Posted by: Abu Husaini | November 22, 2013

Building a Strong and Resilient Muslim Marriage

Dear blessed Friday Jemaah

Let us work together in increasing our takwa towards Allah s.w.t. Fulfill what Allah has commanded upon us. Leave behind what has been prohibited. Be consistent in fulfilling the responsibilities that Allah s.w.t. has entrusted us with, specifically in  building a successful family and community.

My brothers blessed by Allah,

Over the past few weeks, we have reflected on the importance of equipping ourselves with faith (iman) and beneficial knowledge in order to be able to fulfill our responsibilities as parents and children, and to build a successful family that Allah will be pleased with. On this glorious Friday, let us also examine the foundation for the development of a family which is marriage itself. Allah s.w.t. says in surah ar-Rum verse 21:

Which means: “And of His signs is that He created for you from yourselves mates that you may find tranquillity in them; and He placed between you affection and mercy. Indeed in that are signs for a people who give thought.”

Allah s.w.t. has made marriage as a sacred tie between a husband and wife. It is through marriage that both will enjoy a sense of tranquillity, warmth, love and kindness towards each other. A strong marriage requires effort, commitment and honesty.

Brothers,

The high rate of divorce in our community has often been reported time and again in the news. Various programmes and initiatives have been undertaken to help build stronger families and reduce the rate of divorce. There are many tips on the conduct and ethics of married life, which we can hold on to, in the hope that we could successfully sail through married life. Today’s sermon will share several fundamentals of marriage which many couples may have taken lightly. Among them:

First: Treating our partners well and communicating with them with kindness and respect. Rasulullah s.a.w., through various hadith and examples of his daily interactions with his wives, taught us the ethics and ways of good communication between spouses.

One example that reflects the Prophet s.a.w.’s efforts in understanding the character and personality of his wife in order to prevent any conflicts, can be seen in a hadith narrated by Imam Bukhari and Muslim.

Rasulullah s.a.w. said to ‘Aisyah: ‘I know when you are angry with me and when you are not.’ And ‘Aisyah asked: ‘How can you tell oh Rasulullah?’ Rasulullah s.a.w replied: ‘If you were content with me you say no and by the God of Mohammad. And if you were angry with me you say: no and by the God of Ibrahim.’ In another narration, ‘Aisyah replied: ‘That is right oh Rasulullah! Indeed I was just trying to avoid saying your name.”

This narration has deep and meaningful lessons for every Muslim couple. It reflects how the Prophet s.a.w. brought up something that had happened in the past in a calm and warm manner, and when the situation has reverted to normal. This is a good approach that we can learn from in bringing up things that we might have said or done in the heat of anger, which may then have hurt our spouse without us even realising it. We may even regret our words or actions when the situation has calmed down. The approach as shown by Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. is hence a good example; we should, discuss a problem with our spouse when the situation is calm and quiet. Any misunderstandings can be resolved more effectively if we are not overwhelmed by emotions or anger.

Second: Appreciating the contributions and sacrifices of our spouse. When we are busy with many responsibilities like work, children’s schooling, our responsibilities towards our parents, managing the household and so on, we may sometimes feel that we are not being appreciated for our contributions and efforts. When that feeling crops up, we should quickly realise and be grateful to Allah s.w.t. for granting us a partner, and we should thank our spouse for going through thick and thin with us.

It was reported that a man once wanted to meet with the Caliph Umar al-Khattab r.a. to complain about his wife who often nagged at him and would raise her voice to him when reproving him. However, when he arrived at Umar’s house, the man heard Umar’s wife doing the same thing to the Caliph. And so, he decided to return home and did not complain about the matter to the Caliph. When Umar r.a. went out of his house, he saw the man who was hurrying home, and he asked the man: “What was your intention of coming to my house?” The man replied: “I came to complain about my wife but when I heard that your wife (also) nags at you, I told myself: "If the Amirul Mukminin himself is treated as such by his wife, let alone myself." Umar then said to him: “By Allah, (my wife) has prepared my bed, prepared my meals, and bear all my burden and responsibilities, isn’t it appropriate for me to bear and listen to her nagging?”

Subhanallah, just look at how a Companion and Caliph, who was known for his strictness, accepted his wife’s behaviour towards him simply because he wanted to show his appreciation for all her efforts and contributions.

The third attitude that we can adopt is: Maintaining limits or boundaries when we mix with others. Islam teaches us to maintain boundaries when we mix or deal with those who are not our mahram, be it in our dressing (by covering our aurah) as well as in lowering our gaze. For example, the command to lower our gaze, found in surah an-Nur verses 30 and 31, is not just specific for those who are not married, but is applicable for all Muslims.

This is an important matter which we must be aware of, especially when we interact with our colleagues, and in working on projects together, we need to maintain our boundaries and limit communication to only work and professional matters. This is encouraged in Islam through the Islamic principle of sadd al-zari’ah (avoiding bad deeds), which teaches us to stay away from matters that may lead to transgressions or sinful acts.

Outside of work, we must be honest, truthful and maintain our boundaries in our interactions with friends and acquaintances, be it physical interaction or via social media platforms. Mixing freely, whether it is intended or not, may lead to distrust and disharmony in our marriage. Statistics reveal that 24.8 percent of the divorces registered with the Syariah Court, or the number one cause of divorces is infidelity and the spouse had pre-marital relationship.

Surely, this is enough to make us realise how important it is to preserve our marriage and our family. Do not let our own weaknesses cause the marriage that we have built to rock and then fail, thus affecting ourselves, our spouse and children.

The fourth attitude that we should uphold: Not to reveal our marital and household secrets to others, unless in certain situations where we need to seek the advice of someone whom we are confident can help our family. Any problems should be solved between the couple through honest and heartfelt discussions. If need be, we can include another family member or a counsellor as the mediator.

Avoid spilling our discontentment with our spouse to others, especially not through social media platforms such as Facebook. Airing our dirty laundry in public will only worsen the situation and may even cause other bigger problems such as infidelity when we feel others may be able to understand our problems better than our own spouse. Such negative matters can destroy our marriage and should be avoided.

Dear jemaah

Let us all appreciate our spouses better. We have taken on a promise with them, on Allah’s name and law, to bear all responsibilities together, and stick by each other through thick and thin, till death parts us. They are blessings from Allah s.w.t. to be by our side as we sail through life and as a source of tranquility for us. May we always be guided by Allah s.w.t. in building strong families and a successful community, and to always be under His protection, blessings and Rahmah. Amin Ya Rabbal ‘Alamin.

Majlis Ugama Islam Singapura
Friday Sermon, 22 November 2013 / 18 Muharram 1435

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