Is having coffee for an hour with your friend of the opposite sex really that bad? But you love your spouse and would never think of anyone else.
Would an innocent encounter with the opposite sex put your whole marriage in danger?
So what if you take a quick glance at the picture of a supermodel on Instagram. You can even show your wife and tell her that she (your wife) is more beautiful. That will make it okay, right?
Yes, yes it might and no it does not make it okay. Let me tell you why.
The shaytan is determined to lead us away from Allah in small and persistent footsteps. Starting from smaller sins that eventually lead to enormous ones.
۞ يَـٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوا۟ لَا تَتَّبِعُوا۟ خُطُوَٰتِ ٱلشَّيْطَـٰنِ ۚ وَمَن يَتَّبِعْ خُطُوَٰتِ ٱلشَّيْطَـٰنِ فَإِنَّهُۥ يَأْمُرُ بِٱلْفَحْشَآءِ وَٱلْمُنكَرِ ۚ وَلَوْلَا فَضْلُ ٱللَّهِ عَلَيْكُمْ وَرَحْمَتُهُۥ مَا زَكَىٰ مِنكُم مِّنْ أَحَدٍ أَبَدًا وَلَـٰكِنَّ ٱللَّهَ يُزَكِّى مَن يَشَآءُ ۗ وَٱللَّهُ سَمِيعٌ عَلِيمٌ
O you who believe, do not follow the footsteps of Satan. Whoever follows the footsteps of Satan, (should know that) he orders (one to commit) shameful acts and evil deeds. Had it not been for the grace of Allah upon you, and His mercy, not a single person from you would have ever attained purity. But Allah purifies whomsoever He wills. Allah is All-Hearing, All-Knowing.
When people who cheat are asked why they did what they did, a lot of them say ” I don’t know how I got here”. It starts with an innocent chat, a smile, and then it escalates into harmless texts. Before you know it, heart and kissing emojis are exchanged. Will it happen to every single person? No, but there is a sure possibility that it happens to any of us because we are fallible human beings.
The shaytan will not whisper to you from the get-go to love someone other than your spouse, because this simply won’t work. He finds our weaknesses and tries to tap into it. The shaytan is so determined and strategic that you will find yourself taking tiny steps into that act itself.
More importantly, if some of us are immune to falling into sinful acts, then Allah would have made it our choice to decide what’s halal and what’s haram based on our own rational reasoning.
‘Umar reported the Prophet as saying, “Whenever a man is alone with a woman the devil makes a third.”
So, what other external factors can be deteriorating your marriage slowly that most people don’t give it much attention to?
1- Being glued to your phone
The smartphone is a wonderful invention, no doubt. Almost our whole life is encoded in this magical technological device.
However, nothing – absolutely NOTHING on your phone will be important enough to make you neglect your spouse.
So instead of having your phone in your hand for the whole day, specify certain hours to be present with your family completely phone-free. You can put all your phones in a basket and have fun! It’s doable.
In fact, you will enjoy it a lot eventually, as you will have peace of mind – no calls and no notifications.
We are so accustomed to having Dopamine rushes every minute of every day that we are unable to silently sit doing nothing for a short while. We immediately find ourselves reaching for the phone when we’re slightly bored.
Remember this minute right now passed and you can never retrieve it. As cheesy as this might sound, do truly enjoy every moment with your loved ones.
2- Not lowering your gaze on pictures on social media
We usually don’t consider looking at images on social media as bad as looking at a person in real life. Obviously, lowering your gaze applies equally to both.
I have so many women approach me with the same exact problem. “My husband looks at pictures of other women on social media”. When confronted the answer is always ” It just pops up on my feed” or “it means nothing, it’s just a picture”.
But what about lowering your gaze? This applies equally to women. As women, it is also not permissible to browse and linger upon pictures of men who forgot to wear their shirts!
وَقُل لِّلْمُؤْمِنَـٰتِ يَغْضُضْنَ مِنْ أَبْصَـٰرِهِنَّ وَيَحْفَظْنَ فُرُوجَهُنَّ وَلَا يُبْدِينَ زِينَتَهُنَّ إِلَّا مَا ظَهَرَ مِنْهَا ۖ
And tell the believing women that they must lower their gazes and guard their private parts, and must not expose their adornment, except that which appears thereof
قُل لِّلْمُؤْمِنِينَ يَغُضُّوا۟ مِنْ أَبْصَـٰرِهِمْ وَيَحْفَظُوا۟ فُرُوجَهُمْ ۚ ذَٰلِكَ أَزْكَىٰ لَهُمْ ۗ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ خَبِيرٌۢ بِمَا يَصْنَعُونَ
Tell the believing men that they must lower their gazes and guard their private parts; it is more decent for them. Surely Allah is All-Aware of what they do.
So what is the solution? To delete all social media accounts? Obviously, it depends on who you follow, the posts on your feed, and other factors, so you have to make an informed decision.
Personally, I try to apply this rule to anything. The rule is, I try to avoid things that will stir any feelings that are haram. For instance, sexual feelings, distractions that lead to wasting time, etc). Let it be a book I’m reading, a post I am viewing, etc.
3- Excuses: “…I had no other choice”
“We were not able to finish the reports during office hours, that’s why we met for coffee to complete it, I had no other choice”
“He asked if we can have lunch together, I just couldn’t say no!”
“Don’t be a drama queen, she is like a sister to me”
“You’re seriously jealous of him?! He is my cousin!”
… and the list of goes on. Okay so:
- Your actual siblings are the only ones who are your siblings. You cannot treat a non-mahram as a mahram, no matter how much you see them that way. This beautiful ayah explains it perfectly:
حُرِّمَتْ عَلَيْكُمْ أُمَّهَـٰتُكُمْ وَبَنَاتُكُمْ وَأَخَوَٰتُكُمْ وَعَمَّـٰتُكُمْ وَخَـٰلَـٰتُكُمْ وَبَنَاتُ ٱلْأَخِ وَبَنَاتُ ٱلْأُخْتِ وَأُمَّهَـٰتُكُمُ ٱلَّـٰتِىٓ أَرْضَعْنَكُمْ وَأَخَوَٰتُكُم مِّنَ ٱلرَّضَـٰعَةِ وَأُمَّهَـٰتُ نِسَآئِكُمْ وَرَبَـٰٓئِبُكُمُ ٱلَّـٰتِى فِى حُجُورِكُم مِّن نِّسَآئِكُمُ ٱلَّـٰتِى دَخَلْتُم بِهِنَّ فَإِن لَّمْ تَكُونُوا۟ دَخَلْتُم بِهِنَّ فَلَا جُنَاحَ عَلَيْكُمْ وَحَلَـٰٓئِلُ أَبْنَآئِكُمُ ٱلَّذِينَ مِنْ أَصْلَـٰبِكُمْ وَأَن تَجْمَعُوا۟ بَيْنَ ٱلْأُخْتَيْنِ إِلَّا مَا قَدْ سَلَفَ ۗ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ كَانَ غَفُورًا رَّحِيمًا
˹Also˺ forbidden to you for marriage are your mothers, your daughters, your sisters, your paternal and maternal aunts, your brother’s daughters, your sister’s daughters, your foster-mothers, your foster-sisters, your mothers-in-law, your stepdaughters under your guardianship if you have consummated marriage with their mothers—but if you have not, then you can marry them—nor the wives of your own sons, nor two sisters together at the same time—except what was done previously. Surely Allah is All-Forgiving, Most Merciful.
- You always have a choice to say no in these situations but you’re just too afraid of social rejection. And it is understandable to feel this way but don’t let it stop you from doing the right thing.
- Again, if it was halal, Allah would have made it halal, we are in no position to decide this for ourselves.
- Remember you will never be able to please everyone and guess what? It is not your job. We are on this earth to worship Allah and please Him ﷻ. Social pressure can take a toll on us if we allow it to. Therefore, keep focusing on what matters. Those who truly love you will want you to do the right thing and will respect you for it.
4- Prioritizing friends over spouse
Having close friends who are loyal is a wonderful thing and Islam urges the importance of community. However, the quality of friends plays a huge role. If you find yourself coming back a little bit better every time you hang out with a friend, know you’ve chosen the right one. A true friend is someone who keeps you on the path to Allah and someone you feel comfortable confiding in your deepest fears and problems.
The Prophet (ﷺ) said: A man follows the religion of his friend; so each one should consider whom he makes his friend.
But even if you have the best friends in the world who hold your hand and take you to the masjid, you should still specify your priorities. Knowing your priorities in Islam makes things a million times easier. Do give time to your friends and enjoy this time but don’t do it at the expense of fulfilling your family’s rights.
Narrated ‘Aishah:The Prophet (ﷺ) called ‘Uthman b. Maz’un. When he came to him, he said: ‘Uthman, did you dislike my practice ? He said: No, by Allah, but I seek your practice. He said: I sleep, I pray, I keep fast, I (sometimes) leave fast, and I marry women. Fear Allah, ‘Uthman, your wife has a right on you, your guest has a right on you, your self has a right on you ; you should keep fast and (sometimes) leave fast, and pray and sleep.
Also, I always remind myself that a true friend would encourage me to set my priorities straight and genuinely care about my relationship with my family.
Love of Allah over your love to each other
Remember the more you apply the rules set by Allah to your marriage, the easier it becomes to sustain it. You will know your rights and the rights of others onto you. By doing so, things will naturally not overlap and cause chaos.
Your marriage will be based on your love to Allah and not solely your love for each other. I mean, Let’s be honest here. When your spouse makes you angry, the first thought is never “God, I love my spouse so much that I will let this argument go“. It’s more like “Let me think of the meanest thing I can say to get back at what my spouse said!”.
That is why your love to Allah will prevent you from getting back at your spouse in that moment of fury. A marriage without Allah will definitely lack the barakah it needs to flourish.