Archive for the Marriage Coaching 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 Five Languages of Love

Posted in Love, Marriage Coaching, The Prophet and his Wives, Tips for a Happy Marriage on February 19, 2010 by Shaz

By Maria Zain

Marriage and family life expert Dr. Gary Chapman explains that each one of us speaks one or more of five different languages of love. The “Love Languages”, he says, refer to how we perceive that we are loved by the people around us.

Chapman categorizes the five languages into: 1) quality time, 2) services, 3) gifts, 4) positive affirmations, and 5) touch. He explains that every person speaks one dominant language, but also speaks one or two other languages of love at the same time. Tuning into one’s spouse, child, or family in general, and understanding their needs would be more effective when one is able to identify each person’s love language.

For example, a mother may identify that one of her children is acting out mainly because she is neglecting his love language of “quality time”. By identifying his love language, she will be able to tune into his needs more effectively by allocating more quality time with that one child.

Similarly, a husband may find that a rift in his marriage is being caused by him not understanding his wife’s language of love. If he realizes that her love language is, for example, services, he can then show appreciation and affection towards her by helping out with the housework, groceries, and chores.

Islam speaks of love in the highest regard. Allah (God) is known as the Most Gracious and the Most Merciful, and through those traits, showers His Grace upon human beings. Thus, it is no wonder that Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was a person of compassion and empathy like no other. He was continuously surrounded by people whom he loved dearly and who shared that mutual affection.

By reading through his biography, especially concerning his relationships with his loved ones, we can see that he spoke each of Chapman’s five languages of love, depending on who he was dealing with. This article will be looking at each of the five languages of love by providing a few examples of how this was shown throughout Prophet Muhammad’s life.

Spending Quality Time Together

Prophet Muhammad used to spend time with his comrades, laughing and joking. He made light of difficult situations and reminded his friends that it was also important to indulge in leisurely activities, as long as they did not contradict Islamic practices.

He was known to have played games with his wife Aishah, including racing her around open compounds, and watching performances together, such as an Ethiopian traditional dance during Eid. Besides this, he was always surrounded by Muslims in the mosque, wishing to ask questions about Islam.

Unlike other religious men who have been perceived as hermits, Prophet Muhammad was incredibly sociable, and welcomed many strangers to ask questions and participate in the Muslim community’s activities. They, in turn, became very attached to Prophet Muhammad and were further honored to spend even more time with him in attempts to emulate his practices and behavior.

He also made it a point to spend time with the Muslim youth, including his own children, grandchildren and other relatives. His relationship with his daughters such as Fatimah and Zainab was punctuated with special moments together. He also spent a lot of his time, even during congregational prayers, with his grandchildren: Al-Hassan, Al-Hussein, and Umamah, amongst others.

Providing Sincere Acts of Services

Islam’s recognition of leadership does not only involve making good decisions for the followers, but also to provide services for them. Much like a politician is required to serve his people, the husband and the father, as leader of a household, is also required to take care of his wife and his children by meeting their needs and sharing their burden of duties.

Prophet Muhammad used to busy himself in helping out with the household chores and even mended his own sandals and garments to avoid inflicting burdens upon his wives and daughters. (Al-Bukhari)

Men need to be reminded that although many women generally take care of the home, there are many rewards for helping out around the house too.

Services towards children in Islam can be seen as raising them with good manners, character, and providing them with the best, most well-rounded education possible. This is, of course, in addition to providing for their daily multiple needs.

Giving Gifts to Loved Ones

Islam praises the giving of gifts to each other, as long as they are not lewd in nature, or considered wasteful. Even before marriage, prospective bridegrooms are reminded that it is obligatory to give a marriage gift to the bride as a sign of appreciation for her and the relationship she is committing to. Additionally, the couple is encouraged to buy presents for each other as part of the wedding ceremony, and to pursue joy in doing so well into the marriage.

Prophet Muhammad also encouraged parents to be fair when presenting gifts to their children. At one instance, he refused to witness a father giving a gift only to one son and not to his other children. He was also seen to have presented an onyx necklace to Umamah, his beloved granddaughter.

He would often accept gifts himself and share them amongst his friends, and he was also known to give gifts to non-Muslim friends and neighbors to instill the good values of tolerance and respect between religions.

Sharing Positive Affirmations

Lying is generally forbidden in Islam. However, because of Islam’s strong emphasis on practicality, lying is allowed in three very specific circumstances. One of those circumstances is when spouses are expressing love to one another. This means that a husband and wife can express undying love towards each other — even if they don’t necessarily mean it — as long as it is with the intention of strengthening the relationship.

For example, a husband may tell his wife that he loves her more than anyone on earth, where in actual fact this is untrue for Muslims, as Allah and Prophet Muhammad always come first for Muslims. However, this positive affirmation towards a spouse is permissible and, in fact, encouraged in Islam.

Positive affirmations provide a support system and encouragement for spouses to pursue what is in their best interest according to Islamic principles. Unwavering support and encouragement was a strength of Khadijah bint Khuwaylid, Prophet Muhammad’s first wife.

A popular quote by Prophet Muhammad that lived on many years after her death was: “She believed in me when no one else did; she accepted Islam when people rejected me; and she helped and comforted me when there was no one else to lend me a helping hand.” (Al-Bukhari)

It was very much through Khadijah’s support that Islam spread so strongly within the first decade of its introduction and from there the strongest bond of love was formed.

Showing Love Through Touch

The importance of showing love through touch is relayed by a Quranic verse that says what means:

{They are a garment for you and you are a garment for them.} (Al-Baqarah 2:187)

In this verse, spouses are likened to something as close to oneself as the clothes that one wears. This verse conveys many meanings, but one of them is the importance of touch in a relationship. Garments lie immediately on our skin, providing warmth and protection. This is very much like a spouse’s touch.

Prophet Muhammad often talked about the importance of intimacy and gestures of affection between husband and wife. He himself was known to rest his head on Lady Aishah’s lap when he felt tired, and in fact, he was in that position when he passed away.

Touch is also an important way to show affection towards children. Prophet Muhammad’s daughter, Fatimah, relayed that her father would hold her hands and kiss her, and always welcome her into the room when she visited him. Fatimah would reciprocate the gesture for him too. Her sons were no less familiar to their grandfather’s embrace as they would snuggle on his lap while he supplicated to Allah to shower and bless them with His love.

Love God and Love Your Spouse

Loving one’s spouse is an important tenet in Islam, as the family unit represents an important cornerstone of the faith. Each family begins with a husband and wife, who then later become parents. In order for a marriage to flourish, it is important to remind each other about the importance of loving Allah. From then on, it becomes natural to love each other, to tune into each other’s unique needs and expectations.

Understanding the five languages of love is a great way to do this.

When spouses tune into each other, they are able to develop healthier relationships with each other, their children, their extended family, friends, neighbors, and the whole community. Learn of each other’s love languages, communicate using them, and let the love for Allah flourish even more.

Understanding Men And Women

Posted in Communication, Marriage Coaching, Marriage Counselling, Tips for a Happy Marriage on January 21, 2010 by Shaz

By Karima K Burns

This is a commonly misunderstood topic between men and women. Men usually state that women complain too much and women usually state that men don’t care about their feelings. However, neither is completely true. Many men do care about their wife’s feelings. However, perhaps not in the same way their wife cares about theirs.

In the world of the female, a woman cares for many people in her household on an emotional level. She is often the one to tuck the children into bed, offer hugs, food for nourishment and general caring and emotional support. Because of this, women often feel it is important to listen to the emotional needs of their family so they can continue this support.

In the male realm, men are also concerned about the needs and feelings of the woman, however, usually in a different way. Men are most likely to judge their wife’s happiness on her physical comfort level rather than her emotional comfort level. This does not mean that he does not care. This simply means that he may not understand how important the emotional level is for her.

If the wife needs emotional support she will often need to ask for it directly. If a wife waits for a husband to understand her emotional need to be close to him when she is upset, she may wait “forever”. However, if she is able to say, “I had a very hard day today could you give me a hug and hold me for a little bit?” then this helps translate her need back into the physical and tangible world that the man is better able to understand. He can easily understand what she wants, can offer than to her and feel he is a success in offering that.

This is also very important for men.

Women usually console people in the family or offer emotional support because they feel this is their duty and it comes naturally to them. In some ways a woman cannot avoid doing this as she is naturally inclined to. She does not feel the need to be successful. However, she does sometimes feel the need to be appreciated.

Men, on the other hand, are not seeking appreciation, as much as they want to feel successful. When a man provides emotional support to a woman he often does not feel successful. Most women will not find the male version of emotional support adequate and will tell the man he is “doing it wrong” or “doesn’t understand her needs” or “said the wrong thing”. This creates insecurity in the men. They want to be successful and to feel they have helped their wife and made her happy. If the man is constantly told he is doing it “wrong” in the emotional realm, he will quite often retreat back into the physical realm where things are easier for him to understand, measure, and deal with.

To help any man be more able to meet the emotional needs of his wife one needs to:

1. Be direct about those needs. He does not have to approach you or “read your mind” or “know your needs” to prove he cares or that he loves you. It is an act of love to perceive someone is in need and to assist them, yes. However, it is also an act of love when someone requests help and you say “yes, I will help you”. So if you have to ask your husband for help, don’t feel badly. When he says, “yes” this is a sign of his love. It is not a sign of anything negative if he does not perceive your needs.

2. Accept what he offers. A man will rarely be able to offer the level of emotional support a woman can. Realize this and accept what he has to offer for what it is. It may not “sound right” or be exactly what you need but if you take it for its intention rather than artistic quality then you may find a real “gem in the rough”. You also need to take the man’s personality into account. Is he usually silent? Then being silent during your time of need is not a lack of caring, it is a normal state for him. He may only be able to say one or two sentences.

3. Encourage him and show him he has succeeded. This will encourage him to continue supporting your emotional needs either in that moment or in the future. Make sure he knows you appreciate what he did. Did he listen? Did he give you a hug? Did he help cook dinner? Did he offer a phrase (however clumsy) in an effort to help you feel better? Be sure to acknowledge what he has offered.

4. Remember that men like to “solve problems”. If you share an emotional need he may try to help you by suggesting solutions. Often, what you want is just to be listened to. Men have a hard time understanding this. They want to solve the problem and make you happy. You can try asking him “just to listen” (although the temptation to solve is too big for most men) or you can simply decide not to share all the details and just skip directly to what you need to help you feel better. Would help around the house be good? Would a hug help? Would chatting in general help? Would going for a walk together help?

If men and women can better understand how the other one sees the world, less resentment will exist and more efforts towards understanding and love can happen.

When It Comes to Marriage, Know Your Real Enemy

Posted in Marriage Coaching, Marriage Counselling, Tips for a Happy Marriage on December 17, 2009 by Shaz

(instead of turning on each other, turn together to face your eternal foe) Sadia Yunus

THE ARGUING BACK and forth ceased, him starting at the floor, tears rolling down her cheeks. “Why is this happening? She asked herself, too scared to say a word. It seemed like a nightmare, but she knew it was too much of a reality. She and her husband had just had the worst fight in all of their six years of marriage. Images of good times kept flooding her mind in those bitter, silent moments. “But, wait!” she thought. Something inside her gave her strength to speak: “Satan is probably really happy right now. He gets the happiest when a husband and wife fight like this.” She waited a few moments. He remained silent, so she went on. “Why are we fighting in each other? We should both be working together to fight Satan, because he’s our eternal enemy, not each other.” For a miraculous moment, truth came to light, and they both instantly understood their goal-to strive together with all their might to fight their common enemy. About this very fact, the Quran says: “Indeed, Satan is a clear enemy to man” (12:5). Our Lord and Sustainer, who knows us better than we know ourselves, has made it plain to us exactly who our foe is. Should we not then make Satan our adversary? Knowing who our enemy is makes it easier to oppose him. But who said fighting Satan is easy? The Prophet (PBUH), said: “Indeed, Satan runs (unnoticed) through the veins of the son of Adam as does his blood” (Bukhari). Fighting so stealthy and determined an enemy may seem impossible, but if we take Allah as our ally, our struggle to defeat Satan’s whispers is not only doable but divinely guaranteed. But it takes knowing-knowing Satan and knowing what God has provided for us to prevail in this lifelong fight. Married couples must understand that Satan’s ultimate goal and highest priority is to dissolve marriages and break up families. This best serves his aim of leading individuals and all social institutions into harm’s way. If you doubt it, just look around you no matter where you are. Satan’s plain is simple and evil. The idea is to go after one of the strongest and most safeguarding of human bonds and make it useless. For marriage is the “binding contact” which God describes in the Quran, as meethaqan ghaleedha, ” a most solemn covenant” (4:21), something so essentially firm that breaking it is extraordinarily bad. To do this, Satan uses his top soldiers and rewards the successful with the best he can. The Prophet (PBUH), said: “Iblees (Satan) has his throne above the water ( at sea) and sends forth his detachments. The closest of them to him (at day’s end) are those who cause the greatest trial. One of them comes back to him and says: ‘I did such and such. Satan replies: “You’ve done nothing.’ Then another comes to him and says: ‘I did not leave him along until I caused division between him and his wife…… So Satan draws him close and says: “Well done!”(Muslim). My mother tells me this hadeeth should raise hope in all married couples because it confirms to them where the real issues are. It allows them to show more love, ease, and mercy to one another and to save all their fighting capacity for what is truly harmful and a common threat to their sacred love, beautiful home, and earnestly established family. The good news is that Allah is with you. You will have to do the work, but if you strive to get through the hard times with patience and a strong will to defeat Satan together, as a couple, you will do so, by the permission of Allah. As for Satan, it seems the odds are against him. Not only is it two against one, but Allah is your ally-and most assuredly the alliance of God-it is they who are the truly successful (58:22). (Courtesy: Al Jumuah Magazine)

When Parents Don’t Approve

Posted in Marriage Coaching on December 4, 2009 by Shaz

Getting Married

Parental disapproval of their adult child’s mate selection is a big problem for the fictional ‘Ali and Khan families.  

Mrs. ‘Ali wants her daughter to marry a doctor from their culture.  Mr. ‘Ali thinks the person his daughter is interested in is not good enough for her.  Their daughter Amina argues:

“He’s a good Muslim, and he cares about me. Just because he isn’t a doctor it does not mean he cannot support our marriage”.

Mrs. Khan thinks the girl her son wants to marry is not good enough for him.  Her son Tariq says:

“Mother I love you, and I value your opinion.  I realize Mariam is not from our culture but she is a good Muslim, I care for her, I want to marry her and I want your blessing”. 
Arguments over differing perspectives regarding who our children should marry impact on healthy family relationships, which often leads to future marriages starting off with a really rough start.

The Prophet peace be upon him, reminded us that people marry for four reasons-beauty, wealth, status and piety.  The qualities of piety or strong faith are considered to be the best reasons to marry. However, even though the person you want to marry is a good Muslim sometimes your parents feel he or she is just not suited for you or they just can not get past some of their personal or cultural preferences and expectations about who you should marry.

So, what should you do when your parents don’t approve of the person you want to marry even though he or she is a good Muslim? 

· Of course you could argue with your parents and ruin your relationship with them.
 
· You could determine that you plan to marry the person you’ve chosen whether they like it or not.

Both of these strategies have challenging consequences. Marriage is difficult enough when you have your parents support.  Married people need the support of family and friends.  Starting off your marriage without your parents support can cause undue stress in the new relationship. 

You risk blaming your spouse for the discord between you and your parents. It inevitably pulls the family apart at a time when the newlyweds need the most support. Yet, what are you to do when you really care for the person you want to marry, and you want to maintain the pleasure of your parents?

Consider the following:

· Try to soften your parents’ hearts by showing patience, kindness and generosity to them.  Have someone they respect talk with them to try persuade them to consider the person you have chosen to marry. See if that family friend or imam can encourage your parents to see how much you love each other, and want to establish a marriage built on strong faith and God consciousness.

· Spend time developing your personal relationship with Allah and the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him.  Get to know Allah, and what he wants for you.  Spend time in sincere prayer and worship. 

Tahajjud and Fajr prayers are among the best times to spend sincerely calling on Allah for guidance.  Get to know Allah by getting to know his 99 names.  Spend time pondering over His signs in creation.  Spend time reading, reciting and pondering over the words He left for us in the Qur’an.  
· Get to know the family life of the Prophet, peace be upon him, as the best example of family life.  Work to implement as many of the Prophet’s behaviors and characteristics in your family even before you meet your future spouse.  Practice his example on your parents, your siblings and other relatives.  The Prophet’s kind treatment, patience, care and concern for his family are examples we should all work to emulate.

·  In addition to developing your relationship with Allah spend time improving your relationship with your parents.  Spend time with your parents.  Visit them regularly.  Have dinner with them often.  Participate in mosque and community activities with them regularly. Join them for their special events and projects.

Demonstrate your concern for them. Talk with them about the kind of person you would like to marry, the characteristics you would like your future spouse to possess so that your choice is not a surprise, and they feel you have involved them by sharing your thoughts with them.

Communication, love and respect between parents and young adults are a secret ingredient for a healthy relationship. Pray to Allah to guide you to the person who will love you and your parents.  Pray that your parents will come to know and love the person Allah chooses for you.

· Serve your community while you are waiting for Allah to send you the person He has chosen for you. There are so many needs to address in our communities. Join an organization that addresses poverty, homelessness, hunger environmental problems, youth development, or global warming. 

Not only has Allah placed a trust on each of us as stewards or khalifa, staying active while working on a good cause will hopefully give you time to put your marital choice into perspective.  Allah has a plan for you.

·  Remember that your ultimate goal should be to fulfill what Allah wants for you.

· Exercise patience.  Be patient and ask Almighty Allah to help you recognize the person that is truly right for you, that fears Allah, and loves you and your parents. Ask Allah to bless your parents to accept and love the man or woman He sends for you and not put up obstacles to your marriage.

 Dr. Aneesah Nadir is a PhD level social worker and CEO of Dr. Aneesah Nadir & Associates. She provides marriage education and preparation programs for singles and couples throughout the United States.  Her Before the Nikah © Marriage Education and Preparation Program is a must for Muslims planning to marry today or in the future.  Learn more about Dr. Aneesah’s programs and services at www.DrAneesah.com.  Dr. Nadir is also President of the Islamic Social Services Association-USA and manages ISSA’s Sakinah Healthy marriage Initiative and coordinates MANA’s Healthy Marriage Initiative

The Nikah Kitaba (Katb Al-Kitab) Survival Guide

Posted in Engagement, Marriage Coaching on December 2, 2009 by Shaz

By Saqib Saab

Nikaḥ kitāba, otherwise known as “katb al-kitāb” or “celibate marriage,” has become an increasingly common and preferred way of marriage for many young Muslim couples. A young man and woman may find themselves wanting to marry one another, but at the time are unable to live together. So instead of being engaged for long periods of time and making things difficult for the two, they choose to wed by nikaḥ kitāba.

This practice is actually a tradition of the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, who married Ayesha, may Allah be pleased with her, and delayed consummation until she was older.

After over 18 months of being married by nikaḥ kitāba, today marks the day my wife and I will be having our “ruksathi” wedding party after which will begin to live our lives together forever, inshaAllah. After a wonderful year and a half of a beautiful relationship Allah blessed us with, we came up with what we feel is an essential survival guide for couples undergoing the same journey we just completed. If you are married by nikāḥ kitāba or will be in the future, then this list is for you.

1. Know your intention

Unfortunately, having the correct intention is often overlooked as the typically cliché and skip-over introduction point to anything. However, here as much as always, you will find it to be critically important. You, your spouse, and your families have agreed to join together in marriage and delay living together until later. In addition to being a tradition of the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, it may also serve as a means of worshipping Allah. You could have decided to practice other less sound relationship methods, but instead chose to perform nikāḥ right away. Always remember this goal of pleasing Allah, as remembering Him in times of good as well as bad will make it much easier to reach the light at the end of the tunnel.

2. Don’t play games

With long distance relationships, communication via the phone or internet may become your relationship’s only lifeline. With such limitation, you’re going to run into some roadblocks in getting important cues and messages through to your significant other. Since you have no avenue to use physical gestures to express your feelings, don’t play guessing games with your spouse. If you’re upset, just say it! Both of you don’t want things to drag and the sooner you speak up, the sooner you’ll find yourselves laughing together again.

3. Understand that your spouse has another life

You may find yourself at times frustrated that your spouse is busy and can’t speak on the phone, or they don’t pick up the phone whenever you find the chance to call. Don’t stress it. This is simply a natural result of having a long-distance relationship. Whether the distance is across the globe or across the street, understand if the other is busy or cannot visit. Always believe they wish they could talk to you or see you more, and never accuse them of the opposite. There may be things on the other end you just cannot see to understand why they are so busy (i.e. actual fatigue, stress with school or career, family responsibilities, etc). Understanding that your spouse can be busy will help during times when communication and visits are hard to get going.

4. Increase your relationship with your in-laws

Use your time wisely to get to know not only one another but each others family while you’re at it. Of course it may be difficult to remember your in-laws when all you can think about is the wonderful new person in your life, but don’t forget the people that helped culture them in the first place. Make time to speak to in-laws on the phone, and remind your spouse to do likewise. When you visit one another don’t only try to run off alone. Instead, spend time with your parents and siblings-in-law and build a relationship while everything is still sort of “casual”. Making way for in-laws may require more effort than is needed for one’s spouse, but it will only strengthen the bond between you two for the long-run.

5. Make effort to schedule physical meetings

Not every couple in nikaḥ kitāba can easily visit one another, but if the means are there for you, take them. Physical interaction with one’s spouse is very important, and must be a part of your relationship if the possibility exists. Sure you’re limited to not being able to live with one another, but based on your agreed conditions in your marriage, make ways with your family and schedule to visit your spouse as much as you can. Being able to see one another can be one of the best ways to get through the time period which you have to endure before you eventually get to see each other every single day.

6. Strengthen your Iman with your spouse

You are undoubtedly going to find ways to visit one another, and even if you don’t you will find yourself talking to each other every day. Remember that you’re not just some random couple “dating” or in a relationship, you’re married and you’re Muslim. Therefore it’s important to build your Islamic relationship with one another. Find local events, seminars, classes, halaqahs, or conferences and make plans to go attend them together. Buy each other Islamic audio CDs and books to read and discuss. Or, just take it back to the basics: maintain a consistent daily reciting of Qur’ān and reading of the meaning to one another over the phone. Do something, anything; but just make you’re sure doing it and doing it consistently. You can have the best emotional, mental, physical and family relationship ever, but without a solid spiritual foundation, everything else will collapse.

7. Be yourself

Marriage can be a bit scary in the fear of wondering what the other person will think about your habits, tendencies, and weaknesses. However, one of its beautiful aspects comes when you are able to be yourself in front of your spouse just the way you are, and your understanding and acceptance of one another further strengthens your love.

Don’t try to hide behind formalities of what you think a spouse should or shouldn’t do. This is the time to be who you are and let your spouse get to know the real you without the added pressure of living together. If your spouse becomes familiar with your actual self before your wedding party, the transition should be a lot easier when that cherised time eventually comes, bi’ithniAllah.

Conclusion

We hope you’ve benefited from this list for your current or future marriage. This advice is in no way exhaustive, and there are many other tips for couples in nikāḥ kitāba, so if you have anything else, please feel free to share it here.

We ask Allah ‘azza wa jal to bless all couples everywhere and give us all the ability to preserve our communities’ relationships into the future, and that He makes marriage easy for those whom it is difficult and serve as a means to Jannah and His pleasure.

The Key to Attract an Amazing Spouse

Posted in Marriage Coaching, Uncategorized on November 10, 2009 by Shaz

The key to attract an amazing spouse is to nurture in yourself those qualities that appeal to a person of that standard.

Many of us pine for the perfect spouse–realize he or she does not exist. Pick the best you can find, and learn to live with and cover their warts and weaknesses.

Set your criteria (based on the hadith of the Prophet, peace be upon him)–have they memorized the Qur’an? Do they speak Arabic? Do they pray Tahajjud (middle-of-the-night prayer) once a week?–then ask yourself what a person of those qualities would like in a spouse, and instill those qualities into yourself.

And always double-check your intention to make sure your actions are to please Allah alone.

When you succeed, bi ithnillah, they will seek you out.

May Allah (سبحانه وتعالى) make us all among those who uphold the deen to the highest standard and take it to new heights.