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How Physically Intimate Can a Couple be Post-Nikkah but Pre-Marriage / Rukhsati?

Sh. Yaser Birjas

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What is permissible Post-Nikkah Pre-Consummation (Rukhsati/Marriage)

Question:

I just had my nikkah done with my husband and we are having our rukhsati done soon (in the next few months). The reason for [the] delay is just mainly to prepare for the wedding and  [to] accommodate family members’ schedule [for] the wedding. After the nikkah is it permissible to do all the acts that are permissible between a husband and wife even if the rukhsati hasn’t been done?

Sincerely,
Getting married in my 20s
[This question has a second part, which will be answered at a later date, inshaAllah]

Answer:

From a technical Fiqhi perspective, when a man and woman have their nikah, kitab or marriage contract (different terms for the same practice) done Islamically they are considered a husband and wife. It is permissible to delay the consummation of marriage (rukhsati or wedding) for a later and more convenient date with no specific time limit as long as they both mutually agree on it until the circumstances are right for them.

Allah Al-Mighty says:

“O You who have believed, when you marry believing women and then divorce them before you have touched them, then there is not for you any waiting period to count concerning them. So provide for them and give them a gracious release.” [al-Ahzab 33:49]

In his tafsir, Imam at-Tabari rahimahullah said in regards to this ayah: “before you have touched them” means before having intercourse with them. He then added that it was the interpretation of the scholars of tafsir.

During this period between the nikah and the rukhsati, it is permissible for the couple to interact with each other in a manner that is permissible for a husband and wife including the actual consummation of marriage. However, if they do choose to be intimate with each other then the full rights of the wife become due upon the husband such as the full dowry and her right for housing and sustenance. What constitutes consummation of marriage is an issue of minor dispute among scholars. They all agree that having intercourse is a perfect definition but then some scholars say a perfect privacy is enough and others say being physically intimate in a manner less than actual intercourse is the minimum.

Some of the Fiqh rulings of non-devotional practices such as marriage are subject to cultural considerations. Hence, what is acceptable during that period between the nikah and the rukhsati is subject to the general culture, the culture of both families and the actual agreement between the two contracting parties. Therefore, if the general culture entails the absolute abstinence during that period then this should be maintained and respected.

Uqbah ibn Amer narrated the Messenger of Allah, ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), said:
“The conditions which you have the most duty to fulfill are those by which you have made marital relations lawful.” [Bukhari & Muslim]

In addition to that the maxims of Fiqh -qawai’d Fiqhiyah proclaim:

“What is determined by custom is tantamount to a contractual stipulation” (Al-ma‘rufu ‘urfan kal-mashrutu shartan).

As a result of this, the young couple should respect the unpronounced stipulations that are in accordance with the cultural norms provided that these cultural norms don’t violate any established principle of Fiqh.

Parents and the families of the two contracting parties expect the young couple to be at the level of maturity to adhere to these cultural norms. To bring the fitnah in the streets as an excuse to break these rules is not really a legitimate excuse and it could backfire. It’s better to show a high standard of character even during those beautiful moments before officially moving in together.

Nevertheless, if the husband and wife do get intimate in the relationship prior to the official consummation of marriage they have not committed haram or sin, but it might cause some bitterness within the family because they might perceive it as disrespectful behavior.

One issue might arise; as a result of being too intimate prior to the wedding day is the power struggle between the father of the girl and her young husband. If the young lady still lives with her family while already living intimately the life of wife with her husband, she might have to deal with a confusion of authority situation. Her husband’s demands and her family’s demands might clash and she will be caught in the middle.

Unfortunately, the sense of chivalry among the youth today is not as great as it used to be. The sense of responsibility and commitment from them is not at the level where it should be. Therefore, it is definitely preferable to wait until the actual wedding date before the young couple can fully consummate the marriage.

May Allah give you all happiness, love and mercy. And Allah knows best.

Sh. Yaser Birjas is originally from Palestine. He received his Bachelors degree from Islamic University of Madinah in 1996 in Fiqh & Usool, graduating as the class valedictorian. After graduating, he went on to work as a youth counselor and relief program aide in war-torn Bosnia. Thereafter, he immigrated to the U.S. and currently resides in Dallas, Texas. He is also an instructor at AlMaghrib Institute, where he teaches popular seminars such as Fiqh of Love, The Code Evolved, and Heavenly Hues.

36 Comments

36 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Mahmud

    February 6, 2014 at 12:49 AM

    Assalamualaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh

    What is it that prevents people from delaying the nikah until the wedding date? Why do they do it a few months earlier?

    • Avatar

      ZAI

      February 9, 2014 at 10:04 PM

      The main reason I’ve heard from younger Muslims why this is taking place is because
      after a Nikah it allows the couple to spend time together talking, getting to know each other, etc…and if they then find out they’re incompatible, they can break it off and there is less stigma
      attached to divorce because there was no consummation…and the sister below who warned Muslim girls not to give into pressure from men during this period is 100% correct. He will get away scott-free even if he breaks off the marriage for “incompatibility” later. It’s the woman who will get stuck with the typical double-standard label and the consummation will defeat the very purpose of this “solution” before arousi.

      This would not need to exist if Muslims got over their divorce stigmas to begin with, which
      disproportionately affect women. Knowing divorce has a stigma, many women have immense
      pressure that they have only one shot at getting it right…whereas men don’t have to worry ’bout
      it in most of the cultures. I think rather than complaining about this “solution”, Muslims should spend more time reforming the crooked cultural practices like stigma of the divorced so “solutions” like this
      wouldn’t be needed.

      • Avatar

        Mahmud

        February 9, 2014 at 11:38 PM

        The only divorce stigma I really have is my parents wouldn’t like it. Since they have so many rights over me, and since my mother has struggled constantly and showed patience constantly, obviously I’m supposed to show her constant gratitude. I really have to excel with my parents, and part of that is following their marriage wishes.

        So perhaps the issue you are talking about has a lot to do with parents.

        If my parents were ok, I would have no problem with marrying a widow or divorced woman. But they aren’t, so I simply can’t look there.

        This nikah before the rukhsati thing seems to be something which is an incredible hassle. I agree, if this divorce stigma is what spawns such inconvenient practices, we ought to get rid of the stigma.

        • Avatar

          ZAI

          February 10, 2014 at 3:44 PM

          Br.
          I was not referring to you personally.
          I was simply answering the question you asked generally as to why
          many people are carrying out nikah before walimah/arousi/rukhsati.
          It is because they feel they can get to know someone in a halaal manner and if it doesn’t work out, a divorce w/o consummation has less stigma then a divorce after consummation, wherein incompatibility is discovered much later.

          It is especially attractive to many women because a lot of women do NOT divorce more so because of stigma rather than because they want to stay in a marriage. Many, many horror stories brother of women who after consummated marriage discover their husband is a totally different person…an alcoholic, fasiq, atheist even. I even know one couple…the girl came over from India to marry a guy, and guy turns out to have a girlfriend on the side, whom he still sees and carries on with.They pretty much hoodwinked her….not that this cannot happen to men, but again stigma is stronger on women, so many feel they have one shot to get it right.

          In any case I was talking generally.
          Do not feel it was directed towards you.
          Salaamz.

  2. Avatar

    Imran

    February 6, 2014 at 3:21 PM

    JazakAllah Kheiran Shaykh. Really appreciate it.

  3. Avatar

    Mahmud

    February 6, 2014 at 9:35 PM

    What a strange tradition. I hope to have my nikah around when the wedding is.

    • Avatar

      Umm ZAKAriyya

      February 8, 2014 at 2:15 AM

      Yeah . It’s hard for the newly married.

      But not everybody in the indian subcontinent does this ( rukhsati). Many of us have walima immediately after nikah . So the marriage is over in like 2-3 hours .

      • Avatar

        Umm ZAKAriyya

        February 8, 2014 at 2:22 AM

        Some of the reasons why people do this :

        1)Education
        2)Family tradition
        3)some families like to have a nikah party(elaborate one)arranged by the girls fathers and walima by the groom. Having more parties is a status symbol.

      • Avatar

        Mahmud

        February 9, 2014 at 11:40 PM

        I’m Bangladesh and Indian myself, and I have absolutely no plans to do this. Nikah and rukhsati ought to be at around the same time.

    • Avatar

      Muhammad

      July 7, 2014 at 8:27 PM

      Just because you’re unfamiliar with this concept does not take away the religious validity of a nikkah without the accompanying rukhsati. Also your unfamiliarity with it does not invalidate what may be a completely acceptable tradition in many other cultures. You need to be respectful and cognizant of the fact that there are a vast number of cultures across the planet that practice Islam, and as long as parties are not violating religious rulings, you have no right to pass a judgment on what order things ought to happen in. If one way works for you, that’s fine and dandy, but that doesn’t automatically mean that every Muslim on the planet ought to follow the cultural norms you adhere to.

  4. Avatar

    sarahl

    February 7, 2014 at 8:23 PM

    I’m 17 years old and I will be (Insha-allah) having my Nikah this December. So when our Nikah is done, you’re saying I shouldn’t become intimate with my husband?? I’ve known him for a long time and our “rukhsuti” won’t be done until the next couple years because we’re both so young.. I just got really confused reading this article.

    • Avatar

      Umm ZAKAriyya

      February 8, 2014 at 2:07 AM

      It’s very clear . Once the nikah is done , you are legally husband and wife and therefore can do everything what husband and wife do.

      But if in your culture/family , if certain acts between spouses are not appreciated, before walima/rukhsati/public announcement of the marriage ,then it’s good to respect that to please your elders . But even if you do get intimate with the spouse ( say , due to difficultly in controlling oneself .which is obviously normal) , it’s not a sin .

      One problem is that if some people do not know that you are legally married , then false rumor starts to spread if the spouses were seen to show affection towardseachother. This actually happened to a friend of mine in college . Her parents had done her nikah contract with her husband ,who happened to be her classmate. So when they were seen together , people started talking! Cuz they didn’t know she was married to him.

  5. Avatar

    Umm Saeed

    February 8, 2014 at 1:59 AM

    I was a new muslim when I wrote my marriage contract. I was totally ignorant about Muslim marriages and was told by the man (my husband now) that writing the contract would allow us to get to know each other in a halal manner. When I wrote my contract I did so with the understanding that the contract was equivalent to an engagement and the marriage would be later after a party was held and the marriage publicized.

    I was quite shocked after writing the contract when the Imam who also acted as my wali told us “everything is now halal”. As soon as my husband was alone with me he also insisted the same. I did not want this but he used all kinds of fatawa and stories from lectures to insist it was his right and I had to comply. At the same time he did not want to make the marriage public yet and gave me so many excuses why. I never knew my rights and feel that I was tricked into getting married and manipulated by my husband. I am telling my story as a warning to other sisters. Educate yourself and make sure that you know exactly what you are getting into, especially if you are a new Muslim and come from a different culture and background than your potential spouse.

    • Avatar

      timothywcrane

      February 9, 2014 at 1:35 PM

      His many excuses for not wanting his marriage public knowledge are disgraceful. Nikah is a contract of public knowledge, thus the requirement for witnesses (public knowledge is not upheld by a party, but witnesses to the contract in general). The fact that you did not know your were married is a violation of the standards of nobility and honesty in Islamic contract law even if valid under national laws. Public knowledge is matter of protecting honor.

      Even apostasy laws allow for the cause of ignorance as a way out.

      I am rather harsh on men who use guile and deception against women, yet inform the other of the male rights.

      I would have been rather harshly sarcastic, telling him that he should offer you a manumission at best, and free you if you give birth at least, for he obviously sees you as concubine and not a spouse, and no muslim, new or not can be made a slave, nor one who is captured illegally.

      Islam came as a mercy to all mankind, including women, and a warning to zulm (oppression) and those who practice it.

      My exhortation aside, I hope that you and he, for the betterment of both, have come to an agreement of truthful conduct and marital happiness.

      Divorce is the most hated lawful thing.

      • Avatar

        Mahmud

        February 9, 2014 at 11:41 PM

        I agree with Timothy. This crisis of mediocre/horrific husbands seems to be….everywhere. We need to make an effort to remove it.

  6. Avatar

    Jillian

    February 8, 2014 at 2:44 AM

    Good article. Rukhsati is absolutely culture, just like the Arab Walima…Basically a party to celebrate the marriage sometimes, not always after the couple has had intercourse. Think of this as a receptions, usually with nice clothes, dancing (sometimes separated by gender or not at all) and food. The Wedding Ceremony, religiously, is the nikkah just like the traditional christian church wedding, that is on part and the party is another. For some reason cultures with Islamic populations tend to split this two event up over month months or years. Legally you are married when you file the papers for the wedding, so for taxes, ownership laws, and hospital visitations in the USA nothing matters until those documents are filed. What is done intimately after only the religious part is between husband, wife, and God. BTW, I’m engaged and I plan to have the wedding (religious and legal) and the reception the same day or weekend this fall. Please keep my fiance and I in your duaas, and inshallah everything will work out well!

    • Avatar

      Omer Farooq

      October 26, 2014 at 7:34 PM

      “Rukhsati is absolutely culture, just like the Arab Walima…”

      I humbly want to point out that you are wrong. Please don’t state your personal opinion as a fact in deen. Please approach an Islamic scholar of your choice for an explanation with example of both “rukhsati” and “walima” from Prophets (phuh) personal life.

  7. Avatar

    Hamza Khurshid

    February 22, 2014 at 9:25 AM

    You have provided the answer in a very detailed and simplistic manner… thank You

  8. Avatar

    M.S.

    June 6, 2014 at 11:28 AM

    Ina lilAllahi wa ina Ileyhi Raaji’uun.

    I sense this sister’s troubles may have more to do with other people’s expectations of the kind of wedding party they would like to see and attend, and whether it messes well with their calendar-year vacation and/or pre-planned weekend activities.

    I guess this is what happens when you try to infuse cultural expectations & insist on carrying the baggage of the fore-fathers, instead of opting for the simplicity & ease afforded by Islam and the Sunnah.

    It would have been really amazing if her relatives & extended family contributed and fully funded a whole year’s worth of rent, utility bills, furniture, and grocery expenses, instead of know-towing to the bride-zillas/groom-zlllas of the clan. Can you imagine the honeymoon, the happiness, and the mood these two would been in, if their kith & kin gave them financial freedom for a year (or two)? Allah knows best.

    May Allah give you ease sister, shower His mercy on you and your relatives and admit us all to Jannatul-Fidaus al-‘Alaa.

  9. Avatar

    Tolga Ak. (@tolgz15)

    October 22, 2014 at 12:35 AM

    Jazakallah khayr for the insight, although there is more complex situations. This short article touches on the basics. May Allah bless us with a beautiful spouse insha’Allah!

  10. Avatar

    zainab

    November 30, 2014 at 1:35 AM

    If husband don’t fulfill his wife desires and they don’t have any physical relationship from past 1 year? who is responsible?what should wife do and if she do something wrong?

  11. Avatar

    asma

    May 26, 2015 at 6:02 AM

    Assalamu aliakum I got married on 31/1/2014 on skype through my husband was in saudi it’s almost 1 yr 4 months now I came to saudi to meet my husband due sm problems v can’t meet. But as I came I came to know he hd married another gal n he is avoiding I want to is our marriage is valid r not pls let me know dis answer

    • Avatar

      Friendly Neighborhood Spider-man

      June 26, 2015 at 12:41 AM

      Asma, Asalaamualaikum.

      I’m not a sheikh, but I’ve never heard of a nikkah or marriage over skype. You weren’t even there in person. Inshallah You should let him go and find another man who will love you for who you truly are. Stay friendly, beautiful, and read the Quran (in your country translation as well).

  12. Avatar

    rashida

    June 19, 2015 at 9:00 PM

    i am a girl of 18 yrs. i want to get married as well as continue my arabic studies in a different country. In Shaa Allah eventhough our families have accepted us. my brideprice will be paid in this or after ramadan. my husband studies in turkey and i ll soon be persuing my arabic studies in saudi arabia. my husband is32 yrs now. i cant go to study with pregnancy nor a child alone.
    my husband is demanding of sex after the brideprice. am afraid to get pregnant now. is there a way to prevent being pregnant for some time. i dont want him to commit zina and i am not ready to have a child now. what should i do? by Allah, help me.

    • Avatar

      Friendly Neighborhood Spider-man

      June 26, 2015 at 12:39 AM

      Rashida!

      Girl, you should tell him you don’t want to raise a child without a father and if that doesn’t work you should try to get some birth control. See if maybe you can get some condoms that he can try.

    • Avatar

      Sff

      November 30, 2015 at 11:14 AM

      It’s called birth control

  13. Avatar

    shaima

    November 16, 2015 at 9:11 AM

    Okay after a year of nikkah So when is valima done on the vidae day itself..?

  14. Avatar

    Nosh

    February 8, 2016 at 6:41 AM

    Please can someone help me.. I got khula 3 years ago.. Now a rishta came for me and the imam refused the khula and wanted ex husbands written letter signed.. So i did that too and got talaq from him then i got told i need to do idat.. But iv found out im pregnant with my fiance’s child (yes we did wrng it was a very emotional time it jus happned in the comfort).. My question is do i still need to do idat?

    • Avatar

      Aly Balagamwala

      February 9, 2016 at 3:01 AM

      Dear Sister

      Our comments section is not geared for personal fiqh questions. I would advise you to consult a scholar in your community, check with a fatwa service such as islamqa.com or contact one of the mashaikh through their Facebook page.

      Best Regards
      Aly

  15. Avatar

    mind.will.evolve

    September 12, 2016 at 2:25 PM

    I recently did nikkah and planning for rukhsati in few months. I am male and i had to convince my wife`s family for nikkah. i had few reasons for this firstly, i wanted to verbally interact with her openly and freely which i consider is not allowed if girl is a na-mehram. Although interacting with her was not object able by her family but i always felt it was a sin and i should do nikkah.
    Secondly, i wanted to delay rukhsati as i m planing to construct a room and waiting for promotion on job . I think islam makes things easy and there is no one way of doing right thing. One should follow the principles and multiple ways are possible for it. Social and cultural norms should be valued ,if things work in positive and healthy directions they will automatically fit into islam. I love my wife by the way.

  16. Avatar

    Niki

    November 5, 2016 at 6:26 PM

    Im a christian living n japan but im not yet divorce i have a someone muslim beliefs living uk in my situation can we do nikah even im not yet divorce?
    I am allow to do nikah even im not divorce ?

    • Avatar

      Aly Balagamwala

      November 11, 2016 at 11:02 AM

      If you are already married to someone then you can not marry another man (assuming from your name you are a woman). In addition, there are conditions whereby a Muslim is allowed to marry a Christian female. I recommend you discuss these matters directly with an Imam who can guide you better in your situation.

      *Comment above is posted in a personal capacity and may not reflect the official views of MuslimMatters or its staff*

  17. Avatar

    Anonymous

    December 16, 2016 at 8:35 PM

    Um hey, I have a question. So I’m a revert, and I know my parents would be dead against arranging a marriage for me with a Muslim guy, let alone even letting me go to the masjid (even though i live with my great Aunt and I’m 18), so I am not sure what to do. I am EXTREMELY cautious of guys online, and rarely ever do, but there was this one guy that I talked to that I really like. I know that many guys are trash, and just want one thing, and will lie till the cows come home, but he seems really legit, and respectful, and even though he has admitted he cares about me he is still extremely shy. We have talked a lot, and we seem to be very compatible, and I think we would have a great marriage together. Our one big disagreement, is that if i were to live in Pakistan, sometimes I would want to go out in nature, and just be alone, and not always be Chaperoned by him. No one in his town would ever have to know, cuz we could go on a walk, and rendezvous at a given time and place. He thinks I should just stay in the yard, and also thinks that Pakistan’s strict cultural beliefs are synonymous with Islam. Both of us do not want to make a hasty move, or a wrong move, and do not want to get married if the other person will just be unhappy. He suggested that I visit Pakistan for a few months, and try it out. I am very interested in doing so, and of course we would make arrangements with his parents and the like, and facilitate this through them, but I am wondering how I am going to get to know him in person. Should I get Nikkah and have very strict standards? I know he will not push for sex, because he wants to be EXTREMLY careful and not mess up, and not make a decision that he or I would regret. Secondly, the only real obstacles between him and me getting married is me wanting to know him more (and in person), and living in Pakistan to see what it is like, and also his immersion in being pak. Is there a way I can talk to him, to let me just have some time alone on nature? Cuz that is something that is REALLY important to me. He says he is sure his parents will like me, so I do not think that will be an issue..and i would figure that out real quick when video chatting them about the circumstances. Also, considering circumstances in America, I’ll be saving up cleaning money ($16) and probably be going to Italy otherwise, and trying to get a job there, so I was already planning in leaving the country anyways. Although I shouldnt have chatted with him in the 1st place, what is the most Islamic ally correct way to proceed from here? Also, I wanted to see peoples thoughts on this. I ask that you please give me advice on how YOU personally would succeede. Thankyou

  18. Avatar

    NCD

    April 1, 2017 at 5:51 PM

    I don’t understand this at all, the post itself or the comments… is it Islamic advice or cultural advice? I don’t think it’s good to reinforce cultural norms that go against Islamic ones, and if parents would have issues post-nikkah with any level of intimacy then that doesn’t go with one of the main reasons that marriage is so encouraged- to allow a halal way for two people to be intimate with each other which is in everyone’s natural inclination to want to do so. If a father objects to this then he should not have allowed the nikkah in the first place because at that point he is no longer her wali. Secondly I don’t understand the comments about this gap between nikkah and consummation giving a “get out” clause if someone isn’t who they appear to first be. Divorce is divorce. It is crucial to get to know someone as well as possible PRIOR to nikkah and there is nothing wrong with doing so. Rushing into nikkah because you feel you can’t do this beforehand has no basis. There is nothing wrong with culture, but if those cultural norms conflict or prevent people to do what is encouraged or even necessary in Islam then they shouldn’t be reinforced.

  19. Avatar

    Akhtar Javed

    September 30, 2017 at 2:40 AM

    what is the method of separation for any reasons, incase if nikah performed but wife and husband never lived together, not even met each other after nikah

  20. Avatar

    Dhikrat

    October 29, 2017 at 4:42 PM

    Asalam alaikun waramotulah please coming together of both parent agreeing to the union and both d wife and the husband without any gift been involve can we also call it Nikkah?

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Dawah and Interfaith

10 Lessons I Learned While Serving Those in Need

Abu Ryan Dardir

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Which deeds are most beloved to Allah?

Alhamdulillah, by the blessings of Allah (swt) and readers like yourself, MuslimMatters has been an independent platform for our best thought leaders to educate us in our faith and catalyze change through powerful, necessary conversations. Since our humble beginnings as a basic wordpress blog in 2007, our content has remained free.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support us with a monthly donation of $10 per month, or even as little as $1. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

I have spent about a decade serving the impoverished domestically and recently, abroad. I don’t work for a major charity organization, I work for my community, through grassroots efforts. It was something embedded in me while learning Islam. Before starting a charity organization, I started studying Islam with Dr. Hatem Alhaj (my mentor) and various other scholars. The more I studied, the more I wanted to implement what I was learning. What my community needed at the time was intensive charity work, as it was neglected entirely by our community. From that, I collected 10 lessons from servicing those in need. 

My bubble burst

One of the first things I experienced was the bursting of my bubble, a sense of realization. I, like many others, was unaware of the hardship in my own community. Yes, we know the hadith and see the events unfold on the news and social media, but when a father of three cried before me because a bag of groceries was made available for him to take home, that moment changed me. We tend to forget how little it takes, to make a huge difference in someone’s life. This experience, made me understand the following hadith of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him): “Every Muslim has to give in charity.” The people then asked: “(But what) if someone has nothing to give, what should he do?” The Prophet replied: “He should work with his hands and benefit himself and also give in charity (from what he earns).” The people further asked: “If he cannot find even that?” He replied: “He should help the needy, who appeal for help.” Then the people asked: “If he cannot do (even) that?” The Prophet said finally: “Then he should perform good deeds and keep away from evil deeds, and that will be regarded as charitable deeds.” – Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 2, Hadith 524. I

t is simply an obligation, due to the amount of good it generates after you do this one action. I then realized even more how beautiful Islam is for commanding this deed. 

Friendships were developed on good deeds

Serving the poor is a great reward in itself. The Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said: “Save yourself from hellfire by giving even half a date-fruit in charity.” – Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 2, Hadith 498. But it is better done with a team, I began building a team of people with similar objectives in serving the needy. These people later became some of my closest friends, who better to keep close to you than one that serves Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) by helping the neediest in the same community you reside in. Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said: “A person is likely to follow the faith of his friend, so look whom you befriend.” [reported by Abu Dawood & Tirmidhee] This is turn kept me on the right path of pleasing Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He). Working with a team removes a lot of the burden as well and the depression that might occur seeing the saddest stories on a daily basis. Allah says in the Qur’ān, “Indeed the believers are brothers.” (49:10). Sometimes there is a misconception that you have to have a huge office or a large masjid in order to get work done. But honestly, all you need is a dedicated group of people with the right intention and things take off from there. 

The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: 'If you love the poor and bring them near you. . .God will bring you near Him on the Day of Resurrection.' - Al-Tirmidhi,Click To Tweet

Made me thankful

This made me thankful for whatever I had, serving the less fortunate reminded me daily to turn to Allah and ask for forgiveness and so be thankful. This kind of service also puts things into perspective. What is truly important in life? I stepped further and further away from a materialistic lifestyle and allowed me to value things that can’t be valued by money. I learned this from the poorest of people in my community, who strived daily for their family regardless of their situation — parents who did what they can to shield their children from their harsh reality. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “If you love the poor and bring them near you. . .God will bring you near Him on the Day of Resurrection.” – Al-Tirmidhi, Hadith 1376. They had a quality about them, despite their poverty status. They were always some of the kindest people I have known. 

People want to do Good

I learned that people want to do good; they want to improve their community and society. I began to see the impact on a communal level, people were being more engaged. We were the only Muslim group helping indiscriminately in our county. Even the people we helped, gave back by volunteering at our food pantry. We have schools where small kids (under adult supervision) partake in preparing meals for the needy, local masajids, churches, and temples, high school kids from public schools, and college organizations (Muslim and nonMuslim) visit frequently from several cities in neighboring counties, cities, and states. The good spreads a lot easier and faster than evil. People want to do good, we just need more opportunities for them to join in. United we can rock this world.

“We need more light about each other. Light creates understanding, understanding creates love, love creates patience, and patience creates unity.” Malcolm X. Click To Tweet

Smiles

Smiles, I have seen the wealthiest smiles on the poorest people. Despite being on the brink of homelessness, when I saw them they had the best smile on their faces. This wasn’t all of them, but then I would smile back and that changed the environment we were in. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “Charity is prescribed for each descendant of Adam every day the sun rises.” He was then asked: “From what do we give charity every day?” The Prophet answered: “The doors of goodness are many…enjoining good, forbidding evil, removing harm from the road, listening to the deaf, leading the blind, guiding one to the object of his need, hurrying with the strength of one’s legs to one in sorrow who is asking for help, and supporting the feeble with the strength of one’s arms–all of these are charity prescribed for you.” He also said: “Your smile for your brother is charity.” – Fiqh-us-Sunnah, Volume 3, Number 98. Smiles are truly universal.

It’s ok to cry

It was narrated that Abu Hurayrah raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) said: The Messenger of Allah said: “A man who weeps for fear of Allah will not enter Hell until the milk goes back into the udder, and dust produced (when fighting) for the sake of Allah and the smoke of Hell will never coexist.” Narrated by al-Tirmidhi and al-Nasaa’i. There are situations you see that hit you hard; they fill your heart with emotions, but that never swayed my concrete belief in Allah’s wisdom. Crying before Allah, not just out of fear, but to be thankful for His Mercy upon you is a relief.

Learning to say no

It was one of the hardest things I had to do, a lot (if not all) of the requests I received for help were extremely reasonable. I do not think anyone asked for anything outrageous. Our organization started becoming the go-to organization in our area for help, but we are one organization, with limited resources, and a few times we were restricted on when or how we could help. This is where learning to say no became a learned skill. Wedid do our best to follow up with a plan or an alternative resource.

It is part of raising a family and finding yourself

How so? Being involved in your community doesn’t take away from raising your family, it is part of it. I can’t watch and do nothing and expect my children to be heroes. I have to lead by example. Helping others is good for my family’s health. Many people living in our country are consumed with their busy lives. Running out the door, getting to work, driving the kids to their after school activities, spending weekends taking care of their families, etc. So people have a fear of investing hours in doing this type of work. But in reality, this work puts more blessings in your time.

One may feel they are taking time away from their family, but in reality, when one comes back home, they find more peace in their home then they left it with. By helping others, I improve the health and culture of my community, this in turn positively impacts my family.

I enjoy being a softie with my family and friends. I am a tall bearded man, and that image suited me better. I am not sure what made me softer, having kids or serving the poor. Either way, it was rewarding and defined my role and purpose in my community.

I learned that you make your own situation. You can be a spectator, or you can get in there and do the best you can to help. It gave me an opportunity to be a role model for my own children, to show them the benefit of doing good and helping when you can.

It came with a lot of humility. Soon after starting I realized that all I am is a facilitator, Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) is giving an opportunity of a lifetime to do this work, a line of work very little people get to engage in regularly. My advice to my readers, if you can serve the poor do so immediately before you get occupied or busy with life.

Helping others is good for my family’s health.Click To Tweet

Dawah through action

As I mentioned before I did spend time studying, and at one point developed one of the top dawah initiatives in the country (according to IERA). But the reality is, helping the less fortunate is my type of dawah, people started to associate our food pantry and helping others with Islam. As an organization with one of the most diverse groups of volunteers, people from various religious backgrounds found the environment comfortable and hospitable. I began working with people I never would have worked before if I had stuck to traditional dawah, studying, or masjid involvement, all of which are critical. This became a symbol of Islam in our community, and while serving, we became those that embodied the Quran and Sunnah. For a lot of those we served, we were the first Muslims they encountered, and Alhamdulilah for the team we have. Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) also says in the Quran: “So by mercy from Allah, [O Muhammad], you were lenient with them. And if you had been rude [in speech] and harsh in heart, they would have disbanded from about you” (3:159). It is our actions that can turn people away or towards Islam.

Once you serve the needy, you do this for life

I wasn’t volunteering on occasion,— this was an unpaid job that was done regularly. I got requests and calls for emergencies daily at times. It took up hours upon hours every week. As a charity worker, I developed experience and insight in this field. I learned that this was one of the best ways I could serve Allah [swt. “They ask you (O Muhammad) what they should spend in charity. Say: ‘Whatever you spend with a good heart, give it to parents, relatives, orphans, the helpless, and travelers in need. Whatever good you do, God is aware of it.'” – The Holy Quran, 2:215

I believe the work I do with the countless people that do the same is the best work that can be done in our current political climate and globalization. My views and thoughts have evolved over the years seeing situations develop to what they are today. This gave me a comprehensive outlook on our needs as a society and allowed me to venture off and meet people top in their fields like in social activism, environmentalism, labor, etc.

I want to end with three sectors in society that Muslims prosper in and three that Muslims can improve on. We strive on individual education (noncommunal), distributing and organizing charity, and more recently being politically engaged. What we need to improve on is our environmental awareness, working with and understanding unions and labor rights, and organizing anti-war movements. 

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Looking To Get Married? Here Are A Few Tips

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will you marry me?
Which deeds are most beloved to Allah?

Alhamdulillah, by the blessings of Allah (swt) and readers like yourself, MuslimMatters has been an independent platform for our best thought leaders to educate us in our faith and catalyze change through powerful, necessary conversations. Since our humble beginnings as a basic wordpress blog in 2007, our content has remained free.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support us with a monthly donation of $10 per month, or even as little as $1. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that single young Muslims, despite not being in possession of any fortune, are always in search of a spouse.

However little prepared these people may be to undertake this ordeal is given little thought, and they are thrust out into the world of modern Muslim matchmaking. The generational divide in the community has meant that young people have received little training at home to navigate the process of finding a spouse. These individuals are seeking high-quality relationships, but few have the skills and emotional intelligence needed to find one. They are left to learn on their own through trial-and-error, and often a lot of pain.

With hopes of making this journey a little easier, we’ve compiled a few principles to keep in mind as you tread these cold uncharted waters.

You won’t attract what you want, you’ll attract what you are. Do you find in yourself the qualities that you seek in another?Click To Tweet

1. Work on yourself

You won’t attract what you want, you’ll attract what you are. Do you find in yourself the qualities that you seek in another?

Aspire to be self-fulfilled and complete on your own, rather than hoping for someone else to do that for you. Operationally, this entails refining both your inner and outer self. On the outside this could include basic things like being well-groomed (especially for men), knowing how to cook a healthy diet, exercising regularly and supporting yourself financially. You should also ensure you have good relationships with loved ones – do the people you care about love you back? Admit any wrongs you may have done to them and make amends to improve ties if they are strained. The state of your current relationships can be a good indicator of future ones.

On the inside, you should make a moral inventory and work to address your shortcomings in character. You must work on your selfishness, your anger, your dishonesty, your lust, your pride, your stinginess, your harshness, your resentments, your stubbornness, your fears, your jealousy, your self-righteousness, your vanity. This list is never ending and it’s a lifelong process; the sooner you get started the better off you’ll be.

You must also get help for any serious problems that you fear might affect a relationship – instead of hoping these problems will go away with the ‘right partner’. If you have a pornography problem, seek out help and don’t be deluded into thinking marriage will solve that for you. If you have no control over your desires before marriage, you won’t magically gain control afterward. If you have a substance abuse problem, join a 12-step program. If you feel you are emotionally unhealthy, get help from a professional. Bottom line is, have your house in order before you decide to build a new one.

2. Maintain good mental health throughout the process

Be purposeful in your search but don’t make it the purpose of your life. The process of finding a spouse can become emotionally draining and overwhelming if you don’t do it in a healthy fashion. Understand that this process entails too many factors that are completely out of your control; things won’t always go your way, so don’t be too attached to the outcome.  The only things you control are your responses and actions, so just focus on putting your best foot forward.

A common mistake people make is they give themselves a timeline e.g. ‘I want to be married by X age, or by X year’. This only results in unnecessary pressure that can lead to anxiety and poor mental health; it can also force one to make imprudent choices. Everyone has a different timeline; have trust in God’s plan for you.

Anytime mental health is disturbed, stop and revaluate. Some signs of poor mental health include: obsessive thinking, inability to focus on your everyday affairs, compulsive attachment and clinginess, disturbed sleep, anxiety, difficulty making decisions, inability to multitask, feeling overwhelmed, panic attacks, depression, irritability, changes in eating habits, and a loss of inner serenity. It is best to get help from counselors, such as those at Naseeha, if you feel stuck in this situation.

3. Adopt a mindset of giving

The measure you give is the measure you get back. Instead of worrying so much about what you want, focus on what you have to offer.

While you should certainly express your interest in someone you like, don’t taint it with desperation and neediness. If you’ve implemented the first point mentioned, you are already a confident and self-sufficient person. You will be fine no matter what. Focus on giving without expectation and building a healthy companionship. Be a giver and you’ll be surprised how easily you will attract the right people towards you. The ‘mindset of want’ is a self-defeating mindset: you might not find all the things you want in someone, and even if you did, there is no guarantee they’ll want you back!

4. Don’t overthink it

Living in a capitalist society, we’ve developed the bad habit of picking out people the same way we go shopping for a new product. We like to explore the market, do a cost-benefit analysis of various options, try to make sure the product isn’t damaged and hope to pick out the best possible item. We are careful about how we ‘invest our time’ and we try to ensure we can get an appropriate return on our investment. If we could, we’d ask for a money-back guarantee on people too!

Human hearts, unfortunately, cannot be picked out the way we choose commercial products. Each has its flaws and its strengths, you have to accept both the good and the bad; the pro-con list approach won’t work here. When we start taking this reductionist approach to relationships, we naturally get into overthinking, feel anxious and overwhelmed. With the widespread use of online dating, the choices seem limitless and it can seem impossible to try to figure out how to find the right person.

Marriage is a decision that’s to be taken with the heart; you have to rely on your guts and your instincts to steer you towards the person most suitable for you. This doesn’t mean throwing rational thought out the door, it means looking to your inner-self as the source of motivation for your decision making. It takes emotional intelligence and self-awareness to be able to determine what kind of a person you’ll be able to build a future with; it’s not always someone that looks best on paper. There are very few people with whom you’ll find compatibility and reciprocity, so don’t obsess over exploring as many possible ‘options’ with hopes of marking off all the items on your checklist.

We ultimately find the most fulfillment in caring for and taking responsibility for someone we sincerely love. So, look instead for the ingredients that will act as the foundations of love in your marriage. These could include the fact that you: enjoy someone’s company, find them beautiful, admire their character and kindness, respect them, find reciprocity in your interactions, have shared values and compatible temperaments. You are looking for that certitude, that good feeling in your heart; focusing on these factors will hopefully give you that and will get you out of the common mistake of overthinking and worrying.

One of the unique challenges Western Muslims face when looking for a spouse is finding religious compatibility. The diversity of our community, coupled with the individualized nature of faith in the West, has given rise to a plethora of ‘brands’ of Islam. Click To Tweet

5. Work to bridge religious differences

One of the unique challenges Western Muslims face when looking for a spouse is finding religious compatibility. The diversity of our community, coupled with the individualized nature of faith in the West, has given rise to a plethora of ‘brands’ of Islam. Personal levels of observance can vary vastly, even within members of the same family, so it can be challenging to find the right fit.

You will always find differences in religious observance and views between spouses. It is impossible, and foolish, to try to seek out someone at the exact same level. Some people might be more conservative than you, some might be more liberal. Do you really have to turn someone down because they don’t agree with your views on conventional mortgages? What if you like dressing up for Halloween and going trick-or-treating, and they’re opposed to it? What if they don’t eat zabiha halal like you do? What if they don’t pray all the five prayers on time like you were raised to do so?

Given the unique circumstances we live in, we must be flexible and open-minded about resolving such differences. We ought to be careful when making a judgment about someone’s beliefs; we don’t know what’s in someone’s heart. Some of us were taught to honour God through worship and observing His law, some of us were raised with an emphasis on serving His creation with good character. People have their strengths and their weaknesses in faith; sometimes these are apparent, sometimes hidden. Your relationship with God is not perfect and neither will be your partner’s; we are all a work in progress.

If approached with kindness, mutual respect and a willingness to compromise, these differing religious views could be resolved in many cases. While sometimes people really are on extreme ends, most of us fall somewhere in between and can find a comfortable middle ground. It is often our stubbornness, self-righteousness and a parochial understanding of religion that gets in the way. Good people are hard to find, so don’t let suitable matches go because they don’t follow your exact flavor of religious observance. This is certainly a sensitive topic and needs to be dealt with tact and wisdom; it is advisable to seek counsel of more experienced people.

6. Don’t expose your past and don’t pry about someone else’s

If you have a past you are not proud of and it doesn’t concern your future relationships, you should not feel obliged to expose yourself. In fact, if this relates to sins of the past, it is actually prohibited to reveal your sins to someone else – even in the context of marriage. Shaykh Nuh Keller summarizes this pitfall well, “In Islam, to mention a sin is itself a sin. How many a person has been unable to resist telling a friend or a spouse of the wickedness they did in their previous life, and Allah punished them with disgust and contempt in the other’s heart that could never quite be forgotten! There is no barakah in the haram”.

Similarly, it goes without saying that you shouldn’t be prying about someone else’s past and trying to dig up details on their misadventures. The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) commanded us to have a good opinion of people; he warned against the destructive nature of suspicion and spying. He told us, “Beware of suspicion for it is the most deceitful of thought. Do not look for the others’ faults and do not spy, and do not be jealous of one another, and do not desert (cut your relation with) one another, and do not hate one another; Rather, be servants of God as brothers”

7. Istikhara is not a solution for indecisiveness

The prayer of seeking guidance, or Istikhara, is oft cited by those considering marriage. The mistake many make, however, is that we are really wishing for someone else to make the decision for us. We are so afraid of making the wrong decision that we find it difficult to make any. We hope for a divine sign or a miracle to happen that tells us that the other person is right for us and that we will live happily ever after with them.

Making big life decisions, emotionally prudent ones, is an important life skill that must be learned. These decisions come with inherent risks, uncertainties, and unknowns; there are no guarantees. If you habitually find yourself having a hard time deciding, it is likely due to external factors. It might have something to do with you, it might have something to do with the person you are considering. It is advisable to seek counsel if you are in this situation.

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How Grandparents Can Be Of Invaluable Help In A Volatile ‘Me First’ Age

Dr. Muhammad Abdul Bari

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Which deeds are most beloved to Allah?

Alhamdulillah, by the blessings of Allah (swt) and readers like yourself, MuslimMatters has been an independent platform for our best thought leaders to educate us in our faith and catalyze change through powerful, necessary conversations. Since our humble beginnings as a basic wordpress blog in 2007, our content has remained free.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support us with a monthly donation of $10 per month, or even as little as $1. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

I grew up in a small rural village of a developing country during the 1950s and 1960s within a wider ‘extended’ family environment amidst many village aunties and uncles. I had a wonderfully happy childhood with enormous freedom but traditional boundaries. Fast forward 30 years, my wife and I raised our four children on our own in cosmopolitan London in the 1980s and 1990s. Although not always easy, we had a wonderful experience to see them grow as adults. Many years and life experiences later, as grandparents, we see how parenting has changed in the current age of confusion and technology domination.

While raising children is ever joyous for parents, external factors such as rapidly changing lifestyles, a breath-taking breakdown of values in modern life, decline of parental authority and the impacts of social media have huge impacts on modern parenting.

Recently, my wife and I decided to undertake the arduous task of looking after our three young grandchildren – a 5½-year old girl and her 2-year old sibling brother from our daughter, plus a 1½-year old girl from our eldest son – while their parents enjoyed a thoroughly deserved week-long holiday abroad. My wife, who works in a nursery, was expertly leading this trial. I made myself fully available to support her. Rather than going through our daily experiences with them for a week, I highlight here a few areas vis a vis raising children in this day and age and the role of grandparents. The weeklong experience of being full time carers brought home with new impetus some universal needs in parenting. I must mention that handling three young grandchildren for a week is not a big deal; it was indeed a sheer joy to be with these boisterous, occasionally mischievous, little kids so dear to us!

  1. Establish a daily routine and be consistent: Both parents are busy now-a-days earning a livelihood and maintaining their family life, especially in this time of austerity. As children grow, and they grow fast, they naturally get used to the daily parental routine, if it is consistent. This is vital for parents’ health as they need respite in their daily grind. For various practical reasons the routine may sometimes be broken, but this should be an exception rather than a norm. After a long working day parents both need their own time and rest before going to sleep. Post-natal depression amongst mums is very common in situations where there is no one to help them or if the relationship between the spouses is facing difficulty and family condition uninspiring.

In our trial case, we had some struggles in putting the kids to sleep in the first couple of nights. We also faced difficulties in the first few mornings when our grandson would wake up at 5.00am and would not go back to sleep, expecting one of us to play with him! His noise was waking up his younger cousin in another room. We divided our tasks and somehow managed this until we got used to a routine towards the end of the week.

  1. Keep children away from screens: Grandparents are generally known for their urge to spoil their grandchildren; they are more relaxed about discipline, preferring to leave that job to the parents. We tried to follow the parents’ existing rules and disciplinary measures as much as possible and build on them. Their parents only allow the children to use screens such as iPads or smartphones as and when deemed necessary. We decided not to allow the kids any exposure to these addictive gadgets at all in the whole week. So, it fell on us to find various ways to keep them busy and engaged – playing, reading, spending time in the garden, going to parks or playgrounds. The basic rule is if parents want their kids to keep away from certain habits they themselves should set an example by not doing them, especially in front of the kids.
  2. Building a loving and trusting relationship: From even before they are born, children need nurture, love, care and a safe environment for their survival and healthy growth. Parenting becomes enjoying and fulfilling when both parents are available and they complement each other’s duties in raising the kids. Mums’ relationship with their children during the traditional weaning period is vital, both for mums and babies. During our trial week we were keenly observing how each of the kids behaved with us. We also observed the evolution of interesting dynamics amongst the three; but that is a different matter. In spite of occasional hiccups with the kids, we felt our relationship was further blossoming with each of them. We made a habit of discussing and evaluating our whole day’s work at night, in order to learn things and plan for a better next day.

A grandparent, however experienced she or he may be, can be there only to lend an extra, and probably the best, pair of hands to the parents in raising good human beings and better citizens of a country. With proper understanding between parents and grandparents and their roles defined, the latter can be real assets in a family – whether they live under the same roof or nearby. Children need attention, appreciation and validation through engagement; grandparents need company and many do crave to be with their own grandchildren. Young grandchildren, with their innate innocence, do even spiritually uplift grandparents in their old age.

Through this mutual need grandparents can transfer life skills and human values by reading with them, or telling them stories or just spending time with the younger ones. On the other hand, in our age of real loneliness amidst illusory social media friends, they get love, respect and even tender support from their grandchildren. No wonder the attachment between grandparents and grandchildren is often so strong!

In modern society, swamped by individualism and other social ills, raising children in an urban setting is indeed overwhelming. We can no longer recreate ‘community parenting’ in the traditional village environment with the maxim “It needs a village to raise a child’, but we can easily create a productive and innovative role for grandparents to bring about similar benefits.

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