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Thursday, 30 December 2010

Muslim Marriage....Romance and Intimacy

Marriage is usually always talked about in terms of rights, responsibilities, roles, duties and obedience, but there are many things which are not discussed. When Islam came was introduced to the world through prophet Muhammad SAW the deeper, intimate and finer details of marriage were not things to shy away from. If marriage is half of our deen then it is important that we do our best to live that part correctly and recieve the best reward and the only way of doing that is by not being afraid or embarrassed to ask questions to gain more knowledge.

Aisha RA the wife of the beloved prophet Muhammad pbuh and also a very renowned scholar in her own right wrote about her own experiences as a wife, she spoke about many aspects of her marriage to help others understand the kind of husband the prophet Muhammad SAW was so that people could learn from their example and lead a happy and successful married life.

Shying away from these kinds of topics leads to a distortion of what an Islamic marriage is like and people sometimes even fall into the trap of living up to the stereotype of the 'Islamic' marriage in which the husband rules the house, makes commands, uses his wife how he wants and the woman is oppressed, covered head to toe in obedience to her husband doing everything he tells her to. The reason for this I believe is because people do not discuss the more important issues of a marriage, which is love, respect, fulfilling ones desires in a halaal way, intimacy, friendship etc...For this reason I have decided to dedicate the next few blog posts to the subject of a 'Muslim Marriage' with tips, reminders, quotes, hadeeths etc etc on having a happy Muslim Marriage.

As I myself am not married I am not in a position to give advice or talk about the subject of marriage with experience therefore, the posts I upload will be taken from various articles, seminars, talks, books etc, I will InshaAllah always put a reference or link back to where I got the information so that you can do some research or further reading on your own.

Without further a do here is our 1st topic........Romance and Intimacy..........

A woman’s primary need for her husband is emotional, she wants to share an emotional connection based on love, commitment and acceptance. A good husband must love his wife both as a person (meaning her personality) and as a woman (meaning her physical body).

One of the ways a man can fulfill this emotional need is through romance. During the ‘honeymoon period,’ romance is easy for most men. This is because everything about the relationship is new and exciting; the man is continuously day-dreaming about his wife and is eager to communicate that to her. It is easier for men to be more attentive and show extra tenderness during this phase.

But true romance is when a man continues this even after the ‘honeymoon’ phase. It is when the husband makes an effort to keep the marriage alive, thinks about ways to please his wife, and genuinely strives to make her feel loved and appreciated.

Unfortunately, after the honeymoon phase, romance loses its appeal for most men, and in fact becomes awkward and even unnatural! But Alhamdulillah, it is not difficult, and with the correct intention and mindset, romance can easily be re-learnt.

There are many ways a man can show romance. Let us get started by mentioning two types of romance:

1. Spontaneous Romance:

These are little acts that the husband does to show affection without being prompted. The key concept here is to be spontaneous. The element of surprise is crucial! It is not what you do that is as important as simply doing something personal. This could include sending her a message saying “I love you” via text, email, or a little sticky note placed in a convenient place. Other examples include buying her an unexpected gift, or giving her a tight hug or a passionate kiss when she least expects it. These acts keep the marriage alive, as it injects excitement and heat into the relationship. This spontaneity helps melts away any resentment that inevitably builds up.

2. Responsive Romance:

These are acts that the husband does in response to a situation at hand. They are done when a husband finds his wife emotionally or physically down. For example, ordering food from outside if her day was hectic; giving her a massage if her back is sore; or simply sitting down with her and listening to her if she is upset about an incident that happened. These acts show genuine care, and strengthen and deepen the marital bond.

The fact of the matter is that many men are scared by the word ‘romance’; they feel that it is beyond them. Yet true romance is nothing more or less than appreciating a woman for who she is, looking after her, and caring for her.

Remember the beautiful hadith in which our beloved Prophet salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam compared women to ‘…fragile vessels,’ and reminded us to be gentle with them (Reported by al-Bukhari). Emotionally, women are different than men, and protecting these fragile vessels in every way possible is the best (and most natural) job men can do.

Men typically find romantic gestures a bit awkward – many assume that anything they do will be considered clichéd and insincere. They think too deeply about the intellectual ramifications of showing such a gesture, and forget that it really is the thought that counts!

One way to keep romance alive is to say comforting and encouraging words to your wife – words that express your love and your attraction to her. Saying ‘I love you’ while you mean it always does wonders to a relationship. Additionally, a wife always loves to hear her husband praise her looks, especially when she dresses up and gets ready. Men also need to understand that cracking jokes about ‘second wives’ is simply not funny; it hurts a wife’s feelings by making her feel inadequate, and trivializes the special love that a couple should have (please note that the issue is not the concept of polygyny, but the flippant attitude that many Muslim men have towards it).

Another easy method to show romance is non-sexual touching. By ‘non-sexual’, we mean a touch that does not directly lead to sex. A women’s skin is ten times more sensitive to touch and pressure than a man’s and has a higher amount of oxytocin (also known as the “cuddle” hormone), which is the hormone that stimulates the urge to be touched. This is why the majority of women loved to be cuddled, touched and caressed.

Some of the ways that touch can be incorporated in daily life are simple hugs, holding hands as you are walking or talking, stroking her hair as you listen to her, or touching and caressing any part of her body whilst relaxing or lying down. By touching her body, you reassure her that you still find her attractive and beautiful.

Avoid groping (i.e., ‘sexual touching’) at awkward moments – such actions typically turn a woman off. Women generally like to be dealt with in a gentle and caring manner. This is especially true with women who have children. A mother normally spends the whole day with the children tugging and pulling on her, so she doesn’t need the same type of touching from her husband! Rather, she needs a more nurturing, caring touch.

Men underestimate the importance and the impact of non-sexual touching, as they themselves don’t have this desire. A man’s skin is thicker, and he produces lower amounts of oxytocin (the “cuddle” hormone) so when the woman plays with a man’s hair or holds his hand it doesn’t have the same effect on him. However for a woman, the touch is the simplest, most powerful way to make her feel loved and beautiful.

One of the most pronounced differences between genders when it comes to issues of intimacy is arousal. Each gender has been keyed to respond to different senses. If a couple wishes to maximize feelings of closeness and intimacy, it is essential that each party understands the other’s arousal mechanism.

For men, the primary sense of arousal is physical. Seeing the figure, smelling the aroma, and touching the body of a woman is what arouses a man. When a man’s physical needs are satisfied, he is most likely to reciprocate with emotional responses.

For a woman, on the other hand, the primary sense of arousal is emotional. Feeling loved, appreciated and cared for are the underlying emotional factors that will mostly make the woman love back in return. When a woman’s emotional needs are satisfied, she is more likely to reciprocate with physical responses.

One of the biggest sources of conflict in a marriage is this simple lack of understanding. Women feel used when their husbands take advantage of them physically but ignore their emotional needs. On the other hand, men feel frustrated that their wives are so withdrawn and cold during acts of intimacy, complaining both at the quantity and quality of these acts. Both parties need to give more of what the other party wants, in order to receive back what they themselves desire.

A marriage is a give-and-take relationship. It is a two way street. You must give the best of what your partner wants in order to obtain the best of what you wish to receive. Men need to learn to be more sensitive and understanding, and women need to learn to be more physical.

Remember that sexual intimacy is one of the best ways to overcome everyday marital disputes. It acts as a soothing factor that eases the tension and conflict that inevitably builds up between partners. It strengthens feelings of love and cements bonds of affection.

Therefore, sex should be used to mend bridges and make up after arguments. Even if there is an enormous amount of emotional baggage, and the couple has still not resolved an argument, if one spouse approaches the other tenderly, wanting some affection and romance, it is in the best interest of the marriage that the other partner swallows his/her pride and accept this invitation for intimacy. What this invitation shows is the underlying love; it indicates wanting to be accepted again by the other spouse.

For sure, the act of intimacy will not necessarily solve the issue at hand. It might possibly do so, if the argument was over something extremely petty (as most marital arguments are). However, if a specific, repeated issue or existent attitude sparked the argument, simply being intimate will not get rid of the problem. The actual problem can only be resolved by mutual discussion. What intimacy will do, however, is break the tension, and allow feelings of anger to subside to a great degree - enough to jumpstart a positive, healthy discussion.

Remember that even as a husband and wife have an argument, deep down inside the two of them do love each other. They have a special bond that no one else can possibly share with them, and have been intimate in a way that only a couple can. Therefore, when a husband or wife reaches out to be intimate after a bad argument, he or she is showing how much they care about that special bond, and that they don't want anything to get in between the two of them. In the marriage relationship, nothing is more powerful than healthy intimacy to resurrect feelings of love and compassion.

In the very same verse that Allah describes our spouses '...like a garment' unto us (Sura al-Baqara; 287), Allah commands us in the next phrase: '...so therefore, now embrace them (i.e., your spouses), and seek what Allah has written for you'. Most commentators of the Quran have interpreted the phrase '...seek what Allah has written for you' as being a reference to sexual pleasures and to the blessing of children that follows. Therefore, Allah wants us to obtain these pleasures, and reminds us to thank Him for it.

Let us conclude as we began: with the famous hadith of Jabir b. Abdillah. Remember that our beloved Prophet salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam actually wanted Jabir to find pleasure with his wife, and he also wanted her to find pleasure with him ('...so that you can play with her, and she can play with you'). Embrace this beautiful aspect of our religion, appreciate the harmony of our faith with our human nature, and rejoice in Allah's blessings upon you.

Halaal Intimacy: Practical Steps Towards a Blissful Marriage

Yasir Qadhi

Thursday, 2 December 2010

In the Spirit of Christmas- as the earth breaks assunder and the mountains crumble to dust

I'll admit, when I was young I got excited about Christmas, even though I knew we didn't celebrate it, it was not drummed into me enough that celebrating Christmas with my friends was actually haraam in every single way. Although Christmas was a big deal at school, during the holidays in my house it was just another day, the only thing exciting about Christmas day was probably the movie marathons on TV.

Getting excited over Christmas is not what you'd expect from a Muslim (a grown up Muslim).Living in a Christian country (no matter how much they pretend its secular) its obvious we are going to be surrounded by kuffar traditions, customs and beliefs, but that does not mean we have to join in.

In recent years I have seen the festival of Christmas and become an important day in Muslim households. How many of you have a Christmas dinner even though you pretend its not for Christmas? Yes the whole family gets together and mum cooks a roast turkey (just to see how it would be). In my family unfortunately the 'Christmas dinner' has become a big thing. It started off with...'lets just try and cook a turkey just to see how it would taste' to ....'whose house shall we have a family dinner on Christmas day this year?' I was astonished when I heard Muslims make it an occasion to go and watch the Christmas lights being turned on, I was horrified when I heard some 'Muslims' even buy and decorate their own Christmas trees. With or without realising it we are becoming like the kuffar, whether we want to admit it or not.

Al-Bukhari narrated in his Sahih (book) that Abu Saeed Al-Khudri رضي الله عنه reported that Allah's Messenger صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم said: "You will indeed follow the ways of those before you, hand span by hand span, and an arms length after another. Even if they enter into a lizards hole, you will follow them. We asked, is it the Jews and the Christians? He صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم replied, Who else!" 

Yes, even many Christians don't know what Christmas is about, to most people its an excuse to eat a lot, spend a lot, drink a lot etc. It is well known that Christmas has become commercialised, even the Athiest's that hate religion and try to make themselves (and others) believe that there is no such thing as God celebrate Christmas, its ridiculous! The shaytaan has really got some people twisted.

But lets begin to think what Christmas really is about and how it is a serious grave sin to celebrate it in any way what so ever.

When I heard a little boy recite a few verses from Surah Maryam a couple of years ago, with so much passion it brought tears to my eyes, even though I didn't know the translation back then I felt like I was being stabbed in the heart, now I know the translation I know why my heart felt so strongly about these verses.

Watch the video below, if the verses being recited don't make you emotional then your heart has hardened since this verse and every verse of the Quran is as though Allah is talking directly to you. This is Allah telling us how the heavens and the earth reacted to the news that people believed, preached and celebrated the monstrous lie about the Lord of the Heavens and of the Earth. 

Those who say: ‘The Lord of Mercy has begotten a son,’ preach a monstrous falsehood, at which the very heavens might crack, the earth break asunder, and the mountains crumble to dust. That they should ascribe a son to the Merciful, when it does not become the Lord of Mercy to beget one!
—Qur’an 19:88

If someone told a disgraceful and degrading lie abut your mum how would you feel? If someone insulted her (said the worst possible thing they could about your mother) what would you want to do to them? Now think of saying 'Merry Christmas' to someone or even just replying to it like this..... People are saying something so disgusting and sooo horrendous about someone you love more than your own mother, Allah swt Himself. And what do you do?

They say Christmas was the day Allah All Mighty begot a son! And you agree??!! you may say 'no its just a greeting' but those very words you uttered was an insult to Allah swt. It is as though the mountains crumbled to dust! Mountains! one of the biggest, strongest things on earth crumbled to dust when they said the son of God was born, so how can you call yourself a Muslim if you know this and still get into the 'spirit of Christmas'?  

Allah's Messenger صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم warned us against it. At-Tirmidhi narrated that Ibn Abbas رضي الله عنه reported that the Prophet صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم said: "He is not one of us who imitates other than us. Do not imitate the Jews or the Christians."

God forbid Muslims should start celebrating the festivals of the Jews and polytheists.

Christmas should be a time where the Muslims all over the world remember the words of Allah swt and how the Jews and Christians insulted and mistreated our beloved prophet s.a.w when he was alive, how they carry on insulting and degrading him today. Think about how over the years they have tortured and killed Muslims across the world through their crusades and the crusades that carry on to this very day.Christmas should be a time of Dawah and inter-faith relations. A time in which we explain to the world why Christmas is the celebration of a lie. We should take the opportunity of Christmas to tell the world the true story of Isa (AS) [Jesus pbuh]

Say: ‘GOD is One, the Eternal God. He begot none, nor was He begotten. None is equal to Him.’
—Qur’an 112:1-4 

Oh Muslim Ummah, I urge you to think this year, Why are you sending your children straight into shaytaans traps? Are your actions disrespecting and insulting Allah All Mighty? Don't you feel ashamed of what you have done? How will you ever forgive yourself for doing something so evil? I, myself do not have enough tears to show Allah swt how sorry I am for being so ignorant all these years. Wake up and step out of your state of ignorance, don't make excuses for yourself just change yourself, Allah is the Most Forgiving, so don't be a fool, repent before its too late. 

How can we expect Allah to change the situation that Muslims are in today if we do not change ourselves first?