers are those who have the kindest disposition and are the kindest to their families- such are those who show the most perfect faith. “The best among them are those who are kindest to their wives.” [Bukhari and Muslim]

Indonesian Muslim couple

Indonesian Muslim couple

How did the Prophet (saws) himself exemplify this kindness?

Firstly he was not a difficult or remote or tyrannical husband of the type who regards all household chores as “women’s work”. In a Hadith in Bukhari:

Aisha (raa) was asked by Al-Aswad b. Yazid what the Prophet used to do in the house. She replied: “He used to work for his family, that is serve his family, and when prayer time came, he went out for prayer.” [Bukhari]

Other Hadith tell us that he used to mend his own clothes.

Secondly he didn’t make a fuss about food. It is recorded in a Hadith from Abu Hurairah (raa) in the collection of Muslim:

“Allah’s Messenger never found fault with food. If he liked something, he ate it, and if he disliked it, he just abstained from it.” [Muslim]

Implying that he never complained about the food or it’s cooking.

Aisha (raa) reported that whenever she was sick, the Prophet (saws) would come to her to show his sympathy. Nor, was he ashamed to let it be known that his love for his wife was greater then his love for any other human being. It is recorded in the Hadith collections of Bukhari and Muslim that someone asked the Prophet: “Who among all the people is most beloved by you?” And he said “Aisha”.

This love and understanding for Aisha did not eclipse his high regard for his first wife Khadijah, who had been his only wife for about 25 years until her death. Aisha (raa) reported that he always treasured the memory of Khadijah who had supported and encouraged him through the difficult years in Mecca, and that he use to regularly give gifts to Khadijah’s closest friends as an expression of his undiminished esteem and love for her.

The Prophet (saws) never held himself apart from his wives as if they were by their nature as women inferior. On the Contrary, he included “playing games with one’s wife” as one of the legitimate entertainments. According to the following Hadith:

“…….There is no amusement which is praiseworthy except three, namely training a horse, sporting with one’s wife and shooting arrows with a bow.” [Abu Da’ud, Ibn Majah and Baihaqi]

In illustration of this practice, Aisha (raa) records that on more then one occasion she and the Prophet (saws) ran races and sometimes she won and sometimes he won. Most men nowadays consider it far beneath their dignity to play any sort of game with their wives, and their marriages are the duller and poorer for it.

I think this is one of the problems we encounter in the way we learn about the life of the Prophet (saws). Most of the history books dwell on the political and military aspects of the Prophet’s (saws) life, and his personality, which was obviously very attractive, eludes our knowledge. We tend to, for this reason picture him as always serious, while the Hadith informs us that although he rarely laughed aloud, “Nobody used to smile as much as he did.” This is fully in accordance with the Hadith: “Smiling at your brother (Muslim) is a charity.”

The Prophet’s (saws) attitude towards female children and female education is a beautiful elaboration of what is found in the Qur’an. The Qur’an not only forbade the jahiliyyah practice of female infanticide, but even condemned the practice of showing disappointment or anger over the birth of a female child. [Qur’an 16:58-59]

A Hadith related by Ibn Abbas in fact encourages the reverse:

“Whoever has a female child and does not bury her alive, nor hide her in contempt, nor prefers his male child over her, Allah will allow him to enter Paradise.” [Abu Da’ud]

The Prophet (saws) showed the greatest love and affection for his female children, particularly for Fatima. Aisha (raa) related that “Whenever the Prophet (saws) saw Fatima (raa), he would welcome her, and rising from his seat would kiss her, and then taking her by the hand would seat her in his own seat.” [Bukhari]

He decreed that every Muslim – male and female- must as a duty seek knowledge and prescribed education for all children in the following words:

“No present or gift of a parent, out of all the gifts and presents to a child, is superior to a good broad (general) education.” [Tirmidhi and Baihaqi]

He laid special emphasis on the education of daughters:

“Whoever brings up two sisters or two daughters, and gives them a broad education, and treats them well, and gives them in marriage, for him is Paradise.” [Abu Da’ud, Tirmidhi]

This concern for the education of girls was reflected in his teaching of Aisha (raa), who was still a young girl when he married her, and was only 18 when he died. She had a natural ability for learning and a strong sense of reasoning, and he taught her as much as she was ready to learn. He was so impressed and pleased with her learning that he even told people:

“You can learn half your religion from this rosy-cheeked girl.”

He therefore encouraged people to consult her in religious matters, and after his death she became one of the major sources of Hadith.

From all this we can see that some people’s resistance to allowing their daughters to have access to knowledge is not only misguided but quite contrary to all the Prophet (saws) preached and practiced. An ideal-Muslim husband is therefore expected to be deeply committed to and involved in the education of all his children – the daughters as much as the son’s.

The Prophet (saws) respect for a wife’s intelligence and understanding was also reflected in his readiness to consult his wives and respond to their good advice. An instance of this practice is recorded on the occasion of the signing of the treaty of Hudaibihiyah. Many of the Muslims were reluctant to accept treaty. They did not want to go home without performing pilgrimage and they considered some parts of the Treaty disadvantageous to the Muslims. They were therefore reluctant to obey his instructions to slaughter their sacrificial camels and shave their heads, which would symbolise that the Pilgrimage was over and the matter closed. The Prophet (saws) withdrew to his tent in perplexity, and told his wife Umm Salamah what had happened. She advised him: “Go out and speak to no man until you have performed your sacrifice.” The Prophet (saws) followed her advice, and slaughtered the camel calling: “Bismillah, Allahu akbar” in a loud voice, whereupon the Muslims forgot their reluctance and raced to make their own sacrifices.

The presence of Umm Salamah on this journey exemplifies another aspect of the Prophet’s (saws) dealings with his wives. One or more of them almost invariably accompanied him on his journeys and campaigns. To ensure fairness they would draw lots as to which wife or wives would accompany him.

His wives were thus not kept locked up so that they could not experience what was going on in the outside world. They wore modest clothes (hijab) and went out and saw everything that was going on, and they participated when necessary, for example in nursing the wounded on the battlefields.

The following Hadith is narrated by Aisha (raa):

“Umar once criticised the Prophet’s wife Saudah for going out, saying he had recognised her in the street. So she appealed to the Prophet (saws) for support and he supported her saying: “Women have the right to go out for their needs.” [Bukhari]

Similarly the Prophet (saws) allowed his wives and other women to go out to the Mosques for their prayers. He also advised other men:

“Do not prevent the female servants of Allah (i.e. from the Mosques).” [Muslim]

The ideal Muslim husband therefore does not impose restrictions on his wife greater then those imposed by Allah (swt), or by the Prophet (saws) on his own family.

All the foregoing indicate that the women who is married to an ideal Muslim husband is protected but not suppressed, and is therefore likely to be happy and contented.

However, the Muslim husband is not expected to please his wife at all cost, if what pleases her may be wrong or against her interests or the interests of the family.

The Qur’an say’s:

“O you who have attained to faith! Ward off from yourselves and your families
that fire (of the hereafter) whose fuel is Human beings and stones.”
[Qur’an 66:6]

In this respect a husband has a duty to ensure that his wife is fully educated as a Muslim. If this has been neglected in her parents’ home, he must take necessary steps to remedy it. Either by teaching her himself or by arranging for her Islamic education by other means. The husband is expected to give leadership in the family. We have seen that this form of leadership is not dictatorship or tyranny. The wise husband will, as indicated, consult his wife on important matters concerning the family, and if he sees her advice is good, accept it. However, Islam has given the man authority as the head of the family, and he is expected to abide by the Qur’an and Sunnah and endeavour to ensure that his family do not violate Islamic norms of behavior. The kind of treatment required should not therefore include condoning her misbehavior.

The Qur’an has prescribed a specific graded series of three steps, which the husband should take if the wife shows that she is rebelling against Islamic norms of conduct.

His first step should be to speak to her seriously about the implication and likely consequences of what she is doing. If she fails to respond to this sincere admonition, his next step is to suspend marital relations with her for a period of time.

The Prophet (saws) himself very much disliked the beating of wives, and never beat any of his own. In Abu Da’ud’s collection of Hadith he is reported by Laqit B. Sabrah to have said:

“Admonish your wife, and if there be any good in her she will receive it; and beat not your wife like a slave.”

In another Hadith from Ayas b. Abdullah he specifically said:-

“Do not beat Allah’s female servants (i.e women).” [Abu Da’ud, Ibn Majah]

In Tirmidhi’s collection is another Hadith related by Amru b. al Ahwas:

“And enjoin on one another goodness towards women; verily they are married to you: you have no power over them at all unless they come in for a flagrantly filthy action; but if they are devoted to you, then seek no way against them. And verily, you have rights over your women, and they have rights over you.” [Tirmidhi]

The Muslim husband therefore has no right to beat his wife indiscriminately or habitually for petty offences, and if he does, the wife has a right to seek divorce by a Shari’ah court. Similarly, as we can see, Islam has not authorised men to beat up their wives.

The phenomenon of wife beating is not peculiar to Muslims – it is found in all parts of the world among certain types of men. However, some Muslims unjustly claim that they have religious sanction when they beat their wives, while in most cases they are beating them only because they themselves are brutal by nature, or just in a bad temper.

Bad temper is to be controlled, not vented on the weaker sex. The Prophet (saws) referred to this in another Hadith when he said:

“He is not strong who throws people down, but he is strong among us who controls himself when he is angry.” [Bukhari and Muslim]

Aisha observed this self-control in the Prophet (saws) behavior:

The Prophet (saws) never beat any of his wives or servants; in fact he did not strike anything with his hand except in the cause of Allah, or when the prohibitions of Allah were violated, and he retaliated on behalf of Allah.

The ideal Muslim husband therefore strives to emulate the Prophet’s (saws) practice by avoiding beating completely and discouraging it from others. It is not at all becoming for a Muslim to be a wife-beater in defiance of the Prophet’s (saws) explicit dislike of the practice.

This brings us to another interesting aspect of the Prophet’s (saws) relationship with his wives.

He apparently allowed his wives to do what is called “answering back” to men who think that women, like children, should be seen and not heard. There are several recorded instances of the Prophet’s (saws) companions remonstrating with him or with his wives about this practice. Nevertheless he chose to allow his wives to speak their minds.

An incident related in Ibn Ishaq’s sirat Rasul Allah (An early biography of the Prophet) makes an interesting reading:


One day Umar rebuked his wife for something and she sharply answered him back: and when he expostulated with her she replied that the wives of the Prophet (saws) were in the habit of answering him back so why should she not do the same? “And there is one of them,” she added, meaning their daughter (Hafsah), “Who speaks her mind unabashed from morning until night.”

Greatly troubled by this, Umar went to Hafsah, who did not deny that what her mother said was true. “You have neither the grace of Aisha nor the beauty of Zainab,” he said, hoping to shake her self confidence; and when these words seemed to have no effect, he added: “Are you so sure that if you anger the Prophet (saws), Allah will not destroy you in his anger?” Then he went to his cousin Umm Salamah (another wife of the Prophet) and said: “Is it true that you speak your minds to Allah’s messenger (saws) and answer him with no respect?”

“By all that is wonderful,”said Umm Salamah, “What call have you to come between Allah’s messenger (saws) and his wives? Yes, by God, we speak our minds, and if he allows us to do so that is his affair, and if he forbids us he will find us more obedient to him then we are to you.” Umar then realised he had gone too far and withdrew.


Lebanese Muslim couple

A Muslim couple enjoying the sunset

In this anecdote we can clearly hear the voices of women who respect their husband not because they are afraid of him or out of hypocrisy, but out of genuine admiration and love. The fact that he allowed them to speak their minds shows that the Prophet (saws) never regarded women as slaves or second-class citizens but as human beings to whom Allah (swt) has given reason and the ability to distinguish right from wrong as he has given them to men.

Aisha went further in a Hadith to say that when the Prophet (saws) told her something she would question him closely about it so that she could understand its justification before she was satisfied. The Prophet (saws) did not tell her she had no right to cross question him because he was a Prophet and a man, while she was only a young woman. It appears on the contrary that he appreciated her critical faculty and clear thinking.

*Retold in Muhammad- his Life based on the Earliest Source by Lings (Islamic Texts Society/George Allen & Unwin 1983)

From this we can see that the Prophet (saws) had such calm inner certainty and natural leadership qualities that he did not need to assert himself over his wives, or be on the defensive against them. Those men who behave like tyrants in the home, who assert their rule in an arbitrary or violent manner, are usually the weak ones who actually suffer from hidden inferiority complexes and are afraid of being shown up as mentally or morally inferior to their wives. To forestall this they physically frighten their wives, who are then afraid to open their mouths in their husband’s presence, let alone to disagree with him.

Another incident illustrates how the Prophet (saws) asserted his leadership of his family without harsh words or violence. This is revealed in the way he treated his wives when they became too demanding of the comforts of this world. Aisha (raa) related that before the capture of the oasis of Khaybar she had not known what it was to eat her fill of dates. The Prophet’s wives, fully aware of the general poverty of the Muslims in Medina, asked only for their basic needs. After the capture of Khaybar with it’s rich agricultural produce, the Muslims were better off, and the Prophet (saws) was able to give his wives some presents, and they were not slow in learning to ask for more comforts. This led to problems because in fairness, what was given to one should be given to all, and this could not always be exactly fulfilled. There developed considerable resentment among some of his wives, which disrupted the peace of the household. When his advice to them was not heeded he followed the next Qur’anic step and withdrew himself from them all and stayed in a roofed verandah that was the only room he had apart from his wives’ apartments.

Rumor soon spread that the Prophet (saws) had divorced his wives, and the wives, in suspense, regretted bitterly their demands on him. He then let it be known through Umar that he had not divorced them but that he did not wish to see any of them until a full lunar month had elapsed.

At the end of the month he asked his wives one by one to make their own choice in accordance with the newly revealed verses of the Qur’an:

“O Prophet, say to your wives: If you desire but the life of this world and it’s charms, then come and I will bestow it’s goods upon you, I will release you with a fair release. But if you desire Allah and his messenger and the abode of the hereafter, then verily Allah has laid in store for you a mighty reward, for such of you as do good.”
[Qur’an 33:28-29]

Aisha replied without hesitation: “Verily, I desire Allah and his Messenger and the abode of the hereafter” and there was not one of his wives who did not choose the same. These events are related in a number of Hadith books, including Bukhari and Muslim.

Here we see a husband who in spite of his love and sympathy for his wives, would not be carried away to commit injustice between them, not put himself into difficulties or wrong -doing in order to satisfy their desires beyond what was necessary. He was not ready for the role of the “hen-pecked husband.” His firmness in the matter quickly made his wives see it in its proper perspective, and peace was restored to the household without recourse to divorce or even harsh word.

It is incidents like these that make it quite clear why the Prophet (saws) is held up a beautiful example to the Muslims in every aspect of his life.

There are of course numerous other facets of his personality and behavior, which contributed to making him an ideal husband.

He was of course clean and pure both in his thoughts and person, and very generous in accordance with his own saying:

“Verily Allah is pure and loves the pure, is clean and loves the clean, is beneficent and loves the beneficent, is generous and loves the generous.” [Tirmidhi]

Another very important characteristic was his love of children. Love of her own children is almost automatic to a mother and with that love goes a care and concern for their children in any matter with the same degree of love, and consider the children to be “women’s affair”. In our own society today this is a common phenomenon where it is the mother who often plays the major role in ensuring that the children are clothed and cared for, that their school fees are paid, that they learn good behavior and so on. While it is good that the mother shows this love and concern, it is not approved for father to abandon his own moral and financial responsibilities and ignore the proper education and upbringing of his own children.

We have mentioned the Prophet’s (saws) own role in the upbringing of his own daughters (it was only the daughters that survived to maturity) and on his emphasis on education for both sexes. There are also numerous Hadith indicating his love for children and his practice of showing his love for them.

For example in a Hadith from Abu Hurairah (raa) it is related as follows:

“The Prophet of Allah kissed his grandson Hassan the son of Ali in the presence of Agra’ B. Habis, whereupon Agra’ said: “Verily, I have children and yet I have not kissed any of them.” The Prophet looked towards him and said: ‘What can I do for you if Allah has taken away mercy from your heart. He that shows no mercy shall have no mercy shown to him.” [Bukhari and Muslim]

The Muslim family is therefore ideally a very united family. Mutual understanding between husband and wife lies at the root of it. The Islamic upbringing of children is one of its most important functions. For it to succeed as the basic unit of the Muslim Ummah, both husband and wife need to know their duties and to practice self-control in trying to abide by the Islamic code of conduct within the family.

I wish to draw this paper to a close by approaching the subject briefly from a different angle. We have so far looked at the duties of the Muslim husband as spelled out in the Qur’an and seen how these points were expanded and added to in the Sunnah. We have also taken recorded incidents in the life of the Prophet (saws) as an illustration of an ideal Muslim husband in action.

Lastly, I approached the question “What is an ideal Muslim husband” by asking Muslim women to tell me what they thought.

To this end a questionnaire was passed to a random group of Muslim women, who informed me what they considered the most desirable qualities for an ideal Muslim husband to be.

To this end, a random group of 35 Muslim women living locally, mainly married ones were selected.

The five most important qualities scored 2 points each and the five next most important qualities scored 1 point each. The result is shown below:

Women’s Order of Priority in the Desirable Qualities of an Ideal Muslim Husband


  • 1st. A Pious Muslim 49
  • 2nd. Truthfulness and honesty 47
  • 3rd A good leader 40
  • 4th Justice and fairness 38
  • 5th Love of children 37
  • 6th Kindness and consideration 31
  • 7th Readiness to consult his wife 30
  • 8th Good manners 29
  • 9th Chastity and good morals 26
  • 10th Trustworthiness and reliability 25
  • 11th Avoids quarreling and beating 22
  • 12th Clean habits 20
  • 13th Strength of mind and will 19
  • 14th Gentleness 17
  • 15th Generosity 14
  • 16th A loving nature 16
  • 17th Ability to be contented with one wife 15
  • 18th Sense of humour 13
  • 19th Reasonableness 11
  • 20th Firmness 9
  • 21st Intelligence 8
  • 22nd Seriousness 7
  • 23rd Good looks 6
  • 24th Physical strength 4
  • 25th Wealth 1

This list of qualities is not of course comprehensive, and there are a few important omissions. However, it raises many interesting points for our brothers to consider in their endeavor to qualify as a potential or actual ideal Muslim husband.

Those who feared that by adhering to Islamic piety and moral standards they would frighten women away will see that they are actually at the top of the league.

This information also confirms the natural order of things referred to and upheld in the Qur’an, in that women do apparently want their men folk to lead and not be led. Leadership has to be deserved and qualified by all the other qualities mentioned in the upper part of the list, such as piety, truthfulness, fairness, kindness, consultation, good manners, good morals and so on.

It is interesting to go over in one’s mind the qualities of the Prophet (saws) mentioned in the earlier part of this paper and match them with this list to see how far the Prophet’s (saws) behavior to his wives demonstrates perfectly those qualities to which women give priority.

Therefore any man who wants to make a success of his marriage cannot go wrong if he takes as his model and example the practice of the blessed Prophet (saws).

For our brothers I pray for Allah to give them the faith and moral strength to attain those great qualities and thereby make a success of their marriages.

For our sisters I pray for Allah’s guidance to make each of us worthy of being the ideal wife of an ideal Muslim husband.

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5 ways you are unknowingly destroying your husband and killing your marriage

Muslim husband and wife

Muslim couple

You might be surprised to figure out you are doing these five destructive things that will ultimately ruin your relationship with your spouse.

By Katelyn Carmen
Reprinted from

When I got married, I was amazed at the instant, overwhelming sense of responsibility I felt to love and care for my husband. Suddenly, a huge part of someone else’s well-being and happiness was largely affected by my choices and actions.

Women, we need to be careful about how we are caring for our husbands and marriages. Don’t let the small stuff ruin the things that will bring you the greatest happiness in life.

Here are just a few ways you might be unknowingly destroying your husband and killing your marriage (as a caveat, please understand that although this article is directed toward women, it applies to men as well):

1. Living outside of what you can afford

A wise old woman from my church congregation once advised: “The best thing you can do as a wife is to live within your husband’s means.”

Wives, show sincere appreciation and respect to your husband by carefully following a budget and making the most of what you have. Be wise about your finances.

Constantly complaining about not having enough to fulfill your lavish desires or racking up astronomical amounts of debt on your credit card is a poor way of saying “thank you” to a faithful spouse who works hard every day to provide for the family.

Yes, you may not have enough to buy that Kate Spade bag you’ve had your eyes on for months, but your husband will love and appreciate the fact that you honor him and are grateful for what he provides.

2. Constant negativity

You hate your hair, the messes around the house, the neighbor across the street, your dumb co-worker, the old dishwasher, and everything in between. As soon as your husband walks through the door, you launch into action and dump every negative and angry thought that’s crossed your mind throughout the day.

Can you imagine having to carry that burden? Negativity is draining. Men like to fix things, and constantly being hounded with complaints makes it difficult for him to help solve your pains.

If there is one thing I’ve learned from marriage is that a good man wants you to be happy, and if he can’t help you do that, it makes him unhappy. It’s okay to have a bad day once in a while, that’s totally understandable, but don’t make it a way of life.

3. Putting everything else first

When your children, mom, best friends, talents, or career in front of your husband, you send a clear message to him that he is unimportant. Imagine having that message sent to you every day for many years. What would that do to your self esteem?

Put your husband first.

Although it sometimes seems counter-intuitive and counterproductive, I think you’d be amazed to find that it’s often the key to the greatest happiness in marriage. So many couples get divorced these days, because they neglect to care and love one another and put each other first.

If you choose to put each other first, you will find a lot of joy.

4. Withholding physical affection

Men crave and need physical affection with their wives. When you constantly decline intimacy, it wears on them.

Sex should not be used as a tool to control your spouse; it should be viewed as a sacred tool to draw you closer to one another and to God.

It is a great blessing to be wanted and needed by a loving, romantic husband who wants to share something so beautiful and important with you — and you only. Even though you might not always be in the mood, it’s worth it to give in (when you can) and spend that time bonding.

5. Not speaking his language

Women love to drop hints. (I think it’s part of our DNA.) But men just don’t get them. (I think that is a part of their DNA.)

Don’t waste your time giving subtle hints that he won’t understand: Speak plainly to him. Be honest about your feelings, and don’t bottle things up until you burst. If he asks you what’s wrong, don’t respond with “nothing” and then expect him to read your mind and emotions. Be open about how you really feel.

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Love for your partner what you love for yourself

Muslim couple enjoying an evening together

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.

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No intimacy for 4 months, are we divorced?


I have been married for 6 months, but for the last 3 months we haven’t had physical contact. His excuse is that we have been fighting, so he doesn’t feel like it. Have heard by many people that the marriage becomes invalid if the couple doesn’t engage in intimacy for 4 months time.

Sexless marriage, lack of intimacy

Is divorce automatic after 4 months without intimacy?


Assalamu alaykum

In the name of Allah the Inspirer of Truth.

Although it is a right of the wife to have relations at least once in four months, it does not technically invalidate the marriage if the husband does not fulfill this. Having said this, it is definitely a sin to deprive the wife of this right without any valid reason or permission. “Because we fight” seems to be a psychological reason for losing interest.

You have to attempt to reconcile your differences and work out your differences together with compassion and compromise. If the reason for loss of interest is quarreling then those quarrels have to stop. This seems to be the way to resolve your situation. Always act with kindness, patience, love and affection towards him. This way, he will, insha Allah change his perspective about you and rekindle the flame of love.

If there are also other reasons which you cannot work out together, then it would best for you two to see a counseling scholar in this regard. There is very limited information as to the specifics of this question to suggest any other recourse in this response.

And Allah knows best.


Abdurrahman Ibn Yusuf,

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Top 5 Complaints of Wives and What to Do About Them

Top 5 Complaints of Wives and What to Do About Them

By Haleh Banani, M.A. Clinical Psychology
Reprinted from

Coming soon: Win His Heart: A Psychological Approach for WOMEN

Muslim woman at the beach

Every man dreams of having a woman who can please him on many different levels. One that fulfills his desires, stimulates him intellectually and soars with him to new spiritual heights. A unique woman that will not only be a source of comfort, but also a source of strength.

It is very easy to dream and have expectations of your spouse but what do YOU have to do in order to attract a woman with these qualities and keep her giving at that level?

Generally, men are quite puzzled by women. They are not sure what to do or say to please the women in their lives. Whatever they do seems to get them in trouble. Since most men have this confusion, they simply stop trying.

This lack of effort from men creates frustration and discontentment. Most women feel extremely dissatisfied in their marriages. Within my practice as a marriage therapist, I have heard from dozens of women who have a long list of complaints about their husbands. These complaints lead to deep rooted unhappiness and many times divorce.

Top 5 complaints of women about their husbands

  1. Communication
  2. Financial issues
  3. Sex
  4. Lack of compassion
  5. Too strict/too jealous

Almost every couple I have ever done marriage counseling with has complained about problems in communication. Most of the time women complain that their husband does not share his feelings, he shuts off, he doesn’t listen and he doesn’t know how to ask for what he wants in a diplomatic way.

Lack of communication or miscommunication is the bulk of the problem in most marriages. If people don’t know how to get their message across, how to listen or how to resolve conflicts they will face perpetual problems in their lives. Here are some suggestions in effective communication skills:

  1. Make I statements…. never start the sentence with YOU. Say: “I feel neglected when you don’t prepare dinner” rather than saying, “You never prepare dinner.”
  2. Always keep your voice down and refrain from name calling.
  3. Seek first to understand then to be understood. Tough one, but very effective!
  4. Share your thoughts and feelings with your spouse to make her feel a part of your world. Don’t shut her out or else she will feel extremely insecure and suspicious.
  5. Don’t give one word answers – try to elaborate and fulfill her need to know. She shows you she cares by asking many questions.
  6. Listen attentively – that means no checking emails while she talks and no watching T.V. Simply look in her eyes, listen and acknowledge her. Women loved to be looked at!
  7. Give your wife compliments on everything you like about her – she needs constant reassurance on her beauty, on your love for her, on her cooking. Say it again and again with a smile. It will never get old!
  8. Validate her feelings – say things to make her feel understood. Tell her you understand that she is sad, that she has a right to feel hurt or neglected. The worst thing you could ever do is tell a woman she is wrong to feel a certain way.
  9. Ask for things with gentleness and kindness without being harsh or demanding. If a woman feels like she is being told what to do and how to do it – she will resist. If she is asked kindly and made to feel special she will rush to do it to in order to fulfill her need to please others.
  10. Never compare her to anyone to get her to change. This is detrimental to the relationship, brings about hostility and a feeling of inadequacy. If you want her to improve in any given area compliment what she is already doing right.
The credit trap

Avoid getting into debt.

Financial Issues

Each person is brought up with different views and experiences with money. Some are brought up in affluent families that spend frivolously while others come from more modest backgrounds that are trained to save. When individuals with such striking differences unite there is bound to be tension and arguments. That is why money is one of the biggest reasons people fight and even get a divorce. Here are some suggestions for peacefully dealing with money issues.

  1. Learn about each other’s view of money. Become acquainted with their experience with money in order to better understand each other.
  2. Discuss openly issues or concerns you have about your financial situations.
  3. Avoid getting into debt at all cost. If you can’t afford it – just don’t buy it. Simple as that.
  4. Set a budget together and try your best to stick to it. If you slip, and go over the budget, quickly get back on track.
  5. Increase your knowledge about resolving financial problems by reading books, attending seminars or listening to CDs.
  6. Be honest and never hide or deceive your partner about financial issues because it could really damage the trust.
  7. Try to compromise and come up with a win/win solution when you disagree.
  8. Agree to disagree.
  9. Consider the pros and cons of having a two house income or even having a part time job that can help alleviate the financial burden.
  10. Save….Save….Save! You never know what the future holds so always be prepared.


The area of a couple’s life which offers the most potential for embarrassment, hurt, and rejection is sex. The majority of couples I have done therapy with have had issues in this area of their life. It is such an essential part of the marriage and yet very few couples ever talk about it. The goal of sex is to be closer, to have more fun, to feel satisfied, and to feel valued and accepted in this very tender area of your marriage. “Your wives are a tilth unto you; so go to your tilth when or how you will.” [Qur’an 2:223] Here are some suggestions to having a more satisfying sex life.

  1. Fulfill your wife emotionally so that she can be receptive to you. Women shut off sexually if they don’t feel loved, appreciated or desired.
  2. Set the mood…light candles, make dinner, give a massage, get flowers or anything that makes her feel special and loved.
  3. Prolong foreplay. Make sure she is ready.
  4. Take your time and don’t rush her.
  5. Share your likes and dislikes in a gentle, positive way making her feel safe. Instead of saying you never do such and such say: I loved it when you…..or I would love it if you would….
  6. Never criticize or make fun when getting intimate.
  7. Always accentuate the positive – make your suggestions in a way that you are making a good thing even better. Even if you are dissatisfied don’t let her feel it.
  8. When receiving your partner’s request, try not to see it as criticism. Have the attitude of a professional chef that is not insulted if a customer doesn’t crave a particular meal, but makes accommodations that will satisfy the customer’s palate.
  9. Make her feel attractive and desired. The more you give her compliments, the more confident she will feel which will help her to relax and enjoy.
  10. Make sure you try to fulfill her first in order to create a strong, positive association to intimacy.

Lack of Compassion

Muslim couple sitting close togetherMen have different ways of expressing their feelings and emotions. Some express their love and concern for the family by simply working hard and providing the very best. They feel that the time they spend at work is an emotional deposit because they are putting so much effort so that their family can be comfortable. Unfortunately, this form of expression of love is generally not sufficient for most women. Women expect the men in their lives to connect with them on an emotional level, provide support and have fun together. “The best of you are those who are the best to their wives.” (at-Tirmidhi)

Here are some suggestions in showing compassion so that you can connect with your wife on an emotional level.

  1. Tell your wife you love her daily – don’t make it just a once a year event.
  2. Never enter or leave the house without a proper greeting. Let her feel that you are happy to see her and that you will miss her when you leave.
  3. Make daily deposits in your emotional bank account with your wife by being understanding, forgiving, cooperative and by using words of endearment.
  4. Call your wife or send sweet messages during the day. “…And live with them in kindness…” (Nisaa 4:19)
  5. Eat at least one meal a day together and spend time sharing what you have done.
  6. Give lots of compliments.
  7. If she is feeling sad or angry, show her love and compassion by hugging her. If she says she doesn’t want to talk about it, she doesn’t mean it… you just have to insist sweetly.
  8. Learn to apologize. Even if you were not wrong apologize for making her feel bad. Win her heart not the argument! Amazing what two little words (I’m sorry) can do.
  9. Get her gifts and flowers so she feels that you thought of her. It doesn’t have to be something expensive – just a gesture that you were thinking of her. “And do good. Truly, Allah loves the good-doers.” (Baqara 2:195)
  10. Be supportive and helpful with the kids. Offer to take care of the kids while she does something (anything) for herself. If she has the chance to recharge she will be a much better wife and a nicer mom!

Too Strict or Too Jealous

It is understandable that a man feels responsible for his wife and wants to make sure that she does not exceed beyond the boundaries that Allah has established. “Everyone of you is a guardian and responsible for those in his charge; the man, in his home, is a guardian and responsible for his household.” (Bukhari and Muslim). It takes diplomacy and gentleness to set guidelines without coming across as too strict and unreasonable. It is always a little flattering when a husband becomes jealous, but when it becomes excessive it is unhealthy and a source of stress for women. There needs to be mutual trust and respect in order to live in harmony and peace. Here are some suggestions for maintaining boundaries without being too strict or too jealous.

  1. Be a spouse to your wife not a father. Don’t treat her like a little girl with a long list of rules. If you treat her like a child she will act like one.
  2. Give her space to make decisions – if you hold her too tight she will feel suffocated.
  3. Respect her and treat her like a partner not an employee.
  4. Trust her – don’t interrogate her for every little thing. Gently ask questions.
  5. Be reasonable in setting boundaries – if you are too strict she will either resent you or not abide by them when you are not around.
  6. Don’t assume anything – check your assumptions and verify before accusing her of anything.
  7. Be kind and understanding so that your wife will happily try to please you. Don’t be a harsh dictator that needs to be overthrown.
  8. If she dresses or acts inappropriately just talk to her, educate her and help her to understand. Make her feel that you are concerned about her. Never be forceful.
  9. Try to make excuses when she falls short.
  10. Be playful with your spouse if you feel some jealousy. Make her feel how much you are attracted to her, how appealing she is to you that you simply don’t want to share her. This will flatter her and make it more likely that she will be more careful.

When you become more sensitive to the needs of your wife and you put effort in supporting her and connecting with her you will reap the rewards of having a more content wife. A happier wife means a happier home which means more peace and tranquility for you. By becoming more aware of these common complaints and implementing the suggestions you will definitely score big with the woman in your life!

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Dating in Islam Begins With Marriage

Muslim couple in Kerala, India

Muslim couple in Kerala, India

By Jennifer (Sumayah) Fayed of Intuitive Muslimah

I listened to a great lecture last night that was entitled “Islam & Dating” now before you jump the gun…It wasn’t about Muslims dating out of wedlock, but the contrary how once we are married how imperative it is to continue dating your husband or wife.

Although it was about a thirty minute lecture it had a strong message. I thought to myself, Abdul Malik (the lecturer) is really on to something and is touching on an important issue that most of us who are married seem to forget so easily.

Of course, there are those newlywed moments of, “I love you so much honey that I would live anywhere with you…even under a bridge”.

Or the husband saying, “Sweetheart buy whatever you like in the store price isn’t an object” or him bringing flowers everytime he comes home.

But something happens:  reality sets in! The kids come, the bills pile up, everyone is tired, and soon enough you realize that the couple that showed so much attention and considertation to one another in the beginning now don’t even face each other while they sleep.

Does this sound familiar to anyone?

Ok, so whats the solution?

The solution is easy. We have to remember to rekindle the flames that started the marriage in the first place. How, you ask? Ok, let’s face it most of us don’t have that money tree growing in the yard anymore. If anything, it has dried up like a prune and hasn’t bloomed a leaf of money since you last recall. There are however other ways. How about that quality time that both of you spent together just talking about things other than the kids, bills, work, and family. Focus on each other.

Being a wife doesn’t only consist of feeding the husband, cleaning the house, and attending to the children. It’s more than that… let’s remember Khadijah the Prophet’s (pbuh) first wife, she was his companion. She gave him reassurance when he most needed it, showed him compassion, shared her opinions, and supported him. Some of us have been taught that a wife is one who makes lavish dishes for her husband, who dresses up to appeal to him, and has her home organized. I’m not saying these things arent’ important. What I am saying is that a marriage and being a companion is more than superficial beauty and enticing of the flesh. Now, I’m sure the husbands who read this are probably like “Oh yea she’s right on!!!” LOL….guys you aren’t off the hook.

As husbands, you have to remember that marriage isn’t just being the maintainer and provider of the the woman and the family. It also goes deeper than that. Women are complex creatures just like men are and we also need attention, affection, and this doesn’t just mean what happens inside the bed sheets. Let’s get real here, wives need you to be more involved in the home, and that one-on-one conversation. Instead of watching the playoffs, turn off the tube and sit with your wife and talk about how she is feeling and indulge in some beneficial convos… Read some qur’an together, discuss hadiths, rekindle what sparked that flame when you first met her. You didn’t just marry her because of her beauty (at least I hope not). You married because you wanted a life partner. As women, we are auditory creatures mostly who need to hear things to know we are appreciated and loved. So dear brother, remember that when spending time with your wife.

Dating in Islam begins with marriage. We have to show one another value, love, and respect. And we do this with one-on-one communication, becoming best friends, and remembering how to keep those ardent flames from extinguishing.

In Abdul Malik’s lecture he said something that stood out for me and that was ” Men are creatures of sight, and women are creatures of sound”.

When both men and woman form the bond of marriage they have major responsibilities to each other and to Allah. Marriage is full of hardships but is also very beautiful. We were created to be companions in this life and inshallah the hereafter.

To the husbands, realize that your wife is a delicate being that needs physical, and emotional interaction. We need to hear that you love us and if possible follow those words with a kind gesture. And to the wives (me included) let us remember that yes, the way to a man’s heart is to his stomach (at times), however we also need to learn patience, contentment, and encourage the husband in all the good he does for us and the family.

Marriage brings a mountain of responsiblities but with hardwork, dedication, optimism, communication, and mercy for one another; this rope that will develop strong knots along the way will bring endless bounties of blessings to us and to the ummah God willing.

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Rights of the Husband and Wife in Islam

A Qatari couple relaxes in the evening

A Qatari couple relaxes in the evening

Based on Hammudah `Abd al-`Ati’s famous book, Islam in Focus, with some modifications.

First of all, we’d like to state that in Islam the marriage of a man and a woman is not just a financial and physical arrangement of living together but a sacred contract, a gift of God, to lead a happy, enjoyable life and continue the lineage. The main goal of marriage in Islam is the realization of tranquility and compassions between the spouses. For the attainment of this supreme goal, Islam defined certain duties and rights for the husband and wife.

For a detailed account of these mutual duties and rights, we’d like to cite the following:

“Piety is the basis of choosing the life partner. Many are the statements of the Qur’an and the Sunnah that prescribe kindness and equity, compassion and love, sympathy and consideration, patience and good will. The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, says, “The best Muslim is the one who is best to his family.” Also, he says, “… and the most blessed joy in life is a good, righteous wife.” (Reported by At-Tirmidhi)

The role of the husband evolves around the moral principle that it is his solemn duty to Allah to treat his wife with kindness, honor, and patience; to keep her honorably or free her from the marital bond honorably; and to cause her no harm or grief. Allah Almighty says: “…consort with them in kindness, for if you hate them it may happen that you hate a thing wherein Allah has placed much good.” (An-Nisa’: 19)

The role of the wife is summarized in the verse that women have rights even as they have duties, according to what is equitable; but men have a degree over them. Allah Almighty says, “And they (women) have rights similar to those (of men) over them in kindness, and men are a degree above them. Allah is Mighty, Wise.” (Al-Baqaraqh: 228)

This degree is usually interpreted by Muslim scholars in conjunction with another passage which states, among other things, that men are trustees, guardians, and protectors of women because Allah has made some of them excel others and because men expend of their means. Allah Almighty says: “Men are in charge of women, because Allah has made the one of them to excel the other, and because they spend of their property (for the support of women). So good women are the obedient, guarding in secret that which Allah has guarded. As for those from whom you fear rebellion, admonish them and banish them to beds apart, and scourge them. Then if they obey you, seek not a way against them. Lo! Allah is ever High Exalted, Great.” (An-Nisa’: 34)

A-The Wife’s Rights; The Husband’s Obligations:

Indonesian Muslim couple in love

Indonesian Muslim couple

Because the Qur’an and the Sunnah of the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, have commanded kindness to women, it is the husband’s duty to:

1- Consort with his wife in an equitable and kind manner. Allah Almighty says, “… and consort with them in kindness.” (An-Nisa’: 19)

2- Have responsibility for the full maintenance of the wife, a duty which he must discharge cheerfully, without reproach, injury, or condescendence. Allah Almighty says: “Let him who has abundance spend of his abundance, and he whose provision is measured, let him spend of that which Allah has given him. Allah asks naught of any soul save that which He has given it. Allah will vouchsafe, after hardship, ease.‏” (At-Talaq: 7)

Components of Maintenance:

Maintenance entails the wife’s incontestable right to lodging, clothing, nourishing, and general care and well-being.

1-The wife’s residence must be adequate so as to provide her with the reasonable level of privacy, comfort, and independence. The welfare of the wife and the stability of the marriage should be the ultimate goal.

2-What is true of the residence is true of clothing, food, and general care. The wife has the right to be clothed, fed, and cared for by the husband, in accordance with his means and her style of life. These rights are to be exercised without extravagance or miserliness.

Non-Material Rights:

A husband is commanded by the law of God to:

1- Treat his wife with equity.

2- Respect her feelings, and to show her kindness and consideration.

3- Not to show his wife any aversion or to subject her to suspense or uncertainty.

4- Not to keep his wife with the intention of inflicting harm on her or hindering her freedom.

5- Let her demand freedom from the marital bond, if he has no love or sympathy for her.

B. The Wife’s Obligations; The Husband’s Rights:

The main obligation of the wife as a partner in a marital relationship is to contribute to the success and blissfulness of the marriage as much as possible. She must be attentive to the comfort and well-being of her mate. She may neither offend him nor hurt his feelings. Perhaps nothing can illustrate the point better than the Qur’anic statement which describes the righteous people as those who pray saying: “Our Lord! Grant unto us wives and offspring who will be the joy and the comfort of our eyes, and guide us to be models of righteousness.” (Al-Furqan: 74)

This is the basis on which all the wife’s obligations rest and from which they flow. To fulfill this basic obligation:

1- The wife must be faithful, trustworthy, and honest.

2- She must not deceive her mate by deliberately avoiding conception lest it deprive him of legitimate progeny.

3- She must not allow any other person to have access to that which is exclusively the husband’s right, i.e. sexual intimacy.

4-She must not receive anyone in his home whom the husband does not like.

5-She may not accept their gifts without his approval. This is probably meant to avoid jealousy, suspicion, gossip, etc., and also to maintain the integrity of all parties concerned.

6- The husband’s possessions are her trust. If she has access to any portion thereof, or if she is entrusted with any fund, she must discharge her duty wisely and thriftily. She may not lend or dispose of any of his belongings without his permission.

7- With respect to intimacy, the wife is to make herself desirable; to be attractive, responsive, and cooperative.

8- A wife may not deny herself to her husband, for the Qur’an speaks of them as a comfort to each other. Due consideration is, of course, given to health and decency.”

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14 Benefits of Marriage in Islam

An elderly Kyrgyz Muslim couple

An elderly Kyrgyz Muslim couple

by Shahina Siddiqui,

The Basis of Marriage in Islam: Equality of All Human Beings

“And among His signs is this, that He created for you mates from among yourselves, that you may dwell in peace and tranquility with them, and He has put love and mercy between your (hearts): Verily in that are signs for those who reflect.” (Quran 30:21).

“O Humans revere your Guardian Lord, Who created you from a single person created of like nature its mate, and from this scattered (like seeds) countless men and women. Reverence Allah through Whom you claim your mutual rights.” (Quran 4:1).

The above verses of the Quran lay out the framework as to what are the basis, the objectives and the goal of marriage in Islam. In the ultimate Wisdom of Allah we are first told that both partners man and woman are created from the same source. That this should be paid attention to as it is one of His signs.

The fact that we come from the same soul signifies our equality as humans, when the essence of our creation is the same, the argument of who is better or greater is redundant. To stress on this fact and then to talk about marriage in the same verse is of great significance for those of us who are in the field of marriage counseling.

The shift in this attitude of equality of genders as human beings cause a imbalance in marital relation ship that leads to dysfunctional marriage. When ever one party considers themselves superior or above the law there is a shift in the balance of power that may lead to misuse or abuse of power as the less valuable partner is seen as an easy prey. Many marital difficulties are based on or caused by control and rule stratagem.

By stressing on the equality of all humans men or women and making it the basis of marriage, Allah in His infinite wisdom has laid the ground rules for establishing peace, as well as the assigning of different roles to husband and wife as functional strategy rather than a question of competence as humans.

Prophet Mohammad (peace and blessings be upon him) has stated that: “men and women are twin halves of each other” (Bukhari). This Hadith also brings home the fact that men and women are created from single source. Furthermore, by using the analogy of twin half the Prophet has underlined the reciprocal nature and the interdependent nature of men and women’s relationship.

Muslim couple sitting close together

Five Conditions for a Peaceful Marriage

The objective and the goal of marriage in Islam according to the above Quranic verse is to enable us to dwell in peace and tranquility. It is important for us to reflect on these words and their significance in the Islamic frame of reference.

In order to have peace certain condition must be met. These prerequisites to peace are:

  1. Justice
  2. Fairness
  3. Equity
  4. Equality
  5. Fulfillment of mutual rights. Therefore any injustice whether it is oppression, or persecution, cannot be tolerated if there is to be peace in Muslim homes.

In the domestic realm oppression is manifested when the process of Shura (consultation) is compromised, neglected or ignored. When one partner (in most cases the husband) makes unilateral decisions and applies dictatorial style of leadership, peace is compromised. Persecution is present when there is any form of domestic abuse being perpetrated.

Tranquility on the other hand is a state of being which is achieved when peace has been established. Tranquility is compromised when there is tension, stress and anger. It is a mistake to take tranquility to mean perpetual state of bliss. Since being Muslims does not make us immune to tragedies and catastrophes.

In fact Allah tells us in the Quran that we will be tried (2:155,57). What a state of tranquility does is to empower us to handle life’s difficult moments with our spouses as obedient servants of Allah. Allah in His infinite Mercy also provides us with the tools by which we can achieve this state of peace and tranquility.

The second principle besides Shura on which the Islamic family life is based is Mercy (Rehma), and in this verse Allah is telling us that He has placed mercy between spouses. We are therefore inclined by our very nature to have mercy for our spouses. Mercy is manifested through compassion, forgiveness, caring and humility.

It is obvious that these are all ingredients that make for a successful partnership. Marriage in Islam is above all a partnership based on equality of partners and specification of roles. Lack of mercy in a marriage or a family renders it in Islamic terms dysfunctional.

Allah further states that He has also placed in addition to mercy, love between spouses. It should however be noted that Islamic concept of love is different from the more commonly understood romantic love so valued in the Western cultures.

The basic difference is that love between man and woman in the Islamic context can only be realized and expressed in a legal marriage. In order to develop a healthy avenue for the expression of love between man and woman and to provide security so that such a loving relationship can flourish, it is necessary to give it the protection of Shariah (Islamic law).

14 Benefits of Marriage in Islam

Marital love in Islam inculcates the following:

Indonesian Muslim couple

Indonesian Muslim couple

1. Faith: The love Muslim spouses have for each other is for the sake of Allah that is to gain His pleasure. It is from Allah that we claim our mutual rights (Quran 4:1) and it is to Allah that we are accountable for our behavior as husbands and wives.

2. It sustains: Love is not to consume but to sustain. Allah expresses His love for us by providing sustenance. To love in Islam is to sustain our loved one physically, emotionally, spiritually and intellectually, to the best of our ability (to sustain materially is the husbands duty, however if the wife wishes she can also contribute)

3. Accepts: To love someone is to accept them for who they are. It is selfishness to try and mould someone as we wish them to be. True love does not attempt to crush individuality or control personal differences, but is magnanimous and secure to accommodate differences.

4. Challenges: Love challenges us to be all we can, it encourages us to tap into our talents and takes pride in our achievements. To enable our loved one to realize their potential is the most rewarding experience.

5. Merciful: Mercy compels us to love and love compels us to have mercy. In the Islamic context the two are synonymous. The attribute Allah chose to be the supreme for Himself is that He is the most Merciful. This attribute of Rehman (the Merciful) is mentioned 170 times in the Quran, bringing home the significance for believers to be merciful. Mercy in practical application means to have and show compassion and to be charitable.

6. Forgiving: Love is never too proud to seek forgiveness or too stingy to forgive. It is willing to let go of hurt and letdowns. Forgiveness allows us the opportunity to improve and correct our selves.

7. Respect: To love is to respect and value the person their contributions and their opinions. Respect does not allow us to take for granted our loved ones or to ignore their input. How we interact with our spouses reflects whether we respect them or not.

8. Confidentiality: Trust is the most essential ingredient of love. When trust is betrayed and confidentiality compromised, love loses its soul.

9. Caring: Love fosters a deep fondness that dictates caring and sharing in all that we do. The needs of our loved ones take precedence over our own.

10. Kindness: The Seerah (biography) of our beloved Prophet is rich with examples of acts of kindness, he showed towards his family and particularly his wives. Even when his patience was tried, he was never unkind in word or deed. To love is to be kind.

11. Grows: Marital love is not static it grows and flourishes with each day of marital life. It requires work and commitment, and is nourished through faith when we are thankful and appreciative of Allah blessings.

12. Enhances: Love enhances our image and beautifies our world. It provides emotional security and physical well being.

13. Selflessness: Love gives unconditionally and protects dutifully.

14. Truthful: Love is honesty without cruelty and loyalty without compromise.

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One Secret of a Happy Marriage

Young Muslim couple

A man and his fiance were married. It was a large celebration. All of their friends and family came to see the lovely ceremony and to partake of the festivities and celebrations. A wonderful time was had by all.

The bride was gorgeous in her white wedding gown and the groom was very dashing in his black tuxedo. Everyone could tell that the love they had for each other was true.

A few months later, the wife comes to the husband with a proposal: “I read in a magazine, a while ago, about how we can strengthen our marriage.” She offered.

“Each of us will write a list of the things that we find a bit annoying with the other person. Then, we can talk about how we can fix them together and make our lives happier together.”

The husband agreed. So each of them went to a separate room in the house and thought of the things that annoyed them about the other. They thought about this question for the rest of the day and wrote down what they came up with.

The next morning, at the breakfast table, they decided that they would go over their lists.

“I’ll start,” offered the wife. She took out her list. It had many items on it. Enough to fill 3 pages, in fact. As she started reading the list of the little annoyances, she noticed that tears were starting to appear in her husbands eyes.

“What’s wrong?” she asked. “Nothing” the husband replied, “keep reading your list.”

The wife continued to read until she had read all three pages to her husband. She neatly placed her list on the table and folded her hands over top of it.

“Now, you read your list and then we’ll talk about the things on both of our lists.” She said happily.

Quietly the husband stated, “I don’t have anything on my list. I think that you are perfect the way that you are. I don’t want you to change anything for me. You are lovely and wonderful and I wouldn’t want to try and change anything about you.”

The wife, touched by his honesty and the depth of his love for her and his acceptance of her, turned her head and wept.


Happy Muslim coupleThis is not to say that you must overlook every fault in your partner. If a marriage partner is abusive, or is an alcoholic or drug addict, or is unfaithful, or something of that nature then yes of course there must be changes.

But when it comes to the little things, remember that we are all imperfect beings, struggling to worship our Creator as best we can, pursue our dreams, raise our families, put food on the table, and balance all of the above fairly. We all have faults. We all make mistakes.

If you go looking for faults in your partner you will find plenty, I guarantee it. You will find many mistakes, bad habits, and imperfections.

But you know what? If you look honestly in the mirror you will see the same things in yourself.

If you focus on your partner’s imperfections you will never be happy. You will always be dissatisfied, wanting more, feeling deprived, feeling frustrated. And you will end up making your partner miserable, and pushing your marriage into misery.

Instead, look for what is good in your partner. See his/her beauty, good habits, loving or kind gestures, relationship with the Creator, hidden potential, and hopes and dreams. If you look for beauty you will find it. Nurture that beauty by appreciating it, and it will grow. The love between you will deepen like a strong river, becoming more and more powerful over time. And those little things that used to bother you so much will seem not very important at all.

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Story: 30 Days of Carrying My Wife

Groom carrying bride across a field of flowers

This is a story that has circulated on the internet for some time. I don’t know the author. I found it to be sweet and touching. – Editor


Carrying My Wife

When I got home that night as my wife served dinner, I held her hand and said, “I’ve got something to tell you.”

She sat down and ate quietly. Again I observed the hurt in her eyes. Suddenly I didn’t know how to open my mouth. But I had to let her know what I was thinking.

“I want a divorce.” I raised the topic calmly.

She didn’t seem to be annoyed by my words, instead she asked me softly, “Why?”

I avoided her question. This made her angry. She threw away the chopsticks and shouted at me, “You are not a man!”

That night, we didn’t talk to each other. She was weeping. I knew she wanted to find out what had happened to our marriage. But I could hardly give her a satisfactory answer; I had lost my heart to a lovely girl called Dew, a woman at my work that I had developed feelings for. I didn’t love my wife anymore. I only pitied her!

With a deep sense of guilt, I drafted a divorce agreement, which stated that she could own our house, 30% shares of my company and the car. She glanced at it and then tore it into pieces. The woman who had spent ten years of her life with me had become a stranger. I felt sorry for her wasted time, resources and energy but I could not take back what I had said for I loved Dew so dearly.

Finally she cried loudly in front of me, which was what I had expected to see. To me her cry was actually a kind of release. The idea of divorce that had obsessed me for several weeks seemed to be firmer and clearer now. The next day, I came back home very late and found her writing something at the table. I didn’t have supper but went straight to sleep and fell asleep very fast because I was tired after an eventful day with Dew. When I woke up, she was still there at the table writing. I just did not care so I turned over and was asleep again.

In the morning she presented her divorce conditions: she didn’t want anything from me, but needed a month’s notice before the divorce. She requested that for that one month we both struggle to live as normal a life as possible. Her reasons were simple: our son had his exams in a month’s time and she didn’t want to disrupt him with our broken marriage. This was agreeable to me. But she had something more, she asked me to recall how I had carried her into our bridal room on our wedding day. She requested that every day for the month’s duration I carry her out of our bedroom to the front door each morning. I thought she was going crazy. Just to make our last days together bearable I accepted her odd request.

I told Dew about my wife’s divorce conditions. She laughed loudly and thought it was absurd. “No matter what tricks she tries, she has to face the divorce,” she said scornfully.

My wife and I hadn’t had any body contact since my divorce intention was explicitly expressed. So when I carried her out on the first day, we both appeared clumsy. Our son clapped behind us, saying, “Baba is holding Mama in his arms!” His words brought me a sense of pain. From the bedroom to the sitting room, then to the door, I walked over ten meters with her in my arms.

She closed her eyes and said softly; “Don’t tell our son about the divorce.”

I nodded, feeling somewhat upset. I put her down outside the door. She went to wait for the bus to work. I drove alone to the office.

On the second day, both of us acted much more easily. She leaned on my chest.. I could smell the fragrance of her blouse. I realized that I hadn’t looked at this woman carefully for a long time. I realized she was not young any more. There were fine wrinkles on her face, her hair was graying! Our marriage had taken its toll on her. For a minute I wondered what I had done to her.

On the fourth day, when I lifted her up, I felt a sense of intimacy returning. This was the woman who had given ten years of her life to me. On the fifth and sixth day, I realized that our sense of intimacy was growing again. I didn’t tell Dew about this. It became easier to carry her as the month slipped by. Perhaps the every day workout made me stronger.

Innocent boy

"Our son came in at the moment and said, 'Dad, its time to carry mum out.'"

She was choosing what to wear one morning. She tried on quite a few dresses but could not find a suitable one. Then she sighed, all my dresses have grown bigger. I suddenly realized that she had grown so thin, that was the reason why I could carry her more easily. Suddenly it hit me; she had buried so much pain and bitterness in her heart. Subconsciously I reached out and touched her head.

Our son came in at that moment and said, “Dad, its time to carry mum out.” To him, seeing his father carrying his mother out had become an essential part of his life. My wife gestured to our son to come closer and hugged him tightly. I turned my face away because I was afraid I might change my mind at this last minute. I then held her in my arms, walking from the bedroom, through the sitting room, to the hallway. Her hand surrounded my neck softly and naturally. I held her body tightly; it was just like our wedding day. But her much lighter weight made me sad.

On the last day, when I held her in my arms I could hardly move a step. Our son had gone to school. I held her tightly and said, “I hadn’t noticed that our life lacked intimacy.”

I drove to the office and jumped out of the car swiftly without locking the door. I was afraid any delay would make me change my mind… I walked upstairs. Dew opened the door and I said to her, “Sorry, Dew, I do not want the divorce anymore.”

She looked at me, astonished. Then touched my forehead. “Do you have a fever?” She said.

I moved her hand off my head. “Sorry, Dew,” I said, “I won’t divorce. My marriage life was boring probably because she and I didn’t value the details of our lives, not because we didn’t love each other any more. Now I realize that since I carried her into my home on our wedding day I am supposed to hold her until death does us apart.”

Dew seemed to suddenly wake up. She gave me a loud slap and then slammed the door and burst into tears. I walked downstairs and drove away. At the floral shop on the way, I ordered a bouquet of flowers for my wife. The salesgirl asked me what to write on the card. I smiled and wrote: “I’ll carry you out every morning until deaths do us apart.”

The small details of our lives are what really matter in a relationship. It is not the mansion, the car, the property, and the bank balance that matters. These create an environment conducive for happiness but cannot give happiness in themselves. So find time to be your spouse’s friend and do those little things for each other that build intimacy. Do have a real and happy marriage!

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