“And they lived happily ever after” is how almost all of our childhood fairytales concluded. The media, movies, and novels are all thriving on the man-woman relationship. Unfortunately, they glamourize just one aspect of marriage and delude the youth into believing that it is all about roses, romance, and riches.
The institution of marriage is so much more than that. It is indeed an enchanting bond, but it also entails responsibilities, duties, compromises, and sacrifices. The latter is something we often find we are not ready for!
In order to live a pleasant and successful married life, we have to set right our perspective: happily ever after is only in the hereafter and marriage is just a transit towards it. Do not expect everything to be perfect; the bumps are bound to come. They are only a test for you to pass as you move on to the next world, which is eternal.
The Ground Reality: Life is a Test!
We, as human beings, are not wandering on the earth for nothing. Allah (swt) has created us for a purpose. He says in the Quran: “Who has created death and life, that He may test you which of you is best in deed.” (Al-Mulk 67:2)
We are like students giving an exam. This examination phase is a prelude to the long life in the hereafter. Every coming day and every role that we have is a question paper from Allah (swt) that needs to be filled with answers learned from the Quran and Sunnah. The one who answers correctly shall be granted the ultimate success.
Through the treatise of Nikah, the bride and groom actually enter into a new and tougher exam. From being just sons/daughters and brothers/sisters, they are promoted to many more roles, the most significant of which has to do with forming a new family. Stay calm! Just like a mother does not require her two-year-old to fetch heavy suitcases for her, Allah (swt) does not burden a soul with more than it can bear. You are put through only as much as you can handle.
Every Muslim marriage is set in motion by the Khutbah of Prophet Muhammad (sa). The Nikah sermon is a treasure chest of reminders and advice. Like a guess paper, it hints at the most vital areas that we need to focus on in this stage of life.
Pleasing Him (swt) Together
Can you imagine people talking about death at such an auspicious occasion as marriage? Did you know that the Nikah sermon does talk about it? The first Ayah mentioned by Muhammad (sa) is: “O you who believe! Fear Allah (by doing all that He has ordered and by abstaining from all that He has forbidden) as He should be feared. [Obey Him, be thankful to Him, and remember Him always], and die not except in a state of Islam (as Muslims) with complete submission to Allah.” (Al-Imran 3:102)
Your death can be in a state of submission to Allah (swt) only if your life has been the same way. Amidst the joy, when one is most likely to forget Allah (swt), Muhammad (sa) is reminding the couple of Him. It is Allah (swt) Who has blessed you with a spouse; your foremost loyalty should be to the ever-loving Rabb (swt). Adorn yourself with Taqwa; be mindful of Allah (swt), His likes and His dislikes at all times. You must not anger Him in order to satisfy others. Eventually, your return and accountability is to Him.
Taqwa (God consciousness) and striving for Allah’s (swt) pleasure should form the foundation of our homes. Strive to be a believing couple in the truest sense and make your dream come true: a perfect life – together forever in the gardens of eternity.
Moreover, remember that Ali (rtam) and Fatima (rtaf) are not the only examples for us. Sometimes, we may encounter a situation like that of Asiya or Lut (as). Their spouses weren’t their partners in Deen; however, this did not become a hindrance for them as they passed their test.
Strengthening the Ties of Relationship
The second most significant lesson in the Nikah sermon is to maintain the ties of relationship. It is not just you anymore. The married couple becomes intertwined in many new relationships.
According to a Hadeeth of the Prophet (sa), the most beloved act for Shaitan is to cause a rift between a husband and a wife. Beware of this enemy between you and make it a principle to forgive and reconcile. If one is angry, the other must keep calm at the time.
Regarding the in-laws, remember that Islam is a religion of moderation; it does not demand that we comply with everything the in-laws say, nor does it allow that we forsake them completely. In our culture, unfortunately, one extreme is leading to the other. From having too much influence, they are now being outclassed completely, not even given the status and rights equal to that of a neighbour! Treat your parents/siblings and those of your spouse equally and remember the two golden rules: Ihsan and avoiding negative assumptions.
On a side note, do not peek into the “exam papers” of others to point out their mistakes. Pay attention to your own and worry about the rights you have to give. Insha’Allah, Allah (swt) will take care of yours.
Cherish Your Garment
The look of her magnificent dress was being ruined by the scorn on her face. Yes, sometimes we may have the very best, but our attitude of ungratefulness and picking faults can complicate our life.
Allah (swt) has used the perfect parable for the husband-wife relationship in the Quran. He says: “They are Libas [i.e. body cover, or screen, or Sakan, (i.e. you enjoy the pleasure of living with her – as in Verse 7:189) Tafsir At–Tabari] for you and you are the same for them.” (Al-Baqarah 2:187)
Libas is a means of covering; it adorns us, highlights our beauty and saves us from cold and heat. Always be grateful for your spouse without comparing him/her to others. A dress may look beautiful on someone else, but for you it might not even be your size!
Whenever you feel resentful about something in your spouse, start making a mental list of all the positive qualities he/she possesses. Especially, make a list of all the qualities your spouse has that your father/brother or sister/mother do not have! An instant “Alhumdulillah” will for sure come from the heart.
Prophet Muhammad (sa) said: “A believer must not hate (his wife) believing woman; if he dislikes one of her characteristics, he will be pleased with another.” (Muslim) The same rule goes for believing women.
A husband and a wife constitute the basic unit of the Ummah. They are the producers of the future Muslim generation. Today, the Ummah is facing a severe shortage of quality men. For this unit to raise courageous Muslim leaders, devoted Daees and true scholars, it needs to be strong and productive! Aim high and build your home over the bricks of Taqwa, gratefulness, and Ihsan.