Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Orchards of Love by Dr Reda Bedeir

You know, I've always wanted to know what marriage in reality is like. At one point of time, marriage is kind of scary for me. I mean, you are going to leave with a complete stranger for the rest of your life. What if he leaves me? What if he's not the right guy and I got figured it out too late? What if he doesn't understand me? What if he can't stand me? What if he actually doesn't love me? What if marriage is actually a burdensome thing? I know some who are having problematic marriages. It's scary.

Then again, I also thought that I can't possibly live alone until the end of my days. As a human being, I do need love and I do want to give love. It's also a romantic thing to be able to grow together, to overcome trials together, to share happiness, to know each other's weaknesses and are still able to love one another, to be accepted completely; and to have someone to grow old with.

But above all, marriage is a sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad saw. When you get married, you complete half of what the religion(Islam) requires.

Alhamdulillah, ALLAH has given me answers. HE has given me the opportunity to attend this programme -Orchards of Love; during the 3rd and 4th December 2011. And boy how I enjoyed the programme! I've learned LOADS from Dr Reda Bedeir and the couples who had been generous enough to share their experience. And now, I'm going to share it with you.

                                                           Dr Reda Bedeir

Day 1

Session 1: Gender Relations

Dr Reda had explained that we need to be moderate when we are communicating with the opposite gender; that is not to the extreme where we do not communicate at all or we communicate without any limit. But how? Below are some tips that we can apply:
1) Hijab and the covering of aurah (Al-Ahzab:59)
The prohibition of wearing fitting clothes doesn't apply to women only, but it also applies to men. Men must
not wear fitting shirts such that their muscles can be seen
2) Lower your gaze (An-Nur:31)
3) No seductive or soft voices (Al-Ahzab:32)
4) No khalwah (being alone with the opposite gender)
5) No perfume or makeup
6) Separate seatings
7) No hand shaking
8) When talking, be brief and straight to the point

Examples from the Prophet's companion:
Ummu Salamah r.a. was accompanied by Osman bin Talhah from Makkah to Madinah. Osman had given Ummu Salamah his camel while he walked. When they rest, Osman would leave Ummu Salamah alone while he walks away to where he couldn't see her. When the rest time is up, he would come back again and they would continue the journey in a similar fashion. Not one word was spoken between them during the journey nor did Osman look at Ummu Salamah. You can read the story here. Although, it's in Malay; sorry :(

Session 2: Islam and Marriage

First off, there's no celibacy in Islam. Prophet Muhammad saw had said that marriage is his way. Marriage too is the only legal relationship between a man and a woman and it saves us from becoming a slave to our own desires. It is a human need to have company, to give love and to receive love.

Why do we need to marry?
1) "And those who pray, 'Our Lord! Grant unto us wives and offspring who will be the comfort of our eyes, and give us (the grace) to lead the righteous.' " (Al-Furqan:74)
2)"And among His Signs is this, that He created for you mates from among yourselves, that ye may dwell in tranquillity with them, and He has put love and mercy between your (hearts): verily in that are Signs for those who reflect." (Ar-Rum:21)
3) To attain mawaddah (the highest level of love and hope) and rahmah (blessings from ALLAH)
4) "Marry those among you who are single, or the virtuous ones among yourselves, male or female: if they are in poverty, Allah will give them means out of His grace: for Allah encompasseth all, and he knoweth all things." (An-Nur:32)

Secondly, Dr Reda Bedeir discussed about when does a person is ready to get married. He quoted to  us this hadith:
"Oh young men! Whoever has the means to marry, let him marry because it will help him to lower his gaze and help him to keep his chastity. If he can't, let him fast." (Bukhari and Muslim)
The means here refer in terms of physically, emotionally, mentally and financially. You've got to know yourself. In terms of financially, you've got to have a place to live, a place where only the husband and wife lives and NOT with the in laws. It doesn't matter whether you rent the house or buy it, but the most important thing is, only you and your spouse lives there. Also, you only need sufficient money that can buy necessary things, NOT an abundance of it. This is beause ALLAH has promised that he will help those who wants to get married:   
Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) reports the Prophet (pbuh) to have said, "There are three people whom Allah will surely help: a warrior in the cause of Allah, a slave who wants to free himself by a payable contract and whoever seeks chastity by marriage." 
(Narrated by At- Tirmidhi)

Dr Reda had also highlighted what a wife expects from her husband and vice versa. A wife expects attention, affection, appreciation and a bonus: acceptance.

A husband on the other hand expects to be the one who is firstly responsible of the marriage and household. It does NOT mean dictatorship. This is actually in line with the fitrah(natural tendency) of men:
"Men are the protectors and maintainers of women, because Allah has given the one more (strength) than the other, and because they support them from their means..." (An-Nisa': 34)

Session 3: Engagement

First and foremost, do utterly know that you are seeking a spouse as an eternal companion. Therefore, you need to choose carefully.
"Choose carefully for your children, marry the suitable and give in marriage to them" (Ibnu Majah)

Qualities in a potential spouse (applies to both husband and wife):
1) Character: kindness, mercy, sense of humor, generosity, humility, understanding
2) Compatibility: chemistry, intellect, social class(it does NOT mean that you cannot marry someone in a different social class, it's just that marriage in the same class has a higher successful rate than those who aren't)
3) Means to provide
4) Appearance: before deciding to marry, the man should see the woman in the presence of her wali
5) Fertility
6) Piety

How can I get Mr/Mrs Right?
1) Don't judge a book by its cover
2) A man will not respect a woman who doesn't respect herself
3) A woman will not be impressed by a man's ego
Reminder: When getting to know your potential spouse, you CANNOT insert in emotional talk like saying I love you and the likes.

Actually, Dr Reda has also listed questions that you should ask a possible spouse but it's in 3 and a half pages long! If you are interested to know, I can scan and email it to you. My email is miszgranger@yahoo.com. Please don't hesitate to email me if you really want to know :)

Session 4: Marriage - Islam vs Culture

During this session, Dr Reda had invited two couples to share their marriage experience.

First couple:
The husband is from India and the wife is from Turkey. They have a cute child! Basically, they had told us about how they have gotten to know each other, how they had made sure that they were compatible with one another and how they have finally decided to get married despite vast cultural differences. Oh, I have to say this, according to the husband, the wife, who I would like again to remind you is a Turkish, cooks better briyani (which is an Indian cuisine) than the husband can.

Second couple:
They are a Malaysian couple, married for more than 20 years. They told us how they had gotten to know each other, how they had communicated honestly to each other so that they can see whether they are compatible or not and finally got married. They had also shared with us one of their fights and how they had overcome it. I was utterly grateful for that, actually. The man said that he didn't understand that her wife actually wants him to spend more time with her. He realized that the problem was that his involvement in da'wah programmes is as though like he's still a bachelor. So, he reduced the time organizing da'wah programmes and started to spend more time with his wife. He said that their love became stronger after that.
Dr Reda than intervene saying that COMMUNICATION is crucial. It is where both the spouse needs to say what is bugging them in a mature way.

Day 2

Session 1: Marriage Contract

A marriage contract is where you feel joy and attain mawaddah. There is no force marriage in Islam. In fact, it is haram. A marriage is also null and void when the woman marries without the permission of her wali. And after marrying, the walimah organized must be done with the intention to express gratitude to ALLAH. Extravagance is not permitted.

Duties of a husband:
1) Present mahar(dowry) - "Blessed is a woman whose engagement and dowry are made easy" (Reported by Ahmad and Al Nisa i)
2) Provide accommodation
3) Good treatment and avoiding harm - "The best of you is he who is the best to his family, and I am the best to my family" (Reported by Ibnu Hibban)
4) Lie - in terms of EMOTIONS only
    For example, even if your wife cooking is bad, NEVER EVER say that your mum's cooking is better
5) Patience - "The strong man is not the one who can overpower others (in wrestling), rather the strong man is the one who controls himself when he gets angry" (Reported by Ahmad)
6) Romance - Give presents. It's not the money but the thought that counts.
7) Love and mercy - Show affection

Duties of a wife:
1) Obedience
2) Prepare for your husband both emotionally and physically

Shared duties:
1) Choosing the name of children
2) Aqiqah
3) Love and affection
4) Discipline and education
5) Become bestfriends

Remember, a husband can only claim his right after he performs his duties; same goes to the wife. Also, everything must be in MODERATION!

Man and woman COMPLETE each other. They do not COMPETE with one another. (Quoted by one of the participants of the programme)

Session 2 and Session 3: Dealing with Marital Problems

Factors that may lead to disagreement are:
1) Money - In order to avoid, spouses should agree upon this (division of money and etc) before getting married
2) In laws - NEVER discuss your marital problems with your in laws. Go to an imam instead.
3) Parenting - Discuss during the engagement period on how do you plan to raise your children
4) Stress
5) Domestic violence
6) Inter-faith and inter-cultural marriage

Here lies the important role of communication:
1) Do approach discussions as a team effort to find solutions
2) Do listen to your spouse's concerns and offer to help
3) Do acknowledge your spouse's feelings
4) Do take time out if you feel emotionally charged
5) Don't use guilt to get your way
6) Don't dismiss your spouse's feelings
7) Don't give your partner the silent treatment
8) Don't criticise your spouse, rather criticise the action/behaviour  

Both spouses too need to understand men and women psychology in order to understand each other more:
Men tend to be direct. There are no interpretations behind their words. It's just as it is. They tend to the physical and visual side. Men also look at the bigger picture. If they want advise, they will ask directly. Also, men's first desire is women. Women on the other hand tend to be indirect; they expect men to read between the lines. Opposite to men, women tend to the emotion and audio side. Also, they look at the specifics.

Women is very patient in taking care of children, men do not. Women would cry and when she says that she doesn't know why she's crying, the husband needs to leave the wife alone. When she is okay, everything will become normal. A woman however, needs to be listen to when she talks; she needs empathy. It's also easy for a woman to forgive, but hard to forget.  On the other hand, a wife should appreciate that her husband is working long hours. Women also need to understand that when her husband is stressed out, he needs to be left alone. Also, men like to prove themselves.

Session 4: Success or Divorce?

When both parties are suffering and a solution couldn't be found despite discussions and many efforts, they can take divorce as a way out. 
Divorce is the hated halal. It is NOT a joking matter. You can't joke to your wife then you are going to divorce her because it counts as one. And remember this, 3 strikes and you are out! 

During this session, Dr Reda had brought in two women who's a divorcee and they had shared their story.

Divorcee 1
The reason that she and her husband divorced was because of a failure to communicate. Without discussing, her husband had told their marriage problems to the in laws. Then when she tried to fix it, she got overboard. She also had told us that Islam in UIA is in its context but in reality outside, it's in the cultural text. She's saying that Islam outside of the campus is still misunderstood by Muslims themselves. She advised us too:
1) Find a balance between brain and heart
2) Don't beat around the bush.
3) Don't push back, push forward instead
4) It's okay to wind up a bit. She told that her ex husband didn't appreciate it when she kept piling things up and continued to be patient.

Divorcee 2
She and her husband divorced because she found that if she proceeds with her marriage, she will lose herself, her value. She said that between her husband and ALLAH, she had chosen ALLAH and thus is also the reason why she separated. She advised us too:
1) Be truthful when you are in engagement, be clear of what you want
2) Communication is highly important
She had also said that she didn't regard her divorce as a failure. Because with this divorce, she became closer to ALLAH.

I guess that's it. There's a session 5 actually. But I didn't really listen in because it was about polygamy, huhu. It's not that I don't agree with it; its just that I'm afraid that I will write down the points bias-ly or even emotionally, huhu.

I hope that all of you benefit something from this post. I hope that all of us will have (is having) a marriage that is filled with mawaddah and rahmah. Ameen..

I would like to end this post with a quote from Dr Reda:
Love is blind and marriage is the eye opener.

Ponder upon this quote deeply. For if you can understand it, you'll know that the love that you experience in marriage is an understatement