By Suhaib Webb & Aysha Khanom
In The Name of Allah, The Most Gracious, The Most Merciful
Divorce looms before a new marriage has begun on a number of accounts. The world wide number of divorce is ever increasing. Compatibility is the main fault found in this issue and from it comes concerns of communication, understanding and often misguidance. Choosing, maintaining, and creating a sensible, realistic marriage is difficult when for most of us we have in-built expectations, requirements and needs from a marriage that create a sense of new wants. In short, why should there be any changes from the way you live and fend for yourself now in comparison to when you’re married, in terms of your morality, way of living and your needs?
On searching the world with lowered gaze and modesty, finding that perfect someone can seem a daunting affair in many aspects. The truth is that searching for a special someone on your own is considered in many cultures and traditions as something to be frowned upon and it hits the hearts of ‘forbidden’ love marriages. But who really adheres happily to the concept of arranged marriages with complete contentment and passion of its acceptance in today’s society? In trying to raise some discussion on this topic, it may seem a little blunt to sate that arranged marriages are mutating into ‘forced’ marriages or marriages that are consented to on a basis of ‘terms’, based solely on the families needs. Meaning needs due to illness of parents, aging of grand parents, political or for cultural respect at home and in the community etc….
Marrying someone should be to achieve unity and progression in life along with growth and development of Imaan. Not just for the current situational basis of a marriage, or for those involved in the union at time of its engagement. Hence why it is in some respect important to find the conflicting qualities, finding the wants and needs of the two people before anything is consented to, so their is a surety that it will work, taking into account some compromises that may be needed. However, is it possible in an Islamic way to achieve this without compromising Sharia and involving any haram? While under the careful watch of peers or in the presence of guardians? Most appreciated way would be ‘free speech’ between the two potentials, this way their is no need to doctor your answers and have freedom to express with true expressions to better check for real compatibility.. yet this too delves into the realms of forbidden pre-marital relationships and the awakening of potential sins looms between the two involved…
In all honesty its the mentality of today’s society that are causing so many cases of divorce. Young girls and guys are taking advantage of the western society’s morals and abusing their rights to ‘move on’, get a divorce and re-marry due to their mistaken expectations and unexpected reality checks after marriage, due their lack of acknowledgment of the realities before any talks take place.
Those who find pre-marital love can be questioned into asking if they are sure that love and compatibility is what has given them a reason to get married? After all it’s not only the happy times of the outings, the surprises and the laughter that keeps a marriage strong but how the couples manage the lows, how the arguments are diffused and how the problems are solved efficiently. Is marriage taken seriously enough to think about these issues that cause the real cracks before it is embarked on? Are couples avoiding this discussion in the hope that they never arise and thus opening up the action plan to counteract the issues if they are faced with as only seen as pessimistic and somewhat a bad omen at the start of embarking on a new beginning of a new marriage? Many fall into the danger of pre marital relationships, whereby they develop outside marriage, and build on those circumstances, and they are deceived in thinking that the ‘happy’ relationship which they are maintaining is the true reflection of what their marriage will entail. Yet, they fail to consider the fundamental aspects of a marriage – family, culture, roles and responsibilities, expectations, compromises – which all awaken once entered into the marriage, and comes as a shock to the couple as they became settled in their circumstances of their relationship. Then which when couples’ expectations aren’t been met, and communication breaks down, it leads to repression, and resentment, which is big danger within a marriage, as arguments arise over small – what may seem petty – issues, which is only due to the bigger problems which have been repressed, mistakes and hurt feelings are sweeped under the carpet and it gets to the stage where the couple can no longer find the cause to disputes, and issues are blown out of proportion.
Islam only reiterates the truest forms of maintaining a marriage and making it a success, after all Prophet (peace be upon him), advised men to view their prospective wives and advise that meeting or talking with her is good practice to ensure that you do have the compatibility. To keep this Halal in aspects doesn’t mean avoiding contact but discussing ways to avoid Zina. It creates awareness between them and thus means of avoidance can be increased as long as you observe the boundaries of gender etiquette.
In today’s society and across the world online chat and instant messaging texting and emails are seen as best mean for communication but it is uncontrolled or monitored and more likely to cause the couple to drift. Talking on the phone in front of guardians would be best suited. A woman’s voice is not awrah (difference of opinion amongst scholars), and there is nothing wrong with calling your fiancée, provided that you have her family’s permission, and that she talks to you in the presence of her mahrams. After all if you’re planning to spend the rest of your lives together, then communication and discussion is needed.
However saying this why create a relationship before marriage in first place? Why experience this in an environment where you have no boundaries, in a world where no one else but the two potentials exists? It creates too much complacency and is sometimes, difficult to adapt to the involvement of family life after marriage.
Generating new ideas are fine at the start of a new marriage and conversing about a future is becoming ever popular in a new couples itinery but most forget to include variables that are most likely to slow their progress or cause the ideas to fade away. These include family involvement, view points and opinions of elders and friends and those with perspectives on life that have worked for them. No matter what information is intertwined with the new plans of the newly weds one forgets that no two couple are the same and what worked before may or may not work again due to a new age, different families and differences and change in culture and traditions. Islam helps overcome the potential disasters, the Prophet (saw) advised to seek the pious when searching for a spouse. Its importance cannot be emphasized enough. The great advice in which he (saw) left us, already gives us the guidelines of what we should seek in a potential spouse. To marry for the sake of the deen, outlines for both potentials, the roles and responsibilities, it gives a sense of security, and lays out the boundaries. It enables them to help compromise if any differences arise, and any routes in which shaytaan can mislead them by, if one fears Allah, then one will think twice about their action. If they love each other for the sake of Allah, then inevitably any hiccups which may arise, they will forgive and overlook differences for the sake of Allah. Allah says in the Qur’an: “Permitted to you, on the night of the fasts, is the approach to your wives. They are garments for you and you are garments for them.” [Qur’an, 2.187] Commentary note 195, page 75, The Meaning of the Holy Quran ‘Abdullah Yusuf Ali: ’Men and women are each other’s garments i.e. they are for mutual support, mutual comfort, and mutual protection, fitting into each other as a garment fits the body. A garment also is both for show and concealment.
The way it should be perceived is, as individuals we have to strive to reach the ultimate goals of reaching Jannah and to seek the pleasure of Allah. This should not cease after a marriage but rather continue coexisting with the goals of a marriage. Life is a journey to reach these goals where by individually it can be perceived that the vehicle for the journey is your own soul spending time in the Dunya searching for the pleasure of Allah and for entrance to Jannah and is fuelled by self improvement and development. However as with any journey you can pick up dirt along the way in the form of sins and bad deeds which need washing from your soul, which is done by purification of the heart.
Similarly in the journey of a couple it should be perceived that the ‘vehicle’ is the marriage and unity that Allah has placed on the two. The fuel is once again the improvement and development that helps the couple to move forward in life by constant learning. Then again picking up dirt only requires that the marriage is washed and refreshed via rectifying and improving. Its best comprehended that the couple maybe traveling to similar goals of eventual pleasure of Allah by appreciating and seeing each other as Allah’s creations, bestowed upon each other, and loving each other for the sake of Allah.
Thus the individual goal of pleasure of God, Jannah will remain – ultimately going to be with that person in Jannah, on earth you seek Allah pleasure till you die and you do this by completing your deen by getting married, to please God and aid you in improving in religion.
May Allah give us all the ability to act upon the advice of our religion, and help us maintain and strive for successful marriages, for our children, our own selves and the hereafter, and be amongst the successful.