Today I would like to discuss three pitfalls revert Muslims encounter in seeking to marry.
It is, unfortunately, a statistical fact that a very high percentage of reverts, especially revert sisters, end up getting divorced at some point.
No one enters a marriage to be divorced. Unfortunately, a high percentage of revert marriages end in divorce.
To hopefully avoid such an unfortunate circumstance, let’s review three of Ustadha Amina Blake’s tips for revert marriage.
1. Take Your Time to Find a Spouse
Immediately after making shahada, reverts face an onslaught of well-meaning brothers and sisters imploring: Now, you have to complete the other half of your deen! You must get married! – this is when you should slam on the breaks; and hard.
How can anyone expect that your first steps as a new Muslim should be jumping into marriage?!? One of the most important things you need to be doing is establishing your deen – growing in your knowledge and practice of your newfound faith.
As a new Muslim, insha’Allah, you will grow and learn so much in the first year or two, evolving into the established Muslim Allah Almighty intended you to be.
And through this journey, your expectations and goals will change.
When I first became Muslim, my idea of a good Muslim man was somebody who looked like a Muslim and said masha’Allah a lot!
That was all I had to go on! I was a new Muslim who didn’t know any better!
But as we grow into practicing Muslims, we learn that there is more to being Muslim than what another Muslim wears on their body or face.
In short, do not rush into marriage. Do not get married just because you became Muslim or because anyone is pushing you to marry.
It is 100% your right to say no, thank-you.
2. Avoid the Unsuitable Spouse
Whether a person is Muslim or not, people choose to marry someone with whom they are incompatible.
We have to start looking beyond the basic appearance of faces, smiles, eyes, hair, height, weight, accents, ethnicity, or bank accounts.
We also have to look beyond the use of sprinkled terms, such as “Masha’Allah” and “Al-hamdulillah.”
These factors alone do not necessarily make two people compatible with one another.
Even if a potential spouse appears to be a practicing Muslim, that person can still be the wrong one for you.
One of the most overlooked aspects of seeking a partner in a Muslim marriage is making sure that you are culturally compatible.
That does not necessarily mean you have to marry somebody with the same cultural background as yours. However, it is undeniably significant that you and your spouse can co-exist on common ground.
Why? Because, when that honeymoon period is over, and you discover that your expectations of one another do not match, serious problems – or even a breakdown of the marriage – become inevitable.
So, to my sisters – because I recognize that this happens a lot – do not rush or allow yourself to be pressured into marriage before you are fully ready. And do not hesitate to trust your God-given instinct for detecting red flags.
And, not to offend our brothers, but the majority of men brought-up in traditional Muslim families – were raised as princes. The expectation of what these men are looking for in marriage will mirror what they know. From food to housekeeping and child-rearing, the expectations and pressure will leave little room for a sister to exercise or grow into her style or habits.
So, be forewarned. If your expectations are at the opposite end of the spectrum from your spouse, you will run into problems that can lead to divorce.
Above all – value yourself. Do not race into marrying the first person who comes along and flutters their eyelids at you. Take time to get to know the person, ask the right questions, and get your wali involved.
3. The Contract and the Safeguards
A. The Wali
Your wali should not be some guy pulled in off the street. Neither should your marriage be with two random witnesses.
A wali is someone acting as a guardian – the person a wife should be able to turn to when problems arise – who will help guide, mediate solutions.
For brothers: make sure you and your family get to know the sister’s family. When possible, include non-Muslim family members in the conversation. They will want to be involved and will feel honored to be included on the journey to finding your ideal marriage and life partner.
B. The Contract (Nikah)
In Islam, marriage is a legal contract between a man and a woman. Both the bride and groom consent to marriage with free will. A formal, binding marriage contract (verbal and/or on paper) is considered integral to a religiously valid Islamic marriage and outlines the rights and responsibilities of the groom and bride.
Sisters, you have the right to a mahr – or dowry. Why are you selling yourselves short? A man must value you when he gets married to you. Too often, sisters agree to a mahr in some minuscule amount saying, “Well, I don’t want anything, just teach me a verse of the Quran.”
You are not dealing with the companions here! You are dealing with people that may not have the best intentions – one of the biggest pitfalls revert sisters encounter.
So, when you are determining the amount of your rightful mahr, ask for something significant. The mahr does not have to be something out of reach. However, the mahr, by intention, is something for a sister to fall back on if the marriage deteriorates. And make sure the mahr is in your hand at the nikah rather than some randomly postponed date that you may never see.
Finally, let us revisit our expectations. Before your nikah, sit down and make a list of things that you expect from your marriage.
Sisters, here are some items to include in your marriage contract:
1. If your spouse wants you to relocate, and you do not want to, the marriage contract can state a solution to the problem.
2. If there is a lifestyle you are accustomed to living, for example, if you want to work, put it in the contract.
3. Sometimes, a sister can feel trapped in a marriage she needs to get out of, as in the case of irreconcilable differences or domestic abuse. But most sisters have never heard of the “tafwid” clause – where the husband permits a wife to divorce him at any time she feels the need to – which can be part of the contract.
The tafwid clause will prevent the husband from being able to hold you in the marriage. Alternatively, the sister would have to go through shariah councils to get the marriage dissolved by khul.
Sisters, safeguard yourselves from the start by adding the right of tafwid to your marriage contract; if a brother denies this right to you; that is a red flag. He should accept your request as a right given to the wives of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) by Allah the Almighty in the Quran.
May Allah bless you and bless your spouses. And if you are hoping to marry, may Allah the Almighty bless you with a compatible spouse and a life-long marriage.