Successful Marriages: Part I


Lecture by Suhaib Webb  | Transcribed by Fuseina Mohamad

Part I | Part II | Part III | Part IV

We begin in the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful. We ask Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala (the Exalted and Glorified) to send His Peace and Blessings upon the Prophet salla Allahu `alayhi wa sallam (may Allah bless him and grant him peace).

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Life without a spouse is a massive, massive test, so we ask Allah to make it easy for all of us, insha’Allah.  This topic is an important topic and our scholars (especially in Egypt) study something called mantiq.  Mantiq, which is logic, is a hot topic.  And in logic we have two important concepts [to understand] in order to go into what’s called the hadd, or the definition of something.  The most important is at-tasawwur (conceptualization).  The person conceptualizes what they’re going into first and foremost.

So just a few points about marriage; and if I contradict my elder, I ask Allah to forgive me. He’s my Sheikh, my teacher.  But in our community we need unity – not uniformity of course.  And that is that, number one, when we talk about marriage – when we entertain the idea of marriage, we have to be careful of not having a utopist vision.  We have to be very cautious that we do not look at marriage as this perfect entity, that you’re going to find no mistakes, like a Disney movie…just perfect [where] even the bad things turn out, masha’Allah (as Allah wills), as a fairy tale narrative.  It is very important that we realize marriage is organic and human.  It is not an ideal, but a very real situation.

And that’s why in the Qur’an, Allah azza wajal (the Exalted) said mawadah (love) and rahma (mercy). In Surat Ar-Rum, Allah says, “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” (30:21). But at the same time, in the Qur’an we find the issue of nushuz (rebellion or disobedience).  In the fourth chapter of the Qur’an, Allah addresses if a woman gets out of line; how a man should interact with his wife if she goes beyond the bounds that are considered normative within Islam.  Also, we find in the Qur’an that Allah advises the woman how to handle this situation. Allah says to the men, “…And live with them in kindness. For if you dislike them – perhaps you dislike a thing and Allah makes therein much good” (4:19).

How many of us like everything about our wives?  How many of us like everything about our husbands? Man, my wife can write a mawsu’a (encyclopedia) on things she doesn’t like about my personality. Allah mentions if there is something you don’t like about your wife, be patient because perhaps there’s good in it.

The Qur’an also mentions divorce.  Most people who memorize the Qur’an, [people are] going to ask you first [to] read the verses of inheritance; after that, is the verses of divorce.  Three full pages in Surat Al-Baqarah [are] devoted to the mechanism of divorce.  We also have a chapter called Al-Talaaq (Divorce).

I remember once I came to the mosque, and a brother was in the mosque, and he looked very sad.  He said, “Akhi (brother), just open the Qur’an and put your fingers somewhere, I need to read something.  I’m having problems with my wife.” I had just become Muslim, so I was kind of naïve, you know.  So I opened the Qur’an, I put my finger somewhere, and it was on Surah Al-Talaq.  I said, “Look brother, it has another name also, it’s called Surat Al-Nisaa (Women). Maybe we can go with that name?”

But the reality is that the Qur’an deals with reality.  So the Qur’an presents happy marriage, but at the same time the Qur’an recognizes there might be problems. We have to understand that marriage is an investment.  It’s an investment.  And it’s not easy.  Let’s be honest, it’s not easy.  We have to be careful.

Once I was giving a speech about brotherhood in my younger days when I was an ideologue and I was saying, “Brotherhood is perfect.  We love each other.  We never fight.  We never have any problems…alhamdulillah (all praise is to Allah)!” Then, Dr. Ingrid Mattison spoke after me.  She said, “Jazak Allahu Khayr (may Allah grant goodness) for our young brother here who’s full of ideals.  But think about how you lived with your brothers.” It was far from ideal.  I hit my brother with a broom once!  We got into a fight one time in the front yard. But how do we act after that is what defines us as brothers.  We’re going to fight, we’re going to have problems, and we’re going to have difficulties.  I will yell at my wife.  You will yell at your husband.  But how do you differ, how do you handle that?  That’s what makes marriage, marriage.

So we have to be very cautious here that we don’t define marriage as something that’s utopist.  It’s not. The first year [is difficult].  Oh man.  Why?  Because we are not used to sharing.  We are not used to having, as the Sheikh mentioned, “we” instead of “me.”

So I’ll mention, after that brief important point, five reasons for major pitfalls that can be applied to new couples, future couples, and old-school couples.

Next Post - “Problem Number One: Let’s Copy My Parents”

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4 Comments

  1. a good reminder says:

    Jazak Allah kher Imam Suhaib (and sr Fuseina) for the reminder! Having really idealistic/unrealistic expectations is a problem for some individuals in our community.

  2. Ahmed says:

    Jazak’Allahu Khairan Imam Webb. This was a great post and on such an important topic for those like myself and the youth (I’m “old!”). Ma’salaam

  3. UmmAbdullah says:

    I feel like its really somehow driven into us in the west to put on this perfect image of marriage.

    I can speak for myself as a married individual: It’s NOT. and i believe thats the reality of marriage.

    It’s totally real and it will drive you crazy on certain days and other days you’ll be like wow i have the bestest spouse in the world.

    I think the perfection of marriage ultimately lies in our submitting and humbling ourselves to Allah and doing our utmost to please Allah and our spouse. Thats the only way to be happy. period.

  4. Curious says:

    Nice article mashaAllah. One question;

    “Once I was giving a speech about brotherhood in my younger days when I was an ideologue and I was saying, “Brotherhood is perfect. We love each other. We never fight. We never have any problems…alhamdulillah (all praise is to Allah)!” Then, Dr. Ingrid Mattison spoke after me. She said, “Jazak Allahu Khayr (may Allah grant goodness) for our young brother here who’s full of ideals.”…..

    The thing is, I have heard several times about our respected shuyukh and teachers that have changed their stance or their tone on issues, and the way they teached certain matters from their earlier days. My question is how do we know what to take and what to leave aside? If a teacher we trust said something in the past but regrets it now, how are we to know what to follow? I feel it is important to know this because often our attitude, mindset and actions will stem from the lessons of our teachers.

    JazakAllahu kheiran.

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