(This article of mine was originally published on the Islamic Online University Blog, blog.islamiconlineuniversity.com)
Alhamdulillah, I have been married for over 15 years, and I believe that Islam is the main reason that my marriage survived divorce in this challenging world. Below are 9 ways that Islam helps my marriage.
1. Islam teaches me to live for Allah (swt).
“And I did not create the jinn and mankind except to worship Me.” (Holy Quran, 51:56)
Islam gives me a higher purpose to live for, other than just to enjoy this worldly life. This gives my marriage a higher meaning: to earn the pleasure of Allah (swt). Because being a good spouse is important to Allah, I see my marriage as a form of ibadah, or worship, of Allah.
Being a Muslim helps me to live by the values of honesty, respect, kindness and patience that benefit my marriage greatly.
2. Divorce is not preferred in Islam.
“… Among all the permitted acts, divorce is the most hateful to God.”
(The Prophet Muhammad [pbuh] as recorded in Abu Dawud)
Even though divorce is not haraam, I don’t want to do something that may displease Allah (swt). Knowing that Allah prefers couples to stay together helps me to be patient and look for solutions when my marriage becomes challenging. I also don’t want to give Shaytaan his greatest pleasure: the break-up of a husband and wife.
The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said that Shaytaan sits on his throne daily and dispatches his agents to work among human beings. One of the agents returns and says that he made a certain person commit a sin, and another says that he got so and so involved in this offence. Upon listening to all this, Shaytaan says, “You have done nothing great.”
Eventually, one representative comes and says, “I saw a husband and wife extremely devoted to each other. I sowed the seeds of enmity between them.” On hearing this, Shaytaan becomes happy and embracing his agent says,
“You have indeed achieved something great.” [Recorded in Mishkat Al-Masabih]
3. Being a good spouse is highly praised in Islam.
The rewards of being a good wife or husband are among the greatest rewards in Islam. Consider the following hadiths:
“When any woman prays her five, fasts her month, guards her body and obeys her husband it is said to her: “Enter paradise from whichever of its doors you wish.” (Hadith recorded in Ibn Habban, Sahih per Albani)
“The believers who show the most perfect faith are those who have the best character, and the best of you are those who are the kindest to their wives and families.” (At-Tirmidthi)
The Messenger (pbuh) said, “In the sexual act of each of you there is a charity.” The Companions replied: “O Messenger of God! When one of us fulfils his sexual desire, will he be given a reward for that?” And he said, “Do you not think that were he to act upon it unlawfully, he would be sinning? Likewise, if he acts upon it lawfully he will be rewarded.” (Recorded in Muslim)
4. The importance of patience and prayer
“O you who have believed, seek help through patience and prayer. Indeed, Allah is with the patient.” (Holy Quran 2:153)
Islam teaches me to turn to Allah when I face difficulties in life. Islam helped me to make duaa to Allah, asking Him for help, when I had problems in my marriage. Islam also teaches me to be patient during my marital difficulties. Patience helped me to survive the storms of my marriage. Looking back, I realize that many of my problems in marriage came from my misunderstanding of my husband. If I had impatiently reacted out of my misunderstanding, then my marriage may not have survived.
5. Islam teaches us to focus on the next world and to not be so worldly.
And put forward to them the example of the life of this world; it is like the water (rain) which We send down from the sky, and the vegetation of the earth mingles with it, and becomes fresh and green. But (later) it becomes dry and broken pieces, which the winds scatter. And Allah is Able to do everything. (Holy Quran 18:45)
Whatever you have will end, but whatever is with Allah is everlasting. And We will surely give those who were patient their reward according to the best of what they used to do. (Holy Quran 16:96)
Money-related problems are the most common causes of divorce. Islam teaches me to live simply and to not base my happiness on material possessions. This view puts less financial stress on our family and helps us to focus on what is important: worshipping Allah.
Also, my self-worth comes from my relationship with Allah (swt), my taqwa (God-consciousness). I don’t need to have a “perfect” marriage or a “perfect” life in order to feel good about myself. As long as I’m on the path of Islam, I am enough.
6. Islam teaches that I don’t have to earn money for the family.
“Men are the protectors and maintainers of women, Because Allah has given the one more (strength) than the other, and because they support them from their means…” (Holy Quran 4:34)
During my marriage I worked for some years, but after my second child I decided to quit my job. I am thankful that Islam clearly puts the financial responsibility for the family on the husband. Being a stay-at-home mom has enabled to be more present for my husband and children and to work on personal projects that satisfy my heart, such as writing. My marriage is also happier and life is less stressful.
7. Islam encourages us to be thankful.
“Therefore remember Me. I will remember you. Be grateful to Me and never show me ingratitude.” (Holy Quran 2:152)
“If you give thanks, I will give you more.” (Holy Quran 14:7)
“Allah The Almighty does not look (with mercy) at a woman who is not grateful to her husband when she cannot live without him.” (An-Nasai)
Islam encourages me to look for the good in my husband and to focus on the positive. Feeling and expressing gratitude towards my husband makes our marriage stronger and happier.
8. Islam encourages self-reflection (muhasabah) and humility.
“Criticize and appraise yourselves before you are criticized and appraised on the Day of Judgment, and weigh out your deeds, before they are weighed out for you.” –The Commander of the Faithful, ‘Umar bin al-Khattab (ra)
No one will enter paradise who has an atom’s weight of pride in his heart. Then a man asked the Prophet about dressing well. He said that he liked to be well-dressed and that his dress and shoes be fine. The Prophet said, “Allah is beautiful and likes beauty. Pride is denying truth and despising people.” (Hadith recorded in Muslim)
Islam encourages us to reflect on our inner selves and actions. We are not always right, and it takes humility to accept this. Self-reflection and humility are crucial for a successful marriage, because they help us to improve ourselves and to consider another point of view.
Early in my marriage, I would become upset when my husband showed displeasure with my weak housekeeping skills. My ego reacted to his displeased state, but once I started to reflect truthfully, I could see his point of view. I am still not great at housekeeping, but I have improved because I was willing to reflect and listen.
9. Islam allows divorce, and I could divorce my husband if I really needed to.
If a woman has reason to fear ill-treatment from her husband, or that he might turn away from her, it shall not be wrong for the two of them to set things peacefully to rights between themselves (ie. by agreeing to divorce), for peace is best, and selfishness is ever-present in human souls……(Holy Quran 4:128)
This one may sound strange, but just knowing that divorce is permitted helps me to feel empowered and not “trapped” in marriage. Islam is a fair and practical religion, and sometimes marriages don’t work out. Just knowing that I have a choice to work on my marriage or not helps me to make a stronger choice to work on my marriage. (Note: a great explanation of circumstances when a Muslim woman is justified in seeking a divorce can be found at http://islamqa.info/en/1859).