In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful
Assalamu alaykum Waragmatullahi Wabarakatu,
Respected A-Immah, Elders, Mothers, brothers and sisters in Islam.
Shukran for the opportunity to address thisjamaa` during the sacred hour of Jumu’ah. As a student in Islam, and a member of theSouth African faith and family institute`s theological advisory board againstgender based violence, it gives me an opportunity to learn from the scripturesof the Jewish community, Christian faith and African traditions wrt, findingand researching scriptural answers to gender based violence. GBV is on theincrease in South Africa and globally, irrespective of the annual campaignslike the 16 days of Activism of no violence against women and children.
In my experience participating, and serving on this advisory board, comes with its challenges too, when we are faced with questions wrt intimate partner abuse within the Muslim community. The questions that comes from the floor does not display confidence in our Ulamah on having the solution to spousal abuse.
The big concern is, do our places of worship or judicial bodies, offer to be sanctuaries of hope and healing?
From my experience, through councilling and educating women and men, via radio or in our Ghalaqas, women and men come to us, for answers, after having approached the judicial bodies for assistance with marital problems, seeking assurance and reasurrance from the “advice” given to them.
I am from this Muslim community, and what I have observed, is the classes mostly conducted in Cape Town is focussed on marriage and Hajj.
I find that it is also the areas where we have the most problems, it seems Muslims are finding it difficult living with each other, or living Islam.
My question today? What is the outcome of these classes? Why is intimate partner abuse on the rise? The Hajj is another issue.
Maybe we are not being taught the objective of marriage, because to my humble understanding, if we at least know the objective of marriage, we will know what ingredients is needed, in order to reach that objective.
As Believers, we are comforted by the fact, when Allah claims in Surah 19 verse 64: ‘Nothing have we omitted from the Book’ Our Rabb never Errs, nor forgets’ (Q Chapter 19, v64)
Q Chapter 4, v82: ‘Do they not consider the Quran with care? Had it been from other than Allah, they would surely have found therein much contradiction’.
Therefore, we can be assured , that there is a solution for intimate partner abuse within the Quran.
As an ideal, Allah (God )speaks about marriage in the highest terms in the Quran -Chapter 30: 21:
“And amongst His signs is that he created for you from among yourselves spouses, so that you might find repose in them, and He created between you love and mercy, truly there are signs in this for people who reflect.”
These Verses appear on our wedding invitations. It is a reminder for us, everytime we attend a Nikaah, wedding celebrations…..signs for those who reflect, who ponder, So we can pose these questions to ourselves…., do we reflect, do we ponder, what Allah is saying?
Among His signs in creation, is marriage, this comes in the context of other signs, other verses, for example, the heavens, the earth, the alternation of the night and day, and the diversity of your languages and colours, these are signs for people who hear.
The whole of the universe is in submission to Him. Men and women, have been created as interdependent units. ‘I have created you from a single source’ ( Q4;1)
And because of this interdependence, we complete each other once we enter into marriage. The complementary nature and character of male and female is further cemented by the fact that they subscribe to the same ideology and are united in the name of and for the sake of that ideology.
Marriage is one of the cosmic signs of God in creation. When marriage is working properly, when it is a prophetic marriage, it cures the self, and restores society and it returns our humanity to us, that is the great challenge and the great objective.
So the marriage that qualifies to be one of the cosmic signs of Allah, is the marriage that builds a civilisation of communal health.
“ Marry those among you who are single, and those of your male and female slaves who are fit ( for marriage). If they are poor, God will provide for them from His bounty is infinite and He is all knowing..”( Q24;32)
“No House has been built in Islam, more beloved in the sight of Allah, than through marriage.”
(Narration of the prophet Mugammad (PBUH))
So, further, in this verse, the Quran speaks about Mawaddah ( Love), a special affection, a protective love, a love that defends and cares about the wellbeing and the future of your partner and Ragmah ( mercy) which is the very foundation of creation, which is the very the stamp of the Creator on reality, and what makes everything work.
When Allah speaks about marriage in the Quran He uses the metaphor;
Husband and wife, are like “garments” unto each other (Surah Al Baqarah, v187).
A picture paints a thousand words, so Allah use this metaphor when He speaks about the union between husband and wife.
Libaas (garment) make you look beautiful, we beautify each other – garments give us protection, clothes give us honour, dignity, status, it gives us warmth, intimacy, happiness.
We pick out our clothes, with a sense of respect and dignity, when we choose to cover ourselves.
The garments we wear, is the closest to our skin. We choose cool clothing in summer, and warm clothing in Winter, when we are comfortable, it enhances performance.
Clothing can also irritate us – like I overheard a woman, saying, Don’t you want my husband, you can have him for free.
It is almost impossible to think of ourselves without clothing. This is what makes us truly human. Just like the garments we wear, we protect each other, just as our clothing protect us. This metaphor shows the greatness of marriage as one of the cosmic signs.
Thus a man may not neglect his wife, or show her disfavour, or treat her as a creature that is hanging, like a garment, on the wall of his house, or deprive her of conjugal rights.
The same applies to the wife. Be like two people, living like roomates, the only thing that connects them is an apartment, a physical space. This unfortunately we find in couples who have been married for more than 20 yrs. There is no meaningful bond or spiritual tie that unites them together.
The deprivation of conjugal rights – it is something we seldom speak about, or don’t have the courage to address or we evade the question, or we don’t feel safe enough, to pose these intimate questions.
I want to further unpack this concern during this waqt of Jumuah – for these are real issues that comes to our door on a daily basis.
When women complain, about abuse of any sort, whether it be verbal, emotional or spiritual abuse. In our experience, when women seek council, the question is normally answered with another question –
Have you in any way, denied your husband conjugal rights?
The key question is, how can one be intimate with someone we fear? Someone that is abusive towards the other? Understanding our nature, is important, because our rights and duties is based on our nature.
What we need to understand is that women are emotionally stimulated, and men are visually stimulated. Women respond, to kind words, she opens, she flowers, when she is happy, but when she is in a state of fear, she locks her uterus in order to protect it from harm. Women are complaining about how their bodies are aching and feeling bruised after conjugal relations.
On social media, recently we learnt how desperate women have become in drawing attention to themselves, by showing their underwear, in public, even gone so far in standing naked in the presence of the President, showing the scars as a victim of rape – no one is listening.
Allah speaks about intimacy in the Quran with much respect and modesty. He speaks about our private parts with utmost respect. He equates the woman to being the cultivating ground. The man being the cultivator.
“ Your wives are as a tilth unto you , so approach your tilth when and how you will , But do some good act, for your souls, beforehand, And fear Allah and know that ye are to meet Him in the year after and give gladtidings to those who believe.” (Q2.223)
Allah speaks to the male in this verse. This verse goes much deeper than foreplay. In the sight of Allah, the conjugal act, is an act of spirituality, in fact, this verse negates marital rape and sexual abuse.
A man can also release his anger or his addiction, through the sexual act, therefore Allah says, Do an act of Good for your souls, change the energy, for a new human being can be conceived through the act.
Elders used to say, ‘do not go to bed angry’. How many children, today, are being conceived in a state of promiscuity, drugs and alcohohol? Can these environments be considered as acts that is good for our souls? What are the ingredients that nourishes our soul? These are compassion, kindness, love, mercy, being truthful with one another.
The Sakeenah that Allah speaks about, in the Quran in Surah A`raf, verse 189: ….and made from it, its mate, that he might find comfort (yaskuna) with her…Allah gave us spouses from ourselves so that we can find repose and peace by our side.
For men – he made women, for women he made men. Mates from our own selves. Not from a different species. Not from a different origin.
We are emotional, spiritual, moral, intellectual, physical beings
And through relationships, we leave an imprint on each other on all these levels. The Sakeenah can also be viewed as the deep sleep after conjugal rights have been satisfied.
This is the gift that Allah swt has given the married couple, this Sakeena we find with each other, because life is a struggle, its hard and challenging, so if conjugal rights are met, both will find renewed strength and energy to press ahead with the challenges that comes with life.
Why is conjugal rights so important in a marriage? When there is conjugal satisfaction, it leaves space for intellectual development and it gives us emotional security, which is very much part of our Nifqah.
Social Dynamics of Marriage
The marriage that can be considered to be a cosmic sign, is a marriage that builds communal health. To ensure the continuation of civilisation we have to protect and preserve this institution, it is through marriage that progeny and lineage is protected.
Marriage is not only meant to secure the greatest good for the married couple, but also for society. It is only marriage which can stop and eradicate the following social diseases eg. fornication, concubines (mistresses) and prostitution.
Marriage in Islam is much more than just a personal relationship. It is a relationship which from the outset is going to affect the social structure and the functions of the society.
Moreover, every marriage that takes place in Islam means the strengthening of the economic, political, social, intellectual and moral power of the Ummah (community).
A community is made up of cells, just like the human body, it is only as healthy as its cells. If its not healthy – it becomes a pathology, a testing for disease. If one cell becomes diseased, the whole body deteriorates.
So we can conclude by saying – Public enemy number One is ignorance( jahiliyah) about the Godly purpose and objective of marriage by those who promote it and defend it.
We will not succeed in building a healthy community, if we enter into marriage with the idea, that marriage is but a business contract between two people, a marriage of convenience or that the family is a ‘unit of bourgeous sentimentallity’. Then we are missing the point of the objective of marriage in Islam.
This understanding of marriage/ family life, being a unit of selfishness and exclusiveness, will result into the family becoming a self-centered unit isolated from the community. Let us, therefore, be reminded that Islam has made obedience to the principles of Islam override obedience to anything and everything else.
Here are a few examples from the Book of Clarification, the Quran:-
“O! Ye who believe! Let not your riches or your children divert you from the remembrance of Allah. Any act thus is the loss of their own.” (Q:63:9)
“Your riches and your children may be but a trial, but in the presence of Allah is the Highest Reward.” (Q64:14)
“O! Ye who believe! Take not for protectors your fathers and your brothers if they love infidelity above faith; if any of you do so, they do wrong.”(Q64:25)
It stands to reason that if Muslims in South Africa and the rest of world are to be successful in this time, in restoring our marriages, in making them viable and creating a culture of marriage that is guided by the standard set by the Quran, we have created an Ark for the Believers in which we can find our salvation in this age.