Marriage Articles rss

India Bans “Triple Talaq”

Indian Muslim wedding

Indian Muslim wedding

Reprinted from BBC News Online
2 December 2017

Triple talaq: India considers jail for ‘instant divorce’

Husbands who attempt “instant divorce” could be sentenced to three years in prison under draft legislation being considered in India.

The traditional practice involves a Muslim man saying “talaq” (divorce) three times – in any form, including email or text message.

It was declared unconstitutional by India’s Supreme Court in August, but officials say it has continued since.

The proposed law also provides for fines and support for affected women.

The draft Muslim Women Protection of Rights on Marriage Bill has now been sent to regional governments for consultation.

It would explicitly ban “triple talaq”, in line with the Supreme Court ruling, and lay out procedures legal procedures for a “subsistence allowance” and custody arrangements, the Press Trust of India said.

Those provisions have been made “to ensure that in case the husband asks the wife to leave the house she should have legal protection,” it quoted a high-level official as saying.

India Muslims get married beside a river

An Indian Muslim couple perform nikah beside a river

Under the current draft, people suspected of the offence would not be eligible for bail.

It would also ban the practice in any form – including in writing, or by text message.

Indian news outlets said the legislation is due to be considered during the winter parliamentary sessions, which begins in mid-December.

Muslims are India’s largest minority group, and it is one of a few countries where the practice of triple talaq – which has no basis in the Koran – has survived.

The Supreme Court ruling came after five women petitions the court, arguing the traditional practice violated their fundamental rights.

The court ruled 3-2 in their favour, and labelled it “un-Islamic”.

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Four Keys to a Successful Marriage, Part 1: Respect

Respect word collage

RESPECT

By Wael Abdelgawad | Zawaj.com

I was once engaged to a woman with whom I was madly in love. I thought she was the most beautiful woman in the world. Her voice was like honey to me, and just her name was a magical incantation.

The thought that she could love me in return – and she said she did – had me walking on the clouds. The first few months were among the happiest of my life.

But then things turned sour. She became short-tempered with me, sometimes sarcastic, and often critical. She still claimed to love me, but the bad times outnumbered the good. My daughter was three years old at the time, and at times the woman was annoyed with my child and even angry. That was the last straw for me. I still loved this woman madly, but I ended the relationship for the sake of my own self-respect, and for my daughter.

My point? “True love,” is NOT the foundation of a healthy relationship. That heady, intoxicating sense of romantic love is amazing and can fill you with happiness, but it’s not sustainable, and even if it can be maintained it’s not enough.

So what does a successful marriage require? Four things:

respect, kindness, honesty and communication

1. Respect

Without mutual respect, all is lost. A marriage cannot survive if one or both of the partners curse each other or abuse each other in any way. Ways in which you can treat your husband or wife with respect include:

  • Greet them kindly, show interest in their well being, ask about their day.
  • Never compare them to anyone else.
  • Notice the good things they do for you, and thank them for their contribution.
  • Always be faithful. This doesn’t only mean not cheating on them, it means to be on their side, to support them through hard times, and to stick with them through thick and thin.
  • Similarly, never demean or criticize your spouse in front of others. Do not gossip about them, mock them or put them down in public, ever.
  • Keep your promises.
  • Consider your spouse’s happiness to be equal to your own (not more important than your own, but equal). Strive to make them happy.
  • Always consult with your spouse before making important life decision that may affect both of you.
  • Listen to your spouse’s opinions. You may not always agree and you don’t have to, but be courteous and listen with an open heart. Genuinely try to understand what your spouse is feeling.
  • When it comes to romance, attend to your spouse’s needs as well as your own. If your spouse is not in the mood at that moment, respect that and do not push. On the other hand, try to be attentive to your spouse’s romantic signals. If you can meet their need without discomfort, do so.

A last word about respect: of course both partners should respect each other, but it is especially important for a wife to treat her husband with respect. I say this because women and men are different. Most women want to be loved, protected, cherished, and included in the man’s inner life. Men, on the other hand, need to be respected. A woman might love a man passionately, but if she doesn’t treat him with respect he will not be happy and the relationship will not last.

Next: Four Keys to a Successful Marriage, Part 2: Kindness

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Lavish divorce parties and gifts ring alarm bells

Divorce party cake

Divorce parties are often completed with a funny-themed cake to initiate a new beginning. (Courtesy: Social media)

By NADIA AL-FAWAZ
ArabNews.com

“I’m honored to invite you to my divorce party.” This is the type of invitation now being sent out by increasing numbers of women wanting to celebrate the end of their marriages.

Just like weddings or graduation parties, these events are being held at the fanciest halls, with large amounts of money spent on hosting friends and family. The guests are also obliged to turn up with expensive gifts for the happy woman.

This is a new phenomenon in Saudi society, says Tariq Habib, a professor and psychiatrist, and assistant secretary general of the Union of Arab Psychiatrists.

Divorce clearly results in feelings of sadness and happiness, he said.
Habib, however, said that parents should take their children’s feelings into consideration.

“If these parties negatively influence the children socially and psychologically, then they should be canceled,” he said. “But if the couple don’t have any children then no one can prevent the woman from expressing her joy or having a celebration.”

He said women may want to celebrate because they have left a failed marriage or show their ex-husbands that they do not care about them.

Divorce party slogansSuhaila Zain Al-Abideen, a member of the National Society for Human Rights, said celebrations have been triggered by the difficulty women face in getting divorced.

“Women living under injustice, humiliation and misery are the ones who will celebrate. It is not unreasonable that an absolutely happy person celebrates her divorce under these circumstances,” Al-Abideen said.

Al-Abideen does not believe that children would be affected if their mothers are happy.

“Although separations affect children, they would be happy to see their mothers happy, especially if their fathers had abused their mothers,” she said.

Mohammad Al-Saidi, professor of Islamic law at Umm Al-Qura University, said God hates divorce, as confirmed in Hadith, and that people should not celebrate a social tragedy even if they are happy about it.

Al-Saidi urged the media to raise concerns about these parties, and to encourage people not to attend them. “This will cause future tragedies,” he said.

Sahar Rajjab, a certified physiologist and family counselor at the Arab Council, said Saudi nationals should not imitate the West by having these parties, even if they are extremely angry.

“The divorce parties are increasing in an alarming rate,” she said.

“How can guests celebrate women divorcing when they had previously congratulated them on their wedding days?”

Rajab said there is an industry growing around divorce parties, with cake and sweet shops starting to make products for these occasions. This is an unwelcome development, she said.

Social specialist Haifa Safouk said that some women celebrate simply to seek attention.

“There are many reasons for this behavior, but mostly it is because such women are ignorant and not intellectually mature.”

She said some women celebrate because society does not show them any compassion, so it is a way of releasing their frustration and negative feelings.

In addition, the guests invited to these events turn up because they want to support these divorcees. This is not the proper way to show support, she said.

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I’ll Marry Your Sister and You Marry Mine – Swap Marriages in Yemen

Yemeni man and wife with baby

Yemeni man and wife with baby

In the Arab world, when a man gets married he makes a payment to his bride’s family. However in parts of Yemen when a brother and sister from one family marry a brother and sister from another, dowries are often not paid – but this can have tragic consequences.

 

By Mai Noman
BBC Arabic Service

A young man approaches a friend to ask for his sister’s hand in marriage – in exchange for his own sister’s hand. This is “swap” marriage or “shegar” as it is known in Arabic, an ancient marriage custom still practised in Yemen.

The way it works is: “I’ll marry your sister, if you marry mine.”

But the other side of the bargain is: “If you divorce my sister, I’ll divorce yours.”

Swap marriage came about as a way to help poorer families avoid paying dowries, and that is still a big attraction to some families in Yemen today. A dowry can come to about $3,500 – even though most people earn less than $2 a day.

Yemeni village elder in traditional Arab clothing

Yemeni village elder in traditional Arab clothing.

When there is no money to pay for the dowry and other wedding expenses, that’s when “people marry shegar” says Mohamed Hamoud, a village elder in Sawan, not far from the capital Sanaa.

But the survival of swap marriage also owes something to the fact that Yemen is a deeply proud and conservative country whose strict adherence to ancient traditions and values have kept the fabric of society unchanged.

“Our traditions are too important to us,” Hamoud says.

He acknowledges, though, that the practice is in decline, for one simple reason: “It causes too much misery.”

That’s because couples forced first to love can sometimes then be forced to divorce.

Nadia, a young woman in her late 20s, married a man whose sister married her brother. It was a happy marriage and she had three children – before her brother’s marriage broke down, and she and her husband were torn apart.

“Swap marriage is the worst kind of marriage, it’s better to spend all your life alone than to marry this way,” she cries.

Her children were taken away from her, including her youngest, who was then seven months old.

“I begged them to return my daughter to me, I told them, ‘It’s not right, she needs me to breastfeed her.’ I asked them, ‘What have I done wrong?'”

She had done nothing wrong. For her in-laws it was simply a tit-for-tat response. What happened to their daughter had to happen to her.

Yemeni child plays in Sawan, in front of traditional Yemeni homes

Yemeni child plays in Sawan, in front of traditional Yemeni homes.

Nadia considered resorting to the law to get her children back, as the law does side with mothers in these cases, but she decided against it. In practice, tribal and social customs tend to overrule the law of the state.

She did not see her daughter again for three years. “When I saw her for the first time after all those years I thought to myself, ‘She won’t recognise me.’ I imagined her saying: ‘You are not my mother how could you be my mother when I haven’t seen you since I was a few months old?'” she says.

Many religious scholars oppose swap marriage and have declared it un-Islamic on the grounds that the dowry is an essential part of the Muslim marriage contract.

“The dowry payment is meant to provide women with some financial security as they leave their home,” Yemeni sheikh Mohamed Mamoun explains.

But in some cases swap marriages occur even when families do pay a dowry. In fact, whenever two families exchange daughters, the couples’ fates will most likely be sealed together.

Brother and sister Waleed and Nora married their cousins in shegar, but both families paid dowry and agreed not to make the two marriages dependent on each other.

The swap in this instance was meant to ease the mounting pressure on parents to find suitors for their daughters. In a country where more than a quarter of females are married off before the age of 15, a girl’s family starts to worry if their daughter is not asked for by her mid-teens. It was also a case of following the examples set by previous generations, as Waleed and Nora’s parents had happily married their own cousins in shegar.

Neither sibling wanted this marriage and yet they did little to try and stop it.

“We’re not the type of children who could say ‘No’ to their father,” says Waleed.

They decided to surrender to what they saw as their destiny and give the marriages a chance. But it wasn’t long before Waleed’s relationship started to face problems.

After nine months, and against his family’s wishes, he decided to divorce his wife.

Yemeni woman walks in front of a wooden door

Yemeni woman walks in front of a wooden door

Waleed’s in-laws, overcome with grief and anger, then decided to return his sister to her parents in retribution, ignoring the original agreement that the marriages would not depend on one another. And also ignoring the fact that Nora had turned out to be happy with her husband.

“Of course I felt guilty about my sister, she had to live away from her husband,” Waleed says. But he insists he couldn’t bear his unhappy marriage any more.

The dilemma of whether to choose your own happiness over your sibling’s is just one of many complications couples face when entering this kind of marriage.

Fortunately, through the intervention of family and friends, Nora was reunited with her husband, but not all those who “swap marry” are as lucky.

Nadia is a case in point, and her pain and heartache will be familiar to many Yemeni men and women.

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Top 10 Ways to Meet a Muslim for Marriage, Part 1 – Family Friends

Happy couple silhouetted against the sunsetBy Wael Abdelgawad | Zawaj.com

A single Muslim looking for a good partner for marriage is on a rough road full of obstacles. If you’re looking for someone pious, the problem is that religious Muslims generally do not mix with the other gender, so where is the opportunity to meet someone?

First of all, let’s stop marrying our cousins. Yes, it is allowed in Islam and I can see how in exceptional circumstances it might be necessary. For example if one comes from a very small village with few choices.

First cousin marriages, however, have a statistically higher chance of resulting in children with serious birth defects. Beyond that, I’ve noticed that cultures that consistently interbreed tend to be narrow minded and tribal. They are closed off to new ways of thinking and doing things, closed off to different cultures, and suspicious of outsiders in general, even when those “outsiders” are Muslims.

We need to open our eyes and look beyond our own families for marriage partners. We must build bonds among the Ummah, bring in fresh blood and share our unique cultural traditions.

Secondly, in Islam we do not date, by which I mean we do not engage in the practice of spending personal time with a variety of people of the opposite gender until we find someone compatible. This practice inevitably leads to zinaa (fornication), which of course is prohibited in Islam. It also sets women up to be taken advantage of by men, because often the women are looking for a serious relationship that leads to marriage, whereas the men are looking for sexual pleasure and are willing to play along and say whatever is necessary to get it. At that point the man abandons the woman and leaves her broken and confused.

No, Western style dating is definitely not the way.

So how then does one meet a good person outside the small circle of family and relatives?

1. Family friends

This first point may not work for the kinds of closed-in families that tend to marry cousins, because their circle of friends can be very limited. However, for anyone else this can be a major network. For many of us, we grew up knowing the children of our parents’ friends. We played with them, and saw them at dinners, weddings and other events.

If there’s someone you’re interested in within this circle, just ask your parents to speak to their parents. Who knows, they might be interested as well, and you will have found a good match with someone who already has ties to your family.

Also consider looking outside your own community and culture. Muslims in the West tend to congregate by community – Egyptians with Egyptians, Iraqis with Iraqis, etc. But many go beyond that, getting to know Muslims of other backgrounds and races.

If your family is open minded, then discuss your wishes with them. In my own city I know one Egyptian family whose son married the daughter of some Iraqi family friends; another son married an Afghani girl, again family friends. I have a white American convert friend who is happily married to a Pakistani sister, and I know a Hispanic brother who is married to a Pakistani. I also know of two white + African American couples. And that’s just in the limited circle of people I know. It’s becoming more and more common.

Next: Part 2 – Talk to Your Friends

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Man divorces wife for not closing car door

Saudi woman beside a car

Reprinted from the Arab News
JEDDAH: FOUZIA KHAN | Published — Thursday 25 September 2014

Islam forbids Muslims from divorcing out of anger or for petty reasons, but this injunction did not stop a Saudi man from leaving his wife because she refused to close their car door, according to recent reports in local media and on social networking sites.

The couple reportedly went out on a picnic and when they returned home, the wife got out, helped their children to do so and then moved to go into their house.

Her husband then called out for her to close the door, but she refused, saying he should do so because he was closer to it. Incensed at her reply, the husband reportedly said: “You are forbidden to me and should not enter my home if you do not close the door.”

The woman then reportedly left and returned to her father’s house. Many people have tried to reconcile the couple, but the woman has rejected all attempts, saying that she does not want to remain married to such an “irresponsible” man

Arab News spoke to well-known Saudi Sheikh Asim Al-Hakim on the matter, who said that the divorce is valid based on the man’s actions.

Al-Hakim explained that there are direct and indirect divorces. Direct divorce can occur even if a person jokes about it. Indirect divorce is based on intent.

“Intention is very important in such cases, but such behavior is irresponsible.” He said Islam has given men a great deal of responsibility to act correctly under these circumstances. “So a man should be very careful about his actions,” he said.

He said a judge can issue a final verdict in such cases. He warned that people should not act hastily and in anger.

According to a study conducted by Aleqtesadiah newspaper, there are 2.5 divorce cases for every 1,000 men above the age of 15.

There were 30,000 divorces in 2012, averaging 82 a day, or three an hour. In earlier reports, the Ministry of Economy and Planning confirmed that while courts and marriage officials register around 70,000 marriage contracts annually, they also process more than 13,000 divorces.
The study also showed that the Kingdom ranked second among Gulf Cooperation Council countries in terms of divorces after Bahrain, where the rate is 2.7 for every 1,000 people. The same study showed an upward trend in divorce cases in 2012 compared with 2010, when there were 75 a day.

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The New Muslim Trap: Why Muslim Converts Must Exercise Caution in Marriage

Women Muslim convertsWritten by Michelle Yeung, for the Allahcentric Blog.

For the vast majority of converts I know, their embracing of Islam happened between the ages of 18 – 26. There’s something about those several years after one finishes high school and one moves out of their parent’s home, that finally forces them, to think. There’s also something else that people of that age often have in common; they feel a strong need to settle with a life partner, which for a Muslim, means marriage.

I don’t have an opinion on whether converts should look to marry immediately, or wait, that probably depends on their own circumstances. However, I would advise any new convert to exercise particular caution as to how they go about meeting a potential spouse. As I listened to one convert sister tell me her story of her own desire to marry and the challenges that faced her,  this enabled me to realise some of the reasons for their particular vulnerability to becoming trapped in a difficult marriage situation.

New Converts can often be Very Vulnerable

Two young Muslim womenBecoming Muslim and practicing Islam is a big life change. Not just in the actions themselves, but in the person’s entire life. New converts often find themselves distanced from their previous group of friends, and even family. All of the new things that they are reading, and being told, can be over whelming and whilst the new convert realises they will never be truly alone, the first couple of years can at the same time be horribly lonely.

“I’d sometimes cry myself to sleep at night, because I felt very lonely. I felt closer to Allah at those times and it felt good, and yet I would have loved to have had another person there with me, seeing me through day by day. I had a small group of friends, but they all had their own husbands and children and I felt like I had nobody. I felt that my best option was marriage.”

Lack of Protective Forces, Such as Muslim Family and a Community

The sad truth is, some people do seem to take advantage of this situation. When both parties are Muslim, the families would meet and the woman’s guardian would approve the marriage. For converts, the process is often quite different, and they may be left making key life decisions such as marriage on their own.

“I was never really a part of any Muslim community. I had a few friends, but we weren’t so close that I would tell them everything. I just didn’t feel like a belonged anywhere, I felt distanced from my family, and I didn’t exactly fit with my local Muslim community. This made me want to focus just on me, on doing my own thing, my own way. I didn’t value the community in the way that I should have done, or I do now. I guess I was a rebel, always wanting to remain independent. So when it came to meeting somebody, I didn’t tell people, I didn’t want their advice, I just wanted to do things my way and he also convinced me that this was the best thing to do in my situation”.

Looking for a Fast Way to Reach God, Through a Spouse

Muslim sister reading Azizah magazine.

Muslim sister reading Azizah magazine.

Muslims believe that marriage in itself is a good, beneficial thing. The Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) said that marriage is half of the religion. New converts seem to have a tendency to want to carryout every single thing that is deemed good, straight away, and marriage is one of these actions.

“I didn’t know it then, but yes, I was looking for a fast way to reach Allah. I thought that if I could get married, to someone really good, then I’d quickly become just like them in that respect. I thought I’d be whisked off overseas by him and transformed into this great Muslim woman. I didn’t know that he had no intention to ever take me with him.”

Can be a Little Naive

It’s natural to see the good in all people, but it can sometimes be more challenging for new Muslims to distinguish true good character from mere actions. New Muslims often seem to be very easily impressed by other Muslims, just based on a few things the person says or does. For example, a brand new Muslim sister may find it very difficult to cover her hair immediately, and could then begin to hold the Muslim women who do, in exaggerated esteem.

“I wasn’t so naive as to think anyone who was Muslim could be trusted. But I suppose I must have thought that anyone who talked in an impressive way would also do the things they preached about. If a brother wore a thawb, talked about visiting his skaykh overseas, and was highly thought of as a community activist, who was I to think that they weren’t all that they made out to be? What did I know after all as a new convert?”.

My advice to any new convert considering marriage, would be to:

  1. Tell your friends and family that you are corresponding, and involve people whom you trust
  2. Meet their family and make sure that they are fully aware of you
  3. Be extra cautious if they seem to be wanting to cut corners (e.g. not involving parents, not agreeing to a mahr, being unclear about living arrangements or financial support once married – sisters)
  4. Ask select people about their din and their character
  5. Perform the salatul istikhara, and make lots of du’a for guidance.

Michelle Yeung is a British convert currently living in Toronto with her husband.  She runs the Sister has Style blog, and is the educational services manager for SeekersGuidance.

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Muslim Matrimonial Websites: My Experience

Wael and daughter

Wael and daughter

Wael Abdelgawad | Zawaj.com

I’ve been single (divorced) for several years now, so in that time I have tried my share of Muslim matrimonial websites in order to try to find a new partner Insha’Allah. Here’s my review of the sites I tried, and my overall view of the Muslim matrimonial experience.

Disclaimer: I am naturally biased, since I am the founder of Zawaj.com Muslim Matrimonials, and I happen to think it is a good website and a leader in the Islamic matchmaking field. With that said, here is my list:

1. Zawaj.com Muslim Matrimonials

Zawaj.com Muslim Matrimonials

Zawaj.com Muslim Matrimonials

Zawaj.com was founded way back in 1998. It was one of the first three Muslim matrimonial sites in existence. The other two are gone now, which means that Zawaj.com is the oldest continuously running Muslim matchmaking site. Of course in that time the site has been constantly improved and upgraded.

Zawaj.com has had literally hundreds of success stories in uniting Muslim singles from all over the world in matrimony. In addition, the website has hundreds of articles about marriage in Islam, family issues, Islamic advice and special features.

I have not actually used the service myself in looking for a wife, because I felt it would be a little creepy to contact a sister and say, “Hi, I’m the founder of this site and I’m interested in you,” ha ha. With that said, I believe in Zawaj.com and I think it’s a good service and a good value.

2. Muslima.com

There are a few drawbacks to Muslima.com. One is that the site is owned by non-Muslims. It is basically a branch of Cupid Media, which is a global “dating” conglomerate. Second, I got scammed by a woman on Muslima.com a few years back. She was a Russian scammer who posed as a beautiful and kind-hearted Muslim woman. Once I began to develop feelings for her, she began to weave a story about how she needed money to apply for a visa to come see me. I looked her up online and found out she is a known Russian scammer. I do not blame Muslima.com for that. The fact is that such scammers are a plague in every area of online activity.

On Muslima.com you can send messages free of charge, but cannot read your received messages unless you sign as a paid member.

Leaving those factors aside, Muslima.com seems to be a popular website with many members from all over the world. In particular they have a ton of members from North Africa – Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Egypt.

3. Qiran.com

Qiran.com is a large company based in Canada, with additional offices all over the Arab world and in Pakistan. Qiran.com is kind of the opposite of Muslima.com in the sense that a free member can respond to messages sent to him but cannot initiate any messages. You can “show interest” free of charge. The layout is not quite as easy on the eyes as I would like. Overall, however, it is a good service.

4. SingleMuslim.com

SingleMuslim.com

SingleMuslim.com

SingleMuslim.com is more expensive than any of the other Muslim matchmaking sites in this list, with a one month membership costing $49.00, and 3 months for $99.00.

The signup process is interesting in the sense that it is clearly an Islamic site, designed for Muslims from the get-go, with questions – for example – about how regularly you pray, and whether you eat halal. Also, it allows passport style face photos only – no body photos. Profile pages are large and easy to read.

I’ve noticed that SingleMuslim has a preponderance of members from the UK, and not so many from the USA or other countries.

On SingleMuslim you cannot send OR receive messages unless you join as a paid member. So it’s not a terribly useful site for free members.\

On the whole, it’s a good website if you’re willing to pay the high membership fees and if you live in the UK.

5. Shaadi.com

Shaadi.com has a huge membership base but is focused largely on India and the subcontinent. It is not an exclusively Islamic matrimonial website but is open to Indians of all religions. So if you are looking for someone from India, Shaadi.com is worth a try.

* * *

I hope you find this list useful. If you’ve tried any of these services, please leave a comment and share your experience. May Allah grant you all good spouses who will the apples of your eyes and the comfort of your hearts.

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Is Romantic Love a Myth?

Reprinted from BBC News online magazine
By Mark Vernon

Our idealised notion of romantic love is actually the biggest enemy of long-lasting relationships, says Mark Vernon.

Romantic love is widely celebrated as the pinnacle of love. It is marketed as the peak experience without which you cannot say you have lived. The signs of its allure are everywhere, not just on Valentine’s Day.

Wedding costs

The rising cost of weddings.

Take the cost of the average wedding. It has rocketed in recent years, now easily topping £20,000 in the UK. It is as if couples make a direct link between romantic value and cash value.

Or think of the cinema, where romantic comedies are big box office. If you get the formula right, of lovers finally falling into each others’ arms, you net hundreds of millions of dollars. Or again, there are the dating websites that are recession proof – 60% growth in spending last year, according to reports.

Love is blind, the proverb goes, though it might be more accurate to say we are being blinded by a hyper version of romantic love, and are losing out on life as a result.

To cut to the chase, I think that the romantic myth is one of the most pernicious of our times.

The myth is that there is someone out there with whom your life will be complete, and conversely, without whom your life would be a half-life. A major task of modern life is, therefore, to find this person and, falling in love, to cease to be two and become one.

It is hard to prove, though I wonder whether such a view of romance has become so monstrous in the pressure it puts on couples to find fulfillment in each other, that it actually undermines more relationships than supports them.

It is socially corrosive because it idealises love, rather than understanding that love is made not found. Love is made in the gritty ups and downs of being with someone who is as flawed as you.

The power of the myth is demonstrated in the fact that most people would say that they don’t believe it.

Hollywood romance scene

The Hollywood romance myth is destructive to genuine long-term love and relationships.

They would protest that such a story shapes the plots of romantic novels and movies, and the advertising blurb of online dating sites, but is not real life.
And yet, is it not precisely this dream that drives so many to glossy magazines, to cinemas and online? It is telling that the top question asked of

Google last year was: What is love? Malign myths are at their most powerful when we presume we are not in their grip.

Might such romance be, in part, a driver of divorce figures.

It is striking that remarriages appear to work best when they have outgrown hyper-romance. A recent review study listed three top success factors – couple consensus, social support and financial stability.

These couples, perhaps having learnt the hard way, are now able to talk rationally about their difficulties, rely on the love of family and friends as well as of their partner, and feel materially grounded, not rushed off their feet. If romance first draws the eye, relationships have a chance to thrive when it does not seal the deal.

More darkly, have you ever wondered why romance is so closely associated with death?

Think of Romeo and Juliet. It appears to teach that it is better to marry in haste, without thought, because that is what it means to be star-crossed, to be passionate, to be authentic.

Although note that when Shakespeare told the story he called it a tragedy. He saw a deeper truth in what happened, namely that a tragedy arises when the pernicious action of romance seizes young lovers’ hearts.

There are signs that individuals are rejecting the romantic myth. The number of people living on their own has risen by 50% since the mid-1990s. Many report that singleness means they enjoy more freedom and have time for other relationships, like friendship.

It is as if these individuals are bearing witness to the tyranny of the exclusive twosome that meets freedom and friendship with powerful feelings of jealousy and suspicion.

So why has romance become so distorting?

I suspect that the desire for a peak experience of love has eclipsed the fact that love is primarily about others. The romantic myth would have us fall in love with love, paradoxically not with another. This twisted love whispers that it does not much matter who you fall for, only that you fall in love.

Divorce

When love breaks down
* UK divorce rates are highest in those between the ages of 40 to 44, say ONS statistics.
* The highest proportion is among those married between five and nine years.
* 34% of marriages end in divorce by the 20th wedding anniversary.
* 49% of couples divorcing in 2011 had at least one child aged under 16.

There is a spiritual dimension to this romantic addiction too. The philosopher Simon May has proposed that while many have given up on God in the West, we still long for the unconditional love that God used to offer.

But godless, we seek instead unconditional love from our fellow humans. We make them gods, and of course they fail us. And then love turns to hate. It’s a desire that, because of the excess, destroys love. People kill the thing they love, lamented an observant Oscar Wilde.

Standing in Love

The true art of loving is to navigate the shift from falling in love to standing in love, to borrow the psychologist Erich Fromm’s phrases.

Falling in love, the stuff of romance, is the intoxicating sense of possessing someone and/or being possessed. And it just can’t last, because possessiveness crushes liveliness.

The risk is that you then feel that love has died because, following the romantic myth, you measure love by its felt intensity.

Standing in love, though, is the capacity to be with someone and be free with someone. It too feels good, though for different reasons. It can allow more subtle qualities to come to the fore, such as commitment and generosity, honesty and openness. It welcomes life.

Standing in love is, perhaps, a healing notion as we face the romantic onslaught of another Valentine’s Day.

Mark Vernon is a writer and journalist. He has written books on friendship and philosophy, and is the author of Love: All That Matters
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Requirements of Nikah in Islam

Happy Muslim couple

Mohammad Mazhar Hussaini

Mutual Agreement of Bride and Groom

Marriage (nikah) is a solemn and sacred social contract between bride and groom. This contract is a strong covenant (mithaqun ghalithun) as expressed in Quran 4:21. The marriage contract in Islam is not a sacrament. It is revocable.

Both parties mutually agree and enter into this contract. Both bride and groom have the liberty to define various terms and conditions of their liking and make them a part of this contract.

Muslim couple signing the marriage contract.

Muslim couple signing the marriage contract.

Mahr

The marriage-gift (Mahr) is a divine injunction. The giving of mahr to the bride by the groom is an essential part of the contract.

‘And give the women (on marriage) their mahr as a (nikah) free gift” (Quran 4:4)

Mahr is a token commitment of the husband’s responsibility and may be paid in cash, property or movable objects to the bride herself. The amount of mahr is not legally specified, however, moderation according to the existing social norm is recommended. The mahr may be paid immediately to the bride at the time of marriage, or deferred to a later date, or a combination of both. The deferred mahr however, falls due in case of death or divorce.

One matrimonial party expresses ‘ijab” willing consent to enter into marriage and the other party expresses ‘qubul” acceptance of the responsibility in the assembly of marriage ceremony. The contract is written and signed by the bride and the groom and their two respective witnesses. This written marriage contract (“Aqd-Nikah) is then announced publicly.

Sermon

The assembly of nikah is addressed with a marriage sermon (khutba-tun-nikah) by the Muslim officiating the marriage. In marriage societies, customarily, a state appointed Muslim judge (Qadi) officiates the nikah ceremony and keeps the record of the marriage contract. However any trust worthy practicing Muslim can conduct the nikah ceremony, as Islam does not advocate priesthood. The documents of marriage contract/certificate are filed with the mosque (masjid) and local government for record.

Prophet Muhammad (S) made it his tradition (sunnah) to have marriage sermon delivered in the assembly to solemnize the marriage. The sermon invites the bride and the groom, as well as the participating guests in the assembly to a life of piety, mutual love, kindness, and social responsibility.

The Khutbah-tun-Nikah begins with the praise of Allah. His help and guidance is sought. The Muslim confession of faith that ‘There is none worthy of worship except Allah and Muhammad is His servant and messenger” is declared. The three Quranic verses (Quran 4:1, 3:102, 33:70-71) and one Prophetic saying (hadith) form the main text of the marriage. This hadith is:

‘By Allah! Among all of you I am the most God-fearing, and among you all, I am the supermost to save myself from the wrath of Allah, yet my state is that I observe prayer and sleep too. I observe fast and suspend observing them; I marry woman also. And he who turns away from my Sunnah has no relation with me”. (Bukhari)

The Muslim officiating the marriage ceremony concludes the ceremony with prayer (Dua) for bride, groom, their respective families, the local Muslim community, and the Muslim community at large (Ummah)

Marriage (nikah) is considered as an act of worship (ibadah). It is virtuous to conduct it in a Mosque keeping the ceremony simple. The marriage ceremony is a social as well as a religious activity. Islam advocates simplicity in ceremonies and celebrations.

Prophet Muhammad (S) considered simple weddings the best weddings:

‘The best wedding is that upon which the least trouble and expense is bestowed”. (Mishkat)

UK Bangladeshi Muslim couple in wedding outfits

A Bangladeshi Muslim couple in London, UK, wearing traditional Islamic outfits. Man wearing a red and gold colored hat and woman wearing beautiful jewelry.

Primary Requirements

  1. Mutual agreement (Ijab-O-Qubul) by the bride and the groom
  2. Two adult and sane witnesses
  3. Mahr (marriage-gift) to be paid by the groom to the bride either immediately (muajjal) or deferred (muakhkhar), or a combination of both

Secondary Requirements

  1. Legal guardian (wakeel) representing the bride
  2. Written marriage contract (“Aqd-Nikah) signed by the bride and the groom and witnesses by two adult and sane witnesses
  3. Qadi (State appointed Muslim judge) or Ma’zoon (a responsible person officiating the marriage ceremony)
  4. Khutba-tun-Nikah to solemnize the marriage

The Marriage Banquet (Walima)

Traditional foods set out for an Islamic walima.

Traditional foods set out for an Islamic walima.

After the consummation of the marriage, the groom holds a banquet called a walima. The relatives, neighbors, and friends are invited in order to make them aware of the marriage. Both rich and poor of the family and community are invited to the marriage feasts.

Prophet Muhammad (S) said:

‘The worst of the feasts are those marriage feasts to which the rich are invited and the poor are left out.” (Mishkat)

It is recommended that Muslims attend marriage ceremonies and marriage feasts upon invitation.

Prophet Muhammad (S) said:

“…and he who refuses to accept an invitation to a marriage feast, verily disobeys Allah and His Prophet.” (Ahmad & Abu Dawood)

Printed with permission: Marriage and Family in Islam by Mohammad Mazhar Hussaini

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How to Approach a Muslim Woman for Marriage?

Lebanese Muslim couple

A Muslim couple enjoying the sunset

Islam discourages interaction between unmarried men and women, while encouraging them to marry. How does one bridge this gap?

Sheikh Ahmad Kutty, a senior lecturer and an Islamic scholar at the Islamic Institute of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, states:

In sha’ Allah, if the focus of your question is directed towards the ways of finding a wife in the West or North America, I would recommend the following:

1. Islamic gatherings – You may attend various Islamic gatherings at Islamic centers or in mosques and you may engage in business like conversation with the members of the opposite sex, without being isolated with them.

2. Personal introductions – You may also make use of brothers and sisters who may introduce you to prospective candidates and talk to them under supervision.

3. Matrimonial ads – You may do some kind of correspondence with candidates who have advertised their names in the Islamic magazines (or matrimonial services like Zawaj.comEditor).

4. Direct approach – In the time of the Sahabah (Prophet’s Companions), they used to meet people sometimes in the presence of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), and sometimes in other circumstances. For instance, on a number of occasions women used to come offering themselves as candidates for marriage. Accordingly, some men would accept to get married to them.

Muslim husband and wife

Muslim couple

This shows that the Sahabah were very simple and undemanding about choosing their partners so long as they had the basic religious and character requirements. In this society, generally speaking, we tend to put so many conditions and requirements that are not essentials from an Islamic perspective. In Islam, the basic thing we should consider in marriage is religion and character. All other requirements we can compromise.

The Companions also used to make other people introduce them to possible candidates. They would see each other and occasionally talk with them in order to determine their eligibility for marriage.

In conclusion, you may choose any of the methods in order to find prospective candidates.

Once you have chosen some, you may inquire about them from people who are reliable and trustworthy in order to determine their illegibility and integrity. You are allowed to ask about their past in order to find out the essential points reflecting their character. If a person has a bad past and he or she has changed and improved his or her life Islamically after having repented their sins, you are allowed to marry them. In this case you are not allowed to nag them about their past after marriage.

Source : http://www.islamonline.net/servlet/S…=1119503545518

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