Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim,

We are experiencing a new era, an Islamic revolution. Studying Islam has become easier than ever before. Ahadith and tafasir are just one click away! Sitting comfortably in our chairs, with a cup of steaming coffee in front of us, we can watch khutbahs and lectures from Imams who are on the opposite side of the Globe. Brotherhoods are thriving on facebook and google+ and innumerable forums.

And yet, let us have a look at what’s going on within our homes. Husbands and wives are quarreling over petty matters. Divorces are abundant. We behave like antagonists, and our homes become Badr or Uhud. We need the slightest of excuses in order to get divorced, because we just can’t bear each other. We forget that there is something called “patience” and that the place it is most needed in the place where we use it the least– at home. Allah the Exalted has said in the Quran:

And of His signs is that He created for you from yourselves mates that you may find tranquility in them; and He placed between you affection and mercy. Indeed in that are signs for a people who give thought. [30:21]

How do we convert our battleground into a place of tranquility? How do we bring between us the mercy which Allah said He placed therein? In the book Love is Never Enough (marvelous title by the way, love by itself is not enough, because we need mercy too), Aaron Beck outlined a few principles that we need to realize in order to remedy a major problem in marriages – miscommunication. Here are the principles, and how they relate to the teachings of Islam.

1. We can never really know the state of mind– the attitudes, thoughts, and feelings– of other people.

In the midst of an intense battle, a valiant companion, a person beloved to the Prophet, was fighting the polytheists. He was about to deliver a lethal blow at one particular polytheist. At that precise moment, the polytheist said, Laa ilaha illallah!

In a simiar situation, our response would be, “Duh, are you kidding me? Obviously you’re lying to save your life!” Usamah radiyallahu anhu had a similar reaction, and he killed the man. When the Prophet got to know about this incident, he said to Usamah,

Did you kill him even though he said, ‘None has the right to be worshipped but Allah’?

Ya Rasulullah, Usamah replied, he only said that because he feared my weapon. The Prophet said,

Should you not have split his heart in order to know whether he said it (from his heart) or not?

This was during war. Now think about how much we assume when it comes to our spouses. Husband comes home preoccupied with a particularly difficult work problem, and doesn’t pay attention to what the wife is saying. Immediately wife says to herself, ‘He just doesn’t care!’ Off goes the anger bulb. Next time such a thing happens, remember what the Prophet said to Usamah:

Should you not have split his heart in order to know whether he said it (from his heart) or not?

2. We depend on signals, which are frequently ambiguous, to inform us about the attitudes and wishes of other people, and we use our own coding system, which may be defective, to decipher these signals.

In other words, when our spouse says A, our ears perceive A, and then we use our coding system in order to interpret A, and then we get A+. We take their words, interpret it in our own way and then assume that what we interpreted is actually what they meant. Allah said in the Quran,

O you who have believed, avoid much assumption. Indeed, some assumption is sin. [49:12]

The Prophet said,

Beware of suspicion, for suspicion is the worst of false tales; do not spy on one another; do not look for other’s faults; do not be jealous of one another; do not envy one another; do not hate one another; and do not desert (shun) one another. And O Allah’s servants! Be brothers! [Bukhari and Muslim]

Amirul Mu-mineen Umar ibnul Khattab said, ‘Never think ill of the word that comes out of your believing brother’s mouth, as long as you can find a good excuse for it.’

This applies to believers in general. Then imagine how much more it applies to the person closest to us!

3. Depending on our own state of mind at a particular time, we may be biased in our method of interpreting other people’s behavior, that is, how we decode.

Once we have (mis)interpreted their words, we start getting angry. ‘How could he/she think such a thing?’ ‘How could he/she do this to me?’ We become indignant, and in our indignation we say things we would pay millions in order to take back, once we’re sane again. This is why, divorce in moments of anger don’t count.

There is no divorce or emancipation in case of constraint or duress (ghalaq). [Abu Dawud]

(Abu Dawud said: I think ghalaq means anger.)

4. Anger is a weapon that shaytan uses very efficiently to destroy our marriages.

Verily, anger comes from Satan and Satan was created from fire. Fire is extinguished with water, so if you become angry then perform ablution with water. [Abu Dawud]

5. The degree to which we believe that we are correct in divining another person’s motives and attitudes is not related to the actual accuracy of our belief.

Another person’s hidden thoughts are part of the knowledge of the Unseen, and the only one who has full knowledge of the Unseen is Allah.

And conceal your speech or publicize it; indeed, He is Knowing of that within the breasts. [67:13]

By observing outward actions or speech, the most we can do is make a guess at what the other person is thinking. And a guess is just a guess, we can’t just assume that we are the all knower of what’s in people’s hearts. It seems like setting one’s self as a partner with Allah. As grave as that!

*Learn more about the Quran by taking this course – learn 50% of the Quranic words in just 9 hours.

Tabassum Mosleh

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