More Marriages Ending Foolishly

As reported in the Star newspaper for July 6, 2009, JAKIM is nowadays receiving dozens of calls from young couples who wish to divorce for such reasons as having their birthdays or wedding anniversaries forgotten, the husband coming home late, husband or wife sleeping late, the wife forgetting to add sugar to the coffee, one spouse forgetting to bring KFC for the other, or the husband forgetting to shop for his wife’s list.

Zawiah Hassan, Assistant Director of JAKIM’s Family and Social Division, says she receives an average of five SMSes a day of this nature. She says, “It is really mind-boggling how young couples, some of whom have only been married for months, weeks, or even just days, so easily want to end their marriages for reasons that are ridiculous and trivial… They do not look at marriage seriously and do not know how to treat the relationship and their partners after they tie the knot.”

No Muslim sister, or even brother for that matter, who had struggled valiantly for some years to sustain their virginity before marriage could possibly be among those that call for divorce on such trivial grounds. Why do we say this?

Muslim marriage counseling over the years has revealed that, contrary to looking for an easy divorce, the man or woman who has indeed done his or her sacrifice in order to marry well expects a suitably high price for his or her continuing loyalty after marriage. Let us take a simple logical step beyond the actual Sunnah and define virginity as: “…that state of spiritual purity that exists as a result of total sexual abstinence before marriage, followed by total lifelong loyalty to your marriage partner after marriage.”

A Muslim expects suitable results and rewards for having endured such a struggle. Moreover, the struggle is even more difficult in a modern worldly environment devoted to sexual titillation and stimulation around every corner, either by means of advertising or entertainment styles, or even by means of misguided young people who think that public display of “sexiness” somehow enhances life.

And it is even more difficult in a world that expects its youth, exactly at the age of maximum biological urge to mate and procreate, to 1) go far away from home for college, 2) look for a life-partner all alone on that college campus, and 3) stimulate their “nafs” by extreme left-brain concentration on books and memorization, not to mention the stressful and lonely solitariness of such competitive intellectual struggles.

And – NOT TO MENTION the stress-relievers available to college students almost universally on non-Muslim campuses these days, i.e., mild drug-use, alcohol, parties (“raves”), and, also almost universal, spending the night with your boy- or girlfriend to “relieve the pressure” (what they call “recreational sex”).

Nowadays, the college degree becomes far more important to people, children and parents alike, than going to heaven. It is even sometimes necessary to ask Muslim parents who are demanding that their children graduate first, which they want for them, successful graduation or their virginity-upon-marriage? They may not be able to have both.

The young Muslimah who has protected her greatest spiritual value, that is, her virginity, until marriage, who has been totally loyal to the Qur’anic injunction to do extra fasting and praying rather than commit “zina”, is then well within her rights to demand respect and exclusive attention from her husband.

And for this reason, we may infer that couples who wish to divorce for trivial reasons are most unlikely to have been virgin upon marriage. Behind this report, then, we must acknowledge the yet further breakdown in Malaysia’s so-called “Muslim culture of virginity”.

A few years ago, there was a much-publicized debate on whether a Muslim could divorce his wife by hand phone. The triviality of this debate, the sheer unmitigated lunacy of it, served mainly to further discredit Muslims in the eyes of civilized non-Muslims everywhere.

Most tragic in all these discussions is totally ignoring their effect upon the children. Do Muslims, or any married couples, really believe that what children “do not know, cannot hurt them”? The parents make up the two halves of the children’s souls, once Allah swt has breathed His life and mercy into them. Can one of these “halves” simply disappear without traumatizing the children, NO MATTER WHAT THEY “KNOW” consciously?

And do husbands really believe that their wives will not be disturbed as long as they succeed in keeping knowledge of mistresses or “secret second wives” from them? Or, do wives really believe their husband and children will not be deeply injured by their infidelity, whether they know about it or not?

One brother of our acquaintance was disturbed throughout one night by dreams of a tank corps invading his home from Czechoslovakia. After he accidentally found the name card for his wife’s abortionist, he was able to ascertain that she had indeed betrayed him with a Czechoslovakian cuckold, even to the point of a pregnancy whose male perpetrator could not be ascertained.

Was it his own child? Or was it that of the cuckold? In any case, the child was murdered in the womb, since the western country in which they lived did not give this husband any powers to restrain his wife from the abortion. They were both ostensibly Muslim. And the husband certainly had, in this case, legitimate grounds for divorce.

Where did it all start? A couple of years before this, the wife had asked her husband for permission to discard her Muslim scarf. She even promised to keep up her prayers after doing so. Would the husband have had sufficient grounds to divorce his wife at this point? The death of that child in the womb might have been averted.

We tell this sad story to remind readers that what lies behind “trivial” or “ridiculous” divorces may be much more serious issues, and that Qur’anic law must be followed when married couples “fall out” with one another until the real issues are uncovered. Families must be called in to attempt mediation, before the “talaq” (verbal divorce) is declared. Neither JAKIM nor any other authority has the moral right to issue divorces without such careful inquiry. A sophisticated marriage and family counseling profession would help, or at least, a scholar who are trained in such counseling skills.

Azril Mohd Amin

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