Marriage in Islam: the ideal vs. the reality (Part 2)
There is a hadith of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) which reads in Sahih Al Bukhari Book II, Number 10:
Narrated Abu Musa: Some people asked Allah’s Apostle, “Whose Islam is the best? ( i.e. Who is a very good Muslim)?” He replied, “One who avoids harming the Muslims with his tongue and hands.”
Selecting a husband or wife should be handled with care and with fear of Allah (SWT) because after the courtship, the beautiful wedding ceremony and all of the gifts, this person will be linked to you for the rest of your life and should be your partner in building a family.
The Holy Qur’an states in Surah Ar Rum 30:21:
“And among His signs is that He created for you mates from among yourselves that you may live in tranquility with them, and He has put love and mercy between you; Verily, in that are signs for people who reflect.”
As discussed in the previous installment, Marriage in Islam: the ideal vs. the reality Part 1, despite the integral role that marriage plays within the Islamic faith, Muslim women are encountering difficulty when seeking a spouse. According to the U.S. Census, in 2012, out of the 103 million unmarried people in America, 53.6% were women. In addition, in Canada the number of married couples has declined over the past decade and in 2008, the average marriage rates for several countries surveyed were less than 10%.
Sister Nada A. who prefers to remain anonymous shares her experiences and says, “Growing up, I never wanted to get married. My parents are divorced and I didn’t want to experience the same difficulties that they went through. At the same time, even though I was clearly attracted to men, I wasn’t interested in dating either. I knew it was Haram and that it created a lot of unnecessary drama. Then, upon turning 20, I began to be interested in marriage.”
This raises the question of how we should be raising our girls to think of marriage. Sister Nada goes on to share that she experienced some peer pressure because her friends were getting engaged all around her and she felt left out. She understood that 20 was young for marriage but questioned why she had not met a single suitor.
“So I decided that I too wanted to get married,” she says before expounding further. “I took a bunch of Islamic courses . . .I learned how to search for suitable men in a halal way, how to specify what kind of a man I was searching for, and what kind of a woman I wanted to be. I started to transform mentally into the type of woman I never wanted to be – someone who cared only about how to be a good wife.”
Being a good wife is something that all women who seek marriage should aspire to, but not exclusively, and not if in the process they lose a sense of their own individuality.
The Holy Qur’an says in Surah Al Ahzab 33:35:
For Muslim men and women― for believing men and women, for devout men and women, for true men and women, for men and women who are patient and constant, for men and women who humble themselves, for men and women who give in charity, for men and women who fast (and deny themselves) for men and women who guard their chastity and for men and women who engage much in Allah’s praise― for them has Allah prepared forgiveness and great reward.
Although we should not prolong marriage, neither should we rush into it or seek it out of pressure from others. We have an equal responsibility to be devout, to be patient and constant, to humble ourselves, to guard our chastity and to engage much in Allah’s (SWT) praise.
Sister Shabana Diouri’s marriage story sums up this segment best. She says, “I’ve been married for seven years, the lead up to finding my husband was very difficult. I had no problem meeting guys, the problem was that I did not feel comfortable or compatible with any of them. The funny thing is that despite the efforts to look for a potential partner at university, work, from friend and family connections, and from matchmakers all proved fruitless. I met my husband by chance at a time when I had literally given up and decided to stay single and continue with my charity work!”