#AskAnAsatizah series, conducted by Haiqal Risqandar from ELEVEN
An interview with Ustaz Ahmad Khushairi Abidin of Darul Ghufran Mosque, Head of Youth & Family Development, Naib Kadi
1) How do we go about choosing a spouse? Are there some general traits we should look out for?
The Prophet SAW said: "A woman is married for four qualities; for her wealth, her family status, her beauty and her religion—so, get the religious one and prosper." [Agreed upon, with the rest of the as-Sab'a]. (Bulugh al-Maram, Book 8, Hadith 5)
In general, these four qualities are applicable for a woman to find her future husband too:
Property or wealth is representing her/his financial stability and ability to manage family expenses prudently.
Family status because family will have a strong influence socially or how we were brought up and may affect how you create your own family values.
Beauty is naturally what everyone is attracted to, according to his/her interest. Each person has their own preference, this is why Allah created us uniquely — to show that He is the Greatest.
Religion. Certainly, Allah’s only way is Islam. Islam is a way of life. By understanding the religion, the rest of the qualities above will be placed accordingly.
2) What are some of the sunnahs about weddings/marriage itself? For instance, are there any sunnahs about the nature of the wedding ceremony etc.?
This is a good question. This is what most of us are confused about — between sunnah and culture, and also facing the problem of prioritising between what we are able to produce and what we want to produce.
Firstly, having a nikah ceremony, inviting guests and treating them foods, in general, is a sunnah. But to have it with all of the listings that normally a couple would do like, having a dais, special clothing, welcoming by a ‘kompang’ performance and others. It's not like we are against everything we always do, but what we need is to self-evaluate how we spend all these listings and that we are not overspending. Islam absolutely prohibits wastage in every aspect of one’s lives.
Secondly, we also need to ensure that what we do, if it is not a sunnah but rather a culture, it is not against Islamic teachings in any aspect.
3) [This question isn't directly related to marriage but it deals with the proceedings leading up to it.] Some asatizahs (especially those from other countries) stress the importance of getting to know each other in a very halal manner (that is to say the boy approaches the father of the girl before any further interactions and once he realises he likes her, always having a mahram when the couple meets in the future etc). In your opinion, would such customs still be necessary in our day and age as well as with the context of living in Singapore? How can we find a balance between an organic way of courtship as well as a halal one?
There is no concept of courtship in Islam. But there are guidelines in general where we need to respect ourselves and the opposite gender.
We can take a reflection from the Qur’anic verse that says, “…believing men and women should lower their gaze” (Al-Qur'an, 24:30). The couple, however, is not permitted to be alone in a closed room or go out together alone. As the Hadith says: “Whenever a man is alone with a woman, the devil makes a third.” (Mishkat al-Masabih 3118, Book 13, Hadith 39)
4) Is it true that the wife has to have sex with the husband if he demands it?
Marriage is built upon love (Mawaddah) and compassion (Rahmah).
A husband should also treat his wife with profound care and kindness as these are what has been taught by the Prophet. The Messenger Muhammad (Peace be upon him) says:
أَكْمَلُ المُؤْمِنِيْنَ إِيْمَانًا أَحْسَنُهُمْ خُلُقًا وَأَلْطَفُهُمْ بِأَهْلِه
“A true believer is the one that displays excellent moral conduct and being gentle with his family.” (Jami` at-Tirmidhi 2612, Book 40, Hadith 7)
Allah says in the Quran:
Treat them fairly (Al-Qur'an, 4:19)
A husband is to live with his wife honourably, by saying kind words to them, treating them kindly. This includes having sexual intimacy between them; it is an ibadah where it should be mutually agreed upon by practising Mawaddah and Rahmah.
5) Is it compulsory to have kids when married? Is it acceptable to only adopt or foster kids (and what are the pros and cons in terms of rewards etc.)?
It is a blessing to be gifted with a child by Allah SWT. This is an opportunity to bring them up with knowledge and faith. They are the parents' responsibility and a reason for the parents to enter Jannah.
It was narrated from Abu Hurairah that the Messenger of Allah said:
"When a man dies, all his good deeds come to an end except three: Ongoing charity (Sadaqah Jariyah), beneficial knowledge and a righteous son who prays for him." (Sunan an-Nasa'i, Book 30, Hadith 41)
There is another reason as well, where the biological relationship will give an opportunity for the family system to grow. For instance, in terms of social interaction, they are connected as mahram, inheritance which generally applies to the assets of a deceased family and many more.
However, for those who are tested by Allah SWT with no children after trying, it is an opportunity for a couple to practise the value of Mawaddah and Rahmah in adopting/fostering kids. It is not only permissible for a Muslim to foster a child but it is also a sunnah that can gain many rewards from Allah SWT.
Sahl bin Sa`d narrated:
The Prophet SAW said: "I and the person who looks after an orphan and provides for him, will be in Paradise like this," putting his index and middle fingers together. (Sahih al-Bukhari, Book 78, Hadith 36)