By IsholAa Balogun
The basic and most essential attribute of a Muslim marriage is faith which nurtures love and breeds persevearance. Since Islam is a way of life and not just a religion confined to daily worship, faith about the omniscient God, about how He direct our affairs becomes an integral part of a Muslim’s life.
The frame of reference shared by the couple eases communication and sharing of values which is not possible in an interfaith marriage.
There must be an interconnection of beliefs in both husband and wife. That is why it is recommended by the prophet that above all other consideration for choosing a partner, person of the same faith and belief must be considered first. It is that faith that will build all other necessary ingredients for sustainable relationship.
Love is highly recommended for it plays an important role in the developing a good relationship. For example, as the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) said, that when a husband feeds his wife, he gets a reward for this act and Allah increases the bond of love between them. So when we love each other for the sake of Allah we actually increase our faith.
Forgiveness: When the Prophet asked his Companions ‘do you wish that Allah should forgive you’ they responded in the affirmative and he responded, ‘then forgive each other’. One of the main components of a happy marriage is that the spouses are able to forgive, that they do not hold grudges or judgmental acts towards each other.
It is expected that when we live with someone, situations may arise when we end up saying or doing things that hurt our spouses. The challenge is not to dwell on it or lay blame but to move past it. This can only happen if we are not too proud to ask for forgiveness and we are not mean to forgive. If we expect Allah to forgive us, then we must learn to forgive.
Forget: When we constantly remind our spouses of all the times they let us down or hurt us we have not truly forgiven. Things that happened in the past must be left there and not be used as fresh alibi in new situations. Couples who use this technique usually become victims of their own pettiness.
Forbearance: Sabr (patience) is the most useful tool in managing a healthy lifestyle. Being patient and forbearing puts us in a proactive frame of mind; it brings us closer to Allah. We develop an inner mechanism that empowers us to handle life’s difficult moments.
As Allah states in Surah al Asr: “Surely by time humans are at loss, except those who believe and do righteous deeds and counsel each other to the truth and counsel each other to Sabr’ (Quran, chapter 103).
Flexible: Many couples unnecessarily make themselves miserable because they are unwilling to bend a little. We should not expect our spouses to be our extensions. They are their own selves with personalities, likes and dislikes.
We must respect their right to be them selves as long as it does not compromise their religion. Being inflexible and not accommodating for individual differences leads to a very stressful and tense home atmosphere.
Friendship: This aspect of marriage has three components.
First is to develop a friendship with our spouses. A relationship based on friendship is more able to withstand outside pressures.
We honor, trust, respect, accept and care for our friends, in spite of our differences. These are the aspects of friendship we should bring to our marriages.
Unfortunately the only aspect that people think of bringing to their marriage which is highly inappropriate is the buddy scenario. Shariah (Islamic law) has placed the husband in a leadership role within a family. This requires a certain decorum, which cannot be maintained unless the spouses consider themselves as pals.
The husband is never a dictator but a shepherd who is responsible for and to his flock. This is a position of grave responsibility and places an enormous burden on the husband. Further more the children need to see their parents as friends but not as pals as this encourages disrespect.
Friendliness: Second aspect of friendship is to have friendly relations with in-laws. When couples compete as to whose parents are more important it becomes a constant source of grief. Much valuable time is wasted trying to convince, one another of whose parents are most desirable.
It is better if we accept, that our spouses will not overnight fall in love with our parents just because we want them to. As long as they maintain friendly relations that are cordial and based on mutual respect we should not force the issue.
The third aspect of friendship is our circle of friends. It is okay to have individual friends of the same gender but couples must also make effort to have family friends so that they can socialize together.
If there is friction being caused by a certain friendship, it must not be pursued at the expense of the marriage. Prophet Muhammad advised us to choose God fearing people as friends since we tend to follow their way. Friends should be a source of joy and not mischief.
Fun: Couples that do not laugh together have to work on sharing some funny moments. The Prophet was known to play with his wives. A simple walk in the park can add much spark to the relationship. Taking up a sport together or watching clean funny movies is another way of sharing fun.