Husband and Wife Relationship rss

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. – Zawaj.com 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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One Question that Could Save Your Marriage

Muslim couple and baby, at a restaurantBy Maria Zain freelance editor, writer – Malaysia
Some editing by Zawaj.com

(Zawaj.com Editor’s note: this article is written by a Muslim woman and is primarily directed at women, but all the advice written here can be applied to men as well).

“Who knew marriage could be so difficult?” asked Sara. “One day you’re this care-free woman, pretty selfish and self-indulgent. Next you have a roomie – and one that is supposed to share that room with you for the rest of your life!”

“We were living on top of each other,” she added,

“Everyone has disagreements – big and small – and we’re all supposed to handle them in some way or another.”

All married couples experience difficulties. Learning to disagree can be one of the hardest but most rewarding experiences in a marriage. Even more rewarding is resolving these disagreements and keeping unhappiness at bay.

Prolonged disagreements could mean there is a chronic problem between spouses, and could ultimately lead to unhappiness. Marriage counselors reveal that this unhappiness is sometimes caused by a one’s expectations of their spouse not being met.

But would you be surprised to learn that there is one key question that can go a long way toward solving hidden problems in a marriage, and aiding marriage communication?

“What Could I do to Make You Happy?”

If you are going through a rough patch with your spouse, and really want to solve the problem, try asking him or her:

“What could I do to make you happy?”

“When the counselor at the masjid asked me to ask my husband that question, I thought, ‘no way!’” exclaimed Maryam, an excited and expectant first time mother.

“I’m hormonal and vulnerable. I just hoped he’d shrug like he would normally do rather than say anything at all!”

Plenty of women find themselves in the same position as Maryam when dealing with answers to this question. Therefore, find a quiet moment, after the children have gone to bed, and living-in parents or other family members have vanished into their corners of their lives. Make sure both of you are relaxed and perhaps you could prepare two mugs of hot cocoa.

And the ambience helped Maryam:

“He was at surprised at the question, so I allowed myself to explain my feelings that led me to ask him about his happiness,” she said.

“He did need some coaxing to reveal his feelings so I kept it lighthearted, and showed that I really wanted to listen.”

It was difficult at first for Maryam, but she realized that there were not that many things that were causing a rift between them, and they could be easily resolved.

The key is to ask the question sincerely and calmly, with no resentment, and no defensiveness. Try to put your partner at ease, and then truly hear what he/she has to say. Don’t argue. Just listen.

Every husband is different so each scenario will be different, but here are some common issues that could hit familiar chords.

It Could be (the lack of) Your Sex Life

Muslim couple enjoying an evening together“Yes it was the lack of sex,” admitted Sara, working mother of three.

“I am actually surprised that he took this long to let me know because I was getting frustrated too. We were always busy, and when there was enough time to spend together, we would end up snoring within the first five minutes if we were lucky. Or we would be complaining about work or the kids, and ultimately end up bickering.”

Intimacy is not always easy to achieve especially in today’s busy world, but if it is lacking, it can set sirens off in your relationship.

“When he said he missed us as a couple before the children, we decided it was time to cut back on the working hours and spend more time with the kids. At the same time, we could also send them on playgroups without feeling too guilty (as if we were neglecting them).”

“That took a load off,” Sara said,

“We had more time to be together. Not just for sexual intimacy but to ‘date’. We could actually talk to each other without feeling grouchy or exhausted. It felt like we were newlyweds again, even if it was just for two hours a week – and then our son would then come back with a poopy nappy.”

Not everyone has the flexibility that Sara and her husband has. Sometimes it takes a little more planning. A weekend away from responsibilities or setting a new schedule for date night could just do the trick.

For Nadia it was a little more complicated.

“I had a bad birthing experience with my fifth child, and I had not realized it had affected me sexually until my husband brought it up.”

“He felt that I was holding back and was feeling ashamed of my body,” she said.

“That’s when I broke down and told him that I had felt humiliated during the last birth and no longer sexually attractive.”

“He was shocked,” she continued, “because he had no qualms about my physical appearance even though I had changed so much since before the babies started coming.”

Nadia’s husband arranged for her to meet with a psychiatrist on her own, and later they attended as a couple. After a few months it resolved the issue and Nadia realized that she too had been unhappy.

Other problems can affect sexual well-being, such as female-related infections. If you find that the lack of intimacy is affecting your marriage, then this is the time to work out the problem.

A healthy sex life revolves around a couple who actively look forward to intimacy and both enjoy it and get pleasure from it.

He Wants to Be the Man

A Muslim couple talking“My parents always had high expectations of me,” said Sara, “… and for some reason this included climbing the corporate ladder and hiring a housekeeper to do the ‘woman’s’ jobs around the house.”

“They groomed me to be as good as the boys; en par with my brothers; and an equal breadwinner with my husband.”

Sara realized that though these were amiable traits, she was becoming more of an identical being of the household rather than a complementary one to her husband. At some point she was taking over a lot of responsibility that her husband would have liked to shoulder.

“He asked me: ‘if I wore a skirt and lip gloss, would that be okay with you?’ I did not need much convincing after that.”

If your husband feels that he is losing grip of his position as the head of the family, think about it – have you been trying to replicate his role, instead of assuming your important one as the consultant, advisor and nurturer of the family? Generally speaking, women have a lot to shoulder, without prying for the role of the alpha-male!

“So when I started to cut back on my work hours, I began to realize how fun it was to enjoy my children. I could also start grooming myself for the home… and the best thing is: I found nothing demeaning about it. I even wore a skirt once, and it really won me points. I guess he really wanted to be the person to wear the trousers around the house, and I had to respect that. I did, and I love being his consultant and advisor.”

Being feminine is not secondary to being a man – after all, beauty and elegance are what differentiate women from men.

“I am the only woman he is allowed to look at – I might as well make it a rewarding experience for him,” said Sara!

He Never Wants to Feel Abandoned

So, first he needs you to be feminine and beautiful, but he also needs the assurance that you will support him during the times he needs you most. Yes, men can be delightfully complex.

“While I was going through post-partum stress, my husband was shortchanged for a promotion – one he had been eyeing for three years,” recalled Nadia.

“I was so self-absorbed in trying to bond with my fifth baby, and getting over the birth stress. I never realized that he was going through a rough patch too.”

“While talking about his insecurities,” she said, “I realized how strong a woman I was, and how much he needed me. That experience helped me overcome my low self-esteem and post-partum depression and reconnect with the father of my five beautiful children.”

It takes a really big man to ask from help from the women he cares about the most; and who better to support him than his life partner, the person who he wishes to protect, and the woman who shares his home and children with.

He Needs to Know He is Appreciated

“Waheed was psyched up when he found out we were expecting. He bent over backwards with overtime, started piling on gifts for the baby, and bought me plenty of books on childcare.”

“Of course, I did not notice. I was too busy being pregnant myself.”

Happy Muslim familyMaryam said she felt the world revolved around her to the extent that she could not be bothered with anyone else’s feelings.

“Hormones… blame it on the hormones!” she giggles, but when Waheed began to become distant in the second trimester, she felt suddenly alone and neglected.

“He said he was not sure if he would still exist after the baby came. I thought he was crazy, but after a while I knew he was right. I had never said ‘thank you’ to him for anything he had done. I just assumed he had to buy me all those gifts and buy the baby all the gear.”

“Tell him that you appreciate him,” advised Maryam. “Al-hamdu lillahI realize now. Who knows how bad the situation would have become if I had only realized after the baby came. We would have another roomie, who would only express dissatisfaction through screams!”

Finding Answers to His Answers

“It can be an eye-opener when a husband spills his insecurities to his wife,” said Sara. “It was for me!”

It can be harrowing pick up the pieces, but working on them can ultimately save your marriage. Of course if he says, “the house is never clean,” try not to scream at him. It definitely is not dissatisfaction in you, but maybe he just needs a few pointers on how the conversation is supposed to shape up. But set it aside as an afterthought, and work on ways to perhaps make the house a little more presentable if it really is in shambles.

If it is possible, check back with him in a few weeks, and ask him how he feels about your efforts.

“Try to point out a few examples of your efforts to give both of you a better picture,” said Maryam.

“We spent an evening going over a list of baby names. It was hilarious and at the same time very settling. Waheed finally said he felt like he was pregnant too. It’s a shame I can’t load off my water retention on him though.”

Of course satisfaction and dissatisfaction work both ways – and the good news is, so does communication. If there is something bothering you in your relationship, you also have the right to speak to him from the heart. Tell him about things that are making you unhappy in your relationship – and do this sincerely, rather than out of spite. Just because he points out a few things that makes him unhappy, it does not give you the license the gun him down with your own list of faults.

“Just because he is upset about a few things in your marriage,” says Nadia, “It does not mean that he does not love you. By the very fact that he wants to talk about them (even with a bit of probing) shows he genuinely wants to work his way out of the rut – and he really does care.”

And by the fact that you took the time to listen and work on his insecurities – it shows that you love him too. It just takes that one question to help you save your marriage – and it is that one question that will help both of you to achieve happiness, and rekindle the loving relationship both of you are vying for.

——————————-

Written for IslamOnline.net

Maria Zain is a freelance editor and writer living in Malaysia. While her evenings and nights are spent supporting different Muslim communities through her work, she shares her life with her husband and three busy little children below the age of five, whom she homeschools during the day.

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Spreading Bedroom Secrets

Cozy bed with pillowsReprinted from IslamOnline.net, Ask the Scholar

Date: 04/July/2002

Name of Mufti: A group of Islamic researchers

Topic: Divulging Bedroom Secrets

Name of Questioner: Muslim brother

Question: As-Salamu `Alaykum. Could you please enlighten me about the Islamic ruling concerning divulging one’s bedroom secrets in public? Some people find no shame in discussing such secrets in public. Is such a thing permissible in Islam? Please cite an evidence in support of your view. Jazakum Allahu 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.

Dear brother in Islam, thank you very much for having confidence in us, and we hope our efforts, which are purely for Allah’s Sake, meet your expectations.

In Islam, intimacy between the husband and his wife should always be viewed as something private that must not be subject to intrusion. Right to marital privacy is one of the rights Islam made inalienable to both man and woman. The Glorious Qur’an has alluded to this by stating that, “…They are raiment for you and ye are raiment for them…” (Al-Baqarah: 187)

Raiment or garment symbolizes physical protection. Likewise, a spouse is viewed this way, in the sense that each one of them owes the other the duty of protecting his secrets, in order to have a serene and comfortable marital life.

In his well known book‘The Lawful and the Prohibited in Islam’, the well known erudite scholar Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, states the following:

“The Glorious Qur’an praises virtuous wives saying: “…Who are obedient, guarding in secret what Allah has guarded….” (An-Nisaa’: 34)

Among the secrets, which must be guarded, is the intimate relationship with the spouse. Discussing the secrets of such relationship in public or speaking about it to friends is not permitted. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) is reported to have said: “Among those who will occupy the worst position in the Sight of Allah on the Day of Resurrection is the man who has intercourse with his wife and then spreads her secret.” (Reported by Ahmad, Abu Dawud, and Al-Bazzar)

Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) is quoted to have said: Allah’s Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) led us in prayer, and when he had finished he turned toward us and said: “Remain seated. Is there among you one who comes to his wife, closes the door, and draws the curtain, and then goes out and speaks about it, saying, “I did this and I did that with my wife?” The men remained silent. Then he turned toward the women and asked,“Is there among you one who tells about such things?” A girl raised herself on her knees so that the Messenger of Allah could see her and listen to what she said. She said, “Yes, by Allah, the men talk about it and the women do, too.” Then the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Do you know the similitude of those who do that? They are like a male and female devils who meet each other in the road and satisfy their desire with the people gazing at them.”

This emphatic way of expressing the matter should be sufficient to turn the Muslim away from such ill-considered and degraded behavior, which would make him or her resemble a devil!”

Moreover, we would like to cite for you the following:

The only exception to this rule would be when there is a necessary reason to reveal such details, for example to a medical professional. Some examples might be if the husband is having problems with impotence, or the wife finds intercourse painful, or the couple has difficulty conceiving, or they need advice on birth control, etc. In such cases the doctor may need to ask some questions about the couple’s sexual practices.

If you have any further comments, please don’t hesitate to write back!

May Allah guide you to the straight path, and guide you to that which pleases Him, Ameen.

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Husbands: Your Wife is not a Fly in Your Ear

Stop, look and listen

Stop and listen

This is a short but to-the-point article that was posted on MuslimMatters.org about listening to your wife and giving her the attention that she deserves as your life partner.

Brother Abdul-Qadir Kazeem used some clever humor to make his point.

So brothers, don’t be offended! Even if you are already very considerate and “enlightened”, it never hurts to be reminded.

Next we’ll have to get a reminder “for sisters only”, Insha’Allah.

Here you go:

For Brothers Only….Seriously: Stop, Look, and Listen

By Abdul-Qadir Kazeem

You are having a wonderful day. The sun is out, there is a nice breeze, and you are reading your favorite book on the porch. Nothing could possible ruin this moment.

BUUZZZZZ!!!!!

Right in your ear. A fly. Now you have to waste 5 minutes in battle with it as it tries to land in your ear over and over. You know what is interesting about this situation? The fly could have been sitting next to you for several hours, and you did not notice it until it came and buzzed in your ear. Now is when the presence of the fly matters.

You know what else is interesting about this situation? This is how many brothers treat their wives. They only notice them when they are trying to ‘bother’ them. This could possibly bring up feelings of resentment in your wife, the fact that the only time you seem to be interested in her is when you need something from her, or when she bugs you. This is actually one of the three A’s that women need: attention. Women need attention to feel that they matter to you. As a matter of fact, everyone needs this, to feel that they matter to someone. It was said that one of the greatest gifts you can give a loved one is effective listening. One of the things that lets someone know you are listening attentively is when you actually stop, look, and listen:

STOP:

Stop whatever you are doing. Block out everything else. What the speaker has to say is all that matters at the moment.

LOOK:

Make eye contact with the person to let them know you are paying attention.

LISTEN:

Let them know you are listening by head nods, verbal queues (yeah, uh huh), etc.

This is especially true when you are in an argument with your wife. If you both insist on talking and not listening, this is a collective monologue. You are either speaking or preparing to speak, which will get you nowhere. Make it a point to sincerely listen your wife’s point of view, and repeat back some of what was said to show that you understand. This will save you time and prevent putting more strain on the relationship (She never listens to me!!! She never tries to see things my way!!!). Even if you do not get your way when there is a clash, you are more likely to be content with the result if you felt the other person listened and understood your point of view.

So, my dear brothers, the next time you come home from work (I know I know, you had a hard day and you are tired), and your wife comes up to you with a big smile and starts to tell you about her wonderful day, what should you do? Stop. Look. Listen.

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Replace Anger with Forgiveness

Painting of desert sun raysThis article is reprinted from IslamicSunrays.com:

Let go of anger and replace it with forgiveness

By Wael Abdelgawad

A man said to the Messenger of Allah, (sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam – peace be upon him): “Advise me! “The Prophet said, “Do not become angry and furious.” The man asked (the same) again and again, and the Prophet said in each case, “Do not become angry and furious.” [Al-Bukhari; Vol. 8 No. 137]

Resolve to give up anger, even if only for today. Whatever anger you are harboring against others, let it go. Whatever anger you have against yourself for mistakes you have made, or wrongs you have done, let it go my brothers and sisters. It’s not helping you, it is only damaging your own spirit.

Remember that we are human; we are all imperfect. From the very beginning, starting with Adam and Hawaa (Adam and Eve) we human beings made mistakes.

Other people have made mistakes and harmed you in the past because they are human; forgive them. You have made mistakes because you are human; forgive yourself, and turn to Allah in tawbah (repentance).

The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) has taught us some strategies for dealing with anger. For example, he said:

“I know a word, the saying of which will cause him to relax, if he does say it. If he says: ‘I seek Refuge with Allah from Satan’ then all his anger will go away.” [Al-Bukhari; Vol. 4, No. 502]

And he said,

“Anger comes from the devil, the devil was created of fire, and fire is extinguished only with water; so when one of you becomes angry, he should perform ablution.” [Abu Daud; Book 41, No. 4766]

Abu Dharr narrated: The Apostle of Allah, sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam, said to us: “When one of you becomes angry while standing, he should sit down. If the anger leaves him, well and good; otherwise he should lie down.” [Abu Daud; Book 41, No. 4764]

In another hadith, the Prophet, sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam, said:

“If one of you becomes angry then he should be silent.”

Narrated ‘Abdur Rahman bin Abi Bakra: Abu Bakr wrote to his son who was in Sijistan: Do not judge between two persons when you are angry, for I heard the Prophet, sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam, saying: “A judge should not judge between two persons while he is in an angry mood.” [Al-Bukhari; Vol. 9, No. 272]

So the Messenger of Allah sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam, has give us several strategies to deal with anger:

  1. Seek refuge with Allah from Shaytan. This reminds us that fury and rage are not good things; they are evil forces that we need to get rid of before they take us over. Seeking refuge with Allah reminds us that Allah is near, watching us; also it reminds us to turn the matter over to Allah, so that we can let go of our anger.
  2. Perform wudu’. SubhanAllah, what a beautiful thing. The wudu’ is a source of blessings and barakah for us. It also has a powerful symbolic value, washing away our anger and making us peaceful and pure.
  3. Sit down, or even lie down. Modern science has learned that the body influences the emotions as well as the other way around. So assuming a peaceful posture leads to peaceful emotions. Sitting down or lying down are non-threatening positions. This helps to diffuse any conflict before it escalates.
  4. Stay silent. This is very important. All too often spouses or family members say things to each other in anger, and later they deeply regret it. However, the words have been uttered and the damage is done. When you are most angry is the time to remain silent. Seek refuge with Allah, make wudu, pray, go for a walk, go to the masjid… allow yourself time to calm down and reflect.
  5. Do not judge between people (in other words make important decisions). Obviously making important decisions out of anger is a formula for disaster.

So these are all wonderful points for dealing with anger in the moment. However, I am also speaking about past anger. We all have old emotional wounds that we carry around like scars. We have old resentments and hurts.

If you hold on to these hurts, they will destroy your marriage, or at least make it an unhappy, chafing relationship. Holding on to resentments and grudges will destroy your friendships, leaving you isolated. These persistent negative emotions will eat into your own soul, leaving you bitter and unhappy.

Let them go. Modern medicine tells us that carrying around these old resentments and anger is bad for the health; it actually damages the heart, increases blood pressure, and reduces lifespan. More importantly, however, it hurts our spirits. It makes us brittle and cynical. We become impatient, closed off and quick to judge.

Hurt, anger and resentment tighten your chest and narrow your vision. They make your world smaller.

Forgiveness, on the other hand, opens your lungs and lets you breathe. It releases your heart to beat freely, it removes the shackles from your mind, and lets all the weight drop off your back.

I know that this is easy to say and hard to do, but we must begin to forgive.

Start with forgiving yourself. Ask Allah for forgiveness for anything you’ve done that you regret, and then forgive yourself. Let it go. Breathe in deeply, breathe out, and let that anger escape with your breath. Do this as often as you need.

Brothers and sisters, be gentle with yourselves and with others. The world is already so full of anger, hatred, racism, divisions, and suffering. The world is torn by war and conflict. Let’s change this by starting with ourselves. Go into the world today and be gentle. Be kind.

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Marriage: Quest for Perfection or Search for Happiness?

A happy Muslim couple at Muslim Day in Atlanta

A happy Muslim couple at Muslim Day in Atlanta

Marriage is ultimately a quest for peace and tranquility

By Imam Hamid Slimi

Finding someone for marriage is one of the most discussed topics among single people and specifically among our Muslim youth today since relationships between males and females in Islam are not considered right except through the ties of Nikah.

For those who have chosen to abide with the laws and principles of Islam and hold on to chastity and patience, marriage discussions are so fascinating, promising and one of the best outlets of relief. Young people who are struggling, dreaming or even fantasizing about a potential spouse (one they have in mind or hope to find) often do so because the romantic possibilities seem endless; they hope with abandon and trust in God to help them find that person.

“Falling in love”

Our eyes and minds are constantly bombarded with images and thoughts which bring new considerations and efface old ones. Today’s culture and environment have opened so many ways of communication between people that they have taken away the simplicity of life and the contentment which used to help us focus, set life priorities and most importantly understand that no one is perfect and therefore reasonable adjustments always need to be made. The more sophisticated we become the more we demand and expect from the others.

The universal expression of art, literature, movies and music has been very successful in convincing us that “happiness in marriage must start with a love story.” Thus, falling in love has become the “standard” for starting a married life. Consequently, the focus of many becomes the search for love, or the cliche – coup de foudre – when people, who by nature never like to fall, make the sole exception to willingly fall in the ocean of love.

Many want to experience what poets have been ruminating about, what stories and novels have been relating to us, what artists have been illustrating and playing to the world. “Falling in love” in the romantic language means experiencing perfection by tasting the ultimate sweetness that this earthly world can offer and achieving a sort of transcendence towards the ultimate uplifting physical and spiritual experience.

A quest for a perfect partner?

The question which comes to mind is: are those looking to get married on a quest for the perfect partner or on a search for a compatible partnership leading to happiness? We certainly cannot expect what we cannot give and since no one is perfect then why would someone expect perfection to be realized through a partnership made of imperfect beings?

Thinking that the other will be perfect and hence will make me happy and content is an illusion. In reality no one can make you happy and content except yourself and when you accept the fact that you cannot expect others to be perfect because you are not perfect either. In fact this quest for romantic perfection is entirely self-defeating. God Almighty says, “Lo! Allah does not change the condition of a folk until they (first) change by themselves that which is in their hearts;” (Chap. 13 V.11). Only once we let go of this romantic notion which is really a figment of our collective imaginations can we begin our quest towards happiness.

What is happiness?

The million dollar question: what is happiness? Happiness means amongst other things contentment, satisfaction, fulfilment, accomplishment and achievement which are almost linear in fashion. Therefore, if I achieve my goals then I should be happy. The Holy Qur’an states the goals of marriage in the following verse, “And among His signs is this: He created for you mates from yourselves that you might find rest and peace in them, and He ordained between you love and mercy. Lo! Herein indeed are portents for folk who reflect.” (Chap. 30 V. 31)

The goals here are rest, tranquility, peace of the mind and peace of the soul. This is why the sense of peace and harmony is a signal that creates that first acceptance of the other; the exchange of inexpressible signals that follow then grown from acceptance to become Mawaddah or spiritual love. Mawaddah has to be cultivated over time like a fruit-bearing tree; spiritual attachment is cemented by the spiritual enrichment and appreciation, which is unlike the physical desire driven by one’s biology that eventually decreases over time.

Components of a compatible personality

Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) taught a message of equality, uniformity and human brotherhood & sisterhood.

Having said all of this, Islam does recognize the fact that there should be a reasonable level of compatibility between a man and a woman over different aspects of life, mainly personality and faith. The components of a compatible personality used to be and to some degree still are one’s education, manners, perceptions, social upbringing and physical appearance to a certain extent.

As for ethnicity, race, culture, and lineage – these have nothing to do with compatibility since they tend to counter the message of equality, uniformity and human brotherhood stressed by the Qur’an and the Prophet (PBUH) – in fact these elements have always been the causes of division, conflict and even war.

High expectations and low preparation – a formula for divorce

However, even this notion of marriage compatibility has evolved in our days beyond character, reasonable education, etiquette, abilities and reasonable material establishment. Due to today’s economic pressures, compatibility for a large number of those on marriage quest means the full package that is a ‘romantic experience with a wealthy partner’ -or at least a person with ‘stable’ income – and all the better if he or she looks like a prince or princess.

This has led to the unfortunate raising of standards to the degree which is far beyond acceptance and reasonable chemistry, hard work, a sense of responsibility and physical compatibility. The search for mutual compatibility – something that was relatively easy to find – has been replaced by high expectations and low preparation for marriage which according to recent statistics is one of the main causes of divorce today. The high divorce rate in both Muslim and non-Muslim communities have surpassed any historical records.

According to the Prophet (PBUH) marriage is something simple: “If someone with good character comes to you to propose for marriage and you feel pleased and satisfied with his religious beliefs and practices as well as his character (manners and personality), then you should marry him, otherwise there will be fitnah (tribulation and great evil) and big corruption on earth.” (Reported by Imam Tirmidhi and others) He also said, “Women are asked for marriage for four things: wealth, family status, beauty and the practice of faith. So you should marry the one with faith, otherwise you will lose more than you gain.” (Reported by Imam Bukhari and others).

Are we really following his advice or have we gone off the wrong track?

There are several considerations one must make when looking for a future spouse.

  • Look for a person from whom you get a feeling of peace, tranquility and a sense of security. This is what matters the most and the rest is icing on the cake.
  • For every man there is a right woman and for every woman there is a right man. You only need to look in the right place, the right way at the right time.
  • Seek the help of God by praying for your marriage. Even Prophet Musa (Moses) prayed for personal peace and security and God immediately answered him when he said, “My Lord! I am needy of whatever good You send down for me.” (Chap 28 V.24)
  • Seek help from those with experience and exposure. People will help you! Put your trust in Allah and in a few trusted people who care about you and would love to see you happy.
  • Attend various Islamic gatherings at Islamic centers or in mosques and engage in appropriate (professional) conversation with the members of the opposite sex without being isolated with them.
  • You can also correspond with potential mates through third-party Muslim marriage websites or advertising. Our methods of communication have changed and there is nothing wrong with that as long as the principle of professional conduct is maintained.
  • In the time of the Prophet (PBUH) the Sahabah (his companions) used to meet people sometimes in his presence and sometimes in other circumstances. For instance, on a number of occasions women used to come presenting themselves as candidates for marriage and accordingly, some men would accept their proposal of marriage. The Sahabah were very simple and undemanding about choosing their partners so long as they fulfilled basic religious and character requirements.

Too many conditions

Is your marriage checklist too long?

In our society, generally speaking, we tend to put far too many conditions and requirements that are not essentials from an Islamic perspective in a marriage.

Islamically, the basic things we should consider are religion and character. All other requirements can be compromised on.

Young people have to stop chasing the notion of the perfect one and start looking for the peaceful one. Islam is based on peace and Allah Almighty constantly calls us to the house of peace. Marriage is about finding peace within oneself and with one’s spouse.

Ultimately, there is no one to blame for not finding a partner but oneself because as the Prophet (PBUH) said “Allah has taken it as a duty upon Himself to help the one who seeks Nikah.”

Originally published Tuesday, 06 May 2008

(FLN Magazine – Vol. 1 / Issue 1)

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Marriage (Nikah) in Islam

Man and woman in love

By Irshaad Hussain, Islam from Inside

When my younger sister got married I struggled to write a brief explanation about marriage in Islam, portraying it not simply from the legal (fiqh) standpoint, but from the profound view of marriage presented in the Qur’an and expressed practically in the lives of some of the best exemplars of the religion. This brief explanation was placed on a now long defunct website of mine (called “Tawil”) and subsequently reworked into a short speech read (years later) at my niece’s (my older sister’s daughter’s) wedding reception. The original text of that speech is lost (thanks to me losing my roughly scrawled notes), but what follows is a fairly close reconstruction (I think) of the original.

Marriage (Nikah) in Islam

So… marriage….What is it? What does the Qur’an say about it?

The Prophet (s.a.) was once asked, “What is more important than prayer?” He replied, “The spirit of prayer” – the spirit that animates the prayer. He was asked what is more important than fasting – he replied, the spirit of fasting. For each question concerning an Islamic practise the answer was the same – because the spirit brings the action to life and unfolds its potentials. Without this animating spirit, the prayer is only movement, and the fasting only hunger. But when spirit enters, when a pure and concentrated intention enters, the action is transformed – the prayer gains the potential to become a miraj (an elevating spiritual journey), and the one fasting approaches towards the potential to witness laylatul qadr (the night of destiny – a night when blessings from the spiritual world descend to this world).

So what is more important than marriage? It is the spirit of marriage, the intention which underlies it, the treasures which it contains hidden within it but which must be brought out and realized by the married couple themselves.

The qur’an provides the signposts and waymarks for learning about this potential. It says:

“It is He who created you from a single soul, And made its mate of like nature in order that you might dwell with her in love….” (7:189). So the male and female complete each other – together they make a single self and this is how they must strive to make their lives together – as if they are one being, one person, one spirit.

The Qur’an says: “Your wives are a garment for you, and you are a garment for them.” (2:187). So a husband and wife complete each other – each one takes on a new aspect of their humanity, a new facet and depth to their personality by entering into marriage and this is symbolized in this verse. Garments also conceal the body and protect the wearer so that a husband and wife are each other’s protectors and helpers and each of them safeguards their partner’s honor shaping the state of marriage into a haven and a sanctuary where each should feel safe and secure, sheltered in one another’s care and guardianship.

The qur’an also says “And of everything we created a pair, that happily you may remember.” (Qur’an 51:49) The word for spouse, “zawj”, (this is the word that is used in the marriage ceremony, the Nikah ceremony) – the word zawj literally means one part of a pair – and when the pair come together and act in concert with one another, then concealed potentials within them, potentials that were impossible to realize while they were apart make themselves evident. This is true throughout creation. And human marriage in the Qur’an is considered a reflection of a nature and tendency that exists at all levels of creation. When something is created as one part of a pair it is clearly incomplete without the other – as the Qur’an states, “He himself created the pair, male and female.” (Qur’an 53:45)

The term nikkah which is used for marriage is also used figuratively to describe the coming together of various aspects of creation. For example it says, in the Qur’an, that “the rain married the soil” and then it describes how, from this intimate mingling, something new springs forth – that the earth brings forth flowers and herbage, it opens to new creations, new life, new potentials. So the act of marriage, the mingling through nikah, according to Islam, courses through all things, through all of creation. Each pair of the marriage brings something necessary and something unique to the marriage. The pairs are not identical but complimentary to one another and their unique qualities when they are mingled together produce that which neither one alone could produce.

So each individual of the pair undergoes change and transformation when they come together in marriage because marriage is an intimate mingling of the selves, the souls, the personalities and the beings of two individuals.

In human marriage the change takes place at many levels – from a change in lifestyle, to changes in behavior, to changes in the very soul of the person. And there must be that willingness, on the part of both individuals, to allow this unifying transformation to take place. To accept the self the way it is, is to lock oneself into stagnation and narrowness and to remain an individual – not part of an intimately joined pair. It is to limit and lock up the potential, the beauty and strength that is capable of emerging from the intimate unity made possible through marriage.

Since “God created everything in pairs”, as it states in the Qur’an, and since He “created the male and the female from a single nature, from a single self”, it is God that is the point of reference for the married pair. “He has set up the balance…” of all things, so He is to be looked for to set all things in the right equilibrium. If the two partners of a marriage set themselves in correct relation to God then certainly a perfect balance will be realized within their lives together.

Love is a movement towards unity, towards oneness, and since God is One, “the closer the heart is to Oneness, the stronger the power of love is within it.”

Love is a movement towards unity, towards oneness. “God made their hearts familiar” (8:63) through the light of Oneness that yields spiritual love and familiarity in the heart. For love is the shadow of Oneness, familiarity the shadow of love, and balance the shadow of familiarity.”

Let this married couple be helpers and protectors of one another, let them be a refuge and a comfort to one another, let them be beautiful garments for one another, and let them together experience the many treasures and beauties of marriage.

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