Strong Girls, Superb Wives

08 strong girls

“Waah,” my baby’s screams woke me up with a jolt. “What? Who? Where? What happened?” I fumbled to the cot, groggy with sleep.

Life was chaotic. I had hardly slept. The baby was up all night crying for no apparent reason. The laundry was piled high. I had no time to cook, and my husband preferred take-outs to my cooking anyway. I hardly had time to shower, and he was tired of a home that had no semblance of order.

Life wasn’t meant to be like this. I had been an outstanding student, a star intern, and a brilliant MBA graduate. However, I was barely able to cope with real life now. No one warned me about this. No one prepared me for child-bearing or giving birth, or taking care of a tiny life that was entirely dependent on me. Such big shoes to fill and I had had no time or will to prepare for them all these years.

My grandmother’s words rang out in my ears now: “What will you do after marriage, Nadia? You can’t even take care of your own self!” I would always brush her off with an affectionate hug, saying: “We’ll see when the time comes, Nani – don’t worry.” I was always too busy studying for school and then college, too busy going out with friends, and then working nine to five. Even when I got engaged, all I was really preparing for was the grand wedding day. In retrospect, I wasted so much time, effort, and planning for a few hours of limelight. All of that didn’t do me any good today in this mess I had landed myself in.

Nadia’s story is not an uncommon one. Many girls find themselves in a similar situation when they step into practical life. Marital bliss turns into a nightmare all too quickly. This has many devastating outcomes that we see around us more and more frequently:

  • Quick and all-too-easy divorces soon after marriage.
  • Strained marital relations, where partners are deeply unhappy with the marriage.
  • Severed relations with extended family.
  • Poor family nutrition and other health issues.
  • Women completely consumed by household work to the point that their own physical and mental health, intellectual, and spiritual growth suffers.

The problem may seem insurmountable, but the solution is a simple one: inculcating good habits in girls from an early age to prepare them to excel in their vital role of nurturing future generations.

Charles Duhigg in his book “Power of Habit” says: “One paper published by a Duke University researcher in 2006 found that more than 40% of the actions people performed each day weren’t actual decisions, but habits.”

Habits are the key. If inculcated from an early age, habits will become second nature and leave a woman’s mind free to pursue other matters that require actual decision-making. However, if ‘what to cook daily’, and managing other daily chores takes up all of her time and decision-making skills, she will be left with little to contribute to her own or her family’s development.

You might argue: why do we need to prepare only girls for this role and not boys? This argument, I’m afraid, was biologically settled for us much earlier. Every mother is honoured with the task of bearing her child for nine months and then nursing him or her for around two years. She is physically and emotionally attached to the baby for an extended period of time in a way that a father simply cannot be.

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Promoting Collaborative Dialogue in Marriage

collaborative dialogue

“And they lived happily ever after.” This statement is, arguably, the most common modern myth about marriage that we are conditioned to believe. However, popular media fails to show us what actually happens afterwards. The reality of successful marriages is that they are neither trouble free, nor effort free. The Quranic objective of the marital relationship is to cultivate an environment of tranquility, love, and mercy among the spouses. It is unrealistic to think that these blessings of marriage can come about by chance.

Marriage is a contract, a commitment to a new relationship, and a fulfillment of half your Deen (religion). The newly-formed connection is not just physical – it extends into your emotional and spiritual worlds. Therefore, it is crucial to make a conscious intention to take this bond as seriously as a collaborative project. A study on arranged marriages by Dr. Robert Epstein, former editor-in-chief of Psychology Today, found sacrifice and commitment to be the most powerful factors that strengthen love.

Allah (swt) says about the spouses: “They are Libas (clothing/covering) for you and you are the same for them…” (Al-Baqarah 2:187) This implies that they assume protective, intimate, and expressive roles for each other the way clothes do for our bodies. Zauj – the Arabic word for spouse – itself indicates the complementary nature of the spouses. Nouman Ali Khan, founder and lead Arabic instructor at Bayyinah, explains that the word Zauj (pl. Zaujain) actually means ‘counterpart’. This is why the sun and the moon, day and night are also called Zaujain in the Quran.

Some therapists and psychologists agree that there is a direct link between the quality of your talking and the quality of your marital relationship. Improving your communication skills can contribute greatly to satisfaction, growth, and conflict resolution in marriage. A key skill for successful marital interactions is learning to hold a collaborative dialogue. Let us look at what such dialogue is like and ways of incorporating it in your life.

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Expectations vs. Reality of Marriage

16 ground realities

Take a deep breath. Ask yourself: “On a scale from one to ten, (with ten being fully and completely), how fulfilling is my marriage right now?” Write down the number that comes to mind. Next, ask yourself: “What are some of the expectations that I have for my marriage and my spouse?” Write them down. Notice which expectations are being met, and which ones are not. You may notice that the areas where you feel a relationship can be improved have an unfulfilled expectation attached to it.

Expectation is “a strong belief that something will happen or be the case in the future”. It is different from hope because it implies that we definitely want or need this, otherwise there will be disappointment. So if we have unrealistic expectations, they will inevitably lead to disappointment, if they aren’t possible to meet. Let us explore three common yet unrealistic expectations about marriage and ways through which we can break through them in order to create a more fulfilling marriage.

Unrealistic Expectation 1: My spouse will complete me

A lot of women grow up having fairy-tale like expectations of marriage. It is not really our fault – it is all the conditioning we receive while growing up. It feeds off the idea that a damsel is in distress, and her prince charming will come and sweep her off her feet. This is fine for fairy tales because that’s where the story ends. Life is, of course, a different story.

Expecting our spouse to complete us is one of the most detrimental expectations we can have. First of all, it implies that we are incomplete as a person without our spouse. Marriage is recommended in Islam to complement one another, to be a ‘libas’ for one another. This essentially means that our spouse is meant to be our safe space, but it does not imply that we cannot be happy and whole if we aren’t married.

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Divorcing an Atheist

torn piece of paper with divorce text and paper couple figures

Khula and Talaq have become common terms today. One of the reasons for annulling marriage in Islam is when a spouse turns atheist. Anyone, who steps out of the fold of Islam, is not considered to be a worthwhile life partner or a responsible parent. Hiba interviews a single mother, who bravely bore it all by Allah’s (swt) will.

Do you ever have any regrets for taking a Khula?

Since my ex consciously abandoned his beliefs, I got a Fatwah on his apostasy, according to which our marriage was over. Thus, I never felt the need to go for a Khula. By law, he had to divorce me, which he did. It has been almost five years, and I don’t have any regrets.

What problems do you face as a single mother?

Being single has its pros and cons. I believe if I stayed with a man, whose beliefs differed from mine, our marriage would always be rocky. Woman divorcee has to face a lot of challenges in our society. Juggling through emotions is difficult, and when you have to take care of your child’s emotions as well, it can become extremely challenging.

It took me almost two years to gain a clearer perspective of realities of life – I had to deal with everything on my own, with little support from my near ones.

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What I Learned from my Divorce

38 divorce

By Abu Khalifa – Freelance writer

Like for many Pakistanis, my marriage was an arranged one. My wife and I had similar upbringings, cultural values, financial standings, and seemingly similar mentalities. My family introduced us; we had a couple of meetings; everything seemed good; we did our Istikharah, and before we knew it, we were engaged!  I was sure it was the beginning of my happily ever after.

Sadly, it was not to be. After almost five years of a very difficult marriage, we parted ways. In hindsight, I see a lot of things that could have been done differently. I wanted to share my experience, so that others can hopefully benefit from it.

Pay heed to the vibes you get

When before Rukhsati I saw mood swings and bouts of anger, I put it down to wedding stress and getting to know a stranger. When I saw fits of jealousy, extremely possessive behaviour, and continuous demands for attention, I thought it was her way of showing her love and adoration. I just wanted to get married and was willing to ignore all the signs, which in hindsight I know I should’ve heeded. If you are getting the wrong vibes early on, when getting to know your spouse/spouse to be, don’t ignore them. Listen to your inner voice, talk to a trusted married friend or sibling about what is making you uncomfortable, and rely your gut feeling. Don’t chalk important things to ‘wedding jitters’ and don’t bank on ‘he or she will change once we are together’. Most certainly, don’t care about ‘what people will say’, if you have to call it off.

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Want a Happy Marriage?

38

Allah (swt) says about marriage: “Waja Allah Baina Kum Ma Wadatan Wa Rehma.”You will find these beautiful words of the Quran applicable in all of your married lives. Allah (swt) says He put between you – between husband and wife – love, Mawadah, and it is passionate love. Allah (swt) says Mawadah Wa Rehma – love and mercy, because in the beginning of your marriage, you are very passionate and obsessed with your wife. You cannot think about anything else. When your friends call you, they go straight to voice mail, because you just got married and for about six months you are out of sight. But then, as marriage goes further, what is it that keeps it alive? Rehma – It’s the mercy towards your wife, mercy towards your husband, courtesy between you two.

A man comes to Umar (rtam) and says that he wants to divorce his wife. Umar (rtam) asks: “Why do you want to divorce your wife?” The man says: “I don’t love her anymore and I don’t find her attractive anymore.” So Umar (rtam) asked him: “Faina Raiaya?” What about the courtesy you owe to your wife?

Doesn’t she take care of your kids? Hasn’t she put up with you all this time? We, men, are very difficult creatures to put up with, and our wives put up with us, even if we say a couple of words here and there. In the end, they still put up with us. Right? Since they do quite a bit for us, we cannot just say: “Oh well, she doesn’t look like what I was imagining, when I didn’t lower my gaze and saw some things on TV. She doesn’t meet my expectations.” This is not a healthy attitude. If the believers watch their gaze, control their temptations and then they do the best with their wives, they will be the most satisfied and won’t have any temptations outside.

However, at the same time, sisters have to understand that Allah (swt) created men and women very differently. No matter from what background they come, for men, their biggest weakness is the same – women. In majority of cases, Allah (swt) has made women oblivious to this weakness of men, so they do not realize how bad it is. So when women read the Ayah about lowering their gaze, they say: “Oh yeah, I can do that. What’s the big deal? Why can’t men just lower their gaze?” They don’t understand the power of this desire that Allah (swt) put inside of us. The number one Fitna the Prophet (sa) fears for the men of this Ummah is what? Women, because it is a serious problem. So, if the wives understand that, then instead of condemning their husband, they would understand that the wife has a role of supporting her husband, and she can do that by warding temptations off from him, not by lecturing him.

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Have We Failed Our Sons?

3 failed our sons

“Beta, your wedding is just around the corner. You are about to become a member of another family. Treat them like your own. Be patient if there is something you dislike about your husband or in-laws. Always be nice to your Saas (mother-in-law). When your husband returns home in the evening, take care of his needs, dress up for him, serve him a delicious meal…”

As daughters or granddaughters, most of us have heard such statements of advice from our elders at the time of marriage. And rightly so. The question arises: do the sons receive a similar set of instructions at the time of tying the knot? Experience and probe tells us that boys seldom receive such advice. Generally, the onus of keeping a marriage intact is more on the wife than the husband. And when the marriage passes through turbulent waters, the wife is the first to be held responsible for not being patient, grateful, dutiful… while not putting much blame on the one responsible for manoeuvring the boat. Have we placed too much of a burden on the daughters as compared to our sons when it comes to balancing relationships in a marriage? Are we, as their elders, to be blamed for not grooming our sons into responsible husbands and fathers? Do we only preach them to be dutiful sons, while neglecting their commitments towards other relations? Have we failed our sons?

An interesting aspect is that we want our son-in-law to be the most perfect husband, but when it comes to our own sons, we take a somersault. If our son-in-law is kind and affectionate towards our daughter, he is showered with praises and declared to be the best husband on earth. But when our son displays the same attitude towards his wife, we say he is a Zann Mureed (henpecked husband). Double standards!

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New Mommies: Beware and Prepare!

8 beware prepare

  1. Keep your energy level boosted.

Breastfeeding, sleepless nights, unexpected visitors, home chores, and tending to older kids’ needs is undoubtedly taxing. This might not be a very suitable time to crash diet or dream of fitting back into your wedding gown. Please eat nutritious home-cooked food, fruits, nuts, vegetables, and energy-boosting snacks. Keep them handy in your bedroom. An already fatigued mind and body cannot afford to starve. The outcome is frequent ailments, horrible mood swings, and strained relationships. Later, as you mature from being a new mommy to a veteran, you will manage your diet more effectively and shed the extra pounds, too.

  1. Let the Iman thrive.

A new mother has a myriad of emotions bottled up. They can whip up a storm of tears. At other times, they may send her on a guilt trip. The changing body and volatile hormones are no help either. And, of course, Shaitan strikes with full force seeding evil and negative thoughts about everyone and everything you care for. The best remedy is to play Surah Al-Baqarah daily. Keep your tongue moist with Allah’s (swt) Dhikr. Watch and listen to Islamic videos and talks for spiritual uplift. Recite to your baby, as the child is listening. After Nifas (post-partum bleeding), return to your prayers regularly. Read at least one page of Quran daily with its translation. Only Allah (swt) knows, listens to, and understands what a mother braves.

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Do You Yell at your Wife?

15 yell at wife

In order to get to Jannah, you have to make sure you are the best to your spouse. Do not shout at your spouses for mistakes they make. A Hadeeth says: “The best from amongst you are those who are best to their wives.” (Ibn Majah) Subhan’Allah! You have to be the best to your family members, best to your spouse, best to your husband – but how do you treat them?

Sometimes, the wife burns the food, which may be a test from Allah (swt) for you. Allah (swt) is watching, and, to be honest with you, the angels are writing what your reaction would be. That is all that’s happening, nothing else! She might never burn it again and we get up and yell: “Do you know how much money is wasted here? You know this food is rubbish; it’s rotten; it’s bad; it’s filthy; throw it out!”

Is that the attitude to have? Well, why did you get married? That is someone’s daughter – how are you speaking to her? Have a bit of shame. Your children are watching. It is one thing if you yourself are committing a crime, but think about it – you are teaching your children how to commit a crime that they will commit in a bigger way. For this reason, I encourage people to look at the parents of their future spouses. If their parents are living with beauty, respect, and honour, it would mean that the prospective spouse has learned beauty, respect and honor. But if their parents are fighting like cats and dogs, swearing at each other, and there is a relationship that is totally absurd, then it does not mean that the child is bad, but the child may have qualities like them, especially if it is a male.

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A Decade of Happy Marriage

 

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9 happy marriage

Being a young girl, I repeatedly had to listen to such statements: “Whatever you study, one day you have to get married and do the household chores.”

I used to ignore it as much as I could. After the bone-breaking study of medicine with all work and no play schedule, there came a time when I had to tie a knot with somebody and leave all my books. I had to start from scratch and set foot in the sea of entirely new experiences and learning. Anatomy and biochemistry that had become a part and parcel of my life got replaced by the study of kitchen management and hacks.

My married life is now ten years old, and a proud feather is added to my marriage cap. I have realized the deeper meaning of marriage – it is a pact of making your sharp corners round.

According to Mufti Ibrahim Desai: “There can be no doubt in the success of a marriage governed by the fear of Allah (swt).”

I don’t celebrate marriage anniversaries by parties or hip-hop; but I do celebrate by pondering over the lessons that I had learnt during that year and store them in my memory. Each year, I implement those lessons into my life to get more happiness and success. My secret of a blissful marriage is based on the following lessons.

  1. Silence is the best medicine

It is very usual to have differences, but to remain calm and composed is an art, which is achieved through excellent self-control tactics. Arguing at times of conflict can make the situation worse by letting the Satan enter into it.

Abu Saeed Al-Khudri reported that the Prophet (sa) said: “If anyone is humble for the sake of Allah (swt) by a degree, Allah (swt) will elevate him one degree, until he reaches the highest degrees; if anyone is arrogant towards Allah (swt), Allah (swt) will lower him one degree until he reaches the lowest of low degrees.” (Ibn Hajar Al-Asqalani)

The very first thing that took me to the tantrums after my marriage was the late night schedule of my husband’s job. As my father was a government officer, we used to enjoy the evening tea with him at home. When I shared that with my hubby, I got a mind-blowing lecture of office responsibilities and problems. The best I could do was to pray to Almighty Allah (swt) and remain silent. The next year, my hubby changed the job, in which he had the facility to return back home early and could work from home. Silence helped me keep a peaceful environment at home.

  1. Conquer through love

Love is the language that everybody understands. Showing constant gratitude and love takes your hubby to the Mount Everest of his self-esteem. In turn, he showers you with the same.

  1. To err is human, to forgive – divine

Females have a 967432 GB of memory, and on any little issue, they open up the historical book of complaints, which ignites never-ending arguments. I used to avoid it by imagining the large number of women burning in hellfire, due to ungratefulness to their husbands.

It was narrated by Abdullah ibn Abbas (rtam) that the Messenger of Allah (sa) said: “I was shown Hell, and I have never seen anything more terrifying than it. And I saw that the majority of its people are women.” They said: “Why, O Messenger of Allah (sa)?” He said: “Because of their ingratitude (Kufr).” It was said: “Are they ungrateful to Allah (swt)?” He said: “They are ungrateful to their companions (husbands) and ungrateful for good treatment. If you are kind to one of them for a lifetime and then she sees one (undesirable) thing in you, she will say: ‘I have never had anything good from you.’” (Bukhari)

  1. The foolish secret

I know this is difficult to apply for many of us, but believe me – it works. I used to surprise my hubby by listening to common talks with great astonishment. It is a secret, which I apply regularly and keep my relationship filled with joy.

  1. Invest in your relationship

Sharing lovely gifts and words adds strength to my life and fuels my passion to live together. A beautifully-wrapped present leaves a long lasting effect on the heart of your hubby – it will never be a waste!

  1. Out of sight wins the mind!

It sounds awkward but this is another secret to my fulfilling joyous life. Whenever I used to return from my mom’s house, I used to find a new spark in my married life. Being away for some time allows one to re-discover, and have some ‘me’ time. It helps both to settle and look into the disputes with an impartial aspect.

  1. Give credit

Your achievements and success must be because of your hard work, but transfer the credit to your hubby, as that success wouldn’t have been possible without his broadmindedness, compromise, support, and appreciation. Try to be more courteous and giving.

  1. Show gratitude

Thank your hubby often; it takes just a second but kindles the light of respect and love. Nothing big is required to admit his support – only a nice comment on his return from the office or shop can make the day wonderful for both of you.

  1. Share with care

Effective communication is the life and blood of a successful relationship. Not a single day of my married life has passed without sharing problems, asking or just telling the whole day routine. It gradually and slowly builds up the understanding between the two souls.

  1. Trust is a must

Last but not the least, trust is the key to a prosperous and ever growing married life. Hiding petty matters from the hubby may be of no value at the moment, but it will eventually shake the pillars of married life. Remember the key point that after your marriage, your hubby is the most worthy person in your life. Although ten years have passed, I am still striving to the best of my abilities, so that I don’t let anyone down. Insha’Allah.

Marriage is Love: What it takes to be in love and be loved?

vision for marriageWhen I say a love story, what is the first image that comes to one’s mind? A chick flick movie, a Disney fairytale, a folk love story, Romeo of Juliet or Taylor Swift’s old yet enticing ‘love story’ song?

Before we move on, we first need to clarify that this phrase ‘a love story’ is a lot more than just a phrase. It is a phenomenon or a concept in its own; and we usually hear this phrase in the context of ‘fantasy’ because we have been growing up in such an environment where the ‘unreal’ world is alluring to us.

Hence, this ‘unreal’ concept of love story has emerged in our lives from our childhood fairytales, when the prince used to rescue princesses, fighting all the monsters on the way; finally meeting her and kissing her and then they lived happily ever after. Then later came these movies or soap operas in which a boy and a girl meet- first they don’t like each other, then they fall in love; sing a song together, but suddenly, some barrier comes up; perhaps their parents. However, finally they get married and the end. But is it the end of the movie or the love story?

Nikah – The Miraculous Bond of Love

According to Islam, marriage that is Nikah is an emotional, spiritual, physical and social bond between a boy and a girl within the ties of marriage, as blessed by Allah (swt). As Allah (swt) says in Surah Ar-Rum, “Among His Signs is this, that He created for you wives from among yourselves, that you may find repose in them, and He has put between you affection and mercy. Verily, in that are indeed signs for a people who reflect.” (Ar-Rum 30:21)

Hence, this attraction that Allah (swt) has put between a man and a woman is a blessing and a mercy from Allah (swt). And, the way one uses this blessing to please Allah (swt) is through the bond of Nikah. Allah’s (swt) Messenger (sa) said: “When a man marries, he has fulfilled half of the religion; so let him fear Allah (swt) regarding the remaining half.” (Tirmidhi) This is the importance of Nikah in our Deen.

At another instance, Allah’s (swt) Messenger (sa) said: “You have seen nothing like marriage for increasing the love of two people.” (Tirmidhi)

This further shows the importance of a love story beginning through marriage.

This might sound alien to us because love story beginning with marriage is not something we hear quite often; We are often told by the media that love story is before marriage and marriage puts a full stop to the love story, but that is not real. According to Islam, love doesn’t end with marriage, it rather begins with it; marriage sows the seed of love! I will prove this point through examples of not fiction movies, but real people and their real love stories.

Exemplary Relationship of Khadijah (ra) and Muhammad (sa)

My first example of true love, proving husband and wife to be a source of comfort, mercy and blessing from Allah (swt) is the real love story of Khadijah (ra) and Muhammad (sa).

She was one of the noblest women of her time from a very influential family. She was also beautiful and was running her own business quite successfully. Many prominent and wealthy men had asked for her hand, but she refused. As a widow, she had lost the desire to marry again until he came in her life. He was just 25-twenty five years old, but well known for his honesty and trustworthiness, and this is what attracted her towards him.

As she had been looking for someone honest to conduct her business, he started working for her. Experiencing his honesty, she was very impressed by his character, and that was enough to sow the seed of love once again in her heart. She sent her sister who asked him: “Why are you not married yet?”  “For the lack of means,” he said. When she proposed him, he amazingly remarked, ‘How can I marry her? She turned down many wealthy men!” To which her sister replied that, “She will take care of that.” And, it was the beginning of one of the most happiest and sacred marriages in the human history. They both were a source of immense pleasure and strength for each other. They put each other’s fear to rest. They were married for 25-twenty five years and they had 4-four daughters and some sons who had died in infancy. She was there for him when the times were hard, but they were separated by her death. However, even after her death, he use to send food and provide support to her relatives and friends out of the pure forever love for her. Once, years after her death, he came across a necklace that she once wore and he began to cry seeing that necklace.

Confide in Each Other

Their relationship fits completely in the verse stated below, when Allah (swt) describes the most beautiful relationship between a man and his wife,

“…They are Libas (i.e. body cover, or screen, or Sakan, (i.e. you enjoy the pleasure of living with them), for you and you are the same for them…” (Al-Baqarah 2:187)

What’s the purpose of garment? They are for protection from different climates, to adorn or beautify, and for covering out of natural modesty or covering any weaknesses of our body.

Hence in this relationship, man and wife need to protect each other and look out for each other; secondly beautify each other- they should be the source of bringing smile on each other’s faces and serenity in  minds; lastly to cover each other ‘s weaknesses. Moreover, just like the garment is closest to us, similarly our spouses should be the closest to our hearts.

The Prophet (sa) said: “A woman is married for four things i.e. her wealth, her family status, her beauty and her Deen. So you should marry a religious woman (otherwise), you will be a loser.”  (Bukhari)

As was in the case of Hazrat Khadijah (ra), Muhammad (sa) had no wealth; he was an orphan, but definitely very handsome.  His main quality that attracted her was his character, honesty and sincerity. May Allah (swt) bless them both! Ameen.

Allah’s (swt) Apostle (sa) did not marry any other woman till her (Khadijah’s (ra)) death, even when he could have; because he was young and it was quite normal in that culture to keep more than one wife, but he chose not to.

Ideal Love Story of Fatimah (ra) and Ali (ra)

Second love story is of the daughter of Allah’s (swt) Messenger (sa) and her husband Ali (ra). Fatimah (ra) was then eighteen years of age, and one day Ali (ra) came to Muhammad (sa). He kept sitting quietly for a long time, until Muhammad (sa) himself asked him whether he was there to propose for Fatimah (ra) in marriage with him, and he shyly replied in positive. After which Muhammad (sa) went to Fatimah (ra) and asked her opinion and she agreed.

This shows the importance of women’s choice and her consent for marriage. Forced marriages are not a part of Islam. A marriage ceremony was carried out in which Ali (ra) gave his own marriage speech and Prophet (sa) blessed the couple with supplications for their new lives. Fatimah (ra) and Ali (ra) were not well off, thus when they shifted together, they lived a very simple life and there was never a complaint from either of the two. They both were also quite young when they got married and thus were like friends to their children, Hassan (ra) and Hussain (ra). May Allah (swt) have mercy on all of them. Ameen.

Don’t Delay Marriages!

We talk about sexism, racism- but we are also discriminating people on the basis of their age for getting married and that is ageism, and we rarely talk about it. In Islam, there is no sexism, racism or ageism. If willingly a child or even a teenager wants to work and get married, then Islam doesn’t restrict them from doing so; unlike our materialistic society which teaches to get educated first, then work and finally get married.

The desire of love, comfort and warmth is to be used in a natural way which Allah (swt) has prescribed for us; and not in an unnatural way because we can’t really thrive going against the commandments of our Creator.

A gist of one of the narrations of Prophet (sa) was that marriage is from his Sunnah and whosoever leaves his Sunnah is not from him. (Bukhari)

There are many real love stories from the lives of the companions of Prophet (sa) too that we can learn from. We, in spite of claiming to follow Islam, say that these love stories were for that time period, and today, we can’t think or live like that in this day and age. But think; is not Quran there for all times? Isn’t Prophet (sa) a role model for all times? We, as followers of Prophet (sa), have the responsibility to revive back the true spirit of this prophetic tradition. We must follow these real people; they can be our love role models. Hence, marrying according to Sunnah, is the perfect ingredient of the recipe of our real love story.

Dua taught by Prophet (sa) from Quran:

“Our Lord! Bestow on us from our wives and our offspring the comfort of our eyes, and make us leaders of the Muttaqun (the pious).” Ameen.

The Best Husband; A Complete Believer

best husband

By Ahmed Faraz Khan – Freelance writer and student at Islamic Online University

Abu Hurairah (rtam) narrated that Allah’s Messenger (sa) said: “The most complete believers in faith are those with the best character among them. And the best of you are those who are best to your women.” (Tirmidhi)

Does it matter how much you earn, what car you own, or how big your house is, if you aren’t able to be the best friend or a source of security and comfort for your wife? She should feel protected, happy, and at ease in your company.

Here are five tips for improving your relationship with your spouse:

Respect

Respect is the most important aspect of a relationship, especially when it comes to marriage. In fact, most marriage issues are somehow related to the element of respect. You have to respect your wife as an individual. Respect her likes, dislikes, moods, interests, and personality. Give her space, and don’t criticize every little thing she does. Realize that she is a unique person who deserves respect for who she is.

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From Ms. to Mrs. – Expectations Versus Reality

Vol 4-Issue 3 Muslim WeddingsI’m getting married -Yay! There is so much to be done- designer dress, jewellery, footwear, bags, make-up artist, salon etc. How many days will the wedding celebrations continue? How many functions? Theme of the day? What about the dance preparations? Do we have enough time to rehearse the dances in-sync? Oh wait- I almost forgot, the photographer! ‘Capturing memories that will last for a life-time.’ I want my wedding album to be the most creative. I’ll update my face book profile pictures and cover photos every day. Why not share my happiness with the world?

Many of us start considering these things as soon as the wedding bells start ringing in our head. The fairy-tale we had been reading, watching and dreaming of since our childhood is finally becoming true. So what do I do to prepare myself for this life-altering event? Yes! I Know! I need the wedding glow. I can’t be a dull bride. Manicure, pedicure, whitening facial, skin treatments, weight-loss plans, gym programs (Obviously, I can’t be a fat bride. What will people say?)

But….What happens once we say ‘Qubool Hai’? The fairy-tale wedding, the excitement of the events, the food, the glittering dresses, and need not mention the never ending laughter. What happens when all of this comes to an end and a new chapter in our life begins? What happens when the first time we get into an argument with our husband? What happens when someone from the in-laws says something that hurts you deeply? What happens when misunderstandings arise? This is the time when it truly hits us that the fairy-tales always promised a happily-ever-after, but this is not what we had imagined. What does this ‘happily-ever-after’ mean anyway?

We are so focused upon the fairy tale wedding events and the preparations that we forget to make preparations for the real life drama that would follow-on later.

Expectation vs. Reality

  • Expectation: My husband will come home every day with a smile on his face.
  • Reality: Girls, sorry to burst your bubble, but this is not true for an everyday routine. Your husband is a human. He goes through different stressful routines and tasks in a day at his work. He gets tired, he has hunger pangs, he is uncomfortable with the work-place politics and there could be a number of other reasons which you are unaware of. At times, he would want solitude for a little while. Try to calm him down. Ask him about his problems, strike a light conversation to divert his attention, give him a light snack to eat, dress-up adequately for him and be empathetic. Don’t take it personally. His mood will eventually become better.

 There will be times when you face criticisms and you will feel that you aren’t appreciated for your efforts.

  • Expectation: I will live the way ‘I’ like.
  • Reality: Once you get married, for some initial months, you are new to the in-laws and your in-laws are new to you. Learn their living habits, likes/dislikes and make sincere efforts to adjust to the new lifestyle. Pray to Allah (swt) for an increased level of patience and Taqwa. In times of turmoil, recite the Quran and the burden will be lifted from your heart Insha’Allah. Seeking permission wouldn’t mean the end of your freedom. Your husband would like it when you seek his permission and value his opinion in every matter.
  • Expectation: I will be showered with compliments
  • Reality: There will be times when you face criticisms and you will feel that you aren’t appreciated for your efforts. This is the time when you require patience the most. Keep doing good anyway. Keep a clear heart and try to improve your short-comings. Allah (swt) is the All knowing and All seeing. Allah (swt) is the turner of hearts.
  • Expectation: I will never get into a disagreement with my spouse
  • Reality: You and your husband are two different people with two different minds. There are going to be many occasions when you would not agree with a certain behaviour of your husband, or when your husband doesn’t agree with your opinions or conducts. Satan becomes the happiest when there is disagreement between the husband and wife. So, whenever you see yourself lose control of your patience, remember to seek refuge in Allah (swt) from the Satan. Even the Holy Prophet (sa) once had misunderstandings with Hazrat Aisha (ra) due to the malicious rumours spread by certain slanderous people, while on an expedition against Banu-Al-Mustaliq (Ref: Book Enjoy your life- Deduced from a study of the Prophet’s (sa) life by Dr. Muhammad Al-‘Areefi) Have the utmost faith in the judgement of Allah (swt). Try to finish the disagreements as soon as possible. Don’t prolong them. Be courteous and respectful even in the state of anger.
  • Expectation: I will spend my husband’s money as I like
  • Reality: You are now the lady of the house. It is your responsibility to make sure that the house expenditures run efficiently. Well, who doesn’t like shopping? But, set priorities and be a helpful and considerate spouse, rather than a shopaholic spendthrift. Make efforts to strengthen your Iman and do not indulge too much in the worldly desires.  In Surah Al-Araf, we are told, “O Children of Adam! Take your adornment (by wearing your clean clothes), while praying and going round (the Tawaf of ) the Kabah, and eat and drink but waste not by extravagance, certainly He (Allah) likes not Al-Musrifun (those who waste by extravagance).” (Al-Araf 7:31)

The Satan gives a big reward to the subordinate who has created differences and distances between the husband and the wife in the form of arguments, disagreements and fights.

My dear sisters, the relation of a husband and wife is the first relation to come into existence i.e. that of Hazrat Adam (as) and bibi Hawa (as). The Satan gives a big reward to the subordinate who has created differences and distances between the husband and the wife in the form of arguments, disagreements and fights. We, at times, have such high expectations from our marital lives that even a slightest issue disrupts the harmony which we had imagined; and we tend to give up hope. Marriage is a relationship upon which you and your spouse have to work coherently. Learn to adjust, learn to give-in, to forgive, understand each other and above all respect one another. May Allah (swt) guide us to the best of knowledge and Iman.

Ibn Qayyim said: “The (path) always starts with trials and tests, then comes the period of patience and reliance (upon Allah (swt)), and the end is enlightenment, guidance and victory.” (Shifaa’ Al-Aleel)

Make a Hijab Deal – Conceal, and Do Not reveal!

Picture courtesy: arabianbusiness.com

Picture courtesy: arabianbusiness.com

“I don’t understand the purpose of this piece of cloth,” says the voice over the phone. “It only covers the head. Everything else can be seen.”

“That is why I choose to wear the outer garment that fully covers the body, as well as, the face cover,” I reply, jumping through the loophole in his argument.

He immediately backpedals.

“You know who wears that?” His voice rises. “You don’t know the kind of women who wear that, you live a sheltered life.”

“Yes,” I say. “I do know. Prostitutes.”

He is surprised, not having expected me to know the answer. He goes off on a tangent, asking me how would I like it if I talked to him with him having a piece of cloth over his face, or how would I like it if I had “three other mothers” (his reference to the Islamic allowance for a man to keep up to four wives), and other spiraling circles of conversation. After an exchange of questions and answers, he said, “Well, then, it’s just a matter of faith.”

How I came to have this conversation over the phone with my father’s friend, who is a doctor, is irrelevant. What was said in the conversation is highly relevant, as it highlights the attitude of people towards the Quranic commandment for women to observe Hijab.

I would like to highlight some points about the girls who observe Hijab (whether it is just head and front cover, or with outer garment, or with face cover, or any combination of the three).

1. Hijabi girls are not allergic to males, or to marriage. I did not discover this opinion until one day, an acquaintance said out of the blue, “You don’t want to get married, right?” which is a way of saying, “You don’t find men attractive, right?” I observed head cover and outer garment then- not the face cover, and still she thought I was against marriage. Why? Not because of my dressing only, but because I did not talk about boys the way the other girls did. I did not discuss which cute boys I had seen when I went out shopping last weekend, I did not list my crushes, I did not share which actors I found attractive, I did not keep wallpapers of actors.

People do not know that this face cover, body cover and head cover is the legacy of the mothers of the believers. Yes! They used to observe it all.

As I know the state of my own inner thoughts only and not anyone else’s; here is a sneak peek: yes, I did see cute boys when I went out. I did have crushes on some of the males I interacted with during school (and later, on work). I did have celebrity crushes when I used to watch movies, and to tell the truth, even a photo shopped poster of a movie glimpsed while driving by is enough to plant the seed of a crush. I used to save wallpapers of computer animated characters from video games, and yes, some of them did feature attractive men. What I did not do was share these thoughts with my friends, because I did not want to give power to them. You give power to thoughts, and they rule your consciousness. I did not want to sit with my friends and cook daily servings of crushes and infatuations. What ruled my consciousness were my own daydreams of my own made-up characters in my own fantasy world. I used to think I was merely making up stories as a writer, until something I read made me realize that I was substituting my own imaginary “ideals” for the flesh-and-blood members of the opposite sex in this world. Yes, my imagination did include attractive male characters as well. Make of that what you will, but I eventually learned not to daydream so much. I didn’t want to take my own whims and desires as my God.

2. Hijabis have nothing to hide. Sure, there’s the girl who will use her head cover to hide her earphones while she listens to music in a packed college classroom. There’s the girl who will use the same method to cheat in exams. Yes, I am coming to the juicy part: there are females who wear face cover to hide their identity so that they can engage with males in pre-marital or extra-marital relations, or as I mentioned in the conversation in the beginning of the article, they do it in order to sell their bodies. People do not know that this face cover, body cover and head cover is the legacy of the mothers of the believers. Yes! They used to observe it all.

The words “Khimar” (head and chest cover) and “Jilbab” (body cover i.e. outer garment) come in the Quran. Whether face cover is included in the word “Jilbab” is the only point of disagreement between scholars. Yes, contrary to the public assumption that all Islamic dress code for females is open to question, there is actually no ignoring these two words, “Khimar” and “Jilbab”, in the Quran.

This brings me to an important point. Belief in the Quran is a pillar of Islamic faith. That means belief in every verse of the Quran, including the ones which spark social controversy today. Whether or not, you choose to obey a particular verse of the Quran or not, you cannot try to change its meaning in order to make yourself feel safe and comfortable. You cannot pretend that these words are not in the Quran. Even if you believe from the depth of your heart that the Hijabi sister you see is up to no good, you should create excuses for her in your mind. After all, it’s not your job to judge people, that job is Allah’s (swt). Good thing He didn’t give it to you and me, right? Our heads would explode.

Belief in the Quran is a pillar of Islamic faith. That means belief in every verse of the Quran, including the ones which spark social controversy today.

3. The default setting of a Hijabi is not “sexually frustrated”. Yes, there are holier-than-thou Hijabi sisters and they just have frowning, or sad facial expressions naturally; but that doesn’t mean that all they need is “a good make out”. If you claim to support feminine freedom and are against “the patriarchy”, consider giving your Hijabi sisters a break, too. On the inside, they are creations of emotions, thoughts and conflicts, just like you.

All this is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to addressing assumptions about Hijabi Muslims. Whether this article gives you answers, or creates more questions in your mind, depends on your perspective. I will end this article, the way I ended the conversation with my father’s friend: “It’s all a matter of faith.”

Newly-wed? Thrive to Survive!

Vol 5 - Issue 4 A wedding to rememberIt is He Who has created you from a single person (Adam), and (then) He has created from him his wife (Hawwa), in order that he might enjoy the pleasure of living with her. When he had sexual relation with her, she became pregnant and she carried it about lightly. Then when it became heavy, they both invoked Allah, their Lord (saying): If You give us a Salih (good in every aspect) child, we shall indeed be among the grateful.” (Al-Araf 7:189)

Allah (swt) has created men and women to worship Him; but besides this, Allah (swt) has created this Dunya as a test for us. Allah (swt) has established a really beautiful bonding between the husband and wife. Allah (swt) states in the Quran, “And among His Signs is this, that He created for you wives from among yourselves, that you may find repose in them, and He has put between you affection and mercy. Verily, in that are indeed signs for a people who reflect.” (Ar-Rum 30:21)

It is quite clear that husband and wife are a source of peace and comfort for each other. When two souls meet, they might have differences- different nature and different life style.

Hence, it is quite necessary for a newly wedded couple to spend some time with each other, and try to understand each other very well. Honeymoon period is quite necessary for a healthy beginning of a married life. It helps to develop the feeling of love and care for each other. Both, husband and wife, should understand each other’s nature, likes and dislikes, and should deal with each other accordingly. They should expect less from each other and should focus more on giving.

Tips for the wives

  • They should try to maintain good relations with their in-laws, and should not complain about them to their husband.
  • They should get ready for their husbands i.e. wear good clothes, makeup and perfume, under the limits described by Allah (swt); although it might sound typical, but it really makes husbands feel happy and special.
  • They should understand their husband’s mood and concern, and should deal accordingly.
    They should make food of their husband’s choice- as it is said that the way to a man’s heart is through the stomach.
  • They should welcome their husbands with a smile.
  • They should protect their husband’s honour in their absence.

Tips for the husbands

  • They should praise and appreciate their wives’ efforts.
  • Their wives deserve love and care- as they are very sensitive and emotional; and also, they have left their parents and their loved ones for them.

Anas ibn Malik narrated that, a Sahabi named Anjeshe was leading the camels that were carrying the Prophet’s (sa) wives on the way back from the last pilgrimage. He was making the camels run with the rhythmic songs that he sang with his beautiful voice. The Prophet (sa) told him:

“O Anjeshe, ride slowly, do not break the crystals” (Darimi, Istizan)

  • Outings, long drives and shopping for their wives is equally important.
  • Taking their wives to meet her parents as well as respecting them, would make wives happy.

Thus, the conclusion is that marriage can’t be successful without the PTC tool i.e. Patience, Tolerance and Compromise.

And, don’t forget to make this Dua: “And those who say: Our Lord! Bestow on us from our wives and our offspring who will be the comfort of our eyes, and make us leaders for the Muttaqun” (Al-Furqan 25:74)

Happily Ever After

wedding-ringsShe couldn’t see clearly through the thin film of tears, but she could make out her trembling hands; tremors running throughout her body. She had never felt like that before- not like that, but maybe similar. Flash backs from the past. And she was back at the assembly hall… assembly hall? Students standing in rows properly arranged as ever. Recognition dawned on her then. It was the assembly hall of her primary school when she was nine. She was confused though, why this memory? When the door beside the stage opened with a bang, bright light flooding through the doors, the brightest she had ever seen. What was that? Or .. who was that? She felt its sacredness in her heart. Was that an angel? Or Jesus?

Jesus? She snapped back to reality. She had dismissed that episode back then. . But then, that memory felt as real as ever. Maybe, it really was an unearthly entity. A moan escaped her lips.

The feeling was overwhelming. She could hardly keep herself together. All she wanted to do was to burst into tears and cry her heart out. When she heard the words again,

“There is no God but Allah, And Muhammad (sa) is His Messenger.”

And there was a silent explosion. All control broke and she fell into prostration;  the tears dripping faster than ever. She cried so much that she was tied up in hiccups.

She had lost the track of time by the moment she could gather herself again. When she got up, she finally became aware of the other people around. Her sisters, her friends in Islam. The sister after whom she had repeated Shahadah came into view. She had the sweetest smile playing through her lips and her eyes were wet. And, then was getting embraced by every sister in the mosque.

Oh, how her Lord has blessed her! A giggle of pure joy escaped her mouth before she knew. She covered her mouth realizing that she was sitting there for her Nikah. She had never been happier. It was the happiness that she had never really experienced before. She caught herself sighing out of happiness. She had been blessed with Islam, a whole bunch of sisters to help her, and a pious and righteous husband. She felt like the luckiest and the happiest person on the earth.

She looked back at the sisters who escorted her out- they were still giving her Duas. After the greeting, she turned towards the road. She could see him standing by the car, waiting for her. Her heart swelled with love that He had brought her to this day, and she could feel great days to come. She had finally found Him and she was ready to start her journey with her righteous man- the journey of getting closer to Allah (swt).  . Her story had a happily-ever-after that not even fairy tales ever had. Breathing in the air of determination, she started moving towards the car.