Assalam alaykum ummati!
I genuinely hope you and your loved ones are doing great. For my brothers and sisters that are sick, wounded and troubled, may Allah swt grant you all shifa and sakina and may He mend the hearts of the broken-hearted.
So, it dawned on me a couple of days ago that I’m nearing my one year wedding anniversary, and as I lay perched on my sofa typing this, I’m yet to fully grasp the speed at which time is flying.
My cousin and a good friend of mine are both getting married really soon and I thought to myself this would be a really good time to get this post out on the blog.
I’d like to rewind the hands of time to about a month before I got married; November 2018…exactly this period last year.
As you can imagine for a woman that is about to get married in a month, a lot of things were happening simultaneously for me but one critical thing that took place during that month, was that Yusuf and I spent a significant amount of time mentally preparing ourselves for the great institution we agreed to sign up for. We were determined to have the foundations of our marriage solidly built because we recognized marriage as a means of getting closer to Allah azzawajal and to receive great blessings from Him.
In spite of the many goodness that can be found in marriage, we knew marriage could also greatly test our faith and character, and the result of our actions during those testing period (both ignorant and deliberate) will significantly impact our position in the akhira.
Based on the mutual understanding we shared of marriage, we made the firm decision to seek sincere, beneficial and practical advice from a Muslim scholar and a couple in our lives that we knew were knowledgeable and hoped could rightly guide us with the great example and success they’ve made of their own marriage.
I’m extremely grateful to Allah for inspiring in both our hearts the desire to undergo the counselling sessions because they proved to be enlightening and a lot more rewarding than we expected.
Today I wish to share some of the advice I found to be key and has helped strengthen my relationship with my husband.
For the first meeting we fixed an appointment with the Chief Imam of Lekki Central Mosque; Imam Ridwan Jamiu. Now, I’ll let you guys in on something because you are more or less family to me. Before attending the session with the Imam, a few people were concerned and wary of the fact that I was setting myself up to get advice from an Ilorin man who had more than one wife. If you are reading this, you may or may not be aware of the stereotype given to Ilorin men and how many are seen and adjudged to be unfaithful to their women and polygamous in nature. The Imam being married to more than one woman rang a strong bell because he was also from Ilorin.
I’ll admit I did not do a background check on the Imam. All I knew was the fact that he was a knowledgeable and intelligent man, a teacher of the Quran and was a qualified lawyer. So, when information surfaced that he was from Ilorin and had more than one wife, I honestly wasn’t bothered but I became a lot more eager and curious to hear what kind of advice the man would give. I had shrugged off the heartfelt concerns from my loved ones because I firmly believe in the saying that whatever will be will be, and nobody can really influence another to want or do something they genuinely don’t want for themselves (except they are a child or are unable to make their own calculated and well informed decision). I knew the man I planned on marrying was neither a child nor indecisive; so as far as I was concerned I had no reason to be bothered that he was married to more than one woman.
So, we arrived at the masjid around asr time and at the end of the prayer, the Imam received us warmly into his office and halfway into the counselling session, I was very pleased that Allah destined our paths to meet.
In summary the Imam mentioned that there are 4 important things in marriage; intention, knowledge, attitude and conflict management. For a better understanding, I’ll explain what each thing means so make sure you bring out your notes.
Underneath every act that is done or to be done, there is an underlying intention and when it comes to marriage, your intentions for marrying someone is very important. In this day and age people get married for several reasons; love, money, papers, pressure, security, lust, kids e.t.c.
As a Muslim, the best intention to have or better still the big question you should ask yourself before anything else is: ‘How can this marriage lead me to Jannah? If I decide to get married to this individual, can I help my spouse to earn the good of this world and the hereafter? The best intention that a man and a woman can share before getting married is for them to strongly desire to want to do good to one another, in order to earn the pleasure of Allah. This advice really helped me to focus on the important things. Whilst passion and feelings are very important, you must be able to see past those two things because physical attraction and love is never and can never be enough to sustain a marriage. So before getting married to your partner think; can the both of you grow and work together to help one another elevate your statuses in this life and the next?
When it comes to knowledge, the Imam explained that it’s both theoretical and practical.
For someone that has never been married you may be wondering what practical knowledge could I possibly have of marriage? The practical knowledge that an unmarried person has of marriage, is the key things they have been able to identify that contributed to the success or failure of another person’s marriage they know or witnessed closely such as their parents.
If there is something you witnessed from your parents marriage that you believe worked or adjudged to be healthy and good, then you can adopt or learn to imbibe those things that they did to sustain your own marriage i.e if your parents had a ritual of going on dates once every month to keep the spark and romance in their marriage, you can choose to do this with your marriage; or if your parents had a habit of not going to bed angry or not going to bed without putting a genuine smile on the other person’s face then you can choose to do this with your own marriage.
On the other hand, if your parents had a toxic marriage you can learn and identify the toxic things they did and ensure you don’t repeat same in your marriage i.e if your parents always used to shout and curse at each other whenever they had a disagreement, you will make sure things never escalate to that level in your marriage; or if your parents slept in separate bedrooms then you can make sure you and your husband always sleep in the same bedroom. This is the practical knowledge you have and can learn from.
The theoretical knowledge relates to learning and being informed of your respective duties in the marriage. As a spouse you must ALWAYS perfect your duties in the marriage whether the other person appreciates it or not. Remember more than anything that you entered the marriage to ultimately please Allah; human beings as we all know are the hardest creatures to please. Whilst you must try to do everything within your capacity to make your spouse happy, bear in mind that it’s not all the time your spouse will recognize or appreciate your efforts. When they fail to do so, you can find some comfort in the fact that Allah sees all your efforts and will reward you accordingly. Allah never disappoints those who trust and depend on him, human beings are a different case (even when they claim to really love us).
The Imam made a funny but true statement that everyone is always speaking about their fundamental human rights but what about your fundamental human duties? If everyone performed their fundamental human duties, they would in return be provided with their fundamental human rights. This is a clear cut truth; just like if everyone made sure to love and take care of their neighbor; everyone in every community would be happy.
We also discussed at length the general rights of a husband and a wife as expressed in the Quran and some hadith. The Imam posed a question to us that do we know why Allah positioned men to be the guardian and the head of the family? We both took our guesses and the Imam responded that the answer was stated clearly in the Quran and its simply because the physical makeup of a man makes him more fit to support the family & the fact that men spend part of their wealth on women; so they are given the upper hand.
He directed us to recite this particular verse in the Quran:
‘Men are in charge of women by [right of] what Allah has given one over the other and what they spend [for maintenance] from their wealth.’Suratul Nisa [4:34]
The Imam added that husbands were obligated in Islam to provide, protect (physically, psychologically and spiritually) and to provide direction to their wives. By providing direction he explained that this includes being a good leader. A good leader is a husband who listens and is not domineering. He emphasized about three times that a husband should always let his wife have her say but she may not necessarily always have her way; a husband must be slow to anger and quick to restrain. One beautiful thing he said was couples are supposed to misunderstand one another to understand one another. He couldn’t have said it any better because it’s the honest truth. Conflicts and misunderstandings are things couples try to avoid at all cost but remember that when it does happen, they aren’t always a bad thing because it is during those tough moments you get to learn more about one another.
Also, instead of complaining a good leader tries to reform. He doesn’t engage in the use of negative words and he must be positive and polite in everything. With marriage you must try to always maintain a diplomatic relationship by dealing with your spouse in a sensitive and tactful way.
With regards to women, he mentioned among other things that the wife’s duty in the Quran is loyalty and protection. He explained loyalty includes being respectful, dutiful and obedient. The husband is in no shape or form a master and the wife is not a slave. The husband is positioned to be the leader and the wife is the follower and when the kids arrive; they both become leaders; president and vice-president if you’d like.
Imam Ridwan mentioned among many other things that a wife’s obedience to her husband is more important than a wife’s obedience to her father because the responsibility of looking after the wife has been passed from the father to the husband. However, he explained that this doesn’t make the husband more important than the father. It’s also important to let the husband know your movements and to not do things that will displease him.
He offered his own personal advice which was men love more than anything to be respected and women want more than anything to be shown love, care and attention.
Another funny but amazing remark he made was that ‘in the same way that a vehicle needs to be serviced, you need to service your marriage’. The way you check are my tires okay? The engine okay? You have to check the different parts of your marriage and service it. Is your sex life okay? is your communication okay? Service it frequently and make sure everything is running at the best of states.
The Imam mentioned that whatever is worth having is worth paying a price for. He wrapped up the knowledge session by saying men don’t joke with two things: food and sex, so as a wife you shouldn’t starve your husband of both. A wife should look after her home and make it a place her husband finds comfort and love. Likewise, the husband must shower his wife with much love, affection and attention.
Imam Ridwan explained quite simply that the failure and success of a marriage is largely based on attitude. He quoted the hadith where the Prophet (saw) said the best among you are those who are best in character and best to their wives. Both partners have to be tolerant of each other. If you see a weakness in your spouse, praise and comment on the good things first. Before you correct someone, always find something to commend first; this is very important should you want to live and maintain a happy marriage.
Also, both spouses must learn to appreciate one another and find moments to compliment the other and always say thank you. Importantly, each spouse must be humble; nobody is perfect. There is no perfect human being and always apologize to the other when you make a mistake.
Another important thing he mentioned was contentment. A husband must never compare his wife to another and a wife must never compare her husband to another. That’s one of the easiest way for shaytan to slip in between a husband and a wife.
He also mentioned that trust is the backbone of marriage. Don’t do anything suspicious in your marriage. Leave it. Stay clear from whatever may arouse negative suspicion from your spouse. Save yourself and your marriage from the trouble.
Lastly, he mentioned it is vital you show mutual respect. Know your limits and respect each others families.
Anger management is super important and if you know you have anger issues then you MUST learn anger management. If you must sign up for an anger management course or therapy, then get it done.
As an individual you must learn your weaknesses and know the things that trigger you and make you angry. You cannot know or learn to know about your partner without knowing yourself first. You must be able to practice self-restraint, must be self-disciplined and be able to control your passion and anger. You cannot have a successful marriage if this area of your marriage is weak.
Conflict is something that started since the very beginning of time and as humans, we mostly offend each other through the way we talk. In a marriage communication is key. You must understand that although you may say or do the right thing, the way you say or do something is even more important because it may have a negative result and impact on the other person. In order words as a spouse you must be conscious of the way you communicate with your partner; both your language and body language.
Also, you should never keep malice in your marriage. If there’s something you don’t like, talk about it with your partner but be polite about it and lastly you must pray, pray and pray. You must pray for your spouse, your marriage, your in-laws and families.
These were the key things I picked up from the counselling session we had with Imam Ridwan.
The next meeting we had was fixed with a loving Muslim couple in our lives that we respected and loved and I pray Allah swt preserves their love and protects their marriage.
Uncle Mukhtar for those of you who do not know is my favorite uncle in the world and his wife Aunt Aisha is one of the most amazing woman I’ve ever met. When the appointed time and date arrived, Yusuf and I went to their home and we had yet another amazing counselling session with the couple.
The truth is Uncle Mukthar and his wife repeated almost everything the imam mentioned but he stressed 3 things that the Imam didn’t mention.
The first was when it comes to marital disputes, he mentioned that Yusuf and I must learn to resolve our disputes within our home. He stressed that our arguments should never leave the walls of our bedroom. However, if the matter is very severe and requires the input of a third party, then our next point of contact shouldn’t be our immediate family members.
If we had to straighten things out with the help of another person, we should either talk to a marriage counselor, someone we trusted that isn’t family or at the very most him and his wife. He explained that things can get really messy or even worse when family members are involved and there would always be a residual strain that can’t be ironed out with the family members, even long after the argument has been settled.
The second thing he stressed was that women can be likened to a trust and a husband has a great duty to look after that trust; his wife. He explained that it’s not an easy thing for a woman to leave the home she grew up in, a home where she was raised and was well taken care of by her family to leave and start a family with a man who at best can only promise to offer her a good or a better life.
He mentioned that a husband in Islam must take excellent care of his wife. Even if she works and has her own money, the money is hers but he still has a duty to spend and look after his wife. He mentioned that if a wife doesn’t want to work 9 to 5 anymore or for whatever reasons then the husband should help her set up a business. He mentioned that a husband must learn to think ahead; your wife is (or will be) the mother of your children, meaning you must help set her up in a way that she would be independent and not dependent on you. If the husband is the sole bread winner in the house, what would happen to the family if something were to happen to the husband? What would happen to your kids? Do you want your family to become a charity cause or to be begging people for money? He mentioned that no matter how successful a man is, he is only truly successful if he’s built a home where his wife and kids can live without him and he can be able to tell God I did my best or he would be able to leave the world with peace in his mind.
He mentioned that a husband must be able to leave his wife better than he met her; mentally, spiritually and financially. He explained that this is not just limited to spouses but people in general. The domestic staffs that work for you, when the time comes for them to leave, let them leave in an improved and better state.
And lastly, my favorite part of the session, he rounded off by saying Yusuf should never forget that I’m his child so if he should do anything to me or was to make me unhappy, he would have him to deal with. Hahaha. You know as a woman when you get married, the husband becomes the most important male figure in her life but all husbands need to be reminded that whilst that is so, the wife has got other important men in her life, so they must thread carefully and know that they can’t try nonsense.
Aunt Aisha among other things mentioned that a wife must learn to show love to her husband because in all honesty the men are simply big babies. She must be respectful and dutiful to him at all times and must take good care of the home, her husbands properties and shower her whole family with her love and infinite prayers.
That summarizes the key words of advice I received from my pre-marriage counselling sessions.
For my loving reader reading this, I hope you found one or two thing beneficial. Please share this with your spouse, fiance or anyone you think would find this post to be beneficial.
To my dearest Amira and Tele, this post is specially dedicated to both of you and I wish both of your marriages the best of success. May God bless all our marriages and protect it from all forms of evil.
Until next time,