• marriage-in-islam-beyond-the-words-i-do-part-ii

    MARRIAGE IN ISLAM: BEYOND THE WORDS “I DO” (PART II)

    In the preceding article (Marriage in Islam: Beyond the words “I do” Part I), we had touched on one of the two essential elements to build a happy Muslim family i.e. iman, and the two subdivisions under it, namely; ‘aqeedah and ‘ilm based on a “Muslim happy family model” as elucidated in an article entitled “Model Keluarga Bahagia Menurut Islam”, written by Nur Zahidah Hj Jaapar and Associate Professor Raihanah Hj Azahari. For this second part of the article, we will further explore the second element which is ‘amal and the subdivisions under it, as listed by the writers of the article.

     

    ‘Amal

    This second element is as per stated by Yusuf al-Qaradawi, in his book called “al-‘Ibadah fi al-Islam”. The duo (writers of the article) began elaborating the second element by stating that the precondition to build a happy Muslim family is to associate iman with ‘amal. Or in other words, these two must co-exist. The writers continued that as Muslims, we must put into practice the commandments that Allah prescribed for us, as vicegerents (khalifah) of the Almighty. The branches of ‘amal as spelled out by the writers include niyyah, akhlaq, social, amanah, and physical safety, of which all of these branches will be dealt with, one by one, in the following paragraphs.

     

    There is a quote as shown on the Brainy Quote website by Harold S. Geneen which goes “leadership is practiced not so much in words as in attitude and in actionsand Marshall Goldsmith; an American leadership guru also once said “one of the most important actions, things a leader can do, is to lead by example. If you want everyone else to be passionate, committed, dedicated, and motivated, you go first!” Based on these two quotes, we can see how important it is to actualise what we believe in and to practise what we have learnt. As human beings, we are not only leaders to our subjects but we are foremost the leaders of our own selves. It is our personal responsibility to lead our lives positively, by doing the acts that Allah orders us to do and to refrain from His prohibitions.

     

    A verse from the Qur’an which mentions both iman and ‘amal in one verse is verse 97 of Surah An-Nahl, whereby Allah says:

    Whoever works righteousness, whether male or female, while he (or she) is a true believer (of Islamic Monotheism) verily, to him We will give a good life (in this world with respect, contentment and lawful provision), and We shall pay them certainly a reward in proportion to the best of what they used to do (i.e. Paradise in the Hereafter)

    (Translation by Muhsin Khan)

    *All qur’anic translations are taken from https://quran.com/

     

    Niyyah

    As Muslims, niyyah or intention forms an integral part of our lives, as the acts of worship that we perform on a daily basis such as in our five daily prayers, in our ablutions, among others, revolves around niyyah; lillahi ta’ala. In fact, in the famous forty hadeeth of Imam Nawawi, the first hadeeth in its compilation is pertaining to niyyah. Whereby it is stated that “Actions are according to intentions, and everyone will get what was intended…” (See: 40hadithnawawi.com).

     

    According to Sayyid Sabiq, in his book; Fiqh al-Sunnah, as cited by the writers of the article, the underlying objectives of building a successful Muslim family are, inter alia, to satisfy the innate fitrah of mankind in having a family of their own, to attain serenity and tranquillity of the soul, to ensure happiness in one’s household, and to produce soleh and solehah offspring.

     

    By having a clear intention in mind, a husband and wife will strive and direct their actions towards realising the goals that a Muslim family should achieve. By contemplating on Surah Luqman, parents will get valuable guidance, on how to educate their children, and concomitantly their own selves. The lessons can be found from verses 13-19, whereby Luqman said to his son:

    • Not to commit syirk (associating Allah with partners)
    • To be dutiful and good to your parents and to give thanks to Allah and to our parents
    • To perform salah, enjoin for al-ma’ruf (goodness) and to forbid from al-munkar and to be patient with the adversities that befall us
    • Not to be arrogant to others
    • Portray humbleness/ moderateness (in walking and in tone of voice)

    (The above are the excerpts of the verses based on the translation by Muhsin Khan)

     

    Akhlaq

    Next, according to Akram Radamursi, in his book al-‘Usrah al-Muslimah fi al-‘Alim al Mu’asir, akhlaq is one of the essential ingredients to build a happy Muslim family, as per stated by the writers in their article. We should inculcate good moral conducts in the lives of our children since small so that they will grow up to become sensible and good-natured individuals. How children behave outdoors very much reflect on the ways they are raised by their parents at home. As Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. is the best of mankind, parents should live their lives by making the Holy Prophet as an example and should shape their children with the same mould as well. Allah s.w.t. says in Surah Al-Qalam, verse 4:

    And verily, you (O Muhammad SAW) are on an exalted standard of character.”

    (Translation by Muhsin Khan)

     

    Books such as Syama’il al-Muhammadiyyah which, inter alia, talks about the manners and moral conducts of the Holy Prophet in his everyday life and Ar-Raheeq al-Makhtum (The Sealed Nectar) which biographs about the Holy Prophet would be a good read for parents and children alike.

     

    Social

    The writers of the article further stated that a construction of a Muslim family must be founded on the concept of husn al mu’asyarah or al-mu’asyarah bil ma’ruf i.e. good social interaction between the members of the family. The definition of “good” must be in accordance with the teachings contained in the Qur’an and Sunnah. As stated by Mahmud Saedon bin Osman in his working paper entitled “Asas Pembentukan Keluarga Bahagia”, as cited in the article, something is not declared as “good” (ma’ruf), unless it is good and blessed by Allah and it is not included in the categories of munkar, ma’siyah and abuse/corruption.

     

    Interactive communications in one’s household are needed to connect each member of the family and for the family members to understand each other better. Dr. Amal Ibrahim Abd El-Fattah Khalil from King Saud bin Abdul-Aziz University for Health Sciences, wrote in his article entitled “The Islamic Perspective of Interpersonal Communication” that family members should make communication among them as a routine and they should improve on how they interact with one another. As communication itself is a process, each family member needs to be patient in understanding one another and in building stronger ties between them.

     

    Bear in mind that in developing good communications between family members, it is not only about expressing one’s thoughts and feelings to another or the others, but it requires a good pair of listening ears, and a pure heart that sympathises and concerns about the matter(s) or feelings shared/expressed. Plus, each member of the family should be proactive in finding and providing solutions for any problem faced by any member of the family.

     

    Amanah

    Amanah is one of the ingredients for a happy Muslim family as stated by Hidayah Allah Ahmad, in his book “Al Shash Mausu’ah al-Tarbiyyah al-‘Amaliyyah li al-Tifl. In an article entitled “Value of Al-Amanah in Human Life” written by Sofiah bt. Samsudin and Md. Sirajul Islam from International Islamic University Malaysia, the writers began their article by providing the definition of amanah based on what was stated by Al-Ragib al-Asfahani, whereby “amanah” is originated from the word “amn”, which means “tranquillity of the heart”. And as cited by the writers, according to Al-Ragib, “amanah” literally means “honesty, straightness and integrity”.

     

    A verse from the Holy Qur’an which talks about amanah can be found in Surah An-Nisaa’ verse 58, whereby Allah says to the effect:

    Verily! Allah commands that you should render back the trusts (al-amanaat) to those, to whom they are due…

    (Translation by Muhsin Khan)

     

    Reflecting on the word amanah in the above verse, the concept of amanah in Islam is very much related with the concept of “takleef” or accountability. In a family, everyone has his/her very own responsibilities be he/she a husband or a wife or a parent or even a child. And in discharging their duties and responsibilities, they are accountable in what they are doing. The duties of parents to their children and vice versa would need a topic on its own. Hence, we will not be listing one by one in this article. But the general idea pertaining to the concept of amanah in one’s family is that, by knowing that each and every member of the family has religious and familial responsibilities and duties to undertake, a family voyage would experience a smooth sailing, in sha Allah.

     

    Physical Safety and Economic Stability

    Islam, being a holistic religion (syumuliyyah) also concerns about the taking care of men’s physical and mental health. I have watched Malay dramas which depicted the characters of a husband having Othello Syndrome (delusional jealousy), which triggered him to abuse his wife uncontrollably whenever he saw his wife with other men (though for office matters), and sometimes a husband or a wife having an anger disorder which negatively affects the rest of the family members. These scenes were not merely fictional, nor were the dramas being exaggeratingly dramatic, but they are occurring in real life. Therefore, we should never take mental health issues lightly as they can lead to an irretrievably broken down marriage or even family, if not taken care of properly.

     

    Islam acknowledges mental health issues, and according to Associate Professor Dr. Ramli Musa, from Kulliyyah of Medicine, International Islamic University Malaysia, the Islamic model that is designed to cure mental illness is known as “bio-psycho-social and spiritual model”, whereby the psycho-social aspect requires the support of the family members. This shows that, family members should not be in denial of nor neglect the mental illness but need to address the matter by providing all the attention, love, help and support that they can give towards the affected member, and to seek professional advice and treatment to cure such mental illness.

     

    On the other hand, when it comes to financial management in a family, both parents especially the husband/father who has the responsibility to provide sustenance for the family, need(s) to ensure the economic stability of the family, avoid extravagant expenditures and inculcate saving habits in their children at an early age. Though wealth can never guarantee happiness, economic stability can help to provide a better living standard for the betterment of the family.

     

    Allah s.w.t. says in the Qur’an, in Surah Al-Israa’, verse 17:

    “Verily, spendthrifts are brothers of the Shayatin (devils), and the Shaitan (Devil – Satan) is ever ungrateful to his Lord”

    (Translation by Muhsin Khan)

     

    CONCLUSION

    Building a happy Muslim family is a golden dream for many. Yet, many choose not to live in accordance to the Islamic tenets. When in fact, the Qur’an and the Sunnah have provided comprehensive guidelines for husband and wife, as well as parents and children to adhere to, in ensuring happiness and harmony in one’s family. Allah s.w.t. says in Surah Al-Baqarah, verse 256:

    “Whoever disbelieves in Taghut and believes in Allah, then he has grasped the most trustworthy handhold that will never break

    (Translation by Muhsin Khan)

    The time has come for each member of the family to make a self-reflection and determine the aspects in life that we can improve, in line with the Islamic teachings to build a family that is filled with mawaddah, sakeenah, wa rahmah, in sha Allah. Wallahu a’lam.

  • marriage-in-islam-beyond-the-words-i-do-part-i

    MARRIAGE IN ISLAM: BEYOND THE WORDS “I DO” (PART I)

    Watching some local drama series on the television, most often than not, when it comes to characters playing the roles as a marriage couple, we would see that if not the husband who is having an extra-marital affair with another lady or a few women, the wife is, with another guy or a few men. And at the end of the day, the ones who have to suffer most of the repercussions of the marital discrepancies are the children, resulting in the family institution being all wrecked and shattered to unamendable pieces.

     

    A family unit having marital problems is the kind of theme that most dramas are portraying. No matter how cliché or common the story lines are, we cannot be in denial that such things do happen to some of our friends or our family members, if not to ourselves. Na’udzubillahi min dzalik. Being imperfect and fallible beings, who sin and make mistakes every single day, it would be too far-fetched, if not impossible, to dream for a “perfect” marriage or family life. Be that as it may, we should always strive to be the best that we can, as a husband or wife or parent for the interest of our own family institution. After all, taking care of our marriage and family is an amanah that should not be taken lightly.

     

    Some people might have a misconception lingering in their minds that marriage in Islam is as simple as the words “I do,” or “Aku terima nikahnya,” This wrong perception must certainly stop and be corrected. With marriage, obligations and responsibilities come into play, and both husband and wife must know and need to shoulder together these duties to build a happy marriage life. Bear in mind that marriage will not be a successful one, unilaterally. It only functions successfully if each and every single unit of the family institution works hand in hand to make it a reality. As one of the primary purposes of marriage in Islam is for procreation, a stable marriage life is needed to build a happy family institution. Hence, in this article we will start with the very basic concept of marriage in Islam, proceeded with the Muslim model of a happy family.

     

    THE CONCEPT OF MARRIAGE IN ISLAM

    In Islam, marriage is not merely to make halal the love-relationship between a man and a woman. Instead, it is a sacred union where marriage itself is considered as an act of worship. The Prophet s.a.w. in a reliable hadeeth narrated by At-Tabarani, had said, “Whoever marries has completed half of his faith. So let him have fear of Allah in the remaining half.” Dr. Aisha Hamdan, the author of “Nurturing Eeman in Children” in quoting this hadeeth has stated that since marriage is regarded as an act of worship to Allah, both husband and wife need to steer and lead their marriage life by observing the commandments that Allah has laid down in respect of marriage. And in so doing, the marriage couple needs to always equip themselves with knowledge so that their marriage life is nurtured and moulded in such a way that is pleasing Allah and in line with the teachings of the Qur’an and Sunnah.

     

    Considerations prior to marriage

    As people could be easily infatuated with and be blinded by love, it is very pertinent to consider the right person you are going to spend the rest of your life with, as your spouse is the one that will be your support system and your other half, in creating a family that is filled with mawaddah, sakeenah wa rahmah.

     

    Taqwa or righteousness is one of the key considerations in selecting a spouse. Allah says in Surah Al-Nuur verse 32: “Marry those among you who are single, and the virtuous ones among your slaves, male or female; if they are in poverty, Allah will give them means out of His grace: For Allah is Ample-giving, and He knows all things”. In commenting about this verse, the writer of “Tuhfat al-‘Arous (The Bride’s Boon)” stated that “religiousness is the only condition mentioned in the verse for a suitable match”.

     

    And in fact, in a famous authentic hadeeth narrated by Bukhari and Muslim, the Prophet said: “A woman is married for four things: her wealth, her family status, her beauty and her religion. So you should marry the one who is superior in religion, otherwise you will be a loser”. Based on the Quranic verse and the hadeeth of the Prophet, by marrying someone who is faithful to his or her religion, a marriage and family that are erected towards seeking Allah’s pleasure can be achieved, and whenever something is done that is not incompliance with the Islamic faith, the other spouse can help to rectify the wrong done and pull the other back on track towards the truth, as stated by Dr. Aisha Hamdan, in her book entitled “Nurturing Eeman in Children” at page 50.

     

    Marriage and parenting are interrelated. A righteous marriage couple needs to be guided on how to steer and navigate their marriage life towards building a blessed and happy family institution. Below are listed the ingredients to build a happy family from the Islamic perspective.

     

    MUSLIM MODEL OF A HAPPY FAMILY

    In an article written by Nur Zahidah Hj Jaapar from UiTM and Associate Professor Raihanah Hj Azahari from the Department of Fiqh and Usul, Academy of Islamic Studies in University of Malaya, they have come up with a Muslim model of a happy family, containing a number of important elements that need to be worked out and considered by both husband and wife as parents. The two main ingredients are iman and ‘amal. Whereby, the authors divided iman into ‘aqeedah and ‘ilm. Meanwhile, ‘amal will be further divided into niyyah, akhlaq, social, amanah, as well as physical and economic safety/stability. The first part of this article will only touch on iman and the categorisations under it.

     

    Iman

    This element is discussed based on what Akram Radamursi wrote in his book entitled “al-Usrah al-Muslimah fi al-‘Alim al-Mu’asir”. According to the writers of the article, Allah stresses on the importance of protecting our faith and piety (taqwa) in strengthening the relationship among family members. In verse 1 of Surah An-Nisaa’, Allah says:

    O mankind! Be dutiful to your Lord, Who created you from a single person (Adam), and from him (Adam) He created his wife [Hawwa (Eve)], and from them both He created many men and women and fear Allah through Whom you demand your mutual (rights), and (do not cut the relations of) the wombs (kinship). Surely, Allah is Ever an All-Watcher over you”.

    (Translation by Muhsin Khan)

     

    Dr. Aisha Hamdan in her parenting book (as cited in the preceding paragraph), had elaborated on this point rather beautifully. Since iman is what lies in the heart and to be meant as a “sincere faith” in the six pillars of iman, a child who is nurtured with iman will make a choice in his or her life from within instead of due to the external influences. And with iman in the heart, a child’s actions are directed towards reaping for Allah’s pleasure instead of seeking for worldly gains. Not only children, a husband and wife who have iman will be wary of their conducts and ensure that what they are doing are in line with what their faith preaches. With iman, the structure of a Muslim family is sturdy and firm, and without it, just like a house with broken pillars, it will inevitably collapse and crush to pieces. As iman is the basic foundation of the life of a human being, it is the most crucial element that needs to be instilled in one’s own family.

     

    ‘Aqeedah

    Next, according to the writers of the article, the second element of a Muslim model of a happy family is ‘aqeedah. And this is based on Yusuf Qasim in his book called “Huquq al-‘Usrah fi al-Fiqh al-Islami”. The writers said that the strength of one’s iman is very much connected with the soundness of the ‘aqeedah of each and every individual Muslim including a husband and wife. And the ‘aqeedah is considered as sound and strong when a person’s ‘aqeedah is based on a firm faith and trust in the existence of Allah, in line with the teachings of the Qur’an and Sunnah, and to refrain from associating Allah with anything else (syirk) as well as a firm belief in the perfect traits/characteristics of Allah.

     

    A verse in the Qur’an which reflects the call for a true ‘aqeedah is as laid down in Surah al-A’raf, verse 59, whereby Allah says:

    We had certainly sent Noah to his people, and he said, “O my people, worship Allah; you have no deity other than Him. Indeed, I fear for you the punishment of a tremendous Day.

     (Translation by Muhsin Khan)

     

    According to Dr. Aisha Hamdan, ‘aqa’id (the plural for ‘aqeedah) connote “those things that people’s hearts affirm and believe in; things that people accept as true”. In elaborating about the relationship between ‘aqeedah and iman, she wrote that iman is founded and based on ‘aqeedah and the connection between ‘aqeedah, iman and family-building is that the existence of these two elements will be some sort of a compass which would direct the hearts of all the entities in a family unit to lead their lives with a sincere intention to please Allah, and to duly follow His commandments because of Him and not to please anybody else, as Allah says in Surah Al-Baqarah verse 165 that: “… those who believe are stronger in love for Allah…”.

     

    ‘Ilm

    The next element is ‘ilm, and this is based on what was written by Yusuf Qaradawi, in his book called “Fi Tariq ila Allah”. According to the writers of the article, knowledge is the most essential precondition in attaining happiness as every single thing in this world needs to be based upon knowledge. As a Muslim who is knowledgeable, he/she needs to act according to what he/she is taught or has learned, especially in being fearful to God (taqwa). As Allah says in the Qur’an, in verse 28 of Surah Faatir:

    …It is only those who have knowledge among His slaves that fear Allah…

    (Translation by Muhsin Khan)

     

    Seeking and possessing knowledge are very much needed in building a happy and blessed Muslim family as knowledge will drive us to “which is true in life-to the straight path,” as written by Dr. Aisha Hamdan on “the importance of knowledge”.

     

    CONCLUSION

    To conclude the first part of this discussion, by having a profound understanding of the true concept of marriage in Islam, and the underlying objectives that a Muslim marriage aims to achieve, both husband and wife will have a clearer outlook on how they should direct their lives, in becoming righteous servants of Allah and in playing their roles as husband and wife and future parents for their children. The first three essential ingredients in building a happy and blessed Muslim family which are highlighted in this present article, concern with the inner souls and minds of human beings. Despite their intangible nature, iman, ‘aqeedah and ‘ilm are three key-ingredients that need to be strengthened first and foremost, as they lay the basic foundation in building the blocks of a successful marriage or even family life from the Islamic perspective. Without these three, a marriage or even a family life will lose its Islamic essence and true happiness will never be achieved. Wallahu a’lam.