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What’s The Matter?|My Brother’s Wife and My Husband Exchange Friendly Glances

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Question:

I am happily married to my husband for 11 years. We have three children together. My siblings and I usually get together along with our spouses. We are a practicing family. My brother and his wife are less practicing. When we gather, we try as much as possible to sit separately. However, sometimes it happens where we are all sitting in the same room, either eating or in the living room. I try to prevent it as much as possible, but for some reason it happens beyond my control, especially if we are at my brother’s house. 
Not long ago, I had noticed that my brother’s wife would gaze at my husband’s direction. At that time, I noticed that my husband didn’t notice or was just ignoring it. I tried to talk to her and was unsuccessful about it.

Alhamdulilah, I was able to convince my sister to have that conversation with her. My sister told her in a very clear way that she needs to control her staring at people. She took it lightly and didn’t really respond. 
Anyway, as time went by, my brother’s family and my family started to see each other a lot. My brother is very attached to me. He would ask me when we will go on vacation if he can come with us. We did travel together, and we stayed in the same apartment for a day. We went out as a family. We rented the same car, ate at the same restaurant, etc.. At one point, during the hurricane last year, the electricity went off at his house, and my brother and his family stayed with us for a week. At those times she wasn’t doing (or I had not noticed) the stares. It was after we became closer as families, I had noticed her. 
Recently, I have seen my husband taking part of these glances. I saw him on occasion smiling towards her as they exchanged glances. At another instance as we were leaving to go home, they exchanged a glance with a smile then she looked at me as I looked at her, and I felt like her face was full of shame. When I first realized it, I doubted that it was even happening. I always told my self it was coincidental. I respect my husband and his level of deen very much. But then I was still monitoring the situation. 
Once I felt that my beliefs were confirmed. I became extremely angry.

The first thing I did was avoid getting together with my brother. I would feel guilty because he wouldn’t know why I was avoiding interaction with him. But as we are a close family, there were still opportunities to meet, either at one of my sisters’ houses or my father’s house. The glancing was still going on every time we met. I thought about confronting my husband. I spoke to him once about him giving her salams. I thought it was inappropriate for him to initiate the salams to her. I don’t personally give salams to any of my brother in laws. I usually give a general salam. He said that we have been family for so long it would be weird if he sees her and not give her salams. 
He is a very egoistic man. He gets offended very quickly. When he gets upset, the first thing he does is he gives me the silent treatment for weeks, on things that seem petty to me. I am driving myself crazy every time the family gets together. I feel like I am a detective, and I have to stay on top of being around my husband the entire time we are with the family.

Even if he gets up to get a cup of water, I am always on the look. But this is preventing me from enjoying my time with my family. I am getting a lot of bad dreams about my husband and I separating. Please advise me on how I can handle this situation without cutting my ties completely with my brother. Also, I don’t want to ignore the situation and it escalates into something beyond glances. Please let me know, if I am overreacting. Is this something that was bound to happen? Is this a form of insecurity on my part?

Jazzakum Allahu Khairun,

Insecure in Family Ties

Answer:

I truly understand how uncomfortable it can feel when you sense that someone is attracted to your husband.  It’s natural to feel protective of him and prevent any possible dangers in the future.  It becomes much more concerning when you see your husband being receptive to the attention and smiling back.  In your situation it is important to strike a balance between being careful to avoid the haram and being secure of yourself and your marriage.

Majority of men I have worked with admitted enjoying the attention of women.  They find it very flattering when someone other than their own spouse finds them attractive.  Even if they are not in any way attracted to the woman, they still enjoy the ego boost.  This can start very innocently, but it can escalate if the right (or should I say the wrong) opportunity presents itself.

There is definite hikma (wisdom) in not mixing.  I have had clients that get involved with their husband’s best friends because they become so comfortable with them that they put down all guards.  If there is mixing then a certain decorum needs to be upheld and boundaries need to be respected.

It’s critical to reflect on what is making you feel so insecure.  If you are insecure about the quality of your relationship and/or your love for each other, it’s important to focus on improving your quality time together to help increase the love.  It may be that your husband is craving more attention from you.  Make more effort in making him feel attractive by giving him sincere compliments in addition to flirting with him in a way that will satisfy his ego and bring playfulness back into your marriage.  If you are feeling insecure because you are not at your best, then I suggest setting attainable goals where you will be more happy and confident.  I know how challenging it is to get into shape after having 3 kids, because I had to go through it myself.  Our body image affects our confidence and sense of security.  If you feel that you have let yourself go, focus on getting back into shape so that you will feel your best.  As you increase your sense of security about yourself and your relationship, you will feel less threatened by others.

I would recommend getting together with your brother and his family since selatel rahem (bonds of kinship) is critical in Islam; however you can try to spend some one on one time with your sister-in-law without making it too obvious.  You need to be able to relax and enjoy your time with your family without feeling so frightened and suspicious the entire time.  In order to do that you need to really have trust in your husband.  If he has never done anything to make you doubt him, then I think you are overreacting a bit. It is essential to have trust for one another yet at the same time be watchful and aware of the circumstances.  Having said that – do not dismiss your concerns because I believe you should pay attention to your intuition.  Just be careful not to go overboard with your worries & concerns.

 

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Haleh Banani has a Master degree in Clinical Psychology with 20 years of experience working with couples and individuals. She was a featured expert on Al-Jazeera international, Huda TV, Islamic Open University, Mercy Mission and Bayinnah TV. Haleh is an instructor for Ilmflix and Qalam Institute. She is an international speaker and writer.

45 Comments

45 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Diah

    April 17, 2014 at 7:55 PM

    Beautiful, practical and sincere answer. MashaAllah

    • Avatar

      LogicalLeopard

      April 22, 2014 at 1:21 PM

      I agree. Let me preface my statements by saying I am not Muslim, but I am a Christian, and can certainly understand maintaining good interaction with purity. However, to me, one problem that wasn’t highlighted is the manner in which the sister-in-law was addressed. The writer says that she tried to talk about it with the sister-in-law and was unsuccessful. Why? How did she address it? Then, the sister is recruited to talk to the sister in law, and she tells the sister in law that she needs to control her staring problem. Well, when you don’t speak to people in a respectful, problem solving way, people aren’t necessarily going to respond well. I would think it would be better to talk to the sister in law, say, “I know that our relationship may have gotten off on the wrong foot, but I really would like to talk to you about a concern of mine. And I would like to hear what your view on the subject is.” Starting off like that, and sincerely listening to the sister in law, instead of saying, “Fix your staring problem” is likely to get a better response. Who knows, maybe the sister in law DOES have a staring problem. Maybe she’s unaware of her behavior. Maybe the husband reminds her of someone, like her father. Who knows why she’s staring? But if the writer knew the answer, maybe she’d be more comfortable. I know I’ve been in situations (as a man) where I’ve looked at people and been embarrassed, because my stare was too long. Sometimes I was trying to figure out if I knew a person, or who that person looked like. Sometimes it’s because I’m thinking about something and staring off into space, only at the end of that “space” is an actual person! The worst was when I saw a woman crossing the street and she was wearing shorts, and I saw what looked like a bruise on her leg. I saw that it was a tattoo, but then when the woman spoke, I looked up and realized she was a neighbor. And that she may have thought I was just staring at her legs for more sordid reasons. I’m still horrified by that one, and it’s been a good ten years or so….

      • Hena Zuberi

        Hena Zuberi

        April 22, 2014 at 6:24 PM

        Thank you for visiting Muslimmatters and your insightful comment.

      • Avatar

        Haleh Banani

        April 22, 2014 at 11:56 PM

        It’s nice to get your feedback! You are absolutely right that assumptions need to be checked because they really clear the air. There may be nothing at all to worry about. The key is to communicate and get the reassurance needed. Thanks for sharing your personal experiences – we all fall into those embarrassing situations.

      • Avatar

        Yusuf

        April 23, 2014 at 4:09 AM

        I wish there are more people like you. May The Almighty guide you through straight path. :-)

      • Avatar

        YV

        June 26, 2015 at 7:27 PM

        Wow, that’s quite a bit of a good perspective!

    • Avatar

      K Singh

      December 7, 2015 at 2:06 AM

      I don’t agree with Diah and others, appreciating the answer as “Beautiful, practical and sincere answer”. I am a Hindu and always considered Islam as a tough religion, but with passage of time, I realized why Islam is so tough, particularly for male-female mixing. All religions have talked of complexity of this relation and advised for precautions, but it is only in Islam that strict measures are put into practice, like veil,not having even eye contact with Be-Haram persons etc . Thus, even after such strong measures, if the discussed relation is flourishing, the suffering lady should immediately rush to religious Ulamah . Otherwise, only pious advices to the suffering lady shows no difference between Islam and other religions.

  2. Avatar

    Abdelkareem

    April 17, 2014 at 8:15 PM

    Beautiful answer indeed.

  3. Avatar

    SarahJaved

    April 17, 2014 at 10:17 PM

    I believe this is very good advice, and I hope it helps this sister.

    • Avatar

      arif gulzar

      April 18, 2014 at 5:18 AM

      As your husband iz practicing muslim, the best option iz to have open conversation with him regarding the problem of starring and gazing, the apprehension u have
      It will not only make the air free, but also wll b caveat for your husband , not to fell prey , which he might be unaware off.
      u will b protecting hz deen as well as ur family, but try to discourse in conducive atmosphere, not in blame game..

  4. Avatar

    umabdullah

    April 18, 2014 at 1:01 PM

    I think a hallmark of a healthy relationship is open communication. I as a married woman of 10 years consider what you are going through to be concerning because it needs to be nipped in the bud now with wisdom and tact.
    I wonder whether your sister speaking to your brother might solve the issue-if they are close enough that such a convo could go down easily. Also you know your hub best so take or not take this advice accordingly. I would share my feelings using I statements n also give the example of smiling and glancing at brother in laws n how that may make him feel. Mixing definitely needs boundaries n I find that in these situations that even if one follows guidelines others dont always do. If you feel this convo with yur hub will backfire..(although I would argue that coming to common ground on how to handle this situation will simply cause the relationship to grow more.) a heart to heart with your bro might b in order. However having said all this don’t ignore your instincts. This is very much about putting eachother first. About care n consideration n about protective jealousy. What is happening is indeed inappropriate I myself went thru something somewhat similar n my husband realized he needed to give priority to my feelings while being polite to the female relative.

    • Avatar

      Haleh Banani

      April 23, 2014 at 12:10 AM

      Communication is the key! The best thing would be to address the husband if he was mature and approachable. The way the sister described her husband it sounded like he was not capable of hearing her out and being compassionate towards her feelings. Any good man would reassure his wife and make sure she feels comfortable. It’s hard to go through this especially when it’s a family member.
      .

  5. Avatar

    Umm ZAKAriyya

    April 19, 2014 at 10:38 AM

    Beautiful advice! MashaAllah.
    I hope it benefits the sister .

    I would like to suggest something that I do .lol. – Find out ways to melt his (husband) heart . Try being cute and loving and shed tears to tell how much you love him and how jealous you feel when there are women around him. Be playful and express in ‘words’ how possessive you are of him! (This is a great ego boost to the husband.) But do not EVER make him feel that you don’t trust him .

    Look out for such women.Trust the husband but not the shayateen.

  6. Avatar

    umabdullah

    April 19, 2014 at 5:21 PM

    I have experience regarding ayn/sihr issues and this caught my eye. You said “I am getting a lot of bad dreams about my husband and I separating”. This is not your subconscious messing with you alone as will most likely be told. This is a classic symptom of ayn/hasad/sihr. Unfortunately it is not something that is common knowledge among our communities in the west especially. My advice to fight off this possible ayn is to recite surah baqarah every 3 days and stick to your morning and evening adhkar. And lotssss of istighfar and adhkar and salam on prophet. Inshallah this should take away the dreams and their possible cause. My wild guess is you may have other symptoms like fatigue or irritability or random dizziness and extra waswas or others in addition to the dreams if you are indeed suffering from ayn but that you may not connect them altogether. Seek the means to protect yourself and put your trust in Allah.

    P.s you can blow the surah baqarah/fatiha/ayatulkursi/falaw/naas on water/zamzam and everyone in your family can drink from it. Another form of protection inshallah.

    • Avatar

      Jennine Nicole

      April 22, 2014 at 8:52 PM

      I’m not understanding why this comment has more dislikes than likes. Sihr is real. That’s why certain surat are identified as protections.

  7. Avatar

    Nadia

    April 20, 2014 at 10:41 AM

    Is it just me that thinks this is overreaction? Is it not normal to look at someone when you are talking to them? They aren’t alone together what’s the big deal?

    • Avatar

      Sherri

      April 22, 2014 at 8:34 AM

      I most definitely thought it was an over-reaction at first ..I even was beginning to wonder if the letter was made-up. Why would one woman spend so much energy and waste so much family time constantly looking another woman’s to make sure that that woman is not looking at her husband..Then I realized I was reading a Muslim advice column and I so respect every culture/religion sacred customs… It does sounds to me like the brother’s sister is insecure about herself..So whether it’s over-reaction to me, the advice MashaAllah is very good and beautiful indeed.

      • Avatar

        gunal

        April 22, 2014 at 8:58 AM

        Overreaction! Nevertheless, it is a reaction. Just like an allergic reaction an overreaction is uncontrollable. If one of your loved ones is suffering from an allergic reaction what will you do? Say; just get on with it and suffer silently? Would you not at least show some concern and ask if there is anything you could do to comfort them? This is what a responsible adult should do. This poor woman must already be beating herself up about her paronoa like thoughts and behaviour. She cannot control it. She cannot put those thoughts to rest by herself. People who contribute to her irrational behaviour are responsible for her wellbeing. Because they are the cause of her discomfort.

      • Avatar

        Haleh Banani

        April 22, 2014 at 11:33 PM

        As a therapist I have seen a large number of married couples experience infidelity. They tell me about how it starts quite innocently with a glance, a smile and a connection. This leads to a little flattering & flirting which makes all the feel good hormones gush like a waterfall. At this point it becomes harder and harder to decipher between what is and is not acceptable because it feels so good. When the person is not thinking clearly it becomes easier to break some rules and make exceptions. This pattern will very quickly turn into an affair which leads to either emotional or physical infidelity. I have had men in their 40s cry during the session saying that it’s an addiction and they simply can’t stop themselves. They wish that they had avoided this from the very beginning by simply lowering their gaze and not starting the relationship in the first place. In the 10 Rules for avoiding emotional infidelity by Gary Neuman he states how critical it is to avoid all those seemingly innocent acts in order to prevent any form of infidelity including: not talking about personal issues at work with the opposite sex and not sharing personal feelings to mention a few. The concern of this wife may seem trivial but keep in mind that most relationships start with a glance & a smile.

  8. Avatar

    aiyah

    April 20, 2014 at 11:08 AM

    i do not think this is overreaction. a woman knows when something isnt quite right. its like we have radar. it is easily distinguishable when you see an innocent glance between 2 people and it is also easily distinguishable when there is a lil more to it than just a salam. trust your gut sister. keep your eyes open but dont be a stalker….it is well know that when a man and woman are alone the third is shaytan. with that said be careful of suspicion. both men and women were ordered to lower their gaze, so to answer ur question nadia….yes initial eye contact at first but then both parties should lower their gaze. the writer is not concerned with just ur normal everyday interaction she is noticing something within the glances that are making her uneasy. the best advice i can give u sis…pray istakara….then decide if your sis will speak with ur hubby or if u will. if i need to talk to my hubby about something i feel might anger him…i ask him “do you mind if i talk freely (which i do anyway lol) without you getting upset”? this way he knows im not looking to quarrel and gives him time to brace himself lol. usually works. sis just be open, im sure he dont want to see u hurt or make you feel badly. if the glances continue and it seems as if ur bro wife is initiating this u might need to talk to ur bro. i usually dont advise this but to be honest if you notice so do others! may Allah ease your situation and gurard your marriage against the attacks of shaytan. May Allah grant you the ability to solve this manner in the least disruptive way. May Allah ease your worries and suspicion and grant you the best outcome in this situation. May your marriage and family be blessed and may you all be companions of jannah….ameen

    • Avatar

      Haleh Banani

      April 23, 2014 at 12:20 AM

      Approaching the brother may create problems in his marriage – I don’t advise that. The best solution is to talk with her husband if he is receptive or the sister-in-law. This way the two people involved can have a chance to self-correct without making it bigger than it needs to be.

  9. Avatar

    aiyah

    April 20, 2014 at 11:11 AM

    **May Allah grant you the ability to solve this matter in the least disruptive way. May Allah ease your worries and suspicion and grant you the best outcome in this situation. May your marriage and family be blessed and may you all be companions of jannah….ameen

  10. Avatar

    Salman

    April 20, 2014 at 4:18 PM

    This is such an amazing response mA. Speaking as a man, it is extremely important to maintain that spark and keep things fun/interesting. This paragraph from the response sums it up beautifully as the “bottom line” so to speak for men.

    “It’s critical to reflect on what is making you feel so insecure. If you are insecure about the quality of your relationship and/or your love for each other, it’s important to focus on improving your quality time together to help increase the love. It may be that your husband is craving more attention from you. Make more effort in making him feel attractive by giving him sincere compliments in addition to flirting with him in a way that will satisfy his ego and bring playfulness back into your marriage. If you are feeling insecure because you are not at your best, then I suggest setting attainable goals where you will be more happy and confident. I know how challenging it is to get into shape after having 3 kids, because I had to go through it myself. Our body image affects our confidence and sense of security. If you feel that you have let yourself go, focus on getting back into shape so that you will feel your best. As you increase your sense of security about yourself and your relationship, you will feel less threatened by others.”

  11. Avatar

    Amira

    April 21, 2014 at 12:47 AM

    I agree with Ms. Banani’s comments about working her putting more effort into strengthening her relationship with her husband. But I also feel like the husband should put just as much effort into the relationship as well. The wife should not be doing all the work. He should not be making her feel like she cannot trust him. And why would he give her the silent treatment for weeks when all she is trying to do is be honest with him by communicating openly? That is one of the worst things to do in a marriage: completely close off from your spouse and make them feel like it is his/her fault.

    Also, another commenter mentioned her talking to her brother. But I’m not sure if she should do that because perhaps he may get angry with his wife. Talking about one’s relationship with a spouse is not a good idea, even if it is with a close family member.

    • Avatar

      Haleh Banani

      April 23, 2014 at 12:03 AM

      There is a mutual responsibility for husbands and wives to honor their relationship and remain loyal in their marriage. Many people get tested by being attracted to others while married and it is up to them to control their desires and do the right thing which is avoiding doubtful matters. Each person knows in his heart when he is flirting inappropriately and that’s when he has to put on the brakes and stop anything further from happening. I addressed the wife in this answer because she is the one who wrote in and she is the one motivated to change. If the husband was reading this answer I would tell him to be cautious and not to jeopardize his relationship with his wife and brother over something like this. I would also tell him to be more approachable so his wife can communicate her concerns.

      • Avatar

        gunal

        April 23, 2014 at 8:09 AM

        Yes Haleh, I agree with everything you said except that you said (I am sorry I may look like knit-picking but I feel this is important);

        “Each person knows in his heart when he is flirting inappropriately..”

        Not necessarily we all realise when we are flirting. Wouldn’t we stop if we did?
        From religious point of view, I think the ‘seed of our ego boost’ gets nourished as soon as when we are wooed in some ways. This could be by way of just a glance or even innocent kind words from others. In my opinion, we have to uproot that seed of ego boost within us. And I think this is a very difficult thing to do. Because we like being looked at personally selected from a crowd of others, being smiled to (again selected amongst others), chosen…this leads us having the sense of admiration of our good qualities, sense of pride!

        As I said it is difficult to uproot this seed. I have done some observations on this and realised that you can achieve uprooting the seed of ego by asserting professionalism -by treating every aspect of my life professionally. Even marriage. Create professional boundaries. As the head of my family I am responsible in helping others around me. Others look(ing)-up to me is natural because in my own world I am the boss. This may be a naive sister in law. She may want my attention. However, I will need to treat her as a learner with no professional boundaries of her own. Be subtle, don’t expect professionalism back. Just one person being professional and treating each situation with set boundaries is most of the time enough to gradually get everyone realising their own responsibilities, and notice the existing boundaries. Just like a great teacher I must know how to deal with an attention seeker; Help them establish or notice their goals so that they can focus on them.

        • Avatar

          Haleh Banani

          April 23, 2014 at 10:32 AM

          You have made some very good points. I understand that not everyone has the same level of self-awareness or self-control and it isn’t easy to avoid something as gratifying as getting the attention and admiration of others. I like what you said about being professional in all interactions. It is enough to have just one person establish very solid boundaries. Thank you for your feedback and it is refreshing to read about a person who has their priorities straight!

  12. Avatar

    gunal

    April 21, 2014 at 8:00 PM

    When there is a smoke there is a fire! If your husband is such a practicing man he should obey the rule that ‘he MUST lower his gaze’. On top of returning the gaze if he is smiling, this behaviour suggests that he is flirting back, he is enjoying that.. If he feels he is allowed to do that then, I feel he has already sold his soul to seytan. Sorry sister. I am not a believer in love. A man doesn’t cheat on his wife because he thinks the other woman is more attractive or he stops loving his wife. It is useless advice to say to you that you should attempt to make yourself more beautiful/appealing to your husband. Your husband is married to you. And therefore as a proper Muslim, he must be committed to you, respect how you feel, and never cheat on you. My advice to you is; stop worrying for your husband’s afterlife/his obligatory commitment to you. Only worry for your own deen and your afterlife. Always pray to Allah that no matter what challenges come to your way you successfully learn your lessons in order to prepare you for a rewarding afterlife. If somebody causes me upset or pain I would pray that I would never be the cause of such pain to anybody. This is how I would learn. Reading about the needs of lowering your gaze in Quran is obviously not so effective. But now you know first hand how it feels. And why it is needed. You should consider yourself lucky. Imagine if you were the one ‘innocently’ enjoy gazing to your brother in law.

    • Avatar

      Haleh Banani

      April 23, 2014 at 10:23 AM

      Dear sister I know that you mean well and it’s good to want to be cautious, but it’s really critical to have wisdom and use diplomacy when dealing with issues regarding your life partner. I agree that he should lower his gaze, but to jump the gun and advise the sister to get out of the marriage is foolish. Nothing has occurred and even if a man does make a mistake there needs to be room for reconciliation and forgiveness. If each time a person assumes there is something going on with their husband they ended the marriage there will be very few marriages left. The attitude of compassion, understanding and tolerance are critical to keep the marriage strong. Also, there needs to be solid facts before taking any action. There is no evidence that anything is going on.

      • Avatar

        K Singh

        December 8, 2015 at 1:30 AM

        But how do you know the facts. Has it been so easy to know the facts in the complexities of male-female relations, the great Islam had not put in practice so may strong practices. So, I would request the author not to dilute the strong instructions of Islam and use Utopian advises as given in other stale languishing religions.

  13. Avatar

    nick ick

    April 22, 2014 at 8:13 AM

    talk to him about it.. if it still has a problem .. initiate divorce… a trash is a trash.. remember you can;’t change a person.. it’s life long.. so you decide.. I seen it in my parents and to me it wasn’t worth it.. I rather have them go separate ways then live in sadness and lies..

  14. Avatar

    Zaid Shakil

    April 22, 2014 at 9:54 AM

    All praise is due to Allah

    I would like to add that its better if male and female sit in separation. As the brother’s wife is a non-mahram to this sister’s husband. Its natural that when all people sit together gaze can happen and it can lead to the ways of shaitan. Why not avoid this in the first place by sitting and talking in separation, the law that actually Islam imposes.

    Jazak’Allahu Khairan

    • Avatar

      Haleh Banani

      April 23, 2014 at 10:39 AM

      It is easier to prevent it all together, but there are circumstances that cant’ be avoided and it’s important to have some guidelines to follow. Even if others don’t follow the same principles it’s critical to maintain boundaries.

  15. Avatar

    little ole me

    April 22, 2014 at 10:31 AM

    In marriage one has promised to forsake all others. Love is not just mere strong feelings of affection but the putting the needs of the other person before yourself. It seems to me that the blame is being shifted to the wife, for the way she looks or overreacting, yet I see nothing about the inappropriate way the husband is responding ,it is not just the wife who is responsible for keeping the marriage strong, that he responds in a favorable manner to these subtle advances shows that he has a lack of respect for his wife and himself a problem that HE has to fix. A married individual has no business flirting with anyone else. Marriage is not a game, it is a lifelong commitment of mutual love and respect a powerful emotional bond that breaks people when it is broken or damaged. The wife should first talk to her husband frankly about her concerns. Not accusing him, just revealing her fears and concerns) . He should then do everything in his power to correct the problem easing his wife’s concerns and preventing a possible negative scenario for himself. He should take action to limit his conversations with this woman and he should certainly not be anywhere alone with her, his actions and body language should show the other woman that he is not available and he is not an option because he is a married man. After all he willingly made the marriage vow and he must live up to it. In order to be trusted you must first be a trustworthy individual. Yet how can you be that if you are toying and rousing up the desires and feelings of someone other then your spouse (which is really what flirting is) You can’t toy with your spouse’s feelings by promoting jealousy and expect there to be trust? But if his own wife can’t even speak to him without him having a weeks long tantrum, how can anything be done? Unfortunately, no matter how much you may want to keep him, no matter even what you do to keep him ultimately if he doesn’t have enough love and respect for his wife and his marriage and there’s no way you can make him see that he is going down a wrong path then there is nothing one can do . Perhaps you would be better off without someone so selfish . Without commitment there is no marriage anyway.

    • Avatar

      Haleh Banani

      April 23, 2014 at 11:11 AM

      Your perspective about marriage is correct. The intention was not to blame the wife, but to help her to understand her insecurity about the marriage. As I mentioned earlier, it was the wife who wrote in not the husband so I addressed her needs. Obviously the man is responsible to honor his wife and keep his commitment in his marriage. remain calm, get all the facts, use logic & diplomacy before There is no excuse for flirting with others when you are married – it’s unacceptable. However, it’s critical to get all the facts before deciding to leave your spouse. People do get weak from time to time and we need to learn to work through the problems rather than just end the marriage.

  16. Avatar

    Sanah

    April 22, 2014 at 11:32 AM

    I think you should tell your brother to talk to his wife if the situation escalates too much. He should know.

    • Avatar

      umabdullah

      April 22, 2014 at 5:02 PM

      There is brother’s wife one day. Another day it could be the neighbor’s wife. Who will speak to the neighbor? This goes back to husband and wife relationship. This isn’t about her fixing herself up. That is a complete side issue. This isn’t about her feeling insecure. Even if a wife knows her husb loves her looks and a wife notices this type of behavior .. there is going to be hurt involved. A real marriage that is passionate is passionate due to openness and growth and love and connection.

  17. Avatar

    HALIMA

    April 22, 2014 at 12:30 PM

    This is a pretty difficult circumstance. Considering she must not cut ties with her brother. The wife has reason to worry, but she shouldn’t let it overwhelm her. She has to place some trust in her husband that he won’t let things escalate. He should practice lowering his gaze, and respect his wife and the other woman as well. That’s why we’re always advised to lower the gaze. It’s just a door that can lead to many other issues…

  18. Avatar

    K Mirkami

    April 22, 2014 at 2:21 PM

    It sounds as though this woman is severely deficient in self esteem. There is nothing more unattractive than a desperate, needy woman.

  19. Avatar

    Saria

    April 23, 2014 at 12:13 AM

    You say you are “happily married.” Are you, really? If so, don’t worry about the glancing/staring/flirting. She is your brother’s wife. You do not wish to ruin the relationships between other members of your family. If you truly are “happily married” then you should not need to worry. Doesn’t your husband leave you to go to work or visit others? There has to be a sense of trust. Trust that he is faithful even when he encounters attractive women where ever he meets them. I sense that you are not “happily married.” Seek help and advice to rekindle that love and devotion you had in the past.

    • Avatar

      Ruby

      October 29, 2016 at 7:43 AM

      Its disrespectful when its in your family a man should understand that…

  20. Avatar

    Ruby

    October 29, 2016 at 7:48 AM

    Best if she explains to her brother to keep an eye open nx time

  21. Avatar

    Richard Adam

    December 22, 2018 at 6:23 PM

    “When we gather, we try as much as possible to sit separately. However, sometimes it happens where we are all sitting in the same room, either eating or in the living room. I try to prevent it as much as possible, but for some reason it happens beyond my control, especially if we are at my brother’s house”. I have tried to maintain an open mind towards Islam and judge people by their individual actions. Rather than form opinions based upon generalizations of large groups. Though I must admit this seems extremely backwards and counterintuitive to women’s rights for equal treatment. Why would familiy try as much as possible to sit separately? Why would family not all sit in same room? The underlying premise of such arcane concepts suggests men are incompatible of behaving in an appropriate because of sexual lust.

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How To Be Positive In Hard Times

Amina Malik, Guest Contributor

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How to be Positive

We all know that we should be grateful. And we definitely know that we should be certain that whatever happens is good for us as believers. However, when we are tested -as we inevitably are-, many of us crumble. Why is that? Why are we not able to ‘pass’ these tests, so to speak? Many of us after a tragedy become hapless, sad, depressed, angry, or bitter.

The essence lies in knowledge that is beneficial, and the best form of knowledge is that which an individual can apply to their day-to-day life on their own. Here are a few tips to increase your patience in hard times. Like building muscle at the gym, it takes time to exercise this habit, but becomes easier over time:

Manage Stress:

Unfortunately, stressful events are abundant in our lives. People under stress can find themselves falling into thinking errors. These thinking errors include -but are not limited to-: black and white thinking, mind-reading, self-criticism, negative filtering and catastrophizing. Together this can affect how we perceive reality. Next time you are tempted to make a catastrophe out of a situation, stop and ask your self two questions:

  • Is this really a big deal in the larger scheme of things?
  • Are there any positives in this situation?

Have a Realistic Perspective of Qadr:

Although it is part of our creed to believe in divine destiny, personal responsibility is still of importance and we cannot simply resign ourselves to fate; especially if we have some sort of influence over a situation.

Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) says in the Quran:

لَهُ مُعَقِّبَاتٌ مِّن بَيْنِ يَدَيْهِ وَمِنْ خَلْفِهِ يَحْفَظُونَهُ مِنْ أَمْرِ اللَّهِ ۗ إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَا يُغَيِّرُ مَا بِقَوْمٍ حَتَّىٰ يُغَيِّرُوا مَا بِأَنفُسِهِمْ ۗ وَإِذَا أَرَادَ اللَّهُ بِقَوْمٍ سُوءًا فَلَا مَرَدَّ لَهُ ۚ وَمَا لَهُم مِّن دُونِهِ مِن وَالٍ 

For each one are successive [angels] before and behind him who protect him by the decree of Allah. Indeed, Allah will not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves. And when Allah intends for a people ill, there is no repelling it. And there is not for them besides Him any patron. [Surah Ar-Ra’d;11]

This puts the responsibility on us to change ourselves. Notice the word, themselves. We are not responsible for events beyond our control. These events include the behavior of our spouses, the affinity of our children to the religion, the love in the hearts of people, the weather, the gender of our child (or how many we have), or even the amount of money we will earn in a lifetime -to name a few. Often we become stuck and focus on our conditions, rather than focusing on our own behavior.

Nourish Positive Thinking:

How to Be PositiveIn order to be able to have a wise and calculated response to life’s events, we must learn to interpret these events in a way that assign positive meaning to all. Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) is after all, how we perceive Him to be. Shaytan interferes with this process through waswaas (interjecting thoughts that are based on negativity and falsehood). His goal is for the Muslim to despair in Allah’s subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) mercy. The goal is not to be happy all the time; this is unrealistic. The goal is to think well of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) as consistently as possible.

  • Create a list of what you are grateful to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) for daily.
  • Remind yourself everyday of the positive aspects of situations when your mind falls to default negative thinking. Self-criticism will will only encourage you to take full responsibility for negative life events and become depressed, or at the opposite end take no responsibility whatsoever; either mind-set does not help us improve our self.

Remind yourself as well as others of the benefits of Positivity:

  •  On an individual level, once we begin to think positive about ourselves and our life, we become optimistic. This positivity will then also effect our perception of others. We become more forgiving, over-looking, and patient with others when we can see the positives in any situation.
  • Increased rizk and feelings of well-being
  • Reduced likelihood of reacting in a negative way to life’s events; increased patience.
  • Increased likelihood of finding good opportunities in work, relationships and lifestyle.
  • Higher energy levels and motivation to take on acts of khayr and benefit.

10 Steps to Happiness!

Practice self-care as a daily routine:

Our bodies have rights on us. Our souls have rights on us. Our family has rights on us. Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) has rights on us. Often, when there is an imbalance in one area, our whole being can sense it. This creates anger and resentment towards those around us and life in general.

  • Take care of your body, feed it well and in moderation and exercise in a way that makes you feel relaxed.
  • Pray your prayers, read the Quran, maintain the rights Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) and your own soul have on you.
  • Take care of your tongue by avoiding back-biting and complaining.
  • Take regular showers, comb your hair, brush your teeth, and wear clean clothes; even if you are at home.
  • Take care of your mind by doing dhikr as much as possible and letting go consciously of ruminating on situations.

A Powerful Dua for Happiness

Do not over-rely on your emotions:

Our emotions are a product of our thoughts. Our thoughts can be affected by slight changes in the environment such as the weather, or even whether or not we have eaten or slept well.

 

كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ الْقِتَالُ وَهُوَ كُرْهٌ لَّكُمْ ۖ وَعَسَىٰ أَن تَكْرَهُوا شَيْئًا وَهُوَ خَيْرٌ لَّكُمْ ۖ وَعَسَىٰ أَن تُحِبُّوا شَيْئًا وَهُوَ شَرٌّ لَّكُمْ ۗ وَاللَّهُ يَعْلَمُ وَأَنتُمْ لَا تَعْلَمُونَ 

“And it may be that you dislike a thing which is good for you and that you like a thing which is bad for you. Allah knows but you do not know.” [Surah Al-Baqarah;216]

How To be PositiveUltimately, our perception can be manipulated by our thoughts, shaytan, and other factors. Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) is not limited in His perceptions due to stress, emotions, or circumstances and moods. Therefore, we should be humble to defer our judgements to Allah’s subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) ever-lasting judgement. Far from naval gazing, the more we are aware of our internal perceptions, emotions, and motives, the more able we are to practice Islam in its full essence. Our forefathers understood this deeply, and would regularly engage in self-assessment which gives you a sense of understanding and control of your own thoughts, emotions and actions.

The Art of Overcoming Negativity

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Mindful or Mind-full? Going From AutoPilot to Aware

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Mindful

Modeling Mindfulness

Mindfull

“Remember that God knows what is in your souls, so be mindful of Him.”

[Sūrat al-Baqarah 2:235]

Mindful or Mind-full?

Ever felt frustrated when you were trying to talk to your spouse, your children, your students, or your youth group and they would just not pay attention? This is a prime example of being on autopilot and getting carried away without actually being aware of what is most important in the present moment.

A recent Harvard study shows that our minds are not present in the moment and wander about 47% of the time1. In a world of technology and continuous sensory overload, the lines between work and home, friends and family, necessity vs. purpose, world-centric vs. Allah-centric have become blurred. We are either living in the past or ruminating about the future, and in the process, we are forgetting to live, enjoy, cherish, and make the most of our present moments.

For parents, teachers, youth leaders, and anyone in the beautiful role of guiding, teaching, coaching, or mentoring others, we can make a huge difference by modeling Mindfulness ourselves. But where do we start? The answer is to go from autopilot to becoming aware.

Autopilot to Aware

Being on autopilot is when you are distracted in the present moment, where your mind is wandering into the past or the future, and you are less aware of yourself, surroundings, or others. Autopilot can actually be pretty helpful for your regular habits. Waking up, brushing your teeth, getting ready for your day, going to school or work – many of the things we do habitually every day can be done more seamlessly without having to think, and that is a good thing. But there are times when you have to learn to turn off your autopilot to become aware. But how?

Here is a Mindfulness tool that can be done in just a minute or two for you to become more aware.

Step 1: Breath as a Tool. Say Bismillah. Focus on your breath. See where you experience the breath – the breathing in and breathing out of your body. Is your breath stemming from your nostrils, your chest, or your stomach? Just bring your attention to your breath and relax and stay with it there for a few moments.

Step 2: Body as a Tool. Relax your body. We carry so many emotions in our bodies2. Our stress from the past or anticipation for the future sometimes finds its way into our necks, other times in our chest muscles or our backs. Pay attention to what emotions and sensations do you feel, and try to relax all parts of your body.

Step 3: Intention as a Tool. As you have centered your thoughts to the present moment through your breath and your body, ask yourself: “What is most important now? In this present moment?”

Just simply being aware makes us more mindful parents, teachers, youth and professionals – being aware makes us more Mindful of Allah SWT. Mindfulness is the ability to be aware of your mind and body and bring your attention to the present moment.

Mindful

Real Life in the Present Moment

You are an on-the-go parent: It has been a long day and you have to pick up the kids from school, but work is still pending. You’re picking up the kids from school, feeding them, and then shuffling everyone to their afterschool activities, be it Qur’an, softball, soccer, swimming, or the million other things that kids seem to have these days. You squeeze pending work in between drop-offs and pick-ups, and you function by living from one task to the next.

The Autopilot Impact: You’re getting a lot done, but are so engrossed in quickly moving your children along from one thing to another that you are unable to really cherish your time together.

The Mindfulness Suggestion: You can try to go from autopilot to awareness by focusing on your breath, paying attention to your emotions, and relaxing your body. As you do so, ask yourself: “What is most important now?” Make the intention to slow down, listen to the children more mindfully, and cherish and enjoy your time together.

You are a busy teacher: Last night you had to take all the grading home and spent two hours poring over students’ work. This morning, you woke up early to pick up some classroom supplies after dropping off your own kids to school. You’ve already had two cups of coffee and are trying to think through everything you have to do today. You like the idea of Mindfulness, living life in the present moment, and enjoying every day to its fullest, but your mind is not free to even enjoy the beautiful morning sunrise as you drive to school.

The Autopilot Impact: You want to listen and pay attention to every child’s needs, and enjoy the rewards of their growth, but you can’t. What’s more, you judge yourself for just trying to get through your activities for the day. You wish you could connect with your students better.

The Mindfulness Suggestion: Whenever you are stressed with an unpleasant parent or student interaction, think about breathing, relaxing your body, and asking what you need to focus on now. Try to do one thing at a time, and relax into what you’re doing.

You are an overstretched youth director: You are a role model. You have this major weekend event you are planning with the youth. Your budget is still pending from the board, you have to call all these people, have to get the graphics and remind everyone about the event, you have to visit all these masjids and MSAs to announce and remind people about the weekend.

This weekend’s theme is Living a Life of Purpose and you are super passionate about it. However, the whole week you have had a hard time remembering to even pray one Salah with focus. Instead, your mind has been preoccupied with all the endless planning for this weekend. You love what you do but you wonder how to also be mindful in your everyday worship while you are always prepping and planning engaging activities for the youth.

The Autopilot Impact: You enjoy shaping the youth but you are losing steam. You are always planning the next program and unable to focus on your own personal and spiritual development. It is difficult for you to pray even one salah without thinking about all the events and activities planned for that week.

The Mindfulness Suggestion: Get serious about taking some time for yourself. Know that becoming more mindful about your own prayers and self-development will also make you a better role model. Take a minute or two before every Salah to practice the simple, 3-Step Mindfulness Tool. You say Bismillah and breathe, focus your mind, and then relax your body. Empty your mind from everything else – what has past and what’s to come – and ask “What’s most important now?” to develop better focus in your Salah.

In Conclusion: Practice Simple but Solid Steps towards becoming more Mindful Muslims

Mindfulness is to open a window to let the Divine light in.

[Imam Al Ghazali]

Mindfulness gives us the ability to be aware. We can use Mindfulness tools to remember Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), refocus, renew our intentions, and engage with the present moment in a more effective and enjoyable way. Mindfulness also invites awareness of our potential negligence in being our best selves with both Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) and His creation. To put it simply, being more aware of our selves can help us be better versions of our selves.

Mindfulness is both an art and a science, with brain and behavioral science research validating the importance of Mindfulness in improving our health, managing our stress, navigating our emotions, and positively impacting our lives3. In today’s modern and distracted world, let us treasure every tool that helps us center our attention on what matters the most.

  1. Bradt, Steve (2010). Wandering mind not a happy mind. Harvard Gazette. https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2010/11/wandering-mind-not-a-happy-mind/
  2. Lauri Nummenmaa, Enrico Glerean, Riitta Hari, Jari K. Hietanen (2013). Bodily maps of emotions. National Academy of Sciences. https://www.pnas.org/content/early/2013/12/26/1321664111
  3. “What are the benefits of mindfulness,” American Psychological Association: http://www.apa.org/monitor/2012/07-08/ce-corner.aspx

To learn more about how to become mindful take the Define Course on Mindfulness and Emotional Intelligence.

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Fall Apart: Be Weak to Find Strength in Allah

Hiba Masood

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Growing up in Jeddah, every evening in Ramadan, we would pile into our car and whiz off to the mosque for Taraweeh prayers to Shoaibi Mosque and spend a few spell-bound hours under the reassuring baritones of Sheikh Abdullah Basfar. His beautiful voice became the anthem of my childhood in many ways but more than his voice, it was the building of tradition and memory that became ingrained in my system. By doing the same thing, day in, day out, year in, year out, my parents gave us a sense of stability and predictability that set the tone for our entire adolescence.

How that rhythm seeped into the very bones of who I am is something I am still discovering well into adulthood.

Last night, standing in my grandmother’s garden in Karachi, I experienced my first Taraweeh Khatam-e-Quran since leaving my parents home in Jeddah so many years ago. It is also, incidentally, my first Ramadan without both my parents, who last year seemingly decided they would much rather be together in Jannah than spend more time in this rubbish world and in quick succession, returned to their Maker, leaving me understandably grieving, awash in memories, struggling to steer my ship.

And so it was, that by the time the imam reached Surah Qadr, I was chokey. By Surah Kawthar, I had tears streaming down my face. And by the time the last three surahs, the comforting Quls, began, I was openly sobbing. Probably more openly than what is considered socially appropriate…but honestly, I was restraining myself. Because what I actually felt like doing was throwing my head back and howling up at the sky. Thankfully, I was flanked by women who knew, who understood, who with tears in their own eyes, let me be with my heaving shoulders and a chest that felt it would crack open under the weight of my emotions.

As the imam had recited surah after surah and the end of the Quran had approached, the ghosts of Ramadan Past had flooded into me and my body had remembered. It had remembered years and years of experiencing that same excitement, that same sense of weight as Sheikh Abdullah Basfar gently and methodically guided us over the course of the month through the Book of all books, that same uplifting, heartbreaking, momentous trepidation of offering something up to Him with the hope that He would bestow something shining in return.

Had this Book been revealed to a mountain, the mountain would have crumbled. You get a tiny glimpse of that weight when you complete a khatam. Here I am, Allah, here I am, in my little hole-y dinghy, with my itty bitty crumbs of ibaadah. Pliss to accept?

Back in Jeddah, after the khatam, we would pile back in the car and go for ice cream. Last night in Karachi, after the khatam, the Imam gave a short talk and in it he mentioned how we are encouraged to cry when conversing with Allah. We should beg and plead and insist and argue and tantrum with Him because He loves to be asked again and again. We live in a world of appropriateness, political correctness, carefully curated social media feeds and the necessity of putting our best, most polished face forwards at all times. How freeing then, that when we turn to our Lord, we are specifically instructed to abandon our sense of control. All the facades and the curtains are encouraged to be dropped away and we stand stripped to our souls in front of Him. In other words, He loves it when we fall apart. Which is exactly what I had just done. 

Last night, I found myself wondering what exactly had I cried so hard over. Which tears were for Him and the desperate desire for His mercy? Which were for the loveliness of the Quran, the steadying rhythm of it, not just verse to verse but also, cover to cover? Which tears were for the already achey yearning of yet another Ramadan gone past? Which were for my breaking heart that has to soon face my first Eid day and all the days of my life without my beloved Mumma and Baba? Which tears were of gratitude that I get to stand on an odd night of the best time of the year, alongside some of my dearest people, in the courtyard of a house full of childhood memories, under the vast, inky, starry sky and standing there, I get to fall apart, freely, wholly, soul-satisfyingly?

And which tears were of a searingly humbling recognition, that I am so wildly privileged to have this faith of mine – the faith that promises if we navigate the choppy dunya waters right, we will be reunited with our loved ones in a beautiful, eternal place, that if we purposely, and repeatedly crumble under the weight of our belief in Him and His plans, our future is bright?

Today, I’m convinced that it doesn’t matter why I cried. Because here is what I do know:

1. “If Allah knows good in your hearts, He will give you better than what was taken from you…” (8:70)


2. “If Allah intends good for someone, then he afflicts him with trials.” Prophet Muhammad

3. “Wondrous is the affair of the believer for there is good for him in every matter and this is not the case with anyone except the believer. If he is happy, then he thanks Allah and thus there is good for him. If he is harmed, then he shows patience and thus there is good for him.” Prophet Muhammad

In losing my parents, I have drawn closer to Allah. And though I miss them dizzyingly, I am so thankful that through the childhood they gave me, through the anchoring to the Quran they gifted me with, through their own tears that I witnessed during those long-ago khatams in the Shoaibi Mosque in Jeddah, they left me with the knowledge that if in losing them, I have gained even an atom’s worth more of His pleasure, then that’s a pretty great bargain.

 

As a parent of three young ones myself, I’ve spent my days teaching my children: be strong, be strong, be strong. Stand tall, stay firm, be sturdy in the face of the distracting, crashing waves of the world. But now I know something just as important to teach them: be weak, be weak, be weak.

Crumble in front of Him, fall apart, break open so that His Light may enter and be the only thing to fill you. It’s not easy but it will be essential for your survival in the face of any loss, grief, trial and despair this world throws your way. It will help you, finger to tongue, always know which way the wind is blowing and which way to steer your ship. Straight in to the sun, always. To Jannah. Because how wondrous are the affairs of us Muslims that when it comes to our sorrows and our hopes, out there on the horizon of Allah’s wise plans, it all shimmers as one – The grief of what is, the memory of what was and brighter than both, the glittering, iridescent promise of what will be.

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