10 Considerations when Searching for the One
“I’m afraid of getting married,” she told me. She, like the countless other women who had approached me, confessed what she thought was unique to her. “I’m constantly told by older married women that I should enjoy my life being single because marriage is a burden. I’ve never seen an example of a happy marriage. My married friends call me to complain about their husbands and ask me for advice. How am I supposed to know what to tell them?! I try to provide support, but all those conversations do is make me feel even more insecure about committing to someone in a marital relationship. I truly want to get married, but I’m honestly afraid of being unhappy.”
“Is it possible…” she trailed, her voice cracking, “Do happy marriages… you know, the ones in the movies where they can’t wait to be with each other, where they’re madly in love with each other…do they exist? Is hot, passionate, love even real?”
The amalgamation of her questions were the same which young women have consistently approached me with; their innate desires to get married often overshadowed by the fear of an unavoidable matrimony of suffering. Having little to no examples of passionate marriages in real life and being inundated with romantic love stories such as “The Notebook,” these young women have continuously posed the same questions, “Is it possible to be happy in a marriage? Is that physical, emotional passion, real?”
The answer? Yes! Yes, it is possible. Yes! It is real. While it may be problematic to compare a real-life relationship to the fake ones portrayed in a few hours of a movie, your marriage still can make Ryan Gosling’s and Rachel McAdam’s characters jealous of your fiery, playful, emotionally intriguing, physically flaming relationship.
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Noha Alshugairi1 , provides wisdom based on research describing the ingredients required for such a relationship. She shares, “Psychologist Robert Sternberg describes 7 forms of love depending on how much passion, intimacy, and commitment the relationship contains. He describes the one that has all 3 factors as consummate love. This is the love that will withstand the test of time and will bring a couple the sakina (tranquil) marriage Allah describes in Surat ar-Rume.”
So, if it does exist, how can a single person seeking such love attain it in their future marital life? The beginning of the answer lies in helping ensure one marries the right spouse.
The following are 10 considerations one could make through this process:
- Know yourself.
- Knowing your priorities, your general life perspective, your own expectations in marriage, will help inform what you should be looking for in a potential spouse. Ask yourself: why do I want to get married? What are my needs in a relationship? What do I expect out of marriage?
- Also, understand that marriage is not the solution to your own deficiencies, nor will it be the solution to all your life problems. Work to develop your own self without expecting marriage to somehow mystically change your life. Marriage can be a great source of support and encouragement for self-improvement, but if we are not personally working on ourselves now, how can we expect that it will be easier with the additional baggage of another individual who is also imperfect?
- Prioritize your criterion.
- Create a list of core and extra qualities you need in a spouse. Also, understand what you absolutely cannot accept. As advised by Noha Alshugairi, “Really focus on core criteria that will make or break a marriage. If you are not sure about the difference between core and extra criteria, talk to people who are married or to professionals.”
- Know that some criteria are much more important for the success of a marriage than others and be reasonable when considering a potential. If the individual you are considering has everything you want except for the absolute most important item on your core list, then this person likely is not the one for you. Recognize that your list may change as you evolve as an individual. Keep a written copy so that you can consult your list over time and take note of those changes.
- “Engage your mind before your heart.”
- A phrase coined by Noha Alshugairi, this step aims to help one focus on finding the right person for a lifetime. In the thrill of considering a spouse, many people become blind to discernable signals that would have otherwise been obvious. Emotions have their place; but do not allow your emotions to control your decision. Use your mind to consider whether this person is logically the right choice for the rest of your life, while consulting your heart to make sure it is comfortable with your decisions. Making sure everything checks out is much more difficult to do when one is blinded by emotion; don’t get caught up in the excitement, only to crash once you get married and realize the person you live with is not the one you should be with.
- Understand that taqwa (God consciousness) is not enough, and compatibility is a requirement.
- Let’s consider this idea: if a God-conscious person takes a class in college, yet they do not do any of the coursework or they do not do well on their exams, will they miraculously get a good grade in the class simply because they pray five times a day? Unlikely. Then how much more true is this in a marriage!
- Taqwa alone is not enough; the prospect needs to be compatible as well. The marriage of Zayd and Zaynab, both incredible companions of the Prophet ﷺ (peace be up on him) who surpassed us all in their piety and good character, is an example of two great people who divorced simply due to their incompatibility. Thus deliberate: are we both considering expectations in similar ways? Religiously, are we aligned in our perspectives and goals? Is this person really good for my growth as an individual? For my mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual health and security? Will they be a parent? Do we share similar interests and perspectives? Will they be good for my family?
- Recognize the importance of pre-marital counseling with a qualified marriage and family therapist and ask questions.
- Speak to a professional therapist; not an Imam (unless they’re professionally qualified). Not a friend, unless they’re a marriage counselor. Someone who is trained, experienced, and who knows how to help you identify important issues and develop strategies to help you both ensure you’re marrying the right person for you and that you’ll, God willing, continue to feel that thrill with years after you’ve tied the knot.
- Ask questions which will help you understand the Potential’s perspective on life and marriage. 150 sample questions may be found in Munira Lekovic Ezzeldine’s book: Before the Wedding.
- Prepare for your lifetime; not just a one time event.
- Oftentimes, both parties focus completely on preparing for the wedding, pouring money and time into a few hours of the start of their lives together, without investing on preparing for their lifetime together. Pre-marital counseling, speaking with married couples, reading books and researching what makes marriages thrive are avenues few new couples have engaged.
- Read books on the communication styles of men and women, on love languages, on successful marriages and fulfilling the needs of one another. Readings recommended by Noha Alshugairi:
- The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman
- Marital Myths Revisited by Arnold Lazarus
- Things I Wish I knew Before We Got Married by Gary Chapman
- The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work by John Gottman
- Observe the Potential and keep things on the down low.
- Observe them, consider their reactions when they’re frustrated or embarrassed; it is likely that their unconscious reactions will be the habits they’ve instilled. If there is something you do not like, never expect that it will be something that they will change. They may initially, if they like you enough to want you to marry them. However, be very cautious as this type of change can be fleeting, and when reality kicks in after the marriage, it would have been a red flag you should have taken seriously.
- If you’re considering someone for marriage, do not share it with the world. Don’t post it on Facebook and tell random people in casual conversations. Keep your affairs private, with the exception of those who matter through this process. Protect yourself and the person you’re considering from simply being something to talk about. This is serious business; appreciate and respect one another’s privacy.
- Consider the roles of your parents, and own your decision.
- Parents play different roles often based on their background and this can impede a marriage or help it succeed. Consider your parents’ roles in your courtship process and also openly discuss their roles in the life of you and your future spouse. Will you live together? Will you be expected to choose between the preferences of your parents or in-laws versus the preferences of your spouse? Where do you and your future spouse’s priorities lie in relationship to parents? Answers to these questions may help you decide whether a Prospect is worth considering.
- Remember: You are the one living with this decision for the rest of your life. Make sure it is you who is completely certain of this being the right choice; pressure from parents or any others can lead to a life of misery. Own your decision for your own self, regardless of how difficult it may be to deal with the way others react.
- Discuss expectations.
- With the instability of the economy and the ever-changing roles of men and women’s educational and career pursuits, the once “obvious” division of responsibilities requires clarifications. What responsibilities are specific to the husband, to the wife, and to both as a team? Who will work, or will both? How do you consider raising kids? For how many years will one/both support the other in their educational or career pursuits? Who is responsible for what types of housework? A clear discussion of these issues may help ease tensions that can arise when there were unstated expectations one or both parties had entering the relationship.
- Pray istikhara (prayer seeking guidance).
- Consult God about your decision. You may not see any obvious signs of why this is or is not the right person, but you may feel it in your heart. Beyond the jittery feelings of excitement or nervousness, your heart may speak to you about its level of trust and comfort in this matter.
- Someone I know continually felt that the person she was engaged to marry was the wrong guy. She spoke to her parents multiple times, but each time they dismissed her concerns and convinced her he had everything she was looking for. She could not pinpoint why she felt something was wrong and continued with the marriage. She tried to convince herself that her parents were right and she did not have a solid reason to say no, despite the fact that she did not feel good about it. Within one year, she realized the “pious” and “good-character” man everyone thought she was marrying was a front for who he really turned out to be. Her marriage ended in divorce and her parents felt guilty about taking her pre-marriage concerns so lightly. Her heart had spoken to her after making istikhara, but she had continually ignored its messages because of the pressure she felt from others. Listen to your heart and trust your intuition.
Finally, love and passion is only one aspect of marriage. And it is not necessarily an obligatory component for a happy marriage. Many couples do not have a “passionate” relationship and they are more than happy and successful in their marriages.
Additionally, it is possible, that even when a person carefully engages in the entire process of choosing a spouse, with wisdom, depth and research, they may not find themselves happy in their marriage or they may eventually divorce.
Choosing the right person and putting in researched effort aids significantly in preparing to maintain a zesty, romantic, compassionate relationship, if that is what both are looking for, but it is only one step amongst many steps in the right direction.
Thus, discuss your own ideal vision for marriage honestly with the Potential and figure out what steps it will take to help you both get there.
The vigor may be powerful in the beginning of a happy marriage, but it has the potential to become an even stronger, indescribable force of awesomeness with the blessing of God and work from both spouses. Passionate and sustainable love in marriage can be real for many. But it takes work, growth and sacrifice from the very beginning and through end.
- Noha Alshugairi is also my mom in law. [↩]
this is a great article – i wish all those unhappily married sisters would read this as this is how the single sisters already understand marriage should be. insha allah, may allah (swt) create successful marriages, and grant wonderful spouses to the single muslims struggling alone in this world.
Jazakum Allahu Khairan for a really insightful article!
As a strategic intervention coach who works on both the pre-marital training side, and also with married Muslims – I can assure singles that YES happy marriages exist all over the place. Remember, people don’t call you to tell you about something awesome their spouse did. (Usually out of shyness, fear of showing off, it’s too private, or fear of the evil eye.) People prefer to share problems instead.
But life always come with ups and downs, and so marriage will too! While a loving and passionate marriage is very real for many, we do need to start redefining what a truly loving and successful marriage looks like.
In our pre-marital training programs, we focus on many of the points brought up here, especially knowing yourself, what you have to offer in marriage, your expectations, looking down the road, deal breakers, and starting the marriage process with a realistic understanding of what is to come.
I have received so many positive comments from participants who really had a chance to know themselves at a deeper level and end up much more prepared for the marriage process, confidently and calmly knowing how to answer questions from prospects, and also be able to say no for all the right reasons without fear of making the wrong decision.
Pre-marital counselors also have much to offer in this area as well, with an individualized experience.
I will be sharing this article for sure!
This was a great article… any advice to those who already made an irreversible decision while ignorant of these points?
Is counseling after the fact as effective as premarital counseling?
wa alaykum as salam warahmatullahi wa barakatuh,
Yes, for anyone in this situation, please, please consider counseling with a qualified, experienced therapist. Even after marriage, many have had their relationships turned around for the best after working out their concerns and struggles with a professional who has helped them figure out strategies on how best to keep their marriage going strong.
I would also recommend the book His Needs, Her Needs, by Willard Harley, as an insightful read.
Honestly speaking, people have a tendency to be ungrateful. When I was young, people would tell me to enjoy my singlehood. Then when I unintentionally delayed getting married, people kept on saying that my biological clock is ticking and I need to get married soon. Once I got married, many young couples with children would constantly advice us to delay having kids because kids would crush our enjoyment and freedom. I understand that having kids is a great responsibility, but the way they are portrayed to look like burdens in life is very distressing. Imagine those who wish to have kids but Allah has not destined it for them.
People just need to stop complaining.
Sis, just take a middle approach to everything… Delay everything but not too much, as also do everything quick but not too quickly…
Why is the general tone here that only women seek passion within a marriage? (or it is only women who should be interested in that)
Interesting perspective; perhaps you sensed this because I opened the article with questions I receive from sisters and also mentioned a specific example from a sister.
This article was meant for both men and women, as I think is quite obvious both men and women seek passion and happy relationships. It just happened to start with something women have approached me with many times and maybe a reader could continue looking at the rest of the article through that lens.
Jazakallah khair for this very beneficial post!
As-salaamu’alaykum OMG I am so glad you wrote this mashallah! It’s beautiful and insightful and so very needed! Especially for those young girls that only hear the negativity of marriage. Like every thing in life it needs to be built on a solid foundation and constantly be worked on. LOVE YOU MARYAM – from 1 of your biggest fans
Assalamualaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh
This is really awkward…as a guy to say this.
But, I remember reading something about this hot passion being very strong early on in marriage and going away after about two years. It’s chemicals that are supposed to get the parents to produce a kid. Allahu a’lam.
I also read in National Geographic(I think, yes its weird but I remember it there) that the hot passion at the beginning can actually be a reason for failure…perhaps that’s why arranged marriages work better. They start of cool and turn warmer later……lolololool.
Ibn Masud (radiallahu anhu) said “For every moment of joy there is a moment of sorrow, and no house is filled with joy but it will be filled with sorrow.”
Anyways, my whole point is shaytan has spent a lot of effort on this. Think about all the Hollywood and Bollywood movies are all about these few moments of passion? How much has he deluded our society into thinking the purpose of our existence is love? These are the moments one is most likely to commit zina…Shaytan is distracting us and this is a trap from him.
We must focus more on how to imitate the behavior of An-Nabi sallahualayhiwasalam, the Mothers of the Believers and Companions in this aspect.
Just my input.
I think you’re referring to something people call the ‘7 year itch’
Assalamualaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh
What’s a seven year itch?
wa alaykum as salam warahmatullahi wa barakatuh,
It’s difficult to make a generalization that “passion” wil subside after a couple of years in every relationship. I have read of stories of couples, well into their 70s and 80s, who still make love on a regular basis because they have so much passion for one another. That’s from their accounts. That act of intimacy is not the only form of expressing passion and love, but it is worthwhile to mention that even some elderly still express their love in that way.
I know Muslim couples who have been married for more than just a couple years who are still experiencing this type of relationship, and I pray it increases for them and for anyone who is seeking that.
I’m not saying that happens to every person, nor am I saying it’s some type of ideal- I’m just saying it exists. Even during the ‘7 year itch’ and well after it.
Also, imitating the behavior of the Prophet sal Allahu alayhe wa sallam and our mothers radi Allahu anhunn in this aspect IS to have a passionate relationship. Have you not read the explicit, descriptive details on how the Prophet sal Allahu alayhe wa sallam was in the bedroom?
I’ve never read “hotter” stories than those narrations.
That’s not the ONLY aspect, that doesn’t mean there were never arguments, that doesn’t mean it was like that 24/7, or with every wife. It simply means it existed.
That’s a reality in our tradition. Islam is all encompassing and it only makes sense the final Prophet sal Allahu alayhe wa sallama would know how to be extremely romantic, in addition to a compassionate, best-friend, respectful husband who was also the final decision maker in the relationship- and yet, even as the Prophet of God, would still make shura (consultation).
It’s important not to constantly give people a doom and gloom message. Being realistic is important, and I appreciate how you tempered your comment with a need for balance. But if the sunnah is the standard of balance, as it certainly must be, then make sure to include the fact that the Prophet sal Allahu alayhe wa sallam had the most passionate marriages of all.
Assalamualaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh
No doom and gloom, not when there is Jannah offered to us.
Yes, this comment of yours was very good. Rasulullah sallahualayhiwasalam was passionate and preferred the akhirah over this life. So lets follow HIS example and drop this shaytan influenced ideal that hollywood gives us. Lets not compare it to kaffir Ryan and kafirah Rachel McAdams….maybe their fictional marriage will show more apparent passion. We just need to focus on how Rasulullah sallahualayhiwasalam and the Sahaba did it.
Abu Musa Al-Ashari reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Whoever loves his worldly life will suffer in his Hereafter, and whoever loves his Hereafter will suffer in his worldly life; so prefer that which endures over that which is fleeting.”
Source: Musnad Ahmad 19198
Grade: Hasan (fair) according to Ibn Hajar
عَن أَبِي مُوسَى الْأَشْعَرِيِّ أَنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ قَالَ مَنْ أَحَبَّ دُنْيَاهُ أَضَرَّ بِآخِرَتِهِ وَمَنْ أَحَبَّ آخِرَتَهُ أَضَرَّ بِدُنْيَاهُ فَآثِرُوا مَا يَبْقَى عَلَى مَا يَفْنَى
19198 مسند أحمد أَوَّلُ مُسْنَدِ الْكُوفِيِّينَ من أحب دنياه أضر بآخرته ومن أحب آخرته أضر بدنياه
المحدث ابن حجر العسقلاني خلاصة حكم المحدث حسن
As Sallaamu Alaikum,
Good article. A bit much to take in. As a mother of three, 12 years revert muslim, on my fourth Islamic marriage, one might think my input is distorted, but in reality, I know so many other sisters like me. I am 40 now. Not a wise old woman, but not an innocent mind either. What have I learned? There are several types of single people, and what applies to one group doesn’t apply to another.
Recently, there seems to be alot of internet hype directed towards one particular group of unmarried muslims – The Never Been Married and No Kids group. This is a good article for them. To be optomistic if you are in this group is a must. If you will listen to your elders and prepare yourself to make a life long commitment, you have the greatest chance of finding some sort of happily ever after.
For the other groups of unmarried muslims – those who have been Islamically married and divorced, or are reverts with children, in my humble opinion, face much harder and riskier choices. Finding that person who can accept another person with a past, is a whole other can of worms. Seldom a divorced with kids princess woken up by that unemployed 40 year old prince’s magical kiss in the Hollywood tales. Finding a way to accept reality and even recognize reality becomes dificult.
Are they sincerely looking for marriage or is it just green card status? If they don’t spend time with their own kids, what makes you think they will get along with yours? Are you really physically attracted to them, or are you just desparate for anyone to fill that void left from your previous marriage? Alot of questions. Dificult to accept answers, if you are truly seeking reality. And seeing as I am currently in my fourth unhappy marriage, I don’t have good answers.
So where’s the happy ending for those of us over 35 who have lived a little life, accepted Islam, and looking for love? I personally think it’s found outside of marriage. I may not be happy with my marriage, but at this point in my life, marriage, is just one of many many parts of my life. I am also a mother, caretaker of parents, friend to many, manager of multiple bank, retirement, and savings accounts, self employed career woman, with a household to upkeep and maintain. I find happiness and fulfillment from many things besides marriage. If once in a while my marriage gives me some happiness, Alhamdullillah! If my marriage is giving me nothing but grief, then Alhamdullillah that there are other things that fulfill that need to feel wanted and loved. If I lose my marriage, then Alhamdullillah, I have other things to keep my time filled.
I have stopped making marriage the measure of my happiness. It’s a part of it. It’s still half my deen. I still have to give my spouse his rights and fulfill my obligations as a wife, but that is just one part of my life.
Would I like to have a fairy tale love of my life marriage? Of course, and I did! But it lasted just four years and it ended. I look back now and I am grateful to have been blessed for those four years. Some never know that kind of love. But just because you have it today, doesn’t mean it will be here tomorrow. Enjoy every moment you are granted such bliss. But realize that you and that other person have two paths that may not stay together your whole life. You have your path to Jannah or Hell and that other person has theirs too. Hot, passionate, Hollywoood love can keep you from fulfilling your obligations to Allah. Or for whatever reason Allah can decide to bless you by taking that person out of your life for your own benefit. Even if you don’t, can’t and never see it that way until Judgement Day when all will be revealed.
Anyway, this topic touches my heart so deeply, I wanted to comment.
SubhanAllah sister, I really enjoyed reading the words of wisdom and hope you have wrote here. There is a saying in my language that states “an elderly person that passes away is like a library ruined by fire”. That is how valuable the lessons and experiences from our elders are.
I really encourage our sisters to take a balanced approach and not generalize that all men out there are fake, misleading and just want to take advantage of you. Like many of you living the West, the road to marriage and finding a wife was indeed a tough one with many disappointments and frustrations along the way. When I was single, my mom proposed me to marry one of my cousin living backhome with the same culture who has memorized the Quran and was pursuing her PHD degree in statistics. At the sametime I was talking to a local sister who accepted Islam few years back and was married twice in the past with two kids. Even though the local sister didn’t meet all my standards, she had a good character, I ended up choosing to marry her because there are a few things I liked about her and most importantly I had this burning desire to make a difference in her and her kids life.
Was it because of green card? Absolutely NOT. Alhamdulillah Allah has provided me enough throughout my career without even the need of a green card.
Was it because of money, the sister is extremely rich? NO, I provide 100% for my household, pay all the bills.
How is our marriage? Alhamdulillah. Is it Hot, Passionate filled with Romance like sister Mariam described? Absolutely not. That’s not what motivated me to get married in the first place and that is not what I look for in marriage. By the way, in the Quran, what Is Allah telling us the reason why he created spouses for us? Remember now, so that we can dwell in Tranquility.
I was a very content person before getting married and I’m still a very content person after marriage despite the ups and downs. I’m using the word “CONTENT” here because happiness is a temporary state of mind.
Now here is a recipe for those of you looking for CONTENTMENT in your life. It’s been working for me before and after marriage. I’m not going to tell you to go read some books by Gary Chapman or Arnold Lazarus. Don’t get me wrong, their work may very well be valuable. But how about something that Allah has commanded you to do every day, and the Prophet (peace be upon him) has done every single day and the companions of the Prophet (may Allah be pleased with them) have done every single day.
1.Wake up for Salatul Fajr on time (NOT when you wake up to get ready to go to work). Why? Allah has commanded you to do so. AND the angels every single morning they take roll. You don’t want to be sleeping while they are taking roll and your name better figure on that list that goes back to Allah because the Rizq (provisions) are distributed at that time.
2.Allah has commanded us to glorify him in the morning and in the afternoon (after asr). How do you do that?
• By saying these words (SubhanAllah, Alhamdulillah, La Ilaha IllAllahu, Allahu Akbar) 70 times, 100 times or if you want to start with a lower number, that’s fine too. But the most important thing is to do it regularly sitting down after Salah, or while driving to or from work.
• Then ask Allah for forgiveness saying 70 times or more Astaghfirulah.
• Then, send your blessing and prayer to the Prophet (peace be upon him) by saying 70 times or more Allahuma Sali ala Seydina Muhammadin Wa ala alihi wa Sahbihi. Allah himself has said in the Quran him and his angels send blessing and prayer to the Prophet (peace be upon him). What about you and me?
This may seem to be long but you can start with a lower number and eventually walk your way to this level. It takes me actually 10 mins every morning to do this.
3. Make sure you pray every single prayer on time. Being at work is not an excuse not to pray on time. One time, when I ask my boss is there a place where I can pray? He offered me his own office to perform prayer. I live in the so called dirty south by the way. So no excuse!!!.
I apologize for writing this much but I really wanted to share this with my brothers and sisters and encourage them to try to be close to Allah. That’s the only way to find tranquility in your life.
As Sallaamu Alaikum,
Thanks for your reply. I live in the dirty south also. Third Coast. H Town. Anyway….
Thank you for your words of encouragement and advice. I have and continue to strive to improve my level of emaan, ibaadah, etc. Thanks for the suggestions. JZK!
MashaAllah, this is such an amazing advice. May Allah(s.w.t) bless you and your family. Aameen Ya Rab. May (S.w.t) reward you for this amazing reminder. Aameen
Aameen May Allah bless you and your family as well and the entire Ummah. Jazaka Allahu Khayran
Thank you for this article. I enjoyed reading it. One advice you forgot which is very important for sisters especially (we tend to get emotional and carried away) – steer clear of the Mills & Boons and Hollywood/Bollywood crap! All of these are shaytan’s tools to fill us with discontent. After all, what man in real life will ever look anything like Wolverine??? And what woman really looks like Angie Jolie without a whole lot of nips and tucks?
Secondly, your advice on using the head not the heart – sorry, but love is blind, so the people who need it the most will never heed it.
Third – women have made marriage a life-goal, the end-all and be-all of their lives, and in so doing have become side-tracked; the time we should be spending improving ourselves, raising the bar, achieving our goals…we spend that time instead preening ourselves and focusing on finding The One. In my experience the ones who are searching the hardest are also finding this happiness eluding them the most. If we just live in the present, take every day as it comes, and be grateful for what we already have, then Allah will give us our rizq when the time is right for us, including a spouse if it is part of our rizq; if not, why fret?
And even if you do find the One, remember that life is a journey, and time will change him and you, not necessarily in the same way; over time you may drift apart, perhaps because u no longer have anything useful to offer each other, or perhaps because Allah has planned something else for you. Qadr Allah wa ma sha’a fa’al.
Brother, u have the most important gift of all if you are content. I havent known contentment for decades, no matter how much I pray, fast, do hifz etc. I am obviously doing something wrong. I hope u never lose your contentment.
I believe that contentment is easierto achieve when we remember that we are living in an imperfect world, and we are here temporarily – perfection can only happens in Jannah. Worldly life is just a vehicle/mean that will take us to the eternal perfect life. If we build strong attachment, and doing our best to achiece perfection in this imperfect world, for sure contentment is hard to achieve. It is easier to achieve contentment if we always take hardship and pleasure as blessing from Allah. Innamaal usri yusra. With every hardship, there is ease. Wallahua’lambissawab.
Very good points. We have to remember this is a temporary world and the ups and downs that come with it are temporary also. With the feeling of contentment, one does not have to be dependent on feeling happy or be affected by challenges in life. Staying on the middle path is the key to success.
wa alaykum as salam warahmatullahi wa barakatuh,
May Allah bless you both. Beautiful reflections.
Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah wa barakatuhu
Jazakallah khair for this amazing reply brother… May Allah bless u and ur family with tranquility, happpiness and success in this world and the hereafter. yours was a very timely reminder to our ummah to stop running after western fads and instead turn for guidance to the Quran and the sunnah of our beloved PROPHET MUHAMMAD (S.A.W). If we just started following the lifestyle of our dearest Prophet, we would never be short of peace in our life insha Allah. Our Prophet (S.A.W) was not only the most compassionate and wonderful human being that walked on the face of earth but also a very gentle, romantic and loving husband who used to help out with the household chores and never spoke harshly to his wives for some silly shortcoming. If a husband and wife would get up and pray fajr salat together and ask Allah for a happy marriage like that of our Prophet and Khadijah (R.A), can you imagine how much barakah there would be in that relationship? Thanks again for your timely advice.
As Salamu Alaikum, everyone,
Jazak Allahu Khayran for Sister Maryam for bringing up this issue, and for Sister Megan for assuring us that happy marriages do exist!
For me and some other sisters, I think the fear of marriage runs deeper than not having a hot, passionate romance with my spouse (although I understand this is a very important issue for many sisters).
For us, the issue is that after growing up in a Western environment that greatly stresses independence, and having experienced this independence for many years, we are asked to consider an Islamic marriage, in which from the legal point of view we will lose most of this independence.
The laws are clear – men are heads of the households, and women at the end of the day are expected to obey. Thus, if there is an unresolvable conflict, he wins out.
According to the legal code, most scholars agree that wives need to ask their husband`s permission to leave the house, and need to ask their husband`s permission before inviting anyone into the house. Some scholars say that he can even prevent the wife from visiting her parents!
As a person who has been living independently for years, the thought of asking permission to do anything is a bit daunting, its like returning to childhood.
Similar is the need to be sexually available to the husband whenever he wants, or fear being cursed by the angels all night – this is not something I remotely have to worry about being single.
What frustrates me most is that the laws all assume that men will provide 100% financially for women, but today, many women are able and willing to provide for themselves. And many households due to the economic climate need both spouses to work. But this reality, and the psychological differences engendered by it, do not seem to have been taken into account in the legal frameworks.
I don`t dream of having a hot passionate romance with my spouse as much as I dream of marrying someone who will treat me as a true partner, his best friend, his equal, not see me as some child who needs his permission for everything and/or a servant to serve his needs (cooking, cleaning, sexual or other). I dream of working with him to ensure our needs are met.
Is this too much to ask for? Even worse, is it UnIslamic? If so may Allah forgive me. But if so, despite my desire to get married, it maybe better I remain single, as I will not be able to fulfill the legal rights of a man in marriage.
Also, as Sister Maryam wrote beautifully in another article, `Wifehood and Motherhood are not the only Ways to Paradise.`
Any thoughts and comments would be greatly appreciated.
In the meantime, I ask Allah to increase me in patience, understanding and humility.
I completely agree with you! And I always thought I was the only one who had these fears, so thanks for your comment! I’ve also lived independently for a few years so I just can’t accept “returning to childhood”, as you so accurately put it. It’s so true – single life is simply much, much easier. I just wish it was possible to be married without having to give up your freedom..
Well said! I think it says in the Quran that wives should obey their husbands because they are the protectors and maintainers of women, but if it’s the wife that’s earning etc. she should be the one to make the decisions don’t you agree? I wonder what the ruling is now that times have changed and that many women are less dependant on their husbands.
On a different note I think passion in marriages lasts only for a while before reality and everyday life and it’s mundane responsibilities steps in. Men seem to want just the physical and after a while forget that their wives need a lot, and i mean lot of attention, women are emotional and it’s all in the brain, how they are made to feel wanted and desired, not just the physical act, is far more passionate to them….that’s why women all over the world constantly love reading and watching romance, because it’s seldom in their relationship always.
Forgive me Allah if I’ve said anything sinful.
wa ‘alaykum ussalam,
Thank you for posting this comment- it really resonated with me. However, as a guy I will say that the real-world expectation is still very much that the man fully provides for his wife (which is fair, after all it’s religiously mandated), and in countries like Egypt this requirement is actually enshrined in statute. Hence the rising average first-marriage age across the MENA region (in Cairo for men it is now 31- bear in mind that the US equivalent was around 27/8 the last time I checked)- it’s a social disaster waiting to happen.
I think it’s perfectly fair for a woman to expect companionate treatment provided she’s prepared to bear the same burdens as her husband- I only have a problem when the expectation is of having one’s cake and eating it, which I unfortunately see a lot of. I don’t think what you want is problematic, as long as you make these expectations clear right from the beginning.
I would point out, though, that many men will be intimidated by the ‘independent’ kind on the assumption that they are less prepared to contribute to the relationship, having their own resources to fall back on. And in life we invariably do things we’d rather not do, to keep those we love happy. This must be especially true of marriage- as much for the guy as for his wife.
Just my two cents.
Dear sister, bismillahi wa assalamu alaikum I just had to respond..
I think before settling for this point of view which you just stated, consider this question. To what extent do you think our Juristic heritage links with, (reaches, touches, read understands and explains)an undestanding of humanity and as is it is in Allah’s mind? Understand that the fathers of our juristic heritage were in a privileged position regarding us to frame out the Law as they did, and also that they were very persipacious in understanding human realities and humanity as it comes from and in the sources of our Law, meaning Allahs words and the Prophet’s (sayyiduna asws) way..
I’m saying there is a reason why our historical legal framework is the way it is, and i venture to suggest that it is so because they understood more all the possibilities available in human reality than we do..
I’ve been married 8 years and have 3 kids, I am a convert of 9 years and I am currently studying at al Azhar in Egypt.
A bit controversially what I’m saying is also to the sisters of the US mainly: Enough individualism!
How can a wife be an equal and a partner? I dont think they were ever to Al Rasul asws but they were the best wives ever…
Bismillahi w Salamu alaikum wrwb..
I believe that one ought to consider more and try to understand and view more wisely and informedly why our legal and juristic heritage frames the way it doews man women relationships..
I venture to say that Much of their assumptions and understandings come from being ina priviledged position regarding us to understand Allah swt’s true intent in his words and the way of Rasul asws..
Please consider to what extent our Juristic heritage is privy to understanding humanity and especially marriage and men women relationships from a point of view that is wholly informed by masterful technique and ever high morality and spirituality and insight and wisdom devoted to worshiping Allah in laying down their understanding of His law?
I am 8 years married, converted Muslim, three beautiful kids, student at al Azhar university.
I’m just saying consider reassesing your individualism and make it more congruent with the principles that inform our juristic heritage..
I’m just saying they knew more about men women relationships from the point of view of what their understanding was (long hard sought understanding) of Allah’s law for us.
Women are fundamentally different from men, that is undeniable from a Muslim point of view, lets think to what extent our heritage is linked to a true understanding of our fitra, and volunteer to shift our undertandings that we have moulded into from our upbringing.. And increasein Taqwah and from there move into expectations for Marriage..
Allahuma al Hadi wal Rasheed…
Jazak Allahu Khayran, everyone for your responses! I am glad especially for the brothers for their thoughtful responses and understanding.
A quick response to Brother Abdullah:
I do understand what you are saying, I really do (although my reliance is not on scholars so much as on Allah and His Prophet (s).
I am a huge fan of science, which has really made me appreciate the Quran and Allah`s incredible power, wisdom and knowledge.
How can the same God who created and shaped and ordered the vast and tremendous and powerful universe, incredibly complex and sophisticated human bodies, not know what is best for his human creation, including roles in marriage? It doesn`t make sense – of course He does. Clearly, its me who is having issues of nafs, lack of understanding, call it whatever you will.
That being said, being in the West has left its mark, and I`m not sure what to do about it, other than make Dua to Allah to increase me in understanding (and Insha Allah to find a kind and generous, understanding spouse!)
An analogy may help: listening to Brothers, their struggle of growing up in the west seems to be this need to marry a woman of supermodel beauty, due to overexposure to such stimuli. Regular Muslimas just don`t cut it. Like us sisters, the West has left its mark; these brothers know logically its best to marry a sister for her Deen, good character, that beauty fades, etc, but its almost as if they can`t help it, they feel they won`t be satisfied without a beautiful wife. Similarly, I feel I just won`t be satisfied in a marriage if I feel that I am a child/servant, and have to ask permission, do menial chores etc.
May Allah help us all through our trials.
Anyway, regarding the caveat, It seems that in the Islamic view of marriage, men absolutely need to provide for their wives` material needs, and on the other side, women should obey, guard his house, satisfy him sexually, keep his matters private, etc.
If one gender falls short, then, we have an issue – the whole picture gets thrown off-balance.
Thus, if we have a situation in the west, that, increasingly, two incomes are needed to support a family, then what? Or the husband is unemployed and the wife is forced to step up and support the family? I believe this is what Greene and Ano are referring to.
The solution can`t be telling men to wait, as they seem to be doing in Egypt, can it? The marriage ages in the West are already quite old. As Ano says, it seems to be a social disaster waiting to happen…
I read your comment and by Allah, this is what I felt before getting married. I grew up in the US, was educated here so came out of that system with the same mentality of independence. Alhamdulillah, I also began to run my own business when I was quite young, which became, thanks to Allah, very successful. When the time for marriage came, I had the exact fear of losing my independence, of not being able to do the things I would do, of having to seek my husband’s permission for every thing as if I was a child.
The funny thing is, if outsiders were to look at my husband, they would think that he would be exactly the type of over-religious, over-zealous, wife-controlling man. The sad reality is that we as sisters tend to judge far too quickly, and far too much, of what a prospective spouse will be like without really talking to them, and without consulting Allah (swt) of them.
My husband has a big beard, he prefers to wear traditional ‘Muslim’ looking clothes. He does not eat out at American restaurants because of his fear that vegetarian food served may have touched the pork/other meat products in the back. Yeah. So he’s what people would consider ‘ultra-conservative’ on many aspects of deen. However, he’s also someone who understands distinctly what the rights of a wife are. He is very careful to never stand in the way of my work, or my business, although he is careful to tell me that it is his job to provide for me, so all household expenses are on him. If I wish to treat us, or to give him a gift, he will accept it ‘as a gift’ but never for payment for a bill, or anything of that sort.
In fact, in our character and how we choose to follow Islam are a bit on the opposite spectrum, and we’ve both admitted to each other that yes, he is not the man I was looking to marry, nor I the wife he was looking to marry. I was looking for someone more ‘liberal’ and he was looking for someone far more ‘conservative.’
So how did we get married? Before we spoke to each other, we were given general information about each other through mutual friends. Then, our parents spoke to each other. I spoke to his sister, he spoke to my brother. After that, we both did the istikhara dua. FINALLY, only after we both received positive answers in our duas, did we proceed forward to actually speak to each other. We both had wanted to do it this way because the istikhara prayer asks for Allah’s guidance, and it helps one to overcome emotional attachments…we felt it would be best to do the dua before we met because it is easy for the hearts to get emotionally attached and cloud one’s judgement.
Anywho, after our initial meeting, we continued to make the istikhara dua, and talked a lot about the ‘important’ things. Alhamdulillah, although we both knew that we were ‘not the person the other was looking for’ from the beginning, we began to realize that we WERE the perfect people for each other. This required us both to have immense trust in Allah(s) and to give up some of the impossibly high standards of a spouse that we had in mind.
What your asking for is not ‘unIslamic’ and please don’t let anyone ever tell you that. A wife can definitely be both a partner and a best friend to her husband. These are cultural standards and the only advice I would have is that it is best that you seek someone then, who is from the same cultural upbringing as you. What men and women want in their spouse varies from culture to culture…many men and women who grew up in the US are looking for spouses who will be ‘friends’ first and then ‘a husband/wife.’
Always remember though, that Allah(s) knows best, He knows who is better for us far more than we know ourselves. Don’t overlook someone because he looks to be someone who is ‘too religious’ or not “modern” enough. You may find that those who are truly ‘religious’ — those who study the hadith, who sit and spend time with the ‘ulema, who study and spend time memorizing and pondering upon the words of the Quran, are the one’s with the most ‘modern’ mentality…because they are the ones that truly understand what the rights of a man and a woman are in a marriage. Did you know that cooking/cleaning is not a duty of a wife? Nor is taking care of your spouses parents…if a wife chooses to do those things, then it is out of her kindness and her husband should appreciate it. But it is NOT her duty. Rather, the duty of a wife are to look after your husbands home, to be respectful of him, to care for his children, and yes, to be sexually available for him. This last point is something that I did not understand before marriage, but after marriage, I understand it completely. Men and women both have different needs and in the rights that Allah(s) has given to each, there is immense wisdom. Plus, Allah(s) puts a special rahmah between a husband and wife…wallahi, it is not difficult at all to be available! 🙂
Finally, I would suggest to you if you are serious about marriage — stop worrying about the man and who he will be, how he will be. Rather, do one thing for yourself every day: Start praying two rak’ahs salatul haja (the prayer for need), read the dua of salatul haja, and then make dua for the man Allah(s) has in store for you, and make dua that he be someone you are content with, and ESPECIALLY make dua that Allah(s) makes you into the type of servant that He — Allah(s) — will be happy with, and the type of wife that your future husband will be content with.
One other thing: know that there are many roads to Allah(s). Some people find their path to God through ‘ibadeh – hours of worship, and reciting Quran. However, my Shaykha once told me this — one of the quickest paths to Allah(s) is by serving His creation. We do not ‘serve’ our husbands because it is our ‘duty’ — it is NOT. Nor do we serve him because we love him so much — love in a marriage goes up and down. Rather, try to make our intention that we serve others, our husbands, our parents, our families, because this is one of the quickest path to Allah(s). It diminishes our nafs, it cleanses our soul, and it brings us back to Allah(s) when we are far from him. I swear by Allah(s) that if this becomes your intention, then even ‘serving’ becomes easy.
Forgive me if anything I said was wrong or hurtful. I pray insha’allah that Allah(s) makes your seeking easy for you and rewards you for your patience.
– Sister S 🙂
Wow, Jazaki Allahu Khayran for your incredible answer, Sister S.
So much wise advice to reflect on! I don’t know where to begin, so I won’t bother at this stage.
But I did want to say this: although you and your husband are different in many ways, I can sense that both of you are similar where it really counts, which is having a pure heart and a deep taqwa. May Allah continue to bless you both!
As Salamu Alaikum again!
Just wanted to clear up a potential misunderstanding…
I meant to say that I don’t know where to begin to respond to your post, so I won’t respond at this stage to your many wise points!
However, I have already started reflecting! I’ve downloaded the Salat al-Haja dua and have started memorizing it.
Again, Jazaki Allahu Khayran for your response!
I have to say I am very much like sister “Fear of Losing Independence,” and have had many unsuccessful conversations with my family and friends about this issue.
Everything sister “Fear” said applies to me, and it truly relieves me to learn that there are others fighting my fight.
But, most importantly, I am glad to know that sister S is like us and has a happy marriage. Most of the cultures Muslim people come from (not to be stereotypical, but this is what I see all the time), women are considering the cookers and cleaners and babysitters.
That just makes me choke.
I was not raised this way and do not plan on living this way, and thought I would never have someone who understands.
But I am happy that we are all here to support each other and that Sister S is telling us that it worked for her.
I do not look for romance (as it is in the movies), I look for someone who will treat me as an independent woman who, like “Fear” said, is not a baby who has to ask before she picks up the phone.
I understand there’s a reason for that, and Allah is the All-Knowing, but the West has shaped us differently, and fighting our mentality now will only make us miserable.
I can force myself to be the ideal Islamic wife, but I will hate my husband, because I will not be “me.”
So thanks to all for the wonderful comments. I am much happier and more relaxed now. I do not want to be disobedient to Allah, but I need to be my own person.
Alhamdulilah for everything. May Allah guide us in the right path and give us tathbeet.
Subhanallah, what a beautiful story. It brought tears to my eyes, at your happiness (masha’allah), and at Allaah swt’s rahmah. He really does bless those who purify their intentions for Him. May Allaah keep you under His rahmah always.
I bow down my will to Allah swt the one who has inspired in you this tremendous and incredibly insightful (to me, and hopefuly to the sister) response!
I cannot think except that you are one of those who Allah the Great and Majestic increases in Guidance (One thing is to have it another to be increased in it! read s Kahf)!
May Allah swt make very excellent your path to paradise and may Allah swt forgive all your faults and your husband! Thank you very much..
I feel your response to the sister is just extremely elocuent of my perception!
Jzk w Salamu alaikum wrwb!
wa alaykum as salam warahmatullahi wa barakatuh Fear of Losing Independence,
May Allah bless you for your incredible honesty and your desire to please Allah while figuring out how to understand what you’re struggling with and barak Allahu fiki Sister S for sharing a beautiful example for us all to inshaAllah benefit from!
I completely understand where you’re coming from. I think a major problem is simply in the way marriage is presented from an “Islamic” viewpoint in our communities; the focus is often on rights and duties and responsibilities instead of building a cohesive, compassionate relationship where those rights and duties play out because they’re built on love and tranquility, vs. control and degrees of responsibilities.
I think the way they are presented sometimes by Shuyukh [who more often than not do not have a background or understanding of psychology and marriage counseling] and books which just have one statement after another, do a huge disservice to helping individuals truly understand the beauty of marriage as shared in the Qur’an and in the relationships that the Prophet sal Allahu alayhe wa sallam demonstrated in his own marriages.
Think about how Allah described marriage and the spousal relationship in the Qur’an: That they are garments for you and you for them [mentioned in Surat al Baqarah] and that He has placed between us love and mercy [surat Room] and that through such a union there is sakinah [tranquility—referenced in the same aya in surah room and in surah al-Aaraf], simply to name a few.
This type of harmony exists when two people come together with the understanding their lives together will be different from that of their lives as single individuals. Yes, particularly in America, if a male or a female had lived independently or experienced independence even if living with parental figures, this is going to mean there will be a change in the way that they are both used to living. However, instead of thinking about this as some type of cage or cut of independence, think about it as a choice a male and female independently make of one another to willingly merge their personal independence into a cooperative, loving dependence on one another.
Islam has outlined certain roles, duties and responsibilities for the husband and wife in a marriage. However, these are not as cut and paste or black and white as they sometime are presented in a book or in a lecture. These are responsibilities both must mutually agree that they willingly will take on when deciding to get married. And that is why ensuring you’re marrying a person who will be supportive of you as a person and understanding of your ideal marriage is as important as you being supportive and understanding as his ideal and that you’re both willing to put work into making that happen.
Think about it like this: Imagine not having to go to school, work or have any type of responsibility to anyone or anything else as an adult Without any responsibilities, you could wake up any time of day, you could potentially have nothing to do for anyone else and you could technically spend your entire day and night doing anything you want that makes you happy. Great for you! But then what? What at the end of the day? Would you have grown as a person? Maybe, if you used your time wisely. Would you feel a sense of contentment? Perhaps if you feel like you’ve been productive. But if you chose to spend that time cruising fb for hours, watching movies, hanging out with friends- you may have temporarily been happy, but a year later, what will you have realistically accomplished? Would you truly be content? [not saying those are things you personally do, just humor my example.]
Then let’s say you instead decide you’re going to get a job. You find the organization of your dreams and interview. You feel like this job was created by Allah specifically for you. You couldn’t be happier or more excited about working for this organization. Yes, you now have limits on your time awake and asleep. You have deadlines and are expected to fulfill your responsibilities. But what in return? You’re not only making a salary you agreed on, but you’re finding yourself growing, contributing, feeling like you’ve benefited yourself and others and truly found purpose and passion in life. It was worth the compromise you made for living carefree, even if not every single day of the job was the way you’d wish it would go, even when you made mistakes that impacted others in the org, even if you were frustrated with your boss or she/he with you. You know it’s not going to be perfect every day, nor will you be perfect everyday, but that the purpose you feel, the drive you experience, the compassion which overwhelms you for the work you do, is worth every moment of it.
Now apply that to marriage. Marriage is where both the wife and husband are willingly committing to merge their personal independences to a union of mutual dependence and commitment to one another, and most importantly, on Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala together. Of course one will have to take care of some responsibilities while one takes care of others. And some of these can be mutual and they can be interchangeable, but the point is that they both chose to be in that union in the first place. And if it’s right, the whole package would have totally been worth it on indescribable levels.
And that is where it is going to be important for you specifically to understand that you need to be very aware of who you are marrying before you agree that that is the person you want to make this commitment with.
It’s important to find what I think will be very important for you when considering a spouse is to really understand where your Potential is coming from. Have candid conversations about his expectations in marriage; how does he see his role? What will he be asking you to do and not to do? And the same goes for you as applied to him as well. That’s the point: you and he needs to understand that this is a mutual partnership, so you both need to be happy with the way you both envision your marriage.
Additionally, when it comes to intimacy, a woman is not expected to “drop everything and head over” if she isn’t feeling well, etc., there is ease and room for understanding. Intimacy, especially, needs to be handle with care and sensitivity and men and women should work on developing their relationship outside of the bedroom so that they’re mutually excited about experiencing one another inside the bedroom. That’s the point: this is a mutual relationship.
Same with permission to leave: this isn’t a child asking a parent to go somewhere every time they want to leave. Talk about your general schedules before you get married and what you hope to continue doing and you’ll see whether the Potential is supportive of those goals or not and how he’ll be open to you managing your day/time/schedule/outings just as you his. A general agreement before marriage and knowing his comfort levels can suffice if he and you are good with that. This can easily be a check-in with one another instead of a dictorial ruling. Just make sure, for you, you don’t marry someone who thinks marriage is like the latter ☺ Some guys might be like: My rights! My rights! My rights! So, before you’re stuck in that since you know it won’t work for you, marry someone whose chant is instead: our relationship, our mutual love and affection, our understandings and responsibilities and agreements!
It is important to find the right person who will agree on marriage as being a special type of team; where you consult one another and make decisions together. Yes, at the end of the day, the husband has the right to make a final decision, but he should be keen on consulting with his wife to ensure he understands her perspective, she his, and they mutually accept the decision together, whether or not they agree. And that’s why it is important to marry someone you trust and respect; so that you know with your heart that even if he sees something differently and would make a decision you don’t agree with, you believe in his ability to make a decision which will inshaAllah positively impact your relationship, whether or not you see it the same way.
At the end of the day, much of this boils down to the type of person that you will marry. For you, especially because you share these concerns, make sure that this person is one will view marriage as a partnership, rather than an ownership. And personally, I believe Islam’s wisdom in marital guidance, whether or not we understand each aspect of it esp if we’re single, has a powerful, psychologically sound reasoning which will help the marriage flourish into one of companionship when both spouses are willing to work together from the beginning.
But remember: embracing the responsibilities of marriage is much like embracing a new job. You chose it. You were excited about it and you asked the questions you needed to know to make sure you accepted the position. Make sure you understand that marriage, like a job or any other major decision in life, comes with give and take and specific spousal duties and responsibilities you must fulfill as based on what you agree upon will work for your relationship and as outlined by our faith’s teachings. As one of my teachers eloquently said, “Marriage is a responsibility I think all responsible human beings are fearful of to an extent. It may even show a lack of maturity to not give is such thought. But part of being ready for marriage is accepting this mentally rather even embracing it. This is something everyone has to do on their own, it requires critical introspection.”
But, like a position you accepted, the fruits of hard work are worth it.
And Allah knows best!
I hope this was helpful. It certainly was super long and took a very long time to consult others and write! It is my hope is that this response will help you focus on finding the person who will help you fulfill your Islamic obligations to him, and he to you, through mutual love and mercy, as Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala so beautifully describes in the Qur’an.
As Salamu Alaikum Sister Maryam,
Jazaki Allahu Khayran Khayran for your amazing answer. I am deeply touched that you took so much time and effort to consult others, and then to write such a comprehensive and thorough response. Its a lesson for me and hopefully others about how we should as Muslims try to go the extra mile to help each other in need.
As you mentioned, I think I have been struggling with ‘the law’ as presented in black and white, and thus perhaps a very narrow view of the law.
I guess my confusion/dilemma has been comparing this aspect of the law to other areas of law, say, such as prayers.
For example, we really should pray during regular prayer times, we really should pray as the Prophet (s) prayed, etc. For the most part, these are the rules, and we are expected to follow them as is. I fully know and appreciate that this is the way to Allah’s pleasure, and ultimately it is for our own well-being.
I guess I have always viewed the laws of marriage in that sense, that strictly, and thus have found it difficult and at times even depressing: The laws seem to unyielding, so black and white – spouse X does this, this and that, spouse Y does that, that and this: too bad if the context/situation at hand does not suit either, as this is the prescribed path.
I recognize that the goal of marriage is sakinah, but have always felt that the message was that only a rigid following of the rules will gain sakinah, and, even more importantly, only a rigid following of the rules will gain Allah pleasure.
I have thought of the job analogy before, but always thought it didnt quite fit, because jobs usually seemed to have a bit more flexibility. I have a certain freedom to choose what I would do. Ie, what I would do as a doctor would be very different than say, a yoga instructor, or a computer programmer, or a construction worker. Of course, each has its own requirements and levels of training, but with hard work and dedication, I could aim for what suited me.
Versus in a Islamic marriage, (by just a narrow reading of the laws), that level of flexibility doesn’t seem available at all – wife does this, husband does that.
I just could not and still can’t fit myself into such a rigid picture, the only option seemed to be to remain single.
However, as I mentioned to Brother Abdullah, perhaps this is my fault/lack of understanding.
However, If I am understanding your answer correctly, perhaps my view of ‘Islamic’ marriage, as strictly from the legal point of view, is incomplete?
I certainly don’t know much about the sharia, but have come to learn that the field is vast, that it consists of much more than a blind application of the law.
For example, I learned recently that one does not apply hudood punishments such as cutting off hands for stealing and stoning for adultery in a narrow minded fashion. Its not like, ‘person X stole? – off with his hand!’ as the goal of the sharia is not to make people loose hands or lives.
A scholar I learned from recently said that in order to apply such laws properly, it is not enough to learn just the law, but also have a very detailed knowledge of the life of the Prophet (s), so we can learn how he actually implemented the law, and do so in the right way.
Perhaps marriage is something similar? As you mention, perhaps the overall (sharia) goal of marriage is to create sakina/tranquility, and, the laws are generally intended to help with this goal (as Allah knows best His creation), but should be applied not blindly, but taking into account contextual situations? Perhaps on certain occasions they can be ‘bent’ as long as the general code is respected and the overall goal is respected?
Anyway, Jazaki Allahu Khayran again for your thoughtful response, and also to Sister S – both of you have left me with hope that perhaps, Insha Allah, a happy marriage is not out of the question for me.
In the meantime, I have much more to reflect on and learn, and much dua to make.
I only like to take issue when our Law that is our SHar’ of Allah swt which has been laid down for us ONLY for our mercy and benefit is said to be : Stagnant, Rigid, etc..
Things in the universe in general are always more complex and will always be more complex than what we consider, imagine or understand..
May Allah provide for you the knowledge that you need to be able to reach the best for you in terms of your conceptualization of marriage etc..
And may he grant you a husband that is way better than what ever you imagine or presuppose to be!
As muslims, it seems we have forgotten about the power of supplications to Allah Subhana Wah Tahala and how valuable the recommendations of the Prophet(peace be upon him) are.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) used to give sometimes simple yet very powerful solutions to common problems.
A man complained to Al-Hasan about a drought, and he said to him: “Pray to Allah for forgiveness.”
Another man complained to him of poverty and he said to him: “Pray to Allah to forgive you.”
Another man said to him: “Pray to Allah to bless me with a child.” He said: “Pray to Allah for forgiveness.”
Another complained to him that his garden was dry. He said to him: “Pray to Allah for forgiveness.”
He was asked about it and he said: “This is not my personal opinion, for Allah says in Surah Nooh
(interpretation of the meaning): ‘Ask forgiveness from your Lord, verily, He is Oft Forgiving;
He will send rain to you in abundance. And give you increase in wealth and children,
and bestow on you gardens and bestow on you rivers.” Tafseer Al-Qurtubi (18/301-302)
By the way it is sad to notice that num 10 (the last one) on the list is supplication to Allah.
Assalamaualaikum wa rahmatullahin wa barakaatuh
Allahu al’am I think whenever we write a piece of advise and dua is the last bit a red flaq should erupt. This may be a trap from Shaytan.
Wa Aleykum Salam wa Rahmatullahi Wa Barakaatuhu my brother.
I don’t think it was intentional for sister Maryam to do that. We are humans after all. We forget sometimes.
There is actually a lot of true in what she is saying and I agree with most of her points. I just think as muslims, we have a lot of answers and solutions to our daily problems, yet sometimes we just somehow either forget what we have or simply not aware of it.
wa alaykum as salam warahmatullahi wa barakatuh,
Beautiful reminder of making istighfar and more dua.
I debated responding to this but it was just so silly I couldn’t help myself.
Have husn-at-thann of your sister. I put istikhara as point 10 to emphasize its importance, not to diminish it. Have you never heard of save the best for last? It doesn’t mean do it last, I simply wanted to end the steps with the best of them. It is a given it should be done throughout; the steps are tying the camel, as referred to in the hadith on tawakul.
And of course, make dua for me 🙂
I aplogize sister Maryam I was a bit harsh on my comment above. But I wasn’t having any negative suspicions of your article.
I think it’s a great article many people including myself are benefiting from. Thanks and May Allah reward you for that.
Mashallah, such a beautiful reminder!May Allah(s.w.t) reward you for this beautiful reminder. Aameen.
Dear sister Maryam: I love you articles so much and I hope you continue to write on Suhaib Webb. They have inspired me and make me hopeful every time I read them. May Allah preserve you and the ones you love and bless you in this world and the next!
Interesting article – yes I am a 40 something independent Muslim female – financially secure – most Muslim men want to maary me so that I can support them and their kids – or get them a greencard – passion and love come across as fake; most men have lied about their age, number of kids, what they do and even their height.
It is not only time to give up looking for Mr. Right but also time to stop looking for Mr. Compromise. Better off being single and continuously pray to Allah (SWT) to look after me in my old age…..
As Sallaamu Alaikum, Sis I can so totally HEAR WHAT YOU ARE SAYING! I can feel it! Been there, done that! I decided to compromise and just marry for the sake of being married. To lower my gaze. To have someone to just spend some time with instead of being alone and lonely. To be able to sleep better at night by sharing my bed with someone else. To go on trips with someone instead of being scared to going alone. Etc. And I decided that this is what marriage would be for me. I have my job. I can support myself. I pay all the bills. I am providing my husband with a green card. I refuse to give up my freedoms. So that’s one way to go. But it comes with a flip side. You never know if your spouse truly loves you. You suspect they will probably leave you after the immigration is finished. You get tired of supporting a full grown man and you sometimes wish there was a man supporting you – because at the end of the day we are females(Not men). So you have to be willing to accept all the bad with the good. You have to be willing to keep your mouth shut and just swallow alot of mess because you made your bed and you have to lye in it.
There is alwasy that chance that you could be blessed with that perfect muslim brothers who will come in wearing all his armor and sweep you up onto the back of his horse and ride off into a romantic sunset with you. But after waiting from age 29 – 40, I decided I didn’t want to wait anymore. Four failed marriages that were made for all the “right” reasons ended up being painful miserable failures.
So I was a bit more practical this time. I decided to think like a man a little bit. Set my own rules. I looked for cute, young, and active. Forgot about career, stable, or love. Because alhamdullillah I have my own career, am somewhat stable, and love…well I just said Insha Allah if it happens it happens. What I needed was a companion. A person to share moments in my life. Someone to lower my gaze. So that’s what I looked for, and that’s what I have.
Only Allah knows the future. I have had burning passionate soulmate love, and it was taken away from me. So I accept what I have and I hope for the best.
It hasen’t stopped me from wondering about that last part of your comment… Who is going to be with me in my old age? The reality is that people die, leave, become disabled, etc. There is never a guarantee that anyone will be there for you in your old age. But Allah. Allah will be there and provide for us. Allah will not abandone us. Allah is greater than a million husbands and all the world contains. Still it would be hard to be alone. But so are so many things we face throughout life. We learn to cope with it. We face each bridge as it comes.
I wish you all the best and I pray you find every happiness. Happiness can be found in so many diferent things. Meaning in life can be found also in so many situations. May Allah guide you to the best decisions and outcomes. ameen.
Sister thank you so much for your words: “Allah is greater than a million husband and all the world contains.” Powerful reminder 🙂
And also upon reading that very sentence, I instantly broke my tears 😀
Jazakallah kheiran for this post and may Allah(swt) reward you with jannah.
guys I cant buy the books but I REALLLLLLLY NEEED ’em…is there the free e-version of dis?
the books recommended are really awesome!! in particular, we read the one by Gottman – and would highly recommend it. we also did pre-marital counseling even though we didn’t feel we needed it (4-6 sessions) – and also not only benefited from it but highly recommend it.
One thing I’d add real quick: check out the book recommendations about improving satisfaction within intimate relations in the Gottman book. It references very helpful books and notes how many people don’t like to admit that they don’t know too much about the basics of sex and their partners. Or – in most cases – they don’t know that they don’t know!
The one book that’s not listed within Gottman’s recommendations that I would recommend is “taking control of your fertility”
Jazaki Allahu khayran for an excellent article sis. Mariam. Well thought-out and very practical.
I liked seeing this article put out there, as a young girl who is hounded by some of the issues described. Don’t get me wrong – I have no ‘fairy-tale’ delusions about marriage, I’ve never had to put up with B/Hollywood ideas being stuffed down my throat. However, as teenager who thinks very seriously about marriage (getting most of my information from informed articles like these on Suhaibwebb), it is extremely, extremely, extremely discouraging to constantly hear those around you tell you how terrible marriage is, and how it’s all hard work, and that all those romances are non-existent…
Subhanallah – I’m not expecting ‘passion’ in the way described. I fully understand that marriage is real-life, from the money to the diapers to the working through both your flaws etc. I do hope that I can have a loving and intimate companion, though. Is this really so wrong to ask for?
wa alykumusalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh
Everything that is brought up in this dunya is brought down. Anything that is perfected starts too deteriorate.
Everything on earth has it’s set end date. All this helps us have the innate desire for what lasts. So go look to the akhirah because that is better and more lasting.
“I do hope that I can have a loving and intimate companion, though. Is this really so wrong to ask for?”
Of course not. Not when you are asking Allah aza wa jal. Definitely ask and you will inshaa Allah get a companion like that.
Same old questions in the opening that I had once. Alhamdulillah, I found some good points about marriage despite many closest friends or family fail during the marriage itself. I am doing point 1 straight doing to point 10. Allah will helps, as you follow the right way, with the right intention. In shaa Allah
It’s my understanding that the deen was meant to be a middle way. Within that paradigm, we should all refrain from black and white thinking of what any ideal is. Passion is not the only thing in a marriage, nor should it be shunned & shown as unwarranted or something “western” either. It’s important to have balance.
Passion is absolutely a great thing to have in a marriage, just as long as a person realizes that it’s not a constant. There are ups and downs based on a variety of factors affecting people’s lives. So keep a balance view of it and it’s a great thing to have.
On the flip side, I do not agree with any interpretation of that faith that says these dunyawi things are all “rubbish” and just focus on the akhirah or what not. I don’t see anywhere in hadith where the deen demands this, infact the opposite where the deen asks us to appreciate God’s blessings IN THIS WORLD.
I think a lot of hadith are seriously MISREAD frankly. The hadith about being attached to this world? Yes, it is wrong to be so IF it entails doing things that TRADE the next life for this one. That is how the hadith and Qur’an present it…
There were plenty of sahaba for instance who had great wealth and ENJOYED that wealth. Uthman Ibn Affan(R) or Abdur Rahman bin Awf(R) for instance. What they DIDN’T do was become attached to that wealth or let it prevent them from charity, use it for the haraam, etc. The hadith about pride also makes clear that “arrogance” does not entail avoiding “nice clothes”, but is to have contempt for fellow human beings who are poor and can’t afford those things.
Another hadith FREQUENTLY misread is the one where Rasulallah implores Muslims to marry for the deen. He is NOT telling people to condemn and banish beauty or wealth people. What the hadith clearly says is to not chase those things IF it entails ignoring good character and deen! It DOESN’T say those things are haraam or not of consideration…just don’t SACRIFICE DEEN for them. If you can find someone with beauty and wealth AND deen more power to you.
The prophet(s) was handsome. His wives, with the exception of Sawdah(R), were ALL described as beaufiful. He himself said God loves beauty and called it a blessing. I don’t know at what point we Muslims became medieval Christian ascetics and started thinking of this deen as an exercise in other-worldy self-denial. That is NOT our deen. Our deen is about balance!
Passion is good…just don’t expect it ALL the time, or you’ve been deluded. Beauty/physical attraction and wealth are good, but don’t sacrifice the deen FOR them nor be ATTACHED TO them….And if you don’t HAVE those things personally or in a marriage then it is a trial like everything else in this life so show patience and contentment and maybe Allah will bless you WITH them later in this life or the next…or look for OTHER things that are EQUALLY blessings because those two aren’t the only ones.
We need some serious balance in this ummah man.
Things are sometimes presented as way too stark or dour…or the other extreme of skewed superficial obsessions. Where’s the balance? We’re the community of the middle way. I’m glad Sr. Amir-Ebrahami has presented an alternative to this dystopic dichotomy. Mashallah!
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Hot passionate love? There is no such thing as hot love. Love is a pure feeling and love is emotions and affection. The physical aspect is temporary but the emotions and attachment is life long. love is not only a bouquet of flowers or candle light romance.
And if you mentioned movies and books then wrong influences about love will create wrong impressions.
Much need article – for us singles – a great warning and reminder of how to approach this process from all aspects of the decision. There is that tug of war – wanting to find that life partner, but also making sure we don’t rush it in excitement and making a wrong decision. This is true especially in the light of increasing divorce rates within our faith community, which wasn’t true in the recent past.
Additionally, as mentioned, the parental pressure and even more so these days, in-law interference post-marriage, leads to divorce as well, something that I’ve witnessed first-hand with my own family.
Jazak’Allahu Khairan for the advice.
My husband and I met as foreigners in Europe when we were young.
As passionate as our relations were then, the passion has grown over the 25 years we have been married.
I can remember several passionate moments.
The most passionate time I recall was during Ramadan in Umraa in Saudi Arabia. We made tawaf all day (one aspect of religion) and then returned to our room and deeply enjoyed our marital rights. There are several aspects to Islam and to worship. Somehow sex and passion has gotten severed in the quest.
That deep connection and passion is what has allowed us to forgive and get through tough times in our marriage because we know that we will never find this connection in another partner.
As Salamu Alaikum,
That is amazing, Sister pt.
Any advice you can give the rest of us on how you and your husband manage to maintain such a deep level of love, passion and commitment over the years, in fact, even increase it (!) would be very welcome!
May Allah bring you and your husband even closer together and in this life and in the hereafter.
Thank you for this article and the advice.However, what if you don’t find such a man who meets the core criteria? Settle for less? Or stay alone? This is a dilemma I have to deal with. I am in my late twenties, and I feel it is even difficult to find a man interested in talking about things in the article. Expectations and all that. Most men are not that interested to talk much I feel. I don’t really know what to do anymore. I am tired of searching and being alone. I don’t really know what to do if i would choose to stay unmarried all my life. But is it wise to marry someone that does not meet up with your expectations?
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asssalamualaikum. is there someone to give me insights into the actual rules about how much can u actually talk with a guy who has proposed to u before marriage, since he is a ghair mehram after all. how much of the courtship is allowed. this is really a serious question cos I have been proposed but so far, I just don’t know where to draw the lines, the only thing I’ve done so far is I talk to him sometimes and did istikhara the first time he proposed to me. Help please. cos i often find myself really confused as to whether I am really sinning or not. please enlighten me on this matter
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