The bright lights of the wedding hall are pouring down on guests fitted in their choicest attire. The bride and groom attend the wedding reception resplendent in their meticulously prepared finery.
Yet, sadly, not many young Muslims, coming to the wedding hall for finalizing the most important decision of their lives, are fully aware of what an Islamic marriage actually entails. “Most couples spend more time preparing for the wedding, than they do preparing for the marriage.” The future husbands and wives-to-be go through numerous cultural rituals, yet only a few of them are ready for forming a strong, Islamically based family unit.
There are several matters young Muslims should consider, while getting ready for the life changing decision to ‘tie the knot’. Firstly, special care should be taken in selecting a good future life partner – one that would become your companion in paving your way to Jannah. Secondly, it is highly advisable that the young people go through some sort of Islamic premarital counseling that not only would provide them with knowledge regarding their Shariah rights and responsibilities, but also prepare them emotionally and mentally for building a successful Muslim family.
Finding the right man
It might be next to impossible to find a perfect man for marriage; however, it is within your reach to take some precautionary measures, which would assure that you do not end up in a disaster. Where to get started? Mona White suggests, “Nothing, absolutely NOTHING (including that BMW and indoor swimming pool) compares with the man’s religion and character.”
“If a man, whose practice of the religion satisfies you, asks you for your daughter in marriage, you should marry them; otherwise, there will be corruption on the earth.” (At-Tirmidhi).
There must be a reason, why such a great importance is placed on the Deen of man. Allah’s perfect order ensures that a God fearing husband would take good care of his wife and children and would not harm or dishonor them in any way. Ibn Uthaymeen says: “The most important thing is that the one proposing marriage should be good in the Deen and in his character – since regarding one possessing Deen and good character, she will not lose out in any respect: if he keeps her, then he will do so in a good manner and if he releases her, he will do so in a good manner.”
M. White draws up a checklist, which will guide you through the selection process:
(1) Correct Aqeedah: Believing in all those principles that Allah has commanded us to believe and keeping away from Shirk and innovations.
(2) Understanding and application of the Prophet’s (sa) Sunnah: According to M. White, “a person who does not understand the authority of Sunnah in his religion has no understanding of his religion at all.” The Messenger of Allah (sa) said: “I have left among you two matters that if you adhere to them, you will never be misguided: the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of His Prophet.” (Baihaqi)
(3) Character and habits: For this, you will have to do some research through the relatives and friends of the concerned man. Inquire, whether he prays in congregation, is generous in giving for the sake of Allah, has a beard, is a contributing member of the society, etc. Do not leave any question pending. The more you will ask the better understanding you will have about the prospective husband-to-be.
Searching for the ideal wife
The Prophet (sa) has said: “When a man marries, he indeed perfects half of his religion. Then, he should fear Allah for the remaining half.” (Bukhari)
This Hadeeth suggests that a Muslim man should be especially careful in choosing his wife, because his marriage will affect not only the soundness and happiness of his future family but also the status of his own religion. According to another Hadeeth, “A woman may be married for four reasons: for her wealth (or property), her lineage (or family status) her beauty, and her religion; so try to marry the one who is religious, may your hands be rubbed with dust [i.e., may you prosper].” (Bukhari)
Thus, in the case of the ideal wife, priority should be given to her Deen. According to Umm Rashid, “A Muslim man could not ask for anything better than to have a religious wife to be by his side and to teach his children.”
Further, Umm Rashid discusses the traits a prospective wife should have:
(1) Correct Aqeedah is once again on the top of the list.
(2) Good character: Shaykh al-Uthaymeen describes some qualities of a good character: Wishing the Muslims well, being content, having a cheerful countenance, speaking well, being generous, being courageous and dealing with others in an open and sincere manner.
(3) Proper Hijab: It gives to Muslim women their due respect and serves as a protection, ensuring that they would not be harassed. Allah says in the Quran: “Enjoin the believing women to lower their gaze and guard their modesty; not to display their beauty and ornaments except what normally appears thereof; let them draw their veils over their bosoms and not display their charms…” (An-Nur 24:31).
(4) Good reputation: According to Umm Rashid, “Whether a woman is a virgin or one previously married, she should be chaste.” Allah says in the Quran: “… pure women are for pure men, and pure men are for pure women…” (An-Nur 24:26).
Islamic Premarital Counseling
Another matter to consider, while preparing for marriage, is Islamic premarital counseling. What is it and what are its benefits? “In professional terms, Islamic counseling would be a confluence of counseling and psychotherapy with the central tenets of Islam. The idea behind Islamic counseling is to borrow the positive aspects of the Western psychotherapy and counseling, integrate them with the teachings of the Quran and the Sunnah, and thus form a unique type of counseling that would be specifically beneficial for Muslims.
“Marriage counseling has three main areas including pre marriage, post marriage, and family counseling during marriage. Premarital counseling is a preventive measure to help people understand marital relationships, the responsibility that comes with it, and their expectations of one another.”
Premarital counseling is done in two ways:
(1) Premarital education: Lectures for single men and women that are open for anyone interested to learn and do not involve any formal responsibilities.
(2) Premarital counseling: A more private option that deals with the case-specific queries and concerns of a couple seeking marriage.
Premarital counseling can address a wide variety of topics, including the significance of marriage; communication between husband and wife; abuse within the family; styles of parenting, financial planning, relations with the extended family, decision-making; and conflict resolution between the spouses.
Creating awareness of these topics before marriage can become an effective preventive measure for avoiding unnecessary marital complications.
The Newlywed Game
|1, Be creative and have fun exploring what makes you and your spouse unique. If your likes and dislikes differ, there is nothing wrong about it.||1, Get real. Do not hold grand expectations of the Hollywood-style all-too-perfect, but non-existent marriage.|
|2, When looking for faults, look in the mirror. Learn to admit mistakes, focus on self-improvement rather than critical analysis of each other.||2, Do not fall a victim of ‘ADD’ (Attention Deficit Disillusionment). When you two don’t share the same ideas for spending leisure time, allow space to do your own things separately.|
|3, Be flexible and never lose your sense of humour. If you start taking every little thing seriously, life will become like a pressure cooker.||3, After a conflict do not carry your anger around waiting forever for your spouse to apologize. If the deserved apology comes – great! If it doesn’t, let go and have faith that Allah must have planned something better for you.|
|4, Be forgiving and kind. Instead of picking the worse in each other, focus on the positive and appreciate it.||4, Never try to change each other to please others. What may be good for your friends may not be ideal for you and your spouse. Change for the better should only be for Allah and then for each other.|
|5, Be prepared to sacrifice. Selfish and self-centered people can never make any relationship work.||5, To have a successful marriage one person cannot always be the taker or the giver. The street cannot be one-way.|
|6, Whenever you feel like gossiping about your spouse, pour it all out before Allah. He will know and understand much better than your friends, or relatives ever will.||6, When you are least expecting something good and it happens, the feeling is unimaginable. If you always expect a royal treatment, you will end up hurt and frustrated.|