Answered by Sidi Abdullah Anik Misra
What should I do to make my husband perform his prayers? I really want to but he doesn’t care about it. Every time I tell him, he says that I am bothering him. He is a nice person and does drink or smoke or anything, but he just doesn’t pray. What should I do?
Thank you for your question. Your concern for your husband’s not praying is commendable and entirely correct. Sometimes, people know that praying is a duty in Islam, however, out of laziness, they delay praying until the time has passed. These people may even be, in general, good-hearted Muslims who stay within the other limits of Halal and Haram, but they just need some positive encouragement and inspiration to break their laziness. However, no Muslim can be devout or righteous if they are not observant of their prayers at its proper times.
Whereas in times passed, one could ostracize the one who leaves the prayer, or scold them and refuse to interact with them as a means of applying pressure on them so that they feel shame and return to their religious duties, it is generally understood that in these times when there are so many alternative lifestyles calling and a lack of a righteous influence from society as a whole, forcing someone is no longer the most effective method.
People who imply that wives of husbands who do not pray should simply lay down “marital sanctions” and essentially boycott their husbands may be exacerbating the current problem and creating new ones where they didn’t exist before. Corrective measures should only be taken when they are expected to achieve the desired outcome, and when they are wholesome. Allah Ta’ala tells our Final Prophet (peace be upon him) regarding how his Companions supported him so closely and listened to his orders:
“And by the Mercy of Allah, you dealt with them gently. And had you been severe and harsh-hearted, they would have broken away from about you; so pass over (their faults), and ask (Allah’s) forgiveness for them; and consult them in the affair…” (al-Quran, 3:159)
You hit the nail on the head when you asked for a duaa’ (supplication), because you understand that asking Allah Ta’ala should be the first resort of the Muslim, especially since anyone’s guidance is not in human hands. I haven’t heard of any transmitted dua’s on this topic. You should simply raise your hands and beg Allah Ta’ala in your own language and words to guide your husband. Sincere, heartfelt duas, especially at special times of acceptance such as the last part of the night, along with two extra raka’ats and tears of pleading, are amazing means to take for this.
You should not forget, as well, that you have a duty to enjoin what is right on your husband verbally, with wisdom and kindness. Remember that even to someone as evil as Firawn, Musa (peace be upon him) was commanded by Allah to speak to him with gentle words, as they are more effective on the heart (al-Quran, 20:44). Your spouse has both the virtue of being a Muslim, and being your husband, that merit him being treated with the utmost of respect. Allah Ta’ala says in al-Quran:
“Invite to the way of your Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching, and reason with them in ways that are best…” (al-Quran, 16:125)
Some things are to keep in mind are:
1) You mentioned that your husband watches television a lot. This produces nothing but laziness and unproductiveness. Try to encourage your husband to do other things, outside of visual media (including the computer), such as taking walks, reading to each other or visiting sights in your city. Simply returning to a more natural lifestyle can help us to reconnect with our own natures, which naturally want to reconnect with our Creator, Allah Most High.
2) Try to think about what else could be stopping him. Are there any bad experiences he has had in his life around learning how to pray, or any time that he felt let down? Does he know how to pray properly in the first place? It may be good, when your minds are undistracted and calm, to read a nice book together speaking about the mercies of Allah, because as one gets closer to Allah, the heart feels like praying without any pushing. Later, you can read (or listen to a good lecture) on the virtues of prayer.
3) Establish family-friendships with couples who pray, yet are moderate, easy-going and good natured. Encouraging good company by inviting or being invited to good Muslims’ homes is a good way of eliminating negative influences, without forcing him to make friends with someone. This should be done very subtley.
4) Ask to attend the masjid with your husband for some of the congregational prayers. Friday prayers, or if this is a workday for him, then ‘Isha prayers on the weekends, may help to introduce him to the routine of praying. Attend lectures, conferences and functions which have a positive Islamic message. Have a meal or coffee out after the masjid to turn the outing into a weekly bonding event.
5) Improve your relationship with your husband, do things that will warm his heart towards you, and fulfill your duties towards him, such that a feeling of gratefulness and trust increases in him for you. Then, when you say things gently and lovingly, out of genuine concern and appealing logic, it will more effect, though if he already feels that you are nagging or bothering him, it may be best to let you actions do the speaking for some time.
6) Finally, increase your own level of devotion to Allah, and do not act differently from what you are calling others to. This means observing all of His other commandments. This means cutting out the contradictions in our own lives that are against His good pleasure.
Cook and eat only what is pure; guard your eyes, ears and tongue similarly. Recite the Qur’an and have it play as you go throughout your day in a way that doesn’t disturb anyone else, or listen to uplifting nasheeds once in a while or leave the good books that you read on the table for your husband to pick up when you’re not there. A home filled with baraka and light is more likely to encourage obedience to Allah than a house full of dunya and distractions.
[Shaykh] Abdullah Anik Misra
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Shaykh Abdullah Misra was born in Toronto, Canada, in 1983. His family hails from India, and he was raised in the Hindu tradition. He embraced Islam in 2001 while at the University of Toronto, from where he completed a Bachelor of Business Administration. He then traveled overseas in 2005 to study the Arabic language and Islamic sciences in Tarim, Yemen, for some time, as well as Darul Uloom in Trinidad, West Indies. He spent 12 years in Amman, Jordan, where he focused on Islamic Law, Theology, Hadith Sciences, Prophetic Biography, and Islamic Spirituality while also working at the Qasid Arabic Institute as Director of Programs. He holds a BA in Islamic Studies (Alimiyya, Darul Uloom) and authorization in the six authentic books of Hadith and is currently pursuing specialized training in issuing Islamic legal verdicts (ifta’). He holds a certificate in Counselling and often works with new Muslims and those struggling with religious OCD. He is an instructor and researcher in Sacred Law and Theology with the SeekersGuidance The Global Islamic Seminary. Currently, He resides in the Greater Toronto Area with his wife and children. His personal interests include Indian history, comparative religion, English singing, and poetry.