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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Are the new couple in double the trouble?

thumb2Walking into the holy matrimony at the age of nineteen, I had my fair share of doubts and misunderstandings. I had this fantasy of no less than a hybrid Mr. Darcy and Hugh Grant. For me, this marriage scenario basically meant a “Halal boyfriend” type of situation – and to be quite honest, it’s not my fault that I had such expectations. The world of social media made me presume that my marriage would be full of selfies and hashtags. But it’s not like that.

It’s so much better.

The big day came and went in the blink of an eye; and six months later there is so much that I have learnt.

1.      It is difficult. It’s not easy to live with someone you hardly know. But, with extra time and extra patience, it gets better. You become each other’s best friends and everything becomes easier when you have that one person to talk to about anything and everything. The Holy Prophet’s (sa) and Aisha’s (ra) relationship is the paramount example for such a relationship. They played with one another, and one of my most favourite actions of the Holy Prophet (sa) is how he would kiss Aisha (ra) on the forehead or cheeks in affection. I admire their relationship and feel as though in this day and age, such a relationship would prove to excel rather than the orthodox “husband rules wife”- the Desi marriage.
2.      Never assume! Assumptions are the death of happiness. Don’t assume that he isn’t trying or that he doesn’t care. Every man is different and his perception of love is different as well. I assure you, give them time; they will prove to be a soppier romantic than you, and they may even surprise you with loving gestures.
3.      Don’t rush things. You have your whole life together so take it easy. Enjoy the little moments together.
4.      Be generous with words and gestures. Say “Thank you”, “I’m sorry” or even “I love you” without hesitation. Spontaneous bursts of love are always confidence boosters. The Holy Prophet (sa) treated all his wives with such love and respect and his wives treated him the same. Respect, trust and love are the foundations for good marriage.
5.      Have little things that are just yours. A certain word that only you two know, or a game that only you two know how to play. Create something unique just for yourselves.
6.      Be each other’s support. This is the most important thing. Text messages and emails can always bring out other meanings rather than what we wish to portray – so don’t be irrational and judge, instead take a deep breath and support each other’s flaws and perfections. One of the most beautiful examples in Islamic history is Hazrat Ibrahim’s (as) and Hajra’s (ra) journey into Safah and Marwa. She supported her husband without any doubts, and waited for him in mountains with a wailing child. Her trust in Allah (swt) and her husband made her a woman of Jannah.

In the end, when the whole world seems like a lonely place, your spouse will always be there. He or she is “your person”; so, fight for them and always appreciate them. They are one of a kind and they are all yours. Allah (swt) made marriage half of the faith and the Holy Prophet (sa) made marriage a Sunnah. “Marriage is my Sunnah whosoever keeps away from it is not from me”.

As a girl, my Dua for myself and every other girl who is married or getting married is to “find a spouse that has the traits of Hazrat Adam (as) in the matter of knowledge, the traits of Hazrat Yaqub (as) in the matter of fatherhood, and the traits of the Holy Prophet (sa) in the matters of love”. Ameen.

Intimacy After Engagement

intimacy

A group of six twenty-year-old girls is sitting huddled together on the campus cafeteria stairs. They are all listening intently to one of the girls, as she describes the scene at her parents’ drawing room the night before.

“I entered with the tray of drinks. I was so nervous! As I stood in front of him with the tray…”, she pauses for effect, holding out her hand, displaying the sparkling rock on her finger.

There is a ripple of excited giggles, as the other girls inch in closer.

“He looked up at me! As he stretched out his hand to take the drink, our eyes met for a few seconds…”

****

Most people wistfully look back at their twenties as a time of youthful exuberance, carefree leisure, nouveau ambition, and as the time when physical health and good looks are at their peak.

Still, I’d guess that very few adults miss the anxiety and social pressure related to the marriage proposal process that starts in the twenties, entailing (for most) months or even years of earnest prayers coupled with frantic searches to find their other half.

I can still recall the confusion, anxiety, and stress related to marriage proposals during my early twenties. Finding a suitable spouse nowadays is still not an easy matter for single young men and women.

Youthful Dreams of the Future

No one wants to end up alone in life. Whether one begins to desire marriage during their teens, twenties, or thirties, the dreams and fantasies of a happily-married future commence almost as soon as a young Muslim hits adulthood.

As university or college graduation approaches or passes by, many a young Muslim adult finds him/herself fantasizing about romance, love, and marriage. Their hormone-fueled desires reach a peak as they hit the two-decade mark, and notwithstanding their career-related ambitions, seeking a spouse to settle down in blissful matrimony is a goal that fast begins to dominate their list of priorities.

Destination Within Sight, Entrance Forbidden

Let’s just bypass the whole Rishta (proposal) process for the sake of this article, much as I am tempted to comment on it, and assume that after much anticipation, prayers, networking efforts, awkward drawing room ‘interviews’, innumerable phone calls/Skype sessions, or even a couple of desperation-fueled Umrahs, a young singleton finally gets engaged with their parents’ consent and approval and is very happy and at peace with the decision.

As if the test of spending years praying for and using all practical means to seek a righteous spouse wasn’t enough, the next trial now begins.

This trial is yet another test of patience for any engaged couple who fears Allah (swt) and wants to abide by His commands, laws, and prohibitions, regarding their mutual interactions (or lack thereof).

If an analogy were to make the matter clearer, just imagine placing a large dish full of delicious food in front of a person who has been starving, and ask them to refrain from eating it.

Imagine what that would feel like!

Parents and Families Causing Undue Delays

Depending on the level of religious practice in every family, the difficulty or ease of the engagement period varies.

The commonly witnessed trend is that the more freely a couple interacts with each other before the Nikah, the more difficult it is for them to wait for the marriage, and the more prone they are to misunderstandings in the interim.

Sadly, many engagements break because of misunderstandings during this extended period.

As for the parents of an engaged couple, most tend to completely forget the intensity and awkwardness of unsatisfied sexual desires during youth. They tend to focus primarily on the practicalities related to the wedding and preparations for the parties/functions.

Many parents also tend to give undue importance to the participation/presence of close and distant relatives at the wedding, which causes further delays in the engaged couple’s Nikah.

In short, the longer the engagement, the greater the difficulty for the engaged couple.

What Does the Shariah Say About Talking to a Fiancée?

Islam is very clear about the allowed level of communication, frankness, and social mingling between men and women who are non-Mahrams.

All in-person, verbal, and written interactions between non-Mahrams should be need-based and restricted to a minimum. They should be carried out in a business-like and dignified manner, sans joking, laughing, teasing, and flirting.

Before the Nikah, even if two singles are betrothed, they are still non-Mahrams for each other, and are hence required to refrain from interacting freely.

“Before the marriage contract is done, the fiancé does not have the right to speak words of affection to his fiancé or to hold her hand because he is still a “stranger” (non-Mahram) to her and is like any other non-Mahram man. No one should take this matter lightly.” (IslamQA)

The above excerpt is from a Shafi source. Below, is one from a Hanafi source:

“And come not near to the unlawful sexual intercourse.” (Al-Isra 17:32) “Shariah only gives a person permission to see a prospective spouse once. Any further contact after this initial sighting is impermissible, let alone keeping in touch by calling and texting each other.” (AskImam.org]

Engaged couples are, therefore, not allowed by Allah (swt) to go out on dates, talk on the phone, Skype/email each other without necessity, or send each other text messages.

Even meetings in the homes of their parents, with others present in the same room, are discouraged, if these will lead to freer interaction, gazing at each other or other forbidden actions.

Conclusion: Err on the Side of Caution 

The cases of engaged couples that I personally know of, who have transgressed the boundaries set by Islam in their interactions before Nikah, are so many that I cannot count. Almost all cases commence with ‘innocent’ phone calls encouraged by their parents. These calls lead to the desire to meet more often in person. When the latter happens, even inside the drawing rooms of parents’ homes, physical touching is not long to follow. All of these actions count as footsteps towards Zina (adultery).

I therefore urge all parents to not delay their wards’ Nikah once they have found the person to marry them off to, and to not give more importance to the nitty-gritty of elaborate wedding functions, overpriced dresses, jewellery, and guest lists than their child’s Akhirah.

Struggle All the Way to Jannah

steppingstonesA believer’s faith in the meta-physical aspects of Islam: Iman, is not something that is in a constant state, but is in a constant state of flux. Every Muslim experiences highs and lows of Iman, and often at times these highs of Iman empowers a believer to make some life changing decisions. Similar is the case with a young Muslim girl, when she decides to start taking Hijab, and guard her modesty for the sake of Allah (swt). Slowly and gradually, the way she dresses up, the friends she hangs out with, the way she thinks and responds to things around her, everything changes, and Hijab becomes an essential part of her personality. But with this comes an extra responsibility. And some extra struggle.

So when she goes to a wedding (a typical Desi wedding), people stare at her or some aunties constantly give her smiles, as if she really needs it to feel comfortable in the crowd.  Ironically, it actually does the opposite; but she struggles.

When her mother wants her to loosen the scarf a bit, so that the flashy and glamorous neckline of her dress is visible; when she can see that her mother is a little uncomfortable with the piece on her head, and that she wants her daughter to look beautiful (according to what our society defines it), she struggles.

And when somebody asks her the reason for doing Hijab, and says: “But you are so beautiful.” Her heart sinks, not because she understands their point but because they don’t understand hers. And she struggles. She struggles within the boundaries of her heart.

When we have the right to look glamorous for the society, why don’t we have the right to guard our modesty for the sake of Allah (swt)? Suddenly, people give you a suspicious look, as if there’s been something wrong in your life, may be a tragedy, which made you take the decision. Parents think that there’s something wrong with their daughter and that she needs to comply with the society norms. Taking Hijab becomes something “abnormal” and the girl becomes an “extremist”. “She just needs to be normal!” So Hijab is for the ones who’re not really a part of the society. “They are different. They are not like us. We are not like them.” And this is something that is said by a mother, or father, or a friend, of a Muslim family.

How can one expect to have a distinction, without taking an exam?

In this materialistic world, where glamour is everything; a few hits on a profile picture or a few flattering comments about how beautiful you look, defines your worth and at times your dignity. It is indeed difficult to stick to your decision. And I don’t think it’s wrong to have these feelings. It’s human, perfectly human to fall. But how you strive and fight against your Nafs to rise up again (for the sake of Allah (swt)), is what defines your worth and you as a true submitter to Allah (swt).

Allah (swt) doesn’t want us to have an empty heart, cold and indifferent; He tests us by observing as to how we deal with everything inside it. Iman, love, and faith (Aqeeda) rest in the heart and so do hatred, jealousy and doubts. The point is not to clear your heart, but to beautify it with what is good for it, according to the Master who owns it.

How to deal with criticism

How do I deal with it? How do I answer them back? How do I tell them that this is not for anyone who wants to see me all dolled up, to please their eyes? But do I really need to give these explanations to feel good about it? Well, this has already been addressed in the Quran, to answer this restlessness.

“The life of this world is no more than illusion and vanity, while the abode of the Hereafter is far better for the righteous. Do you not understand?” (Quran 6:32)

Beautiful! He knows. He knows what you’re going through. And it was actually “meant” to be this way. So she struggles. But now we know, the struggles are indeed blessings. He repeats “Do you not understand?” Actually she missed the point. How can one expect to have a distinction, without taking an exam?  He is providing her with some bonus points to reach Jannah. By practicing patience, by being even extra polite to her mother and the aunties, by holding back her tears when she is alienated in a gathering, and by having complete faith in Him, and only Him. Her struggle would pay immense rewards Insha’Allah

Remember, “Isn’t Allah enough for His servants?” (Az-Zumar)

Don’t Give up Too Soon – Advice for Newly Weds

advice for newly weds

She has been sitting for hours, browsing bridal wear and makeup. It has to be the most perfect wedding from catering to dresses, from bridal shower to the actual wedding day, all according to the liking of her mother-in-law, whose appreciation and compliments she seeks. After all, she doesn’t believe in the typical in-law relationships.

The Nikah is only a few weeks away. She is excited about starting a family of her own. She glances at the photo frame on her night stand: her baby picture together with parents. They have always been at her side, excusing her reckless behaviour, encouraging her on her achievements and standing by her each time she stumbled. A tear trickles down her cheeks. Nothing can exceed her parents’ love for her.

*********

It has been a month since her marriage. Henna traces and the facial glow are gone. Honeymoon seems like ages ago. The excitement and fervour of starting a new life have vanished. What went wrong?

She feels unwanted. Her husband, the man with whom she dreamed endless conversations, countless romantic dinners, mutual values and eternal bliss, is the total opposite of what she expected.  Where did love, respect and kindness go?

She needs a break and requests to be dropped her at her parents’ place. Her husband gives a cold nod and grabs the car keys. What? He is not even going to stop her? Is it over already?

*********

She is back at her parents’. She needs peace for thinking it through. The thought of divorce has crossed her mind several times. In the lounge, her parents are praising their son-in-law, for he has allowed their daughter to spend a few nights with them.

She has not thought of what she will tell after the few nights pass. Maybe they will ask her themselves. Maybe he is missing her already and will come back to pick her. She picks up her phone for any missed call or text from him – there’s none.

Her phone does ring, but it’s her old school friend Sara, who is on a visit to Pakistan. They arrange to meet up for lunch.

*********

Sara recognizes her the moment she steps into the restaurant. After formal hugs, Sara shakes her: “Hey! What’s the matter? Why don’t I see the usual newly-wedded glow on your face? It has been only a month since your wedding.

She gazes at her friend blankly. Look at her! She’s beaming with joy even after five years of marriage, while I’ve already realized my wedding was a big mistake.

Sara now softens her tone: “Is something bothering you? Is the new routine overwhelming? I know. I have been married for five years, and every day brings a new surprise for me.”

“Ummm… it’s that… it’s… I don’t know,” she struggles to express herself.

Sara gently rests her palm over Anum’s hand: “When I was getting married, I was so excited about moving abroad and starting a new life. But you know what? Once we had done sight-seeing, dined at the finest restaurants, and shopped till we dropped, it seemed there’s nothing exhilarating in our lives anymore. Yes, I was expecting, and Yasir would routinely take me for appointments, but his frequent phone calls from work decreased. I felt he is not the person that I married. I felt unwanted, dejected and unloved. Thoughts of divorce constantly occupied my mind. I was unable to find my way; then, I did the only thing that I knew.”

Anum corrects her posture and sits upright. What? Did she go for a divorce?

“I woke up for Tahajjhud, laid my prayer mat and stood up in prayer. I cried my heart out to Allah (swt) – my only Wali. Out of self-respect, I didn’t want to share it with anyone. I didn’t want a divorce, but I also didn’t want to live in the same house like a stranger. I wanted a small happy family that went to bed with forgiveness, gentle kisses and sweet lullabies. Even though I didn’t see any visible signs of improvement, I kept praying. And you know what happened?”

“What?” Anum asks.

“After praying,” Sara continues, “I felt very relaxed, as if my worries had been taken care of. Then, one morning, Yasir came down to the breakfast table with his old chirpy, energetic self. He warmly came to me and whispered that my tea was the best in the world. I couldn’t believe my ears! Not only that – after breakfast, Yasir requested me to pack some extra muffins for his lunch, for he liked to show off to his colleagues his wife’s baking skills. From that day onwards, our relationship started to improve. He helped me with the house chores, went on walks with me and had all the time in the world for talking to me.”

“Really? Was prayer that effective?” Anum asked, unbelievingly.

“Yes, Anum. Patience and prayer are the essential ingredients of maintaining your sanity when the entire world is collapsing. You’re a dear friend, Anum. Right now, I want you to go home and get on your prayer mat. Trust me, I’ve been there. Don’t give up so soon.”

Anum gives a faint, sceptical smile: How can it be? Just a prayer and everything is fixed? I don’t think Sara understands me well.

***********

Anum wakes up in the middle of the night well before the Fajr. She is about to go back to sleep, when she realizes that this is the best time for Tahajjhud – that’s what she does. Sitting on the mat, Anum cries, beseeching Allah (swt) to save her home. She begs for forgiveness and seeks guidance.

An hour later, Amma comes to check on her. She kisses Anum, when she finds her reciting the Quran: “Is there anything you would like to talk to me about, Anum? I hope Yasir is kind to you, and your in-laws treat you nicely.”

“Of course, Amma, what made you ask that?” Anum asks politely.

“I don’t see you hopping around the house and fighting with your sisters. I want to be sure that my daughter is fine,” Ama explains herself.

“Could be that your daughter has grown up and become wise?” Anum replies with a smile.

Amma looks at Anum silently, trying to believe her. She asks Anum, what she would like to have for breakfast. Anum hugs her mom and says: “Let me make breakfast for you, guys, today.” As she walks towards kitchen, Anum wonders, where did this sudden burst of positivity come from?

***********

It’s been three days of regular Tahajjhud and the five daily prayers. Still no word from Yasir. The prayer isn’t helping… Anum is exasperated. She asks herself: “Why can’t I call Yasir? Most men, I have heard, lack communication skills.” She dials the number. Yasir picks up immediately, and asks how she has been. Anum is surprised by this unanticipated warmth and love. They speak for a while, and then Yasir says he is coming in the evening to pick Anum up. He misses her.

************

Anum greets her in-laws with respect and love, reminding herself she should neither be judgemental nor impatient. She inquires about their health and well-being.

Once in the bedroom, Yasir and Anum go through the events of the past few weeks. They admit their mistakes and pledge to communicate with each other openly. They have promised they will live as each other’s clothing that adorns as well as hides each other’s flaws. They will not discuss their private matters with anyone, for help truly comes from Allah (swt) only.

As they turn off the lights, Yasir asks: “But Anum… How did you decide to come back? What made you call me?”

“Prayer and patience,” Anum replies confidently, “…and I would love, if we could both start offering Tahajjhud together as a couple.”

A Wedding to Remember

Vol 5 - Issue 4 A wedding to rememberBy Saira Naeem

Saeeda Qamar, our Tajweed teacher, came and sat at the head of our class just like she did every day. But today she was not wearing her uniform headscarf; instead, she had a black one. I was surprised, because none of our staff members were ever seen without uniform. My classmate whispered into my ear: “She’s getting married today.” I said: “How do you know?” She pointed to her henna colored hands. Still I was not convinced enough.

Our Tajweed class started, and she kept on correcting us in the same manner as she had always done. When, at the end of the class, Saeeda Baji said an unusually long dua and started weeping, I realized that maybe it really was her wedding day.

Our Tafseer teacher came in and said: “Do you know that your Tajweed teacher is getting married today and is moving to Karachi?”

I was amazed! I had heard about people committed to Allah (swt), who made the Quran the first priority in their lives, but I had never actually seen a person, who was going to have the so-called ‘biggest day of her life,’ and yet wanted to give her duties to Allah (swt).

She could have easily skipped the class, but this was her conviction – to stay committed till the end. Saeeda Baji said she loved all her students and asked us to hold onto the Quran, which is Allah’s blessing upon us. And her actions spoke louder that her words.

Her wedding was not going to take place in a big hotel or a park with mixed gathering, dances and songs. It was to happen in Shah Faisal mosque. I was wondering, what would the wedding be like? Will she get dressed up? Will she wear makeup? How will the guests eat in the Masjid?

We prayed Asr with the congregation in the upper ladies corner of Faisal mosque. The bride also prayed along with everyone else – not at all bothered about her dress getting messed up. Saeeda Baji was a very pretty bride. Her makeup was just enough. She did not do any back-combing – her hair was tied back nicely, with a Dopatta tucked on her head and around her bosom. She was not wearing a low neckline, quarter sleeves or extremely flashy jewelry. She did not pluck her eyebrows; YET, she was looking so peaceful and graceful.

It was the Noor of the Quran that made her look this way. Many brides spend thousands of rupees on the wedding day just to look perfect. They diet for six months to loose that extra weight, so that their figure looks nice in the tight-fitted shirt. They undergo facials, hair does and all kinds of treatments to get that perfect look. They complete their beauty sleep, take rest at home for a month or so to look FRESH on the wedding day. But this lady did not take even a day off from her commitment to Allah (swt), and Allah (swt) gave her that freshness and beauty without having to do any of the above things.

For a person, who has not experienced the miracle of the Quran, all of this might seem like a fairy tale; but trust me – seeing is believing. Allah (swt) showed me that it is possible to follow His path at any point of time – there will always be Sabiqoon Al-Awaloon, who will do their good deeds at the level of Ihsan.

I asked Saeeda Baji’s mother, how they had managed the food arrangements. She said that they ordered lunch boxes plus dinner for people at home. I just thought of the expenses they had saved: hotel and food charges, different kinds of Rasms, such as Joota Chupana, Doodh Pilana extra and a whole lot more.

After returning home, I kept on thinking about this perfect wedding. This union would include Allah’s blessing and duas of all the people she had been with, whether students or colleagues. May Allah (swt) give all our teachers the greatest rewards in this world and the hereafter, and may He give me the Tofeeq to follow their footsteps, Ameen.

Wedding Websites

By Hafsa Ahsan

http://www.islamicgarden.com/marriagelinks.html

Many people mistakenly assume that the wedding is the most important part of the marriage. Of course, no one can deny the importance of the wedding, but the fact remains that the marriage is above everything else. This website has quite a few enlightening articles, which reiterate the purpose of marriage and the ideal age for marriage. There are also some audio lectures for those of you, whose Internet connections can support them.

http://www.zawaj.com/articles.html#weddings

This is an extremely interesting website, which features loads of articles pertaining to different aspects of an Islamic wedding. You will find tips on how to arrange your wedding, how to avoid the last minute jitters and, most importantly, how to stay within your budget. There are also some words of wisdom – advice to the couple tying the knot as to their roles, rights and responsibilities from their big day forth.

http://www.islamawareness.net/Marriage/extravagance.html

An article that exclusively takes a look at the extravagance during marriage ceremonies and the reasons for avoiding it. Everything here is explained from an Islamic perspective. Dowries taken from the family of the bride are also discussed. Apart from this article, the website contains also other articles discussing various aspects of marriage.

Glaring Expenses

Vol 4-Issue 3 Glaring ExpensesMarriage is an intrinsic part of life, especially in our socio-religious and family-oriented culture. Each class of the society spends an exorbitant sum of money, which is beyond their particular economic reach, to make the occasion memorable. Since numbers speak a vivid language, a comparison has been chalked out for our readers to understand how much a Pakistani wedding cost today.

It costs a middle class Pakistani no less than Rs. 200,000 to marry off each of their daughters, which by any standard is not a small amount. A person earning Rs.10,000 – 15,000 salary strives hard to meet marriage expenses within Rs. 200,000. He may also have to use some 20 % of his savings and rely on the gifts from close relatives in order to include them in the cost of the dowry.

The elite class takes the whole affair very seriously, and the wedding expenses may estimate over Rs.10 million. In some cases, expenses cross the hefty sum of Rs. 40 million, as decorated bungalows in posh areas are a part of the expensive dowry package.

Their wedding functions, called Dholkis, start 10 to 15 days before the actual wedding day. Sometimes reputed local singers are paid half a million rupees or more to perform for just one night, while some extremely rich people hire singers from India. In some instances, professional dancers are hired a month earlier to train the women of the family to perform at the Rasm-e-Hina ceremony.

Instead of procuring flowers from the local florist, many upper-class families import bouquets from Thailand, Holland, etc. The tradition of distributing only dry dates among the guests after the Nikah ceremony is outdated. Now, costlier packets made of shinning and silky fabric are purchased to encase assorted dry fruits.

For such families, wedding guests mostly comprise of bureaucrats, foreign diplomats, army personnel and dignitaries. The wedding turns into an important event for networking with high profile local and foreign personalities.

Digital photography and movie making has replaced the old VHS technology. The rate of wedding movies and still-photograph packages range from Rs. 13,000 to Rs. 80,000. Bridal make-up rates vary from Rs. 3,000 in lower and middle income class areas to Rs. 8,000 in upper middle class areas. In DHA and Clifton (Karachi), the rate ranges between Rs. 10,000 – 15,000.

New trends in decorating the venue have arrived with the introduction of net tents with chandlers and beaming search lights and even full velvet tents. The rent of tent decorations ranges between Rs. 40 to Rs. 500 per head depending on the demand.

A non-compromising attitude of self-projection is the driving force of many wedding expenses today. One may only wonder, what more is to come?

According to a random survey, families bear the following expenses at their daughter’s wedding:

Income of Rs. 40,000 to Rs. 50,000 per month

  • Jewellery – Rs. 125,000-150,000
  • Furniture – Rs. 40,000-50,000
  • Electrical appliances – Rs. 60,000-70,000
  • Crockery – Rs. 10,000-15,000
  • Wedding hall and catering – Rs. 50,000-200,000
  • Wedding dress and accessories – Rs. 40,000-50,000
  • Rasm-e-Hina party – Rs. 25,000-30,000

Income of Rs. 20,000 to Rs. 30,000 per month

  • Jewellery – Rs. 60,000-80,000
  • Furniture – Rs. 30,000-40,000,
  • Bridal dress – Rs. 10,000-15,000
  • Crockery – Rs. 5,000-8,000
  • Electrical appliances – Rs. 40,000-50,000
  • Wedding hall and catering – Rs. 80,000-100,000

Etiquette of Proposing

Vol 4-Issue 3 Etiquettes of Proposing

Seeking marriage is highly recommended in Islam. Having taken the decision to marry, the hunt for a potential spouse begins. With the help of relatives, friends and at times matrimonial services the task becomes faster and easier.

However, while looking for a potential mate, one must remember that this cannot be done at the expense of the Islamic rules pertaining to modesty and respect between the sexes. Therefore, proper Islamic guidelines must be followed.

Firstly, one must be sure of the reason why they want to take this step. It should be based on the Islamic perspective, i.e., the Quran and the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (sa).

Secondly, it is important to be clear of what you are looking for in a spouse. The Quran enjoins Muslims to select partners, who are good and pure.

“Good statements are for good people (or good women for good men) and good people for good statements (or good men for good women).” (An-Nur 24:26)

According to sound Hadeeth: “Men choose women for four reasons: for their money, for their rank, for their beauty and for their religion, but marry one who is religious and you will succeed.” (Bukhari) This, of course, applies to women as well. If we want to have healthy Muslim families, then Deen has to be the priority. After this we may consider our personal preference, since attraction is necessary for the success of a marriage. This includes social status, appearance, age, etc.

Thirdly, one should use the help of others: especially parents, relatives, an Imam or respected and trustworthy members of the Muslim community. They will not only be your reference, but will, Insha’Allah, suggest individuals as prospective spouses, thoroughly screen and check proposals, call references and initiate and participate in the communication process.

Remember, however, that the final decision is yours.

While backbiting is generally forbidden in Islam, marriage investigations are an exception to this rule. The people you ask may know something about your prospective spouse. If they reveal this information, they would not be backbiting from the Islamic perspective. In fact, in the case of seeking marriage, complete information should be given about an individual, both good and bad.

Fourth, after due consideration of the available possibilities and the decision to propose marriage to one of them, the man should pray two Rakahs followed by the supplication of Istikharah. Next, he may initiate the Khitbah – the request to marry a particular woman and the expression of that desire to her or her guardian.

Often, the first meeting occurs between the women or men of the two families, in which the man conveys his wish to marry. At this point, one may pause to allow the woman and her guardian to do Istikharah and decide whether to pursue the matter further. Once there is a primary agreement between the two parties, the would-be-spouses are allowed to see each other for matrimonial purposes under the direct supervision of their Mahram relatives. This provision is expected to be conceived and executed with piety and modesty. It is not permissible for a man to see a potential wife without Hijab, since he is not her Mahram, seeing her face and hands is enough to determine physical attraction.

“When one of you asked a woman in marriage, if he is able to look at what will induce him to marry her, he should do so.” (Abu Dawood) This means the two potential spouses can look at each other but not ogle or stare.

“Tell the believing men to lower their gaze (from looking at forbidden things), and protect their private parts (from illegal sexual acts). That is purer for them. Verily, Allah is All-Aware of what they do. And tell the believing women to lower their gaze (from looking at forbidden things), and protect their private parts (from illegal sexual acts) and not to show off their adornment except that which is apparent (like both eyes for necessity to see the way, or outer palms of hands or one eye or dress like veil, gloves, head-cover, apron, etc.) and to draw their veils all over Juyubihinna (i.e., their bodies, faces, necks and bosoms)…” (An-Nur 24:30-31)

Fifth, when meeting a prospective mate, one should not meet alone. “Not one of you should meet a woman alone, unless she is accompanied by a relative within the prohibited degrees.” (Bukhari)

The two cannot be in a situation, where no one else can see or hear them. Instead, a discreet, chaperoned meeting should be set up. Meetings between prospective spouses must not last for an extremely long time, like being away most of the day to meet this person. There should be an allotted time for the two to meet and talk.

When talking to each other, one must remain within the Islamic guidelines, thus, being to the point and being businesslike (no flirtatious speech or of a sexual nature). One must be honest with regards to their credentials, background and other pertinent details about their personal lives.

Some of the topics to discuss can include each other’s interests, financial situation of the man, level of Islamic knowledge and practice, future career and education plans, home making skills, where the couple will live right after marriage and the two potential spouses’ relationships with their parents.

Finally, one should take their time before making hasty decisions. More time must be given to checking facts and references. There should be a firm and clear intention of either pursuing marriage, or if proven incompatible, a quick end to the relationship. This ensures that both sides would be safe from transgressing the boundaries of Islam. However, once a promise of marriage is made, it should be fulfilled, unless there is a valid reason for withdrawing it.

May Allah (swt) accept our sincere efforts in this regard, and may we always keep in mind that even if things do not work out, our having made Istikharah means that we have now left it to the will of Allah (swt) and we should be pleased with what He wills and never be disheartened.

Ready to Tie the Knot?

ready to tie

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

Dos Don’ts
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.