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The Duties of Brotherhood: A Comprehensive SeekersHub Reader

The duties of brotherhood form the 15th chapter of Imam Al-Ghazali’s seminal work, the Ihya, which is widely regarded as the greatest work on Islamic spirituality in the world.

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Can I Demand That My Wife Makes Certain Changes to her life?

Answered by Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil

Question: Am I allowed to require that my wife should dress modestly, when discussion is not enough? Can I demand my wife works less, if she is earning enough with a part-time job? She needs to take care of my parents.

Is it wrong of me to stop my wife from meeting irreligious friends? And is it wrong of me to not take her out for dinner and movies?

I feel uncomfortable changing my daughter’s diapers. Can I demand that my wife do that?

Answer: Assalamualaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

I pray this finds you well. May Allah reward you for reaching out to us.

Marriage

From your description, it sounds like you are both frustrated, upset, and not seeing eye to eye. Your expectations from each other are very different. This is a difficult test, and I pray that Allah helps you both through this.

Please enrol in this free course – Islamic Marriage: Guidance for Successful Marriage and Married Life. Please complete this course to understand the spirit and law behind a successful Islamic marriage. It would be ideal if your wife would do so too, but suggest it to her, and don’t try to force her. At the very minimum, please listen to the free downloadable lesson set titled Getting Married, with Ustadha Shireen Ahmed and Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.

Prophetic example

It was narrated from Ibn ‘Abbas that the Prophet (upon him be blessings and peace) said: “The best of you is the one who is best to his wife, and I am the best of you to my wives.” [Sunan Ibn Majah]

Look to the best example in all of humanity. Our Beloved Prophet (upon him be blessings and peace) treated his wives with love, compassionate and respect. All of his wives, the Mothers of the Believers, were incredible women. His first wife, Khadijah (may Allah be pleased with her) was indeed a very successful businesswoman. We have a strong tradition of intelligent and resourceful women who worked.

Please revise your Seerah to get a sense of the compassion and balance embodied by the Prophet (upon him be blessings and peace). SeekersHub offers wonderful courses which can help you get to know the Mothers of the Believers as well as the Companions.

Communication

Placing demands upon one’s spouse is not from the sunnah of our compassionate and wise Prophet (upon him be blessings and peace). Instead, please sit down with your wife and have an honest conversation, one free from blaming and shaming. I encourage you to lead by example instead of ordering your wife to be a certain way. Embody Prophetic virtues like patience, compassion and forgiveness. Actions speak louder than words. It takes a lot more patience for you to wait for your wife to change her behaviour, instead of demanding that she behave.

Please read through these excellent resources to help you learn how to better communicate with your wife. I also encourage the two of you to see a culturally-sensitive marriage counsellor to help you see each other’s point of view.

Still… No Yelling!!! – And 9 Other Rules for Fair Fighting
Soften Your Start-Up

Positive memories

Take a break from stressful interactions with your wife. Focus on building happier memories. How does your wife feel loved? Does she like compliments, gifts, time with you, being held, or acts of service? Reflect on this. It is problematic if you don’t take your wife out for dinner/lunch/breakfast on a regular basis, because this time alone with her is how you water the garden of your marriage. Neglecting to tend to your marital relationship can lead to unresolved stress and resentment, which then bleeds into all other aspects of your life. You are already experiencing this fallout.

Words of Affirmation and Quality Time
Receiving Gifts, Acts of Service, and Physical Touch

Hijab

This is a sensitive topic for many Muslim women. Please tread carefully, and use wisdom and tact. It is healthy and praiseworthy for you to have protective jealousy over your wife, but please look at things holistically. Does she know the rulings behind hijab? If so, then demands do not work. The way a woman wears hijab is often related to the strength of her connection to Allah. You can help nurture her relationship with Allah through showing a good example, and gently encouraging her to good. If you see that nagging her doesn’t work, then please try a different strategy.

I encourage you to listen to Beyond Hijab: Modesty Amongst Women in Islam.

Friends

I encourage you to lead by example. What are your friends like? Go to circles of knowledge and befriend good Muslims. Invite them and their families to your home. Seek out good people at good places e.g. charity events, volunteer activities, soup kitchens etc. InshaAllah over time, your wife will also seek out friends from these good circles. I don’t recommend that you ban her from seeing her friends, as that will only increase feelings of animosity between the two of you. Try adopting an attitude of curiosity in regards to why your wife does what she does, instead of judgement. The wheel is always turning. Perhaps her friends have other praiseworthy qualities such as mercy and generosity.

Prayer

Please perform the Prayer of Need and beg Allah for help. Never underestimate the power of dua.

Work

Focus on understanding your wife’s point of view, before persuading her to understand yours. The financial obligation is upon you to provide for her family. In addition to that, a woman also has the right to earn her own income, if she wishes. If you feel that she is working too much, then you are free to express that. Sometimes, your perception of what is best may not line up with her perception of what is best. Again, please discuss this openly with her with a spirit of giving and taking, not a spirit of entitlement.

Parents

Are your parents elderly and unwell? You are their son, and the obligation is on you, not your wife, to care for them. It would be praiseworthy for your wife to help too, but she cannot be forced. Again, watering the garden of your marriage will help in this aspect of your life too. A wife who feels loved and appreciated by her husband is much more likely to want to help care for her in-laws.

Please refer to this answers: A Wife’s Right to Housing Separate From Her In-Laws and Married Daughters Supporting Elderly Parents.

Diapers

Instead of demanding that your wife change your daughter’s diapers, try explaining why it makes you uncomfortable, and work on reaching a compromise. If you don’t want to change her diapers, then think of what you can do to help instead.

A successful Islamic marriage is built upon a foundation of having sincere concern for one another. I pray that Allah places that spirit of love, concern and affection between you and your wife. May your marriage be a safe haven for both you.

Please see:

Is It Sinful to Disobey to One’s Husband?
Does a Working Woman Have to Give Her Salary to Her Husband?
Staying Connected to Your Purpose Even When Your Marriage is Rocky

Wassalam,
[Ustadha] Raidah Shah Idil

Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil has spent almost two years in Amman, Jordan, where she learned Shafi’i’ fiqh, Arabic, Seerah, Aqeedah, Tasawwuf, Tafsir and Tajweed. She continues to study with her Teachers through Qibla Academy and SeekersHub Global. She also graduated with a Psychology and English degree from University of New South Wales.

Is Marriage Haram For Some People? by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

At a recent dinner invitation, I noticed that most of those present had business relationships with each other. I feared that if there wasn’t some radical intervention, the conversation would center on things like guerrilla marketing and such—not my cup of tea. So I decided to say something radical, hoping to shift the flow of conversation to human relationships instead. I said, “You know, I think that it is haram for many people to marry.”

Heads turned very fast. Some asked me whether I’d lost my mind. Others simply asked me what I meant.

I wasn’t joking, I said. No, I was very serious.

Many people fall into sin by marrying.

Why? Because they enter marriage without understanding the serious responsibility that marriage entails. Then they fail to fulfill their duty as husband or wife, and end up wronging their spouse. Such failure is sinful, even if one’s spouse is similarly remiss.

This returns to an important principle in the Shari‘a that hurting another is worse than hurting oneself. In fact, you have the full right to hurt yourself—in effect, you have the right to go to Hell, if you so wish. However, you have absolutely no right to hurt another—whether materially, emotionally, or in any other way. In marriages, spouses do amazing things to hurt each other, both directly and indirectly—through remissness in fulfilling their rights; and through simple inability to maintain a healthy marital relationship.

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So, what can be done about it?

The answer to this returns to individuals, parents, and society at large. As individuals, we have to develop an understanding of the keys to healthy human relationships in general and healthy marriages in particular—before and after marriage. Parents have to inculcate an understanding in their children, especially in the later teen years and after, of good character, of taking the rights of others seriously, and of how to maintain strong relationships. With that, as parents we ourselves have a duty to be examples of successful marital life for our children. In society, we have a communal responsibility to raise awareness of what is needed to make marriages work—practical manner, not just through yet more lecturing on “The Importance of Early Marriage,” because early marriage without sufficient preparedness is as likely to fail as late marriage, if not more.

We need to train our community leaders, imams, and activists in marriage counseling. Seminars and programs must be held within the community for those seeking to get married and for those married. Trained counseling and suitable literature needs should be made available in accessible ways for those married, especially for those having trouble in their marriages.

There Is Help Out There

People have to be made aware of the (often many) resources available in the wider society on marriage. Often, Muslims are wary of going outside the community for counseling (and yet fail to find capable counseling within the community). We need develop lists of reliable counseling services—services that uphold the core marital values Muslims hold dear (and which they fear for when seeking outside counseling). Likewise, there is a lot of good literature on marriage that those marrying and married should seriously consider reading.

As Dr. Ibrahim Kreps and other leading Muslim counselors concur, one of the very best books on marriage is John Gottman’s The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work. This or similar books give practical guidance on improving marriage relationships in our times.

With this, as Muslims we have to look at the radiant example of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) himself. He reminded us that, “The best of you are those best to their spouses, and I am the best of you to their spouse” (Tirmidhi, on the authority of ‘A’isha, God be pleased with her)). We should look regularly and with reflection at the life and example of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), as these give us beautiful examples and clear principles on how to have a successful marriage built on the Qur’anic paradigm of love and mercy, and of striving to live together with a mutual commitment to excellence in dealings.

Originally published in Islamica Magazine

 

Love, Marriage and Relationships in Islam: All Your Questions Answered in this comprehensive reader.

The Best of What You Can Seek From Allah

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In the Name of Allah, the Benevolent, the Merciful

Ibn Ata’illah clarified a key to excellence in supplication (du`a’):

“The best of what you can seek from Allah is what He seeks from you.”

Then, he explained that,

“What He seeks from you is fulfilling the rights of His Lordship and the duties of your slavehood.”