Allah Ta’ala is just and does not establish anything without a proper balance. The proof is that Allah Ta’ala has established a balance in the universe, by means of which the moon is held around the earth, and the earth around the sun. Allah Ta’ala has stated: “As regards the sky, He has raised it very high. And He has established the balance.” (55: 7). Likewise, Allah Ta’ala has placed a proper equilibrium in the hearts of living beings. Every emotion that we feel has a source and an origin, although we often think it as being very abstract. For example, love is born either out of a mutual feeling, or by way of a few dependencies, or simply through an inner liking. Love is a movement of devotion and dedication towards a divinity, an ideal or another being. The organ of love is the heart. For, love emanates naturally from our hearts, such as the heart of an exhausted mother who forgets her delivery pains as soon as she casts her first glance on her newborn. This intense feeling of affection equally makes its presence felt by making lovers become indifferent to others, by making them forget the reality around them. Just as human beings need love to live, so also animals do feel strongly for their near ones, and especially their mothers.
Love for Allah
But the love that is most intense in all its dimensions is the love that Allah Ta’ala has for man. He desires that this love should be reciprocal. Prophet Muhammad (saw) has stated: “I swear that Allah Ta’ala shows greater Mercy towards His servants than a mother towards her child.”(Bukhari). Love needs to be cultivated by way of obedience and sacrifice for Allah Ta’ala, and His prophet Muhammad (saw) has declared: “None of you will be worthy of belief if he does not love me more than his parents, his children and the rest of the world.” (Bukhari). This love must be cultivated and cared for. We must seek its ingredients and its spices in order to nourish it.
The components of love
Love needs to be developed. Therefore, its ingredients and its requirements have to be made up in order to increase its intensity. Often, some couples suffer from a want of love. It is an illness which needs to be treated. Islam lends a big importance to love between spouses. Alhamdoulillah! The prescriptions are effective!
In a narration of Musannaf ibn Abi Shaibah, the prophet (saw) explains that the simple gesture of shaking hands heals ill feelings. So, a meeting is by itself a means of watering the vegetable garden with friendship and love. The prophet (saw) made it a duty upon himself to visit the mosque of Quba every Saturday. It is very important to pay a visit to near ones and friends in order to safeguard friendship.
The greetings (salaam)
The prophet of Allah (saw) has described the love among believers as a fulfillment of the faith. He has said: “None of you shall enter Paradise as long as you are not believers. And you will never be believers if you do not love each other. And should I not give you an instruction so that, in its application, you would be more loving? So therefore spread the greeting (Assalaamou ‘alaikoum) among yourselves.” (Muslim) The Qur’an prescribes salaam (greeting) even if there is no one at home. Salaam will be the greeting of the inhabitants of Paradise. Salaam remains a formula which, after each greeting, increases love and friendship.
Exchange of gifts
Among men who have lived, none can be compared to the prophet of Allah (saw). He has said: “Offer gifts; it will make friendship grow.” (Shu’ab ul Iman). In fact, according to a narration of Tirmizi, gifts can contribute to the healing of feelings of hostility or even bitterness. It is a sunnah to accept a gift and also to offer one in return.
The mutual respect of everyone’s right promotes a healthy and friendly environment. A just and fair treatment of children or subordinates encourages friendship and understanding. An equitable distribution of inheritance promotes a lasting family harmony, whereas an unfair distribution can bring about family conflicts for generations. On the other hand, each and every one should be given his prestige. “It is wrong to underestimate one’s Muslim brother.” (Abu Dawood) The prestige and the rank of anyone will only be revealed on Judgment Day. Hence, the Qur’an prohibits the backbiting or the mockery of one’s brother in his absence. It is such ingredients which spread hate.
Understanding for everyone
Attitudes of intolerance and of lack of understanding are also poisons for love. Having said that, the love between a husband and wife deserves to be cared for, to manifest itself and to be grown. The love that a man has for his wife and the love of the wife for her husband are gifts from Allah. It is He who is the Master and so therefore one must turn to Him to bless us in love. In fact, love is a sign of Allah. The Qur’an states: “And among His signs, He has created from among you, for you, wives so that you may live in peace with them, and He has placed between you affection and kindness.”
The ‘rehmats’ of differences
The wife is very close to her husband by the very nature of her creation and by the love that she bears in her heart. However, both sexes are not identical, physiologically speaking. Of course, Adam has been created from clay as a first creation. On the other hand, Eve was created from Adam’s rib. The prophet of Allah (saw) has explained the nature of woman: “Accept recommendations as regards women. Because they have been created from a rib and the part of the rib which is the most curved is the upper part. If you try to straighten it, you will break it. And if you leave it as it is, it will remain curved. Seek advice about women.” (Bukhari)
Allah Ta’ala has created woman to be a companion to man in his journey. He has granted her femininity, physical and psychological differences. She has been chosen to be the mother of children and her breastfeeding has no parallel in nature. She is different. “The boy is not like the girl.” (Al-e-Imran: 36). It is in this difference that one must value each of her qualities. Without woman, the world would be a dull place. The prophet of Allah (saw) has laid down much advice so that men show tolerance and understanding towards women. The prophet of Allah (saw) has made it clear thus: “The best among you is the one who acts in the best way towards woman.” (Ibn Majah). That is the reason why advice must be sought on the life of a couple so that conjugal love which is a divine favor is not spoilt.
Tolerance within the couple
Woman needs a lot of attention, tenderness, tolerance and understanding. The prophet of Allah (saw) has warned us: “Woman has been created from a curved rib and will not be straightened for you; so, if you wish to benefit from her, take advantage of her by respecting her curvature. And if you try to straighten her, you will break her, and this crack is what divorce is.” (Muslim). This hadith contains much wisdom and lesson for us. Woman must be valued as she is, with her talents and her weaknesses. Whoever has no tolerance and applies his rigid idealism to his wife threatens his conjugal life. Woman has to be appreciated and she should be made to hear words of encouragement and appreciation.
Valuing and sharing
The couple is drawn together by love and by the confidence to unite: Love is the reciprocal protective garment. Allah Ta’ala has stated: “They (the women) are a garment for you and you are a garment for them.” (Baqarah: 187). One must understand that man and woman are, for each other, a source of tranquility, peace of mind and reciprocal complementarity. Just as our clothes protect us from cold and nakedness, so also does a couple protect its chastity to be honoured in society.
The garment represents intensity of nearness. There must be dialogue within a couple. The prophet of Allah (saw) used to tell Ayesha (ra) after the prayer of tahajjud: “Talk to me, oh Humeirah!” (Bukhari). That is a moment of peacefulness when a couple finds itself with anecdotes and shares ideas and events of the day.
Gestures of love
Sharing the same bed, the same meal, and the same moments of rest bring about coherence in the life of a couple. The prophet (saw) used to sleep on the same bed as his wife. Even, during her menses, he used to lie down next to Ayesha (ra) and recite the Qur’an. According to a narration of Muslim, the prophet (saw) drank from the same side as Ayesha (ra) did. The prophet (saw) used to kiss Ayesha (ra) and then proceed to prayer. According to a narration of Abu Dawood, the prophet used to go to the country with Ayesha (ra). Once, during the journey, the prophet (saw) told Ayesha (ra): “Come, let us have a race.” And thus the most perfect of men did run a race with his wife. The first time, it was the prophet (saw) who won the race, but at another time, it was Ayesha (ra) who was the winner.
The last words of the holy prophet Muhammad (saw) dwelt on the rights of the subordinates: “Fear Allah about swalah and about your slaves.” (Ibn Majah). He used to worry about the weak people of the Ummah, because the balance of societies rests on respect for the rights of each and every one. Love is born in an environment where everyone does his duty. The sermon of Arafat is crystal-clear: “Fear Allah about woman, because you took her (as wife) on Allah’s trust. You had access to her intimacy on the word of Allah. Your right on her is that she should not allow anyone else to violate her chastity, and her right on you is that you should feed her and provide a lodging to her according to your means.”(Muslim)
Respect for the wife
Man’s strength and authority are not meant to dominate woman, but to satisfy her needs and protect her. The couple come together through love and confidence to unite, to become a reciprocal protective garment. Allah Ta’ala has stated: “They (the women) are a garment for you and your are a garment for them.” The prophet of Allah (saw) has condemned any kind of brute force against woman. “The best among you is he who acts in the best way with his wife.” (Ibn Majah). The balance between man and woman means that each one should move within his/her own orbit and assume his/her responsibility. Each one has his/her own field of activity and that balance should not be disturbed.
Finery and make-up
Love expresses itself also through beauty. In fact, while waiting for her husband, the wife puts on her make-up and perfume for him. In the time fo the prophet (saw), the wives used to make-up for their husbands. A narration from Muslim reports: “Then she (Umme Sulaim) did her make-up for him (her husband); she was more beautiful after her make-up.” It must be noted that such preparation should be mutual. That is why the holy prophet (saw) used to clean his mouth on getting home. Someone asked our mother Hazrat Ayesha (ra): “What was the first action done by the prophet of Allah (saw) on entering his house?” She replied: “Use of miswaak.” That is to say, he cleaned his teeth with a piece of wood. (Sahih Muslim). Observing a personal hygiene and perfuming oneself for one’s wife, so that no discomfort is caused to the wife in moments of intimacy, is a practice (sunnah) taught by prophet Muhammad (saw).
Loyalty is a noble quality in man. Divine loyalty is paramount over everything else and conjugal loyalty is of major importance for love to last till the end. You see, betrayal is a deadly poison. Some have been able to find the antidote; most lovers who do not respect the etiquette of loyalty end up in a state of great distress. The following story explains this fact: “O prophet of Allah! I have a beautiful wife. But she does not repel the hands of strangers which caress her.” The prophet (saw) advised the husband: “Divorce her.” “I cannot live without her” was the reply. The prophet (saw) then told him: “In that case, keep her near you.” When love, the sense of dignity and honour are in conflict, it is love that triumphs. So, in that case, let us open the door of forgiveness and heal the wounds. Otherwise, do not stay and live like enemies under the same roof. Because, if one person breaks off, the other will act with a sense of vengeance. And Islam does not allow anyone to cause harm to his fellow man.
Modesty and piety
The master of the heart is Allah Ta’ala. It is He who is the Master of the feelings of the heart. Love is Allah Ta’ala. He makes love spring up between man and woman and can also dissipate the love of the most renowned lovers. That is why one must obey Allah’s decrees and follow His teachings, indeed the etiquettes of the prophet (saw). Sodomy is forbidden (haram) and oral sex is detestable (makrooh), whereas mutual caress and foreplay are recommended. These etiquettes between souses will no doubt help prolong a loving conjugal life.
Islam has taught the elements of human interaction very clearly. To preserve the equilibrium of cordial, friendly or even conjugal relations, Islam encourages personal contact, conversation and consultation. Prophet Muhammad (saw) was himself a model deserving of being emulated in that respect. Allah Ta’ala has stated: “Those who perform salah consult each other regarding their affairs.” (Ash Shoura: 38). In fact, consultation among Muslims is a constitutional principle of the Islamic community. This democratic approach can exist even today, but the same rigidness and the same sincerity as were prevalent before must be applied. Otherwise, in view of certain abuse of power or some mischievous lobbies, the Ummah (community) will remain as divided as it is today. Small children are taught to consult each other among brothers and sisters, to seek their parent’s advice for decisions to be made in life and also to consult on the first day of the wedding. If you have been able to live a married life, then you would qualify for other responsibilities in the Ummah! Allah Ta’ala has encouraged consultation within the couple. “And if, after mutual consultation, both partners agree on the weaning (from breastfeeding), then there’s no blame on them.” (Baqarah: 233). Here, Allah Ta’ala has explained the etiquette to be followed for a common decision in the couple. A child belongs to both partners in the union. He inherits from both and bears the genes of both. Allah Ta’ala has placed the responsibility of the child’s expenses on the father, whereas maternal care and breastfeeding are the mother’s duties. Although Allah Ta’ala has encouraged mothers to breastfeed their children, it is not a legal obligation.
On the one hand, breastfeeding must take place, on the other; one cannot compel physically a mother to do so. That much said, nobody, not even the father, can require the mother to breastfeed her child. The shariah has introduced a balance, a measure of stability which demands that the decision to breastfeed be taken in mutual consultation between husband and wife. The husband has to submit himself to consultation and cannot use his veto to impose breastfeeding on his wife. You will note here Islam’s tolerance and an attitude devoid of any abuse towards the feminine gender, who has a casting vote in this matter.
Here, the Qur’an puts an end to external family influences which are harmful to problems of a couple. Grandparents are often a party to matter involving their grandchildren, because they are the very forebears of the couple. However, to maintain proper conjugal relations, the Qur’an erects boundaries and determines responsibilities and decisions. Therefore, it is the exclusive consultation of the couple that will conclude the matter of breastfeeding. The Qur’an condemns any comment or lobby against such consultation “….. no blame on them.”
The prophet of Allah (saw) is the example for his community (ummah) “you have, indeed, in the messenger of Allah (saw) an excellent pattern of conduct (to follow)” (Ahzaab: 21). The prophet (saw) has told Uthmaan bin Maz’oon (ra): “You stand up all night and you fast every day? Know that certainly your family has a right upon you, that your body has a right upon you. Accomplish your prayer and sleep, fast and break your fast also.” (Sahih Ibn Hibban). Here attention is drawn to the fact that Uthmaan (ra) did not give time to his wife. The prophet (saw) has told him to discharge his religious responsibilities as well as giving time and attention to his wife. Night is exclusively reserved for wives. The Qur’an states: “Let those (of your children) who have not yet come of age ask your permission (before entering), on three occasions: before morning prayer; when you remove your clothes for the noonday heat; and after the late-night prayer (esha).” (Noor: 58). You will note that those times refer to the times fixed for prayers. It is up to us to organize our married life by day or by night with reference to salah times. In short, we need to grant to our children some precious time as they require, and also to our wives precious time as required.
The poisonous ingredients of hate
By avoiding the ingredients of love, one is already spreading the ingredients of hate. Every person must be valued according to his good traits. By focusing our attention on the weak points of the other person, we feel hate and, in time, this contributes to dissension. The absence of mutual respect, of dialogue, of loyalty, of good advice, of tolerance and of modesty represents so many ingredients of hate. We often hear stories of couples who have come to a bad end, especially when ingredients of hate have had the upper hand over ingredients of love. Unfortunately, a break has occurred and a couple torn apart in this way becomes a couple of antagonists. The best solution is to forget our bitterness, to calm down our anger, and also to opt for ingredients of love.
May Allah bless us by His love and unite us by His religion! Ameen1