In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful, the Most Compassionate
All praise is due to Allah, the Lord of all creation—may He extol the Messenger in the highest company of Angels and send His peace and blessings upon him—likewise upon his family, Companions, and true followers.
Dear brothers and sisters! Love, friendship, tranquility, harmony, and, most importantly, trust are the foundations of a good Muslim marriage. In Islam, when a man and a woman marry, they vow to each other that they would love and respect the holy tie of marriage. This implies that they should follow their word and maintain as much transparency as possible in their partnership. Building, gaining and maintaining trust, or Amanah in Arabic, is a complex endeavour that takes a lifetime of labour. Allah Almighty says in the noble Qur’an:
“…and they (women) have taken a firm covenant from you?” [Qur’an: 4:21]
In this Qur’anic verse, the phrase “firm covenant” alludes to marriage. Marriage is a binding contract of fidelity. A woman entrusts herself to a man simply because she believes in the strength of the bond. If a man breaks a covenant of his own free choice, he has no right to take back the sum he promised his wife as a bridal due at the time of the agreement.
The foundation of your Islamic marriage contract is trust; it is what binds the hearts and souls of two different, sometimes seemingly incompatible people together; it is what helps you understand your life needs, partner’s preferences, and annoyances; it is what keeps you and your spouse going when stress, arguments, financial distress, anxiety, and external interferences hit your relationship; and it is what Allah Almighty asks us to have in Him for final results. Allah Almighty is displeased when something is shattered. Ali Ibn Abi Talib (RA) famously said:
“Breaking vows makes people unhappy, and Allah Almighty is angry.”
Truthfulness (Sidq) and trust (Amanah) were, unsurprisingly, the key attributes that drew Khadijah, may Allah Almighty be pleased with her, to the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him). These fantastic features underpin the interaction between the first two Muslims in Makkah.
As a result, the vow made at marriage is crucial. Unfortunately, in today’s world, we have lost the significance of the vows we make at the wedding, and instead, breach the promise and continue to break it at every stage of our partnership. People are making the institution of marriage, which Allah Almighty considers so lovely and which the Prophet (Peace be upon him) advocated for all humankind, uglier by the day. The word “trust in marriage” has lost significance in today’s culture. Infidelity is rising, and some individuals are losing faith in their relationships.
In such circumstances, it is prudent to consult the Qur’an, Allah’s guidance, and the Hadiths of the Prophet (Peace be upon him). We must also recognise that, while love is transient, appearing and disappearing for a while, the marriage tie is holy and must be safeguarded. As a result, defend yourself. Protect yourself from going wrong in your marriage and being a target for Shaitan (Satan), who wants nothing more than sabotage your beautiful union. Remember that when a husband and wife argue, it should be a conflict between them and the Shaitan (Satan), not between themselves.
Both the husband and the wife must work together to build trust in their marriage relationship. Both parties should avoid doing anything that can raise suspicion between them. A husband should not, for example, compliment another woman in front of his wife. Similarly, the wife should not compliment another man in front of her husband. Such words, which may appear minor at the moment, might lead to greater disasters and tragedies in marriage since it is easy for the Shaitan (Satan) to mislead you and instill doubt in your hearts. Remember that the Shaitan (Satan) is a seasoned professional who has broken marriages, instilled distrust, and damaged relationships in the past. Allowing yourself to become his next target is a bad idea. In the absence of her spouse, women should not welcome another guy into the house, and the same is true for men.
Respected brothers and sisters! It’s critical to establish trust and loyalty with your partner. It helps a lot to keep negativities and suspicions out of the way, but it also helps to have an optimistic mindset. Tell your wife how much you love her, treat your husband like a king, tell your wife that she is valuable to him, and wish your husband a wonderful day! Such actions boost the degree of trust between couples and are, in fact, the foundations for a relationship free of any loyalty concerns. May Allah Almighty guide us in our marriages down the road of loyalty and affection, ameen.
Beloved servants of Allah! Know that, the most basic and essential attribute of a Muslim marriage is the common faith that binds the couple. Here are 21 fundamental building blocks for a strong marriage:
1. Faith: Since Islam is a way of life and not just a religion confined to weekly worship, it becomes an integral part of a Muslim’s life. The frame of reference shared by the couple eases communication and sharing of values … It is highly recommended that faith play an important role in the development of a loving relationship.
For example, as the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) said, when a husband feeds his wife, he gets a reward for this act; Allah increases the bond of love between them. So when we love each other for the sake of Allah, we actually increase our faith.
2. Forgiving: When the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) asked his Companions, “Do you wish that Allah should forgive you?” They said, “Of course O Prophet of Allah.” He responded, “Then forgive each other.”
One of the main components of a happy marriage is that the spouses are able to forgive, that they do not hold grudges or act judgmental towards each other. It is expected that when we live with someone, situations may arise when we say or doing things that hurt our spouses. The challenge is not to dwell on it or lay blame but to move past it. This can only happen if we are not too proud to ask for forgiveness, and we are not too stingy to forgive.
If we expect Allah to forgive us, then we must learn to forgive others!
3. Forget: When we constantly remind our spouses of all the times they let us down or hurt us, we have not truly forgiven. Things that happened in the past must be left there and not be used as fresh ammunition in new situations (unless it becomes part of a pattern). Couples who use this technique usually fall in a rut and become victims of their own pettiness, unable to break free.
4. Forbearance: (Sabr/patience) is the most useful tool to have in managing a healthy lifestyle. Being patient and forbearing puts us in a proactive frame of mind; it brings us closer to Allah through tawakkul and reliance. We develop an inner mechanism that empowers us to handle life’s difficult moments. As Allah Almighty states in Surah al-Asr:
“Surely by time humans are at loss, except those who believe and do righteous deeds and counsel each other to the truth and counsel each other to Patience (Sabr).” [Qur’an,103]
5. Flexible: Many couples unnecessarily make themselves miserable because they are unwilling to bend a little.
We should not expect our spouses to be our extensions. They are their own selves with personalities, likes and dislikes. We must respect their right to be themselves as long as it does not compromise their religion. Being inflexible and not accommodating for individual differences leads to a very stressful and tense home atmosphere.
6. Friendship: This aspect of marriage has three components: First is to develop a friendship with our spouses. A marital relationship based on friendship is more able to withstand outside pressures. We honour, trust, respect, accept and care for our friends, in spite of our differences. These are the aspects of friendship we should bring to our marriages.
Shari’ah (Islamic law) has placed the husband in a leadership role within a family. This requires a certain decorum and mutual respect. This should not be taken to mean that the husband is a dictator, but rather a shepherd who is responsible for and to his flock. This is a position of grave responsibility, and a strong friendship with one’s spouse will help.
The second aspect of friendship is to have friendly relations with in-laws, both husband and wife with each other’s in-laws. When couples compete as to whose parents are more important, it becomes a constant source of grief. Much valuable time is wasted trying to convince one another of whose parents are most desirable. It is better if we accept that our spouses will not overnight fall in love with our parents just because we want them to. As long as they maintain friendly relations that are cordial and based on mutual respect, we should not force the issue.
The third aspect of friendship is our circle of friends. It is okay to have individual friends, but couples must also make efforts to have family friends so that they can socialise together. If there is friction being caused by a certain friendship, it must not be pursued at the expense of the marriage. Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) advised us to choose Allah-fearing people as friends, since we tend to follow their way. Friends should be a source of joy and not mischief.
7. Fun: Couples who do not laugh together have to work on sharing some fun times. The Prophet (Peace be upon him) was known to play with his wives. A simple walk in the park can add spark to the relationship. Taking up a sport together or watching funny halal movies is another way of sharing a laugh.
8. Faithful: It is commanded by Allah that we be faithful to our spouses. Adultery is a crime in Islam that is punishable by death. However, there are various forms of unfaithful behaviour prevalent among some Muslims.
The most common form is maintaining friendships with the opposite sex over the boundaries set by Islam and the misgivings of the spouse. The latest trend of Internet relationships (via social media sites or messaging apps) is also contrary to Islamic etiquette and can cause serious problems between couples. Once a sense of betrayal sets in, repairing that relationship is difficult. Another form of not being faithful is when couples betray confidences. This is a trust issue and when compromised, it eats away at the heart of a marriage.
9. Fairness: Usually when we are angry or displeased, the tendency is to not play fair. We try to convince ourselves that since we have been wronged, it is okay to be unjust in our behaviour and our statements. Allah Almighty states in the Qur’an, do not be unjust under any circumstances, even if they be your enemy. In this circumstance we are talking about our life partners and the parent of our children. To use words such as “never” and “always” when describing the behaviour of the partner is unfair and puts the other on the defensive.
10. Finance: One of the most common points of contention in marriages is money. It is therefore highly recommended that the couple put serious time and effort in developing a financial management plan that is mutually agreeable and is reviewed every six months or so. Preparing a budget together is also a helpful and wise way to handling household finances. It should be remembered that the wife’s money in Islam is hers to do with as she pleases and therefore should not be considered family income unless she chooses or agrees to contribute it to the family.
11. Family: Parenting can be a stressful experience if the parents are not well informed. This, in turn, can put extra pressure on the marriage.
Sometimes couples are naive about the changes that come in their parental lifestyle. This can cause, in some cases, depression as well as resentment and misunderstandings. One golden rule that must always be the guide is that family comes first.
Whenever there is evidence that the family is not happy or not our first priority, it is time to assemble at the kitchen table and discuss with open hearts and mind. Couples who have elderly parents have an added responsibility to take care of them. This can also be very stressful if the couple is not prepared.
A care plan must be worked out with respective siblings and parents as to who will be the primary care giver and what type of support network they will have. In case of mental incompetence, a power of attorney must be in place. The making of a will is also most essential.
12. Feelings: Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) stated that Allah Almighty forgives all sins if we repent but not those we have committed against others, for example hurting someone’s feelings, unless the person we have hurt forgives first.
Couples are sometimes very careless when it comes to their spouse’s feelings; they take them for granted and assume that the other knows what they mean. It is surprising that people are more sensitive and courteous to strangers than they are to their loved ones. One must be ever vigilant and careful that they do not hurt the feelings of their spouses and if they invariably do, they should apologise as soon as possible. Since one does not know when someone they love will leave this world, is it not better to make amends when we have the time?
13: Freedom: Marriage in Islam is a partnership and not bondage or slavery. To consider the wife one’s property is alien to Islamic concept of husband and wife role. The team spirit is enhanced and not curtailed when members of the team are free to be themselves. To allow freedom to one’s spouse is to be considerate of their needs and to recognise their limitations.
14. Flirtation: A sure way to keep romance in marriage is to flirt with your spouse. Many successful marriages have maintained a youthful demeanour in their marriages by adopting special names for each other and special communication styles.
15. Frank: Misunderstandings happen when couples are not honest with each other. A strong marital relationship is where the partners feel safe to speak their mind with due consideration to the other’s feeling without compromising their own views. When the communication is not frank, it hinders in the development of closeness and deep understanding of each other’s inner self.
16. Facilitator: When choosing our life partner, we should, as the Prophet (Peace be upon him) advised, look for a pious Muslim. The reason is that In Shaa Allah, their first and foremost goal will be to please Allah. This commitment to Allah makes them an excellent facilitator for enhancing their partner’s spiritual development. In essence, the couple facilitates their family’s commitment to Allah Almighty and His religion.
17. Flattering: Paying compliments and indulging in honest and sincere flattery is a very inexpensive way to win your spouse’s heart. Everyone likes to be appreciated and noticed. So, being stingy about compliments is actually depriving oneself of being appreciated in return.
18. Fulfilling: To be there for your spouse is a very fulfilling and rewarding experience. To be in love means to give one’s all. The heart does not put conditions or make stipulations. It gives without expecting anything in return, and such selfless giving is In Shaa Allah rewarded tenfold.
19. Fallible: It sometimes happens that our expectations are so high that we forget that we are fallible beings. When couples start to nitpick and demand the impossible, they must remind themselves that only Allah Almighty is perfect.
20. Fondness: So many times couples fail to work on developing fondness for each other by [failing] to see their spouses as people through the eyes of their respective friends. Spending quality time alone doing and sharing activities are ways in which one can develop and maintain fondness.
21. Future: Smart couples plan for their future together. They work on their financial and retirement plans, make wills and discuss these plans with their children. This provides peace of mind and secures the relationship In Shaa Allah.
All praise is due to Allah, the Lord of all creation; may Allah extol the mention of our noble Prophet Muhammad in the highest company of Angels, bless him and give him peace and security―and his family, his Companions and all those who follow him correctly and sincerely until the establishment of the Hour.
Murtadha Muhammad Gusau is the Chief Imam of Nagazi-Uvete Jumu’ah and the late Alhaji Abdur-Rahman Okene’s Mosques, Okene, Kogi State, Nigeria. He can be reached via: firstname.lastname@example.org or +2348038289761.
This Jumu’ah Khutbah (Friday sermon) was prepared for delivery today Friday, Rabi’ul Thani 30, 1444 AH (November 25, 2022).