Sheikh Yaser Birjas talks about the five stages of marriage.
The first stage of the husband-wife relationship is known as the “in-love” phase where the husband and wife start to get to know each other. Often times, this phase can take place during the nikkah or engagement phase.
The second phase of the relationship is the “newlywed” phase which acts as a honeymoon phase where the man and woman fall madly in-love with each other, wanting to spend all their free time with each other.
The third phase in the relationship is the “disappointment” phase where the husband and wife start to notice each others’ shortcomings. The spouse seems to no longer be fulfilling the high expectations set by their partner. Additionally, each spouse starts to push the limit with their partner as the spouses work to establish boundaries in the relationship. The husband and wife will have disagreements and disputes during this period as they realize each others’ differences and concerns.
After the third phase, the fourth phase of marriage is known as the “adjustment” phase where the husband and wife work to iron out their disagreements and differences. They establish boundaries and start to understand their partner’s limits.
Finally, the fifth stage of the relationship is the “auto-pilot” stage where husband and wife understand their relationship, the disputes decrease, and the couple is able to function without major problems or concerns.
Before I got married, I read the book, Blissful Marriage: A Practical Islamic Guide by Dr. Ekram and M. Rida Bashir. The book was an excellent book when it came to explaining how an Islamic family should function. It gave advice to both husbands and wives in terms of how they should interact and respect their spouses. I would recommend Blissful Marriage to anyone interested in marriage (or anyone already married as well).
More recently, I read the book, Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus: The Classic Guide to Understanding the Opposite Sex by Dr. John Gray. The book, while making generalizations and often stereotyping men and women, can be used as an excellent source on how to interact with the opposite sex.
The book does not really discuss innate differences between men and women, nor does it delve into the nature of communication very deeply. Instead, the book focuses on common differences between men and women when it comes to basic communication skills. It’s intended for people to understand how men and women think differently while it doesn’t even touch on the why of it.
The book focuses on the importance of respect and the art of listening when it comes to communication. Though much of it may seem like common sense, I found the book to be extremely informative when it came to giving the reader a basic understanding in terms of how men and women communicate ideas differently. I must admit that the book does make significant generalities of both men and women to a frustrating extent. Nonetheless, the book does provide insight to the a man or woman on how to deal with the opposite gender, especially when it comes to the “disappoint” phase as described by Sheikh Yaser Birjas. I hope to give a brief synopsis of the book in the following few paragraphs.
Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus starts out by discussing the inherent differences between the values of men and women. Dr. Gray starts the book by making a note that men do no ask each other for advice. Men only seek advice when they are at a dead-end and need help.
Women, on the other hand, tend to offer unsolicited advice to those they love. They try to help the people they love by advising them on how to improve themselves. A man often times misinterprets the advice he receives by a woman as though the woman is trying to control and change him. Similarly, women like to discuss their feelings when they are upset. Men tend to offer solutions when they hear someone who is upset. However, a woman is not looking for a solution, rather she is looking for someone to listen to her and validate her feelings. A man often times tends to invalidate a woman’s feelings when he offers a solution without listening to the woman’s feelings.
Dr. Gray also delves into how men and women cope with stress differently. Men tend to pull away and want isolation as they think about what is bothering them. Women tend to want to discuss their problems. A woman may start asking questions and delving into her man’s problem when she feels as though he’s not himself. The man often times will get annoyed by the woman’s inquiries when he prefers to be alone and deal with his stress by himself. The woman’s inquisition into the man’s problems may prevent the man from dealing with his stress, escalating the situation.
The book continues with how to motivate the opposite sex. Dr. Gray discusses how men feel motivated when they feel they are needed, while women feel motivated when they feel cherished. Men tend to grow close to those they love before eventually having the inevitable need to pull away. The author calls this phenomenon the rubber band theory where a man will come springing back to his woman after he has some time alone. However, if the woman clings to her man, he may never be able to fully stretch away from her and so he won’t be able to spring back to her when he is ready.
Dr. Gray also discusses what men and women need from a relationship. Men tend to need a love that is trusting, accepting, and appreciative, while women need a love that is caring, understanding, and respectful. What often occurs is that men and women tend to give their partner the type of love they need themselves instead of the type of love their partner truly needs and cherishes. The author also discusses how men and women keep score differently in the relationship.
Dr. Gray also offers a dictionary on phases men and women use differently. When a man says “OK” or “it’s fine,” it means something significantly different that when a woman uses the same words. The author explores why women sometimes don’t ask for support when they need it and expect their men to know it without being asked. Dr. Gray also advises the reader on how to avoid arguments along with solutions on what to do when you are inevitably upset.
He recommends what he calls the “Love Letter Technique” which entails writing down your feelings where you make sure to cover how you feel in terms of why you are angry, why you are upset, what you are afraid of, why you are sorry, and what you love in your partner. I personally have not tried the “Love Letter Technique” but plan to keep it in mind for the future, in’sha’Allah.
Overall, the book, Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus: The Classic Guide to Understanding the Opposite Sex was a beneficial read and one I think will help me when it comes to interacting with my wife. It will help you when you don’t necessarily see eye to eye with your spouse on a certain topic. The book has certainly helped me understand that my wife and I are inevitably different. And so I would recommend the book to anyone looking for some insight when it comes to interacting with the opposite gender. Again, Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus is not a be-all, end-all book. It also is not a book that will discuss theories of communication or psychology.
The book relies on generalizations and stereotypes. It’s an introductory book into how men and women behave differently. And if there’s one thing that’s true, it’s that men and women behave very differently!
Emotional Intelligence: A Tool for Change
Why do we consider emotional intelligence to be half of the Prophetic intellect? The answer lies in the word “messenger.” Messengers of Allah are tasked with the divine responsibility of conveying to humanity the keys to their salvation. They are not only tasked with passing on the message but also with being a living example of that message.
When ʿĀʾishah, the wife of the Prophet ﷺ, was asked to explain the character of the blessed Prophet ﷺ, her reply was, “His character was the Qurʾān.” We are giving emotional intelligence a place of primacy in the construct of Prophetic intelligence because it seems implausible that Allah would send a messenger without providing that messenger with the means necessary to exemplify and transmit the message to others. If the Prophets of Allah did not have the necessary knowledge and skills needed to successfully pass on the message to the next generation, the argument would be incomplete. People could easily excuse themselves of all accountability because the message was never conveyed.
We also see clear examples in the Qur’ān that this knowledge was being perpetually perfected in the character of the Prophet ﷺ. Slight slips in his Emotional Intelligence were rare, but when they did occur, Allah gently addressed the mistake by means of revelation. Allah says in the Qurʾān, “If you (O Muḥammad) were harsh and hardhearted, then the people would flee from you.” This verse clearly placed the burden of keeping an audience upon the shoulders of the Prophet ﷺ. What this means is that the Prophet ﷺ had to be aware of what would push people away; he had to know what would create cognitive and emotional barriers to receptivity. When we study the shamāʾil (books about his character), we find that he was beyond exceptional in his ability to make people receptive. He took great care in studying the people around him and deeply understanding them. Only after the Prophet ﷺ had exhausted all the means of removing barriers to receptivity would the responsibility to affirm the message be shifted to those called to it.
Another example of this Prophetic responsibility can be found in the story of Prophet Mūsa when he was commissioned to call Pharaoh and the children of Israel to Allah. When Allah informed him of the task he was chosen for, he immediately attempted to excuse himself because he had a slight speech impediment. He knew that his speech impediment could potentially affect the receptivity of people to the message. He felt that this disqualified him from being a Prophet. He also felt that the act of manslaughter he committed might come between the people and guidance. All of these examples show that Allah’s Prophets understood that many factors can affect a person’s receptivity to learning something new, especially when the implications of that new information call into question almost every aspect of a person’s identity. History tells us that initially, people did not accept the message of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ; they completely rejected him and accused him of being a liar.
One particular incident shows very clearly that he ﷺ understood how necessary it was for him to remove any cognitive or emotional barriers that existed between him and his community. When the people of his hometown of Makkah had almost completely rejected him, he felt that it was time to turn his attention to a neighboring town. The city of Ṭā’if was a major city and the Prophet ﷺ was hopeful that perhaps they would be receptive to the message. Unfortunately, they completely rejected him and refused to even listen to what he had to say. They chased him out of town, throwing stones at him until his injuries left him completely covered in blood. Barely making it outside the city, the Prophet ﷺ collapsed. Too weak to move, he turned his attention to his Lord and made one of the most powerful supplications made by a Prophet of Allah.
“اللهم إليك أشكو ضعف قوتي، وقلة حيلتي، وهواني على الناس، يا أرحم الراحمين، أنت أنت رب المستضعفين وأنت ربي، إلى من تكلني؟ إلى عدو يتجهمني؟ أو إلى قريب ملكته أمري؟ إن لم يكن بك علي غضب فلا أبالي، غير أن عافيتك أوسع لي، أعوذ بنور وجهك الذي أشرقت له الظلمات، وصلح عليه أمر الدنيا والآخرة، من أن ينزل بي غضبك، أو يحل علي سخطك، لك العتبى حتى ترضى، ولا حول ولا قوة إلا بك”
“Oh Allah, only to You do I complain about my lack of strength, my insufficient strategies, and lowliness in the sight of the people. You are my Lord. To whom do you turn me over? Someone distant from me who will forsake me? Or have you placed my affair in the hands of my enemy? ”
The Prophet ﷺ felt that he was the reason why the people were not accepting the message. His concern that “my low status in the eyes of the people,” informs us that he understood that people naturally judge the seriousness of a message based on the stature of the message bearer. The people of Ṭā’if were extremely ignorant, so much that they adamantly refused to enter into any dialogue. In reality, this was not due to any shortcoming of the Prophet ﷺ; he demonstrated the best of character and displayed extreme patience in the face of such ignorance. But the beginning of the supplication teaches us what he was focused on: making sure that he was not the reason why someone did not accept the message.
Because his message was not geographically restricted like that of other Prophets, those who inherited the message would have the extra burden of transferring the message to a people with whom they were unfamiliar. The intelligence needed to pass the message of the Prophet Muḥammad ﷺ around the world included an understanding of the cultural differences that occur between people. Without this understanding effective communication and passing on of his message would be impossible.
A sharp Emotional Intelligence is built upon the development of both intra- and interpersonal intelligence. These intelligences are the backbone of EQ and they provide a person with emotional awareness and understanding of his or her own self, an empathic understanding of others, and the ability needed to communicate effectively and cause change. Emotional Intelligence by itself is not sufficient for individual reform or societal reform; instead, it is only one part of the puzzle. The ʿaql or intellect that is referenced repeatedly in the Qurʾān is a more comprehensive tool that not only recognizes how to understand the psychological and emotional aspects of people but recognizes morally upright and sound behavior. After that this intellect, if healthy and mature, forces a person to conform to that standard. Therefore, we understand the ʿaql to be a comprehensive collection of intelligences analogous to Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences theory.
Taking into consideration the extreme diversity found within Western Muslim communities, we see how both Moral Intelligence and Emotional Intelligence are needed. Fostering and nurturing healthy communities requires that we understand how people receive our messages. This is the interpersonal intelligence aspect of EQ. Without grounding the moral component of our community, diversity can lead to what some contemporary moral theorists call moral plasticity, a phenomenon where concrete understandings of good and evil, right and wrong, are lost. Moral Education (Moral Education, which will be discussed throughout the book, is the process of building a Morally Intelligent heart) focuses on correcting the message that we are communicating to the world; in other words, Moral Intelligence helps us maintain our ideals and live by them, while Emotional Intelligence ensures that the message is effectively communicated to others.
My father would often tell me, “It’s not what you say, son; it’s what they hear.”
Interpersonal understanding is the core of emotional intelligence. My father would often tell me, “It’s not what you say, son; it’s what they hear.” From the perspective of Emotional Intelligence, this statement is very accurate. The way we interpret words, body language, verbal inflections, and facial expressions is based on many different factors. The subtle power of this book lies in the simple fact that your emotional intelligence is the primary agent of change and thus the most powerful force you have. You must understand how people perceive what you are communicating to them. What is missing from my father’s statement is the primacy of Moral Intelligence. Throughout this book, I attempt to show how the Prophet Muḥammad ﷺ demonstrated a level of perfection of both of these intelligences.
*With the Heart in Mind is available for pre-order at https://www.qalam.foundation/qalambooks/with-the-heart-in-mind
Bayhaqī, Shuʿb al-ʾĪmān, vol. 3, p. 23.
 Ibn Kathir, al-Bidāyah wa al-Nihāyah, vol. 3, p. 136.
Read Books, Build Character, Inspire Generations
By Dr. Muhammad Abdul Bari
Believers would recognise that God has made knowledge the foundation for the superiority of human beings over other creatures on Earth. The first word revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was ‘Iqra’, meaning ‘read’ or ‘recite’. The Prophet said “the seeking of knowledge is obligatory for every Muslim” (Al-Tirmidhi). Knowledge thus goes hand in hand with the Islamic creed.
Muslims are asked to seek knowledge by reading, learning and reflecting to live their lives as stewards in our planet. They are asked to supplicate “O my Lord! Advance me in knowledge” (Al-Qur’an 20:114). To emphasise the message of the superiority of learned people in Islam, the Prophet said, “The superiority of the learned man over the worshipper is like that of the moon, on the night when it is full, over the rest of the stars …” (Abu Dawud).
One can observe exemplary practices amongst those who are often labelled as enlightened. A trait that typically stands out prominently is their craving for knowledge and emphasis on reading. Many would own bookshelves or even a private library in their homes; public libraries would abound across the country. Through knowledge, scholarship, good character and hard work they endeavour to create long-lasting civilisations; whether it be Greek, Indian or Chinese examples.
During the Islamic Golden Age which began in the 8th century and lasted over 600 years, Muslims flourished in intellectual pursuits because of their thirst for learning. They became the ardent lovers of books and became synonymous with knowledge. They made momentous progress in all areas of life. At a time when books were written and copied by hand, affluent Muslims spent their wealth to establish libraries, mostly adjacent to schools or mosques, so that everyone could use them. Books and libraries became the Muslims’ umbilical cord in connecting their material progress and spiritual quest together.
During their peak cultural and intellectual period, Muslim scientific and technological innovations, as well as their translations of ancient Greek knowledge into Latin, inspired Europe in its intellectual resurgence. This Muslim-led knowledge revolution with the flowering of science, art, medicine, and philosophy spread across the Muslim world. It was the infusion of this knowledge into Western Europe that fuelled the Renaissance and the scientific revolution. The invention of the printing machine in 1451 further helped to transform Europe, as knowledge rapidly reached beyond the elite class.
While Europe was brimming with energy and started its new journey with astounding vigour, political weaknesses and collective inertia meant the Islamic world fell into stagnation. One calamity that befell Muslims, considered by many historians to be a hammer blow to their intellectual backbone, was the Mongol invasion of Muslim lands. The occupation of Baghdad in 1258 witnessed an unparalleled barbarity; killing scholars, burning books and destroying libraries. In spite of the successful military fightbacks against the Crusading armies, the conversion of many Mongol invaders to Islam and the victories of the Ottomans over the next few centuries, the Muslim world gradually succumbed to intellectual passivity and socio-political fracture. The rest – the colonisation of lands and minds, eventual independence but subsequent failures of leadership to this day – is history.
Today, the overall condition of Muslims – in terms of their education level, economic performance and intellectual standard – is less than satisfactory. Their political and religious leadership has imploded in many places; their ineffective governance and lack of institutional capacity to harness human and material resources are still hindering progress. Post-9/11 disorder in the form of imposed or proxy wars in historic lands and failed or repressive politics in some countries have displaced millions of people from their homelands.
There are however signs of genuine awareness and reappraisal as well as positive changes in many places. It is time Muslims sharpen their reading habits, build character and find practical ways to join the dots of good works with a ‘glass half full’ attitude. The regeneration of their grass-roots leadership across the world of Islam – from parents at home, teachers in school and Imams in mosques – has become a necessity. Muslims must learn to excel in what they do in their family, community, workplace and wider society with inclusive social activism. Only then, can they create an effective civil society everywhere.
Their reading, as in their heydays, should start from core religious texts for moral guidance and spiritual peace to all areas of modern knowledge which has made astounding progress in recent decades largely without Muslim input. Reading activates the human brain and provides food for thought and is vital for developing curiosity and enhancing critical autonomy. Ultimately it is knowledge that empowers a people.
In a world of information overload, one has to pick and choose what to read and what not to. With our short and limited lifespan, we cannot afford to waste time by only reading junk and indulging in vanity. Good books are the sources of silent power; they are the pillars of success. Like a balanced diet for a human body, good books are vital sources for mental agility and spiritual peace. Reading should be for a purpose that injects the attitude of reflection and action, build character to act for the good of all. Good reading nourishes from within, fills hearts and souls with gratefulness to God for all the bounties around and catapults people to serve others with the best of human character, Adab.
Let us read books, inspire children, and help create a better world for our future.
Dr. Muhammad Abdul Bari is an educationalist, parenting consultant, and author. His memoir A Long Jihad: My Quest for the Middle Way was published in summer 2018. Dr. Abdul Bari is the former Secretary-General of the Muslim Council of Britain.
Here is Dr Bari’s concise recommended reading list:
1) Islam for Children Series
2) Children’s books on various topics – Khurram Murad
3) Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns: A Muslim book of Colors – Hena Khan
4) Crescent Moons and Painted Minarets: A Muslim Book of Shapes – Hena Khan
5) A Guide to Parenting in Islam: Cherishing Childhood – Muhammad Abdul Bari
1) To choose 2-3 from classical and modern Tafsirs
2) Understanding the Quran Themes and styles – Mohammad Abdel Haleem
3) The Majestic Quran: A Plain English Translation – Musharraf Hussain
4) Way to the Qur’an – Khurram Murad
1) The Complete Forty Hadith – Imam an-Nawawi
2) Stories of the Prophets – Ibn Kathir
3) Muhammad – Martin Lings
4) Companions of the Prophets 1 and 2 – Abdul Wahid Hamid
5) The Sealed Nectar: Biography of the Noble Prophet – Safiur Rahman Al-Mubarakpuri
6) In The Footsteps of the Prophet – Tariq Ramadan
1) Ihya Ulum Id Din: Book of Religious Learning Hardcover – Imam Ghazali
2) In The Early Hours: Reflections on Spiritual and Self Development – Khurram Murad
1) The Road to Mecca – Muhammad Asad
2) Islam Between East and West – Alija Izetbegović
3) Islam and the Destiny of Man – Gai Eaton
4) Autobiography of Malcolm X
5) Inescapable Questions: Autobiographical Notes – Alija Izetbegović
6) To Be a European Muslim – Tariq Ramadan
7) A Long Jihad: My Quest for the Middle Way – Muhammad Abdul Bari
8) 1001 Inventions: Muslim Heritage in our World – Chief Editor, Salim TS Al-Hasani
1) Amusing Ourselves to Death – Neil Postman
2) Long Walk To Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela
3) The Impossible State: Islam, Politics, and Modernity’s Moral Predicament – Wael Hallaq
118 by Tariq Touré
Ummi’s house is beaten by the aroma
of a whistling kettle filled with red zinger tea
grandchildren bouncing in & out screen doors
firecrackers conversing in the backyard
neighbors shouting yesterday’s yesterdays
with living rooms just big enough to seat
the world’s problems
And July’s you had to stand dead center
Ummi is a house too,
with 7 attics and 55 windows
shaped in circles of all sizes
She is where searching souls find
a reflection of the words they once housed
She reminds us, with perfect diction
that we are strangers in this land
no matter how her smile threads
through a crowded room
it will one day return to the sky
Olivet Lane brought buttered biscuit to mouth
carved Sunday dinners out of maybe
deposited toy truck to hand and sent soldiers
into a world at war with our wishes
We too became houses wrapped in a concert of windows.
We too became a home for travelers
no duty more sacred than
serenity in the pores of our guests,
traffickers of light.
A nation passed through the arch of her back,
And while lightning never strikes
the same place twice,
it always found its way home
Infants crawling scattered below her ankles
will forget too soon
how close they were
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