Someone I know recently got married. Coming from a family settled in the Western world but having indigenously ethnic Muslim roots, I was a bit taken aback by something the bride-to-be said before her wedding day. She had been engaged to the person of her own choice for some time but was still reluctant in rushing to the altar. Despite growing up in a relatively practising household, she was influenced enough by the culture she was born into to resent her family’s censure on her interacting socially and individually with her fiancé before the final nuptials. However, succumbing to the pressure of her family, she agreed to the nikah but told them in no nonsense terms that she would “see how things go” from there as she has been “rushed into things.”
Did you hear the word “divorce” there, or is it just my overactive imagination? My mind argued how someone with basic Islamic values could tie the sacred knot of marriage thinking they will see how it works out. Obviously I am aware that Islam in no way insists on “till death do us part”, but this extremely opposite sentiment coming from a Muslim girl was a bit too much to stomach. But then I reminded myself of a case I had heard of a few years back where a Muslim couple called it quits a few months after their wedding day when they realised their choices in furniture did not quite match.
Sadly, there are several such cases where the cloud of doom seems to be lurking eminently in the background of a well-matched marriage and well-arranged ceremony. It seems, as we Muslims are becoming better at the nitty-gritty of orchestrating grander wedding ceremonies, the very fabric of marital life is in tatters. It’s alarming how our youth seems to be getting divorced from the idea of the institution of marriage even before they have enrolled in it.
So what can a mum like me, facing “modern day challenges” do to rescue her child from this dire fate? How can I actually engage my child to the institution of marriage rather than just dreaming of seeing an engagement ring shine on a fiancee’s finger as soon as he/she is of age? As for me, now that I have decided to turn back to the basics of my deen, some part of that tremendous job seems to be taken care of. But although I agree that a successful marriage is dependent on numerous factors, it seems to me that there is one all-encompassing solution to this rather perplexing issue, and that is the shift of focus from me to we.
From Me to We…
If we are able to raise children who are more connected to the world and people around them, rather than just their own nafs, we can lay the basis of a better training ground that can nurture strong familial sentiments for their futures. The trick would be to intrinsically interweave the attribute of selflessness in the nature of our children by teaching them early on the art of tolerance, forbearance, compromise and above all, sacrifice. But this should essentially be taught along with self-esteem and a sense of honour for their own selves so that they don’t fall prey to self-righteous tyrants or psychopathic tormentors.
From Take to Give
The trouble with the current mindset is that we want to take before we give. So alternatively, let’s teach our children to build on this beautiful bond that exists between spouses by giving before expecting; let’s make sure our children are the ones who set a generous mood to this relationship.
From Sever to Join
In the hadith literature of our Prophet (SAW) and the Book of Allah (SWT) we are told how Allah (SWT) puts love in the hearts of the spouses at the time of nikah, but Shaytan comes to them most strongly in the initial few year as this love is still weak and needs nurturing. Let’s encourage our children to give time to their relationship and be vigilant of their enemy so that he is unable to make mischief in their newly born household. Teach them to only think about joining rather than finding excuses to sever a relationship at the slightest friction. And above all, let’s teach our children the sanctity of this bond so that they strive towards connecting and strengthening it with all their heart and soul.
Because Allah (SWT), our Creator, has chosen this way for us to increase our numbers, to interweave us in close knit units called families; where the young get protected, loved and nurtured, and the elderly get assisted and comforted, while partners get a chance to grow old together with a companion by their side. Because it’s a Sunnah of our beloved Prophet (SAW) and an act of worship when done to please our Creator. Whereas divorce is a word most hated by our Creator in the words of a hadith, “Of all the lawful acts, the most detestable to Allah is divorce” (Abu Dawood) and it should not be taken lightly. It pleases the detestable enemy of Allah I the most and he rejoices every time a husband and wife are estranged.
And so if we are to protect this increasingly fragile structure of our communal life called family, we need to make sure that divorce is not even an option in our children’s mind when they sign the nikah contract, so that they are not as good as divorced before marriage. There should just be a distinct knowledge of the last resort one can fall back on if things become irreconcilable.
A freelance writer, a stay-at-home mum, a student of knowledge in Islam, Deputy Editor at Muslimaat Magazine (www.muslimaat.net), Rahma is a Masters Degree holder in International Relations, has worked as a journalist and now takes great pleasure in teaching Qur’an Tajweed to children.