Sunday, July 31, 2016

Nurturing Love in Marriage is Essential

By HaqqSeeker (Source: MuslimVillage)

The bond connecting spouses can be said to be made up of numerous threads, each thread representing a human virtue. These threads are woven together to form a bond between the spouses that keeps them together through the years.
It is very essential not only to keep that bond everlasting but to make every effort to strengthen it as well. The success of a marriage is based on the strength of this bond. The biggest mistake that couples make is to take their bond for granted, assuming that their connection will stay strong because they love each other or with the passing of the time they will get more attached to each other. But they don't have an ‘intentional strategy’ to maintain the strength of their union.
It may be said that there are five principal threads of human virtue that we have to work on very hard to keep the marriage robust and fiery. First and the foremost among these threads is love. A pleasant surprise is that the initials of the four subsequent threads that greatly help to keep the marriage thrive come together to form the word LOVE. They are: Loyalty, Openness, Variety, and Endurance. There are many other threads also that further strengthen the bond but these can be seen as the most fundamental.
Let us now examine each of these five threads.
LoveOne of the greatest bounties that Allāh, with his infinite mercy, has presented to us is loveThough the word love is very easy on our tongue, it has tremendous significance in our life.
Literally, the word ‘love’ means a feeling of strong or constant affection for a person. It can also be a virtue representing human kindness, compassion and affection. Love is also a feeling of complete bliss and peace, a source of immense pleasure and the most beautiful thing that cannot be seen or even heard yet it has such soothing powers that it cannot only warm our hearts but can also take us to a different world altogether.
Just imagine what life would have been like if love were absent from this earth. The aridity, the boredom, the discord, the hostility and the weariness would have been enough to take us close to our death even before its time.
Love has a very unique and lofty position in a marriage and its presence in our married life is totally indispensable. Islam also has given great prominence to love between spouses as can be seen in the extract given below taken from ‘The Bond of Holy Love’ by Hazrat Maulana Ahmad Sadeq Desai:
Even lifting a morsel of food to the mouth of the wife has been given the significance of ‘ibādat(worship). It is an act of love by which the husband derives thawāb (reward in the Hereafter).

It was part of the Uswāh Hasanāh (Noble and beautiful Character) of Rasulullāh sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam to engage in light-hearted talk with his wives. Hadhrat Abu Hurāirah (radhiallāhu ‘anhu) said:

“Allah loves a man who caresses his wife. Both of them are awarded thawāb because of this loving attitude and their rizq (worldly provision and earning) is increased.”
Loyalty: The importance of loyalty in a blissful marriage cannot be overemphasized. Where there is true love between spouses, loyalty can easily find its way. However, the standard of loyalty should be such that you are always confident that come what may your spouse will never betray you and vice versa.
In the modern times, and especially after the advent of the social networks, interacting with members of the opposite sex has become very common. People tend to connect with their ‘exes’ and also with other ghair-mahram persons without any restraint. We have to be aware that such actions constitute a breach of loyalty towards our spouses.
The virtue of loyalty also includes seeking to create a space of comfort and security in your relationships, making your spouse feel loved and cared for, lending a hand to your spouse,trying to remember all that your spouse has done and is doing for you. At times we tend to take for granted the repeated acts and services our spouses are providing to us to make our life easy and comfortable.
Being loyal to your spouse also means treasuring the beautiful moments you have spent with your spouse and looking forward to a more dazzling future life, with sincere optimism that insha Allāh you will come even closer to each other.
Openness: This is an important factor and there is no compromise regarding it. Keep communication lines open between the two of you. Don’t keep secrets and try your best to let each other know about the innermost feelings and sentiments. If something is bothering you, let your spouse know about it. If you have questions, ask your spouse in a calm and pleasant manner. Don’t be too inquisitive like you are making an interrogation based on unfounded suspicions. Just be honest and sincere about your thoughts and encourage your spouse to do the same.
Variety: Monotony in life can at times be very frustrating. That is why we have to spice our life with variety. Variety keeps boredom at bay. Someone once said, “Nothing is pleasant that is not spiced with variety.” If love keeps the marriage alive then variety keeps it lively. For this reason, we should not neglect the process of trying new ideas to keep the marriage flourishing. The wife has to use her ingenuity to introduce new dishes in her menu. She should also see that she avoids repetitiveness in the way she dresses up and gets ready to receive her husband when he comes back from work. The husband in turn should reciprocate by greeting her in a novel way every time he returns home. Also, bringing an occasional gift can work wonders.
Your spouse should not become accustomed to seeing one monotonously repetitive site: you being totally engrossed in your smartphone. When your spouse is with you see that you take a temporary ‘separation’ from your smartphone. No matter how much you are attached to your smartphone you have to give top priority to your spouse.
Endurance: The Islamic term for endurance is ‘Sabr’. Sabr is undoubtedly one of the most useful qualities for a blissful married life. Most people who get married have high expectations about their spouses and about the life after marriage. As soon as the honeymoon is over and the realities of the life catch up with them they realise it is not all the bed of roses they had anticipated. Some very unpleasant and uncompromising traits in a spouse can make life for both parties uneasy or unpleasant. Then there are some marriages wherein the in-laws make life difficult for the newly wedded ladies. It is very important at this juncture that both of you must have time to sit together and try to work out ways to resolve your issues. You must encourage each other to have patience and try to work things out calmly. Also, when the husband loses his temper the wife should try to restrain herself and likewise when she flares up he should try to remain calm and composed.
We have all had moments when we wished our spouse was thinner, wealthier, more romantic, and so on. Take a look at your expectations and ask yourself how realistic they are. Unrealistic expectations lead to chronic frustration, which is one of the main reasons marriages fail. Rather than simmering in such expectations, observe your spouse closely to appreciate qualities that are unique to him or her that you might have overlooked.
This is also the time when the virtue of Sabr becomes very helpful. There are many verses in Qur’ān and numerous ahādith that stress the importance of adopting the noble quality of Sabr. Being patient and forbearing brings us closer to Allāh and with His Grace He rewards us by developing in us previously unattainable heights of insight which empowers us to handle life's difficult moments.
Remember, every difficult moment in our life is like an oyster and there is a precious pearl lying hidden in it.
The Strongest Thread
The thread that makes your bond the strongest has only been addressed briefly in the forgoing. Can you guess which one it is?
It is your connection with Allāh Mighty and Majestic!
To establish this connection, you have to have the noble qualities of taqwā (piety and fear of Allāh) and tawakkul (reliance on Him) in you.
Be abundant in du’ā (supplication) asking Him to bless your marriage, to keep your marriage safe from every calamity - whether big or small, and to make it easy for you and your spouse to follow the mubārak (blessed) Sunnāh of the Prophet (Nabi) Muhammad (Allāh bless him and grant him peace).
In conclusion here are two points of advice, for those who wish to embark on the journaey of marriage, that will facilitate all of the forgoing insha Allāh:
  • The Spouse: Choose a spouse who has Taqwā (piety and fear of Allāh). To have such a spouse you have got to develop this quality in you. It is then that Allah will open ways for you to have such a spouse.
  • The Wedding: Do you want blessings and barakāh to be showered in your marriage? Do you want to have true love between you and your spouse flourishing throughout your married life? It is very easy and the least expensive: have the wedding the Sunnāh way! If you have a lavish wedding where commands of Allāh are violated openly and without any reservations and where the Sunnāh of His Beloved Messenger (Allāh bless him and grant him peace) is nothing more than mere ‘window dressing’ then there is no guarantee whatsoever that your marriage will last long and if it does then it will be void of the barakāh and the blessings.
And Allāh Most High Knows Best.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Abrahamic Morality in America

By Qays Arthur

“Say: ‘Come, I will recite unto you that which your Lord hath made a sacred duty for you: That ye ascribe no thing as partner unto Him and that ye do good to parents, and that ye slay not your children because of penury - We provide for you and for them - and that ye draw not nigh to lewd things whether open or concealed. And that ye slay not the life which Allah hath made sacred, save in the course of justice. This He hath command you, in order that ye may discern.” (Quran 6:151)
Since last week’s massacre in Orlando the internet and public discourse in general have been awash in all sorts of arguments and discussions, of varying degrees of relevance, about counter terrorism, gun control, increased powers for security agencies, and “Mawzlems” who visit terror “hot spots” (i.e. countries of origin or of religious significance). Within the embattled and increasingly visible Muslim community some seemed more disturbed about the prospect of a “backlash” than anything else. Others looked at foreign policy issues while yet others, for some bizarre reason, sought to “shed light” on abstruse details of Islamic legal theory from medieval legal texts such as the distinction between discretionary versus textually stipulated capital punishments.
Yet what caught my attention amidst the deluge of mandatory condemnations and expressions of outrage was the tone and overall message from prominent sections of the American Muslim community, both advocacy and religious groupings.
What I observed from the statements of many if not most Muslim leaders who are in the public sphere was a demonstration of just how “mainstream” the rhetoric of the Muslim community's leadership appears to be. Particularly worrying was one message that mentioned “Abrahamic morality” though not so much, it seems, by way of unambiguously affirming it and demonstrating how the massacre was a profound betrayal of it, as by way of advocating and indeed normalizing its subordination to some other kind of morality ostensibly based on “diversity”, “social justice”, and other doctrines held dear by the American political left and that are apparently, as if by default, “Islamic”. And that was the religious groupings, indeed some Muslim advocacy groups went a step further and actually declared themselves to be standing “shoulder to shoulder” in solidarity with, what I understand are now called, LGBTQ2 groupings.
That posture, if I've apprehended it correctly, is undoubtedly the result of decades of leadership which have seen the Muslim community become more and more committed to the political left in that nation. Whatever the causes of that relationship may be, its apparent cost is unfortunate and unsettling particularly as it relates to the religious leadership. I say that because the massacre in Orlando, where it is absolutely clear that homosexuals were the target and almost as clear that the perpetrator was one himself, most certainly demonstrates, if nothing else, a profound moral failing not only on the part of the shooter but of the society itself. This mass murder, said to be the biggest in recent memory, has, after all, come on the heels, in historical terms, of the Obergefell v. Hodges case, a landmark triumph of advocacy and social experimentation which remains as emblematic of America’s deep moral confusion as it is of the inevitable political and social divides that must result from such confusion.
Were the crime perpetrated by a member of another, perhaps more indigenous, faith the terrorism “angle” would conceivably have been much less prominent likely in favor of an “America divided” one. While I can’t say that with certainty it does seem plausible. As it stands many media and even so-called global intelligence outlets, representative of America’s political right, are going to ridiculous lengths to cast ‘Umra trips and Facebook rants as “evidence” of the “radicalization” of a man who was actually investigated and cleared by the FBI, a professional organization that obviously gets far more things right than wrong about America’s security.
When one contrasts the right’s attempts to externalize Orlando as an attack from without with the left’s attempts to reduce it to violations of their own sacred moral and political doctrines, like diversity and inclusion (with the Muslim community firmly in tow), the true significance of the crime and its social impact emerge.
The Orlando Massacre and the incoherent, often bitter, and divisive wrangling that it has amplified are alarming signals that America is under threat and in danger though not nearly so much from ISIS or the proliferation of guns as from its own moral confusion and crippling political divisions.
To the extent that that is true, the very last thing America needs from its Muslims is the kind of timidity that results in representing one side of America’s polarized political discourse as the correct and truly American (and “Islamic”) side despite many of that side's values being in opposition to Abrahamic morality, so clearly spelled out in the verse quoted above, which is rooted in uncompromising monotheism and values such as decency, chastity and the integrity of the family. Such a stance would not only perpetuate America's moral confusion and political divisions but would also be profoundly unprincipled.
I should thus implore American Muslim leaders to not advocate to their fellow Americans, as it seems they may be unwittingly doing, that Abrahamic morality is merely a choice, even for Muslims. That is already fact in America today. It is the status quo that doesn't need advocacy. I should instead implore those leaders to advocate, by all lawful means, and with other like-minded citizens, that Abrahamic morality is a moral imperative which when compromised or abandoned, as it was by the perpetrator of the Orlando Massacre, can have appalling consequences.
And for those Americans who may be wondering what locus standi have I to thus implore them I would hasten to point out that the outcomes of America's internal moral, social, and legal debates do find, at times, unfavorable expression in the social, and legal affairs of other nations. I would also point out that as a Muslim I have a duty to assist my brethren when it seems they are erring. And so I am duty bound to remind my brothers in faith of the imperative to serve the morality of Abraham (peace be upon him) above any other, however dated, un-trendy, or politically inexpedient it may appear at any given moment in history. For that morality is part of the raison d'etre for the Umma in whole and in part, wherever it may be, whether in America or anywhere else.