Tips for the Muslim Family
PRACTICAL TIPS FOR THE MUSLIM FAMILY
All praise be to Allah, and may His blessings and peace be on His Messenger,
Since the Muslim family is the smallest unit of society within the structure of the entire ummah, it is very important to take a closer look at it by taking into account the two main sources of Islamic knowledge: the Quran and the ahadeeth.
The Prophet (s) said:
“من رزقه الله امرأة صالحة ؛ فقد أعانه على شطر دينه، فليتق الله في الشطر الباقي.” ك و صححه و حسنه الألباني في صحيح الترغيب و ضعفه في ض ج
“He whom Allah provides with a righteous woman was helped on half of his deen, so let him fear Allah regarding the other half.” Reported and authenticated by al-Hakim.
There is much evidence that the family as and in itself is falling apart, along with the moral decline in today’s society. The divorce rate, even among Muslims, is at a record high. The family’s breakdown and demise, however, will ultimately result in a decline of society and the whole structure of the ummah itself. This is why we have to protect our families, thus protecting the entire ummah.
My message to all married Muslims is the following: Your homes are fortresses that protect this religion. You must protect the guarding posts of your fortress so that your enemies do not penetrate it from your side.
Divorce is permitted by Allah for the welfare of those who engaged in unsuccessful marriages. However, divorce is disliked by Allah.
Even if there is some controversy regarding the authenticity of the hadeeth which says that the most disliked of all permissible acts by Allah is divorce, the meaning is certainly sound. Based on other reports, of which there is one by al-Hakim and authenticated by al-Albani, the Prophet (s) discloses to us the detail of a conspiracy against the Muslims. The Prophet (s) says:
“إِنَّ إِبْلِيسَ يَضَعُ عَرْشَهُ على الْمَاءِ ثُمَّ يَبْعَثُ سَرَايَاهُ فَأَدْنَاهُمْ منه مَنْزِلَةً أَعْظَمُهُمْ فِتْنَةً يَجِيءُ أَحَدُهُمْ فيقول فَعَلْتُ كَذَا وَكَذَا فيقول ما صَنَعْتَ شيئا قال ثُمَّ يَجِيءُ أَحَدُهُمْ فيقول ما تَرَكْتُهُ حتى فَرَّقْتُ بَيْنَهُ وَبَيْنَ امْرَأَتِهِ قال فَيُدْنِيهِ منه وَيَقُولُ نَعْمَ أنت.” )رواه مسلم(
“Iblees (the devil) places his throne on water and dispatches his troops, and the closest of them to him is one who is greater in misguiding people. One of them comes and says, I have done so-and-so, and he (Iblees) says, you have not done much. Another one comes and says, I did not leave him until he divorced his wife, so he (Ibless) brings him closer and says, yes you are the one.” (Reported by Muslim from Jabir)
Allah also discourages us from divorce in the Quran:
“And live with them (your spouses) in kindness. For if you dislike them, perhaps you dislike a thing and Allah makes therein much good.” (4:19)
( وَعَاشِرُوهُنَّ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ فَإِنْ كَرِهْتُمُوهُنَّ فَعَسَى أَنْ تَكْرَهُوا شَيْئاً وَيَجْعَلَ اللَّهُ فِيهِ خَيْراً كَثِيراً)(النساء: من الآية19)
Before proceeding with the practical tips that should bring about compassion and love between the husband and wife, a few other concepts need to be addressed.
1. The Purpose of Creation
We should all ask ourselves the following questions: Do we really have time to waste in this world for disputing with our spouses? What is our purpose in life? Have we not been created for a mission? Imagine two travelers in a car leaving from NY for DC at 6 am to catch an important meeting at 11 am. Do they have time to waste arguing and disputing with each other over the direction they need to take; should they be pulling over every few minutes to finish their arguments? Isn’t that what many couples do? Don’t they get side tracked until they completely loose vision of their mission in life, which is to worship Allah, serve his cause and prepare for the hereafter?
2. Duties before Rights
Before we demand our rights, we should always ask about our duties first.
Albani authenticated this hadeeth in which Tirmidhi and others reported that the Prophet (s) said: “If I were to command anyone one to prostrate to another human, then I would have commanded the wife to prostrate to her husband.”
لو كنت آمرا أحدا أن يسجد لأحد لأمرت المرأة أن تسجد لزوجها
Commenting upon this hadeeth, Ibn Taymiyyah said: “There is no right after those of Allah and his Messenger (s) which is of a higher priority to fulfill than that of the husband.”
Albani authenticated that Tirmidhi also reported from the Prophet (s):
“The most complete in iman among the believers are the best in conduct; and the best of you are those who are best to their wives.”
أكمل المؤمنين إيمانا أحسنهم خلقا وخياركم خياركم لنسائهم
Allah has prepared both, men and women, for certain tasks. They are each suited for their respective tasks by reason of the physical and mental differences between the genders.
If women were made to be the protectors and maintainers in place of men, they would be charged with more than they could handle.
Al-qiwamah means that the head of the household is responsible for the physical safety of his family and for their safety from a religious standpoint as well.
He protects his family from evil fashions and deviation. He provides the perfect example in the way he abides by the divine laws and in the execution of his religious rites and ceremonies, with the best of character and moral standard. He is like a shepherd who protects his flock.
Family life is a life of work. And life carries its costs and burdens. So, someone needs to be in charge in order to direct its course and supervise its safety. In the Qur’an this leadership is called qiwamah and is assigned to the man.
Leadership does not serve the purpose of reverence or domination; rather it is a post of supervision and responsibility.
The man has to understand this role as a responsibility and live up to it. Remember the hadeeth that Muslim reports from the Prophet (s): “It is enough sin for a man to neglect those whom he provides for.”
كفى بالمرء إثما أن يحبس عمن يملك قوته هذا نص مسلم و صح عند أبي داود و غيره كفى بالمرء إثما أن يضيع من يقو ت
The woman on her part never overburdens her husband with unnecessary expenses.
The wife should also remember that qiwamah was not given to the man because of his spending only and is not to be withdrawn from him the next day he gets laid off. She should also remember what the wife of Prophet Ayoob (a) did, when she continued to support him during his long sickness, and she never made him feel that he lost his manhood or his position as the head of the family.
The Practical Tips
1. Pray and learn together
Bukhari and Muslim report that the Prophet (s) said: “The difference between a house in which the name of Allah is mentioned and a house in which the name of Allah is not mentioned is like the difference between a dead person and one who is alive.”
The Prophet (s) also said, as narrated by Abu Hurairah: “Do not make your houses like graveyards; satan runs away from houses in which the chapter of al-Baqarah is recited.” (Muslim)
Another hadeeth, as narrated by Abu Hurairah, says:
“May Allah have mercy upon the man who wakes up to pray during the night and wakes his wife to pray, and if she does not wake up he splashes water on her face. May Allah have mercy upon the woman who wakes up to pray during the night and wakes her husband to pray, and if he does not wake up she splashes water on his face.” (Ahmad, Abu Dawud, Nasaa’i and Ibn Majah)
عن أبي هريرة قال قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم ” رحم الله رجلا قام من الليل فصلى وأيقظ امرأته فإن أبت نضح في وجهها الماء رحم الله امرأة قامت من الليل فصلت وأيقظت زوجها فإن أبي نضحت في وجهه الماء”
Learning and educating themselves about their deen, going to lectures as well as taking part in various dawah activities together, will unite husband and wife in purpose.
One of the best ways to resolve conflict and prevent dispute is to have a common law that all parties consider sacred and refer to for guidance. This common law is the revelation of Allah, the Quran.
2.Take good care of your appearance
The advice of taking good care of one’s appearance is not only directed to women, but also to men.
Ibn ‘Abbas said: “I like to beautify myself for my wife just as I would like her to beautify herself for me.” And he then recited the ayah that says: “And they (women) have rights similar to those (of men) over them in kindness.” 2/228
عن عكرمة عن ابن عباس -رضي الله عنهم- قال: “إنِّي أُحِبُّ أَنْ أَتَزَيَّنَ لِلْمَرْأَةِ, كَمَا أُحِبُّ أَنْ تَتَزَيَّنَ لِي الْمَرْأَةُ؛ لأَنَّ اللَّهَ تَعَالَى يَقُولُ: (وَلَهُنَّ مِثْلُ الَّذِي عَلَيْهِنَّ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ) و َمَا أُحِبُّ أَنْ أَسْتَنْظفَ –أي استخلص- جَمِيعَ حَقِّي عَلَيْهَا؛ لأَنَّ اللَّهَ تَعَالَى يَقُولُ: (وَلِلرِّجَالِ عَلَيْهِنَّ دَرَجَةٌ)”
انظر تفسير الطبري (1/625).
In this sense, it is very ironic for men to make sure that before they leave their homes they brush their teeth, wear perfume and dress up, whereas when they are at home they neglect their appearance when their wives are the most deserving of seeing them in good shape.
The wife should certainly also do her best in this respect. When her husband comes back from work her sight should be pleasing to his eyes and heart. This is particularly important because he has probably been around improperly dressed women at his workplace.
Do not look at that which is unlawful for you to look at because the evil consequences of this sin will impact your home; watching women on satellite television, for example, makes one’s wife appear less attractive.
3. Smiling, joking and change
Smiling lifts up the heart and wipes away hatred.
Abdullah Ibn al-Harith tells us that he has never seen anyone smile at somebody else’s face as he has seen Prophet Muhammad (s) smile.
Joking is a remedy for depression and distress.
There are several reports about how the Prophet (s) used to make jokes. However, he never said anything but the truth.
Change and recuperation are essential for our emotional wellbeing as well.
A poet said:
عود ركابك كل يوم منزلا متجددا كيلا تمل فتهجر
فالماء عذب إن جرى و تلاطمت أمواجه فإذا أقام تغيرا
Do something different every day for your household, lest they will be sick of you and desert you
For water is fresh as long as it is running, and once it stagnates, it starts to change
It was authentically reported by Abu Dawood from ‘Aisha (Allah be pleased with her) that she used to race with the Prophet, and one time she beat him, and after she gained some weight, he raced and won. Then he said: ‘this time makes up for the other one.’
عن عائشة أنها كانت مع النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم في سفر قالت فسابقته فسبقته على رجلي فلما حملت اللحم سابقته فسبقني فقال هذه بتلك السبقة صح د
4. Physical intimacy
It was certainly not vain for Aisha (r) to tell us that the Prophet (s) used to kiss his wives even while he was fasting.
Also, when they were having their period he would avoid intercourse, but not physical contact with them as such.
He would also pray so close to Aisha (r) that he would signal to her to move her legs when he made sujood (prostration). Reported by Abu Dawood.
عن عائشة قالت: “ بئسما عدلتمونا بالحمار والكلب لقد رأيت رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم يصلي وأنا معترضة بين يديه فإذا أراد أن يسجد غمز رجلي فضممتها إلي ثم يسجد “ د 712 صح (خ)
He said to his Companions when he lined them up for prayer:
“Do not misalign lest your hearts will become misaligned.” Reported by Ahmad and Abu Dawood.
كان رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم يتخلل الصف من ناحية إلى ناحية يمسح صدورنا ومناكبنا ويقول لا تختلفوا فتختلف قلوبكم الحديث ( أحمد وأبي داود والنسائي)
This is because physical intimacy will bring about emotional intimacy.
5. The big little things
There are things that may seem trivial or small, yet they mean so much.
This would, for example, include a kiss on the forehead while your partner is asleep, calling from work to tell him/her that you think of him/her, covering him/her while asleep, or tucking him/her in at night.
There are many other ways to show your partner your love and appreciation. As spouses, each one knows which big little things are important to his/her partner.
6. Support each other emotionally
Women go through hormonal changes before and during their periods as well as during and after pregnancies. These changes have an impact on their emotional and mental well-being. The husband needs to be aware of this and treat his wife even more kindly during these times.
Men are usually most distressed when they feel unable to suffice their household during times of sickness of a family member. The same applies to other hardships such as loosing one’s job. In these cases, spouses should support each other emotionally.
7. Divide the burden
A husband should help his wife whenever he can.
Imam Ahmad reports that Aishah (r) was asked what the Prophet (s) would do while at home. She replied, “He was just like any other human being, he would sew his garment, milk the sheep and serve himself.”
”قيل لعائشة: “ما كان النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم يصنع في بيته قالت كما يصنع أحدكم يخصف نعله ويرقع ثوبه”
These manners of the Prophet (s) are neglected by many men who would not even make themselves a cup of tea even when they see their wife run between nursing a baby and trying to comfort another child.
8. Etiquette of discussion
Allah has made the family a place for peace, tranquility and stability.
Allah says in the Quran (30:21):
“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 give thought.”
(وَمِنْ آيَاتِهِ أَنْ خَلَقَ لَكُمْ مِنْ أَنْفُسِكُمْ أَزْوَاجاً لِتَسْكُنُوا إِلَيْهَا وَجَعَلَ بَيْنَكُمْ مَوَدَّةً وَرَحْمَةً إِنَّ فِي ذَلِكَ لَآياتٍ لِقَوْمٍ يَتَفَكَّرُونَ) (الروم:21)
It is important for the husband to remember that his wife likes to talk to him about all her daily affairs. He should be attentive and listen to her, for this is a reflection of his good manners as well as his love and appreciation of her.
You should also know that some women are too shy to complain. Their screams are hidden deep within their wounded hearts; their lives are an emotional struggle. In this case, the husband needs to be smart enough to pick up the clues and hasten to her rescue from the distress and sadness that have overtaken her before she cannot take it anymore or becomes permanently resentful.
- Do not be offensive and choose your words wisely.
Allah has taught us this even with regard to the disbelievers. Even more, it applies to your spouse.
“Say: You will not be asked of what we committed, nor shall we be asked of what you do.”
(قُلْ لا تُسْأَلونَ عَمَّا أَجْرَمْنَا وَلا نُسْأَلُ عَمَّا تَعْمَلُونَ) (سـبأ:25)
Praise whenever suitable and yield to your partner at times, so that you do not seem like a tyrant.
Praising the wife for her appearance, cooking and adornment wins her heart. Moreover, Islam has allowed husbands to lie to their wives in order to increase the love between them. For example, telling her that she is the prettiest woman you have ever seen, when that may not be the reality.
Remember that your spouse is probably not the devil, so you will find something good to say about him/her.
- When angry remain silent.
Anger is the cause of all disputes. The relationship between husband and wife is far too valuable to ruin in a moment of anger. So, remain silent whenever you become upset.
The Prophet (s) said: “Teach, make things easy and do not make things hard. Give glad tidings [to people] and do not repel them away; and when one of you gets angry he should remain silent.” Saheeh al-Jame’ 4027
علموا، و يسروا و لا تعسروا، و بشروا و لا تنفروا، و إذا غضب أحدكم فليسكت ص.ج 4027
When your spouse is angry, calm and comfort him/her.
Abu Darda’ said to his wife: “If you see me angry, calm me down, and if I see you angry, I will calm you down, otherwise it will be too difficult to live together.”
9. Resolve conflicts
- Forgive and lower your expectations
Bukhari and Muslim report that the Prophet (s) said: “Take good care of women, for they were created from a bent rib, and the most curved part of it is its top; if you try to straighten it you will break it, and if you leave it, it will remain arched, so take good care of women.”
A believing man should never hate a believing woman. Whenever he dislikes one of her qualities, he likes others.
Always remember that while a wife is not like the female Companions that he reads about, the husband is also not like the male Companions of the Prophet (s) that she reads about. If she is not Aisha (r), he is not Abu Bakr (r) either.
- Conceal and work together
Spouses should not discuss problems in front of their children because it has a negative effect on them and reduces their respect for the parents.
Muslim reports from Abu Sa’eed al-Khudri that the Prophet (s) said: ”The most evil person in the sight of Allah on the Day of Resurrection is a man who sleeps with his wife and then goes out and spreads her (sexual) secrets.”
The Prophet (s) also tells us:
عن أبي هريرة قال قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم ” من ستر مسلما ستره الله في الدنيا والآخرة “
“He who covers the faults of a Muslim, Allah will cover his in this life and on the Day of Judgment.” Reported by Ibn Majah.
- Find a trustworthy judge or judges
The Quran tells us:
(وَمَا كَانَ لِمُؤْمِنٍ وَلا مُؤْمِنَةٍ إِذَا قَضَى اللَّهُ وَرَسُولُهُ أَمْراً أَنْ يَكُونَ لَهُمُ الْخِيَرَةُ مِنْ أَمْرِهِمْ وَمَنْ يَعْصِ اللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ فَقَدْ ضَلَّ ضَلالاً مُبِيناً) (الأحزاب:36)
“It is not for a believing man or a believing woman, when Allah and His Messenger have decided a matter, that they should [thereafter] have any choice about their affair. And whoever disobeys Allah and His Messenger has certainly strayed into clear error.” (33:36)
Before spouses start looking for someone to judge between them in case of a serious dispute, they may want to refer to a book about the fiqh of the particular matter that they disagree on and read it together. They might come to an agreement already.
If not, they may seek judgment from one member of her family and one member of his family. If the family members are not rational or practicing, this step can be skipped.
Then they may go to a scholar who is trusted by the two of them.
That scholar is not infallible, but his judgment should be accepted because it is most probably closest to Allah’s decree.
If they think he is in plain error, then they may seek advice from someone else who may be more knowledgeable.
But when the rulings of the different scholars agree, they have to accept what they think is most probably the decree of Allah.
Remember that your fight in this life is against the devil and your evil inclinations, not your ex- spouse.
May Allah protect our homes, and make them as he wishes.
Edited by: Sr. Safiya Balioglu