Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Polygyny - Behind Closed Doors

Bism Illah wa as salaamu alaykum wa Rahmat Allah Wa Barkatuh.

This is a sensitive subject, but it is the biggest and hardest aspect to deal with for many women in polygyny - marital intimacy. I know that many women feel that they never want their husbands to touch them again once he's been with another woman. They struggle with feelings of diminished confidence, jealousy, suspicion that he is lying when he says he still wants them, and disgust. It can be even harder because, with polygyny, it is not a secret; he has legitimately taken another wife and is living with her for part of the time.

I'm sure some of you may have wondered how I handled this and if I went through those feelings. Most certainly some of those negative thoughts went through my mind, but I knew they were from shaytaan. I also avoid my own slanted interpretations of things. After all, if I have no reason to think I am undesirable or less in some way, then why on earth should I think it?

Certain factors will always play a big part in how the woman feels and how she copes. Much depends on how the husband handles the situation. He must make her feel especially wanted and desired to compensate for the fact that he is also enjoying someone else. He must make it his responsibility to ensure the existing wife/wives are well taken care of in this area.

However, a different approach can be taken to the whole subject. Women don't get married to be left hanging and frustrated. It is the husband's duty to keep his wife/wives fulfilled, regardless of his obligations to, and desires for, another wife. If a wife is left feeling frustrated or ignored, it could be a huge source of fitna and resentment of his other marriage. It is essential to eliminate all aspects that will sabotage positive thinking and success in polygynous situations.

So, rather than think to yourself, 'I don't want him to touch me now he's been with someone else,' think instead, 'I'm getting some of my marital rights from him.' For every night that you think he is pleasing her, ensure he pleases you on your night/time, inshaa'Allah. I'm sure it must seem quite a tough approach as opposed to the hurt and confidence shaken one, but it can work very well bi idhn Illah ta'ala.  Even if you imagine that your husband is having relations with his other wife on every one of her nights, exercising your marital rights on your nights gives you equal psychological footing.

As my husband so clearly stated on his blog, it doesn't go down well in polygyny for the man to be too tired or have a headache, LOL. From a female perspective, I think that most men think they are "too much man" for one woman and can always handle more, maashaa Allah. Just say to him, "Prove it." ;P

Thursday, April 21, 2011

What Went Wrong?

Bism Illah wa as salaamu alaykum wa Rahmat Allah wa Barakatuh.

What is our purpose on this earth? 

وَمَا خَلَقْتُ الْجِنَّ وَالْإِنْسَ إِلَّا لِيَعْبُدُونِ
 And I did not create the Jinn and the mankind except for My worship. 
Quran 51:56

How does that apply to marriage, parenting, family, friendships, colleagues, and the world around us? In every one of these relationships, we must enter it with the intent to serve Allah and increase our emaan and taqwa through it. In every one of these relationships we must be encouraging and increasing worship and obedience to Allah. We must, foremost, enter into any and all things for the improvement, and as positive part of the development, of our worship of Allah.
It is reported that ‘Abdullâh b. ‘Abbâs – Allâh be pleased with him – said, “Love for Allâh and hate for Allâh, make your enmity because of Allâh and your allegiance because of Allâh; for indeed, the love and support of Allâh is not achieved save through this. And a man will never taste true faith (îmân) – though he may pray and fast much – except when he is like that. Today, the people’s brotherhood is based upon worldly considerations (dunyâ), but this will not do anything for them on the Day of Resurrection.”
Ibn Al-Mubârak, Al-Zuhd wa Al-Raqâ`iq article 353.

What happens when we enter into anything for our own reasons that go against what Allah and His Messenger (salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam) have given us as criteria? Things go wrong. They don't go wrong because they started out right in the first place and then lost Allah's Blessings. They go wrong because they were never right in the first place; they are simply following their course.

What is their course all about? Teaching us what happens when we don't do things with the right intention; when we don't do them to worship and draw closer to Allah, subhaana wa taala. Their course is a series of warnings, signs, lessons, and events that are meant to teach us that there is no success without putting Allah first.

When we embark on marriage with the wrong intention or mixed intentions, then we will see the results of that. That's why so many marriages fail. What about the marriages where one person had the right intention and the other didn't. Does it end up okay? Not usually.
It is reported that Sufyân Al-Thawrî – Allâh have mercy on him – said:
If you loved a man for Allâh and then he innovates in Islâm and you don’t hate him for it, you never [truly] loved him for Allâh.
Abû Nu’aym, Hilyatu Al-Awliyâ` 7:34.
Usually the marriage is not happy or successful. Usually, it is a blessing from Allah for the one with the right intention if the marriage ends. They are being protected from the companionship and fitna of someone insincere and misguided.

Yahyâ b. Yahyâ Al-NaysâbûrÎ reports:
I was once with Sufyân b. ‘Uyainah – Allah have mercy on him, when a man came to him and said, “O Abû Muhammad, I complain to you of so-and-so”, meaning his wife, “I am the lowest and most despicable thing to her.” [Sufyân] lowered his head for a few moments, then said, “Perhaps you wanted her in order to better your status.” The man said, “Indeed, o Abû Muhammad.” Sufyân said, “Whoever goes for glory will be tried with ignominy, whoever goes for wealth will be tried with poverty, but whoever goes for religiousness, Allah will bring together for him glory and wealth with the religion.” He then started to narrate to him:
We were four brothers: Muhammad, ‘Umrân, IbrâhÎm and I. Muhammad was the eldest, ‘Umrân was the youngest, and I was in the middle. When Muhammad wanted to marry, he desired status and married a woman of higher standing, so Allah tried him with ignominy. ‘Umrân desired wealth, so he married a richer woman and Allah tried him with poverty: [her family] took everything from him and gave him nothing.
I pondered their situation. Mu’ammar b. Râshid once came to us so I consulted him on the situation and told him the story of my brothers. He reminded me of the hadÎth of Yahyâ b. Ja’dah and the hadÎth of ‘Â`ishah. The hadÎth of Yahyâ b. Ja’dah states that the Prophet – Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him – said, “A woman is married for four things: her religion, her status (lineage), her wealth or her beauty; so take the religious one and be successful.” The hadÎth of ‘Â`ishah states that the Prophet – Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him – said, “The most blessed woman is she who is easiest to maintain.”
Thus, I chose [to marry a woman of] religion and modest dowry, in accordance with the Sunnah of Allah’s Messenger – Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him, and Allah gave me status and wealth along with the religion.
Abû Nu’aym, Hilyatu Al-Awliyâ` 7:289, 290.
The first hadÎth is recorded by Al-BukhârÎ and Muslim. The second is found in Al-Nasâ`Î and other collections but has been graded weak by scholars including Shaykh Al-AlbânÎ. However, scholars point out there is another narration that supports and adds to its meaning. This hadÎth states:
It is from the blessing in a woman that she has an easy dowry, an easy proposal [via her guardian] and an easy womb (i.e. she is fertile and bares children without difficulty). One of the reporters of this narration, ‘Urwah, said “And I say from myself, one of the first signs of evil from a woman is for her to have a high dowry.”
This hadÎth is recorded by Imâm Ahmad and others and is graded hasan by Shaykh Al-AlbânÎ.

In some beautiful scenarios, the one with the wrong intention learns from the one with the right intention and the relationship becomes one of serious, and joyous, striving towards the pleasure of Allah. These are the occasions when we see that Allah Guides whom He wills and can turn a situation for the good. However, these are not situations one enters into knowingly, because there is no guarantee that Allah will turn the other's heart and mind; that may not be His will.

When people look at their problematic or failed marriages, relationships between parents and children,  friendships, and acquaintances, so many times we hear that question, "What went wrong?" So many times people harp on the question, seeking all manner of answers and solutions. However, the answer is as simple as that one ayah of Quran: we are here to worship Allah. What is worship of Allah? Believing in, following, and implementing His message and our perfect example, Prophet Muhammad (salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam).

If we put our own desires before the worship of Allah, then we are simply wasting our time and asking to be taught a lesson. Yes, we are human and we make mistakes; but we must learn from them and come to correct and sincere intention. Otherwise, eventually we may become of those who Allah leaves to their pleasure in this life to increase their punishment in the next, wa audhu b'Illahi min as-shaytaan ir-rajeem.

Now, when I hear that question, "What went wrong?" I think to myself, "Absolutely nothing."

All thanks and praise for Allah, our only hope for success in this life and eternity.

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Daily Account

Bism Illah wa as salaamu alaykum wa Rahmat Allah wa Barakatuh.

"The good deed and the evil deed cannot be equal. Repel (the evil) with one which is better, then verily! he, between whom and you there was enmity, (will become) as though he was a close friend." [Quran 41:34]

One of the most valuable things we can do is assess our account at the end of each day; it's a long, hard look in the mirror. I have been thinking about how to make our children more aware of their actions and the fact that they will have an account with Allah.  After a couple or three months of intentions and running it by hubby and friends, I have finally launched The Daily Account for the children....and me, al hamdul'Illah.  It is, quite naturally, based on Islam and the fact that the good deeds erase the bad deeds.

To prepare, I sewed a little cloth "rack" with four pockets in it and each child's initial on a pocket. Then I cut up some thick construction paper into squares.  I also made a chart to keep a record of the daily account for each child. Here's how it works:

Red squares are for negative and haram behaviors, light blue cards for positive behaviors, yellow cards for completion of acts of ibadah.  From morning to night, children get cards in their pocket according to their deeds and behavior. The children have been shown the various cards, so they have a clear idea of what is considered unacceptable, good, and praiseworthy behavior. In addition, there are plenty of blank cards so I can add things to each category when an action or behavior arises that hasn't been included.

An example of  some red cards:

- Broke the rules
- Hurt someone
- Spoke rudely or with an attitude
- Did something makhrooh in the prayer
- Didn't listen to my parents
- Lied
- Was sneaky/deceptive

An example of some blue cards:

- Gave sadaqa - a smile, picked something up, a gift...
- Completed my schoolwork in good time
- Did something especially kind or helpful
- Kept room tidy and clean
- Did the right thing
- Got ready for bed on time

An example of some yellow cards:

-Prayed all 5 prayers well.
-Said daily dua' for waking up, getting dressed, etc.
- Said the istiaatha at a necessary time
- Read Qur'an
- Actively sought out Islamic knowledge.

Here is an example of how this works. As the day progresses, cards are placed in the children's pockets according to their behavior. They see the cards going in and can check their pocket periodically. When behavior is bordering on bad, they get a warning before the red card is given. They are told when they do something that warrants a blue card. When something happened last night and one child told a lie, they got a red card but were also told that if they tell the truth they would get a blue card for doing the right thing...which would offset that horrid red card. Worked like a charm, mashaa'Allah!

This is in it's early stages, but the atmosphere in our home and between the children is notably improved in their race to win on The Daily Account. I'm still considering what we will reward the child with the best daily account with. It will not be something to encourage materialism, but more along the lines of recognition perhaps with a badge or award to keep for the week, and a special dinner or a baked treat of their choice. On a monthly scale, perhaps a special outing or activity of their choice. This is a work in progress, so I expect it will need adaptations.

In truth, we adults could use this programme too, especially if we are trying to get a grip on several issues and have a clearer picture of ourselves. I am certainly very conscious of occasions when I need a card, and I am making a little pile for myself. It has already drastically reduced the amount of times I raise my voice, wa al hamdu l'Illah.

Inshaa'Allah, The Daily Account will help prepare us all for the day when our real account is handed to us - ameen.

Monday, April 4, 2011

It Took Years

Bism Illah wa as salaamu alaykum wa Rahmat Allah wa Barakatuh.

Someone asked me once how I got to this place in my life, my deen, and my heart. Well, it took years. Every year, every month, every day, every hour, every minute, and every second were needed for me to be the person who types to you now.

To get from vague religion, to Church of England, to Islam took 22 years. To go from being insecure and intimidated, to certain and unshakable in my reliance on Allah took 16 years. To get from learning Quran in order to pray, to understanding and reciting Quran because I love it, took 22 years. To learn to truly love for the sake of Allah took 28 years. To be ready for the role of wife and mother, took 20 years of working and supporting myself. To find a person to strive for Jennah with, took 36 years.

There aren't any instant packets of experience, wisdom, emaan, taqwa, or knowledge. There are no quick fixes for understanding and loving everything Allah sends you. It takes life experiences. Every year of your life is necessary for your movement towards Allah. Take it easy. Take time to think about the experiences. Embrace it all for what it is: your own personalized self improvement plan written by your Creator.

Allah has a plan for each of us and it follows His timeline. It isn't about how long it takes, it's about getting there. A large factor in getting there is understanding that everything that we go through is meant to get us there. Look at everything, the easy and the difficult, the joy and the misery, the thrills and disappointments and know that it's all part of the journey to Allah. It's all sent to make you turn to Him.

Now that I've said that it took me years to get to where I am, let me tell you where I am. Virtually nowhere in terms of knowledge, 29 Juz to go for Qur'an memorization, still battling myself to have the self-control and manners of our beloved Prophet, salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam, still desperately trying to please Allah, and seeking forgiveness for my many mistakes. I'm just struggling and striving along my personal path to Allah, and will be for the rest of my days, inshaa'Allah. It took years; al hamdu l'Illah for every one of them - they are irreplaceable.