These are some of the notes I’ve transcribed from this lecture, which is part of a week-long lecture series on the life of the Prophet (PBUH). This is a very important topic that has been summarized greatly to fit into such a short lecture – hopefully this post will inspire some readers to continue researching on what other tips our Prophet PBUH can offer for a successful marriage and family. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of religion on the building of a family or the strengthening of a marriage.
Disclaimer: The lecture was originally in Malay, so I apologize in advance if there were any errors in transcribing and/or translating.
The lecture was held by Ustaz Fachruddin Dzaki at Darul Makmur Mosque, entitled Teladan Rasulullah S.A.W Dalam Membangun Institusi Keluarga, or The Example of Rasulullah (S.A.W) in Building a Family Institution.
A family is the basis of the society. Imagine if every family in a particular community follows the sunnah of our Prophet PBUH – collectively, this will result in having an entire community following the sunnah of our Prophet PBUH. Each family begins with a couple – a husband & wife. Through this, children are borne and there is mutual respect between the couple and the children. There is also respect with the couple’s parents i.e. the respect between one’s parents and his or her in-laws. Through this, we can understand how a couple forms the nucleus of the society, of the Muslim ummah. Recall that Allah started off this ummah with a couple as well – Adam and Eve.
The best of you is the best to his wives, and I am the best of you to my wives, and when your companion dies, leave him alone. [Tirmidhi]
Nowadays, intelligence and knowledge is usually accompanied with arrogance. This should not be the case. We need to learn to be humble and our knowledge should be accompanied by adab. Recall the malay idiom: Seperti ilmu padi, semakin berisi semakin merunduk (Just like a paddy plant – the more we are filled (with knowledge), the more our head lowers). This means that with more ’ilm, we should be even more humble and gain more tawakkal.
A sign of the end times is that more divorces will occur. To keep a marriage strong, we need to look to our Prophet PBUH as an example – how was he like with his wives? To answer this, there are many ahadith we can refer to, especially those showing his life with Saidatina Aisha RA.
“The world is provision and the best provision in the world is a righteous woman.” [Muslim]
To get a pious spouse, we ourselves must be pious. An ideal couple is not one that consists of both husband and wife being perfect, or both being equal in every way. A husband and wife should complement each other in their strengths and weaknesses. For example a husband may have ‘ilm that the wife may not have, and vice versa – they can then impart this ‘ilm to each other. This also links back to knowledge making us humble instead of arrogant. Our differences lead to harmony in the marriage.
The following are some tips on “How to Be a Gentleman” just like our Prophet PBUH. The ladies can also practise some of these tips.
- Our Prophet took care of the health of his wives and made them happy and cheerful. He ensured a peaceful home environment
Now, a ‘peaceful home environment’ needs some defining. Note that our Prophet PBUH was not wealthy – but he ensured a peaceful home environment through his akhlak. This also resulted in the wives to feel redha towards the situation or environment of the home. In turn, the wives should not ask for what is beyond the means of the husband.
- He gave his wives loving names, or in malay, nama-nama manja
We seem to refer to our spouse via these ‘loving names’ only at the start of the relationship or marriage. This needs to change. Calling them via these loving names will not only help to blossom the marriage, but it is also such a simple sunnah to follow.
`Aisha said, “Once Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said (to me), ‘O Aish (`Aisha)! This is Gabriel greeting you.’ I said, ‘Peace and Allah’s Mercy and Blessings be on him, you see what I don’t see’ ” She was addressing Allah ‘s Apostle. [Bukhari]
If we want to refer to our spouses by certain playful names, such as chubby (or in malay, tembam or bam), ensure that it is a name that he/ she would accept and not feel offended by. In a nutshell, use names that would strengthen the love between the couple.
- Put in effort to try find out what the wife likes, and what she would get jealous of (so that it can be avoided).
Here we need to understand the differences that Allah has created between men and women. For example, men usually would not show their discontent; they’d rather keep it to themselves. Women, however, would usually show their emotions, but are difficult to answer their husbands when asked what’s wrong. We tend to have mood-swings, but yet say “Nothing’s wrong”.
We don’t need to see these as ‘flaws’, per se. But it is essential that we understand each other’s quirks or responses and work around them.
I would drink when I was menstruating, then I would hand it (the vessel) to the Apostle (ﷺ) and he would put his mouth where mine had been, and drink, and I would eat flesh from a bone when I was menstruating, then hand it over to the Apostle (ﷺ) and he would put his mouth where mine had been. Zuhair made no mention of (the Holy Prophet’s) drinking. [Muslim]
When the grand-children (Side note: The audience consisted of mainly the elderly) are in school and you have some free time on your hands, go for a date with your spouse. For example, as we get older, we tend to eat less. If, say, we are going to have a meal but we don’t feel very hungry, what we can do is share from a plate.
Side note 2: Don’t know about you guys, but the image of an elderly couple sharing a meal from the same plate made me smile (‘:
- Express your love, no matter the circumstance. For example, through kissing.
Now, at this juncture we need to briefly point out that different madhhab have different views with regards to the state of wudhu after skin contact with one’s spouse. Each madhhab have their own daleel to support their views. The point of bringing up this hadith is not to discuss fiqh, but to bring across the point of expressing love through kissing.
Compare this to our society whereby, as we get older, we feel embarrassed to kiss our spouses or even hold our spouse’s hand when in public. On many occasions the ustaz has witnessed the husbands sitting in coffee shops playing with their phones, while their wives are ones who has to queue and buy the food. Being a ‘husband’ should not cause you to feel like you are of higher status or that you have a right to be arrogant to your wife.
Don’t give the excuse of “I’ve just returned from work, I’m tired” – understand that your wife is tired too. Both of you have to understand each other’s ‘tiredness’ and make the effort to meet each other halfway.
For example, when the husband is going out to work, look for the wife to kiss her goodbye. The wife should also, upon knowing that it’s time for the husband to go out for work, look for him to give salaam and kiss him goodbye. ‘Find’ each other. Don’t sit and wait and expect the other party to put in all of the effort to ‘find’ you.
Note that expressing love in public does not mean that you do this excessively and with the intention of showing off to others. Just a simple gesture such as a simple peck or holding her hand would suffice.
- Jokes, fun and happiness
Narrated Aisha, Ummul Mu’minin: While she was on a journey along with the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ): I had a race with him (the Prophet) and I outstripped him on my feet (i.e., she won the race). When I became fleshy, (again) I had a race with him (the Prophet) and he outstripped me. He said: This is for that outstripping. [Abu Dawud]
This does not mean that you have to race with your spouse per se. Apply this to the context of your marriage. For example, if the husband likes to go fishing, the wife can go with him. If the wife likes baking, the husband can help out. Even if he doesn’t know how to bake, he can help out in any small way he can such as measuring out the volumes of ingredients or opening the packets (Yes, opening the packets. That’s the example that the ustaz gave xD)
- Be sweet. Help in any way you can.
Narrated Anas bin Malik: … Then we proceeded towards Medina, and I saw the Prophet, making for her (Safiya bint Huyai, the Prophet’s wife) a kind of cushion with his cloak behind him (on his camel). He then sat beside his camel and put his knee for Safiya to put her foot on, in order to ride (on the camel). [Bukhari]
- Carry out ibadah/ acts of worship together. The ustaz emphasized on this point.
O you who have believed, protect yourselves and your families from a Fire whose fuel is people and stones, over which are [appointed] angels, harsh and severe; they do not disobey Allah in what He commands them but do what they are commanded. [Qur’an 66:6]
We are the leaders of our families.
For example, if a husband wishes to pray in the mosque and he has a vehicle, he can bring his wife along. If the wife is busy with the household chores, he can remind her to pray once he is back. Even better is if he can share what he has learnt in the mosque, if there was a lecture after the congregation prayer such as this one.
During Ramadhan, there are several programmes for families to carry out ibadah together – for example, Qiyam prayers or breaking fast together.
If the husband is unable to pray at the mosque, he can pray Jemaah at home and would still attain the same rewards.
Recite the Qur’an together. If one spouse is strong in his/ her recitation, he/ she can teach the other spouse. The ustaz recounted an experience whereby a wife complained to him – she can teach the Qur’an, but her husband is not willing. He has been coming up with several excuses such as he is embarrassed to learn, or is too tired from work. The ustaz advised her to keep insisting (but respectfully). It is important to insist to our spouses or families and encourage them in carrying out ibadah – when we go to Jannah in shaa allah, we would want to bring them there too.
The ustaz has witnessed many families that proved that a family which carries out ibadah together is a family that is strong. The same goes for marriages too. He recounted an experience where he came across a family with five or six children. He was wondering – how do they manage? How can you afford it – the children’s education, etc. But he observed that they often carried out ibadah together. Even though you may not be wealthy, if Allah accepts your acts of worship and is content by these acts, he will grant peace and happiness in your heart.
- Know how to deal with trials
No marriage is without trials or moments of sadness. Troubles in your marriage are trials from Allah. You can be sad, but don’t give up. Allah will not test you with a trial that you are not able to bear. If one feels like the trial is too much for him to bear, he may have already given up or he did not turn to Allah. Allah is the one who gives you these problems – He is the only one who can take them away.
When faced with trials,
- Turn to Allah with du’a
- Look towards the Prophet PBUH for any tips you can follow or emulate. Refer to those with ‘ilm, or go for counselling.
… And whoever fears Allah – He will make for him a way out. And will provide for him from where he does not expect. And whoever relies upon Allah – then He is sufficient for him. Indeed, Allah will accomplish His purpose. Allah has already set for everything a [decreed] extent. [Qur’an 65:2-3]
If you have taqwa, Allah will show you a way out of your troubles. That’s His promise.
To smile is such a simple act of sunnah, but yet so important. Smile when you see your spouse. Don’t leave for work, etc. in a state of anger, despite going through an argument. Even though you’ve just argued, when you need to part from them to go someplace else or for work, smile and give salaam. Don’t part with insults or telling them you hate them. You never know if those could be your last words to them, na’uzubillah. Remember that shaytaan loves fights, particularly between couples.
That’s the end of this talk. If you need to clarify anything, or if you have any other queries/ comments/ rebuttals, I’ll respond in shaa allah but keep in mind that the above content was not originally mine, I simply noted them down and hence my response may be lacking.
Side note: I can expect that a staunch feminist would have issues with some of the stereotypes being presented during this lecture e.g. a man being expected to go out to work, while the wife is expected to be the caretaker of the house, or a man being expected to like fishing, while the wife likes baking. This is not the point of this post. Sieve out the main lessons with regards to the topic, and you can tweak the examples or reverse the roles according to the current situation in your marriage.
For further reading related to this topic, you may also refer to my old post Marriage in Islam for some content from a lecture on marriage preparation.
Do you have any other tips for a successful marriage or a happy family? Comment!