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Marriage Advice - NUH KELLER

Marriage Advice - NUH KELLER

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Marriage Advice
On September 10, 2012 - 
 
Print This! [The following is an excerpt from the unpublished manuscript of a new revision of the manual of the tariqa. It is copyright MMIX © Nuh Ha Mim Keller, and may not be reproduced in any form without written permission. Some has been drawn from traditional sources such as Imam Ghazali, while some is new. It has been excerpted here from manuscript as a stop-gap to answer some questions about marriage frequently received, and because the manual will take longer to finish
than people‟s questions permit. May Allah help all through it.]
 
MARRIAGE
The importance of marriage to one‟s tar 
iqa is plain from the tremendous impact of
 suhba
or companionship on the spiritual traveller. Every Muslim understands that a good marriage is a sunna, help, and blessing to whomever Allah gives it. From the single decision of who should be
one‟s mate for life comes a great deal of one‟s future happiness or misery. In the path, few things furnish a comparable touchstone of one‟s true taqwa and character.
 Because of the dominance of powerful contemporary norms essentially alien to the
 fitra
or „true nature‟
of the sexes, a good marriage today is often something that must be striven for and
attained, rather than an event one can live “happily ever after.” To clarify the basics, we have
summarized below certain minimal conditions for disciples getting married, key points of Islamic character, adab, rights, and duties from Imam Ghazali and others, and practical rules necessary in our day to have a fulfilling Islamic marriage.
 Minimal Conditions in a Spouse
 A disciple may marry anyone they want, as long as the following conditions are met:
1. That the prospective spouse share one‟s own vision of Islam, and be religious, meaning that
they follow one of the four Sunni schools of jurisprudence, pray the five prayers, and if female, cover correctly. They do all of t
his before ever hearing of marriage. Someone who doesn‟t pray  but “comes from a good family” is absolutely unacceptable, and one must not be pressured by family members into marrying someone of this description. One‟s children could end up in hell by
following their example. 2. That the prospective spouse agree that the household will be run according one of the four Sunni schools of jurisprudence in all matters; if Hanafi, for example, that there be nothing unlawful according to the school in any of the fa
mily‟s dealings.
 
 
3. That the prospective spouse know that one has a tariqa and sheikh and what this entails, knows
that one goes to the weekly dhikrs and yearly Suhbas, and that one‟s main interest is Allah. If the
 person also has a tariqa, it must be an authentic one, meaning at minimum that the sheikh and disciple know that the Sacred Law is above the sheikh, disciple, and everyone else. 4. That the husband be the man of the family. The way of the prophets, the Sufi sheikhs, and of Islam, is that the man leads, supports, guides, and takes care of his wife and family. Allah says,
“Men are keepers over women, because Allah has favored the one above the other, and because
they expend of their wealth: So righteous women are worshipful, faithfully guarding their honor
when their husbands are gone, as Allah has guarded them” (Qur‟an 4:34). A man does not throw
his weight around with meaningless orders, but is not the obsequious follower of the woman Allah has made him keeper of. He rather asks Allah to guide him in his decisions, listens to what wisdom his wife may offer, and then follows his best judgement, returning especially in the big decisions to his own
istikhara.
 5. That the wife be the woman of the family. There is a lot of bad advice around today about m
arriage that is far from any meaningful appreciation of men‟s and women‟s different natures. In
 previous ages of Islamic history, there was no need to advise anyone about the roles of men and women. But in our times, current cultural norms consider men and women interchangeable, forbid men to be men, and few wives can look up to the sapless males the theories have created. The  present rules of behavior between men and women are merely adequate for how long most marriages today last. We advise ladies in the tariqa to read and apply
 Fascinating Womanhood,
which contains the best description of the akhlaq or proper way of handling oneself necessary for any woman who wants
her marriage to succeed. Some of its remarks about the bedroom and women‟s education are
inapplicable to an Islamic context, but these are easily distinguished from the rest, and everyone who has followed the book has found that it works. Ladies find that once they start acting femininely, their men are able to respond with a manly sense of loving and protecting a woman. Women in the tariqa have also found a lot of benefit from
The Surrendered Wife.
A third work is
 Happy Housewives,
especially useful for women affected by modern corporate values, though
the author‟s diction is occasionally indel
icate. 6. That the husband have a lawful income by which he can support a wife and free her from the need to work, providing for her a
bayt
 shar‘i
 
or „home as guaranteed by Sacred Law,‟ meaning her
own house or self-contained part of a house, which she runs, and has complete security in and
everything else she needs, according to the standard enjoyed in her father‟s house. It means she has an autonomous privacy not subject to her husband‟s family entering at will or meddling with
 
her. This said, an intelligent wife understands from the first that she cannot separate her husband from his family, so uses diplomacy with her in- laws, to make them feel welcome in her house as
guests. If she doesn‟t get along with her in
-laws or suffers harm from them, the husband can visit them himself at their home. If a man in the tariqa wants to get married, he has to be able to
 provide all this. Otherwise, the man must make plans for the future, with Allah‟s help. One need not obey parents‟ demands to marry if one is unable t
o provide a wife with these basic rights guaranteed by Sacred Law, unless the wife knows that her living situation involves forgoing some of these, and she completely accepts.
Anyone who marries someone meeting these six conditions marries with the sheikh‟
s complete  blessing and best wishes, although there is baraka in seeking his permission. Among the most important adab in the events leading directly up to the marriage are the following.
The Man Seeking a Wife
 The qualities praised by the sunna in a prospective wife are that she be religious, intelligent, amiable and well-mannered, fertile (as inferable from her mother or female relatives), from a good family, a virgin, pleasing in appearance, undesirous of an exorbitant marriage payment, and not a close family relative. When seeking to marry a woman, the prospective suitor should make his intention for Allah, then send someone, preferably a family member, to her family to ask for a chaperoned meeting with her. The messenger should be someone who will honestly tell them how he is. He should inquire about the prospective bride from a religious and reliable informant, and not for example someone who bears malicious tales (namima) between people. Women are better to send, as they normally notice details more closely than men, and can meet with her and her female family members. He should ask about her religiousness; her diligence in prayer and fasting; her shyness, reserve, and modesty; her personal cleanliness; her chasteness of speech; whether she stays at home; and how well she respects her parents. He should ask about the character of her
father, and about her mother‟s behavior, religion, and works.
 It is a key sunna to then personally meet with the woman, to sit and talk with her as many times as it takes to make up his mind about marriage. The man and woman should make sure they communicate well, are comfortable with and like each other, and are on the same page in their religion. The man should not admire in the woman qualities admirable only in a man. It is better to
avoid the “student type” whose mother has served her all her life with every conceivable labor at
home to free her to study, hence never learned common sense, how to work, cook, clean, run a

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