Strained relationship, estrangement and divorce are concepts that were once alien to a Muslim couple. Sadly today these have become as common as weeds in our gardens with marriages breaking down irrevocably at alarming rates. Naturally the question arises “where are we going so wrong that we cannot sustain and preserve our marriages any longer. Why have our unions become so weak and fragile that they break and crumble in the face of even the smallest challenges? Definitely there is something that is done wrong or missing.

Qadi Shurayh was the chief judge in Kufa during and after the Khilaafah of Hadrat Ali Radiyallaahu Anhu. Besides judging the cases referred to him, he also used to give advice on different matters to those who applied to him for judgment. Once a young man came to him for advice about marriage.

Qadi Shurayh began his response by reporting to the young man the saying of the Prophet Sallallaahu Alaihi Wa Sallam 'The home of a Muslim family is like Paradise'. Then, he warned him that in order that a home may be like Paradise, the members of the family should have received Islamic education. After that, he narrated to the young man an incident he recollected on one of his travels:

“I was passing by the tents of Banu Makhzum during my youth when I saw a girl and requested her hand in marriage. Her family readily agreed and we soon married. But I was having second thoughts as she was the daughter of a nomadic family and I wondered if, having been brought up in a desert as a nomad, she might be uneducated and ill-mannered which was typical of such people. However, in the early days of our marriage, she said to me:

'Master! You are a very famous scholar and jurist, while I am the daughter of the chieftain of just a nomadic tribe. You were expected to have married a girl fitted for you in nobility and education, while I was supposed to marry a nomad. However, Destiny ordained that we should marry; it caused an unsophisticated, uncivilized nomadic girl like me to marry a man famous for his knowledge and nobility like you. It is my duty to make you happy as your wife, so teach me what your likes and dislikes are and how I should behave toward your family and friends.'

I was disappointed and also ashamed of what I had thought of her. I responded to her that if she did as she promised, she would make me really happy.

My wife really did carry herself as she had promised much to my surprise. In fact her character, mannerisms etc. were nothing short of being impeccable. We were leading a very happy life when I saw a veiled woman at our home one evening on my return. She was my mother-in-law. I paid her great respect. She asked me whether I was happy with her daughter and I answered:

“May Allah Ta’ala be pleased with her and you. I have never seen her neglect her duties either toward me as a wife or toward Allah Ta’ala as a servant.

My mother-in-law gave me the following unforgettable reply:

“My son! I was certain you would be happy with my daughter, for I brought her up in Paradise. We were living in a tent but our tent was like Paradise. Fear of Allah Ta’ala, love of His Prophet Sallallaahu Alaihi Wa Sallam and a zeal to live the religion prevailed in our tent. Our tent resembled a school of Qur'aan and hadeeth. We brought up our daughter according to the dictates of Islam, for we believed that Islamic education was enough for one to be happy and make one's spouse also happy.

After narrating this to the young man, Qadi Shurayh concluded:

“Dear son! This is my story. That nomadic girl was not brought up in a city, but she received Islamic education. One can be happy only by means of Islamic education. I regard myself as one of the most happy of people on account of a nomadic girl who received Islamic education. If you marry and wish to be happily married for the rest of your life, choose a girl who has received true Islamic education.

NB: Proper Islamic education applies to both spouses not just the wife. For a husband who lacks this will not fear Allah Ta’ala with regards to the rights of his wife!

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