Committing matrimony

Committing matrimony

Hmm! Now that is a thought!!!
  1. What are the characteristics of a happy marriage?

Truth, Caring, Mutual respect are what I call my three Cardinal Principles of happy marriages. Please notice that I am not using the word ‘love’. Love comes out of these three things. What is called love is usually physical desire. The shape or size of someone’s body is not the inspiration for love; it can be the inspiration for infatuation and lust but not love. For love to happen, the lasting kind that is, the kind that grows with age and the longer you spend time together, you need truthfulness, caring and concern for one another – putting the needs of the other before your own; and mutual respect. Without respect there can’t be any love. One needs to respect one’s spouse, appreciate their strengths, make them your role model, icon and be proud of them and proud that they are your spouse. That kindles love in the heart which grows with time because the reasons for respect also grow with time. Physical attraction reduces with age. It is programmed to do so. Nobody grows more beautiful with age. You mature with age, grow wiser, more mellow, more patient and forbearing and more worthy of respect. The love that comes out of that also grows with age.

Truth is to express feelings as they are and not to have any pretensions. Caring is to treat the other with concern because you know that with you s/he has no barriers or safety nets. Respect is to acknowledge the value of the trust that is placed in you in allowing you into that inner most of places in the heart in which nobody else has been allowed before. To treat that privilege with the respect it deserves and never to abuse it for any reason.

  • Is there a formula to be happy in a marriage?

Marry someone you believe is worthy of emulation; someone you can look up to and learn to forgive them. The formula of an unhappy marriage is to marry someone who you believe you can change. That is a sure recipe for disaster. When you marry someone who you think needs to be changed you are accepting that they are not good enough as it is. Also, in most cases you would not have asked them if they want to change and that too to your preferred model. And then you will lo and behold that they have other ideas about changing and your marriage will be the casualty.

The second part of the formula is to be forgiving. We need to forgive one another. What tends to happen in many marriages is that we expect the other person to forgive us, but we hold them to standards that we are ourselves unable to live up to and become curiously blind to this unreasonable stance. That doesn’t work. Good to remember the saying, ‘Sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.’

One thing that people should consider while choosing one’s partner is compatibility of core values. Core values means both are pulling in the same direction even with their different personalities, styles of working and interests. Minimizes contradictions in bringing up children in the domain of values.

Share in each other’s lives. Take interest in what the other does. Don’t be nosey but learn and add value. Conversation is both the key to a happy marriage and a metre to judge its health. Marriages that are getting sick start to lose conversation. When there is nothing left to talk about after 10 minutes and when your idea of spending time with your spouse is to sit in front of the TV or stare at your phone in the same room, then you can safely say that your marriage is falling sick. In happy marriages there is a desire for the company of the other. Not for the company of others. You hurry home because your spouse is there. You don’t hit home and bounce off to the club to sit with your cronies or to some other place to be with other friends. You want to spend time with your spouse not because otherwise s/he will complain but because you genuinely want to do it. Because your spouse is your best friend.

  • How do you make a marriage work?

By working at it. We use this term, ‘Make a marriage work’, but we forget that a lot of it is actually ‘work’. It takes effort, time and energy, is measurable and produces results. Making breakfast for your wife is work. Offering to do her errands is work. Taking the trouble to look nice when your husband comes home instead of like animated laundry is work. Going to the airport to meet his flight is work. You get the drift? Doing what does not come naturally or doing something that is important for the other even if you don’t like doing it, is work. And all of it produces results in terms of appreciation and love.

If you find that you can’t love your spouse any more, be honest and speak to them about it. See what can be changed and what must be accepted. But don’t go seeking solace elsewhere. That is dishonest, dishonorable, despicable and cowardly. If things are at a stage where it is impossible to live together, part company with grace. Not cheat behind their backs, pretending that everything is fine. Those who collude with other’s spouses and carry on relationships with married men and women are slimy invertebrates which must crawl back under the flat rock they came out from under and not despoil human society with their presence. I never cease to marvel at people who allow another marriage to be destroyed by their cheating, but who would be up in arms if their wife or husband did the same. “Just because you have a good excuse does not make a wrong thing right.”

As I say, ‘If I wanted to marry a nag, I would have married a horse. At least it would have carried me from place to place.’ Nag is a gender-neutral term. There are male and female nags, and both are equally painful. Finally, companionable silence is also an indicator of a good marriage. You don’t have to be talking all the time. It is the quality of the companionship, the quality of the silence. You will know it without anyone having to explain, let me assure you. But pay attention to it if there is tension or boredom in it.

  • How can you try and make an unhappy marriage a happy one?

This is a tough one because there is a pre-clause to it. Once you satisfy that pre-clause then it is very easy. The pre-clause is, ‘DO YOU REALLY WANT IT TO HAPPEN?’ Now that may sound like a strange thing to ask but I have seen in many years of counseling that all the failures that I saw were because the partners did not really want to make it work. They were not sincere and were merely going through the moves with the idea of satisfying themselves or others that ‘they made the effort’. Now that is a lie because they never made an effort. They acted a drama with a precluded ending.

Once you are sincere about turning things around then you need to sit down and write down all that you like about your spouse. After all there were things about them that you liked enough to marry them. What were they? Then when you have that list, you write down the problem areas. Look in the mirror for one of the major ones. Usually that works like magic. Marriages go bad most often because we don’t appreciate the good enough and are not thankful for what they have. I often ask couples, ‘How many times a day do you thank your wife/husband? How many times a day do you hug or kiss them? How many times a day do you tell them that you love them?’ No, that is not a Western idea nor is it from Bollywood. Humans are not mind readers and even those that are, need to be told if you love them. After all, most spouses don’t hesitate to inform them about the opposite. So, why not this?

  • Is the idea of a soul mate just a myth – or is it simple communication between people?

Soul mates are made, not born. And they are made over time. Sometimes a fairly long time. Then you see them sitting together and smiling at things that only they understand. Or looks that have meaning only for each other. Or speaking in a language that only the other understands. Phrases that they use only for each other and which may even be gibberish to others, but which touch their hearts. This is the stage when every time you look at her you fall in love all over again, 30 years into your marriage. And laughing. Laughing is important. Laughing together at the same things. Showing each other things so as to add to the joy by sharing.

  • What kind of initiatives and actions dictate a happy marriage?

Back to the basics: Truth, caring, mutual respect. Every action or initiative must pass this test. Are you being truthful? Is her need coming before your own? And are you showing the respect you feel? I remember that my grandmother used to serve my grandfather his meals. Every meal. She would put food on his plate, refill it, offer him the choicest pieces of meat, watch to see what he needed and give it to him before he asked for it. She would eat every meal with him, without exception in a house that was a mansion with several servants. But no servant was ever allowed to give my grandfather anything directly. They brought the tray to my grandmother and she served him. All this she did with such a look of love and devotion on her face that I can see clearly in my mind even today 50 years later and more than 30 years since both of them died. Why did she do this? Just because she liked to do it. It really is that simple.

He fully reciprocated this. He never did anything without asking for her advice. He never went anywhere without her. He wore what she gave him. She had complete control of his money. He never touched it. He never asked her for any account with a level of trust seldom seen today, even though it was his money, so to speak. He never raised his voice to her for anything. He never even looked at her except with love. He never made fun of her and she never made fun of him. Both laughed together. He was passionate about chess and played chess every evening with his brother and cousin who all lived together in the same house which my great grandfather built. She never played chess in her life. Different interests but the real interest was in each other. She was his whole life in every sense of the word. In Tamil there is a word for wife – Samsaram. It is the same word for the world. That is how it was for my grandparents. They were each other’s world. Complete in themselves, content with each other, reflected in every moment of their lives.

He loved her and she loved him, and it showed. She died first. He died three months later of a broken heart. But they left memories for their children and grandchildren about how to be married and how to treat your spouse.

  • How much involvement should parents and in laws have in a marriage?

None whatsoever. This is the single most potent recipe for disaster. Parents should be involved in their own marriages. Once your children are married, they are not children any more. Leave them alone and let them work out their problems. They are adults and that is why they got married. The problem with many parents (mostly mothers) especially in our society (Indian) is that they are most anxious about getting their children married and then they start feeling insignificant and so become competitors with their own daughters in law. Remember that if you become your daughter in law’s competitor, you lose if you lose and you lose if you win. Both ways you lose. So, get out of the way. Leave them alone. Visit them for 2 days, not more, every six months – every year is even better. Don’t talk for more than 5 minutes on the phone. Don’t chat on Skype or Yahoo or WhatsApp or anything else. Don’t ask personal questions. And above all, don’t ask, ‘Are you happy?’ I have yet to see a marriage survive the attention of parents and parents in law.

At the same time, I would advise young couples also to take steps to kindly discourage this involvement if you see it happening. If you are old enough to get married, you are old enough to solve your own problems. If you are running to your parents with your problems, then put on your diapers. You are not ready for marriage. If your Mom calls and asks you, ‘So what did he say when you told him such and such?’ Tell your Mom, ‘Mom, sorry I won’t tell you what he told me.’ Smile and say it but say it clearly. Spend time with your spouse, not with your mother. I am not asking you to neglect your mother or father but remember that your spouse has first call on your time, once you get married.

  • How does one make compromises?

They are not called ‘compromises’. They are called ‘adjustments’. It is not the semantics of it but the attitudes that language indicates and dictates. We make compromises when forced to do so. We make adjustments to things so that we can enjoy them more. One of the things that most young couples don’t bargain for is the aspects of sharing ownership, time and privacy that marriage brings with it. Nobody told them about it, and they didn’t think about it when they had stars in their eyes. Honeymoons are in hotels and sharing a hotel room is different from sharing your own bedroom and your own cupboard. Changing from ‘I’ to ‘We’ is often a difficult process.

Having said that, decide on what is important to you. Don’t make compromises on issues of principle. Explain to your spouse why you won’t compromise, and wise partners will respect that. But issues which are important to the other and which you can live with changing, change. Remember the point about concern for the other? It is good to remember that everything is not a test of your masculinity or femininity. By ‘giving in’ to something you don’t lose face; you win hearts. Do it unless it is something that goes against your fundamental values.

It is a very good idea to have some frank sharing of thoughts on what is important to you, before getting married. If you didn’t do it then, do it now. It will be more difficult but then that is what you chose. When your spouse is talking, simply listen. Don’t justify, agree, disagree or argue. Just listen respectfully and then decide what you love, what you can live with, what you can change in yourself and what you need to talk to the other person about. Most couples, in the courtship stage are too busy on appearing their best and get into a pretense mode that has no relation to what they are really like. Acting can’t be sustained and the mask comes off sooner than later with predictable results. Speak to each other frankly and then decide if you want to get married. During this conversation speak clearly and tell them what the non-negotiables for you are. Don’t try to be politically correct or polite or whatever and hide or play down things that you really feel strongly about. Maybe it is something to do with practicing your religious beliefs, or about family values or that your Mom will live with you or that the cat shares your bed or whatever. No matter what it is, if it is important, then say it. That is far more positive and far less painful than having your spouse discover it later. Some things may seem ‘silly’ to you but if they are important enough for the other person then they will cause you serious trouble if you don’t respect them.

  • When does one know that a marriage is not working? And when should people do something about it?

A marriage is ultimately an agreement between two people to live together for mutual benefit. When you find that there is no mutual benefit and that the living together is causing more grief than joy then you know that it is not working. Then you must ask yourself the questions:

  • Am I willing to make it work?
  • What will it take to make it work?
  • Am I willing to do what it takes?

If the answer to all of them is in the affirmative, then get on with it and work. If not, then it is time to call it a day. The important thing to do even if you decide to divorce is to remember the first three rules: Truthfulness, concern for the other and mutual respect. Ensure that you don’t do anything that is not scrupulously honest and completely above board. Show concern and ensure that the other person does not leave with any bad feeling. The divorce is bad enough. Don’t add negative baggage to it. Show respect for each other. You deserve it and your marriage deserves it. Part company if you must but do it in a way that is respectful and honorable.

  1. How to make efforts to making a marriage work – for the man and woman?

It is essential to differentiate between Core Responsibilities and other things. In my view it is the Core Responsibility of the man to work and earn a living and take care of the financial responsibilities of the family.  It is Core Responsibility of the woman to make the home a place of beauty, grace and harmony and to focus on the upbringing of the children. I know this may sound old fashioned to some but just take a look at what the result of the Yuppy and Puppy culture is, and you will come back to the basics soon enough. Having taken care of the Core Responsibility, naturally the man must help around the home, take care of children, water the garden, wash the car, mow the lawn, take out the garbage and not sit in front of the TV with his feet propped up and a bowl of popcorn at his elbow – or whatever passes as its equivalent in your culture.

Similarly once the Mom has taken care of her Core Responsibility then it is good if she waters the garden, washes the car, mows the lawn, takes out the garbage and does not sit in front of the TV with her feet propped up and a bowl of popcorn at her elbow – or whatever passes as its equivalent in your culture. I am sure you understand what I mean. Dividing responsibilities is a very good idea. Do it whichever way you like but do it. Role clarity is essential in a happy marriage and role conflict causes the maximum stress on it. It is essential for one of the spouses to be dedicated to the upbringing of children; teaching them life skills, manners, tools of thinking, decision making and teaching them core values of life. Today in the Yuppy and Puppy cultures the idea of bringing up children is to feed them, ensure that they are washed and dried and entertained. That is what you do with the dog. Not with your child. Children need a jolly sight more than food, clothing and shelter if you want to develop a human being who will be your legacy to the world. I believe you need to dedicate yourself to that because it is important.

If you don’t agree, use condoms. That is far better than producing children who are a nuisance at best and a painful reality in the lives of others, as long as they live.

  1. Whose responsibility is it to make a marriage happy?

Naturally it is the responsibility of both people like in any agreement. It is important to recognize and accept this responsibility so that you will then do what it takes to fulfill it. As I mentioned above, I advocate sitting down and having a dialogue before you get married about what each one is supposed to do. Say it to each other and agree on it. Don’t leave it to guesswork and discovery. That leads to misunderstanding and disappointment. A good marriage is a dream. To make it come true you must wake up and work. If you expect your wife to cook for your friends who you will bring home from time to time, say it. And say what time to time means. If you expect your husband to pick up the food on the way home with his friends from the restaurant, say so. If you expect your wife to make breakfast for you and sit with you watching you get outside the eggs and toast, say so. If you expect your husband to bring the eggs and toast to you in bed (never really liked the idea of eating without first brushing your teeth), say so. What I mean is that in marriages, it is often the so-called ‘silly things’ that lead to trouble. So silly or not, say it if it is important to you.

My second Cardinal Principle – Concern, is what is most important to remember. If you apply the Golden Rule – Do unto them as you would have them do unto you – you can’t go wrong. The virus that kills marriage is a two-letter word – ME. To get you must first give. What you have in your hand is your harvest. What you sow is your seed. To get a harvest you must first sow the seed. Remember that the harvest is always more than the seed. So, give and give with grace, with love, with joy. And you will get much more than you bargained for. Show consideration for your spouse. Do things without being asked. Be aware of what they like the most and do it. Try to please them. Don’t play power games. The marriage is not a contest to get the better of the other. You are not in a race or in a WWF wrestling match or in a competition to see who is more powerful. Remember that every time you ‘win’ the other person loses. And losing is something that nobody enjoys. So, at some point they will get tired of losing and you will have no marriage. And that is the biggest loss that you brought on to yourself. A marriage is a relay race – long term, passing the baton to the other at each stage and the team – in this case the two of you – wins.

  1. In today’s times of pre-nups, fast track divorces and even websites as matchmakers, what kind of mindset should people have when getting into a marriage?

Today we live in a world where selfishness is not a sin anymore. However, changing your mind about an evil does not make it good. You will get sick even if you fall in love with the virus. People wanting to get married must learn to think about the other and to consciously give him or her precedence and preference. If you can’t do this, your marriage will break down sooner or later. Our lifestyles, the internet, social networking and talking to people across the world from other cultures, the TV with its unreal, fantasy world of soap operas, are all designed to destroy marriages. They promote ideas that are either directly destructive or lead to the killing fields of marriages. Today in the world of social media, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and God-alone-knows-what, there is so much pressure on making public what must be private that no marriage can survive it. People live in a fantasy world of pictures which show the best, project an unreal lifestyle and raise expectations that are impossible to meet. You are not in competition with the Kardashians or anyone else, so get real. A good marriage is about living in the real world, not in a world that is neither bold nor beautiful.

  1. Is the 7-year itch based on statistics or research? In your mind, does it exist?

I don’t think there is any such thing. Looking outside your marriage for companionship which can then lead to a breakup, is a sign of intrinsic unhappiness. If you feel it, the thing to do is to deal with it. Not look outside. The problem with 7-year itches is that every 7 years you are older and less desirable. Then where will you go?

  1. How important are children to have a happy marriage? Some couples cannot have children, others choose not to.

I don’t think children either make a marriage happy or unhappy. It is more their upbringing that makes the home happy or not. Children give the parents a common interest but for a marriage if the only thing in common is the children then something is wrong. On the converse side children take a lot of time and attention and energy and this can be difficult to handle for many people. But if the spouses share in the work of bringing up children and take the trouble to bring them up well, with good manners, values and attitudes, then they can be a huge asset for the marriage.

  1. What can couples do to keep the bespoke “spark” in the marriage?

Appreciate each other and express this appreciation daily. Catch each other doing right. Do things for one another only to see the smile on the face. Invent your own language which only the two of you understand. My wife and I used to keep a book on a table in the house in which we would write things we liked about each other or something nice we wanted to say to one another. We did say it as well but sometimes writing is easier. Give flowers and chocolates. Men also like flowers, remember. Second most important rule: Don’t react to everything that the other says. Take ten deep breaths. Then forget it. Reactions produce reactions and, in the end, it is taken out of your hands.

Finally, never go to bed, mad at each other. Always make up before you go to bed. Cuddle up together and sleep. Never quarrel in the bedroom. Never in bed. Make this a rule. If you have a problem, deal with it in the morning. Usually by the morning it would have solved itself.

  1. Is fighting healthy?

Well, depends on what is meant by ‘fighting’. If it means trying to get the better of each other in an argument and using all kinds of means to do so then it is definitely not healthy. If it means arguing as in a friendly fencing match between equal intellects that leads to good feeling, then it is good. Avoid power games like the plague. Many marriages turn into daily competitions between the spouses to see who can control the other. This takes many apparently benign and legitimate forms. But they are all illegitimate, subversive and destructive to the marriage.

Some people use religion as a means of control and invoke religious rulings and promise the other brimstone and hellfire for disobeying some whim or fancy of theirs. In many cases it is people (mostly men in this case) who have not done anything significant in life and are suffering from an inferiority complex and can sense that they really don’t command any respect on their own, who use religion and religious rulings to enforce their will on the woman. Women use religion to compensate for their own feelings of inadequacy where they feel that they are not loved or desired as much as they would like to be. ‘Should’ is the most useless word in the language. If people did what they should then the world would have been a different place. Both need to look at the real drivers behind their apparent religious orientation because it has nothing to do with the Almighty. Power games come in many packages. Spouses use children as pawns in their games at getting the better of each other. Others use health concerns, eat more, eat less, joint family rules, cultural taboos and many other things. All are power games, and all are destructive.

  1. How important is money to keep a marriage happy?

Not important at all. Both financial hardship and plenty can be a source of bonding or a source of drifting apart. It is mutual respect and concern for one another that counts. And that is a result of character, piety, learning, nobility of conduct and deportment, confidence, trustworthiness, dignity and grace, genuine desire to please one another and to place the need of the other before and above one’s own. None of these are things that money can buy or that we need money for. Marriages are happy or break up for reasons other than money. Money problems are not money problems even when there are money problems; if you see what I mean.

  1. What are the worst things couples can do to a marriage?

Lie, betray trust, cheat, play power games. Also making fun of one another as in mocking. Showing disrespect in the name of humor. Humor is to laugh with someone, not to laugh at them. Lastly but by no means the least, by being overly self-focused and showing disregard and no concern for the other. Honesty is still the best policy in 2019 and will still be the best policy in 3019 if the world lasts that long.

  1. Should people resort to white lies or tiny lies to keep the peace?

There’s a difference between telling lies and not divulging all the details. Not divulging all the details, for example about your friendships before marriage, is not wrong and is a very wise thing to do. The spouse has no need to know and it is something that does no good to the marriage no matter how ‘broadminded’ the spouse may be. But to tell a lie is wrong and goes against the grain of all that I have said above. Incidentally ‘white lies’ is a racially color biased term, like ‘black sheep’, ‘nightmare’, ‘black heart’ and so on; the legacy of English which is originally the white man’s language. Knight in shining armor can be all black too – black shines even more than white if you notice.

Having said that, telling ‘the truth’ inappropriately or in a harsh manner does no good either. Being silent is an option that is worth exploring. For example, if the toast is burnt or the food has no salt or something is not to your liking there are many ways of saying it. But you also have the option of remaining silent in honor of all the times that it was delicious. If the husband comes home cranky it is irritating but you have the option to remind yourself that a nice cup of tea and talking about something else is probably more productive than saying, ‘Don’t bring your office home.’ You would be justified in saying so, but sometimes it is better to be kind than to be justified. Diplomacy and wisdom are great virtues and most useful in a marriage. Not rubbing their nose in it is wise. Turn away gracefully. Don’t watch their discomfiture. Spouses realize that they are wrong but may not necessarily grovel at your feet and beg forgiveness. It is wise to leave them alone and not demand groveling. People’s dignity is important to maintain. Be it a management – union negotiation or a domestic disagreement, it is important to allow the one who is wrong to ‘save face’. To insist on humiliating them is to burn bridges to future relationship. Remember that you are also human and will surely be wrong one day. Don’t create a situation where the other is waiting for that day to return your favor.

  • Does it help couples when they talk about their problems? To whom, a stranger or someone they know?

It is helpful for couples to talk about their problems to someone they respect and whose advice they are willing to listen to. Usually it is better to talk to strangers as they are perceived to be fairer and more objective, as they don’t know either party but really it doesn’t matter as long as it is someone you respect and who you have decided to listen to, meaning, to obey his or her advice. As I have said earlier, before you go to talk to anyone, decide if you are going to listen to what they say even if they don’t agree with you. If you are going to someone with the expectation that they must agree with you and support your stance no matter what it is, then don’t waste your and their time. No self-respecting, honest arbitrator with any dignity will agree to be biased in favor of one party or the other. If they do, then they are not fit for the position.

In conclusion I would like to say that a marriage can be as good or as bad as you would like to make it. It is literally in your own hands.

Triple Talaq – Why are women fighting for it?

Triple Talaq – Why are women fighting for it?

Question: Why is it happening? Why are women protesting the abolition of triple Talaq when it is something that they should welcome?

Answer: Emotional knee jerk reactions born out of fear. You see the problem is that Modi and the Government have a very bad image, quite rightfully. So, anything that is seen as coming from them will immediately get rejected. Also, we have always had a high aversion to anyone who we consider an ‘Outsider’ saying anything about our law, more so about trying to change it. 

People must distinguish between two facts: Nobody can change a law that someone else made. But they can say that it will not be recognized in the land where they rule. That is essentially what the Supreme Court means when it says that it doesn’t recognize triple Talaq. It is not changing the law because within the Islamic Shari’ah it has no authority to do so. However, it is saying that it, as the Supreme Court of India, doesn’t recognize this law, will not follow it, will not rule in accordance with it, will reject it if a case comes before it and declare the divorce, so given, to be invalid. All this, the Supreme Court, is at full liberty to do. To illustrate, what do you think will happen if an American Muslim gives triple Talaq to his wife in America and she goes to court? The judge will rule that it is invalid. Will you say that American law has banned triple Talaq? They will do the same with Talaq Ahsan. With Nikah, with inheritance, with all Islamic laws as they don’t recognize them as valid in their land. 

So also in the case of the Supreme Court; what ‘not recognizing or banning’ means in effect is, that if a man gives his wife Talaq by pronouncing it thrice in the same sitting and she accepts it, there’s nothing more to be said. But if she goes to court, it will be overturned and not recognized. This is already happening. That is what I meant when I mentioned the Shamim Ara vs State of UP case of 2002. The Supreme Court declared the Talaq given in the past invalid. What was that Talaq? Triple Talaq. What the AIMPLB should have done is to implead itself and challenged this judgment. They didn’t do that. That remains to this day, 14 years later. Subsequently the courts have ruled according to this judgment multiple times and there is not a single instance where a court ruled that the triple Talaq given in one sitting was valid. 
That is also what is meant when they say that Supreme Court ‘banned’ triple Talaq. Banned means that the court has declared this law to be invalid in its sight – meaning that the court doesn’t accept it as a law. The court can’t go into every house to enforce it. But if a case comes before it, this is what it will rule. As I said, this is already happening and anyone who wants to test it, is welcome to go to court to see if it will protect the triple Talaq in one sitting. 

Muslim women are protecting the triple Talaq because in public they don’t want to look like they are criticizing Islam. I am with them in this respect. In public I also say, ‘Hands off’, to everyone else. However, what must happen in private is some education, which is lacking. Education about what marriage is, what Talaq is, about the rights of inheritance of women (brothers swallow their sisters’ rights and their wives – who are also women – support them). Education about treatment of women, about domestic violence and men oppressing women. Education about the Shari’ah itself that there are two parts to it – A Divine part and a Juristic part. Most people don’t understand this and think that everything in the Shari’ah is directly revealed in the Quran. It is not. Ijtihad has always played a very big role in the evolution of the Shari’ah. It is only in the last 150 years of so that the doors of Ijtihad have been shut. Don’t ask me why.

That is incidentally where the so-called Ghair Muqallideen came from. When you shut the doors of Ijtihad, everyone becomes a Mufti. When those who have the knowledge and the responsibility to do Ijtihad refuse to do it (whatever be their reasons) then those who have neither the knowledge nor the authority, start to make rules. Whose fault, is it? When Muslims talk about reforms in the Shari’ah, nobody means that the Quranic or Divine part should be changed. If any Muslim says that, then they have denied the validity of the Qur’an and thereby they have left Islam. But the same sanctity doesn’t apply to the Juristic part. The Imams of Fiqh are not Allah or His Messenger. They are Ulama. Their service to the Ummah is unquestioned. And that service is that they did things which were essentially not present at the time of Rasoolullah to make the application of the Divine law current and easy for people. And they ruled on matters which were new and for which you can’t find answers in the Qur’an and Sunnah. While doing this naturally the basic rule is that the new ruling must not violate the Word of Allah or the Ruling of His Messenger

Imam Shafee codified the Usool of Fiqh and built his Fiqh and legal teachings on the foundations of the principles and methodology he expounded in his book Ar-Risalah. In his book, al Bahr al Muhit, al Zarkashi (d 794 AH) devoted a chapter to this, in which he said: “Al Imam al Shafi’i was the first to write about Usul al Fiqh. He wrote the Risalah, Ahkam al Qur’an (Legal Interpretations of the Qur’an), Ikhtilaf al Hadith (Conflicting Hadith), Ibtal al Istihsan (The Invalidity of Juristic Preference), Jima’ al ‘Ilm (The Congruence of Knowledge), and al Qiyas (Analogical Reasoning)-the book in which he discussed the error of the Mu’tazilah group, and changed his mind about accepting their testimony. Then, other scholars followed him in writing books on al Usul.” This is one of the greatest example of Ijtihad. Another is the classification of the Sunnah into Muakkadah and Ghair Muakkadah.
Imam Abu Hanifa introduced the term ‘Wajib’, differentiating it from Fardh. There are many other examples of Fiqhi terminology that didn’t exist at the time of the Sahaba but which today we accept unquestioningly. All these are examples of the very dynamic and healthy tradition of Ijtihad in Islam. 

The Imams of Fiqh introduced terms like Makrooh and further, Makrooh Tahreemi wa Tanzeehi. The Sahaba would have looked at you in amazement if you mentioned Makrooh Tahreemi wa Tanzeehi to them. For them there was only Halal and Haraam. The concept that something can be prohibited yet not punishable in the same way, was foreign to them. Either something was permissible and you did it. Or it was not and you abstained. But that something was not ‘really’ permissible but you could still do it if you liked and you would not be punished in the same way as you would have been if it had been Haraam; would have been totally foreign to the Sahaba. The classic example of this is the difference of opinion about smoking between the Ulama of India and the Middle East. For the latter, it is Makrooh Tahreemi. For the former it is Haraam. However, cigarettes are not mentioned in the Quran or Sunnah.

Interestingly while claiming that the doors of Ijtihad are shut, modern Ulama have chosen to make Ijtihad in some areas. For example, in ruling that women are not allowed in Masaajid. Today this is the standard ‘ruling’ of all Hanafi and Hanbali Ulama. However, Rasoolullah’s hadith in Bukhari states clearly, ‘Abdullah ibn Umar ® narrated from Rasoolullah who said, ‘Do not stop the women slaves of Allah from the Masaajid of Allah.’

In another narration Salim ibn Abdullah ibn Umar said, I heard Abdullah ibn Umar ® say, ‘I heard Rasoolullah say, ‘Do not stop your women from the Masaajid when they ask your permission to go there.’ His son (Abdullah ibn Umar®’s son) Bilal said to him, ‘By Allah we certainly will stop them.’ Abdullah ibn Umar ® turned towards him and cursed him in very bad language, I never heard him abusing anyone like that and then he said, ‘I am informing you of something from Rasoolullah and you say, ‘By Allah we certainly will stop them?’ In yet another narration also in Bukhari, Abdullah ibn Umar ® said, ‘Rasoolullah said, ‘Do not stop the women from going in the night to the Masaajid.’ 

There is plenty of evidence to show that women and children went to the masjid in the time of Rasoolullah and the Khulafa Rashida and that it was only much later that the prohibition was brought about. The Imams of the Zahiri school like Ibn Hazm and others have held that the command to establish Salah doesn’t differentiate between men and women and so both are obliged to pray and to pray in the masjid if that is possible. And that to go against the Hadith of Rasoolullah to allow women to go to the Masaajid, claiming that conditions had changed, was not permissible.

It is later that others ruled based on various reasons they gave and the basis of a Hadith where Rasoolullah said, ‘It is preferable for women to pray at home’, that it is not permissible for women to pray in Masaajid. They did this despite the many Ahadith where Rasoolullah commanded that women must not be prevented from going to the Masaajid even though it is well known that a command supercedes a permission or preference. I will not go into the juristic arguments and justifications for these rulings or say anything about what is right or wrong, but I have quoted this to show that there is a difference between Divine command and juristic law. This means that the door of Ijtihad was wide open. So, what happened to that suddenly?

That is the question in the minds of all thinking and reasoning Muslims and on the tongues of those with the courage to verbalize their thoughts. I am quoting this case as one which proves that Ijtihad was and is done to this day when it is seen as necessary. I submit that in the case of triple Talaq it is certainly necessary. The ruling that triple Talaq in one sitting is valid, is itself Ijtihad and it was done to help women and punish men. So, what is the problem with changing it and going back to the ruling in the Qur’an and Sunnah when we see that the very purpose of this ruling (to punish errant men) is no longer being achieved? What is the need to stick to a Bid’a (Talaq-e-Bidat) when we have a Sunnah (Talaq Ahsan) which we can and should follow?

In short if our Fuqaha exercise their authority to make Ijtihad and re-look at the issue of triple Talaq, which is not a Divine ruling but a juristic (Fiqhi) one, the matter can be easily resolved. Imam Ibn Taymiyya did that and ruled against it already. Interestingly, as we speak, Hanafi Ulama send cases of triple Talaq to Ahle Hadith Ulama to be resolved knowing well that they will rule that the three Talaqs are equal to one and so the marriage is not dissolved. Yet they (Hanafi Ulama) will not adopt this ruling publicly. Even more amazingly Ahle Hadith Ulama have sided with the Hanafi Ulama of the AIMPLB in this case, thereby going against their own ruling which they follow. What that does to their credibility is something that only they are impervious to. None so blind as those who choose to blindfold themselves. Truly the ways of the ‘learned’ are wondrously mysterious. May Allah have mercy on us all.

Triple Talaq as it is used in India is an oppression of women. The arguments which have been used in its favor make no sense at all and have made us the laughing stock of the nation. That the number of women affected by it are few or many makes no difference. A law must be just for everyone. People may ignore the law and be unjust and they will then be culpable. But if the law is itself unjust, then you can’t fault people for what happens. Triple Talaq in one sitting goes against the Ayaat of the Qur’an and the rulings of Rasoolullah. We need to rule according to the Qur’an and Sunnah. Whatever happened in the past which led to triple Talaq being recognized (we are all aware of the historical issues) was valid then in the circumstances of 7th century Arabia. Its purpose was to help women and punish errant men, as I have mentioned earlier. This is not happening in India any longer so that very purpose (Maqsad) of the Ijtihad is not being fulfilled. To treat triple Talaq as one or to remove it altogether will once again fulfill the purpose of the ruling which was to protect women from being exploited. It is the duty of our Ulama to consider this seriously and act. 

Only Divine law is valid for all times and places. Juristic law is changeable and came into being because change is permissible. If juristic law is not working in a place and instead of protecting the very people it was designed to protect, has become the means of their oppression; then it must be changed. It is our Ulama who must change it. Nobody else has that authority. I hope we can persuade our Ulama to do what they also know they must do.

It is shameful for us as Muslims in India that a secular body like the Supreme Court needs to intervene to force us Muslims follow the law of our own religion.
Never try to change your spouse

Never try to change your spouse

There are two kinds of correctional institutions. One is called prison. The other one is, but is called marriage. One has a specific term you must serve. The other one is for life. In one you get paid to be there. In the other, you pay to be there. Both specialize in trying to make you something which you don’t want to be but which the powers that be have decided, that you must become. You have two choices in both. Fight to the bitter end. Or succumb. There are those who are stupid and those who are smart. The stupid ones’ fight and fight until they can’t fight any longer. If they are lucky, they die fighting. If not, they gradually weaken and end their days in forced submission, their hearts aflame and fluttering like caged birds, yearning to be free, even if it is by death. The smart ones decide early enough that prisoners that fight can never win. They system is stacked against them. So, either they escape. Or they learn to like the smell.
 
The worst, most degrading, most toxic thing in a marriage is to live under the cloud that you are not good enough. Many children live this life during childhood but with the consolation that they didn’t ask for the parents they got. But what is the consolation for the adults who get into such a situation voluntarily? Living this life is a constant barrage against your self-esteem which can have only one end – bitterness and hatred. But it is amazing how few of those who have power, realize this.
That is why I called it a ‘correctional institution’.
 
It appears when you look at some marriages that the only reason one person married the other was to change them into something that was compatible to their imaginary model. I say ‘imaginary’ because I have yet to come across a spouse who had a model which was both positive and negative. All models that spice want their spice to become are all- positive as defined by them. That is like wanting a ‘white Christmas’, in the Sahara Desert. It is by nature and definition impossible. Trying to do something which is impossible, is to set yourself up for failure. The results are always, without exception, catastrophic. Yet we continue to do this, generation after generation.
 
Why does this happen?
 
I believe it is for two reasons; arrogance and ingratitude.
 
Arrogance because one of the spouses considers themselves to be superior to the other and makes it their life goal to ‘improve’ them and bring them on par with themselves, and so make them worthy of being their spouse. What they forget is that they married someone they liked. They forget what they liked. They are only conscious of what they discovered after the honeymoon; that which comes with the packing and which they didn’t realize because they didn’t read the fine print of the Creator. So, they set about trying to change that. To do that, they must necessarily be dissatisfied with what they have because it is dissatisfaction with status quo that drives every improvement or correction initiative. They thus condemn themselves to ignoring the good that is also in the package because they are so focused on the ‘bad’. That they have cursed their own life, they are oblivious to. That they have become the curse in the life of the spouse, they don’t care because they consider themselves to be a blessing and not a curse. And since they are neither interested in ‘customer feedback’ nor are inmates of correctional institutions empowered to give feedback, the opinion of the subject of their attention is immaterial.
 
Ingratitude because every person has both positive and negative qualities in them. This hardly needs reiterating but it is so often forgotten or ignored that I must state it upfront. Imagining that something in the spouse is negative because you don’t like it, is arrogance. Ignoring the positive in them and treating it as something that is your birthright is gross ingratitude. Both these attitudes are damaging for the other because it is as if his/her entire existence is being judged worthy or not on one parameter alone – does it please the other person. Before the 18th century that used to be called ‘slavery’. I would submit therefore that if you find that some of what I have said applies to you, please reassess your marriage and ask yourself if you are in a marriage or running a correctional institution?
 
To be brutally frank, marriage is actually a ‘honey trap’ that exists for the propagation of the species. It exists for one reason only, that children may have a stable nest in which to grow to fledgling-hood. All the rest is fluff to make it look attractive to those who are going to do the work and pay for it. Anyone who thinks that marriage is for companionship, supporting each other and so on can easily see that all that costs less to do by itself without signing your warrant for lifetime incarceration. A friend, your therapist, a one-time gift, all cost less, have no complications and leave you feeling good and positive. I have yet to see someone unhappy after meeting a friend or giving a gift.  
 
So, children come into the world with two parents to care for them, change nappies, pay their bills, buy them the latest gadgets and set them up in life to believe that the world owes them a living. Children born without two doting parents imagining that their piece of meat is God’s gift to mankind never learn this lesson and live in the world knowing that they must struggle to succeed. Hardship that doesn’t kill you always strengthens. So, those who suffered while growing up always beat the living daylights out of those who lived the sheltered life; just as the tree that grows in the crevice clinging to the rock weathers every storm while the one with a lush canopy and shallow roots, is knocked flat by the first gale. If children were not in the equation, marrying someone and pledging to care for them all your and their lives, subjugating yourself to their demands and considering yourself and your life a success or failure based on their subjective judgment, makes no sense at all.
 
So, what must you do?
 
Go look in the mirror and tell yourself that the only one in the world who thinks that you are an unqualified blessing is perhaps your mother and that too, perhaps. Tell yourself that you married your spouse because you liked them, not because you found them when they lost their way to their shrink. They didn’t come to be changed. They came to be friends, to share their lives, to slog their butts off to keep you in the style to which you have become accustomed. Surely that deserves a ‘thank you’? Look at their good side. The side you married them for. 

Get a selective memory that doesn’t stockpile all the garbage that every human relationship generates. Remember the good. Get amnesia about the bad. Ask not what your spouse can do for you. Ask what you can do for your spouse. Thank you, President Kennedy. And finally remind yourself that your spouse is human and whatever he or she came with or without is what any other human would come with or without. If you don’t believe me, ask Elizabeth Taylor. And if you don’t like what human beings come with, marry a gorilla.
 
Does that sound crazy? You bet it is. So, pray that your spouse remains crazy and never gets cured or he will wake up to the fact that your correctional institution has no walls or gates.

Marriage Evils

Today it is tragic to see that Muslim weddings in our city seem to be devoid of any commitment to Islam. They have instead become famous for ostentation, vulgar display of wealth and wasteful expenditure. That too when we as a community are among the most economically backward and deprived of all people. To see the wealthy among us displaying such a colossal lack of concern for the deprived, by spending lakhs and crores on weddings while poor Muslims suffer untold miseries is something that is designed to attract the anger of Allah.


According to the statistics for 2014-15, Hyderabadi Muslims spent Rs. 4000 crores on catering and hall rental for weddings. The actual amount spent will be far higher as we all can guess. How will we answer Allahwhen we meet Him as we surely must? Meanwhile our divorce and separation rate is three times that of any other community in the country. So obviously our spending is not bringing us any happiness. I am not saying that divorces are only because of spending. They are also the result of the almost total lack of upbringing of our children, the total lack of Akhlaaq, the very little connection with Allah and His Deen. Our insane spending in marriages is an indicator of a much deeper malaise which is destroying our community.

See these statistics: http://www.deccanherald.com/content/565190/more-women-divorced-india-report.html

Allah honored the marriage by calling it one of His signs. He said:


Rum 30: 21. And among His Signs is this, that He created for you mates from among yourselves, that you may find tranquility in them, and He has put between you, love and mercy. Verily, in that are indeed signs for a people who reflect.

Marriage in Islam is an act of worship because if it is done according to the Sunnah of Rasoolullah it is something that Allah will reward us for. The key is to ensure that we do it in accordance with the Sunnah.

Abdullah ibn Mas’udtreported that Rasoolullah said to us: O young men, those among you who can support a wife should marry, for it restrains eyes (from casting evil glances) and preserves one from immorality; but he who cannot afford it should fast for fasting is a means of controlling sexual desire. [Tirmidhi]

In this Hadith and in several others, it is clear that marriage is the responsibility of the man who must make arrangements to contract it according to his means. It is not the responsibility of the girl’s parents to worry about her marriage or to incur any expenses in this connection. This is the cardinal difference between the Islamic way and that of others, where the woman and her parents are freed of this responsibility.

Abu Hurairah (R) narrated from Rasoolullah who said: “A woman may be married for four things: her wealth, her lineage, her beauty and her religious commitment. Seek the one who is religiously-committed, may your hands be rubbed with dust (i.e., may you prosper).” [Bukhari & Muslim]

It is clear from this Hadith that though you may look for the other three things in a spouse, what you should choose her/him for is religious commitment over and above anything else.
It is the rich who set the trend. And it is thanks to them that middle class and poor Muslim parents are pressured to spend more than they can afford for the weddings of their children. As a result, one of the biggest problems in Muslim society is that of indebtedness – inability to pay back interest bearing loans. Even more tragic is the fact that in most cases it is women who pressure their men folk to spend money on all kinds of customs and practices which have nothing to do with Islam. 

The only purpose is to ‘impress’ others with the degree of Jahaalat that one can achieve and the constant refrain is, ‘What will people say?’ Allah called ostentation and ostentatious spenders the brothers of Shaytaan.



(Garland for the bridegroom being brought in by a crane in a Hyderabadi wedding)

He said:
Isra 17: 27 Verily, spendthrifts are brothers of the Shayateen and the Shaytaan is ever ungrateful to his Rabb.
Add to this the evil of dowry which we have adopted with the result that men have no shame in demanding it and parents of the bride are forced to cough up the ransom for their daughter. We have all kinds of shameless ways of asking for it. Dowry is Haraam. Asking for it is either begging or extortion and makes you a Bhikari (beggar) or a highway robber. I ask the parents of brides, ‘Why do you want to marry your daughter to a beggar or bandit? Then there are demands on the bride’s family for ‘fat’ weddings with all kinds of unislamic customs like Manja, Sanchak, Mehndi, Sangeet, Dholak and the pressure on the bride’s family to host a dinner on the day of the Nikah.
All these customs are against Islam, add to the expense and make the wedding a source of great suffering for the bride’s family. In addition, all these customs are against Islam and sinful to say the least.

Compare this to the Islamic way: The man or his family send his proposal to the bride’s family. The man and bride meet face to face and decide if they want to marry. The amount of Mehar is decided among them which the man has to pay. The Nikah takes place in the masjid. Then the man hosts a Walima (meal in celebration of his wedding) on the same or next day. The bride’s family incurs no expense at all. The man incurs whatever expense he wishes as the Walima is his responsibility. And all this happens simply, with dignity and in accordance with the Law of Allah and the Sunnah of His Messenger. Such a marriage is blessed and its results can only be good.

We believe the time has come for all people with a conscience to raise their voice against these evil practices. Whether or not you are religious, it is our duty to refuse to support these social evils.

For this it is essential that we do three things:

1. When we have a wedding in our family ensure that it is strictly according to the Islamic way which I have described above. In that alone there is Khair, the blessing of Allah and the honor of the Sunnah of Rasoolullah.

2. When you are invited to a wedding, ask about what is happening there. If there is any unislamic custom, don’t go. Tell them clearly that you will not attend because the wedding is not according to Islam. Don’t make an excuse. Say clearly that you are against unislamic weddings as you are a Muslim and so will not attend.

3. It is especially important that Ulama and opinion leaders don’t attend because their attendance becomes a proof for people that what they are doing is correct. When Ulama don’t attend and tell people why they are not attending, people stop to think and InshaAllah this can bring about change. One argument in support of Ulama attending unislamic weddings that I heard takes the cake. Someone said, ‘If we don’t attend people will do even worse and they will dance naked.’ Not my words but the words that I was told.

4. My submission is that this argument goes directly against the Qur’an and Sunnah.

Allah said about supporting good and not supporting evil:

Ma’aida 5: 2 Help you one another in Al-Birr and At-Taqwa (virtue, righteousness and piety); but do not help one another in sin and transgression. And fear Allah. Verily, Allah is Severe in punishment.

Rasoolullah said: Abu Sa’eed al-Khudree (R) said: I heard Rasoolullah say, “Whoever sees an evil, let him change it with his hand; and if he is not able to do so, then [let him change it] with his tongue; and if he is not able to do so, then with his heart — and that is the weakest of faith.” [Muslim]

Please see this Ayah and Hadith and tell me where is the permission to participate in a gathering where the laws of Allah and the Sunnah of Rasoolullah is being broken and remain silent and benefit from the meeting? The only justification, especially for Ulama to go to unislamic weddings would be to stop whatever is happening there which is unislamic. Needless to say, that would create an even bigger Fitna. And so the only choice they have is to boycott such events and tell people why they are boycotting them. If not, they will become the proof that people will use to commit Haraam and they will be answerable before Allahfor that.

There are two stages that a person goes through in life – the wedding and the funeral. That is why in Hindi and Urdu – we have the same word with a slight difference, for the traditional vehicle of the bride which symbolizes the moving from one state to another – doli and dola.

I ask you, will you accept a funeral with a band and dancing before the Namaz-e-Janaza? Why then do you accept a wedding with bands, dancing, free mixing of men and women, ostentation and vulgar display – all against Islam?

All social change starts with one person – me. So take this decision that you will not attend a wedding which is not in accordance with Islam. Tell others about it. And stick to it. Don’t go even if it is the wedding of your closest relative. And if anyone talks about family ties, please tell him/her that our ties with Allah and Rasoolullahtake precedence over all other ties. Allaheven ordered us to disobey parents if they order us to disobey Him. So where is the question of doing thing to anger Allahto please anyone else?

Islam seeks to make Nikah easy and Zina (fornication) difficult. We have turned this on its head and then we wonder why there is so much corruption in society.

Abu Hurayrah (R) said: Rasoolullah said: “If someone whose religious commitment and attitude pleases you proposes marriage, then marry [your female relative under your charge] to him. If you do not do that, there will be tribulation in the land and much corruption.” (Tirmidhi, Ibn Maajah, Sahih by Albani).

Hazrat Aaisha (Radiyallahu Anha) reports that Rasoolullah said: “The Nikah with the most Baraka is that Nikah wherein the least expense was incurred.” (Musnad Ahmad)

The primary responsibility to ensure that no unnecessary expenses are incurred and that nothing is done which is against Islam is that of the bride and groom. NOT OF THE PARENTS. If you don’t think you are old enough to stand up for your Islamic duties, then you are not old enough to get married. Obedience to parents or anyone else comes AFTER obedience to Allah and Rasoolullah. Neither your parents nor anyone else is going to come into your graves with you. You will be there alone and you will answer why you allowed unnecessary expenses and unlawful practices to be done in your marriages. How do you expect Baraka in your married life, the help of Allah, good children, happy relationships and prosperity and safety when you did everything possible to anger Allah during your marriage? Get real people. Stop fooling yourself. You are not fooling anyone else. So please grow up or remain unmarried. It is as clear as that.

Narrated Anas bin Malik (R): Rasoolullah saw the trace of yellow on ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn ‘Awf (R) Rasoolullah asked him: What is this? He replied: Ya Rasoolullah I have married a woman. He asked: How much Mahr did you give her? He said: A nawat weight of gold. He said: Hold a Walima, even if only with a sheep. (Sunan Abu Dawud; Sahih, Albani)

This shows that when he got married not only did he not host a meal inviting his friends on the day of the Nikah but he did not even invite Rasoolullahand Rasoolullah didn’t know that he had got married until the next day. This is not an indication of lack of Adab. It is an indication that the Nikah is to be a simple ceremony without any party after it. 

Rasoolullah told him to give a Walima which he did. That shows that the Walima is the responsibility of the groom and not the bride or her family.

Finally, please remember that if we, especially the wealthy among us, don’t change our ways, then we will invite the Adhaab of Allah. It is in this connection that Allah warned us and told us that we are the architects of our own destruction. He said:

Ra’ad 13: 11   Verily! Allah will not change the good condition of a people as long as they do not change their state of goodness themselves (by committing sins and by being ungrateful and disobedient to Allah).

And He warned the wealthy among us, especially and said:

Isra 17: 16.   And when We decide to destroy a town (population), We (first) send a definite order (to obey Allah and be righteous) to those among them who are given the good things of this life. Then, they transgress therein, and thus the word (of torment) is justified against it (them). Then We destroy it with complete destruction.

Allah promised to punish those who insist on disobeying Him. Allah’s orders are for our benefit. When we obey Him we create a beautiful society that is beneficial to everyone. If we disobey Him, we harm ourselves in this life and attract His anger and punishment. Allah said:

An’am 6: 44     So, when they forgot (the warning) with which they had been reminded, We opened to them the gates of every (pleasant) thing, until in the midst of their enjoyment in that which they were given, all of a sudden, We took them to punishment, and lo! They were plunged into destruction with deep regret and sorrow.

Please remember that you are the most important person in the world and all change begins with you. So first of all if you took a dowry, calculate it in today’s money and return it to your wife. Let her give it to her family or keep it. It was Haraam for you to take it and so return it. Do this for all the material stuff you took also. Calculate the value in today’s terms and return it. Then make Tawba for whatever you did or allowed to happen in your marriage that was against the orders of Allah and the Sunnah of Rasoolullah. Free Tawba is not accepted. You have to compensate people for your oppression before you seek forgiveness of Allah. So please do this. And do it immediately. And it you feel reluctant about it, then remember that when you meet Allah this compensation will be extracted from you and that will be far more expensive. I don’t wish that on you under any circumstances. Thank Allah that He kept you alive and gave you an opportunity to make Tawba. Don’t squander that. Make Tawba and return what you took.

Remember that you will not be asked, ‘What happened?’ You will be asked, ‘What did you do?’

So don’t allow what is not in your control to prevent you from doing what is in your control.

Wedding Khutba

All praise and thanks to Allah the Rabb of the universe. Salam on His Messenger and his family. To begin, Allah said:
وَمِنْ آيَاتِهِ أَنْ خَلَقَ لَكُم مِّنْ أَنفُسِكُمْ أَزْوَاجًا لِّتَسْكُنُوا إِلَيْهَا وَجَعَلَ بَيْنَكُم مَّوَدَّةً وَرَحْمَةً إِنَّ فِي ذَلِكَ لَآيَاتٍ لِّقَوْمٍ يَتَفَكَّرُونَ
Rum 30: 21. And among His Signs is this, that He created for you spouses from amongst yourselves, that you may find tranquility in them, and He has put between you love and mercy. Verily, in that are indeed signs for people who reflect.
It was the Sunnah of Rasoolullah to advise newlyweds about their forthcoming life together as man and wife. In this advice are also reminders for us, their family and friends, wed and unwed. I will therefore request your attention.
Allah called the marriage one of His signs. The purpose of a sign is to remind you of the original. The sign shows the way, the direction. Let our marriages display this sign, the sign that honors us as it reminds those who look at us of Allah. Let the marriage be celebrated as a reflection of the goodness of Islam. Let it reflect the Noor of the Sunnah of Rasoolullah. Let the marriage be a reminder that one day we have to meet Allah. Let the spouses each be the helper of the other in pleasing Allah. If you please Allah, Allah will please you. He will put love for you in the heart of the other, because that is something that only He can do. Rasoolullah said, ‘Allah loves the man who wakes up for Tahajjud and wakes up his wife. And Allah loves the woman who wakes up for Tahajjud and wakes up her husband.’ The result of Allah loving you is that the whole world will love you. This is the great secret of life; that love, dignity, respect (Muhabbah, Izzah) all come from Allahand He gives them only to the one who He is pleased with. So focus on pleasing Allah and you will find that the world is pleased with you.
Allah mentioned three qualities of the marriage which he honored by calling it His Sign; tranquility (Sukoon), love (Mawaddah) and mercy (Rahma). Today as we are all gathered to wish the best of lives in this world and the next for our dear children, let us reflect on what marriage means in the context that Allah defined it. All goodness can only come from obedience to Allah and following the Sunnah of His beloved Messenger.
The first term that Allahused is Sukoon (tranquility), which means harmony, understanding, lack of conflict. Allah said, ‘We created your mates from among yourself so that Li taskunu ilaiha’, ‘So that they may take Sukoon from it.’ Allah called this the very purpose of the marriage – so that you may take Sukoon from one another. A marriage in which there is no Sukoon is not a marriage.
So what is Sukoon? In the language it is the absence of movement – no Fatah, Dhamma, Kasra. Sukoon is the absence of movement away from the spouse in any way. No movement away from the spouse of the eyes, actions, heart, thought. Sukoon is the presence of an atmosphere of complete safety that requires no defences. Having some level of defence from people in general is a sign of emotional maturity. Transparency, spontaneity and openness is a good thing generally speaking but overdoing it with all and sundry can be detrimental in many ways. But with respect to the spouse, a good marriage is one where there is no need to have any defences between spouses. Remember that this will happen only when both people feel safe. When they know that lowering their defence will not result in hurt. It takes a lifetime to build this trust and one single instance to destroy it. This is the meaning of Sukoon; the freedom to be yourself in a safe environment without the anxiety to guard yourself against attack. Many people treat the married partner as a sparring partner and are always trying to score a knockout. That is a very shortsighted and stupid policy as you will never be able to lower your guard and will never have Sukoon in your life.
This situation of tension happens when there is competition. Competition for control, for attention, for affection. Spouses many times unconsciously, compete to show who is the boss. They compete for attention from others in the family. They compete for affection from children, parents and so on. This comes from a basic insecurity about yourself and your relationship with your spouse which you always feel is under threat and so you need constant reassurance. Sukoon is the result of one overriding principle; ‘How can I make my spouse happy?’ Goodness in marriage is the outcome of mutuality. Of mutual consideration. Of the mutual desire to go out of the way to please the other. This is the opposite of individualism. It is the opposite of the focus on gaining one’s happiness even if it is at the cost of the happiness of others. Remember that you have rights and you have duties.
Focus on rights and you will neglect your duties and be unhappy. Focus on duties and the rights will fulfill themselves. The duties of one are the rights of the other. It is the duty of the husband that he should cover his wife with love and mercy. It is his right that he should be obeyed. Allah said, ‘Ar rijaalu qawwamoona alan Nisa,’ ‘Men have been given authority over women.’ It is the duty of the woman that she should obey her husband and her right that he should treat her with respect, affection and dignity. If the woman fulfills her duty of obeying her husband, his right that he should be obeyed gets fulfilled. And if the husband covers his wife in love and mercy, her right that she should be treated with respect, affection and dignity will be automatically fulfilled. Focus on duties and not rights because you will be questioned about your duties, not about your rights.
Sukoon is the result of compassion, kindness and sensitivity. It is not the result of selfishness, self-centeredness and conceit. Sukoon is the result when you stop competing; for attention, for demonstration of love, for power and control. The married home is the harbor, not a boxing ring for you to score a knockout. It is the place of safety that the ship seeks when it returns from fighting the storms of life. What would be the fate of the ship which returns to find a new storm brewing in the harbor?
Remember that in a marriage all those who compete can only lose. You lose if you win and you lose if you lose. Everything in a marriage can decline; beauty, strength, power, influence; sometimes even money. But the only thing that not only doesn’t decline but actually increases over time in a good marriage is Sukoon. Sukoon is companionship without speaking, it is the communication in a look, it is the thought that transfers from one to another without any conscious effort.
It is magical to see one spouse completing sentences for the other; supplying names without even being asked; giving one something they had only thought about and hadn’t even asked for. Alhamdulillah I have the honor of being from a family where this was and is common and I am sure I am not alone in this. If there is one reliable sign of a good marriage, it is the amount of Sukoon. I wish all of you, great Sukoon in your marriages.
The second word that Allah used is Mawaddah – love. Love is not like. Like needs reasons. You like or dislike someone for something. But you love someone despite something. Love has no reason behind it. It is that Neymah from Allah which enables you to only see the good in the other and in the relationship. Love is reflected in this world in the relationship that a mother has for her child. A relationship which is blind to his faults. It is not that the mother is really blind to the faults but she loves the child despite his faults. Love is what characterizes our relationship with Allah. Allahloves us not because we are particularly lovable. But because we are His creation. He loves us not because of but inspite of our faults. We ask Allah to forgive us not because we deserve it but because He loves us. Love has no reason but itself. Love has no logic but itself. Love is fulfilled by itself, not by the response it gets. Truly blessed are those who can love and truly blessed are those who are loved.
Love needs to be expressed. It is expressed by showing appreciation and giving thanks. Thanks to Allah who gave you a spouse who is good to you and thanks to the spouse who adds value to your life. Love is expressed by giving the other precedence in fulfilling her needs and preference over what you want for yourself. Love is expressed in being a mirror to the spouse; giving critical feedback with care. Love is expressed in listening to that critical feedback without taking offence, knowing that it comes from a sincere and genuine concern for your welfare. Love is expressed in sharing your hopes and aspirations, fears and apprehensions. Love is expressed in taking an interest in things that interest your spouse, in giving him/her space to aspire to excellence in their field and in taking the pressure that this may put on your married life. Love is expressed most of all by standing in the night before Allah and making dua for your spouse.
To love your spouse is to love them at the time when they are not particularly lovable, because that is the time when they need love. To love your spouse is to find joy in looking at them, talking to them, simply being with them.  To love your spouse is to love those he/she loves. Love needs no reason. Love is not for what the person says, or does or gives. Love is for what the person is, what he or she means to you. Love needs no words to be expressed and indeed all the ‘I love you’ in the world can’t communicate love if it is not there. When it is there, it is like light; it permeates the darkness of loneliness, of grief, of despair. Love is unconditional. What is conditional is not love – it is self-interest pretending to be love. Allah called love something that He put between the spouses. It is His Neymah, His blessing, so cherish it, enjoy it and thank Him for it. Love is the sign of our connection with Allah. It is His gift and it is from Him. Thank Allah both for a spouse who reminds you of Allah and who makes you practice Sabr. Allahis with the Sabireen.
The last word that Allahused in this Ayatul Kareema is Rahma. Rahma is a quality and attribute of Allah Himself. In its highest form it is His name – Ar Rahmanur Raheem. The most merciful whose mercy never decreases and lasts forever. Allah honored the marriage by saying that He placed this quality in the marriage. Truly blessed are those who find it in their marriage and cherish it.
What is Rahma? Rahma is to return wrong with good. Good for good is justice. Evil for evil is justice. But good for wrong is mercy; Rahma. Allah is full of mercy because He continues to fulfill the needs of all; those who obey Him and those who don’t; those who please Him and those who anger Him. His Mercy encompasses all His creation. His Mercy permeates all His actions. His Mercy overrides His anger. He has written Mercy for Himself (6:54: Kataba Rabbukum ala Nafsihir Rahma) and we ask Him for His Mercy when we meet Him. We ask for His forgiveness, not because we deserve it but because He is Ar-Rahman.
Happy marriages are not made up of a set of perfect behavior from both spouses. Actually that expectation – holding others to a standard that you don’t apply to yourself – is the cause of conflict and unhappiness. Happy marriages are the result of forgiveness. Happy marriages are the result of a selective memory. A memory that remembers only the good and not the bad. A memory that doesn’t even keep junk in the folder for a month like most spam filters, but deletes it immediately; but retains every little good action or word permanently in the RAM; instantaneous random recall. So I wish you all memory that retains only good. Mercy is forgiveness. Mercy is the basis of forgiveness. We need mercy because we need forgiveness. Mercy is to honor all those times when the spouse did all that could be expected and more and to remember this when they are no longer able to do it anymore. Mercy shows that we are not merely transactional beings like animals who respond as long as they are being fed but that we have the nobility never to forget any good that came to us from the other. Mercy is the light of the face and the expanse of the heart. Mercy is the quality that Allahblesses those He loves with; so that they do what they expect Him to do for them. Mercy is Allah’s special attribute and that which He blessed Rasoolullahwith when He called him Rahmatul-lil-A’alameen. To have mercy is to ennoble yourself because mercy is about you, not about them.
I want to end with dua for both our children, Fatehma and Ali. I ask Allah to give you the greatest of strengths, Ta’alluq Ma’Allah; the greatest of wealth, Contentment with His Qadr; the greatest of Honor, following the blessed Sunnah of Rasoolullah.  I ask Allahto make your marriage full of Khair, full of His Ridha and the fulfillment of your dreams. I ask Allah to give you children who will be the coolness of your hearts and a credit to your name and a means of Sadaqatul Jaariya. I ask Allahto make you among those who never disobey Him and never go against the Sunnah of His Messenger Muhammad. I ask Allah to open your hearts to Hidaya from Himself and make you among those who will be living walking, talking Standard Bearers of Islam. I ask Allah to grant Hidaya to those you make dua for, to those you present Islam to, to those who you meet, to those you look at and to those who look at you. I ask Allah to guide you to make Tawba and to forgive your transgressions and to convert them to good deeds, as He promised to do.

I ask Allah to give you Khushoo in Salah and make it the sweetness of your life so that you look forward to it. I ask Allah to make you among those whose dua is never rejected and when you raise your hands in dua to accept it before you lower your hands. I pray that Allah makes each day of your life better than the previous day; the last of your deeds, the best of your deeds and the last day of your life, the best day of your life, when you will meet Him. I ask the same dua for all of you who are gathered here and for your families who may not be here. May Allahaccept my dua.

Voice Recording: https://1drv.ms/u/s!AmvJrLlWGmcWpTJP6-Rw2_nDuzCj