Marriage, Rights, Akhlaq (Ethics)

Bismillaahir Rahmaanir Raheem, Alhamdu lillaahi Rabbil 'aalameen wa sallallahu 'ala Muhammad wa aalihi at-taahireen.

This lecture is in relation to marriage insha'Allah and here again, like with the previous lectures, I am going to give you a few principles. These principles will be very useful for you when it comes to marriage counseling. When a husband and wife come and and you want to counsel them, with these principles, you will have a better idea on how to counsel and which direction they ought to take.

We have established from previous lectures that our objective is to become Allah's khalifa or successor, which means incorporating Allah's attributes, and the more of Allah's attributes we incorporate, the closer we become to Allah, the more Allah-like we become, because we are being more and more like Him the more attributes we incorporate. Although everything, be it an apple seed, a human embryo, a stone, they all want to be and they are all in the process of being khalifat-ullah. It is just that with humans, they can manifest Allah's attributes much more than the stone or plant or animal, but in reality - everything is becoming khalifat-ullah. Everything is succeeding Allah's attributes.

Now, let us imagine Allah has a hundred attributes. He has much more, but, we say that whatever is, any thing manifests all of those attributes of Allah, be it a stone, plant, human. It is just that the human manifests them more, but even the stone is manifesting all of Allah's attributes, but very little. But all of Allah's attributes are in play with the stone, with the plant, with the animal, with humans. It is just that the degree of manifestation in humans, it is more. If we believe in anything other than that, it means Allah sleeps again if some of His attributes do not manifest in certain things; and we believe in la ta'khudhuhu sinatun wa la nawm (2:255), and in the Qur'an, there are many stories where the tree says la ilaha illallah and other traditions of Ahlul Bayt, we see such a wisdom.

Now, let us imagine Allah has a hundred names just for reasons of simplicity. In relation to humans now, men and women, would you look at those hundred attributes of Allah, there are some attributes, irrespective of whatever background you come from, Amazon, Tanzania, America, you say that some of these attributes manifest more in the man compared to the woman; and so you note them down. We want to speak about the identity of what it means to be a man and the identity of the woman, what it means to be a woman. This is an 'Irfani approach. The fuqaha have one definition of what is a man and a woman, it is usually a function of their anatomy. The theologians have another approach on what is a man and a woman. When it comes to the Urafa', they look at Allah's attributes. When you look at these attributes, there are some of these attributes, they exist in the man and the woman, but they manifest in the man more than the woman; and it does not matter whether the man belongs to a tribe in the Amazon, in this country, or in the West. In all these different tribes and civilizations and groups, there is anthropological study, they will all accept that these certain attributes of Allah, they manifest more in the man compared to the woman. Not that the woman does not have them, but it manifests more in the man, so you write them down. And then there are some attributes of Allah that are manifested in the woman more when you compare it to the man. Once again, irrespective of where you come from, what tribe, civilization, background, whatever.

So in order to establish from an 'Irfani point of view, what is the identity of the man and what is the identity of the woman, what is the essence of the man, what is the essence of the woman, what it means to be a man, what it means to be a woman, and how a man must act manly, and in what way must a woman act womanly, one has to see, what are those attributes? And this is something where the Urafa' have written treatises upon and on this point. Some of them are publishable, some of them are not.

Some of Allah's attributes, both the man and the woman, they manifest roughly the same. Those attributes we don't discuss in this session. We want to speak about marriage, what it means to have a successful marriage in spiritual terms, not in materialistic terms. Sometimes a man and woman, they have a very successful materialistic marriage, but spiritually, it is very detrimental but they don't care about that. They just want the good car, good jobs, good education for their children, it is a materialistic, dunya-orientated marriage that has its own criteria. We are talking about Islam now and a successful spiritual marriage. For that spiritual marriage to take place. The man has to be a man. The woman has to be a woman. The man has to be on a par with the male identity, what it means to be a man, the essence of a man. The woman has to be on a par on her female identity, what it means to be a woman. How do we establish or define that identity? We look at Allah's attributes.

The man, which attributes of Allah do they manifest, irrespective of where they are, more than the woman? And the same with the woman. Which attributes of Allah does she manifest more than the man? You find those attributes, you can define what it means to be a woman or a man, and where their identity lies.

Let us start with the man. I will mention only two or three attributes here. One is, one of Allah's names is al-Qawi, the all-strong. That does not mean women don't have strength, but it manifests more in the man and the Shari'a takes this in mind. When the Shari'a gives all the responsibilities of the nafaqa, it is upon the man, because the man manifests strength more. All the do's and don'ts of the Shari'a are based on this reality of what the identity of the man and the identity of the woman is, and which attributes each manifest more than the other. As a result of that, the Shari'a assigns its responsibilities.

When it comes to the nafaqa, since the man is a stronger manifestation of al-Qawi, and ar-Razzaq, the Sustainer, the Provider, since he can manifest this more, here the Shari'a comes and gives all these different responsibilities to the man: providing the food, providing shelter, clothing, working. These are essential for male identity, even if the man has, let us say, a number of maids helping him to provide the food - listen carefully - to provide the food and the shelter, he has people doing all this for him, he is lacking in his male identity. Someone else is doing it. Whereas, he has to manifest this and by nature, they manifest this more than the woman, but others are doing it for him.

And that is why Amir ul-mu'mineen 'aleyhi asalam, even though he had a lot of responsibilities, he put it upon himself to dig wells because he would not allow this attribute of al-Qawi, for example, to be compromised. The man has to exhibit, display, disclose, manifest these attributes. The Shari'a says it is in the form of the nafaqa. Okay, so the man provides and the man shows his strength in working, providing and so on and so forth.

But let us say the man has a lot of money and the man has others doing this for him. He has other male aides, for example, doing all this for him, that man is lacking in one's male identity. And what is the consequence of that is that, that man is becoming less and less manly because those attributes of Allah that he was supposed to manifest, he is doing less and less. I mean, in this particular example I gave, maybe he will go and compensate. He has aides to provide everything for the family, but he may compensate in another way. I am just giving you some general principles here. But if he doesn't compensate for it, he is becoming less and less man-like, because the identity of the man was dependent upon him manifesting those of Allah's attributes where males manifest more than females. He is not doing it. The consequence is becoming more and more female-like. The man is becoming more and more female-like.

Take that in mind for now, when I say female-like, I don't mean their anatomy is becoming female-like. Spirituality wise, they are becoming female-like. Why? Because those attributes of Allah that he had to manifest more, he is manifesting less and less. The equilibrium here is impaired now.

In the traditions, women who belittle the man, women who belittle the man in the domain of al-Qawi and ar-Razzaq, and other attributes but I am focusing on these two for now. They belittle the man, not because of his beauty or that kind of thing. They belittle him because - why aren't you working? Why don't you do this? Why don't you provide this? Why don't you put enough effort? Why don't you put endeavour? The fact that the man has to manifest those attributes, that is the man's responsibility.

But when the woman belittles the man in these areas, they are belittling that which is essential to the male identity. The traditions of Ahlul Bayt say those women are cursed. And when you look at all those traditions where women are cursed, wives are cursed, you see it is only pertaining to those domains of the male where the male was supposed to manifest those particular attributes more than the woman. That is the man's responsibility, he has to do it. The woman has to be an aide, a help, and enhance the man to commit these actions. But if she mocks the man or belittles him in any way, then her divine mercy will be shortened, lessened or cut.

But the consequence was that the man is becoming less man-like and this, an atomic man, is now more and more female-like in spiritual terms, not in psychological terms, not in anatomic terms, not in genetic terms. In spiritual terms, this man is more and more woman-like. That is a very important conclusion, because we will come to this at the end.

Let us now go through the woman now. In relation to the woman, which attributes of Allah is she supposed to manifest more than the man? Which attributes by nature does she manifest more than the man, irrespective of her background, it may be in Amazon, Tanzania or America. It is anthropological, you can prove all this anthropologically. Those attributes, there are many of those, I will mention two or three. One is ar-Rabb, which means the All-nurturer. Allah is the All-nurturer, the All-cherisher. The man also cherishes, but the woman manifests nurturing much more than the man.

Imam Khomeini, rahmatullah 'aleyh, in one of his works, he says that the effort and reward that the woman has in nurturing over one night, in nurturing the infant, and he doesn't say the religious woman or the practicing woman, he says woman, the responsible woman or the irresponsible woman? No, the woman who nurtures only one night of the newborn, that the effort there, the reward there surpasses the effort and reward that a responsible father shows to the child over years. I can't remember, maybe ten years or he maybe did not specify the number of years. That is an 'Arif speaking, only an 'Arif could give a statement like that. Not that the man, responsible man doesn't nurture. They nurture too. But the woman's nurturing, the manifestation is much more than the man.

Now, don't get me wrong. Nurturing is not just confined to nurturing children, although that is the most important part of it, that is the maximum manifestation of it. But some women may not succeed to have children, they can still nurture. But ar-Rabb, the All-nurturer is manifested in the woman much more than the man. And it is very easy to establish that because at the end of the day, a woman has a womb, a man doesn't have a womb. This womb by nature shows that her nurturing manifestation is much more than the man. So one is her Rubbubiyya, her Rabb.

Another attribute is ar-Rahman - Allah's mercifulness. The man also has mercy, but the woman, her manifesting mercy is much more than the man. Not that it is, that man doesn't have any, but the woman's, she can manifest it much more. And this we can see with the sacrifices she undergoes, not only the nine months of gestation and two years of breastfeeding and the infancy and bearing them, you can tell that she has a much more merciful nature.

And finally, her Jamal, her beauty. One of Allah's attributes is beauty. Now, I am not limiting that only to a physical beauty, but physical beauty is part of that, that she manifests this beauty more than the man manifests it.

This is something very important and yes, don't take this the wrong way, but I am speaking out of 10 to 15 years of experience of tableegh and seeing many different races amongst Muslims. Although the Khoja women, they have a lot of positive points, especially when it comes to education and nurturing, especially when it comes to knowledge, the aspect that they they pay much more attentiveness to it when you compare it with the men. But they have a weakness too, although I am not generalizing, but it is something which they come to me, and when I have counseled many Khoja couples, I am seeing this more and more. Although Lebanese couples have problems, Iranian couples have problems. But this I see more, or I have seen more amongst the Khoja women, is that whereas they should be displaying this particular attribute of Jamal, Allah's beauty inside the house, not outside, they fall short. They don't pay too much attention to this inside the house for their husbands. And this is something which has serious side effects not only for the marriage, but for them as individuals, and the female identity will be compromised.

In Islam, it says beautify yourselves in the homes, even if it is a necklace, but beautify yourselves. Dress in an adorning way, just wearing what, you know, like male pajamas in front of your husband, that is going to put him off. And even if the husband tells you, I don't like makeup, that is his problem. But you have to continue. You can't sacrifice your female identity. He has a problem. If he says, I don't like you to wear makeup inside the house. He has to have counseling. The woman, though, has to beautify and adorn herself inside the home, in front of the mahrams, especially the husband, of course. And here, if she fails in this beautifying manifestation, if she fails in her Rahmani, Merciful manifesting, if she fails in her nurturing capacity, the more she fails in these two or three attributes, the less and less woman-like in spiritual terms she will become. And here the consequences, the more and more man-like she will become and that is, that is a serious side effect here.

So, look where are we going with all this? A couple come for marriage counseling, let us say after being married for ten years, they have problems. The counsellor, the spiritual counsellor, otherwise the economic counsellor, the materialistic counsellor, the financial counsellor, all those different counsellors have different - they look at the issue from a different lens. But the spiritual counsellor, this is how they look at it.

They look at the woman, and they have the list of attributes that she should be manifesting more, and they ask through questions. They see whether she is manifesting those attributes that she should be manifesting. If she is manifesting them standardly or is it below standard. So they ask questions to the man and the woman to see if the woman is manifesting as she should be. Allah's Rububiyya, Allah's Jamal, and Allah's Rahmaniya. Then he makes a note or she makes a note, the counsellor makes a note. The same with the man. Allah's Strength, Allah's Sustaining and Providing, is the man manifesting these on a standard degree or level, or is it substandard?

This is a very difficult process. It is not very easy to establish. It needs a bit of time and practice. The problem is this. That if the man is manifesting those attributes that he has to manifest more, below the necessary threshold, he becomes more woman-like. We have established that. And what the result becomes, what the consequence of this marriage is, it is a homosexual, spiritual homosexual marriage between two women in the spiritual sense. Look, we are not talking about homosexuality in the fiqhi sense, we are talking about homosexuality in the spiritual sense. That two women are married here in this spiritual marriage, something has to be done quickly.

If the man, if the woman sorry, is compromising her nurturing capacity or merciful capacity or Jamali capacity and as a result becomes more and more man-like in the spiritual sense, the man does his duty on a par with what, how he should, and its standard, here we now have, in this marriage spirituality-wise two men in marriage. And that is deemed to spiritual failure. It will be doomed to spiritual failure like the other one was. The other one was two women marrying one another because the man failed in their duties. This one was the woman failing, two men being married spiritually.

And I said, the man becomes a woman-like and the woman becomes man-like. Yes, it compensates but the thing is the man is failing in his capacity, in his spirituality separately, and the woman is failing separately. That doesn't mend things.

So here this is something very important. Sometimes the counsellor says, no, the woman is manifesting womanly attributes. The man is manifesting manly attributes. The problem, we don't have a problem, spirituality wise. They are a man and a woman, as they should be. It is an ego problem. It is an ethical problem. They have ego issues. That can be sorted out, especially with help from the community and different other parameters that can be made, that that can be sorted.

But if a homosexual marriage is set in its ways over a period of years, it is almost impossible to amend. I am not saying it is impossible. It is almost impossible. You can't mend this marriage anymore. One of them has a real right here. Although divorce, we should never speak of divorce, that is the last, you know, means. It is the so-called worst halal, it is the last resort and that has to be implemented very importantly. Something which spiritual counsellors pay a lot of heed to but western psychologists don't. They bring the divorce card too early. But we have divorce. It is possible, but there are proper mechanisms for divorce. Many divorces should not have taken place, but they did. They are going to suffer for for the rest of their lives, because they have got this baggage upon them, haqq ul-nas, which is going to be very difficult to get rid of. Some divorces, it is a baraka. You freed someone from a homosexual marriage. That is of importance here. Otherwise, if they would have stayed there, they may have been doomed to failure.

The point is this, though. That we have a man and a woman. This woman, no one is against a woman working, to be a doctor, engineer, everything. I don't, I have no problem there. But now I have given you these principles. When a woman works nine to five every day, she has to be honest to herself. Is her nurturing capacity, primarily with her children, if she has them, is it being compromised? Is her mercy being compromised, manifestation wise? Is her Jamal being compromised? If it is, at what cost are you working? Is it for money? More money? Look, for money, you are compromising your female identity.

Everyone has to evaluate themselves. I am not, I am not judging anyone, I am saying - everyone, these are the principles you have to be honest to yourself with. You are working 9 to 5, and if you are a doctor, for example, you have difficult shifts, if you are another profession, every profession has its own challenges. You are working 9 to 5 and then you are compromising your nurturing, your Jamal, your mercy. She may say, the female doctor may say, 'Actually, I am manifesting that nurture and mercy to the patients.' Who are you fooling?

In the west, junior doctors, let alone senior specialists, have such a difficult 80 plus hour weekly program, they don't even, they don't know what they are doing sometimes. They treat the patient as goods, not as a human being, sometimes the way they treat them. And I don't blame them, they have such a hectic schedule. In Iran and this unfortunately, it is worse than in the West, in Iran, this is very pathetic. The doctor is seeing two or three patients at a time. Before the first patient has left left the room, the second patient has entered and is undressing behind the curtain. That is I mean, putting aside the absence of ethics of such a protocol, the thing is, where is nurturing in that? You are nurturing your financial needs more.

If you want to be a doctor and for you really it is for nurturing patients, well work part time. If you want to be a doctor, it is the knowledge aspect, which is very good, work part time. Why are you burdening yourself? When you burden yourself, by default, you are going to compromise with those attributes that you should be manifesting more. And that is the wisdom and the philosophy behind those traditions that say the woman is like a curved rib bone. It may seem medieval, but it is very delicate. It is a very intricate meaning here. What does it mean? The tradition says, when you want to straighten the rib bone, the curved rib bone, it will break, let it be.

Now, look how the Shari'a comes and says, let the woman be. She has no nafaqa responsibilities. Compared to the nafaqa, all those responsibilities the man has, the woman only has one or two very small wajib things in relation to the man. And even those she can even limit if the man doesn't commit his part of the nafaqa. But because of this, the Shari'a says, let her be. Don't give her nafaqa duties. The Shari'a doesn't want to add these chores to a woman. Otherwise she will break. You burden her, she will break. She breaks, what is the problem? Those manifestations are going to be compromised. If those manifestations become compromised in a woman, society will be compromised.

And that is why, Imam Khomeini, rahmatullah 'aleyh says, the prosperity or the wretchedness of any society depends on in the laps of their mothers. It depends how they are being nurtured. So the salvation, the happiness, the success of any society is a function of a successful mother.

But if the mother is going to burden herself, that is going to cause a problem here. For example, if your husbands bring aides for you, to do the hoovering, to do the washing rather than you doing it, that is something very noble of them. Why? Because then you can focus on manifesting those attributes more and more. This is qualitative enhancement with the child, with other members of the family. You can do that. But if you want to do the washing and the hoovering, which Islam hasn't assigned, not that it is bad if you do it, it is a - you have the reward of jihad. You are doing it for the man. So the man maximizes his attributes of working and providing. You are doing that to maximize it. That is good.

But most women may fall, may become burdened, it is difficult. It is not any woman's job to do the hoovering and the dishes. It is very difficult. If you are that type who are very strong and you can do it, that is very good. If you are not, get help from your husband. You get aides, they will do it. You can focus on those attributes more. It will help you. Every woman is different. Some women, they do everything and the child is with them. She, you must have seen, they kind of tie the child on their backs or front and they do all the chores and they don't groan. These women; and they manifest those attributes. The Jamal is still there. The mercy is still there. These are very unique women. These kind of women are very free. They are free in the real sense. They are not after anyone's pity. They do everything themselves, but they are very rare nowadays. And that is, maybe that is - we shouldn't expect a woman. We should not really speak in ideal terms. We are all week and we should not.

Lady Fatima 'aleyha asalam is our model but okay, if you want to be like her, bit by bit, slowly. You can't from day one be like her. Slowly, slowly, work on yourself, attribute after attribute, week after week. In the beginning, you would need help. You can't be like her from the beginning. You can't be like her at the end either. But you can be closer and closer and be more and more Fatima-like 'aleyha asalam. But you will never be like her. So you get help.

Now a man, if, when is a man cursed? Those attributes of mercy, Jamal, Ruboobiyya. If a man belittles the woman in these areas, even though the woman it is a - she has to do her duty, that is to do with her. If the man belittles her in these areas, he is going to be cursed. And the same with the woman, the same applies with a man. And when you look at all the traditions of Ahlul Bayt, when in relation to marital relations, when you look at all the traditions, this is a holistic approach. You see those traditions which say that the man is cursed, are usually in those domains where the man has belittled the woman in those, in the manifestation of those particular attributes.

The woman should get help and the man has to get help, too. But that which they have to always have in mind is that I am a man and you are a woman, and we shouldn't let these attributes be compromised. We shouldn't let that happen. If working a very hectic schedule, whatever the work is, is going to compromise one's identity, that is going to cause a lot of problems. Okay, inshaAllah I will stop there, wa sala Allahu 'ala Mumhamed wa aalihi at-taahireen.

Would teaching be considered a suitable profession for a mother whose children are in school? She can be home with her children and also manifest nurturing during the day.

Yes, that is okay, if she is a qualified teacher, that would be okay and she has to evaluate herself. So we are assuming she is a qualified teacher, not a volunteer teacher, because when you want to bring teachers for your children, they have to be qualified. You have to bring the best teachers, best mathematics, science, geography, history, not necessarily just volunteers. They have to be well qualified, but let us assume they are well qualified. Now, she has a choice to nurture at home or teach, or a bit of both. I am not here to say which one to do. You have to, you know yourself better. I am just saying the principles. The principle is that don't let those manifestations of those attributes be compromised. But that is your decision. I am not here to judge and no one should be judging the other. Everyone for themself. Everyone is alone in Qiyama.

Can you give a few more examples of attributes for women to manifest, please?No, I can, but they have to be explained. Yes.

What if the purpose of working is more for a good mental health when the child is taken care of with grandparents? Yes, that is a good point. Let us say a mother has a mental problem, a mental health issue. This is quite important. There are two areas to this answer, two different domains. One is the woman herself, one is the child. We didn't speak about the child. We only spoke about man and woman in this lecture. Sometimes the woman, she is honest to herself and says, I have a mental health issue and as a result of this problem, I can't manifest one, two, three or three plus of those attributes of Allah that I am supposed to do. That is a problem. She has to get help. And help here is mental stability. If it is a clinical mental health issue, i.e. depression, which is clinical, not psychological, it is because of a chemical imbalance. They have bipolar or clinical depression or something of the like. There, if psychotherapy doesn't work, you would have to take medication because it is a chemical imbalance, it is out of your hands. You are not a bad person. Your imaan is not weak. This is who you are. Some people are born with an impaired limb. You are born with an impaired mind. To this degree, it can be impaired. In the same way that a prosthesis can impair an impaired limb, here these medications will bring around that chemical balance. So you would have to do that. When you do that, then you can start manifesting those attributes of Allah, which you weren't before.

Let us say you don't get well, for whatever reason. It is very noble of you to allow your parents who are stable to nurture because you won't be able to nurture and therefore the child will be compromised, the child's well-being. So it is very noble, but that doesn't take anything from you. You still have to think about your female identity. Taking the child to the grandparents, you have sorted the child's problem. So the child is now being nurtured and will be brought up in a balanced manner. You weren't able to do it and with honesty, you admitted that you weren't able to do it, but you corrected it; and well done for that because your child will be indebted to you in the future. But now you yourself, we haven't sorted that problem yet. The problem, if it is still there and it leads you to you not manifesting those attributes, there is still a problem. You are still less and less woman-like. So that still has to be sorted.

Are we assuming that the attributes are manifested during the first stage of the upbringing of the child?

No, no, I am not sure exactly what you meant, but no. When we say the woman, her identity lies in those attributes of those divine attributes of Allah that she has to manifest those more, it doesn't matter if she is with child, without child, and which phase in her life it is. This is to do with her, herself. She has to manifest these. Even if she doesn't have children, she has to manifest these to maintain her female identity.

Okay, wa sala Allahu 'ala Muhammad wa aalihi at-tahireen.