Marriage is a sacred bond…
Entered into by two people who are committed in their goal to fulfil the Sunnah and attain the pleasure of their creator.
It is also a natural human impulse to want to share your life with someone special and create a family.
When everything is new, it is easy to remain enthusiastic, but the reality is that somehow along the way in that journey, many people lose sight of the beauty in a good marriage and fall into negative patterns.
The truth is that the bond between a husband and wife in Islam is something that needs to be grown and cultivated with equal effort from both sides.
Whether you are just beginning your marital journey or you are looking for ways to add value to a long-standing marriage, here are…
Aisha (RA) reported that she was with Allah’s messenger during a journey. She said, “I was not bulky”. He told his companions to move forward and they did. He then told me: “Come and race me”. I raced him on foot and I beat him. But, on another journey, when I became bulky, he asked me to race him. I raced him and he beat me. He started laughing and said: “This makes up for that beating”.
When it comes to love and marriage, there really is no greater gift that you can give your spouse than taking some time to be present to them and their needs.
It is easy to get caught up in daily living. Pressures of the modern day often mean that not just husbands but also wives are now part of the workforce. This means that time for nurturing the marriage is often at a premium. Yes, it may be challenging, but it is of vital importance to set aside time, not just for the normal daily activities and children, but with each other as man and wife. It is this primary bond that will build the foundation of the family, so it has to be nurtured. Take drives, go out on walks, and even sit back at the end of the evening with a cup of tea or coffee to have a meaningful conversation.
“And of His signs is that He has created spouses for yourselves from your own selves so you might take comfort in them and He has created love and mercy among both of you. In this there is evidence (of the truth) for the people who (carefully) think.” (Surah 30, Verse 21).
Love and mercy should be the hallmarks of any solid marriage and relationship. We see that it is stipulated within the scriptures. But is this truly what is practised in modern daily life?
The truth is that once you are in a routine, with a person that you’ve been married to for a while, it is easy to take certain acts of kindness for granted. That extra snack that your wife packs into your lunchbox or when your husband agrees to take the children away so that you can have time at your Mum’s place, can all seem mandatory and expected. However if you think about it, your life would become more challenging if you didn’t have that in place. Just taking the time to articulate the words ‘thank you’ between a husband and wife in Islam, is a good start. You can also express your gratitude through acts of consideration, doing something thoughtful or using your own perception to do something meaningful for your partner.
Sayyiduna Ibn Abbās radiallahu anhu said: “As my wife adorns herself for me, I adorn myself for her. I do not want to take all of my rights from her so that she will not take all of her rights from me because Allah, the Exalted, stated the following: “And women shall have rights similar to the rights against them.” (Qur῾ān2 :228.)
Dress in good clothing, keep your personal hygiene in check, and always remember that your spouse is a deserving recipient of your best. Marriage can be a complex situation at times, but there are still basic principles of a man and woman and attraction at play in a husband and wife relationship in Islam and an effort made in this department can help strengthen the marital bond. A good scent, a clean body, good dress, and some makeup and accessories for the ladies all communicate to your spouse that you have a positive attitude about yourself and that you respect your marriage enough to make the effort. Men must also make the effort to be well-groomed to the best of their ability.
The Prophet (sall Allahu alaihe wa sallam) stated, “Allah is pleased when a husband plays with his wife, due to this he fixes thawaab (good reward) for them or he establishes halal rizq (lawful sustenance) for them.” (Al-Ifsah Ibn Hajr Haithami)
From an Islamic perspective, marriage is treated with the utmost solemnity. However, this does not mean that fun within the marriage context should not be had.
As much as marriage can fall into a routine, it is important that as a couple you two retain the identity of man and wife. Before the two of you may have become mum and dad, you were both each other’s sweethearts and it is important to retain that identity and grow the love that exists there. Play games, eat out at your favourite restaurants, and get the heart rate up with some fun adrenaline -filled sport. Create a buzz that you will remember and talk about for years to come.
“Be kind towards your women. Take heed! You have rights over your women and your women also have rights over you. Their rights over you are that you provide food and clothing for them in good faith. Your rights over them are that they do not allow and nor do they give permission, for people to trespass into your house whose presence you dislike.”
There is an understanding from this Hadith and the essence of that understanding is that there are rights and responsibilities that exist between men and women. A man must take the helm as a provider, but equally, a woman needs to close ranks and protect the home from any presence that may threaten it.
It is through this synergy and language of give and take that strong marriage is built upon. Love and a successful marriage are defined by kindness and acts of giving between a husband and wife in Islam. At times, we give in kind, such as giving our love, time, effort, energy, imagination and compassion and that is enough. However, there are other times when a well-timed present makes a person feel that much more special. Slip that special ‘I love you’ note into your spouse’s wallet. Get him or her, their favourite attar or book they would like to read. Contrary to what it may seem like, these are not necessarily material expressions of love. What it does convey, is that you took the time to observe and listen to your partners needs and found ways to meet them, which is in itself an ideal way to endear yourself to your partner.
The Prophet (sall Allahu alaihe wa sallam) said, “I severely dislike that woman who puts her cloak on and leaves the home in order to complain about her husband.” (Tabrani, Haithami)
If indeed your marriage has come to the point, where you feel that you need to go outside of the home to vent and complain about your spouse, perhaps it might be time to re-examine your methods of communication.
Consider taking the time to discuss feelings and emotions. Both men and women are different in the ways in which they feel and interpret behaviour. Women are often known for being the more vocal sort, needing to communicate with and connect to the people who inhabit their world. On the other hand, men may be the strong silent type, who internalise their feelings rather than expressing them.
While there are exceptions to every rule, there has to be a safe space between couples that allow for those feelings to surface. Make sure conversations are constructive, rather than destructive. Speak from a place of building rather than breaking down. As husband and wife in Islam, you should always speak about how you feel and don’t just express displeasure but also speak of your joys and successes.
Narrated AbuHurayrah: When the Prophet (peace be upon him) congratulated a man on his marriage, he said: May Allah bless for you, and may He bless on you, and combine both of you in good (works).
Sunan of Abu Dawood – Book 11 Hadith 2125
From this narration of hadith, it is evident that each partner needs to take responsibility for the attitude and the actions that they bring to the table in married life. The good works referred to isn’t necessarily a reference just to actions and deeds, but also to acting in good faith and good spirit toward one another.
They say that in this life, your experience is based exactly on what you give. If this is the case, what type of energy are you bringing to the table? When it comes to marriage our approach needs to be equally as awakened and careful. A note to every Muslim husband and wife: to women, be tender in your approach, men; try to be more accommodating of minor mishaps and mistakes that your wife might make. No matter what challenges a marriage may be faced with if you change from the sour, frustrated, heavy attitude to a more pleasant demeanour it makes a world of difference to the general view of the marriage.
“The most perfect believer in faith is the one whose character is finest and who is kindest to his wife.” Hadith
Love and marriage thrive under positive action. Kindness, care and consideration to the marriage will all amount to a healthy dose of energy towards building a better bond.
Take that leave that you’ve been putting off. For just one evening in the week, skip gym and get home a little earlier to your wife. Ladies, meet your husband in the middle of a work day for a lunch date. Most importantly speak to your spouse in the quiet times about acts of spontaneity that would add value to their lives. Then make it a part of the marriage ‘bucket-list’ to go about adding those highlights to their lives.
When you are tired from the rigours of daily living and feel overwhelmed by the number of commitments on your plate, just remember that all it takes is one of you to do something exciting and kind to start a positive chain reaction.
“They (your wives) are a clothing (covering) for you and you too are a clothing (covering) for them.” (Surah 2, Verse 187)
What this essentially means, is that each marriage partner has the responsibility to protect the other’s honour. Marriage is the ultimate act of team work. One of the best examples of this is seen through Prophet Muhammad (sall Allahu alaihe wa sallam) and Sayyidah Khadijah R.A, who were in fact the ultimate team.
With this in mind, protect your partner, speak positivity into their life. Remember that you are not just a marital partner, but the other half of a winning team. Inshallah, your marriage is a growing asset and foundation upon which you will raise wonderful children and fulfil the goals of half of your deen. Bearing this in mind, you owe it yourself and your marriage to fuel your mind with positives and how you do this is by reinforcing the good times. Speak about your joys, talk about those things that make you both laugh, highlight each other’s positive attributes and qualities. It is in this manner that you give your marriage a firm foundation to stand upon.
Narrated by Thawban: When (the wahi) “And those who hoard gold and silver” came down they were with the Prophet (sall Allahu alaihe wa sallam) on one of his journeys. One of his companions said, “It has come down about gold and silver. Would that we knew which property is best so that we might acquire it!” He replied, “The best property is a tongue which mentions Allah, a grateful heart, and a believing wife who helps a man with his faith.”
Ahmad, Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah transmitted it.
[Al-Tirmidhi – Hadith 2275]
For all the trappings of the world and the outside perceptions that we worry about, what is it that truly matters? We go about our daily lives, worrying about finance, and the glitter of coins and what our neighbours think of us. By doing so, we end up moving further and further away from who we are supposed to be and what is important.
Accept your spouse for who they are. Be present in the relationship and the marriage that you have built. Simply put, what this means is accepting your spouse and allowing them the space to be themselves. Too often in marriages, one or the other spouse tends to dominate, scold or belittle the other in front of guests and the children just to keep up appearances. Such behaviour places a damper on the spirit of the marriage. Yes, there may be aspects in the other that cause you irritation, but the truth is that variety is the spice of life. If you really have a problem with the way your husband slurps his soup or if you find your wife’s laughter to be a little too high-pitched at a social gathering, quietly and lovingly address such issues away from the public eye. Remember that the purpose of a journey in marriage is to grow together and part of that is allowing your loved one to be true to who they are.
When all is said and done, there are a number of ways in which to add positivity to a marriage. Often, the ‘spice’ that is missing in a marriage comes in the simple form of being kinder, listening more and taking the other’s thoughts and feelings into consideration. Try some of these smaller acts and tips and see how you can bring the care, compassion and lustre back to your marriage.
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Also, if you have your own tips to share with me, put them up in the comments section below. Or just let me know what you think of the tips I shared.
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Irfan Ullah Khan is the CEO and Co-Founder of Happy Muslim Family, an online platform that helps Muslim spouses achieve happiness in their marriage by adopting the beautiful Islamic ahkam related to family. He is also the author of two books "Better Love with Better Half" and "How to Become the Ideal Muslim Parent".