“My Voice” Interview

With Dr. Mohamed Rida Beshir

Summer 2011 Issue

 

1) What means can the youth use to protect themselves from fiten?

Things to do

  • Exercise lowering of the gaze as much as possible
  • Manage your time well and get involved in as many volunteer activities as possible
  • Select good friends and company who would remind you of Allah and help you to be close to Him
  • Use the proper Islamic etiquettes when it comes to opposite gender interactions
  • Strengthen your spirituality by attending night prayers and participating in Islamic halaqas of Qur’anic studies and recitation
  • Follow the Prophet’s advice and fast voluntarily as many days as you can
  • Get married as soon as you are able to do so  

Things to avoid

  • Avoid being alone as much as possible
  • Don’t watch any TV shows, DVDs or movies that may contain material that could sexually excite you

 

2) When is it the right time for a person to get married?

The right time for a person to get married will be different from one person to another. The most important thing to decide the proper time to get married for a person is to make sure that he/she meets the criteria identified in the hadeeth of Prophet Muhammad SAAW. This criterion is the ability to get married. This ability has been explained by scholars as the physical and emotional ability to start a new family and be able to fulfill the needs of this new unit in the society. Many parents put hurdles in front of the couple who intend to get married by asking the potential husband for a huge mahr and many other materialistic things. These obstacles are cultural practices that have nothing to do with Islam. It is the parent’s duty to facilitate marriage for young people so they don’t fall into Haram.

So while one person may be able to get married while he/she is still attending college, another person may not be able to do so. The parents of the first person may be willing to support the new couple by hosting them in their own house for example until they finish there degrees and are able to move out on their own, while the parents of the second person may be reluctant to help.

 

3) What are the criteria one should consider in himself or herself before taking a step for marriage and how does one search for a suitable spouse?

  The criteria are the following:

  1. Proper understanding of the following:
    1. Nature of marriage
    2. Main objectives of marriage
    3. Foundations of marriage
    4. Gender relations in Islam
    5. Spousal relations in Islam
    6. Essential spousal obligations
    7. Qur’anic rules of communications
    8. Islamic way of resolving conflicts
  2. Physical ability
  3. Financial ability (ie: having enough means to support a family in the case of the husband)
  4. Emotional ability (ie: being emotionally ready and mature enough to carry the responsibility of taking good care of and maintaining the family)
  5. Basic idea about financial management

Some may think that this is too much; however, we believe that marriage is serious business because Allah SWT describes it as a solemn covenant in the Qura’an.[1] As such, it should never be taken lightly and one should prepare well to ensure a successful marriage insha’a Allah.

As for how one searches for a suitable spouse, we suggest the following:

  • Prepare yourself by reading relevant and authentic books on the subject of marriage
  • Make the intention that you want to get married as an act of obedience to Allah SWT and to follow the sunnah of Prophet Muhammad SAAW and fulfill the purpose of your existence on earth as a vicegerent for Allah SWT
  • Compile a list of “must haves” and a list of  “nice to have” traits you are looking for in your potential match
  • Get your parents involved. Consult with them, listen to their advice, and keep them informed of your plans. Their experience will prove priceless during the process
  • Start collecting information. Use all possible avenues to collect as much information as you can. Some of the avenues where you can look for a potential match and find information are:
    • Family members and friends
    • Various local community activities
    • Islamic marriage websites on the Internet
    • Matrimonial desks available during national conventions
  • When you think that you have found a candidate that could be a good match, ask your parents to approach the potential candidate’s parents to start the process of getting to know each other at a deeper level before making the final decision. Parents should facilitate this process to give the opportunity for the couple to meet and get to know each other, of course, without violating any of the Islamic principles related to opposite gender interactions. An example of this could be through having a few family members from both sides (including adult family members) going out together to the same restaurant for a family lunch/dinner. However, in the restaurant you can permit the couple to sit together on their own separate table to have a more relaxed atmosphere and better opportunity to get to know each other.
  • Based on the initial meeting, both parties could agree to continue these kind of meetings and/or agree on other communication mechanisms to find out more about each other if they feel that the chance of being a good match is high. They could also agree to suspend meetings because the chances of being good match are low.
  • These meetings should not be extended indefinitely or more than needed to get to know each other. As soon as both parties feel that they have enough core values in common and feel comfortable enough towards the chances of the success of this match, an official engagement should be announced and official marriage contract (Katb Kitab) should follow soon after.
  • We would like to emphasize that during this process, families of both candidates should be closely involved to ensure that there is no violation to Islamic principles and to benefit the couple from their life experience                

 

4) Is being in love before marriage important?

Not necessarily. The main two foundations of marriage are Mawadah and Rahmah.[2] The most important thing is to make sure that during the selection process both candidates of marriage have the same objectives in life and have enough things in common to ensure keeping the Mawadah and Rahmah alive between them during their married life.

One may say, but Mawadah is another word for love and in reality, positive and healthy love is one of the components of Mawadah. But Mawadah is much more than just love. It is a very comprehensive kind of love. It is a love that brings the best out of the couple and makes them closer to Allah SWT and better humans. The word Mawadah describes the real love that ensures the commitment of both spouses to work for the sake of Allah SWT and be righteous people. This is clearly understood when one reflects on the use of the word Mawadah or its derivatives in the Qur’an. Here is an example:

“إِنَّ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ سَيَجْعَلُ لَهُمُ الرَّحْمَنُ وُدًّا”

“Verily, those who believe and work deeds of righteousness, Allah will bestow Wooda for them.”[3]

The word Wooda is from the same root as the word Mawadah. Allah SWT emphasizes that this kind of great feeling will be bestowed on the believers as a result to their belief and righteous deeds.      

The love intended here is not the love of possessing and controlling; rather it is the love of comforting and considering. Associating the word Rahmah with Mawadah in the same verse is another witness to the nature of this love.

Finally, one may ask if this means that there is no place for romance in an Islamic marriage. The answer is, of course there is a place for romance in an Islamic marriage, but romance is not the main foundation of the marriage. Otherwise, when the fire of romance dies out, the marriage would suffer. The foundation of Islamic marriage is based on more tangible qualities that have the property of continuity and growth within a good marital relationship. At the top of these qualities are Mawadah and Rahmah.

 

5) How to deal with a situation where the parents of the girl refuse the boy or vice-versa?

Dealing with the situation will depend on the reasons of the parents for refusing the boy or the girl. Here are some valid reasons for parents to refuse a boy/a girl:

  • The parents are sure that the foundation for a successful match such as having enough common core values don’t exist between the boy/girl and their son/daughter
  • The parents know of certain shortcomings in the manners of the boy/girl that could not be easily tolerated or changed and could cause great harm to their son/daughter if they marry this candidate. Here are some examples of such serious shortcomings:
    • The person doesn’t observe or practice the basic Ibadat of Islam such as obligatory prayers, fasting of the month of Ramadan, etc.
    • The person is known to cheat or be dishonest
    • The person has a very bad temper and is known to be violent in his/her dealings
    • The person is using illegal drugs or has a problem with drinking

In such cases parents do not only have the right to refuse such a person, it is actually their duty to protect their own son/daughter by refusing such a person. The son/daughter should accept the advice of their parents and thank them for taking such a position that is only meant to protect them and ensure a better future for them.

However, if the parents’ refusal is not founded or based on sound reasons and the boy/girl have enough common core values with their son/daughter and are expected to be a reasonable match, in this case, everything should be done to convince the parents of the merits of this person. The son/daughter should try their best in a very kind and polite way to convince their parents that such a candidate is a good potential for a successful marriage insha’a Allah. They can also seek the intervention of a respected member of their community such as an Imam or a Muslim scholar to convince their parents. However, at no time should a son/daughter go against their parents and get married without their blessings. Marriage is not only a union between two people, it is also a union between two families and one of the objectives of marriage is to strengthen the Muslim community/society through having stronger family ties. When a son/daughter goes against the will of their parents, they are putting a big hurdle in front of the potential success of their marriage.      

 

6) Is cross-cultural marriage a good thing in our multi-cultural Canada ? Why? Or why not?

 There is no doubt that ensuring a successful marital relationship is a big challenge. As such it is important to reduce the number of factors contributing to this challenge. One of these factors is the differences between the couple in their cultural practices. However, this does not mean that all cross-cultural marriages are doomed to fail. As a matter of fact some cross-cultural marriages are very successful and stand the test of time. A little research into these successful cases reveals the following:

  • Both couples have the same objectives in life
  • Both couples make a deliberate attempt to take Qur’anic guidance and the teachings of Prophet Muhammad SAAW as their main reference in life. Whenever they face a difference in opinion in any matter, they always try to resolve it using Islamic principles rather than cultural customs/backgrounds
  • Both couples never ridicule each other’s cultural practices and are very accommodative of each other’s likes and dislikes. They also very much respect the cultural practices of their in-laws. They make it a point to not allow cultural differences to be a source of problems in their marriage.

Any couple who can strive hard to guide their marital life by the above principles will insha Allah end up with a successful cross-cultural marriage. However, if the couple are not willing to compromise and live according to the above principles, a cross-cultural marriage may be faced with more difficulties compared to a marriage of the same culture to say the least.         

 

7) How to sustain a marriage when we know that divorce is increasing in the society?

Divorce is increasing in the society due to certain reasons. If we know these reasons, we can avoid them and in the process can sustain a healthy and successful marriage. Here are some of these reasons:

  • Having different objectives in life
  • Having the same objectives in life but not understanding the main objective of marriage
  • Basing the marriage on only love and romance rather than on Mawadah and Rahmah
  • Having different expectations and not having enough areas in common between the couple
  • Financial problems

By preparing oneself properly for marriage, avoiding the above pitfalls, and using the right process of selection as explained in detail in the answer of question 3, a healthy and successful marriage could be sustained insha’a Allah. It is also recommended that the married couple continue to nourish Allah’s gift to them (Mawadah and Rahmah) at various stages of their marital life. This could be done by exercising kindness and respect towards each other in all their dealings following Allah’s order in surat Al-Nisa’ verse 19

وعاشروهن بالمعروف

Both spouses should strive hard to acquire the good qualities that would help them to successfully fulfill their roles in the marital relationship and ensure a positive and healthy family life. The following are some of these qualities/attributes to name a few:

  • Commitment to the success of the marriage
  • Courtesy
  • Effective communication
  • Compromise
  • Being sensitive to each others feelings and needs
  • Sincerity
  • Sharing
  • Adaptation
  • Accommodation
  • Appreciation
  • Acceptance
  • Forgiveness
  • Trust and faithfulness
  • Patience[4]

 

8) What advice can you give to people who don’t want to get married?

Such a person needs to be reminded of the following points:

  • Marriage is the sunnah of the majority of Allah’s messengers Including our Prophet SAAW.[5]
  • Prophet Muhammad SAAW encouraged us to get married in many of his sayings
  • Through marriage, one can fulfill the most important role that he/she was created for as vicegerent of Allah SWT
  • Through marriage one can contribute to the well-being of the Muslim society when he/she brings up righteous children who can continue to work for the sake of Allah and carry the banner of ( لا إله إلا الله )
  • If you have seen many recent marriages ending in divorce, this should not be a reason to avoid marriage. As a matter of fact, it should rather be an incentive to go about your marriage in the right way. Most of the divorces taking place among Muslims are due to not following the proper selection criteria, not understanding the main objectives of marriage, and not nourishing the gift of Mawadah and Rahmah given to the couple by Allah when they get married.[6] Make sure to avoid such mistakes and you will end up insha’a Allah with successful and peaceful marriage
  • Remember that marriage will help you to be stronger in faith and will provide you with many opportunities to be closer to Allah SWT. Also, if you do everything with the proper intention, even things that are permissible, it will be counted for you as good deeds and you will be rewarded for doing them.    

         

[1] (Q4, V21)

[2] (Q30, V21)

[3] (Q19, 96)

[4] For more important qualities as well as their applications in ensuring a successful marital life, please refer to our book Blissful Marriage by amana publications

[5] (Q13, V38)

[6] (Q30, V21)