Peaceful Homes Part 2: Guarding the Home's Secrets

Based on a Khutbah given by Imam Abu Taleb

Islamic Association of Raleigh

November 4, 2016

My honored brothers and sisters, after beginning with the praise and the thanks of Allah the Exalted, the Almighty, I bear witness that there is none worthy of worship and unconditional obedience save the one true God and I bear witness that Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, is the last of His prophets and the seal of His messengers.

:قال الله تعالى

وَالَّذِينَ يَقُولُونَ رَبَّنَا هَبْ لَنَا مِنْ أَزْوَاجِنَا وَذُرِّيَّاتِنَا قُرَّةَ أَعْيُنٍ وَاجْعَلْنَا لِلْمُتَّقِينَ إِمَامًا

In this ayah, in this verse, in Surah al-Furqaan, Chapter number 25 of the Quran, Allah, عز وجل is listing some of the characteristics of a special group of people who are “Ibaadur Rahman." Allah describes this group of people as His servants, the servants of Ar-Rahman, which means The Most Gracious. One of their characteristics is they make a dua' that is so important that Allah gives it not only in meaning but specific wording as well.

And He says,

وَالَّذِينَ يَقُولُونَ رَبَّنَا

And those who call out, "Oh, our Lord grant us from our wives our spouses and children the coolness of our eyes, the joy of our eyes and make us leaders for the righteous."

And "qurratul 'ain," this "joy of the eyes" is an expression among the Arabs which means to have tranquility and peace and happiness in that which you look at. The opposite is to be unsettled, to be agitated, to be anxious. They would call this "the warmness” or the “hotness of the eyes."  So the commentators mention in their Quranic commentary that among the interpretations of this verse is that one of the most joyous things in life is to see the obedience of Allah from those that are closest to you among humanity. So a person looks at their spouse, at their children, at their home and sees those that are connected with Allah, سبحانه و تعالى, and so we ask Allah in dua', "Oh Allah, grant us this."

Another interpretation that some of the mufassirun have mentioned is that this is also a dua' for the Day of Judgement. That when a person would be brought forth on the Last Day, as they're presented before Allah, سبحانه و تعالى, they would be at the head of a lineage of those that have been righteous servants of Allah, عز وجل. This would include one's immediate family, one's children, one's grandchildren. In fact, he or she who sows a righteous seed could even meet on the Last Day great grandchildren and those in their lineage that they never met in this dunya but they have a share of their reward for the goodness they started in life.

Among those that had a great share in this reward is the Prophet of Allah, Ibraheem, عليه السلام . He made dua' to Allah not just for his immediate children but indeed, for his lineage all the way down to us. He made made dua' for our ummah to be blessed with the Prophet Muhammad. So perhaps Allah will grant a share of the good deeds from all of the ummah of the Prophet Muhammad, صلى الله عليه وسلم, to the Prophet of Allah, Ibraheem, عليه السلام, for his great dua' and his imagination and his hope that we who come after him would be among those connected with Allah, عز وجل.

We have are in a khutbah series examining a hadith of the Prophet, صلى الله عليه وسلم, that mentions several characteristics of our homes. The first khutbah will be posted Inshaa Allah online, "Peaceful Families #1" and we'll review it briefly today and then go into the narration of the second home.

This is a story as narrated in the hadith in Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim and elsewhere, was narrated by our mother, the Mother of the Believers 'Aisha bint Abi Bakr, رضي الله عنها,

to the Prophet Muhammad.

Ibn Hajar, among other scholars, mentioned that these stories happened in al-Yemen, who were the original Arabs. After al-Yemen, they spread to the Arabian Peninsula. The people outside of those lands that speak Arabic, such as the Egyptians and North Africans, the people of Sham, modern day Syrians, Lebanese, Jordanians over to Iraq and beyond, are not ethnically Arab. They are linguistically Arab. They were “Arabized,” if you will.

So this old story of eleven households is from the times of jahiliyyah (times of pre-Islamic ignorance) and it is from the original “Arabia” of al-Yemen.

عن عائشة أنها قالت: جلس إحدى عشرة امرأة، فتعاهدن وتعاقدن أن لا يكتمن من أخبار أزواجهن شيئا

The hadith begins that eleven women sat and they took a pledge and a covenant among themselves that they would not hide anything about the stories and the information of their husbands and households. We mentioned that this action is an action of gheebah and nameemah. It's backbiting and gossip which is not allowed in our religion. Though the Prophet, صلى الله عليه و السلم, did not listen backbiting, he listened to this is a story of  folklore of the Arabs, so we take the good and learn lessons from this story even if we don't repeat it in action.

This hadith is beautiful in that it encompasses the positive and negative traits of different households. These are women talking about their husbands but in reality, this is not a male or female-specific characteristic. Every wife amongst us must find something of these eleven in her heart and home, either a positive characteristic that she could grow and develop or a negative characteristic that she could work to rid herself of. Similarly, the husbands men in the room will find in these eleven examples some share in their heart and their homes, either something good that is praised that they should develop or something negative that should be rid of. Even those that are younger and unmarried in the room, we understand that Allah, سبحانه و تعالى, says,

وَالطَّيِّبَاتُ لِلطَّيِّبِينَ وَالطَّيِّبُونَ لِلطَّيِّبَاتِ

That “good women are for good men and good men are for good women."

And so, we prepare ourselves to be ingredients of a righteous household and this hadith helps us to discuss a number of things.

The first wife, which was summarized briefly,

قالت الأولى: زوجي لحم جمل غث، على رأس جبل وعر لا سهل فيرتقى ولا سمين فينتقل

This first woman likened her husband to lean camel meat. We said that camel meat among the Arabs is like Grade D meat among Americans. It's not the most desirable of meals. She used this as a metaphor to say that he wasn’t a very good person and also said,

على رأس جبل وعر

That imagine this lowly meal is at the top of a mountain out of reach. The ‘ulama, scholars, took this to mean that this man, on top of his bad character, was an incredibly arrogant person. So he was difficult to deal with, hard to connect with and this electrified the home and made it difficult to live with this household.

The woman continues,

لا سهل فيرتقى ولا سمين فينتقل

That it is not easy to go get that meal because the arrogance is like a mountain in the way, so it is not a worthy meal that is worth all of that effort.

So we learned from this woman to treasure our households. Brothers and sisters, I want you to understand that as I share these khutab with you, these words cause me pain and I know they

cause you sometimes, some discomfort and pain too. Because it must be that we hear some of these teachings and find a dimension of our character that is similar to this. We're mentioning these stories so we can rekindle hope in our households.

We can see that these problems are not unique to our homes alone, rather they were shared with homes and families before us. Not just that, but Alhamdulillah, I am blessed to share with you a little bit of research of what the Quran mentioned, what the Prophet, صلى الله عليه وسلم, said in his ahadith and then after that how great scholars engage these very same problems we find in homes hundreds of years ago. So we hear from Imam an-Nawawi, Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani, al-Khattabi, Qadi Ayyad, and even modern psychologists and other thoughts that can benefit our homes.

The hope in this is to rekindle hope in our families. Here at the IAR we have a reference sheet of qualified Muslim marriage counselors for those that would like private and secret third party help. . We, as imams, help with Shari' issues. However, sometimes we just need to learn how to communicate, how to get past the difficult issues. Thus, there are people with counseling experience who can help with these issues, even virtually over Skype and telecommunication. So we want to rekindle that lost hope that has escaped many of our households.

So from this woman, we learn to treasure our homes. We never say to put up with abuse or chronic bad behavior, and there is no harm in getting help for other issues. But ultimately, do not make comparisons to the outside that will make us never satisfied with our households. For the men, we learn that we have to descend the mountain. There is little that is more destructive to our homes than the ego and our pride. It builds until the two spouses start to behave very much like children because the Shaytaan, when he finds that little opening for arrogance, he rips it wide open.

The Prophet, صلى الله عليه وسلم, indicates in a hadith that the one who has an atom's weight of arrogance in his heart will not enter Jannah. So arrogance and ego and pride are among the biggest destroyers of the households. When we humble ourselves and get ready to work at a solution, indeed, that is more than half of the solution itself. To let go of the ego and work towards a better home.

Now we move to the second household.

قالت الثانية: زوجي لا أبث خبره، إني أخاف أن لا أذره، إن أذكره أذكر عجره وبجره

We mentioned that the words of this hadith, MashaAllah, are incredibly eloquent and at times, take explanation – and this shows, in part, the skill and eloquence of ‘Aisha (ra) as the narrator.

So the second wife says,

"My husband, I don't want to speak about him. He is so bad that I fear I would not be able to describe his faults, both hidden and invisible completely."

So you see this woman criticizes her husband but let us break down why that criticism happens. There is an eloquence in the Arabic here that is lost in translation so I want to explain it first.

At the end, she says,

"If I mention him, I mention two things; "عجره وبجره." 

And "العجر" is an old Arabic term probably unfamiliar to many Arabic speakers in the room. It is a condition where the veins and the nerves of the body become so inflamed that they become visible from outside. So from above the skin you can see this inflammation. Then, "البجر" is a description of the torso, the stomach and specifically, the navel, when it gets a condition where the navel is protruding or inflamed. So she's drawing an analogy between two physical defects in appearance, two things that are undesirable to look at. One is inside - the veins and nerves inside the body. The second is visible on the outside, on the navel or the stomach.

So this is an eloquent description, to say that, "I, as his wife, I'm so close to him that I know all of his faults, top to bottom. Some of those faults are outside," meaning that other people might know them as well or they're visible. So imagine if a person is sharp-tongued or has a short temper, the wife or the husband in the house knows it but it also shows to the friends and co-workers because this is an open characteristic. Then the wife also says, "I also know invisible ones, ones that are in our house that no one else knows."

So the dominant explanation of the hadith among the scholars is that she didn't complain directly about anything, but in reality, she destroyed him with her description. She said that he is so bad that if "I start, I will never finish." So bad that it's not worth starting to describe and so in reality, while she seems to be trying to cover the faults of the home, in reality, she really exposed her home horribly.

So again, we will learn something for the man and something for the woman. But I first want to remind us of a very important part of our deen that many people forget and it is relevant not only to the second wife but indeed, to the whole sitting from the beginning.

Allah, سبحانه وتعالى, says in Surah al-Hujurat, surah number 49, verse number 12. A very, very heavy, powerful ayah. Allah says,

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اجْتَنِبُوا كَثِيرًا مِّنَ الظَّنِّ إِنَّ بَعْضَ الظَّنِّ إِثْمٌ

"Oh you who believe, avoid much assumption and negative suspicion because some of this suspicion is sin."

وَلَا تَجَسَّسُوا وَلَا يَغْتَب بَّعْضُكُم بَعْضًا

"And do not spy on one another and do not backbite one another."

 أَيُحِبُّ أَحَدُكُمْ أَن يَأْكُلَ لَحْمَ أَخِيهِ مَيْتًا فَكَرِهْتُمُوهُ وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ إِنَّ اللَّهَ تَوَّابٌ رَّحِيمٌ

"Would one of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother? You would detest it so be conscious and fear Allah, indeed, Allah is Accepting of Repentance, Most Merciful."

My brothers and sisters, let us have the courage to look in the mirror. How many times have we sat and eaten the flesh of our dead brothers and sisters? There is a hadith of the Prophet

صلى الله عليه وسلم, that indicates a mistake that many people make. Many people think it is only backbiting, it is only gheebah or nameemah if what you're saying about the person is untrue but in reality, this is not correct. It directly contradicts the hadith of the Prophet, صلى الله عليه وسلم.

As related in Sahih Muslim,

عن أبي هريرة، أن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم، قال: أتدرون ما الغيبة؟

The Prophet, عليه الصلاة و السلام, said, "Do you know what gheebah is? What backbiting is?" 

قالوا: الله ورسوله أعلم

They responded, "Allah and His Messenger know best."

قال: ذكرك أخاك بما يكره

He said, "To mention your brother with what he detests."

قيل أفرأيت إن كان في أخي ما أقول؟

It was said in this gathering, "Oh Messenger of Allah, what if my brother actually has this negative characteristic?"

 قال: إن كان فيه ما تقول، فقد اغتبته، وإن لم يكن فيه فقد بهته

He said, "If he has this characteristic, you have made gheebah. This is backbiting. And if he does not have that characteristic, then you have committed "بهتان", you have slandered him."

So you have both backbitten and you've said something false. How many of our gatherings do we say, make fun of a person's appearance? "Oh this person is short, this person had an ugly dress on today, this person every time they open their mouth, they're saying something foolish, our in-laws, our elders are this, oh the khateeb said this today, the imam did that, my friend did this." All of this, constantly backbiting others – which simply means to say something, anything, about a brother or sister which they would hate. All of this is prohibited except in very exceptional circumstances. When, for example, you're interviewing for a job or you're courting someone, you're allowed to mention negative things or to a person who is a judge in a case. But these gatherings of fun and talking over coffee, I fear for myself and my brothers and sisters, what will we have to answer for on the Day of Judgement if we do not repent?

So I ask Allah, سبحانه و تعالى, to protect us from the sin of backbiting and the sin of gheebah and buhtan.

[End of first part]

My brothers and sisters, we continue with this hadith, which is called the Hadith of Umm Zar'a and we mention the second wife,

قالت الثانية: زوجي لا أبث خبره، إني أخاف أن لا أذره، إن أذكره أذكر عجره وبجره

That she mentioned that her husband has so many bad qualities that if she started, she would not finish and she would mention his hidden faults and known faults openly.

My brothers and sisters, from the husband, we learn to reduce the opportunities for people to blame you. The believer always, as they conduct themselves, they try to live life as close to what Allah, سبحانه و تعالى, wanted and commanded, as close to the sunnah of رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم as they're able. When you do this, people will still talk because some people do not fear Allah in this regard but you reduce people's legitimate claims about you.

So I call myself to this before I call you, every claim or complaint we hear in this hadith, we must do the uncomfortable thing and look in the mirror and seek the corners of our hearts where we haven't peered for a long time. Where are the character flaws that we can work on? When we read the Quran, read the Quran's criticism of you before its criticism of others. Read its commandments to you before you see the commandments to others and allow it to lift you and elevate you.

Also from this woman, and indeed the gathering of women in general, we learn the danger of gheebah and nameemah, the danger of backbiting and slander. In reality, there are few that have more rights on us in this regard than our own families. Understand, my brothers and sisters, Allah by His permission gave the husband and the wife rights that he gave no other relationship on the planet. The husband and wife appear before one another in a manner that they do not appear in front of their own parents. I do not liken the love between them. Some people say, "Do you love your wife more? Do you love your mother more?" This is the wrong question.

There are different types of love and Allah, سبحانه وتعالى, opened for us the doors to many kinds of love. But in reality, there is a special closeness allows the husband and wife to enjoy from one another things that they do not share with any other human being. I do not only mean a physical relationship but in emotional connection, an intellectual connection, a connection around the deen that is different and distinct from every other relationship on the planet. But that closeness comes at a price. The price is that nobody can be that close to someone except that they find in them faults; physical, character, and other faults that nobody else knows. Some people cherish this as a trust between them and Allah, سبحانه وتعالى, and some people use it to destroy their homes. As is in our office as Imams, all too often that people destroy their own homes by sharing the secrets outside the walls of the house, sharing it with family, sharing it with friends, sharing it even beyond with strangers.

My brothers and sisters, remember that from the names of Allah is "الستير", the Cover, the One who veils our faults. If Allah wished, as a scholar mentioned, if sins had an odor to them, no one would sit with their brother or sister. None of us would sit here because we would all reek of the evil which our hands have done. But in reality, Allah covered so many of our faults and as He covered us in dunya. We ask Him, Allah, عز وجل, to shield us from the eyes of people in the Hereafter and to deal with us with His mercy and forgiveness.

So from our character is to shield our homes from the eyes of people and when we struggle and we need help of a third party, to bring it in in a private gathering with confidentiality, with secrecy, with a trustworthy individual or individuals who will honor the sacred trust with Allah, سبحانه وتعالى.

My brothers and sisters, I remind myself as I remind you that I have mentioned some of the consequences of those who do not cover the faults of their home in this dunya.  There are serious consequences in this dunya but in reality, they are nothing compared to the consequences of the Hereafter.

In a moving hadith,         

عن أبي هريرة: أَنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهم عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ قَالَ : أَتَدْرُونَ مَا الْمُفْلِسُ

The Prophet, عليه الصلاة و السلام, said, "Do you know who the bankrupt person is?"

قَالُوا : الْمُفْلِسُ فِينَا مَنْ لا دِرْهَمَ لَهُ وَلا مَتَا

The people said, "The poor man amongst us is the one without dirham currency nor wealth."

فَقَالَ: إِنَّ الْمُفْلِسَ مِنْ أُمَّتِي يَأْتِي يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ بِصَلاةٍ وَصِيَامٍ وَزَكَاةٍ وَيَأْتِي قَدْ شَتَمَ هَذَا وَقَذَفَ هَذَا وَأَكَلَ مَالَ هَذَا وَسَفَكَ دَمَ هَذَا وَضَرَبَ هَذَا فَيُعْطَى هَذَا مِنْ حَسَنَاتِهِ وَهَذَا مِنْ حَسَنَاتِهِ فَإِنْ فَنِيَتْ حَسَنَاتُهُ قَبْلَ أَنْ يُقْضَى مَا عَلَيْهِ أُخِذَ مِنْ خَطَايَاهُمْ فَطُرِحَتْ عَلَيْهِ ثُمَّ طُرِحَ فِي النَّارِ

أَوْ كَمَا قَالَ صَلَّى اللَّه عَلَيْهِ وسَلَّم  وَ نَسْأَلُ اللَّه السَّلَامَ وَ الْعَافِيَة

That the Prophet, صلى الله عليه و السلم, said, "The bankrupt person from my ummah, is the one who comes on the Day of Judgement with salah, and with fasting, and with zakah, but he that he has hurled abuses at people and brought calamity against others and unlawfully consumed the wealth of others and shed the blood of others and beat others and so they take from his good deeds and he takes from his good deeds and if his good deeds are exhausted, then their bad deeds are hurled upon him then he is flung into the Hellfire."

We ask Allah, سبحانه و تعالى, to protect us from the sin of gheebah and buhtan. We ask Allah,

 عز وجل, to save us from that we would be among these people in the Hereafter. We ask Allah to shield our homes from the eyes of men and to shield our faults from the eyes of people and to shield our faults after our death and to shield our faults on the Last Day. We ask Allah to bring between every husband and wife in peace and to protect our children in these difficult times, to have mercy on our parents as they raised us when we were young, to have mercy on the people that are suffering all across the world.

[Ending Dua]