I have been married for nearly thirteen years, and my married life is not easy. I understand that it is a test from Allah (swt). I am trying to be patient; I always forgive people, and I always make excuses; however, my husband hates it. He prays and everything, but his relationship with other people is very bad. He tells me that I will not enter Jannah, as he is not pleased with me, and that I am a failure as a wife. In Islam, a wife has to obey her husband. I am trying, and it is very difficult. I have children, and I am teaching Islam to them. I find it very difficult. What is your advice for me, Sheikh?
Answer by Mufti Ismail Menk:
Bismillah ir-Rahman ir-Raheem.
I think the sister needs to bear this situation with patience, by the will of Allah (swt), and continue to try her best. Remember, obedience of anyone in the disobedience of Allah (swt) is not applicable. So, yes, you have to obey your husband, but you don’t have to obey him where he is wrong, where he is unreasonable, and where he is asking you to do something that makes you disobey Allah (swt).
If he has a bad habit or bad relation with people and you have a good relation with people, perhaps you can talk to him every once in a while. You said you have been married for thirteen years, so it would not be easy to change a person after such a long time. However, with Duas and with trials, beautiful trials by the will of Allah (swt), you will be able to achieve a change in him. I just want to put all those of you, who are married, into perspective here that every marriage has to have some degree of sacrifice, challenge, and obstacle. There has to be. You will never have 100% compatibility, except in Jannah – so much so that you are just thinking of something and they are thinking of the same thing, and you are like “Wow! Subhan’Allah!”
The maximum that I have seen among couples is perhaps about 90% compatibility, Alhumdulillah! But the truth is that you have to have challenges, so you can appreciate Jannah and all that Allah (swt) has kept for you. So don’t think: “Oh, my husband!” Everyone has some complaints. Recently, I heard a Sheikh speaking about an issue where people were complaining to a wise man. The wise man said: “Write down ten major problems that you are facing in life.” All of them wrote it.
In the next gathering, he jumbled up the problems and told them: “Each one of you come here and pick out a set of problems that you are happy with.” You have to have some test in your life, don’t you? Allah (swt) says that He is going to test you.
So as the people came, they picked the first paper and quickly put it down because they saw major problems written on it. They picked the second one and quickly put it down. They picked the third one and put it down again. Finally, they said: “No, no! We want our own paper back.”
All the people realized that they wanted their own paper back, which means that Allah (swt) knows our capacity and has given us issues and tests according our handling capacity. And that’s our paradise.
But yes, if some oppression is happening to an unacceptable degree and it is continuing, you are allowed to seek termination of marriage. You know divorce is something that is very permissible in Islam but it is frowned upon, if it is done for nothing. If it is done without trying to mend, then it is frowned upon. But if it is done as the last resort, it is actually a means of getting closer to Allah (swt), as it would decrease your stress. Sometimes there are difficult conditions in a marriage, and Allah (swt) does not doom you by saying: “Stay in that condition forever!” Allah (swt) tells us to try to make it work, and if it can’t really work, then Alhumdulillah, you can seek the dissolution of that particular situation.
However, getting back to the issue, try your best. Sometimes we feel that minor issues are huge, because we constantly complain about them. I’d like to think that the sister is only asking for guidance. So these are the few words of guidance. I mean, you would never hear from me: “Sister, break your marriage and carry on.” This is wrong. This is not advice.
The reason why I say this is because our friends tell that to us. Sometimes we have minor marital conflicts: “You know, my husband swore at me today!” A friend says: “Oh that’s it! If I were you, I’d go home.” But the same friend has been sworn at twenty times and did not go home. Why did you give your friend the wrong advice? Why do you want to see them being divorced and sitting sad?
Instead, give them advice: “You know what? Men do that. Address the situation. Talk to him. Write him a note. Maybe tell him how much you love him. Do a few romantic things, as it is your husband at the end of the day.”
How many of us have actually put a rose under the pillow for them to just look at and smile? Few. Perhaps very few. But we do want to complain that our marriage lacks romance. May Allah (swt) grant us the ability to work on our marriages and to appreciate the set of tests that we will have within the same marriage. Ameen.
Transcribed by Anoshia Riaz