• Raya Shokatfard

US MUSLIMS AND DIVORCE: A CLOSER LOOK (PART 2)

Updated: Dec 24, 2020


By : Raya Shokatfard


Part 1


In the arranged marriages involving others in the process, the first step is not based on feelings but harmony in other issues that makes the marriage a success.


If there were agreements in these issues, the couple then would spend time to get to know one another without stepping outside the permitted bounds of non-married relationship.

Once assured of good feelings with each other, the marriage followed.


In the West and sadly enough among the Muslims the feelings take precedence over long term considerations. Many times the couple fall in love with each other and decide to marry, knowing that there are disharmony between them already. Sometimes the woman gets pregnant and marriage would follow even though the couples are not suitable for each other.


But in the majority of Muslim societies this issue is a non-negotiable fact; sexual intercourse is only after marriage.


Sadly enough, after moving to Egypt and living there for over seven years, I noticed similar problems and nearly the same divorce rates of close to 60%. This means for every ten persons marrying, six would end up in divorce. This is shocking and is continuing to get worse!


Some Solutions


A closer look at the various scenarios, one may conclude the following as some of the causes, but of course not applicable to every case.


One might presume religious disharmony as the main cause of divorce among the couple, as well as lack of proper communication skills. So, God’s words {from among yourselves} should be observed not only in religious harmony but in communication skills.


Many times, assertiveness and wisdom in proper consultation with one another would result in better success.


Additionally, people spend years in learning certain fields of education, trade, commerce and various fields, but not many spend even a few months to learn the art of proper communication. This coupled with lack of knowledge in religion is sure to cause much dissatisfaction and miscommunication in the marriage.


Many times, assertiveness and wisdom in proper consultation with one another would result in better success in solving marriage problem. It is a two-way street and one must look at it as that.


Reflective Listening


One of the most powerful tools in solving marriage disharmony related to communication is reflective listening in which the parties truly listen to what the other communicates without judging. Once both sides feel they are well understood, is the time to then discuss the solutions. Many times frustration of feeling of not being heard would become an anger shell that would explode, causing the final blow.


Recently, I had brunch with an African American Muslim sister in Malaysia after an Islamic convention. She mentioned that many men in her community in Los Angeles feel having more than one wife is a glamour and a sign of manhood even if he cannot afford to cover their expenses.


This is not following the tradition of Prophet Muhammad, but the tradition of other African Americans who compete with each other in having more wives and children even if they cannot fulfill the condition God put upon a man who chooses more than one wife, {…if you can’t afford, only one!} (An-Nisa’ 4: 3)


She also mentioned many mothers work outside the home due to need as well as following the norm of the society.


In fact this sister is raising five kids, 4 from former marriages of her husband and herself and one shared between the two. She said she is planning to go back to university and get her Master’s degree in psychology – adding that the community really needed good counselors.


I tried to bring to her attention that her number one duty was to serve her own family and to be an affective wife/mother and concentrate on her God-given duty.


Her response was: “most of the female members of my family are very well educated and I want to follow suit.”


Perhaps shedding some light on some previous research would indicate why I was so anxious to point out to the lady from Los Angeles to reconsider her position.


Twenty Years of Research


The author of this article, who lived in the U.S. most of her life, took upon herself to do a more in-depth research about causes of divorces among the American working mothers for nearly twenty years.


Although reasons varied, the one common factor with the highest score among the divorced mothers was their mental/physical health had deteriorated to the point of intolerance and frustration toward their husbands—ending in divorce.


In most cases, the women tried to be super moms by working outside the home, trying to be mom, wife, home maker – lots of balls that only an extraordinary woman would be able to juggle.


Other factors included losing her soft feminine role and becoming too bossy and over powering for a husband to bear.


Some time earning more than the husband caused much disunity and power struggle between the two.


American History on Working Women


Many women have challenged men in most fields of life at the price of losing their own selves.


Looking back in the history of America, one would find most American women in the early 1900s were homemakers and did not leave the home.


It was only after the Second World War and the loss of many men and the industrialization of the country that women were urged to go outside their home to work.


This was followed by feminist movements where women’s worth and value was in some cases measured with what they could match with that of men.


The competition started decades ago and is only getting fiercer each year. Many women have challenged men in most fields of life at the price of losing their own selves as the mother, wife and that delicate woman that is appealing to a husband. Muslim women have lost no time to catch up with the trend.


So, it may be fair to say that instead of labeling Muslim family divorce rates as having soared up in an alarming rate, we may include the Western societies as a whole regardless of ethnicity and religion. Even better said, the western-style adaptation even in Muslim countries has been seen as a major attributing factor to high divorce rates.


There Is Hope


Yet, there are those who fully apply the principle of “from among yourselves” and have adhered strongly to the divine principles ordained by God in Islam and have kept themselves and their families from unhealthy exposures and corrupt moral behaviors and used the Book of God as their guide. They have been able to preserve their marriage as well as their children from falling into the same stream as those who are struggling to swim ashore.


Dear readers, please take heed to the marriage issue. You owe to yourselves, your children and generations to come a harmonious life; a God-conscious mentality and peace by avoiding future conflict that some fail to see while making their decisions for marriage.


God, the Most Wise, reminds us:


{And Allah has made for you your mates of your own nature, and made for you, out of them, sons and daughters and grandchildren, and provided for you sustenance of the best.} (An-Nahl 16: 72)

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Published on: Monday, 14 January 2013

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