Friday, May 7, 2010

Tips for a Better Husband and Wife Relationship

Although many Muslims may right now be in failing marriages and on a fast track to divorce and its terrible consequences, there are many ways to put their marriage back on the right track if the husband and wife are sincere in their desire to reconcile. The following principles can be used by Muslims whose marriages are already in trouble or by Muslims who would like to avoid trouble in their marriage.

Examples of Negative
Relationship of Husband & Wife

Many Muslim husbands and wives treat each other like adversaries rather than partners. The husband feels that he is the boss, and whatever he says goes. The wife feels that she must squeeze everything she can out of her husband. Some wives never show their husband that they are satisfied with anything he does or buys for them in order to trick him into doing and buying more. They make him feel like a failure if he does not give them the lifestyle that their friends and families enjoy. Some husbands speak very harshly to their wives, humiliate them, and even physically abuse them. Their wives have no voice or opinion in the family.

Marriage In The Eyes of Allah

It is very sad that this relationship which Allah (SWT) has established for the good has been made a source of contention, deception, trickery, tyranny, humiliation, and abuse. This is not the way marriage is supposed to be.

Allah (SWT) described marriage very differently in the Holy Quran: '. . . He created for you mates from among yourselves, that ye may dwell in tranquillity with them, and He has put love and mercy between your (hearts) . . . " (Holy Quran 30:21, Yusuf Ali Translation).

Do not be a Tyrant

Regardless of whether or not Islam has made the husband the head of the household, Muslims are not supposed to be dictators and tyrants. We are taught to treat our wives well. The Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) was reported to have said: 'The most perfect Muslim in the matter of faith is one who has excellent behavior; and the best among you are those who behave best towards their wives" (From Mishkat al-Masabih, No. 0278(R) Transmitted by Tirmidhi).

Be Partners in the Decision Making Process.

Follow the principle of 'Shura," and make decisions as a family. There will be much more harmony in the family when decisions are not imposed and everyone feels that they had some part in making them.

Never be Emotionally

Never be emotionally, mentally, or physically abusive to your spouse. The Prophet (SAWS) never mistreated his wives. He is reported to have said: 'How could they beat their women in daytime as slaves and then sleep with them in the night?"

Be Careful of Your Words

Be very careful what you say when you are upset. Sometimes you will say things that you would never say when you were not angry. If you are angry, wait until you calm down before continuing the conversation.

Show Affection

Show affection for your mate. Be kind, gentle, and loving.

Be Your Spouse's Friend

Show interest in your mate's life. Too often, we live in the same house but know nothing about each other's lives. It would be great if the husband and wife could work together for the same cause or on the same project. They could perhaps establish a husband/wife prison ministry, take care of orphans in their home, or lead an Islamic weekend class.

Show Appreciation

Show appreciation for what your spouse does for the family. Never make your husband feel that he is not doing good enough for the family or that you are not satisfied with his work or his efforts, unless, of course, he is truly lazy and not even trying to provide for the family. The Prophet (SAWS) was reported to have said: 'On the Day of Judgment, God will not look upon the woman who has been ungrateful to her husband." (where is this hadith found) Show your wife that you appreciate her. If she takes care of the house and the children, don't take it for granted. It is hard work, and no one likes to feel unappreciated.

Work Together in the House

The Prophet (SAWS) is known to have helped his wives in the house. And if the Prophet (SAWS) was not above doing housework, modern Muslim husbands shouldn't feel that they are.

Communication is Important

Communication, Communication, Communication! This is the big word in counseling. And it should be. Husbands and wives need to talk to each other. It is better to deal with problems early and honestly than to let them pile up until an explosion occurs.

Forget Past Problems

Don't bring up past problems once they have been solved.

Live Simply

Don't be jealous of those who seem to be living a more luxurious life than your family. The 'rizq" is from Allah (SWT). In order to develop the quality of contentment, look at those people who have less than you, not those who have more. Thank Allah (SWT) for the many blessings in your life.

Give Your Spouse Time Alone

If your mate doesn't want to be with you all the time, it doesn't mean he or she doesn't love you. People need to be alone for various reasons. Sometimes they want to read, to think about their problems, or just to relax. Don't make them feel that they are committing a sin.

Admit Your Mistakes

When you make a mistake, admit it. When your mate makes a mistake, excuse him or her easily. If possible, never go to sleep angry with each other.

Physical Relationship is Important

Be available to your mate sexually, and don't let your sexual relationship be characterized by selfishness. The Prophet (SAWS) was reported to have said: 'It is not appropriate that you fall upon your wives like a beast but you must send a message of love beforehand."

Have Meals Together

Try to eat together as a family when possible. Show the cook and the dishwasher, whether it is the husband or the wife, appreciation for his or her efforts. The Prophet (SAWS) did not complain about food that was put before him.

Be Mindful of Your discussion Topics

Never discuss with others things about your marriage that your spouse wouldn't like you to discuss, unless there is an Islamic reason to do so. Some husbands and wives, believe it or not, complain to others about their mate's physical appearance. This is a recipe for disaster. Information about your intimate relations should be kept between you and your spouse.

Many of us treat our spouses in ways that we would never treat others. With others, we try to be polite, kind, and patient. With our spouses, we often do not show these courtesies. Of course, we are usually with our spouses at our worst times --- when we are tired and frustrated after a hard day. After a bad day at the office, husbands usually come home angry and on edge. The wife has probably also had a hard day with the children and the housework. Wives and husbands should discuss this potential time bomb so that if they are short-tempered with each other during these times, they will understand the reasons rather than automatically thinking that their spouse no longer loves them.

Good marriages require patience, kindness, humility, sacrifice, empathy, love, understanding, forgiveness, and hard work. Following these principles should help any marriage to improve. The essence of them all can be summed up in one sentence: Always treat your spouse the way you would like to be treated. If you follow this rule, your marriage will have a much greater chance for success. If you discard this rule, failure is just around the corner.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Muslim Women Working Outside the Home

Many families, especially in the West, consider it normal and even necessary for the wife to have a job outside the home---either to make ends meet or to make it possible for the family to maintain a certain quality of life. Presented below is an Islamic view on women working outside the home.

Disintegration of Families:

However, the family in the West is disintegrating, and many believe that this lifestyle is a major part of the problem. With the mother and father both working outside the home, the children's lives are often filled with loneliness, lack of training, and perhaps frustration and anger with their rarely present parents. These children are often left in the hands of baby-sitters (some good, some not-so-good, and some really bad) and the infamous one-eyed baby-sitter, the TV. The parents goal of improving their family's financial situation by having two breadwinners often backfires, and the family is sometimes harmed or destroyed in the process.

Muslim Households
Affected by Western Lifestyle

Muslims in the West are now beginning to face this same problem. Many Muslim women are now pursuing higher education and careers in such fields as medicine, law, education, computers, and engineering. When they get married, they may want to continue working in their chosen profession.

Potential Problems for
Ladies Working Outside their Homes

Depending on how the situation is handled, this could cause major upheavals in the Muslim family. Several potential problems might arise.

The husband may feel jealous or worried about his wife who has the chance of being flirted with by male coworkers, forced at times to work alone with males, or even sexually harassed at work, Although wearing hijab, conducting herself in a purely professional manner, and drawing the line with male coworkers when necessary may prevent these problems, the potential for danger is still there.

Less Quality Time Together

Moreover, with both husband and wife employed outside the home, the opportunities for the husband and wife to spend quality time together may be dramatically decreased, especially if they have different work hours.

Household Responsibilities Unattended

A major problem that often comes up in this kind of marriage is determining who is responsible for certain aspects of taking care of the household. Although it might be possible to hire a person to help with the cooking and the cleaning of the house, security and privacy might be sacrificed. If a relative is available to help, such as a live-in mother or mother-in-law, it might be easier. However, if nothing like that is available, tension may be inevitable. Although the husband definitely needs to help in the house, he is the one who has the ultimate responsibility for supporting the family, and he may feel that he should not be expected to work outside the home and cook and clean the house as well. He might feel that since his wife is not obligated to work outside the house and if they don't need the additional income, she should take care of the house. Arguments about household responsibilities are likely to become commonplace.

Women Taking Jobs Away from Women

An indirect problem caused by more and more women working outside the home is that sometimes men, who have the ultimately responsibility for providing financial support to their families, cannot find adequate jobs because so many are taken by women to earn extra income or merely to satisfy their desire to have a career.

These serious problems for the family and the society might occur even before any children are born. They will likely get worse afterward. In addition, other problems will likely arise.

Mother's Return to Work
May Affect Her Child

If a child is born, decisions must be made about whether or not the mother will return to work and, if so, when? Some jobs expect the woman to return to work very soon after the child is born. Others may allow her to take off more time to be with her child without the risk of losing her job. In addition, the parents must consider how the mother's returning to work will affect their child. Mildred M. El-Amin writes in Family Roots: The Quranic View of Family Life:

'Who Will Care for My Child," an article in the January 1989 edition of Plain Truth magazine, written by Sheila Graham, presents some important considerations for new mothers. More and more experts are acknowledging that infants and toddlers do not thrive physically, mentally and emotionally in day-care institutions. Research reveals, '...babies under the care of someone other than their mother for more than 20 hours a week during the first year of life are adversely affected...are insecure and more likely to be excessively aggressive and uncooperative in school."

The article continues, 'Human infants acquire more knowledge before they are a year old than they will in any other comparable year of their lives. By the time the baby is 5 or 6 months old, most mental and physical abilities that are acquired will depend upon the response and interest of parents, especially the mother." . . . Too long have women's value as the primary nurturers and educators of their children been devalued and downgraded. Women who choose to stay home with their children must never again feel they need to apologize for their occupation. Many of the devastating problems we see with our children today are rooted in a lack of bonding with parents in the early years of life, particularly a lack of mothering. The needs of new mothers are approached in a much more civilized manner in some other parts of the world than in the United States: In Sweden, following child birth, women receive 90% of their gross income for nine months; Soviet mothers receive full salary for 1 and 1/2 to 2 years, and 50 to 75% for the third year, and are guaranteed their job; British women receive 18 weeks maternity leave; French women receive 16 weeks. In the U.S., the average is one month maternity leave, and often this is without pay. (1991, 192-193)

Who Will Take Care of Children

If both mother and father work outside the home, how will they arrange for taking care of the children? They could try to arrange their schedules so that one parent will always be able to be with the children. However, if they work different shifts so that one can always be home with the children, they will inevitably have very little time to be together as husband and wife and as a family.

Hiring a Baby-sitter

If they hire someone to baby-sit their children, they may sacrifice some of their security, their privacy, and their children's best interest. A baby-sitter can look after their child, but she will not care as much about their child as its parents do. She will have more priorities than insuring that their child is properly trained and taught. If she spends 8 hours a day with their child, three hours may be spent on the telephone and three watching television. The other two hours their child may be napping. She may be with their child, but it may not be the quality time the child needs and deserves.

Screening a Baby-sitter

In addition, parents must not only be concerned about the quality of the actual baby-sitting, they must be extremely careful about the person they allow to baby-sit their child. They must either have personal knowledge of the person's character and integrity or be able to verify through a reliable source their character and integrity. Merely getting a reference from the baby-sitter and calling is not enough since baby-sitters can use a friend or relative as a fake reference. The parents will be leaving their child with this person. They should not leave their child with someone they would not even trust their car or money with. The same is unfortunately true for day-care centers. In the past years, some day-cares have come under intense scrutiny for their alleged mistreatment and abuse of children. Again, having a relative or very close friend available to watch the children will help. But this is not always possible. With older children, taking them to school during the day will help if the parents work at the same time the child is in school.

More Time in Daycare = Less Quality Time with Parents

No matter how good the care, children who grow up with baby-sitters and in day-cares and who have little quality time with their mother and father will likely be negatively affected. For some, it may be extremely harmful to their personalities and their development. Parents in this situation will have to decide whether or not the mother's working outside the house is worth the risk.

Women Working Outside
may Lead to Marital Problems

For many women, working outside the home will be a major problem and may ultimately lead to separation, divorce, and the destruction of her family.

When is it Desirable
for Women to Work Outside

Although the mother's working outside the home is clearly risky, there are situations where it might be necessary. Sometimes, a husband is truly unable to financially support the family alone, and the additional income of the wife is truly necessary. Moreover, some jobs, such as women doctors and nurses for women, are needed by the Muslim community as a whole. Also, some women may feel an emotional need to do some kind of work. They may feel the need to help others, to find solutions to the problems in the world, or to be active members of the society. They may not only want to work because they need the money, but because they feel the need to find an outlet for what they consider their God-given talents and abilities.

In Family Life in Islam, Khurshid Ahmad writes: ÒA man's major responsibilities lie outside the family. He is to support the family economically and materially . . . . . A woman's major responsibilities lie within the family." (34)

Although it seems that Allah () has not required women to go outside and work to support the family, it seems that it is not prohibited in certain circumstances. In Woman in Shariah (Islamic Law), Abdur Rahman I. Doi writes : 'Islam does not require women to participate in trade, the vocations or professions unless it is very necessary. . . . [T]he realm of activities for which men and women are created requires a woman to look after her matrimonial home, bring up children in a befitting manner and so on. If she is not neglectful of these duties, or she has reliable household help available to look after her children and relieve her of some of her domestic work, while at the same time she needs a little income to supplement her husband's earning, there is no objection in the Shariah if she goes out to work, but only with the consent of her husband." (147)

Question to Ask:
Is Working Outside Beneficial to Family

The question though does not necessarily come down to whether it is allowed or prohibited in Islam for the woman to work outside the home. Many will be able to establish a position that for them it is allowed. However, the essential question is whether it is beneficial or harmful to the family.

Since many Muslim women today are opting to pursue careers, solutions to the many problems pointed out above must be found.

Some Desirable Occupations for Women

There are several kinds of work that a Muslim woman can do to supplement her or her families income without seriously affecting her family or risking her honor: working from home; teaching women or children; and working as a nurse or doctor especially in obstetrics, gynecology, or pediatrics are a few possibilities.

Women can Work From their Homes

Although in the past, home-based businesses for women often meant child-care, typing, sewing, making clothes, or making handicrafts, the modern trend of the home-office has changed this drastically. Today, many other jobs can be done from home. Writers, editors, artists, software developers, researchers, web-page designers, inventors, publishers, telemarketers, and many others are now able to work in their home-offices. It might even be possible to establish medical businesses from home with doctors or nurses making house calls rather than working in a hospital or medical office.

Benefits of Working From Home

Working in a home-office would also allow the wife and mother to be more flexible with her schedule, to work it around her husband and children's schedules and, thus, provide a better home environment. Encouraging younger women who are preparing for a possible career to choose one that can be done from home would be a wise start toward solving the problem of Muslim working women.

Women Working Part-Time in Outside jobs

However, if Muslim women decide to pursue careers that are not able to be done in the home, they might be encouraged to work only part-time. They can still have a career, but spend more time with the family as well. Since most Muslim women who have careers do not really need the money, and since many companies would be happy to hire them part-time in order to avoid having to provide fringe benefits to them, this is probably a viable solution for many. It would also free up many jobs for men who need them to support their families.

Performing Charity
Work to Keep Oneself Busy

If Muslim women just want to work and don't need the money, they can also do charity work as they like on their own schedule. They can utilize their talents and abilities and still have time to devote to their families.

The important thing is that we should start encouraging female Muslims who want to have a career to plan ahead for a career or a work situation that will not cause too much upheaval in the family and that will be best for the children. If they are really concerned about what is best for the wife, the husband, and the children, each family should be able to come up with a plan that can work for all.

Monday, April 26, 2010

The Ideal Muslim Husband: A Review

Most Muslim men would like to be ideal husbands. And most Muslim women would, no doubt, like to be married to one. But, for some reason, the men are not ideal husbands, and the women will almost surely admit that they didn't marry one. So, why the discrepancy between our sincere aspirations and reality? Is it an inability on the part of the man, an impossible goal; or is it perhaps that we do not even know what an ideal Muslim husband is?

Wrong Concept of an Ideal Husband

A look at the matrimonial section of an Islamic magazine will quickly demonstrate that many Muslim men and women do not know what an ideal Muslim husband is. Muslim men looking for wives advertise themselves as doctors, engineers, and financially secure. Muslim women appear to be on the lookout for an established professional or more likely a handsome MD. Rarely do Muslim men and women even mention character, religious convictions, and attitudes as a priority. At most, they might be mentioned as a sidebar. It seems that many of us believe that a man is an ideal Muslim husband if he is handsome, makes a lot of money, and comes from an influential family. And the divorce rate among Muslims continues to rise.

Standard of Judging an Ideal Husband

As Muslims, we must base our judgment on what makes an ideal Muslim husband on the guidance of Allah () and the example of Prophet Muhammad (SAWS), not on the standards of a TV sitcom, the culture in which we were born, or our own materialistic mentality.

Participants on this Video

Using examples from the life of Prophet Muhammad (SAWS), the words of the Holy Quran, and personal experience, a panel of Muslim men and women --- Dr. Abdullah Hakim Quick, Dr. Jamal Badawi, Abdallah Idris Ali, Dr. Ingrid Mattison, Khadija Haffagee, Mariam Bhabha, and Abdul Malik Mujahid --- talk about the qualities of a Muslim husband and the Muslim family.

Main Contents of this Video

They discuss such matters as a husband taking advice from his wife, communication within the family, the husband's helping the wife in the house, consultation (Shura) within the family, being a good example for the children, overlooking bad qualities in one's wife and focusing on her good qualities, and sharing the responsibility of raising the children.

First Characteristic of an
Un-Ideal Husband: Hot Temper

A major problem in some Muslim marriages unfortunately is the husband's hot temper and harsh behavior. Some even go so far as to abuse their wives. Dr. Quick gives a word of warning to these men who often come from cultures that teach them to be tough and macho. He says that there should be no violence between husband and wife and that Muslim men should not be the kind of tyrannical fathers whose children run away and hide when their father comes home. He says that we have to separate our non-Islamic cultures from Islam. The ideal Muslim husband will base his behavior on Islam, not on his Arab, American, or Pakistani culture.

Second Characteristic of an
Un-Ideal Husband: Egoistic

Another major problem in Muslim marriages is the husband's failure to consider his wife's opinions. In fact, Abdallah Idris Ali says that the failure of the Muslim Ummah as a whole has to do with our failure in practicing the concept of Shura (consultation). People think that they are right and others are wrong, he says. We will do much better if we consider the opinions of others and let them feel that they are a part of the decision-making process. Along the same lines, Dr. Quick points out that if a woman makes a true (haqq) point, the husband should submit to it. He should in no way reject a point just because it comes from a woman. Demonstrating the huge difference between the way the Prophet (SAWS) dealt with his wives and the way Muslim men deal with their wives today, Abdallah Idris Ali tells the story of the time when Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) was sleeping under one cover with his wife Ayesha, and he asked her permission to get up to pray.

Third Characteristic of an
Un-Ideal Husband: Unhelpful

The failure to help in the house and to help with the raising of the children are well-known weaknesses of husbands. The video makes it clear that Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) helped in the house, and Abdul Malik Mujahid says that a man cannot be an ideal Muslim husband, or even close to a good husband, if he leaves the responsibility of children completely to the mother. Khadija Haffagee tells the story of a father who took a three-month-old infant to pray with him and after the prayer did the 'tasbih" on the child's hand. This, she said, was training by the father. Dr. Quick warns that when training our children, we should be careful not to raise sons with a double standard where they have no household responsibilities. If we do, they will likely grow up with the attitude that they don't need to do this kind of work --- that they are above it.

Prophet: An Ideal Father

As a beautiful example of a healthy father-child relationship, Abdul Malik Mujahid tells the story of how the Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) used to stand up for his daughter Fatima, kiss her, and give her his seat when she came to him. This was in an age when people preferred sons and looked down on having daughters. With this simple act, the Prophet (SAWS) showed us how to express love and affection for our children --- an essential quality for an ideal Muslim husband.

An Ideal Ex-Husband

Being an ideal Muslim husband, however, goes even farther than the marriage, Dr. Quick points out. Even after a divorce, a Muslim husband must strive to be the best ex-husband. A husband shouldn't be Mr. Kindness in marriage and then treat his wife badly in divorce, Dr. Quick says. He must divorce her in the best manner with good treatment.

Other Valuable Advises

This video goes beyond just talking about an ideal Muslim husband and deals with ways to improve the family. It attempts to prevent many marital problems by advising young people who want to get married. After informing them about what makes an ideal Muslim husband, it cautions them to be concerned about these qualities ---not just the material aspects --- when considering a prospective spouse.

In fact, what emerges from the video is that being an ideal Muslim husband has very little or nothing to do with the amount of money one has, physical beauty, or the prestige of one's job. Rather, it has to do with one's commitment to Allah (), one's knowledge of and willingness to follow the guidance of Allah () and the Prophet's example, and one's commitment to do righteousness even in difficult situations. The ideal Muslim husband should be humble, gentle, kind, considerate, caring, loving, open to good advice, willing to cooperate with others in the family rather than dictate rules, helpful in the house, involved in raising the children, and never abusive either physically or mentally.

No doubt, this is a very tall order. Becoming an ideal Muslim husband will certainly not be easy. It will take a jihad against 'jahiliyyah" thinking, selfishness, ego, vanity, anger, pride, and arrogance.

Bottom Line

Full of excellent advice, encouragement, and wisdom, this video should help any Muslim husband to improve. Although there are no guarantees that he will ever become an ideal Muslim husband, it will, InshaAllah, start him on the way.