'My Husband is Not Religious'
IF you were brought up with a religious background – where it was normal for you to wear hijab once you were supposed to, to attend religious talks, and seek knowledge – the expectations when you had to get married would have been high.
A lot of women conscious of the deen look for someone who is stronger than them – so that they can be their anchor, pull them up when they need it, be their support, and help them on their path to Jannah.
However, that expectation is, more often than not, left wanting. When that happens, it can create frustration in the women, disappointment, despair, and wondering if there could have been a better person out there, who fits their criteria perfectly. Another life.
There are a few things to understand here: First, Allah has decreed everyone’s spouse. Every single thing that happens is the plan of Allah, and to doubt it is not a small matter. He knows you better than you know yourself. He knows exactly the kind of person you wanted, and yet He gave you this husband. Why? That requires some thought.
Secondly, the term ‘religious’ means different things to different people. For some, it’s not drinking alcohol even though the people around them are. For some, doing their five salah and fasting in Ramadan is enough. For others, it’s more. Let’s say you and your husband are on different levels. That is your test. What can you do about it though?
Even though this is the most difficult thing to do – the reason for nagging is because wives want their husbands to do better – it is the one thing that can turn them away from the religion. Think about how your sense of piety came to be. Were you always this way? What changed you? True embracement comes from the heart.
Invite to the way of your Lord with wisdom and good instruction... [Surah Nahl, 16:125]
He needs to understand why it is important to do the action. He needs to build a connection with his Rabb first, to be able to do absolutely anything He has said. This rings true for children too. If you nag him to pray, he might do it just to get you to stop, but if you weren’t around, the chances of that happening are slim. The key to doing better is love – love of Allah. With love, there are no boundaries.
Actions Speak Louder Than Words
Most people are influenced by what happens around them, so instead of always telling him what to do, why don’t you continue to do it yourself? This is a long process, but definitely more effective than just words. When he sees how much peace you get from Islam, it might make him want to join you too.
So by mercy from Allah, [O Muhammad], you were lenient with them. And if you had been rude [in speech] and harsh in heart, they would have disbanded from about you... [Surah Aal-Imran 3:159]
The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ won so many hearts because of how soft he was to the people. He did not enforce all obligations on them at once, and despite how his enemies behaved towards him, he was always his best towards them. This is a quality of character that is hard to emulate today. We can, however, try. Be merciful to your husband when he forgets, just as you would want Allah to be merciful to you if you forget.
It’s Not All About Rituals
Islam preaches the best character, and in order to be taken seriously, we should put that into practice. Our religion does not only deem us to pray, fast, give charity, and go for hajj. It is an all-encompassing demeanour which includes giving the rights of Allah and the rights of the people.
Righteousness is not that you turn your faces toward the east or the west, but [true] righteousness is [in] one who believes in Allah , the Last Day, the angels, the Book, and the prophets and gives wealth, in spite of love for it, to relatives, orphans, the needy, the traveller, those who ask [for help], and for freeing slaves; [and who] establishes prayer and gives zakah; [those who] fulfil their promise when they promise; and [those who] are patient in poverty and hardship and during battle. Those are the ones who have been true, and it is those who are the righteous. [Surah Baqarah 2:177]
Smile, give charity, help others, feed people. Be a good neighbour, a good daughter, a good daughter-in-law, a good wife, a good mother. Be a good listener, be generous, be loving. It’s the little things that count.
There is nothing that we can do without the help of Allah. He loves to hear us call on Him, and doing so gets us closer to Him and helps ease the frustration. By making dua, it shows that you want it badly enough that you took time out to ask for it.
And your Lord says, “Call upon Me; I will respond to you”… [Surah Ghafir 40:60]
In another ayah:
And when My servants ask you, [O Muhammad], concerning Me - indeed I am near. I respond to the invocation of the supplicant when he calls upon Me. So let them respond to Me [by obedience] and believe in Me that they may be [rightly] guided. [Surah Baqarah 2:186]
He is so close that He responds whenever you call. You don’t have to wait to make dua only after you pray or after the adhan. The most sincere du’a comes at the most desperate times. So even you’re in the middle of a situation and want to throw up a prayer, know that He is listening.
Trying to change a person is a long process. It requires, in the utmost form, patience. Patience to get you through it, patience to control how much you tell him to do, and patience to not get angry when your words aren’t followed with action on his part. Our Prophet Muhammad ﷺ had plenty of it. The disbelievers’ constant stubborn defiance didn’t discourage him to the point that he abandoned his mission.
A beautiful oft-heard ayah is:
O you who have believed, seek help through patience and prayer. Indeed, Allah is with the patient. [Surah Baqarah 2:153]
Allah is with you when you are patient, helping you through it. That has to be the most beautiful and comforting thought!
Guidance Comes Only From Allah
This is the most important thing to remember. In all those times of frustration, despair and being annoyed, you have to remind yourself that it is not your efforts that will get him to change, but the will of Allah. Hence the importance of asking du’a. A sense of pride can be found (especially when it comes to one’s children) if they are termed religious, but in reality, all you have done is helped them along.
The guidance to follow through came from Allah. It is also true the other way around – there might be a fleeting thought of “Why isn’t he listening to me? Doesn’t he love me enough? How many times do I have to repeat myself?” but the truth is, it is only Allah that can truly change him.
Indeed, [O Muhammad], you do not guide whom you like, but Allah guides whom He wills. And He is most knowing of the [rightly] guided. [Surah Qasas 28:56]
What helps at this time is remembering what a wonderful person Allah chose for you. Your husband, despite his flaws, loves you, despite yours. Allah put love and mercy between both of you so that he cares for you, provides for you, and comforts you. If he is lacking in deen, maybe you are lacking elsewhere. If he doesn’t complain about it to you, you should not complain about this to him. Instead, complain only to Allah –
...I only complain of my suffering and my grief to Allah… [Surah Yusuf 12:86]
– be grateful for the good things, and thank Allah always.
This life is a blessing, treat is as such.