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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 MuslimMatters.org

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.

Sex

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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Dating in Islam – Q&A

Young Muslim faces

Dating in Islam –
Q & A

by Yasmin Mogahed
Reprinted from SuhaibWebb.com

Question: Is dating allowed in Islam so that I can get to know someone for marriage? It’s hard to get married and dating is normal in our society. Arranged marriages aren’t realistic for us nowadays.

Answer:

As-salamu `alaykum brother,

Thank you for the honest question you asked regarding dating. There are a number of issues that you brought up. First, you have pointed out that you live in a society where dating is the norm. While I understand and sympathize with that struggle, it is important to make clear that just because something is the norm in one’s society, does not justify participating in it. In the society that the Prophet (sal-Allahu alayhi wa-sallam)  lived, burying little girls alive was the norm. Of course, the principles of Islam prohibited such barbarism – regardless of what was widespread at the time.

In fact, the Prophet (sws)  has told us that those who follow the right path will always be ‘different’ or ‘strange’ to the mainstream. In one beautiful hadith, the Prophet (sws) says: “Islam began as something strange, and will revert to being strange as it began. So give glad tidings to the strangers.” Then the people asked, “Who are they (the strangers), O Messenger of Allah?” He answered, “Those who are pious and righteous when the people have become evil.” (Ahmad)

Secondly, you state the concern of getting to know someone for marriage. You explain that dating is needed since arranged marriages are not feasible. However, by saying this you imply that these are the only two routes to getting married. What you are forgetting is that there is a third option: the option taught to us by our beloved Prophet (sws). Let us examine each of the three options for meeting a marriage partner:

1) Dating

One option is dating. This option is prohibited for a number of reasons. First, the Prophet (sws) has taught us that it is haram for a non-mahram (unrelated) man and a woman to be alone together. This is called khilwa. He warns that if this happens, Shaytan (satan) will be present with them. The Prophet (sws) said: “Whenever a man is alone with a woman the Devil makes a third.” (Sahih Bukhari) Now it is important to note that Allah never prohibits something unless it is harmful to us. Let us examine for a moment the harm in this.

First, most reports of sexual abuse are not committed by strangers. In fact, according to the U.S. Department of Justice, 68% of young girls raped knew their rapist either as a boyfriend, friend or casual acquaintance, and 60% of rapes of young women occur in their own home or a friend or relative’s home – not in a dark alley. So, overwhelmingly, it is those people who you are out on a ‘date’ with that commit these crimes. Also, as dating has become more widespread in a society, so has unwanted pregnancy, as well as sexually transmitted diseases. By prohibiting khilwa, Allah, in His infinite wisdom, is protecting us.

Also, as you know even consensual extra-marital intercourse (zina) is a grave sin in Islam. But Allah did not just tell us not to commit zina. He says in the Qur’an: “Do not come close to zina for it is a shameful (deed) and an evil, opening the road (to other evils).” (Qur’an, 17:32). One does not leave their infant to play on a highway, but hope they will not get hit by a car. One important Islamic principle is: prevention before cure. You do not come close to fire, and then wonder why you got burned. Therefore, Allah has prohibited anything that may lead to zina, namely khilwa (being in seclusion). Now if just being in seclusion is prohibited, what can be said about physical contact and the whole institution of dating?

In support of dating, some argue that it is needed in order to find a spouse. The irony in this is that dating does not increase marital success. In fact, the United States is a culture where dating is the norm. However, 50% of first marriages, 67% of second and 74% of third marriages end in divorce, according to Jennifer Baker of the Forest Institute of Professional Psychology. And according to a study by the National Bureau of Economic Research, couples who lived together before marrying have nearly an 80 percent higher divorce rate than those who did not. So if dating is putting you at a higher risk of sexual abuse, sexually transmitted disease, and unwanted pregnancy, and it makes you no more likely to find a successful marriage partner – but in fact less likely – what logical person would chose this option, even if it were not prohibited by Islam?

2) Arranged Marriage

There is also the option of completely arranged marriages. While it is fine for parents or mutual friends to introduce two prospective partners, the Prophet (sws) has told us not to go into a marriage blindly. Once a man came to the Prophet (sws) and told him that he was going to get married. The Prophet (sws) asked if he had seen the woman. When the man said no, he said: “Go and look at her for it is more likely to engender love between the two of you.” (Ahmad)

3) Islamic Courting

Islam provides the balanced solution to courting, which protects the individual and the society, but does not have people enter marriage blindly. If there is a woman you are considering for marriage, you should approach her mahram (male relative). From there, many avenues exist to get to know her better, without having to be in seclusion or engaging in physical contact. Talking to someone over the phone, through email or the internet, or in the company of a mahram, gives you a chance to find out more about them, without crossing the boundaries set by Allah in His infinite wisdom. The Prophet Muhammad (sws) said, “Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day, let him not have a private audience with a woman without her mahram.” (Ahmad)

This is the way designed by our Creator, who made everything in the universe, who knows what is hidden and what is open, who knows the future and the past, who knows us, better than we could ever know about ourselves. How could we ever think that a better system could exist than the one prescribed by our Maker and the master of the universe?

Wallahu `alam.

I pray that what I’ve said has been beneficial to you. Anything I said that was right, it is from Allah. Anything wrong, is from myself.

The End

That’s the end of Yasmin’s piece. I’d like to add a few comments of my own. Sister Yasmin’s article is informative and of course correct in all it’s statements of fact, but doesn’t really offer practical alternatives for men and women getting to know each other. Yasmin says, “If there is a woman you are considering for marriage, you should approach her mahram. From there, many avenues exist to get to know her better, without having to be in seclusion or engaging in physical contact.” Of course this is true, but how do you get to that point of choosing someone that you might be interested in for marriage? Just by seeing someone at work, school or a conference? That feels like taking an important step based on insufficient information.

I have three suggestions that would allow singles to meet in an Islamic manner, to get to know each other for marriage:

1. Internet matrimonial services. Of course we have online matrimonial services now – like Zawaj.com! That’s a good place to start, and does not require breaking any Islamic rules. Young people can read one another’s profiles, exchange a few anonymous messages through the matrimonial service’s messaging system, then if they find each other interesting they can take it offline and contact each other’s families.

2. Marriage events. I’m talking about organized marriage events where men and women can meet in a structured and supervised environment. This should be a more widely considered option. There are some organizations doing this already, but they tend to be held only occasionally in larger cities. Smaller cities rarely see such marriage events. I think local mosques should take the lead in organizing marriage events for the singles in their communities.

And every major Islamic conference should include such an event.

3. Imams as matchmakers. Maybe the Imam of each community (and his wife) should take it as one of the office’s functions to maintain a database of single brothers and sisters, and make suggestions and introductions. I’ve read about an Imam in New York who does that quite successfully.

We seem to have these two extremes – either an arranged marriage between cousins, which is generally unhealthy and seems to end in misery more often than not, or a free-for-all where young people must fend and seek for themselves, and often fall into sin.

As a community we must develop modern alternatives that satisfy Islamic requirements and allow single Muslim men and women to meet.

Wael Abdelgawad
Zawaj.com Editor

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Misyar marriage: definition and rulings

Saudi Arabian women walking

Saudi Arabian women walking. Misyar marriage has become common in Saudi Arabia.

Source: Islam Q&A

Question:

Misyaar marriage was mentioned on your website. What is this marriage? Is it halaal or haram?

Answer:

Praise be to Allaah.

Firstly:

Misyaar marriage is where a man does a shar’i marriage contract with a woman, meeting the conditions of marriage, but the woman gives up some of her rights such as accommodation, maintenance or the husband’s staying overnight with her.

The reasons that have led to the emergence of this kind of marriage are many, such as:

1.

Increase in the number of single women who are unable to get married, because young men are put off marriage due to the high cost of dowries and the costs of marriage, or because there is a high divorce rate. In such circumstances, some women will agree to be a second or third wife and to give up some of their rights.

2.

Some women need to stay in their family home, either because they are the only care-givers for family members, or because the woman has a handicap and her family do not want the husband to be burdened with something he cannot bear, and he stays in touch with her without having to put too great a burden on himself, or because she has children and cannot move with them to her husband’s house, and other reasons.

3.

Some married men want to keep some women chaste because they need that, or because they need variety and halaal pleasure, without that affecting the first wife and her children.

4.

In some cases a husband may want to conceal his second marriage from his first wife, for fear of the consequences that may result and affect their relationship.

5.

The man travels often to a certain place and stays there for lengthy periods. Undoubtedly staying there with a wife is safer for him than not doing so.

These are the most prominent reasons for the emergence of this kind of marriage.

Secondly:

The scholars differed concerning the ruling on this type of marriage, and there are several opinions, ranging from the view that it is permissible, to the view that it is permitted but makrooh, or that it is not allowed. Here we should point out several things.

1.

None of the scholars have said that it is invalid or is not correct; rather they disallowed it because of the consequences that adversely affect the woman, as it is demeaning to her, and that affects the society as this marriage contract is taken advantage of by bad people, because a woman could claim that a boyfriend is a husband. It also affects the children whose upbringing will be affected by their father’s absence.

2.

Some of those who said that it was permissible have retracted that view. Among the most prominent scholars who said that it was permissible were Shaykh ‘Abd al-‘Azeez ibn Baaz and Shaykh ‘Abd al-‘Azeez Aal al-Shaykh; and among the most prominent scholars who said that it was permissible and then retracted it was Shaykh al-‘Uthaymeen; among the most prominent scholars who said that it is not allowed at all was Shaykh al-Albaani.

3.

Those who said that it is permissible did not say that a time limit should be set as in the case of mut’ah. And they did not say that it is permissible without a wali (guardian), because marriage without a wali is invalid. And they did not say that the marriage contract may be done without witnesses or without being announced, rather it is essential to do one of the two.

Thirdly:

Opinion of the scholars concerning this type of marriage:

1.

Shaykh Ibn Baaz (may Allaah have mercy on him) was asked about Misyaar marriage; this kind of marriage is where the man marries a second, third or fourth wife, and the wife is in a situation that compels her to stay with her parents or one of them in her own house, and the husband goes to her at various times depending on the circumstances of both. What is the Islamic ruling on this type of marriage?

He replied:

There is nothing wrong with that if the marriage contract fulfils all the conditions set out by sharee’ah, which is the presence of the wali and the consent of both partners, and the presence of two witnesses of good character to the drawing up of the contract, and both partners being free of any impediments, because of the general meaning of the words of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him): “The conditions that are most deserving of being fulfilled are those by means of which intimacy becomes permissible for you” and “The Muslims are bound by their conditions.” If the partners agree that the woman will stay with her family or that her share of the husband’s time will be during the day and not during the night, or on certain days or certain nights, there is nothing wrong with that, so long as the marriage is announced and not hidden. End quote.

Fataawa ‘Ulama’ al-Balad al-Haraam (p. 450, 451) and Jareedah al-Jazeerah issue no. 8768, Monday 18 Jumaada al-Oola 1417 AH.

However, some students of the Shaykh said that he later retracted the view that it is permissible, but we could not find anything in writing to prove that.

2.

Shaykh ‘Abd al-‘Azeez Aal al-Shaykh (may Allaah preserve him) was asked:

There is a lot of talk about misyaar marriage being haraam or halaal. We would like a definitive statement about this matter from you, with a description of its conditions and obligations, if it is permissible.

He replied:

The conditions of marriage are that the two partners should be identified and give their consent, and there should be a wali (guardian) and two witnesses. If the conditions are met and the marriage is announced, and they do not agree to conceal it, either the husband, the wife or their guardians, and he offered a waleemah or wedding feast, then this marriage is valid, and you can call it whatever you want after that. End quote.

Jareedah al-Jazeerah, Friday 15 Rabee’ al-Thaani 1422 AH, issue no. 10508.

3.

Shaykh al-Albaani was asked about Misyaar marriage and he disallowed it for two reasons:

(i)

That the purpose of marriage is repose as Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning): “And among His Signs is this, that He created for you wives from among yourselves, that you may find repose in them, and He has put between you affection and mercy. Verily, in that are indeed signs for a people who reflect” [al-Room 30:21]. But this is not achieved in this kind of marriage.

(ii)

It may be decreed that the husband has children with this woman, but because he is far away from her and rarely comes to her, that will be negatively reflected in his children’s upbringing and attitude.

See: Ahkaam al-Ta’addud fi Daw’ al-Kitaab wa’l-Sunnah (p. 28, 29).

4.

Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen (may Allaah have mercy on him) used to say that it was permissible, then he stopped saying that because of the negative effects, as it was poorly applied by some wrongdoers.

Finally, what we think is:

That if Misyaar marriage fulfils the conditions of a valid marriage, namely the proposal and acceptance, the consent of the wali and witnesses or announcement of the marriage, then it is a valid marriage contract, and it is good for some categories of men and women whose circumstances call for this type of marriage. But this may be taken advantage of by some whose religious commitment is weak, hence this permissibility should not be described as general in application in a fatwa, rather the situation of each couple should be examined, and if this kind of marriage is good for them then it should be permitted, otherwise they should not be allowed to do it. That is to prevent marriage for the sake of mere pleasure whilst losing the other benefits of marriage, and to prevent the marriage of two people whose marriage we may be certain is likely to fail and in which the wife will be neglected, such as one who will be away from his wife for many months, and will leave her on her own in an apartment, watching TV and visiting chat rooms and going on the internet. How can such a weak woman spend her time? This is different from one who lives with her family or children and has enough religious commitment, obedience, chastity and modesty to help her be patient during her husband’s absence.

And Allaah knows best.

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Divorce While Pregnant?

Muslim woman and baby on beach

Question:

My husband divorced me while I was pregnant. Then before I gave birth to my child he came back and said that we are not divorced since pregnant women can’t be divorced. So I would like to know am I really divorced or not? My husband and I love each other very much and now we have a baby son. Please do reply to me as soon as possible.

Answer:

Praise be to Allaah.

Shaykh Ibn Baaz (may Allaah have mercy on him) was asked whether a woman may be divorced by talaaq when she is pregnant. He said:

This is an idea which is common among some people. Some of the people think that a pregnant woman cannot be divorced by talaaq. I do not know where they get this idea from, for it has no basis in the words of the scholars. Rather the view of all the scholars is that a pregnant woman can be divorced by talaaq. There is consensus on this point among the scholars, and there is no dispute. Talaaq according to the Sunnah means that a woman may be divorced in two cases:

1 – She may be divorced when she is pregnant; this is a Sunnah divorce and is not bid’ah.

2 – She should be taahir (pure, i.e., not menstruating) and her husband should not have touched her (i.e., had intercourse with her), i.e., she should have become taahir following menstruation or nifaas (post-natal bleeding) and before he has intercourse with her. Talaaq in this case is in accordance with the Sunnah.

Fataawa al-Talaaq by Shaykh Ibn Baaz, 1/45-46

So long as he took her back during the ‘iddah, then she is still his wife, because the ‘iddah of a woman who is pregnant ends when she gives birth, and her husband took her back before she gave birth. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):

“And for those who are pregnant (whether they are divorced or their husbands are dead), their ‘Iddah (prescribed period) is until they lay down their burden.”

[al-Talaaq 65:4]

This is the ‘iddah of the pregnant woman whether she is divorced or widowed. The husband should count this as one talaaq. And Allaah knows best.

Source: Islam Q&A
Sheikh Muhammed Salih Al-Munajjid

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Does a Long Separation Amount to Divorce?

Broken home, divorce, separation, split family

Does Long Separation Break a Nikah in Islam?

Name of Mufti: Dr. Muzammil Siddiqi
Source: IslamOnline.net, August 3 2004

Question:

As-Salamu `alaykum. If a husband and wife fight each other and after that they do not talk for 3 to 4 years, does this affect their nikah (marriage)?

Answer:

Wa `alaykum As-Salamu wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh.

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.

Dear sister in Islam, thank you for your question, which shows how concerned you are to abide by the Shari`ah in all details of your life. May Allah help us all lead a righteous life based on Islam!

First of all, it should be clear that marriage in Islam is a solemn contract for which the Shari`ah lays down rules and arrangements to guarantee its stability.

The spouses should avoid fighting or divorce as much as possible. If they have difficulties and problems they should be patient and forbearing. They have to try to work out their differences and seek help from their relatives, friends, or professional counselors.

In response to your question, Dr. Muzammil H. Siddiqi, former president of the Islamic Society of North America, states:

It is not right for husband and wife to break their relations for such a long time. If there are differences, then they should try to reconcile as soon as possible. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) urged Muslims to reconcile their differences within three days. The one who begins the reconciliation receives the greater reward and blessings from Allah.

However a severance due to strained relationship does not affect the nikah, however long it lasts. They are still husband and wife. If the husband does not reconcile with his wife and remains severed from her, she has a right to file for divorce and take a legal divorce through the court.

But if a husband separates from his wife with an oath that he will not have conjugal relations with her, then he has only four months to reconcile. According to the Qur’an, this is called ila’. [In Shari`ah, ila’ means that the husband swears that he will not have sexual intercourse with his wife, either for an unrestricted period or for more than four months.] Allah says, “Those who swear that they will not go into their wives, the waiting period is four months. Then if they go back, Allah is surely Forgiving, Merciful. If they resolve on a divorce, then Allah is surely hearing and knowing.” (Al-Baqarah: 226-227). At the end of four months if he has not reconciled verbally or in action, then the wife has the right seek divorce through the court. And the judge can grant divorce to her.

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Sexy secrets of the Syrian souk

Sexy bra sold in a Syrian souk

An example of Syrian lingerie design for the bedroom

By Martin Asser, reporting from Damascus
Reprinted from BBC News Online

Just off the crowded central market in Old Damascus, a sales assistant called Mahmoud is giving me my first introduction into an unusual Syrian speciality – musical knickers.

The garments come in many different shapes and colours, and play little tunes – or other extraneous noises like telephone ringtones – all made by small electronic devices hidden in the lining.

Singing underwear isn’t the only item on sale at the “Fatin Shop for Ladies Indoor Clothing”, where Mahmoud is proudly showing off his product lines.

He’s got knickers with flashing fairy lights, others that glow in the dark, a bra-and-knickers set shaped like manicured women’s hands enveloping the wearer’s body.

In a slightly higher price range, he’s got remote-controlled bras and knickers, designed to spring open and fall to the floor with a clap of the hands or a press of a button.

Welcome to the no-frills world of Syrian lingerie – no frills, but plenty of tassels, and feathers, and zips, and bras which open like curtains, and…

There’s a whole street off the historic Hamadiyeh Souk selling this genre of clothing – all outfits manufactured in Syria, some that Madonna herself might blush to wear, all showing bawdy creativity and a wicked sense of humour.

Culture shock

Forthright displays of the some world’s raciest “leisure wear” have long been a feature of Syrian souks – though many tourists don’t notice the hot knickers and PVC French maid outfits among the more traditional inlaid backgammon sets and textiles.

Remote controlled sexy underwear in a Syrian souk

Mahmoud demonstrates various styles, including remote-controlled knickers

It stems from the Syrian tradition for brides-to-be to be given a trousseau of exotic underwear – sometimes dozens of items – usually by girlfriends, aunties and cousins, to add spice to their wedding nights, honeymoons and beyond.

With a glint in his eye, Mahmoud, who’s barely out of school himself, says “some ladies keep coming back until their 30s”.

Now two London-based Arab women, Rana Salam and Malu Halasa, are shining a spotlight on this little-known local speciality, with a new book called The Secret Life of Syrian Lingerie.

“They used to tell me at art school: ‘Look within your culture’. So I looked and I was in for a big surprise,” graphic designer Ms Salam told me at the launch in London last month.

“The point of the book is to go beyond politics, to break stereotypes and celebrate Middle Eastern romanticism and pleasure. Call it kitsch, call it whatever you like, but I think this attire is superb, spontaneous, pure art.”

On display at the launch party are a few of the most elaborate (but silent) designs, framed on the wall as works of art, including the “hands” bikini.

“I mean, Jean Paul Gaultier eat your heart out,” she says pointing to another exhibit, a bright red wire spiral bra, with white roses at the center and covered in a host of plastic butterflies.

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Is Marriage Through Email Allowed in Islam?

Marriage through E-Mail

Name of Mufti: Dr. Muzammil Siddiqi

Question:

Email icon

Marriage by email?

Dear Sheikh, As-Salamu `Alaykum wa Rahmatullah wa Barakatuh. Now, modern means of communication have made things much easier. I’d like to know whether it’s allowed to make Nikah (marriage) via the e-mail or not. Jazakum Allah khayran.

Answer:

Wa `alaykum As-Salamu wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh.

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.

Brother, we really appreciate your fowarding this question to us, and we commend your keenness on getting yourself well-acquainted with the teachings of Islam. May Allah help us all keep firm on the Right Path, Ameen!

Brother, first of all, you are to bear in mind the fact that marriage contract, in Islam, is so solemn that it should be concluded in certain way stipulated by Shari`ah so as to set it in order and remove any ambiguity in this regard.

Focusing more on the question in point, Dr. Muzammil H. Siddiqi, former President of the Islamic Society of North America, states:

“According to Muslim jurists, it is not permissible to marry someone by mail or phone. The same thing can be said about the e-mail. Marriage in Islam is a formal legal contract. It should be very clear who is marrying whom. The Shari`ah emphasizes the announcement of marriage and does not allow any ambiguity in this matter. It is for this reason witnesses for Nikah are necessary.

If the parties who want to get married are not present, they can appoint a wakil (representative). The person who is getting married has to appoint his/her wakil. It is permissible to appoint a wakil through telephone, fax or email. The wakil then should do the ijab (proposal) or qubul (acceptance), in person, on behalf of the person who appointed him. Two witnesses who also personally know the party that is not present are necessary for the contract of marriage.”

Allah Almighty knows best.

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The Seventy Major Sins – Al-Kaba’ir

Seventy major sinsThe Seventy Major Sins in Islam – Al-Kaba’ir

– reprinted from TheModernReligion.com

The major sins are those acts which have been forbidden by Allah in the Quran and by His Messenger (SAW) in the Sunnah (practise of the Prophet), and which have been made clear by the actions of of the first righteous generation of Muslims, the Companions of the Prophet (SAW).
Allah Most High says in His Glorious Book:

If you avoid the major (part) of what you have been forbidden (to do), We will cancel out for you your (other) evil deeds and will admit you (to Paradise) with a noble entry. (al-Nisa 4:31)

Thus by this verse, Allah Most High has guaranteed the Garden of Paradise to those who avoid the major sins.

And Allah Most High also says:

Those who avoid the greatest of sins and indecencies, and forgive when they are angry (al-Shra 42:37) Those who avoid the greatest sins and indecencies, except for oversights, (will find that) surely your Lord is ample in forgiveness. (Al-Najm 53:32)

The Messenger of Allah (SAW) said: “The five [daily] prayers, Friday to Friday, and Ramadan to Ramadan make atonement for what has happenned since the previous one when major sins have been avoided.” It is therefore very important to determine exactly what the greatest vices, technically called “the major sins” (Kaba’ir), are, in order that Muslims should avoid them.

There is some difference of opinion among scholars in this regard. Some say these major sins are seven, and in support of their position they quote the tradition: “Avoid the seven noxious things”- and after having said this, the propeht (SAW) mentioned them: “associating anything with Allah; magic; killing one whom Allah has declared inviolate without a just case, consuming the property of an orphan, devouring usury, turning back when the army advances, and slandering chaste women who are believers but indiscreet.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

‘Abdullah ibn ‘Abbas said: “Seventy is closer to their number than seven,” and indeed that is correct. The above tradition does not limit the major sins to those mentioned in it. Rather, it points to the type of sins which fall into the category of “major.” These include those crimes which call for a prescribed punishment (HADD; plural, HUDUD), such as theft, fornication or adultery (ZINA), and murder; those prohibited acts for which a warning of a severe punishment in the Next is given in the Qur’an or the tradition; and also those deeds which are cursed by our Prophet (SAW). These are all major sins.

Of course, there is a gradation among them, since some are more serious than others. We see that the Prophet (SAW) has included SHIRK (associating someone or something with Allah) among them, and from the text of the Qur’an we know that a person who commits SHIRK will not his sin be forgiven and will remain in Hell forever.

Allah Most High says: Surely, Allah does not forgive associating anything with Him, and He forgives whatever is other than that to whomever He wills. (al-Nisa 4:48 and 116)

01. Associating anything with Allah
02. Murder
03. Practising magic
04. Abandoning prayer
05. Not paying Zakat
06. Not fasting on a Day of Ramadan without excuse
07. Not performing Hajj, while being able to do so
08. Disrespect to parents
09. Abandoning relatives
10. Fornication and Adultery
11. Homosexuality (sodomy)
12. Consuming usury (Ribaa)
13. Wrongfully consuming the property of an orphan
14. Lying about Allah and His Messenger
15. Running away from the battlefield
16. A leader’s deceiving his people and being unjust to them
17. Pride and arrogance
18. Bearing false witness
19. Consuming Khamr (intoxicants)
20. Gambling
21. Slandering chaste women
22. Stealing from the spoils of war
23. Theft
24. Highway Robbery
25. Taking false oath
26. Oppression
27. Illegal gain
28. Consuming wealth acquired unlawfully
29. Committing suicide
30. Frequent lying
31. Judging unjustly
32. Giving and Accepting bribes
33. Woman’s imitating man and man’s imitating woman (in dress, etc)
34. Being cuckold
35. Marrying a divorced woman in order to make her lawful for the husband
36. Not protecting oneself from urine (being unclean, wearing soiled clothing)
37. Showing-off (boasting of charity or good works)
38. Learning knowledge of the religion for the sake of this world and concealing that knowledge
39. Bertrayal of trust
40. Recounting favours
41. Denying Allah’s Decree
42. Listening (to) people’s private conversations
43. Carrying false tales and rumors
44. Cursing
45. Breaking contracts
46. Believing in fortune-tellers and astrologers
47. A woman’s bad conduct towards her husband
48. Making statues and paintings of human beings and animals
49. Lamenting, wailing, tearing the clothing, and doing other things of this sort when an affliction befalls
50. Treating others unjustly
51. Overbearing conduct toward the wife, the servant, the weak, and animals
52. Offending one’s neighbour
53. Offending and abusing Muslims
54. Offending people and having an arrogant attitude toward them
55. Trailing one’s garment in pride
56. Men’s wearing silk and gold
57. A servant’s running away from his employer, violating a contract
58. Slaughtering an animal in dedication to anyone other than Allah
59. To knowingly ascribe one’s paternity to a father other than one’s own
60. Arguing and disputing violently
61. Witholding excess water (hoarding, withholding vital goods from the public)
62. Giving short weight or measure
63. Feeling secure from Allah’s Plan
64. Offending Allah’s righteous friends (disrespecting the scholars and saintly people)
65. Not praying in congregation, missing congregational prayers consistently without an excuse
66. Persistently missing Friday Prayers without any excuse
67. Unsurping the rights of the heir through bequests
68. Deceiving and plotting evil
69. Spying for the enemy of the Muslims
70. Cursing or insulting any of the Companions of Allah’s Messenger

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Is it Prohibited to Marry Someone Guilty of Zinaa (Adultery/Fornication)?


Two parrots on a fence in Brooklyn

Reprinted from SeekersGuidance.org
Answered by Sidi Abdullah Anik Misra

Question:

A girl and I committed zina a few months back. We are in the process of getting married very soon. Is it permissible for me to marry the girl I committed zina with? Is it obligatory for her to repent before we get married? She will definitely repent but I want to know if its required in order us to marrry. I read this on islamqa.com.

Answer:

All praise is to Allah Most High who has shown us right from wrong, in order that we may benefit both in this life and in the next life.

Zina (either illicit fornication for those never-before-married, or adultery for those who have been married) is one of the vilest and gravest sins a Muslim can commit, after ascribing partners with Allah, murder, and disobedience to one’s parents. In the Qur’an, right after the prohibition of killing one’s children, Allah Most High says:

“And do not even go close to Zina! Truly, it is a gross obscenity and an evil path (to go down).” [al-Quran, 17:32]

This verse is not just about prohibiting the act of zina itself, rather, we are told not even to go near it through anything that may lead or invite to it. This is why the pre-marital contact of an unrelated man and woman for unnecessary reasons is not allowed in Islam, even if marriage is the eventual goal.

However, if anyone has fallen into committing this act (and may Allah save us), know that Allah is so Merciful and He is ready to accept the repentance of those who are truly remorseful and commit themselves not to repeat the act again. He, Most High, says:

“And those who, after they had committed a gross obscenity [ie. zina], or wronged themselves [by what approaches it, such as kissing], remembered Allah, and then sought forgiveness for their sins – and who forgives sins except Allah? – and they did not continue in committing it, knowing fully-well [it was a sin]:

For those people, their recompense is a great forgiveness from their Lord! And gardens underneath which rivers flow! They will be in there forever! What a wonderful reward for those who act for Allah!”

[al-Quran, 2:135-136, interpretation from Jalalayn and Tabari]]

It is definitely a step in the right direction that you both have turned away from this and are now working to get married soon. Both of you, not just the woman, should repent from what has passed and make a firm commitment not to come near to a situation where it might happen again. However, the direct answer to your question is that it isn’t a legal requirement that one repent (which is an inward act between a servant and Allah) in order for the marriage to be valid (which is an outward action).

That being said, it is still obligatory to repent in any case, and to do so before marriage is not so much of a technical requirement as some opinions say, but rather something strongly encouraged for the couple get on the right footing with Allah Most High as they embark on the sacred journey of being husband and wife. Now, we’ll look at the reasons why the majority of scholars say this, and the verse of the Quran which concerns the issue.

The Verse Concerning Marriage With Those Who Commit Zina

Allah Most High says:

“A man guilty of adultery or fornication does not marry other than a woman guilty of adultery or fornication, or an idolatress, and as for a woman who committed adultery or fornication, no one but a man who committed adultery or fornication, or an idolater, marries her. And that has been prohibited for the Believers.” [al-Quran 24:3]

The opinion that you read (on islamqa.com) says that this verse is a prohibition against the marriage of a Believer with someone guilty of zina, until the adulterer repents, thereby being cleansed of the sin and no longer being an adulterer. This is based on the taking the statement “it has been prohibited” at one of its literal and apparent meanings and applying it to marriage. Some Hanbali scholars held this view.

However, the majority of scholars have said that this is not a prohibition in terms of validity of marriage, but rather they interpret the verse in many different ways.

Al-Suyuti in Tafseer al-Jalaalayn points out that the beginning of the verse speaks about who is appropriate for marriage to another due to their character; that the only person who would want to marry an adulterer is one who has similar inclinations or makes light of the sin of zina, or a person who is not a Muslim and therefore does not see zina as being unlawful and sinful in the first place. The suitability of a man and woman of this nature is repeated twice to show emphasis on how detestable the act and its consensual perpetrators are, and it also highlights that this stigma is not attached only to the male or female alone (as is sometimes sadly observed in some cultures).

Al-Suyuti goes on to say that the prohibition on the Believers was initially meant to address a situation in which some very poor Muslim Emigrants to Medina had wanted to get married to women who were pagans and known prostitutes, so that they might benefit from those women’s earnings to survive. Hence, the verse was revealed to prohibit this, and he says that the prohibition of marrying anyone who had once committed adultery was abrogated by a later command which said “and marry the single ones from amongst you.” [al-Quran, 24:32]

That does not mean however, that it is of no consequence to marry someone who is unrepentant about their adultery, nor that a chaste person should marry such a person.

Al-Shaukani in Fath al-Qadeer lists 7 different interpretations, one of them being that the verse is simply commending the most commonly observed trend, which is that a chaste person would not usually want to marry someone who was unremorsefully unchaste. He also mentions that the verse is in reference specifically to people to whom zina has become a way of life and even a way of earning. Some transmissions of prohibiting the marriage of two fornicators to each other exist from some Companions, but conflicting narrations from some of those same Companions and the rulings of many of the Imams of the Salaf (such as al-Shafi’i and Abu Haneefa) who knew the Companion’s opinions better than we do today, show that this prohibition was not conclusive or absolute.

Ibn Katheer in his tafseer quotes a narration attributed to Ibn ‘Abbas which indicates that the word “to marry” in this verse (yankiHu) actually takes its other literal meaning, which is “to have intercourse”, so that the verse reads “(illicit intercourse) is prohibited for the Believers”. Al-Tabari says that the verse was revealed to speak about a specific brothel which was frequented by non-Muslims and adulterers, and that the Muslims were forbidden from visiting houses the likes of those. Al-Baghawi even mentions specific people for whom the verse was revealed initially. To summarize, a casual glance through many other tafseers will reveal that while most mufassireen (commentators on the Qu’ran) reported a variety of reasons and interpretations of the verse, the most common interpretations were either one compatibility and censure, or a prohibition that was later abrogated in that same surah.

Some Reports on this Issue

Reports of the sayings of the Companions and Followers on this issue are plentiful.

Daraqutni reports, in part of a hadeeth, from Aisha that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) was asked about a man who committed zina with a woman, and then wanted to marry her. Part of the reply was, “Something unlawful (zina) does not make prohibited that which is lawful (marriage)…”

He also reports that Ibn Abbas, regarding a man who had committed zina with a woman and then married her, said, “The first part of [the relationship] was fornication (al-sifaah) and the last part of it was lawful Islamic marriage (al-nikaah). The first part was unlawful, and the last part was lawful.” In another riwayah, he said “there is no harm in it”, and that a similar meaning had been reported from ‘Umar, Abu Hurayara and Jabir (may Allah be well pleased with them all), though saying there is “no harm in it” doesn’t necessarily show that it is liked or recommended.

‘Abd al-Razzaq in his Musannaf also relates from Ibn ‘Abbas, on the same issue that a man committed zina with a woman then married her, that he said, “Then that (marriage) is better”, and in another narration, “Now he did the right thing!”, and “What’s disliked about that?”

He goes on to report that Abu Bakr (Allah be pleased with him) said, “There is no better repentance than that he marries her- (after all) they both went from fornication to Islamic marriage.” [This last report contains an unidentified narrator but its concept and wisdom is amply supported by other reports]. Although there are fewer reports about ‘Aisha and Ibn Mas’ud not allowing such a marriage, perhaps they can be interpreted as recommendations rather than laws, or that the wisdom is for both people to start fresh with other people rather than build their marriage on wrong actions or to discourage the validating of pre-marital relationships. Either way, repentance as a technical requirement to validate the marriage is not established according to the majority.

Amongst the Sunni schools of law, the Hanafi school (as well as the Shafi’i and Maliki schools) rules the permissibility of the marriage of two adulterers [Tabyeen al Haqaiq, al-Zayla'i]. One proof says that the verse in the Quran intends to prohibit intercourse rather than marriage with an adulterer, as it would otherwise seem to recommend that a fornicating muslim can actually marry a non-believing idolater, and there is no such valid marriage between the two as is decisively established in Islam, and so the meaning is carried upon intercourse in order to outlaw zina, and not marriage, to an adulterer. However, the opinion of some Hanbali jurists that repentance is required is good in its meaning because it forces the two people to recognize their wrong and repent to start their marriage on a fresh footing.

One might say however, that the intention to make up for the wrong one has done by doing in its place what is good and chaste, by getting married, is itself a commendable act that shows regret for what was done in the past, though correcting a wrong must be joined by sincere taubah and a promise never to return to the sin again. It should also be clear that there is also no obligation for the two parties to continue on with marriage after an illicit relationship; rather, one should marry someone who they feel has a good Islamic character and a desire to live a righteous life.

And Allah knows best, and His help is sought,

Abdullah Misra
Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani

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Philly’s Black Muslims Increasingly Turn to Polygamy

Muslim woman in silhouette

by BARBARA BRADLEY HAGERTY for National Public Radio
May 28, 2008

(See also Part 1: Some Muslims in U.S. Quietly Engage in Polygamy)

Polygamy in the U.S. is not limited to remote enclaves in the West or breakaway sects once affiliated with the Mormon Church. Several scholars say it’s growing among black Muslims in the inner city — and particularly in Philadelphia, which is known for its large orthodox black Muslim community.

No one knows exactly how many people live in polygamous families in the U.S. Estimates from academics researching the issue range from 50,000 to 100,000 people.

Take Zaki and Mecca, who have been married for nearly 12 years. In their late 20s, they live in the Philadelphia suburbs, have a 5-year-old son and own a real estate business.

Zaki also has something else: a second wife.

Two years ago, Mecca told her husband she wanted to study Arabic in the Middle East, which would mean a lot of time away from home. (NPR is not using any full names in this story because some of those we interviewed could be prosecuted for bigamy.)

“We were talking about it,” Mecca recalls, “and the first thing that came to my mind was, ‘I’m going to have to find you another wife!'”

Zaki was game. After all, he had been raised in a polygamous home in Philadelphia. Like many black Muslims, his father subscribed to an orthodox view of Islam that allows a man to marry several women. Zaki says he loved having seven siblings and four mothers, especially at dinnertime.

“I would find out who’s making what that particular night. I know that this mom makes barbequed chicken better than my other mom makes fried chicken, so I’m going with the barbequed chicken tonight. Things of that nature,” he says with a laugh.

Unlike Zaki, Mecca was raised by a single mother and converted from Southern Baptist to Muslim when she was 16.

Finding Another Wife

When it came to finding a second wife, Zaki said he had no one in mind, and he asked Mecca to conduct the search.

“You know, he gave me the baton, and I took it and ran with it,” Mecca says.

Al-Aqsa Masjid in Philadelpha

Al-Aqsa Masjid in Philadelpha

Mecca launched a nationwide search. She found candidates by word of mouth. She scoured the Internet. Eventually, she interviewed about a dozen women.

“I had to make sure that she’d be the right fit — not just for my husband, but for our whole family,” Mecca says.

But the ultimate match was right under their noses: 20-year-old Aminah, who was a friend of Zaki’s younger sister. Aminah knew Mecca was looking for a second wife but thought she was too young. That is, until one night after a dinner party when Mecca pulled her aside. Mecca asked Aminah if she would consider marrying Zaki.

“And I said, ‘That’s funny, because I was thinking the same thing,'” Aminah says.

Zaki was the last to know the identity of the final candidate to be his bride. He could have vetoed the choice, of course, but he was delighted.

In October 2007, he and Aminah married in a religious, not civil, ceremony. Many polygamous marriages are conducted in secret and are not legally binding because state laws prohibit them.

Aminah recalls that Mecca helped prepare the wedding feast.

Aminah, who’s finishing college, lives in an apartment a few miles away from Mecca’s house. Zaki moves between homes on alternating nights. But every week after Friday prayers, they get together as a family.

“It can be a variety of things,” Zaki says. “Going to a nice restaurant, catching a movie, going bowling, maybe seeing a concert. All kind of things.”

“I always call it family date night, because it’s one big date,” Mecca says. “We just chill. I always look forward to it. We always have a ball, laughing, goofing around.”

Treating Each Wife Equally

On a recent day, Zaki’s attention is on Aminah. Riding the elevator to her penthouse apartment, he explains that it’s Aminah’s 21st birthday and he’s taking her to New York to see a Broadway show.

“She has no idea what she’s going to do today,” he whispers. And so while Zaki’s second wife is changing for a surprise trip, his first wife is getting the train tickets and making the arrangements.

“See, you got to work as a unit or it’s very inconvenient otherwise,” he laughs.

As Zaki hurries Aminah along, he says he will do something equivalent for Mecca on her birthday. Islam requires that the husband treat each wife equally. Zaki explains that doesn’t mean he gives them the same things. For example, Mecca likes jewelry but Aminah doesn’t.

An African American Muslim woman sitting at a window

But, he says, “If I upgrade one, then I have to upgrade the other. But the upgrade may not be the same because you have two different women with two different tastes.”

They’ve worked out a system. Even still, why would a woman want to share her husband?

“Well, I’m looking at it more as a spiritual perspective,” Mecca says. “Zaki is a blessing — just like everything else. He is a loan from God, is the way I look at it. And in my religion, if he’s able and capable to [marry another wife], I wouldn’t want to hold him back. So, why not?”

She acknowledges that there have been “a few bumps in the road.” But she hasn’t once second-guessed sharing Zaki with Aminah.

As Mecca speaks, Aminah nods in agreement.

“I might have certain feelings when my husband walks out the door and I haven’t seen him all day, but I know his responsibility is not only to me. And the respect I have for my co-wife, all that plays a role in how I handle my emotions,” Aminah says.

‘Two, Three, Four’

Zaki believes ultimately, polygamy is good for society — especially in the inner city, where intact families are rare and many kids grow up without their fathers.

“There are a lot of blessings in it because you’re helping legitimize and build a family that’s rooted in values and commitment. And the children that come out of those types of relationships only become a benefit to society at large.”

Many orthodox Muslims agree. You can find them on Fridays at a mosque in South Philadelphia.

The congregation that has gathered in a slim townhouse is largely African-American. The rules are orthodox, and the prayers (if not the sermon) are in classical Arabic.

Abdullah, the imam, has conducted religious ceremonies for a dozen polygamous marriages.

Abdullah says polygamy in Islam dates back to the 7th century, when battles were killing off Muslim men and leaving widows and children unprotected.

As a result, Abdullah says, the Koran specifies that a man can marry “women of your choice: two, three, four, and if you fear you cannot be just, then marry one.”

“And so, a lot of scholars look at it sequentially,” he says. “Two is optimum, then three, then four, then as a last resort, one!”

A Shortage of Men

And while polygamy may seem like a man’s paradise, Abdullah says, often an unmarried woman initiates it.

“Sometimes a woman may be interested in a man, but he’s off limits. That’s not the case in Islam. Does he have four wives? No? Then he’s still available.”

Jail corridor

Incarceration of African-American males has unbalanced the gender ratio in communities

That’s how Abdullah met his second wife. A divorcee, she heard Abdullah preach a few sermons and approached his wife to ask if he would be interested in a second wife. Soon she married Abdullah and now the imam cares for two families — with 13 children and another on the way.

The single women at the mosque say polygamy is a fact of life. But it’s not their first choice.

“Every woman has a preference to be the sole wife,” says Aliya, echoing the sentiments of the others. Aliya is a 28-year-old single woman who is finishing up a master’s degree. She says that South Philadelphia in the 21st century is a little like Arabia in the 7th century. There is a dearth of men to marry.

“We’re dealing with brothers who are incarcerated — that is, unavailable,” she says. “And then unfortunately, you have the AIDS and HIV crisis, where HIV has struck the African-American community disproportionately to others. So when you look at it that way, there is a shortage.”

Shaheed’s Story

With this numerical advantage, some men collect wives for the sex. But some men also marry out of altruism. Consider 43-year-old Shaheed, who is married to Alieah.

Fourteen years ago, his friend died. The friend’s wife, Nadirah, was 30 and expecting her third child. That brought her to Shaheed’s attention.

“When we came to the grave site — I remember it as if it were yesterday — what stuck out was that her demeanor was so calm,” Shaheed says.

Nadirah is an elegant, contained woman. After becoming a widow, she decided the only way she would marry again was as a second wife.

“At that point in my life, I was used to being alone,” she says, running her household as she liked, “as opposed to constantly being with someone and attending to someone else’s needs.”

She accepted Shaheed’s proposal. But she quickly saw the tricky relationship was not with Shaheed. It was with his wife.

“We met, and we had dinner, and we had lunch and we went out and shopped and did different things at that point. As the marriage got closer, I think she was more apprehensive and more unnerved by the pending situation.”

“I remember me telling him, ‘Please don’t go,'” Alieah says. “He’s like ‘What do you mean? The wedding is today, you’re telling me not to go today?’ I’m like, ‘Just don’t go!'”

Alieah, who is 40, says she considered Shaheed’s commitment to a widow “noble.” Afterward, however, she considered divorce. She eventually decided she did not want to start over. After two years of misery, Alieah says, she had a spiritual epiphany.

“I literally just got up one morning and said [to God], ‘OK, this is what you want me to do. I’m going to handle it in a civil manner, and I’m going to do X, Y, Z about it,'” Alieah says. “And from that point on, it was the strangest thing, because it never bothered me anymore. I never even thought about it.”

The family began to operate like a well-oiled machine and a model of polygamy in their Muslim community. Shaheed runs his own security company. Alieah teaches first grade, and Nadirah home-schools some of the family’s 10 children.

“We really depend on each other,” says Nadirah, who considers Alieah a friend.

What About the Heart?

There are benefits to polygamy for the wives, Nadirah says.

“She could fill something that even a husband couldn’t fill. It was a cross between a sister and a friend and a co-worker,” she says. “You have a cushion or a help that you didn’t have before.”

At first, the two families lived in separate homes. Now Shaheed, his two wives and nine of his 10 children live in one house. Each wife has a bedroom on a separate floor, but everything else is communal, including cooking and eating. Shaheed says it’s not easy to treat his two very different wives equally, but he tries.

“I’m not going to be overly affectionate with this one as opposed to this one out in the open,” he explains.

And what about controlling his heart when it comes to these two women?

“That’s something that you can’t really control,” he says. “But materially, you want to do that as adequately as possible.”

For her part, Alieah is philosophical about love.

“You cannot blame someone for where their heart lies.”

Did she have a sense of whether her husband was falling for someone else?

She pauses.

“It really didn’t matter,” she eventually answers. “I just knew he had someone else in his life, and it wasn’t me.”

Alieah says polygamy isn’t easy for either wife, though she believes it is harder on the first.

“The second wife is receiving something, where a first wife will feel that something is being taken away from her,” she says. “I mean, I’m devoted to you for my whole life, but you’re only devoted to half of my life.”

Alieah’s youngest child is 4 years old. Her oldest — a 17-year-old daughter — says she’s had a happy childhood in a polygamous family. But she hopes she won’t have to share her husband with anyone else.

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