Love is a human experience that touches the heart, the deep depth of every heart. It makes them feel like they are born again, they are new, rejuvenated, active, they have flame of fire in them. People cannot live without love, either people love themselves or someone else and are either in love of fulfilling their own desires or others, there are always things people love. The poet said “Life without love isn’t worth anything.”
A man came to Sayyidina Ali (r.a) and said “I bought this house, can you write me a contract of sale, to make it official.” He looked at him and saw the love of duniya in his eyes and said to him “Bismillah, this is your contract, a dead man, bought from another dead man, in the city of sinners, and the street of those who are absent from the mention of Allah, that house has four borders, the first border will end at death, and second will end at grave, and third at accountability, and fourth at either at Jannah or an-Naar.”
We are so obsessed in this journey, it's like a jail in reality, a huge jail with rivers and mountains. In that jail people eat and drink etc. and they don’t know what to call it, they call it life and feel secure in it. The prophets came and gave us a glimpse so we can see what is beyond this jail.
There are always two important components in this journey of life:
2. A good companion
Look at the Prophet (s.a.w), he made Hijra and had Sayyidina Siddique Al Akbar (r.a) with him, and he said about his provisions “I stay with my lord, he gives me food and drink.”
We all need provisions in this life. What are the best of provisions? Allah says in the Quran, “The best of provisions is taqwa.” These are important things on this journey, otherwise we are lost. The companion in this life is a good spouse, a good wife or a good husband. This journey of marriage is a matter of years not days, you need to have sustenance and a good companion. The sustenance is taqwa, and the good companion is a good spouse.
We live in a time controlled by materialism massively. Furthermore, the spiritual dimension is almost eliminated, hence people live their life based on materialistic rules. Therefore they make everything in life based on mathematics e.g where does she live, what does her father do, or how much money does he have, what kind of degree does he have? We control everything by mathematics, so in order for me to fall in love with someone, they have to have the mathematics, which I go and tick off on my list.
The word love is the most abused word in the world and limited and subjugated to many different meanings. Don’t we love the Prophet? Yes. But do we obey him? Do we prioritise his Sunnah over ours? The poet says, “You disobey the Creator while claiming you love Him. Had your love been truthful, you would have obeyed Him, for the one who loves, is obedient to the one he loves.”
Those people who get engaged in the beginning, they love everything their potential spouse loves, they try to please each other with everything, if he/she hates something, they say they hate it too. Every claim must be substantiated, if it cannot be, it’s a false claim. Some people reduce love to external beauty. Jamaal, it’s a relative thing. Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. Whatever is their understanding of beauty, they reduce it to that and become enslaved to it and work to achieve it. They reduce love to what they think it looks like. Then they get married, first month, second month passes by, they see each other every day.
If you ask a biologist who knows about down regulation and up regulation, he will tell you what causes diabetes. What causes it is up regulation and down regulation of receptors. You eat lots of sugar, it goes to your blood. From your blood your pancreas produces lots of insulin, it's like a pick up truck and takes the sugar from your blood and puts it in your cells. At the beginning you eat sugar, your pancreas responds, no big deal, this is up regulation. When you keep pounding on the sugar all the time, all you eat is carbohydrates. What happens then is that the affinity of your receptors no longer responds to the sugar like it used to. It's like saying to a person, "I’ve seen you all day long, I don’t like you anymore.” So your body down regulates your receptors, your sugar remains in your blood, which causes hypoglycaemia, which makes you diabetic.
Why am I saying that for? Shaykh Abu Fatta Al Ghuda used to say, “A lot of something every day makes you desensitized.” Usually when people have an imagination of a picture, the rest of their love they imagine they fill in the blanks themselves in their minds. They don’t know each other, then they are surprised. When you live with people everyday (your spouse), you have good days and bad days, every day is not the same, you must forgive and forget because life is about ups and downs.
The person who was enslaved to the external looks before marriage, when they use to see each other, they saw on the best of states. But now he sees her when she wakes up, cooking etc. He doesn’t see her in the best of states anymore, yet he sees everybody else outside in the best of states supposedly, but because he’s enslaved to beauty, he sees now from that point of view, she is no longer beautiful as he thought she was, but everyone else is. That is not love and that external beauty that you seek, will eventually fade away.
There are others who are enslaved to money or social status. They look for triple PHDs, two masters and five bachelors etc. This is trying to fulfil an inferiority complex. The reality is that we are all from Adam a.s. and Adam is from clay and what makes one better than the other? The Quran says “the most honourable amongst you with Allah is the one with the most taqwa.” People who are enslaved to external beauty, social status and money, they call this 'love'.
The Quran talks about the daughters of Shoaib a.s and Musa a.s. that when they walked past him and he asked them why they are there, they were full of shyness. This is a great quality to have and a sign of strong imaan. This is a message to our brothers and sisters regarding interaction, the non-verbal communication that you give, the vibes that you give, all that, you will be accountable for. So we should be careful of the way we interact with others. Nowadays, we have all these kinds of communications (text messages, etc.) and bypassing parents, but what did she reply to him? “My father is calling you.” So they tell their father to hire a person who is strong and trustworthy i.e. “values the trust.” You are a trust to your wives and your wives are a trust to you and are entrusted by Allah.
Many people think getting married is an objective and a goal. Therefore what’s that goal for? For desire or fulfilling an inferiority complex? That needs to be changed because getting married is a means to a goal and not the goal. The goal is pleasing Allah. When you marry, you are entering a worship before Allah. If we correct our understanding, we can have a good start to marriage. So the intention needs to be corrected. What next? What do we need to look for? The hadith says “deen and morality.”
Imam Suyuti mentions this hadith that the Sahabi Thaubaan r.a said that when the ayah of the Quran: "Those who treasure (hide or keep) gold and silver and don't give them in the path of Allah; tell them that they are awaiting a punishment from Allah," came; I went to the Prophet (s.a.w) and asked him, "If we shouldn’t treasure gold and silver, then what should we treasure?" The Prophet s.a.w said, "You should treasure three things:
1. A tongue that is remembering Allah a lot.
2. A heart that is thankful to Allah.
A lot of people have bounties, but they don’t treasure them and don’t thank Him. Allah renews your ni'mah for you daily when you wake up and your sight and hearing is working everyday. Thank Allah.
3. A pious spouse that helps you to pass to the akhira."
The Prophet s.a.w described the pious spouse (male or female) as something to be "treasured." The shaykh says, "The one who is happy, is the one who is happy at home, even if the whole world is against him or her and the one who is unhappy is the one who is unhappy at home, even if the whole world is with him. When you go home, that is supposed to be your comfort zone. If people approach you, curse you and slander you, you don’t care, you say to yourself, a few minutes and I'll be home with my family in my comfort zone."
The Prophet s.a.w said "Smile is sadaqa," to your Muslim brothers. When you enter your comfort zones, you should give this sadaqa to your family and greet them with salam rather than throwing 20 questions at each other and creating an atmosphere of tension. Muslims need to smile a lot more, the Sahaba used to play and throw peels of melon at each other and we don't even smile?
Hadith: "We were walking with the Prophet s.a.w and he was kissing Hassan and Husayn r.a, and a man asked “Do you love them?” and he said “Of course.” He said, “I have 10 children and I have never kissed any of them.” The Prophet replied “What can I do if Allah take the mercy away from your heart.” Where is the mercy in your heart for your family? Have mercy for your family."
Allah described the spouses as garments of one another in the Quran. What is a garment for? A garment is for covering, supporting the body, it keeps you warm when you are cold and gives you support and comfort.
The Quran mandates that marrying a slave woman who may not be so good looking according to some people's definition but a believer, over a free woman who may be beautiful, but not a believer.
One of the Sahaba, Abdullah Ibn Rawaha (r.a) had a slave and according to some people's definition she wasn’t good looking. He once slapped her. Before Islam came, slaves were treated harshly and even killed for small mistakes, and it is Islam that enforced rights upon them. He felt remorse and went to the Prophet s.a.w. The Prophet of Allah asked him, "How is she?" Abdullah replied, "She fasts, she prays, does her wudu well, testifies that there is no god but Allah and that you are the final messenger of Allah." The Prophet replied "Oh Abdullah, she is a believer in Allah." Abdullah thought hard and came to the realisation that if the Prophet of Allah testifies to her being a Muminah, then that is a great medal of honour. He freed her, apologised to her and married her.
Allah says the best of you are those who are the most pious. Do we have the willingness to look for the most pious? Some started talking about him and making fun that he married a black woman who was his slave. Then Allah s.w.t revealed the ayah of the Quran: "Do not marry mushrikaat until they become believers. A slave (jariya) maid who is a believer is better than one who is a disbeliever." It is as if Allah tells us that the so called free supermodel in your eyes whose external beauty you are enslaved to and claim to love, even if you love her so. But that slave woman who is not so beautiful in your eyes, but is a believer is better and that's the choice you should make.
Let's go to some scenes from the life of the an-Nabi al-Azam s.a.w. Before his announcement of the message, they called him as-Saadiq al-Ameen, “the trustworthy and truthful.” Indeed he is. As soon as he announced the message, what happened? What does announcing the message mean? People's businesses were going to shut down, those who lived off ribaa, subjugating others, enslaving, alcohol trading, cheating, deceiving etc. Many people were profiting from that. All of a sudden they turned against him and launch their usual campaign. That campaign does not stop, from that time until today, not only for the Prophets (Alaihimus Salam), but those who try to emulate them and live life their way, they target them in two ways, “defame and destroy.” Who stood behind him when they tried to defame and destroy him? The one who stood behind him is the one who we often neglect by not learning enough about her and that is none other than our mother Khadija Tul Kubraa (Radiallahu anha).
Look how she comforted him when he was being defamed and attacked. She said, "You are a prophet of Allah and Allah will never abandon you." We don’t have a narration that said that she replied “what are you talking about, we have businesses, let's live comfortable, let's keep this quiet, we will be subjugated to difficulties," but she said “You are a Prophet of Allah, by Allah, He will never let you down.”
She died out of starvation because of the embargo that the Quraish had imposed on the followers of the Prophet s.a.w. SubhanAllah a billionaire dying of starvation! She could have abandoned him due to the difficulties encountered, but she taught us a very important lesson that: "Iman is not compromised and Allah is the provider of rizk and not the creation. If this is the will of Allah, then marhaba bi amrillah."
When the Prophet talked about her after she passed away, and he would talk about her in public, he would get very emotional. He said "ruziktu hubaha." "I was given the rizk of her love." This is a public display of affection, prophetic style.
How do we know what to look for? You may say, I see him going to the masjid and praying all the time; I see him having a beard; I see him going to the halaqa of ilm with the ulema etc; I see her having hijaab - is that enough? Maybe or maybe not, why? Because nobody knows the piety except Allah, taqwa is in the heart. What you see outwardly, although good, could be due to peer pressure, family pressure or even true imaan in the heart, but what do you have to do before you make your mind up about a potential spouse?
You have to do your homework and ask people who know about them, since taqwa is in the heart and you can’t determine that. Ask females about her and ask males about him. Try to find out who their companions are, that’s very important to know. Also see what they do, for actions speak louder than words.
Sayyidina Umar r.a asked a person if he knows a particular person. He replied “Yes of course I know him.” He then asked “Have you travelled with him?” He said “No.” Then he asked “Did you deal with him in business?” He said “No.” Sayyidina Umar said “Maybe you have seen him praying in the masjid and you think he is a pious man.” The man replied “Yes.” Sayyidina Umar replied “Go, you don’t know him.”
A person's true character is exposed through these two things (trading with them and travelling with them) and you should look for deen and good character. Secondly, you have to look for the environment. Biologists say that a human being is a product of their environment. This is not a rule, but it is something that needs to be looked at because there is a hadith, which is daeef though. Allegedly the Prophet said beware of “hadraa ud diman” They asked “what is hadraa ud diman” and the Prophet allegedly replied “a woman who is beautiful but has bad character” or was raised in a bad way. Avoiding the linguistics, hadraa ud diman are the fecis of animals. Animal eat grass and other things, then they leave them on the grass. Sometimes what they leave has seeds in it and because of the seeds it starts to grow and becomes a plant eventually, but far from beauty. The essence is not really beautiful, you know what it came out of. You should look for the goodness in human beings. The Prophet s.a.w said “khiyaarukum fil jahiliya, khiyaarukum fil Islam” i.e. “The best of you who were good in jahiliya will have those intrinsic characters and be good in Islam too.” Do not ever listen to generalizations like “he does such, she does such...”
The third quality to look for is “Al-Wadood” i.e. “loving nature,” someone who is always loving and smiling. The Prophet s.a.w was often seen smiling and wadood was encouraged by the Prophet. Marriage is what you put into it and this is a very important point to remember.
When Sayyida Aisha was asked about the Prophet, she said “He patches his own clothes and mends his own shoes.” He is the best of the entire creation, but he works in his own house. Sayyidina Ali r.a was also often seen sweeping in his own house.
A man came to Sayyidina Umar r.a. to complain about his wife who mistreated him. As he reached his house, he heard the sound of the wife of Sayyidina Umar's louder than how his own wife talks to him and he is about to leave until Sayyidina Umar stopped him and said to him, “I have to be patient, she cleans my clothes, cooks my food, raises my children, why shouldn’t I be patient on her. She does it out of care and love for me.” There has to be forgiveness and love exists.
When the Prophet used to sacrifice an animal, he used to send the meat to the friends of Khadija r.a and her sister after her passing away etc. The social scientist William Robinson said, “After 3 years of marriage the love dies.” But the Prophet proved that it exists as long as he lived, even after she passed away.
Do not restrict love to certain things. Do not be fooled by judging love with certain things. The Quran wants you to be established on a path of love, a path that ensures not only its duration, but ensures its objectivity, because you are not seeking love because it's an objective, but because it’s a means to please Allah so you can attain Jannah. The pious spouse should be treasured because he/she will help you reach the pleasure of Allah.
If there are any mistakes, they are from myself. May Allah forgive me.
- Shaykh Muhammad an-Ninowy
Credit: Sidi Arshad/RS Morales/Umm Noor Sidek