Will you marry me?
Marriage. The old ball and chain? Or perhaps the day you’ve been waiting for all your life. Maybe it shows you that you’re finally committed to the special someone you “love” for better or for worse, rich or poor (after many years trying to find that right partner, and “test driving” them!) Or to be more up to date – people marrying for money, or to get into high society. Or maybe it’s something you are dreading that will happen to you. Whatever your reason for getting hitched, there is one thing that worries people more than the marriage itself… how long will it last? What if it ends? And what if you have children? How will you bring them up? Will they go through the same cycle of messing about, drugs, drinks and broken relationships that we went through? Doesn’t it seem to get worse each year?
They think it’s all over… it is now.
Marriages seem to be over before they’ve even begun. Broken families are common. Britain has the highest rate of teenage mothers in the world. It’s the most common thing to see a teenage mother pushing her buggy and trying to get onto the bus. Half of people getting married now end in divorce. With a society that chases freedom, individualism and the constant search for the next sexual high – we find that affairs, loss of interest, careers and just the feeling that “the grass is greener on the other side” has been responsible for many marriages breaking down. It’s these damaging ideas that are the cause of all these problems. These ideas have also started affecting the Muslim families as well – and we can see the same problems of divorce, broken families and teenage pregnancies rising every year amongst Muslim families. So now it may be the girl pushing the pram is your Muslim sister. Thing is not to hate on her, but why is this happening? Why are Muslims beginning to think the same way about their relationships? Does Islam have any way of preventing this?
The issue of families breaking down this way has serious consequences – think of all the children in-between a messy divorce or growing up with only one parent. Not only that, but the break up of the family has wider and more damaging effects on the rest of society. A recent Breakdown Britain report on this issue says “70% of young offenders come from lone-parent families and levels of anti-social behaviour and delinquency are higher in children from separated families. Children from broken homes were 75% more likely to fail in education and that leads to problems of drug addiction and failure and dependency”.
To top it off, a recent UNICEF report has listed Britain as the worst country for a child in the Developed World. Children were also asked to say whether they were happy. “The U.K. ranks poorly in factors such as quality of relationships, behaviour, health and safety, according to the report this country has the worst levels of youth drunkenness and teenage sexual relations.”
We can see that the break up of the family and home has resulted in causing the current problems that youth in this “dog-eat-dog” society become victim to, including Muslims.
So the drunken youth, who is blingin and getting done with his Julie is a product of the society that he’s grown up in – a society that turns beautiful young girls into pregnant single mothers and innocent boys into gun and girl chasing thugs. We’re a product of the environment that has made us – and without the strong, loving Islamic and complete family we’re open for the negative elements of society to become our real parents – lust, freedom, money chasing, gangs and the streets… with parents like this is it any wonder the youth are turning out this way?
Can the Islamic marriage solve all these problems? Let’s clear one thing first – Muslims aren’t angels. And just cos you stick to an Islamic marriage model doesn’t mean you won’t have any problems – but as a community and society – the model of an Islamic marriage does prevent many of the issues we see today. This is because at the core of the Islamic relationship, marriage and home is the belief that we are here to worship Almighty Allah and he is watching all that we do. Islam is the source of how we look at the world, our problems and our solutions. Allah, who created man, knows mankind (men, women and children) best and what problems we can have. Allah knows the feelings, emotions and thoughts we are capable of. It’s because of this that Allah is the best source of solutions for our problems in life.
Home of happiness.
So how does Islam solve these problems then? Well there are many different problems and therefore many different solutions. Firstly it’s in the way Islam views marriage and the whole issue of family life. People wishing to get married, enter it knowing the seriousness of the action they’re about to take. Also in Islam divorce is not something to be taken lightly, it is a last resort. All a Muslim’s actions are done for the pleasure of Allah and on this issue of divorce the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) said: “Of all the permitted things divorce is the most hated by God.” and “Marry and do not divorce, undoubtedly the throne of the beneficent Lord shakes due to divorce.” So in order to please Allah, a Muslim does the best he can to make his relationship work – so if this means he has to try harder, or be more patient or learn to be more forgiving or nicer – the Muslim will try his best to do so, in order to try to make the relationship stay together and seek the pleasure of Allah.
Also, many of the other factors that lead to a marriage breaking down like looking at other women/men or having affairs etc. are prevented as a Muslim husband or wife knows that Allah is watching everything they do. Sex outside marriage is a great sin, and as someone who understands marriage is the only halal way for a man/woman to satisfy their desires, is with each other in marriage. The fear of punishment of Allah prevents Muslims from doing things that are haram; like flirting and having relationships outside marriage. It’s in this way that many causes for marriages breaking down today are prevented in the Islamic marriage.
The Muslim family is one that encourages each other to worship Allah and become responsible and care for each other. The Prophet (SAW) said “Every one of you is a guardian, and every one of you will be questioned about those in his care. The man is a guardian with regard to his family, and will be questioned about those in his care. The woman is a guardian with respect to her husband’s house, and will be questioned about that in her care. So, every one of you is a guardian, and every one of you will be questioned about those in his care.” (Bukhari, Muslim). This completely changes the atmosphere that the youth and family have. From saying “it’s not my problem”, “so what’s that gotta do with me?” to an attitude where each and everyone is responsible for each other and take care of the people under their care. They do this to the best of their ability because they know that Allah will ask us about how well we looked after the people in our care – that could be your family, your children, your house or your younger brothers and sisters.
And what about love and respect in the Muslim family? Well, unfortunately sometimes because of our culture we only see the respect and love flow one way – from us to our elders. But Islam teaches us it’s equal respect and love that we are meant to have in our families. A man once came to the Prophet Mohammed (SAW) and said “I have ten children and I have never kissed any of them.” The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) glanced at him and said, “The one who is not merciful will not be shown mercy.” (Bukhari).
Also look at the way Islam teaches the parent and children to act; Aisha, the wife of the Prophet (SAW) said, “I didn’t see anyone who more resembled the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, in manner of speaking than Fatima. When she came to him, he stood up for her, made her welcome, kissed her and had her sit in his place. When the Prophet came to her, she stood up for him, took his hand, made him welcome, kissed him, and made him sit in her place. She came to him during his final illness and he greeted her and kissed her.” Can we imagine a house where both the young and old try to be their best in terms of being warm, caring, smiling, welcoming and loving in order to please Allah?
So Islam makes the family unit something that you should try to make solid as a rock. Not something that you break-up without realising how much Allah disapproves of the one who does so. The Muslim family is one that makes each and everyone someone who is responsible and enjoys taking care of others as a form of worship to Allah. But more importantly; the Muslim family is one of love and compassion, of good morals and respect. It is by ensuring that the Muslim family is like this that we can make the building blocks of society solid and strong whilst at the same time caring and responsible.
The foundation of this good Islamic society is one that remembers Allah and knows that in the constant remembrance of Allah will keep him/her away from doing haram (prohibited) things that not only harm yourself, but also the rest of society.
“O you who believe! Let not your wealth or your children distract you from the remembrance of Allah. And whoever does that, they are the losers.” [Quran, 63:9]
My Islamic Partner 2010