Archive for the Advice for Husbands Category

The Ethics of Chivalry

Posted in Advice for Husbands, Marriage Coaching, The Prophet and his Wives on April 1, 2010 by Shaz

Written by Imam Zaid Shakir

In the literature discussing Futuwwa, which has been translated as Muslim chivalry, there is the story of a young man who was engaged to marry a particularly beautiful woman. Before the wedding day, his fiancée was afflicted with a severe case of chicken pox which left her face terribly disfigured. Her father wrote to him informing him of the situation and asking if he preferred to call off the wedding. The young man replied that he would still marry his daughter, but that he had recently experienced a gradual loss of sight, which he feared would culminate in blindness.

The wedding proceeded as planned and the couple had a loving and happy relationship until the wife died twenty years later. Upon her death the husband regained his eyesight. When asked about his seemingly miraculous recovery he explained that he could see all along. He had feigned blindness all those years because he did not want to offend or sadden his wife.

From our jaded or cynical vantage points it is easy to dismiss such a story as a preposterous fabrication. To do so is to miss an important point that was not lost to those who circulated and were inspired by this and similar tales. Namely, our religion is not an empty compilation of laws and strictures. The law is important and willingly accepting it is one of the keys to our salvation. However, the law is also a means to point us toward a higher ethical end. We are reminded in the Qur’an, “Surely, the prayer wards off indecency and lewdness.” (29:45)

The Prophet Muhammad mentioned concerning the fast, “One who does not abandon false speech and acting on its imperatives, God has no need that he gives up his food and drink.” (Al-Bukhari) These narrations emphasize that there is far more to Islam than a mere adherence to rulings.

This is especially true in our marriages. Too many Muslims are involved in marriages that devolve into an empty observation of duties and an equally vacuous demand for the fulfillment of rights. While such practices are laudable in their proper context, when they are divorced from kindness, consideration, empathy, and true commitment they define marriages that become a fragile caricature. Such relationships are irreparably shattered by a silly argument, a few wrinkles on the face, unwanted pounds around the waist, a personality quirk or a whimsical desire to play the field to see if one can latch on to someone prettier, wealthier, younger, or possibly more exciting than one’s spouse.

These are issues that affect men and women. However, we men must step up and do our part to help to arrest the alarmingly negative state of gender relations in our communities. The level of chivalry the current crisis demands does not require that we pretend to be blind for twenty years. However, it does require some serious soul searching, and it demands that we ask ourselves some hard questions. For instance, why are so many Muslim men averse to marrying older or previously married women? The general feeling among the women folk in our communities is that if you are not married by the age of twenty-five, then you have only two chances of being married thereafter –slim and none. This sentiment pervades our sisters’ minds and hearts because of the reality they experience. Many brothers who put off marriage until they are past thirty-five will oftentimes marry someone close to half their age, passing over a generation of women who are intellectually and psychologically more compatible with them and would prove wiser parents for their children.

Despite this problem, and the clear social, psychological and cultural pathologies it breeds, many of us will hasten to give a lecture reminding our audience of the fact that Khadija, the beloved wife of our Prophet, was fifteen years his senior. We might even mention that she and several of his other wives were previously married. Why is it that what was good enough for our Prophet is repugnant to ourselves or our sons?

A related question would be, “Why are so many of our brothers so hesitant to marry strong, independent and intellectually astute women?” Many women in the West lack the support of extended family networks, which is increasingly true even in the Muslim world. Therefore, they must seek education or professional training to be in a position to support themselves if necessary, or to assist their husbands; an increasingly likely scenario owing to the nature of work in postindustrial societies. This sociological fact leads to women in the West generally manifesting a degree of education and independence that might not be present among women in more traditional societies and times – even though such societies are rapidly disappearing.

Many Muslim men will pass over talented, educated women who are willing to put their careers and education on hold, if need be, to commit to a family. The common reason given is that such women are too assertive, or they are not the kind of women the prospective husband’s mother is used to. As a result a significant number of our sisters, despite their beauty, talent, maturity, and dynamism are passed over for marriage in favour of an idealised, demure “real” Muslim woman. The social consequences of this practice are extremely grave for our community.

Again, we can ask ourselves, “To what extent does this practice conform to the prophetic model?” Our Prophet was surrounded by strong, assertive and independent women. His beloved Khadija, who we have previously mentioned, was one of the most successful business people in the Arabian Peninsula, and her wealth allowed the Prophet to retreat to the Cave of Hira where he would receive the first revelation.

Ayesha, despite her young age was an assertive, free-spirited, intellectual powerhouse who would become one of the great female scholars in history. The foundation for her intellectual greatness was laid by the Prophet himself who recognised her brilliance. Zainab bint Jahsh ran a “non-profit” organisation. She would make various handicrafts, sell them in the market and then use the proceeds to secretly give charity to the poor people of Medina. Umm Salamah had the courage to migrate from Mecca to Medina, unescorted, although she was ultimately accompanied by a single rider. She also had the vision to resolve the crisis at Hudaybiyya. These were all wives of the Prophet. To their names we could add those of many other strong and dynamic women who played a major role in the life of the fledgling Muslim community.

Another issue that is leading to many otherwise eligible women remaining single relates to color. If a panel of Muslim men, whose origins were in the Muslim world, were to choose Miss World, the title would likely never leave Scandinavia. No matter how beautiful a woman with a brown, black, or even tan complexion was, she would never be quite beautiful enough, because of her skin color. This attitude informs the way many choose their wives. This is a sensitive issue, but it is one we must address if we are to advance as a community. We may think that ours is a “colorblind” community, however, there are legions of women who have been relegated to the status of unmarriageable social pariahs who would beg to differ.

God has stated that “the basis for virtue with Him is piety; not tribe, race, or national origin.” (49:13) The Prophet reminded us that “God does not look at our physical forms, or at our wealth. Rather, He looks at our hearts and our deeds.” (Muslim) We debase ourselves when we exalt what God has belittled. God and His messenger have belittled skin color and body shape and size as a designator of virtue or distinction. What does it say about us when we use these criteria as truncheons to painfully bludgeon some of the most beautiful women imaginable into social insignificance?

Marriage is not a playground where the ego thoughtlessly pursues its vanities. This is something the chivalrous young man mentioned at the outset of this essay understood. It is an institution that helps a man and a woman pursue the purpose of their creation: to glorify and worship God and to work, within the extent of our capabilities and resources, to make the world a better place for those we share it with and for those we will leave it to. This role is beautifully captured in the Qur’an, “The believing men and women are the supporting friends of each other. They enjoin right, forbid wrong, establish regular prayer, pay the poor due, and they obey God and His Messenger. They expect God’s Mercy. Surely, God is Mighty, Wise.” (9:71)

The Household Chores And The Husband!

Posted in Advice for Husbands, Advice for Wives, Marriage Counselling on December 3, 2009 by Shaz

Question:

As salamu aalikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu!
Our beloved Prophet Muhammed (SAW) was a great leader, a great teacher, a great preacher, a Prophet, and he still had time and the mood to be a great husband. Why is it so difficult for men to be cooperative with their wives in house chores?

I’m a housewife, but I work as well at a company (temporarily at home as a freelancer). I love my husband very much, al hamdu Lillah, and generally I’m happy with our married life; however, I think it could be improved, insha-Allah.

Sometimes I can’t stop feeling that my two only functions is to clean the house (clothes, cooking, etc.) and satisfy him. Although I feel I’m right, sometimes, I also feel guilty because of that. I want to believe that a woman can be more than that! True! Because of the lack of cooperation and these feelings, I have started to become lazy with my house chores. I think it could be a lot easier for both of us if there was more cooperation, and I mean cooperation! I don’t want my husband to do all the chores, just to help sometimes. Whenever I request him, timidly, he gives “the annoyed look” and does some other chore that I didn’t ask him to do.

Answer:

Hwaa Irfan

As salamu ‘alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh dear sister…

Yes, Prophet Muhammed was a great leader, teacher, preacher, and husbands who helped with the household chores too, but guess what? There is only one Prophet Muhammed (SAW). We can always compare what we have with role models and make ourselves pretty miserable. If everyone had the same experiences, and learnt in the same manner, and applied themselves in the same way to all aspects of life, it would be very dull life do you not think? Al hamdu Lillah, Allah (SWT), got it right on our behalf, and provided us with variety. As much as 20th century man has tried to make everything the same between the sexes, somehow in real terms, it just does not quite translate! The reason why it does not translate is because we as humans like to re-write the rules without considering the consequences.

What was the above all about you might be thinking sister. Well, it would seem that because you go out to work, and you work at home as well you expect your husband to do the same. However, Allah (SWT) did not design the whole creation thing in that way, and made husbands and fathers the providers as stated in the Qur’an. This does not mean that only men can go out to provide, it means that it is their responsibility to provide. For wives it is a choice Islamically speaking, albeit that there might be a decision by both husband and wife that the wife should/could go out to work.

What your husband earns is for the benefit of the family, and what you as the wife earns is at your discretion. If your income is for the benefit of the family, it is because it is a decision made by the both of you. Having no knowledge of what your husband’s occupation is, in general men do like to return to the sanctuary of home which should balance out the demands of the outside world.

Before you blow steam, yes, you too have a demanding job both at home and at work. However, do you carry over the work mind set into the home? For example, if you have people working with you and under you, do you talk to your husband in the same manner in which you talk to them. Your day may be full of a set of instructions and orders in order to keep on top of the work, but by the time you return home, that social psychology should be left at the company you work for. When you arrive home you should be the wife, the friend, the sister who your husband looks forward to being with at the end of his working day. To enable this you too have to slow down. Yes, there are many things to be done when one gets home, but if you go at it the same way you do at work, there will be no difference for you or for your husband.

Take a look at the things you do when you get home and make a list of them all, then prioritize them. The colour code them into most important, less important, and can wait. The chores that need to be done every evening (most important), look at them again, and see how you can schedule you in! Schedule you in? Yes, by doing this you will provide yourself with the opportunity to unwind, to slow down, and to relax enough to be there for yourself, and for your husband. Less important tasks can be set for 2/3 time weekly, and least important once-a-week. 

  • Take that long shower or a hot bath, put some nice smelling oils in, then put on something comfortable.

 

  • Do your prayers on time, and give thanks for what you have.

 

  • Make du’aa’ that you will always understand and appreciate each other

 

  • Prepare the kind of meal that is good for the both of you, but does not require you to be in the kitchen all throughout.

 

  • Prepare the meal based on what you have. This helps to avoid unnecessary panic for an ingredient which results in a tiresome stint to the shops.

 

  • If your husband is present and has had some time to unwind, invite him to share in the preparation of the meal with you. The time could be used to talk about light subjects, and even share laughter.

 

  • While the meal is cooking, relax and do some reading. If your husband is home, sit and talk with him – share your day, or talk about something more interesting to the both of you.

 

  • The washing does not have to be done every day.

 

  • The cleaning can be kept to a minimum, especially if the home is not cluttered with furniture and furnishings.

 

  • Anything you need you husbands help in invite him e.g. “Could you help me to…” which goes much farther than an order.

 

  • Invite your husband into the kitchen to help set the table, dish out the meal, etc., with you.

 

  • Allow for each the time for a little privacy or quiet moment.

 

  • Shop for a week instead every time you run out of something. This can be done together, take turns, or he is responsible for certain types of shopping, and you other types of shopping.

 

  • With time on your hands, you might even be able to visit a friend, a relative, or attend an event together.

 

  • Most importantly, do not do the same thing every evening, otherwise routine will get the better of your marriage.

 

  • Always ensure that there is something that you can both do together.

 

Dear sister, have a happy life!

Jazakum Allahu khayrun…

10 Tips on How to Be a Successful Husband

Posted in Advice for Husbands on November 10, 2009 by Shaz
1) Dress Up

Dress up for your wife, look clean and smell good. When was the last time us men went shopping for designer pajamas? Just like the husband wants his wife to look nice for him, she also wants her husband to dress up for her too. Remember that Rasulullah (صلي الله عليه وسلم) would always start with Miswak when returning home and always loved the sweetest smells.

(Dress up for your wife when you are at home also. Some brothers only dress up when they go out and that is not a good practice. A husband should dress up for his wife when they are at home. it makes a wife feel special.)

2) Sweet Names

Use the cutest names for your wife. Rasulullah (صلي الله عليه وسلم) had nicknames for his wives, ones that they loved. Call your wife by the most beloved names to her, and avoid using names that hurt their feelings.

(Remember, you are your wife’s only boyfriend, and her only best friend. She does not go out seeking boyfriends and she shares a halal relationship with you. Love her unconditionally for the sake of Allah. And express your love to her. A woman likes to be told that she is loved. Call her from your work to make sure she is doing fine. I have seen my dad calling my mother several times a day, just to make sure she has been eating well. And my husband calls me at least twice from work to make sure I am doing well. These things are very important in a relationship.)

3) Reward Her Actions

Don’t treat her like a fly. We never think about a fly in our daily lives until it ‘bugs’ us. Similarly, a wife will do well all day – which brings no attention from the husband – until she does something to ‘bug’ him. Don’t treat her like this; recognize all the good that she does and focus on that.

(Whenever there is a fight or argument, just remember all the things she does for you. she cooks for you, she takes care of your home, she takes care of your children and the most important thing is that she guards her modesty. So do not upset her if she is upset with you. Hold her and tell her that you love her. Only your love can repel her anger. Communicate with her and discuss with her if there are any misunderstandings.)

4) Remain Silent

If you see wrong from your wife, try being silent and do not comment! This is one of the ways Rasulullah (صلي الله عليه وسلم) used when he would see something inappropriate from his wives (رضالله عنهنّ). It’s a technique that few Muslim men have mastered.

(Do not criticize her all the time. Trust her and trust her decisions. If she is doing something that you don’t like, or that goes against the teachings of Islam, then do advice her gently.)

5) Smile!

Smile at your wife whenever you see her and embrace her often. Smiling is Sadaqah and your wife is not exempt from the Muslim Ummah. Imagine life with her constantly seeing you smiling. Remember also those Ahadith when Rasulullah (صلي الله عليه وسلم) would kiss his wife before leaving for Salah, even if he was fasting.

(Do let your wife know that you are very happy and blessed to have her. A wife always wonder how her husband feels about her. She may have some insecurity about you, so make her feel secure. Always give her a hug whenever you come back from work. appreciate her and thank her for taking care of everything whole day. If you are not too tired, go out for star gazing for an hour or so.)

6) Acknowledge Her

Thank her for all that she does for you. Then thank her again! Take for example a dinner at your house. She makes the food, cleans the home, and a dozen other tasks to prepare. And sometimes the only acknowledgment she receives is that there needed to be more salt in the soup. Don’t let that be; thank her!

(Write thank you notes for her and place those notes in her books, her purse, her socks, and anything else that belongs to her. You can use your own creativity to thank her. You can thank her by writing something on a mirror with her lipstick, so that she can read it when she wakes up in the morning. You can also thank her by arranging a candlelight dinner AT HOME, you be the cook and let her rest. So far I have learned that a nice romantic dinner at home is much better than going out for dinner. This way a couple saves themselves from many fitnahs. You can thank her by writing her letters and emails. Remember, in Islam, everyday is special. So celebrate wife’s day with her, and do it very often without having a particular date. She will always wonder when the wife’s day is going to be.

You can also give her a certificate of appreciation, or a Best Wife Award on wife’s day. Do everything by yourself that day and let her rest, this way you will also know how difficult it could be to do household chores. Thank her by building a webpage for her, write a note there and a poem and then ask her to visit your webpage. Thank her by recording a voice message on a cd for your wife. She will love it!

Thank her by giving her a gift, and a gift does not have to be expensive. Be creative! You do not have to give her Roses, you can give her a leaf too! (My husband gave me a leaf once, instead of roses, and I was very happy and surprised, and I appreciated his creativity). So remember, thoughtful and creative gifts makes a wife feel secure and happy. Thank her by ordering a halal pizza for her, ask the restaurant to cut it in a heart shape and have it delivered with a personalized note. Thank her by thanking her in a family gathering. A woman likes it when her husband gives her attention.

If you visit her parents or your parents, hold her hands and tell your parents how happy you are after marriage. Give your wife an Islamic book as a gift after praying Tahajjud. Use your imagination and think about unique gifts. Remember, she does not need a diamond, she needs your sincerity and your heart, so always give her the gifts that are thoughtful. Whenever you do something to make her happy, observe her facial expressions and ask yourself about how you feel when you become her happiness.)

7) Ten Blessings From Allah

Ask her to write down the last ten things you did for her that made her happy. Then go and do them again. It may be hard to recognize what gives your wife pleasure. You don’t have to play a guessing game–ask her and work on repeating those things in your life.

(Also ask her to write down the things you did that she did not like, or the things you did that made her unhappy. Try to not do those things in future. If she falls ill, let her lay down, and read different surahs from Qur’an while placing your hand on her forehead. When I got sick, my husband recited Qur’an for me, it really helped a lot mashaAllah. Remember, a wife needs her husband the most when she is not feeling well. Take good care of her because a healthy wife makes a healthy family. Do not expect too much from her when she is sick.)

8) Validate her Feelings

Don’t belittle her desires. Comfort her. Sometimes the men may look down upon the requests of their wives. Rasulullah (صلي الله عليه وسلم) set the example for us in an incident when Safiyyah (رضالله عنها) was crying because, as she said, he had put her on a slow camel. He wiped her tears, comforted her, and brought her the camel.

(If there is a time of sadness, give her your shoulder to cry on. Hold her and tell her that everything will be fine. Alhamdulillah, my husband and my dad are amongst those Muslim husbands who would even have tears in their eyes if their wives are sad. Remember, a woman does not like to cry alone in a corner. She needs someone to hold her when she is sad, so never let her feel lonely. Remind her the verses from Qur’an that talks about Patience and Piety.)

9) Have Fun!

Be humorous and play games with your wife. Look at how Rasulullah (صلي الله عليه وسلم) would race his wife Aisha (رضالله عنها) in the desert. When was the last time we did something like that?

(A sense of humor plays a very important role in a marital relationship. Most women wish to have a husband who has a good sense of humor. Tell her decent and modest jokes that make her happy. A wife appreciates it very much if her husband makes her smile. You can play various games at home. Play with crayons, or have a pillow fight. Or hide different notes in your bedroom and ask her to find it. Think of different games you can both play. Let her win sometimes!

Adopt interesting hobbies, such as reading, cooking together and gardening (grow a surprise rose plant in your garden, when you have the first rose blooming, take her to the garden and show it to her. Newspaper and Sports Issue! Men like to watch sports, or read newspaper. Most Pakistani wives consider newspaper as their co-wives. So be very careful. If you are watching sports, turn the TV off if your wife comes around. Give her attention. Do not spend too much time reading newspaper, and do not read newspaper on the breakfast table, rather have an Islamic discussion. If you want to get her to like newspaper, then try to find something that interests her. Such as, try to find a news about Hijab. Or try to find a news about Muslim women for her.)

10) Be The Best

Always remember the words of Allah’s Messenger (صلي الله عليه وسلم): “The best of you are those who treat their families the best. And I am the best amongst you to my family.” Try to be the best! In conclusion: Never forget to make Dua to Allah (سبحانه وتعالى) to make your marriage successful. And Allah ta’ala knows best!

(And once again: your wife is your best friend, and your girlfriend. Share everything with her. Remember she is your garment and you are her garment, so hide her faults and mistakes. Learn to forgive her. Also communicate a lot with her family. It really makes a difference if husband communicates with his in laws. It helps both husband’s and wife’s family to share a beautiful relationship. Respect her parents and show your love to her family. This will inspire her to love and respect your family. If her family is not muslim, do dawah to them in a beautiful way.)

Spend lots of time praying to Allah swt. Do fast often even if it is not Ramadan. Fasting brings patience and taqwah. Lead her in the prayer. There is nothing better than praying together. Remember Allah, so that Allah remembers you.

May Allah bless us and guide us all. Ameen!

Note: Additions in brackets are notes from a sister.

Prepared by Muhammad Alshareef

A successful marriage: the missing link

Posted in Advice for Husbands, Advice for Wives, Tips for a Happy Marriage on September 1, 2009 by Shaz
A successful marriage: the missing link

By: Yasmin Mogahed

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

We’ve all read this verse on countless marriage announcements. But how many have actualized it? How many of our marriages really embody that love and mercy described by Allah? What is going wrong when so many of our marriages are ending in divorce?

According to Dr. Emerson Eggerichs, author of Love & Respect: The Love She Most Desires; The Respect He Desperately Needs, the answer is simple. In his book, Eggerichs explains that extensive research has found that a man’s primary need is for respect, while a woman’s primary need is for love. He describes what he calls the “crazy cycle”—the pattern of argumentation that results when the wife does not show respect and the husband does not show love. He explains how the two reinforce and cause one another. In other words, when a wife feels that her husband is acting unloving, she often reacts with disrespect, which in turn makes the husband act even more unloving.

Eggerichs argues that the solution to the “crazy cycle” is for the wife to show unconditional respect to her husband and for the husband to show unconditional love to his wife. This means that a wife should not say that first her husband must be loving before she will show him respect. By doing so, she will only bring about more unloving behavior. And a husband should not say that first his wife must be respectful before he will show her love. By doing so, he will only bring about more disrespectful behavior. The two must be unconditional.

When I reflected on this concept, I realized that looking at the Quran and prophetic wisdom, there are no two concepts more stressed with regards to the marital relationship.

To men, the Prophet said, “Take good care of women, for they were created from a bent rib, and the most curved part of it is its top; if you try to straighten it, you will break it, and if you leave it, it will remain arched, so take good care of women.” (Bukhari & Muslim)

He has further stressed: “The most perfect believer in the matter of faith is one who has excellent behavior; and the best among you are those who behave best towards their wives.” (Al-Tirmidhi)

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

The prophet has also said, “A believing man should not hate a believing woman; if he dislikes one of her characteristics, he will be pleased with another.” (Muslim)

In these jewels of wisdom, men are urged to be kind and loving towards their wives. Moreover, they are urged to even overlook their wife’s faults when showing that kindness and love.

On the other hand, when addressing the wife, the focus is different. Why are women not told again and again to be kind and loving towards their husbands? Perhaps it is because unconditional love already comes naturally to women. Few men complain that their wives do not love them. But many complain that their wives do not respect them. And it is this sentiment which is most stressed in the Quran and sunnah, with regards to wives.

Respect can be manifest in a number of ways. One of the most important ways to show respect is the respect of one’s wishes. When someone says, “I respect your advice”, they mean “I will follow your advice”. Respecting a leader, means doing what they say. Respecting our parents means not going against their wishes. And respecting one’s husband means respecting his wishes. The Prophet has said: “When any woman prays her five, fasts her month, guards her body and obeys her husband, it is said to her: Enter paradise from whichever of its doors you wish.” [At-Tirmidhi]

Why are we as women told to respect and follow the wishes of our husbands? It is because men are given an extra degree of responsibility. Allah says: “Men are the protectors and maintainers [qawwamun] of women, because Allah has given the one more [strength] than the other, and because they support them from their means . . .” (Qur’an 4:34)

But won’t this unconditional respect towards one’s husband put us, as women, in a weak, submissive position? Won’t we set ourselves up to be taken advantage of and abused? Quite the contrary. The Quran, the prophetic example, and even contemporary research have proven the exact opposite. The more respect a woman shows her husband, the more love and kindness he will show her. And in fact, the more disrespect she shows, the more harsh and unloving he becomes.

Similarly, a man may question why he should show kindness and love towards even a disrespectful wife. To answer this question, one only needs to look at the example of Omar Ibn ul-Khattab. When a man came to Omar (who was Khalifah at the time) to complain of his wife, he heard Omar’s own wife yelling at him. While the man turned to leave, Omar called him back. The man told Omar that he had come to complain of the same problem that Omar himself had. To this Omar replied that his wife tolerated him, washed his clothes, cleaned his home, made him comfortable, and took care of his children. If she did all of this for him, how could he not tolerate her when she raised her voice?

This story provides a beautiful example for all of us—not only for the men. This story is a priceless illustration of tolerance and patience, which is essential for any successful marriage. Moreover, consider the reward in the hereafter for those who show patience: Allah says, “Only those who are patient shall receive their reward in full without reckoning (or measure).” (Qur’an 39:10)

How To Be An Outstanding Husband & Wife

Posted in Advice for Husbands, Advice for Wives, Audio on September 12, 2008 by Shaz

 

 

Husband
Sheikh Muhammad AlShareef shares with his listeners many pearls of wisdom in this lecture. The target audience is, of course, Muslim brothers. But this lecture is incredibly beneficial for sisters as well. There is a great deal of insight that both husbands and wives can benefit from. It is comprised of a series of techniques that the Sheikh offers to husbands (and future husbands) on how to please one’s wife and insha’Allah become an ideal husband. The techniques offered are all-encompassing, and the main source of evidence for these techniques is the seerah of Rasoolallah (s). Many touching and heart-warming ahadith are mentioned about the Prophet’s (s) interactions with his wives, with many priceless lessons to be learned from these.

Wife
Most Muslims have heard numerous lectures on women’s rights in Islam. In particular, the woman’s rights and obligations as a wife are discussed a great deal amongst Western audiences. As important as this topic may be, it is refreshing to hear someone discuss the role of the Muslim wife in a new light. Rather than simply focusing on the Shari’ah and controversial women’s issues, Sheikh Muhammad shares some excellent techniques on how the wife can please her husband as well as please Allah in this lecture. He offers Muslim women a series of techniques on how to win the heart of her husband, as well as uphold her responsibilities as a Muslim wife. Incorporated into this lecture are many examples from the lives of the Sahaabiyaat and other notable women. Interestingly enough, some examples from books written by non-Muslim authors, such as Laura Dole’s work, “The Surrendered Wife” are also used.

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The Wife Is A Delicate Crystal

Posted in Advice for Husbands, Marriage Coaching on February 20, 2008 by Shaz

The Delicate Care Of A Precious WifeAnas Narrated, “The Messenger Of Allah was once traveling and a black boy called Anjashah was chanting for camels. The Messenger of Allah said, “O Anjashah, slowly, drive the camels slowly, as they are carrying Qawaareer (crystal).” (saheeh of muslim)

Crystal has exquisite beauty that glimmers in the light with each crystal having a unique design and pattern. Precision and care are taken with each small feature of fine crystal – down to the etching and intricate detail within it’s appearance. It is also fragile and delicate requiring utmost care, lest it should slip and break with its beauty and substance lost and gone. It is also valuable and makes for a precious gift, being admired, adorned, kept safe and gently handled.

Prophet Muhammad metaphorically used the term crystal to describe the believing women, asking Anjashah to drive the camels slowly for the camels were carrying these delicate precious women who could easily get hurt and injured. Our Prophet used this term to highlight their quality, characteristics and importance, as he gave them due consideration through an expression of kindness and love.Men are Qawwaamoon over women (Qur’aan 4:34)

Allah described the men as Qawwaamoon over their women, with the word Qawwaamoon highlighting how the Husband stands responsible over his Wife, offering her protection and maintenance whilst fulfilling her needs and upholding her care. This point is well known to the Muslims and has been rightfully emphasized repeatedly throughout the period of Islam. The husband is the one who guards, protects, maintains and cares for his wife. Yet something must accompany this reality, and that is the nature and essence of the wife who is delicate and precious and a companion requiring the utmost care and love. Yes the husband is from amongst the Qawwaamoon just like the wife is from amongst the Qawaareer. One for the other, with the qualities of the husband complimenting the qualities of the wife, as they combine and unite as one.

Allah gave everything its due share and gifted each object in creation with its unique gift as a bestowal and favour from Him. He gave men physical strength just like He gave women their gift of sensitivity and softness. The Prophet would teach the people about these differences, instructing the Husband and Wife to interact with each other accordingly. It is not befitting that the woman opposes her Husband in goodness and undermines his position of responsibility, just like it is not befitting for the Husband to neglect his Wife or handle her with inpatience and harshness. The wife is for the Husband and the Husband is for the wife, serving each other in unison as they live their lives worshipping Allah , helping each other along the way.

When we return to the Sunna of our Prophet and study his statements carefully we begin to understand the proper essence of things, for he would choose the most appropriate words for describing that which he would describe. Of all the things that break he could have chosen anything but he chose to describe the believing women as Qawaareer, highlighted many qualities including their being delicate, fragile, beautiful and precious.

The Delicate Gift of A Wife

Abu Hurairah narrated that Allah’s Messenger said, ‘ A Woman is like a rib. When you attempt to straighten it, you would break it. And if you leave her alone you would benefit by her, and crookedness will remain in her.’ (saheeh of muslim)

The delicate nature of the wife has been reinforced by the above Hadeeth for the crooked rib can easily snap and break, just like a delicate piece of crystal can shattter and break. It is part of the responsibility of the husband to handle his wife with the utmost care and gentleness, steering clear of carelessness, crude behaviour, harshness and recklessness. If he behaves as such, he has abused his role of being amongst the Qawwaamoon and neglected the care of the Qawaareer.

The Beautiful Gift of A Wife

Abu Hurairah narrated that the Prophet asked a man who had married a woman, ‘have you looked at her?’ He said, no.’ The Prophet said, ‘Go and look at her.’ (saheeh of muslim)

The beauty of the wife is an important aspect which attracts the husband when he meets her, sees her and marrys her. Our Prophet taught his Ummah to pay attention to beauty in the sense that the man and woman should be physically attracted to one another. We must understand the interpretation of beauty is individual to each person. The man and woman should marry for the sake of religion, but they should also be atracted to one another, and this is why our Prophet gave the command to look.

The Precious Gift of A Wife

Abdullah bin Amr narrated that the Prophet said, ‘The whole world is a provision, and the best provision of the world is the pious woman.’ (saheeh of muslim3465)

The precious companionship of a righteous wife is a gift like no other. When the wife strives in righteousness, Allah raises her status and rank. She becomes filled with goodness and a means for goodness for her husband. So her husband, upon recognizing this, should pay attention to what he has been given. He should be careful in how he treats her and views her, for she is worthy, precious and an invaluable companion like no other.

Blessed is He Who sent His slave Muhammad to convey His message and restore the Mezaan on Earth, with everything in the universe being intricately balanced as one part of creation assists, effects, and compliments another. Similar is the case with a believing husband and a believing wife, who compliment each other as they unite together as one. We should be careful in how we treat each other and how we view each other for the husband-wife relationship is an imporant part of Islam. We should acquire our understanding through the Qur’aan and Sunna, staying away from cultural influences ad practices which have made their way into the various Muslim lands. It is true that women have caused great fitnah, including the fitan caused by the unrighteous wife, but the problem is not confined to women. Some cultures advocate harshness on the part of the men, while other cultures pay little attention to the feelings of a woman when her heart can be easily broken and shattered. Many Muslim men have married righteous believing women yet they nelgect them and do not realise their worth. Yet this is the delicate gift of a precious wife we are talking about. If we truly claim to be servants of Allah and followers of Muhammad then let us follow the verses of the Qur’aan and understand the Sunna. Next time we study the verse of Qawwaamoon, let us also reflect on the Hadeeth of Qawaareer.

Men are Qawwaamoon over women (Qur’aan 4:34)

Anas Narrated, ‘The Messenger of Allah said, O Anjashah, slowly, drive the camels slowly, as they are carrying Qawaareer (crystal).’ (saheeh of muslim)

Written by Kamillah Khan

An Uncommunicative Husband

Posted in Advice for Husbands, Advice for Wives, Marriage Counselling on February 18, 2008 by Shaz

 Hwaa Irfan

Writer, counselor, editor – Egypt

In a question received through our Cyber Counseling service, a sister was at the end of her tether with a husband who was far from being communicative. there was an alignment of forces against her from his parents’ side. Her in-laws blame her for everything that has gone wrong, and her husband is singing the same tune.

Establishing the paths of communication between spouses in the early years of marriage can be like an obstacle course: With each effort, one loses the ability to be open to the other, especially today whereby the political climate has increased a global insecurity that is seeping into everyday lives.

Those insecurities can be based on class, race, gender, and personal ideologies; so, instead of becoming open to each other, in general, we are increasingly becoming closed off from one another, less trusting, and less considerate.
When families get involved in spreading misunderstanding, a whole vicious circle begins. In such situations, no one is innocent and everyone is a “partner-in-crime” to perpetuating the vicious circle, whether it be an observer, someone who “sits on the fence” – making but not acting on a decision – or someone who is actively being involved by spreading or repeating that which does not reflect the truth.

This kind of insecurity reflects`asabiyyah at its lowest form. On a family level, partisanship results in a clannish mentality, whereby the interests of the family or certain members are considered more important than the common good.

This is antithetical to Islam, which moves the individual from nurturance between mother and father, invested in which are the seeds that help one reach out and fulfill one’s potential and be of benefit to the greater community, that is, the society at large. The essence of Islam is tawheed(Oneness of Allah), and from that tawheedcomes the middle way, which Islam generally reflects.

Allah tells us:

[And among His signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth and the diversity of your tongues and colors; most surely there are signs in this for the learned.](Ar-Rum 30:22)

[O humankind, surely We have created you of a male and a female and made you tribes and families that you may know each other; surely the most honorable of you with Allah is the one among you most careful (of his or her duty); surely Allah is Knowing, Aware. } (Al-Hujurat 49:13)

When we behave antithetically to the principles of tawheed on a personal level, we effectively close all paths to learning. We lose the kind of learning that helps us reevaluate what we think is correct. When we stop learning, then we also become blocked to learning from one another. We put labels upon one another and condemn each other to that label, which prevents growth, change, and rejuvenation. The way we do this is reflected in the following Qur’anic verse:

{O you who believe, let not (one) people laugh at (another) people, perchance they may be better than they are, nor let women (laugh) at (other) women, perchance they may be better than they are; and do not defame one another or insult one another by nicknames; bad is the name of lewdness after faith, and those who do not turn in repentanceare (indeed) evildoers.} (Al-Hujurat 49:11)

In other words, we create myths about “the other,”which we act upon in order to cover up our ability to be open and balanced on the path of the middle way. The middle way is the point between two poles, which we are reminded of in many Prophetic hadiths and Qur’anic verses. Even in spousal relations, that middle way is emphasized as follows:

{And if you fear a breach between the two, then appoint a judge from his people and a judge from her people; if they both desire agreement, Allah will effect harmony between them; surely Allah is Knowing, Aware.} (An-Nisaa’ 4:35)

This is why our book of guidance – the Qur’an – is sometimes referred to as the balancer, or al-mizan.
balancer. or al-mizan

.
The focus should be between the husband and the wife, and that focus should be a striving for balance, but this means taking the path of the middle way. When one stops striving for the better, a negative pattern develops, which results in ending up blaming “the other” instead of first looking at one’s self.

A husband “switches off” to what the wife is saying because:

• He is not interested.

• He has no idea about what his wife is saying.

• He has a particular understanding of his role as a husband.

• He has a tendency toward male chauvinism.

• He is tired because of work.

• He is not used to communicating with women.

A wife should try to observe the following over a period of time :

• What interests her husband

• When he is more conversational

• What makes him laugh

• What makes him sad

A little risk taking is involved beside a willingness to dissolve personal myths and to develop the kind of communication that nurtures enough compassion. The key to mutual understanding will help build the right kind of relationship that is suitable to one’s marriage.

A wife should try as much as possible to pray with her husband, especially Fajr (Dawn) Prayer, the prayer that sets the day ahead.

A wife should also try to observe the following about her husband:

What he likes and dislikes
What brings out the worst in him
What brings out the best in him
A wife cannot have any direct control over her husband’s family, but she can influence her husband, who in turn will influence his family. Make regular du`aa’to help provide your relationship with strength and guidance and enough patience and compassion to allow the efforts to bear fruit.

 

And remember the following opposites that affect many relationships:

(+) Love (-) Fear
Empathy Refusal to understand
Trust Lies; deceit
Certainty Denial
Confidence Harmful actions
Understanding Blocked communication

Nurturing Marital Love

Posted in Advice for Husbands, Advice for Wives, Tips for a Happy Marriage on June 9, 2007 by Shaz

Ten ways to achieve lasting love

by Sheikh Salman al-Oadah

He bounded up the stairs so energetically that it was hard for me to believe that here was a man of more than eighty years. He had the vitality of a youth. Then I learned the reason why:

Though he had gotten married back in 1947 when he was about thirty years old, he was able to say to me: “I do not recall that I ever once got angry with my wife or that she was even once annoyed with me. And if I had a headache, it was impossible for her to sleep until after I fell asleep.”

Then he said with feeling: “I can never think of going out somewhere, even to purchase some household needs, without taking her with me and holding her hand. It is as if we are newlyweds.”

When, due to a medical operation, she had become unable to bear children, he said to her: “You are more precious to me than children.”

He told me: “As long as she walks upon the Earth, I could never even think of marrying anyone else.”

That man is a good example of how devotion can last even into old age. Unfortunately, when we look at the state of the majority of people of any age, we can appreciate that his relationship is a rarity indeed, a sort of ideal.

Of course, we do not have to be held to such an ideal. Moreover, we should not go to our spouses and expect them to be like that when we ourselves have so many shortcomings.

Marriage is love and affection. Allah says: “He created for you mates from among yourselves so that you can seek comfort in them and He has placed between you affection and mercy.” [Surah ar-Rum: 21]

This is why each sex is drawn to the other in the first place, as if each person is looking for his missing other half.

When the wife of the famous jurist Abu Rabi`ah died, he carried out her burial himself and had to wipe the dirt from his own hands. However, when he returned home, he was overcome with grief and lamented to his Lord, his eyes filling with tears: “Now…my home has died as well. The home only lives for the woman who dwells inside it.”

Marital love requires extraordinary effort from both parties if it is to last and remain vital. The difficulty of marital love does not lie in those small disagreements that are a normal part of everyday life and that all couples haves to work out. Indeed, such problems sometimes revitalize the relationship, like spice in a savory dish.

The real problem lies in three things:
1. The inability of one person to understand the other. Indeed sometimes a person even has difficulty understanding his own self.
2. The inability of a person to adapt to the partnership that is marriage and the inability to cope with the life changes that it brings. Many people expect things to remain the same as they were before.
3. The most important problem is a lack of commitment to the relationship and to making it last. This is why it is necessary for people to understand “the rules of the game” when it comes to love.

Since marital love is prone to sickness and even death, it is imperative for couples to constantly work to revitalize and preserve it.

Husbands and wives must do the following:

1. They have to get in the habit of saying things that are positive, like offering compliments and like making little prayers for each other.

A husband could say to his wife: “If I were sent back to the days of my youth, I would not choose for a wife anyone besides you.” Of course, the wife can easily say something similar to her husband.

Affectionate words have an effect, especially on women. They have, indeed, often been the weapons used by unscrupulous men to gain access to what is not theirs.

Sweet words arouse a woman’s heart. A husband should take care to say them to his wife before someone else does.

2. Husbands and wives have to get into the habit of doing those little things that mean so much. If a man comes home to find his wife asleep, he can cover her and tuck her into bed.

A husband can give his wife a call from work just to say hello and to let her know that he is thinking about her.

If a wife finds that her husband has fallen asleep, she can give him a little kiss on the forehead, even if she thinks that he will not be aware of it. Indeed, on some level his senses are working even though he is asleep and he may very well be aware of it.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) emphasized the value of these little things, “…even the morsel of food that you place in your wife’s mouth…” [Sahîh al-Bukhârî and Sahîh Muslim]

It may very well be that the Prophet (peace be upon him) was alluding to the expenditure of a man for his wife’s needs. Nonetheless, the Prophet (peace be upon him) chose to express it in the way he did for a reason. Most importantly, this is the way the Prophet (peace be upon him) conducted himself with his family.

This type of behavior is governed by the tastes of the people involved. It may take some getting used to, but it really does not take a lot of effort.

A person who is not accustomed to such things may feel embarrassed just hearing about them and may prefer to leave matters the way they are rather than try to change his behavior and do things that he might see as ridiculous.

Still, we must be willing introduce new habits into our lives if we do not want our problems to go on forever.

3. The husband and wife must set aside time to talk to each other. They should talk about the past; reminisce about the good times. Talking about them keeps them fresh in our minds as if they had happened only yesterday. They should talk about the future and share their hopes and their plans. They should also talk about the present, both the good and bad of it, and discuss different ways to solve their problems.

4. Keeping close physical contact is good for the relationship. This is not just for times of intimacy, but at all times, like when sitting in the lounge or walking down the street. This is regardless of the fact that there are still men in our society who are ashamed to have people see them walking in public with their wives at their sides.

5. Emotional support should be guaranteed whenever it is required. When the wife is pregnant or on her monthly period, she may need her husband to lend her a little moral support. He should take her mental state into consideration. Medical experts attest to the fact that when women go through pregnancy, menstruation, or postpartum bleeding, they suffer from psychological stress that can aversely affect their behavior. It is at times like these that a woman needs her husband’s support. She needs him to let her know how much she means to him and how much he needs her in his life.

Likewise, the husband might fall ill or come under a lot of difficulties. The wife must take these things into consideration. If people want their relationship to last, they must let each other feel that support.

6. There have to be some material expressions of love. Gifts should be given, sometimes without there being any occasion for it, since a pleasant surprise is always welcome. A good gift is one that expresses feelings of affection. It does not have to be expensive, but it has to be appropriate for the other’s tastes and personality; something that will be cherished.

7. The husband and wife have to learn how to be more tolerant of each other and overlook one another’s shortcomings. It should become a habit to forget about the little mistakes of daily life and not even bring them up. Silence in these trivialities is a sign of noble character.

A woman said to `Â’ishah: “When my husband comes home, he becomes like a cat. When he goes out, he becomes like a lion. He does not ask about what might have happened.” [Sahîh al-Bukhârî and Sahîh Muslim]

Ibn Hajar explains her words as follows:

They might mean that he is very generous and tolerant. He does not make a big fuss about what goes missing of his wealth. If he brings something for the house, he does not enquire about it later on. He does not make an issue of the shortcomings that he might see at home but instead is clement and tolerant.

It is wrong to go overboard in considering the faults of others but when it comes to ourselves, keep a running account of all our good qualities.

There is a tradition that goes: “One of you sees the dust in his brother’s eyes and forgets about the dirt in his own.”

8. A husband and wife must come to an understanding when it comes to matters of mutual concern, like the raising of children, work, travel, expenses, and problems that might pose a threat to the marital relationship.

9. Husbands and wives need to do things to liven up their relationship. Each one of them can read a book or listen to a cassette that might give them some ideas on how they can revitalize their marital life and bring more meaning to it. They can vary their habits when it comes to relaxing together, dining, taking refreshments, decorating their home, and in relating to each other both openly and intimately. These are the things that keep up the excitement and interest in a relationship.

10. The relationship must be protected from negative influences that can harm it. One of the worst of these is the habit of comparing one’s spouse to others. Many men tend to compare their wives to those of other men. Some even compare them with the faces they see in magazines and on television. Women also compare their husbands with other women’s husbands in things like wealth, looks, and how many times he takes her out. All of this makes people feel bad and insufficient and it can ruin the marital relationship.

If we must compare ourselves to others, we should do so with those who have less going for them than ourselves. Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) said: “Look towards those who are beneath you and do not look towards those who are above you. This is better so that you do not belittle Allah’s blessings.” [Sahîh al-Bukhârî and Sahîh Muslim]

We must accustom ourselves to living in the real world and to finding contentment in what Allah has decreed for us. We should not look longingly at what others have been given. Whatever little that we have will be a lot if we utilize it well.

It is quite possible that many who speak about their marital bliss and go on boasting about their husbands and wives are untruthful in what they say. They just like to brag.

The grass often does seem greener on the other side, but only because we are not looking at it up close.

On Beating One’s Wife

Posted in Advice for Husbands, Marriage Counselling on June 8, 2007 by Shaz

Ruqaiyyah Waris Maqsood

Surah 4.34 is probably the most controversial verse in the Qur’an, because it appears at first sight to give Muslim men permission to beat their wives. It has not only been seized on by non-Muslims to ‘prove’ that Islam is a cruel and abusive faith, but also taken by abusive ‘Muslim’ husbands as an excuse to vent their spleen on their unfortunate wives. This is not a fair criticism at all, as will be explained.

The following is a typical translation of the verse:

4:34. ‘Men are in charge of (or overseers of – qawwamuna) women, as Allah has given them more (strength) than the other (sometimes translated as made them superior to the other), and because they spend of their wealth (to provide for them). Therefore women who are virtuous are obedient to God, and guard in (the husband’s) absence what God would have them guard. As for those women on whose part you fear rebellion (nushuz), admonish them and banish them to beds apart, (and last) beat (adribu) them. Then, if they obey you, seek not a way against them. For God is Most High, Great (above you all).

 It is vital to examine closely the meanings of three key words – qawwamuna, nushuz and adribu.

Qawwamuna

Although qawwamuna has been interpreted by some people to imply that women should occupy an inferior position in Islam, this is not the intention at all. Some translators of the Qur’an have used the word ‘guardian’, as if suggesting women were indeed inferior, but this is not the chief implication of the word qawwam. Rather than a domineering boss or master, it implies ‘one who stands firm in the business of others, protects their interests, and looks after their affairs’. The same word is used elsewhere in the Qur’an, as later in the same Surah, 4.135: ‘O you who believe, stand out firmly (qawwamina) for justice as witnesses to Allah…..’

Qawwamuna comes from the root qawwam, the intensive form of qa’im – ‘one who is responsible for’ or ‘one who takes care of’ a thing or a person. Qawwam can be used to mean keeper, custodian, guardian, to be in charge of, manage, run, tend, guard, keep up, preserve, take care of, attend to, watch over, look after, direct, superintend, but it also means maintainer, caretaker, provider, and supporter. It carries the sense of stewardship over an environment as opposed to exploitation. Muhammad Asad’s commentary on the verse points out that the phrase qama’ala ‘l-ma’rah signifies ‘he undertook the maintenance of the woman’ or ‘he maintained her’. He also pointed out that the word qawwam combines the concepts of moral responsibility as well as physical maintenance and protection, and that was why he chose the words ‘full responsibility’ in his translation. It is the husband’s responsibility to treat his wife well, to be kind, caring and just – not as a domineering dictator, but in a marital partnership.

So the true Islamic sense of the word is to protect and support – Muslim men are not expected to dominate, abuse or exploit, but to take care of their women, and this duty and responsibility of a husband is something that Muslim women are urged to accept.

Muhammad Asad’s far better translation of this verse reads: ‘Men shall take full care of women, with the bounties which God has bestowed on them more abundantly than upon the latter, and with what they may spend out of their possessions. The righteous women are the truly devout ones, who guard the intimacy which God has ordained to be guarded. As for those women whose ill-will you have reason to fear (on whose part you fear nushuz – disloyalty, rebellion, ill-conduct), talk to them persuasively, then leave them alone in bed (without molesting them) then (adribu) them (ie. either separate from them, or resume sleeping with them when they are willing and seek peace); and if they return to obedience, do not seek an excuse for blaming them: For God is Most High, Great (above you all).

Why should men protect and support women? If all things were equal, I suppose there would be no particular reason why they should. However, the reason for the ruling at the time of the Prophet (pbuh) was basically because men had the greater ability to earn income, and women without providers and supporters could expect a very tough time indeed. Things may be changing now in some societies, but situations that favour male income and employment are still the norm in most regions of the world. At the time the Qur’an was revealed, that was most certainly the case for the vast majority.

However, the Qur’an was not intended just for those times, but for all people, in all times. This is why scholars who believe in a modernistic approach to the teachings of Allah always look to the spirit and principles taught; it could easily be argued that in this day and age the women are often the breadwinners while many men are unemployed. As situations change, so one has to look into the spirit and meaning of the Qur’anic text to see Allah’s intention. The intention (niyyah) of a ruling should always take precedence over the letter of the law.

Most surely, in this case, it was not that women were inferior and had to be guarded or dominated, but that women should be given full support and assistance, and should be able to rely on a man to look after them. The women had virtually no access to birth control, and so were unable to do much more than child-rearing for a large part of their married lives. Men do not suffer the physical problems involved with menstruation, pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding, with all the hormonal upheavals that go along with these things.

It does not mean that a woman should not go out to work, or earn her own money, or help to support her family – but that in a Muslim marriage, she should not be obliged to do so. It is the husband’s duty to provide, and the wife’s to provide the comfort and safe haven of a loving home. (It is perhaps worth mentioning that the Prophet’s first wife Khadijah had already produced at least four children before she married him, and ran a successful trading business. She was the Prophet’s employer before she became his wife. She then went on to have six children by him, when she was over forty. Of the Prophet’s later wives, it is known that Zaynab bint Jahsh earned her own income in the leather trade, and Umm Salamah and Safiyyah also earned their own incomes).

In Islam, however, the man is supposed to be the head of the household, and the wife is supposed to be his partner and helper, and best friend. She is there to be consulted and confided in, but at the end of the day, the husband is supposed to be the one who makes the final decisions and expects to have his will respected.

It is therefore vitally important that a woman should always take care to marry a man that she does respect, and whose wishes she can carry out with easy conscience. If her husband is unreasonable, or selfish, or abusive, she will never be content. This is a good reason why marriages should be arranged with care, and perhaps without the seducing atmosphere of emotional love. It is important in the marriage not to just love, but to like the chosen partner. If a woman does not respect her husband, perhaps because he is inferior mentally or morally, how can she obey him?

Her husband is not her master; a Muslim woman has only one Master, and that is Allah. If a man expects his wife to do anything contrary to the will of her true Master, that is Allah – in other words, any nasty, selfish, dishonest or cruel action, etc – she has the right to refuse him. So long as her husband represents Allah’s will in the home, well and good. If he does not, how can she obey?

A good wife can always be trusted. While her husband is there with her, she should strive to be cheerful and encouraging towards him; when he is absent, she should take care of his household, his property and his reputation – by guarding her own virtue. If she has accepted a position sheltered by him, she should for her part justify that position by the way she lives and loves.

Nushuz

Some translations use the word ‘rebellion’ in order to translate nushuz. This implies the power and authority of the husband, and suggests that when a wife rebels against her ‘lord and master’ it is sinful action on her part.

It is important to realize that the very same word, nushuz, is used later in the very same surah in regard to the behaviour of the husband, and here we may observe that the word is usually translated as ill-treatment rather than rebellion. Very interesting…..

If a wife fears ill-treatment (nushuz) or desertion on her husband’s part, there is no blame on them if they arrange an amicable settlement between themselves, and such settlement is best…..’ (Surah 4.128).

In fact, ‘ill-treatment’ is a far better translation; the word nushuz has a large number of possible meanings, including animosity, hostility, ill-will, ill-treatment, discord, every kind of deliberate bad behaviour of a wife towards a husband (or vice versa) including what is today called ‘mental cruelty’, and also the deliberate, persistent breach of marital duties (ie. refusing physical intimacy) on the part of either husband or wife.

In the context of Surah 4.34 the most appropriate meaning would seem to be that of marital discord, in this case a wife’s ill-will which implies a deliberate and persistent breach of her marital obligations. If a husband finds that his wife has become disloyal to him, and is conducting herself to his shame, then it is not right for him to just ignore this, but it is his duty to do something about it.

With luck, it may be enough to communicate. Communication is everything in a relationship, especially in a marriage. However, the text implies that things have gone far beyond this point.

If the wife takes no notice of discussion and counselling, then the relationship is really starting to break down. A husband might then begin the process of separation by no longer sleeping with her. Shifting to separate beds is usually such a serious step in a marriage that it clarifies the mind, and the couple are brought to the stage of talking things through seriously in order to reach some agreement.

In Islam, if there have been no sexual relations between a couple for a period of four months, without agreed abstinence on both sides, then this would be considered grounds for divorce.

Adribu (Arabic root – daraba)

The word translated as slap/hit/beat derives from the Arabic root daraba. In fact, daraba can be translated in over a hundred different ways, including to separate, to part, to set out (on the road), to shroud (in darkness), to mint (a coin), to publish (a book), to cover (as in ladies’ dress), to dispatch, to throw, to raise, and many more – and translators of the Qur’an and commentators on it have always had trouble with this word.

The notion that daraba means ‘to strike’ in 4.34 is really founded upon two debatable grounds – that the hadiths Abu Dawud 2141 and Mishkat al-Masabih 0276 used it in this way, and that it was the prejudice and environment of the early commentators on the Qur’an that led them to assume that the meaning ‘to strike’ was the most likely of all the possible interpretations.

As it happens, words derived from this same root occur no less than 58 times in the Qur’an, and are used in different contexts in ways that can be ambiguous and open to widely different translations into English. In none of these other places is it used or translated in the sense of to hit, strike or beat.

Perhaps most interesting of all is the use of the word to mean ‘to have sexual intercourse’. The Lisan al-Arab quotes the phrase ‘darab al-fahl an-naqah’ – ‘the stud camel covered the she-camel’.

In the context of Surah 4.34, I feel we are faced with a choice of three main possibilities; the first is that it did give the husband the right to hit his wife; secondly, the most appropriate meaning of the word would surely be ‘to separate’ or ‘to part’ – in which case the entire notion of a man having rights to beat his wife becomes irrelevant. The third most appropriate meaning would be ‘to return to normal life’ which in this context would certainly imply the meaning of ‘to return to having normal sexual relations’.

If a husband had descended to the level of beating his wife, the divorce proceeding would most probably become inevitable, and any possibility of a process of reconciliation (as outlined in Surah 4.35, the next verse) wiped out.

Allah commanded Muslims to refrain from aggression, except in self-defence.

Those things which are either obligatory or forbidden (haram) for all Muslims are stated clearly in the Qur’an. Obviously, if there had been a text directly forbidding a husband from beating his wife, then there would be no further problem – but sadly, there is no verse stating that. Therefore we must look for the true spirit of Islam in the general texts concerning the relationships between man and wife, and also angry males and other people.

Husbands and wives who are believers are not expected to try to hurt each other, or abuse each other.

Surah 9.71: ‘As for believers, both men and women, they are (to be) friends and protectors of one another, encouraging the doing of what is right and preventing the doing of what is wrong; they are constant in prayer, and pay the zakah on their wealth, and pay heed to Allah and His Messenger.’

Surah 30.21: ‘Among His wonders is this – that He creates for you mates out of your own kind, so that you might be attracted towards them, and then He instills love and tenderness between you; in this there are messages indeed for those capable of thought.’

It is not just the husband who has rights, but both husband and wife.

Surah 4.1: ‘O humanity! Be conscious of your Sustainer, who has created you from one single living entity (nafs – soul), and out of it created its mate, and from the two shall spread a multitude of males and females. Remain conscious of God, in whose name you expect your rights from one another, and the ties of kindship.’

All Muslims are expected to keep their tempers in check and control themselves, although self-defence was allowed.

Surah 4.77: ‘Are you not aware of those who have been told, ‘Curb your hands’…..’

Surah 3.134: ‘Hold in check your anger……….’

Surah 42.41-42: ‘If any help or defend themselves (ie act in self-defence) after some wrong done to them, they are not held to blame for that. The blame lies only with those who oppress in wrongdoing, and insolently transgress beyond bounds, defying right and justice; there will be a serious penalty for them.’ This verse seems perfectly applicable to the case of a wife trying to defend herself from an abusive spouse; if the abuser ‘got away with it’ in this lifetime, he would most certainly face the judgement of Allah in the next.

Surah 4.128 we have already seen: ‘If a woman has reason to fear ill-treatment from her husband, or that he might turn away from her, it shall not be wrong for the two of them to set things peacefully to rights between themselves (ie. by agreeing to divorce), for peace is best, and selfishness is ever-present in human souls……

Here it may surely be seen clearly that if a husband behaves in such a way as his wife fears he might hurt or abandon her, she has the right to seek divorce from him. Spouses need to live in peace, whether by reconciliation with each other, or by separating and divorcing.

The Prophet’s (pbuh) sunnah and teaching

The question of wife-beating is one topic in which the sunnah of the Prophet is absolutely vital in making meanings clear – the Prophet insisted that a man should never beat a woman, and most certainly never hit her about the face or head.

Abu Dawud 877 gives a clear command. Mu’awiyah asked: ‘Apostle of Allah, what is the right of the wife of one of us over him?’ He replied: ‘That you should give her food when you eat, clothe her when you clothe yourself, do not strike her on the face, do not revile her or separate yourself from her except in the house.’ (See also Abu Dawud 878,879).

One of the Prophet’s (pbuh) clearest statements, widely recorded, was that: ‘No Muslim man should ever hit one of Allah’s handmaidens’ (Abu Dawud 880, An-Nisai, Ibn Majah, Ibn Hanbal, Ibn Hibban, Hakim, – on the authority of Iyas b. Abdullah; Ibn Hibban on the authority of Ibn Abbas; and Bayhaqi on the authority of Umm Kulthum).

Aishah recorded how one woman had really been beaten savagely. ‘How can you beat your wife as if she was a slave, and then embrace her without feeling shame at your action?’ the Prophet (pbuh) cried. ‘Those men who behave like this are hardly the best among you.’

A man could hardly expect to hit his wife and then expect her to calmly share his bed later that night (recorded in Bukhari and Muslim).

Umar knew the Prophet’s (pbuh) statement that men should never strike the ‘handmaidens of Allah’, and asked directly if they were really forbidden from doing so, for he felt that their womenfolk were becoming spoiled to the extent of arguing and becoming ‘insolent’. The Prophet (pbuh) apparently commented that he had not been given the command that would have prevented them from hitting their wives. Surely, if he had understood that Allah had granted Muslim men encouragement to beat wives who were rebellious, then he would have said so clearly and given the quotation. Nevertheless, Umar apparently went off satisfied that he did have the right to do so. He recorded that the Prophet (pbuh) had told him that a husband would not face questions at Allah’s Judgement as to why he beat his wife (Abu Dawud 881).

However, this was not the end of the episode. The upshot was that the following morning the Prophet (pbuh) was confronted by no less than 70 female Companions who had organized themselves into a deputation and turned up outside his house, all of whom had been ill-treated by their supposedly pious husbands. (Abu Dawud 880. See also ‘Women of Madina’, Aisha Bewley’s translation of Ibn Sa’d vol 8, p.144, recorded by Abu Bakr’s daughter Umm Kulthum). The Prophet (pbuh) was so outraged on the women’s behalf that he came out and summoned the Companions to hear a public sermon telling of the many women who had informed his family of the behaviour of their husbands, berating the men who had behaved thus, shaming them. ‘They are hardly the best of you!’ he cried. (Abu Dawud 880). ‘I cannot bear the thought of a man with the veins of his neck swelling with anger against his wife, fighting her!’ he said.

Aishah recorded his statement to encourage the men to be gentler: ‘Among the believers who show most perfect faith are those who have the best disposition, and are kindest to their families.’ (Tirmidhi 961, Abu Dawud 880).

Devout Muslim men took the Prophet’s (pbuh) words and orders very seriously. They felt the urge to be ‘the best of men’, in that they followed his teachings as closely as they possibly could.

Many a Companion then did feel ashamed and took his words to heart, and learned to behave with more gentleness.

Aishah was crystal clear: ‘The Prophet (pbuh) never abused or spoke ill of anybody,’ she said. ‘He forgave faults and refrained from retaliation. He never thought of taking personal revenge, forgave non-believers promptly on their conversion to Islam, never fought on personal grounds, took an interest in his household affairs, condemned vendettas and blood-feuds, and never beat anyone – not even a slave.’ (Ibn Sa’d 1.430, 502).

Aishah also recorded a conversation concerning a man who had beaten his slaves. ‘Messenger of Allah,’ the man told him. ‘I have slaves who lie to me, deceive me and disobey me, so I shout abuse at them and beat them. How do I stand with respect to them?’ ‘On the Day of Resurrection,’ the Prophet replied, ‘account will be taken of the extent of their deceit, disobedience and lying towards you, and of the punishment you administered to them. If your punishment was in accordance with their offences, its being exactly right will count neither for you nor against you. If your punishment was less than their offence deserved, it will be something extra to your credit. However, if your punishment was greater than their offences deserved, then requital will be taken from you on their behalf for the excess.’ Then the man began to weep, so the Prophet asked him if he did not know the words of Allah Most High: ‘We shall place the just scales for the Day of Resurrection and no soul shall be wronged in any least respect; and even if there is only the weight of a grain of mustard-seed We shall bring it, and We are fully able to take account.’ (Surah 21.47). The result of this was that the man freed his slaves. (Tirmidhi 1464).

If such was the requirement of a man towards his slaves, and the justice of Allah towards ill-treated slaves, then we can be sure that the same standards most certainly applied regarding a man’s treatment of his wife, and Allah’s justice for a wronged wife!

The Prophet (pbuh) expected spouses to cherish each other while they had the chance, during their relationship upon this earth. They needed to remember that they would not have each other forever. Our earthly or physical marriages are only part of the experience of this physical world. People are souls, and have come from the realm of the Unknown (al-Ghayb), and will return to the realm of the Unknown. Their eternal relationships may bear no resemblance at all to their earthly ones. Allah knows best. (The Qur’an speaks of huris (beautiful and pure companions of either sex – not to be debased by the ignorant thought that they will be sexual concubines or playthings offered as rewards for the amusement of Muslim men!)

‘No woman annoys her husband (or vice versa) in this world without his Paradise-companions (the huris) saying: ‘You should not annoy him, Allah curse you! He is only a temporary guest with you, and is soon to leave you to come back to us!’ (Tirmidhi 960).

There is no suggestion in Qur’an or hadiths that a man should ever hit his wife out of anger, frustration, irritation, annoyance or disappointment, or just as the result of losing his temper. All those things are totally unIslamic, and the man would be ultimately held to account for them if he did them, at the Day of Judgement. If a Muslim man foolishly uses the text of Surah 4.34 to grant himself the right to beat his wife, he has completely misunderstood the principles of Islam, in which one Muslim should never seek to hurt another, especially not his closest neighbour and friend, his wife.

In his famous Farewell Sermon, the Prophet referred to this issue again. Amr b. al-Ahwas recorded the relevant phrases, which seem to refer back to Surah 4.34: ‘Listen! Treat women kindly; they are like prisoners in your hands. Beyond this you do not owe anything from them. Should they be guilty of flagrant misbehaviour, you may remove them from your beds, and beat them but do not inflict upon them any severe punishment. (As for the use of the word ‘beat’ in this hadith, the same commentary that has already been suggested for Surah 4.34 similarly applies). Then if they obey you, do not have recourse to anything else against them. Listen! You have your rights upon your wives and they have their rights upon you. Your right is that they shall not allow anyone you dislike, to trample your bed and do not permit those whom you dislike to enter your home. Their right is that you should treat them well in the matter of food and clothing.’ (Tirmidhi 104). The hadith is recorded in Abu Dawud, Muslim, Tirmidhi, an-Nasai and Ibn Majah. All authorities are unanimous that if anh husband meted out any physical punishment to his wife, it should only be considered if the wife was guilty of obvious and blatant immoral conduct, and that if any such action took place, it should not involve any violence or hurt but just be symbolic, such as striking with a handkerchief or toothstick.

Once the man and wife are in harmony again, no more continued ill-feeling should continue. No nagging, or continually bringing matters up again and again.

The Process of Support

Returning to Surah 4.34, the next verse gives the excellent advice that if the relationship really looks like breaking up, then both spouses should call in the help of two supporters, one for each side in the dispute, and listen to everything that needs saying with witnesses who can help calm things down.

4:35. If ye fear a breach between them (ie. the man and his wife), appoint (two) arbiters, one from his family, and the other from hers; If they wish for peace (desire reconciliation), then God will cause their reconciliation (make them of one mind): for God has full knowledge, and is acquainted With all things.’

So therefore I conclude that the verses of Surah 4.34-35 suggest that when a wife has seriously jeopardised her marriage by her ill-will, the husband should reason with her, then abstain from sexual intimacy with her, and if that fails, separate from her. Two arbiters should then be called in to present the case of both sides, and do their best to reconcile them. If the marriage is not ‘dead in the water’, Allah will help to bring about their reconciliation.

This is the normal procedure expected in Islamic divorce law; although practice varies around the Islamic world, basically after the first notice of divorce has been given, the spouses should live under the same roof without sexual intimacy for their first month of iddah (waiting period). If they reconcile and resume their marriage, well and good. No new legal ceremony or document is necessary.

It is hardly the case that a man on the verge of final separation from his wife is suddenly granted the right to beat her, as if this would somehow heal the breach!! A few verses earlier, the Qur’an states:

Surah 4.19: ‘It is not lawful for you to try to hold your wives against their will, and neither shall you keep them under constraint with a view to taking away anything of what you may have given them (ie. their marital mahr payment) unless it be that they have become guilty of immoral conduct in an obvious manner. Consort with your wives in a goodly manner; for if you dislike them, it may well be that you dislike something which Allah might yet make a source of abundant good.’

If they do not reconcile, the second notice of divorce is given, and another month must pass by under the same conditions. Again, if they reconcile and resume their marriage, well and good. If the third month passes and there is still no reconciliation, then the divorce can go to the judge and become final, and they may not then resume sexual intimacy without renewed contracts.

Mat Allah bless us all, and grant us to work hard to make ours the happiest of marriages.

Wasalaam,

Ruqaiyyah.

A Wedding Speech

Posted in Advice for Husbands, Advice for Wives, Marriage Coaching, Tips for a Happy Marriage, Wedding Ceremony on June 6, 2007 by Shaz

Given on the occasion of the marriage of two young friends

by

Ruqaiyyah Waris Maqsood.

I have been asked to speak a few words for this joyful occasion of the wedding of Abdullah and Zaynab (fictional names). Indeed, my very best wishes and prayers are for them, that they have chosen each other wisely, and that they will find genuine happiness and contentment, and will discover that Abdullah will be to Zaynab, and Zaynab to Abdullah, a partner who will stand by you through thick and thin and be your most loyal supporter and comfort in life.

So many people in the west these days decide to form relationships without marriage, perhaps because they fear the seriousness of the commitment, or have observed the marriages of others hit the rocks. Many others take the plunge, but the marriage breaks up alarmingly swiftly.

This is not what any of us want – we want to be happy, and loved, and respected and cherished, from the moment we commit ourselves to each other, for the rest of our lives. Dear brothers and sisters, that is what Allah intended for us – that we should be happy and strong together, so that we might become powerhouses for Islam both in our homes, which are refuges from the world, and in the world.

Our Blessed Prophet taught that marriage, in Islam, is ‘half the faith’. For some people, I am sure it must be even more than half. It depends how much of their life they spend ‘within’ the family, and how much ‘outside’ it. For many wives, as we know, the marriage is nearly 100% of the practice of their faith.

The goal of married life in Islam is much greater than just two people trying to live successfully together. It is to practise Islam within a set group of people (your family – spouse, offspring, dependants), to bring about peace, love, security and happiness, and having achieved this in the microcosm of your own family, to then reach out to the world at large and spread Islam to all.

None of this just comes naturally – it has to be created with love, patience and compassion, and practised without ceasing, and protected at all costs against the selfishness, laziness and temptations and taking for granted that will inevitably beset your relationship. We can see all around us the effects of people neglecting and abusing their relationships. As Muslims, we are requested by Allah to do our utmost to create happy, pious, content and secure households, following the sunnah of our Prophet (pbuh).

We all know that some people are fine in public, but rotten behind closed doors. When the Prophet’s wife Aishah was asked about the way the Prophet lived at home, she replied simply: ‘His way of life IS the Qur’an.’ He was exactly the same beloved person, noble and compassionate, within the privacy of his home as he was in public outside it!

Zaynab and Abdullah, the first and main aim of your Muslim marriage should be ibadah, your worship of Allah. By this, I don’t mean you should spend hours praying together, but something rather different. Ibadah to me means believing without question that Allah is Lord, and is aware of every thought, intention and action that passes between you; and that everything you have been granted in this life, even your next breath, is a gift – which could be withdrawn at any moment should Allah so wish. You do not know how long you will have together on this earth, or when you or the one you love will be snatched away. Your loved one may live to be 100, or be taken from you this very night.

The second aim is to respond to the basic biological instincts and needs for sexual fulfilment, personal companionship, safety and security, and procreation – to do your utmost to create the most wholesome and happy atmosphere for each other, and for bringing up the new human beings who may, insha’Allah, be brought into this world by you.

Every job, every walk of life needs skills. Most skills do not just come to us naturally – we have to take the trouble to learn them. Exactly the same is true for marriage in general, and for newly-weds, the sexual skills too. Sexual intimacy can be carried out on the purely animal level, and male satisfaction sometimes achieved in seconds – a highly disappointing matter, particularly for the wife. What turns sex into sadaqah is to make it unselfish, and perform it in the best possible way for the sake of Allah – to take care of your partner, and put your partner’s needs above your own. Kindness and consideration. The famous Imam al-Ghazzali recorded a relevant hadith of the Prophet (pbuh) about this: ‘He is not one of us who takes his need of her before he fulfils her need of him.’

You will also need tolerance and patience, and to realise that you do not have the right to be loved or respected. These things are not rights – they have to be earned. You need to remember that fathers and mothers (God willing) love their children without reservations, and forgive them all sorts of awful conduct, and plead for them, and make allowances for them. Even if their children are awful, they (God willing) never cease to love them. Abdullah and Zaynab, your parents love you and make allowances for you simply because they are your parents. They will excuse every failing, stick up for you through thick and thin, and love you even though you might be a completely horrible person. They will never ‘divorce’ you. But now, as you leave them and start your new life together, you must remember that your partner will not make the same allowances for you as your parents did. If you don’t take your new role seriously, your partner will soon feel upset, offended and become critical of you, and their parents might even become their allies against you.

Nobody has the right to be loved if they are not making themselves lovable. You cannot force someone to love you. You cannot force someone to respect you. Love and respect have to be earned – both from your chosen life-partner, and also from your in-laws (who will not see you in the same light as your own parents).

Remember that newlywed husbands and wives really are ‘new’ to each other. No matter how well they think they know each other beforehand, every married person here would tell you that there will soon come that moment when you are on your own, and you cannot run to your parents for comfort and help.

Abdullah, a new husband needs to remember that his wife is not his mother – Zaynab may not ever cook like your mother, or do for you the things your mother did, or think like your mother, or make allowances for you like your mother.

Zaynab, a new wife needs to remember that her husband is not her father – Abdullah may never think like your father, make allowances for you like your father, guard and guide you like your father, do the things your father did, or have any of the same skills that your father had.

And also remember, Zaynab, that if it ever comes to a fight between a man’s wife and his mother, it is nearly always the mother that wins! I remember being told that a man could have a hundred wives, but he only has one mother! There is nothing you can do about this – but God willing, you will be the mother of his children, and it will be your turn!

And if there is love between you now, remember it is a precious thing, like a very expensive pot-plant; it will not grow if you don’t look after it. If you don’t treat it right, it will soon fizzle out, dry up and rot away. Once that has happened, it is a mighty difficult task to get it going again.

Remember, you are younger people. And nobody is perfect. Don’t be too critical of each other when you start discovering all the ‘faults’. It is pointless expecting a young bride or groom to have all the skills and talents and expertise when they start out that it took their parents years to learn. If you feel a complete fool because you burn a meal or turn all the washing pink, remember that your parents may have made even more mistakes than you when they started out together.

You are poorer people. It is pointless to expect to have straight away all the earnings and status of your elders. It may come to you in due course, if you earn it, and if God wills, you may exceed their status and wealth. If you are starting in a new home, build it together – and don’t expect to have everything all at once.

You are inexperienced people. A young husband taking on the responsibilities of a manager in his household, needs to learn how to manage. Abdullah, you would do well to go on a management course, and learn how to deal with people, how to avert trouble, how to give orders without offence, how to reward those who work for you. Zaynab, you would do well to learn how to cope with the household – the budget, the care of the family health, cleanliness, etc – even if you have a career of your own and hire in other people to do these things for you.

I can tell you now what the most frequent complaints are of men and women who are struggling to live together – the most frequent complaint of women about men is that they never listen, and the most frequent complaint of men about women is that they are always trying to change them.

I suppose you will try to change each other – but be warned. If you think your partner has any faults now, which you hope you might be able to put right later on – think again. Any irritants only become worse with age, and even more irritating. If you spend all your time trying to stop your partner being what he or she is, you will get as much pleasure out of it as banging your head against a brick wall. The only thing you can successfully adjust is your own attitude to it. I wasted 23 years when married to my first husband trying to get him not to leave his dirty socks rolled up in a ball under the bed when he took them off. I never managed it. In the end we were divorced, (not just because of the socks), and then he died. These days I remember him with a smile, and wonder why looking after his laundry had annoyed me so much.

So, be noble, be kind, be tolerant, compassionate and generous as possible in all your dealings, and perform as nobly as possible in your marriage all the promises regarding sexual fulfilment and companionship. And may Allah bless you and keep your souls safe in His hands, and send his angels to guard you and guide you, and keep away from you all harm of those things that would harm you, and bless your marriage with trust, and joy, and every good thing – we ask it, O Lord, because we know that You love us and want only the best for us. Help us to be aware of Your presence always. Amin.