How often do you hear people talk about Romance with an Islamic context? Talking of romance, of love generally speaking – in front of many Muslims would raise eyebrows as the image of ‘Romance’ and ‘Love’ that we have today is what is presented by the Holly/Bolly Wood or the loads of novels that come with stories making people fanaticize love using the perspective of the authors. These people start imagining and making this love the ideal for their own lives. I have seen loads of people who sing songs with perfect lyrics not knowing the language at all. There are so many who would intelligently discuss how life is so well portrayed in these. The response to love and all associated ways of expressing it come in the form of people burning Valentine Cards, shunning any form of talk of romance and love.
The problem is that love and affection and even romance for that matter is a natural human need that finds no ideology to follow in our cultures and finds beautiful looking image of life in what is presented in these un-Islamic sources of entertainment.So does this mean that the rich Islamic life system that covers just about every aspect of life, forgets about this very important need? Is romance to be abhorred just because we have learnt over time to understand it from the western or hindi-movie perspective?
I found a very interesting blog post by a Muslim about how the idea of a romantic evening would differ from an Islamic and the de-facto perspective.
I knew there has to be some guideline, something that would make romance fit within the Islamic perspective going back to the time of the Prophet. And wow! There is so much, and so beautiful in the life of the Prophet (s.a.w.) himself that tells us what romance is. Maybe the typical mullah forgot to talk about this aspect and we just clung on to a strict, no-smile image of Muslim that is so anti-Islam. But of course the learned men and women could tell you a lot more on how a beautiful relationship is to bemaintained than a ’google-searcher’ like me could put forth.
Anyhow, I did my research and I have my conclusions drawn from the beautiful life of the Prophet (s.a.w), and his companions.Bringing flowers for your loved one, looking beautiful for your mate, having a candle-light dinner with your mate — things that bring romance and speak of love are not only possible but something that would be recommended. The only difference – and an important difference indeed – is that the relationship has a pure foundation — that the man and woman, who have this bond of love, are legally bound together in the bond of marriage. [And of course, marriage is not to be that drag that men and women seem stuck in, and forward jokes about. In Islam, a marriage is the foundation for love and affection between a man and woman that is unlike any other human relationship.]
So, now that you want to talk of romance, a good idea would be to get married. For what is romance without a mate?
With marriage settled and accepted as the default, let’s talk of Romance.
“They are your garments and you are their garments” (Surah Al Baqarah 2:187).
How beautiful, and how romantic. J This statement from the Quran itself puts in one sentence the meaning of marriage and what it is supposed to be. The husband and wife are supposed to be to each other like garments – closest to you, protecting you, beautifying you, hiding your shame, and comforting you. SubhanAllah! What could be a better analogy to describe marriage?
With this set as the main idea of what husband and wife are supposed to be to each other, lets look at the specific application — and it is love that we shall talk of!
The little acts of love:
The little acts of love that bring charm to the relationship are essential to make one feel appreciated and loved. We know from the life of the Prophet (saw), that he did simple and really sweet things for his wives that we all should learn from.
He used to put his thigh as a step so that Safiyah his wife could get on the camel. [Really sweet, don’t you think so?]. He found time to go to the desert and race with his wife Aisha. Not only that, he would take his wife to watch the young Ethiopians playing and dancing their folk dances. When the Prophet (saw) was in seclusion (i’tikaf), he would lean his head towards ‘A’ishah, and she would comb and wash his hair.
“When a camel was brought for him to ride, the Prophet, salallahu alaihee wa salam (first) lifted his thigh to act as steps for Safiyah to get on the camel.”
Volume 7, Book 62, Number 118: Narrated ‘Ursa: Aisha said, “While the Ethiopians were playing with their small spears, Allah’s Apostle screened me behind him and I watched (that display) and kept on watching till I left on my own.” So you may estimate of what age a little girl may listen to amusement.
Narrated by Aisha : While she was on a journey along with the Apostle of Allah (peace_be_upon_him): I had a race with him (the Prophet) and I outstripped him on my feet. When I became fleshy, (again) I had a race with him (the Prophet) and he outstripped me. He said: This is for that outstripping. Sunan Abu Dawood – Book 14, Number 2572
As the Prophet (saws) said:
“One would be rewarded for anything that he does seeking the pleasure of God
even the food that he puts in the mouth of his wife”.
Bukhari and Muslim both report this in sahih hadith narrated from ‘A’ishah (May Allah be pleased with her), such as: “When Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) was in i’tikaf, he inclined his head towards me and I combed his hair, and he did not enter the house except to answer the call of nature.” Sahih Muslim, 3/208, Kitab al-hayd, bab jawaz ghusl al-ha’id ra’as zawjiha wa tarjiluhu.
The best for your mate:
It is only natural that you would want the best for the one you love. Doing things for your spouse that make your relationship special and exclusive is essential. When you get a gift for your spouse get something that he/she really would love. We know that when Aisha(ra) used to get perfume for her husband, she would make sure that she’d get the best of perfumes for him.
“I applied perfume to Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) with myown hands before he entered the state of ihram and when he concluded it before circumambulating the House.” Sahih Muslim, 8/99, kitab al-Hajj, bab istihbab al-tib qabl al-ihram.
“I applied perfume to Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) with these two hands of mine when he entered ihram and when he concluded it, before he performed tawaf,” – and she spread her hands. Fath al-Bari, 3/585, Kitab al-Hajj, bab al-tib.
“I asked ‘A’ishah, ‘With what did you perfume Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) at the time when he entered ihram?’ She said, ‘With the best of perfume.’” Sahih Muslim, 8/100, kitab al-Hajj, bab istihbab al-tib qabl al-ihram.
No love without trust:
Obviously no relationship can sustain without a level of trust that should be earned. The trust is earned through your actions and truly indeed nobody knows you better than your spouse. We know the story of the Prophet (saw) when he received his first revelation. While he was in confusion and awe about the event that had occurred, it was his wife – the person who knew him best – that comforted him and trusted him. She said, “Never would God allow you to be affected by any evil! Truly you are dutiful to your family, you are concerned with helping others, you give to the needy, you are most hospitable to your guests, and you are known for speaking the truth and supporting others when they speak the truth”.
How beautiful indeed! How many people married to each other earn trust in each other like this?
When Prophet received his first revelation, he was shaken. It was his wife Khadijah who put her trust in him: “Never would God allow you to be affected by any evil! Truly you are dutiful to your family, you are concerned with helping others, you give to the needy, you are most hospitable to your guests, and you are known for speaking the truth and supporting others when they speak the truth”.(Bukhari)
Respect your mate:
Just as trust is important, it is very important to show respect to your spouse. Whatever may the case be, whatever be the severity of an issue, it is important to take it light heartedly and maintain a healthy relationship. Instead of creating a mountain out of a mole-hill, it is essential to tackle the situation in a manner that maintains respect of the marital relationship.
How many husbands would be able to control their anger if their wives intentionally broke the dish to be served right in front of friends? Even the generally patient man would frown and show disapproval at least. However, look at how beautifully our dear Prophet handled the situation. Instead of getting angry, he in a very sweet manner gathered the broken pieces and the good and told his companions, “Your mother felt jealous”. Note the words he used, “Your mother” which lightens the gravity of the matter. SubhanAllah! We all have so much to learn from the Prophet (saw).
And how well do we know how to handle a situation when a co-family member says something hurtful to your spouse? Instead of reacting in a way that would make the whole situation tense, how often are we able to put things in a manner where things can be settled amicably? The Prophet (saw) puts forth for us a beautiful example of how to handle such complex situations – for when Hafsa (ra) chided Safiyyah (ra), calling her daughter of a jew., The Prophet (saw), showed that there was no reason for Safiyyah to be ashamed for she was indeed daughter of a Prophet, niece of a Prophet and wife of a Prophet.
Volume 7, Book 62, Number 152: Narrated Anas: While the Prophet was in the house of one of his wives, one of the mothers of the believers sent a meal in a dish. The wife at whose house the Prophet was, struck the hand of the servant, causing the dish to fall and break. The Prophet gathered the broken pieces of the dish and then started collecting on them the food which had been in the dish and said, “Your mother (my wife) felt jealous.” Then he detained the servant till a (sound) dish was brought from the wife at whose house he was. He gave the sound dish to the wife whose dish had been broken and kept the broken one at the house where it had been broken.
On one occasion, his wife Hafsah chided her co-wife Safiyyah bycalling her “the daughter of a Jew”. This was true, becauseSafiyyah’s father, Hubayy b. Akhtab, was in fact a Jew who had diedwithout ever accepting Islam. Still, such a comment was meant as a take on Safiyyah’s person, which was only more hurtful as it was coming from her co-wife. So when she heard what Hafsah had said, she started to cry.
The Prophet ( r) then came in and asked her why she was crying. She said:
“Hafsah called me the daughter of a Jew.” To this the Prophet ( r) replied: “Verily, you are the daughter of a Prophet, your uncle was also a Prophet, and you are the wife of a Prophet, so what does she have over you to boast about?” He then turned to Hafsah and said: “Fear Allah, O Hafsah.” In an alternate narration, the Prophet is reported to have turned to Safiyyah and said: "Why didn't you say: 'So how can you be better than me? Muhammad is my husband. Aaron is my father, and Moses is my uncle."
What love does:
They say ‘action speaks louder than words’. So obviously love entails that both the partners put an extra effort to make life easier for the other person. Our beloved Prophet said: The best of people is the one who is beneficial and helpful to his wife and his housemembers”. We know from narrations of his lifestyle that the Prophet (saw) always busied himself in housework whenever he was home. Even though he was truly the king of kings, there was no ego that got in his way to extend help to his family.
Prophet (saws) said “the best of you are those who are best to their wives”
‘Ä€’ishah said about her husband: “When he was at home, he was totally involved in housework.”
Where love was not to be found:
There are situations where husband or wife does not find things pleasing in the other. What is to be done in this case? The Quran lays down what is to be done:
“Live with them on a footing of kindness and equity. If ye take a dislike to them it may be that ye dislike a thing, and Allah brings about through it a great deal of good.” (An-Nisa’: 19)
Patience and acceptance:
When things turn a bit sour and annoying how do we deal with it? The Prophet (saw) would never get angry even when his wife was harsh to him. Once when his wife was confronted by her mother for treating the Prophet (saw) harshly, he smilingly replied, “Leave her alone, they do worse than that.”
And not just that once when Abu Bakr (ra) almost hit his daughter for being harsh to the Prophet, Aisha (ra) hid behind her huband and the Prophet (saw) asked Abu Bakr(ra) to not treat her harshly.
Instead of putting his ego and getting upset with his wife for locking him outside, the Prophet (saw) offered explanation of his absence. SubhanAllah! How gentle was the Prophet (saw) to his wives.
Umar (ra) has been known for his fiery nature. The way he would bear his wife’s shouting and revilingby recounting all the good that she does for him is truly amazing indeed.
Once his mother-in-law- saw her daughter strike the Prophet (saw) with her fist on his noble chest. When the enraged mother-in-law began to reproach her daughter, the Prophet smilingly said, “Leave her alone; they do worse than that.”
Once Abu Bakr, his father-in-law, was invited to settle some misunderstanding between him and Aishah. The Prophet said to her, “Will you speak, or shall I speak?” Aisha said, “You speak, but do not say except the truth.” Abu Bakr was so outraged that he immediately struck her severely, forcing her to run and seek protection behind the back of the Prophet. Abu Bakr said, “O you the enemy of herself! Does the Messenger of Allah say but the truth?” The Prophet said, “O Abu Bakr, we did not invite you for this [harsh dealing with Aishah], nor did we anticipate it.” quoted in: Mutual Rights and Obligations
One of his wives woke up in the middle of the night and discovered that the Prophet ( r) was not beside her, though it was her night to have him with her. She tells us that she locked the door on him, thinking that he had gone to one of his other wives on her night. When he returned after a short while to find that she had locked him out of the house and asked her to open the door, she confronting him on why he had gone out. He calmly told her that he simply had needed to go to the bathroom.
‘Umar ibn al-Khattab (RA) said that a man came to his house to complain about his wife. On reaching the door of his house, he hears ‘Umar’s wife shouting at him and reviling him. Seeing this, he was about to go back, thinking that ‘Umar himself was in the same position and, therefore, could hardly suggest any solution for his problem. ‘Umar (RA) saw the man turn back, so he called him and enquired about the purpose of his visit. He said that he had come with a complaint against his wife, but turned back on seeing
the Caliph in the same position. ‘Umar (RA) told him that he tolerated the excesses of his wife for she had certain rights against him. He said, “Is it not true that she prepares food for me, washes clothes for me and suckles my children, thus saving me the expense of employing a cook, a washerman and a nurse, though she is not legally obliged in any way to do any of these things? Besides, I enjoy peace of mind because of her and am kept away from indecent acts on account of her. I therefore tolerate all her excesses on account of these benefits. It is right that you should also adopt the same attitude.” quoted in Rahman, Role of Muslim Women page 149
Relationship that outlives death:
The bond of love between husband and wife has to be so strong that even death doesn’t lessen the love felt for the loved one. In Islam we believe that those who believe and do righteousness will be joined by their spouses and offspring in the life hereafter.The Prophet’s (saw) love for Khadija (ra) his wife of 25 years, extended to include all those she loved and continued even after her death. It was many years after her death and he never forgot her and whenever a goat was slaughtered in his house he would send parts of it to Khadija’s friends and whenever he felt that the visitor on the door might be Khadija’s sister Hala, he would pray saying “O Allah let it be Hala.”
Ofcourse marriage is only with consent
For romance to be part of marriage and for marriage to truly fulfill its purpose, it is essential that marital bond itself is based on consent and is not forced. There are numerous ahadith that go to establish the fact that the marital contract should be made only by consent from both parties.
Quoted by Imam Bukhari from al-Khansa’ bint Khidam: “My father married me to his nephew, and I did not like this match, so I complained to Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam). He said to me: ‘Accept what your father has arranged.’ I said, ‘I do not wish to accept what my father has arranged.’ He said, ‘Then this marriage is invalid, go and marry whomever you wish.’ I said, ‘I have accepted what my father has arranged, but I wanted women to know that fathers have no right in their daughter’s matters (i.e. they have no right to force a marriage on them).’” See Fath al-Bari, 9/194, Kitab al-nikah, bab ikrah al-bint ‘ala al-zawaj; Ibn Majah, 1/602, Kitab al-nikah, bab man zawwaja ibnatahu wa hiya karihah; al-Mabsut 5/2.
This is confirmed by the report in which the wife of Thabit ibn Qays ibn Shammas, Jamilah the sister of ‘Abdullah ibn Ubayy, came to the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) and said: “O Messenger of Allah, I have nothing against Thabit ibn Qays as regards his religion or his behavior, but I hate to commit any act of kufr when I am a Muslim. The Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: “Will you give his garden back to him?” – her mahr had been a garden. She said, “Yes.” So Allah’s Messenger sent word to him: “Take back your garden, and give her one pronouncement of divorce.” Fath al-Bari, 9/395, Kitab al-talaq, bab al-khul’.
According to a report given by Bukhari from Ibn ‘Abbas, she said, “I do not blame Thabit for anything with regard to his religion or his behavior, but I do not like him.”
Ibn ‘Abbas said: “Barirah’s husband was a slave, who was known as Mughith. I can almost see him, running after her and crying, with tears running down onto his beard. The Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said to ‘Abbas, ‘O ‘Abbas, do you not find it strange, how much Mugith loves Barirah, and how much Barirah hates Mughith?’ The Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said (to Barirah), ‘Why do you not go back to him?’ She said, ‘O Messenger of Allah, are you commanding me to do so?’ He said, ‘I am merely trying to intervene on his behalf.’ She said, ‘I have no need of him.’” 4
Fath al-Bari, 9/408, Kitab al-talaq, bab shafa’at al-Nabi (r) fi zawj Barirah.
There is a lot more that we can learn from the Prophet’s life and the Quranic injunctions on how the relationship between husband and wife should be maintained.However, I would end this article with the words from the Quran that sum up the crux of what marriage us supposed to be:
“And among His Signs is this, that He created for you mates from among yourselves, that ye may dwell in tranquility with them, and He has put love and mercy between your (hearts): verily in that are Signs for those who reflect.” (Ar-Rum: 21)
May Allah guide us, and help us all live in tranquility with our loved ones. Ameen.