Author: Rahma K
We keep hearing how the fabric of family life is being tattered nowadays by the onslaught of the media, which attacks its very foundation with sleazy soap operas and fantastically idealistic movies. So I was naturally concerned when someone close to me was getting married recently. I thought that because I am almost a decade her senior, I could easily get away with giving some advice, whether welcome or not.
The motherly instinct in me wanted to save my baby sister from all the mistakes I had made when I got married. We want the best for our loved ones and wish heartily they can learn from our experiences and lead a tension free life. Obviously a perfect life doesn’t really happen, for Allah has chosen certain trials and tribulations for each one of us, so as to guide us to Him (subhanu wa tala) and so friction in relationships is part and parcel of life but my hope was that my advice would come in handy when dealing with rough times.
Now, there was so much I wanted to tell her but where to start? I thought about writing to her and pouring my heart out so as to make her realize the significance of this crucial time. Like most girls of her age she was entering the grave institution of marriage with a long string of dreams in her heart, without knowing that first the knot to this string had to be fastened securely in order for her to be able to wear it; that a ‘happy ever after’ could follow only after some hard work and sacrifice.
I reminded myself of the hadith of our Prophet where he told us how the most favourite pastime of Shaitaan and his allies is to break a marriage, and what better time to do it than the beginning of this relationship when the bond is fragile. I knew I had to help her keep her feet on the ground a bit. She was a part of me after all so how could I see her suffer later and not blame myself for not having warned her in time.
So, choosing my words wisely I decided to be very precise in my counsel. I did not want her to get lost in the rhetoric and lose the essence of my advice. Whether I was able to convey my love, regard and above all concern for her is something I will only know in time, as events in her life unfold, but I will share with you here the essence of it in the hope that it will benefit someone in similar circumstances.
1. Being Wise.
I know Hollywood tells us otherwise but don’t be frivolous and whimsical when you enter the sacred institution of matrimony. Be wise, talk less, listen more, observe, evaluate, assess before you delve too deep into the relationship because slow and steady wins the race. Marriage is not a love affair that lasts a few years at best, it’s a relationship for a life time and needs a lot of time and work. Its foundations have to be properly, securely and meticulously laid so that a strong structure of commitment can be erected.
2. Giving Before Taking.
Learn to give before you demand. Relationships are about ‘us’, not ‘me’, so how can a relationship develop where the focus of the spouses is just ‘me’? I told my sister if you want the nature of your relationship to be based on ‘us’ than take the initiative in giving, rather than waiting for your husband to do it first. Initially, keep your focus on him, what he wants instead of what you want, give in to his likes and dislikes and if he is a good human being he will naturally respond in kind. If he doesn’t do that, then expect you rewards with Allah for He makes a beautiful promise in a hadith of our prophet (peace be upon him) where he said:
“If a woman dies while her husband was pleased with her, she will enter Paradise’ (Tirmidhi)
However, this does not mean you should let your spouse walk all over you, or that you should put up with unreasonably degrading or extremely harsh behaviour. My only point is that just like an entrepreneur engages all his efforts, time, assets and resources in a business for best returns, a relationship cannot give us anything back unless we invest the best in it. So just do your part well and invest the best of you in your marriage.
3. God Consciousness.
God Consciousness is something that has the power to beautify any relationship it touches. This means you realize that no matter what others are doing to you, you are answerable for your own deeds and behaviour. So even when you feel you are being wronged, you don’t react in kind because you know you will have your own reckoning with Allah and retaliation will not be accepted as an excuse with Him. Before you feel degraded and start lashing out remember this hadith of our prophet (peace be upon him):
“Allah will not increase His servant except in honour. No one humbles himself for the sake of Allah, but Allah will raise his status.’ (Muslim)
God Consciousness (I would have said ‘fear of Allah’ if I was that pious) is what kept my eyes focused more on my own mistakes and faults rather than my spouse’s, which in turn, saved me during times of miscommunication and misunderstanding, which are a part and parcel of any relationship, and eased the unnecessary burdens of self-pity and depression. After the initial emotionally charged reactions, it would make me rise above my ego and analyze any altercation with my spouse in a neutral light. Alhumdullilah not only my relationship became better as a result but also my character.
4. Maintain Your Connection With Allah.
This God Consciousness doesn’t happen without connecting to Allah and so turn to Allah in times of stress whether it’s a small matter or a grave one. Ask Him for His help rather than anyone else. Humans are humans and due to their weaknesses can hardly ever help and at best might give the wrong advice but Allah can never misguide and never forsake the one who seeks help.
So ask Allah in istikhara with any big or small altercations, rather than discussing your problems with people. This naturally protects a new born and fragile relationship between spouses from the evil of an interfering circle of relatives. However, if the matter is too grave or complicated for your comprehension then after istikhara one can seek sound advice from a pious and righteous family member or friend.
So now my baby sister is out there, on her own, with this bit of advice from someone who loves her and wants the best for her. But if only she follows this advice and believes that someone ‘Who’ (Allah) loves her the most is always out there for her and that she is never really on her own, then how much ease and contentment will fill her life. It really boils down to what kind of relationship we have with our Creator because any other relationship is a reflection of that.
“And of His signs is that He created for you from yourselves mates that you may find tranquility in them; and He placed between you affection and mercy. Indeed in that are signs for a people who reflect”.
….Where Practice Makes Perfect
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