The recent Facebook post by Ibn-Ishaq Aboo Haneefah Inenemo on Record Breaking Divorce calls for serious concern about how our exuberant youths are going about consummating ill-prepared marriages, causing incalculable damage in the process, inflicting untold hardship on innocent ladies and creating calamitous consequences for the Ummah.
The post which generated a lot of reactions reads: “The record breaking divorce situation, I have heard from reliable persons is a situation of a sister who demanded divorce from her husband after 4 days.
“I think these our small small brothers and sisters have to be told that marriage is not NO-LLY-WOOD.
“Some have seen marriage as a DO OR DIE AFFAIR, so they don’t even give themselves a chance to think about what they want in marriage whilst understanding the intricacies and responsibilities in the institution.
“Unfortunately the only reason some of this small small brothers and sisters are marrying is because people are marrying. Stop this #Thuggery,” he said.
Commenting on this post, a friend of Aboo Haneefah, simply identified as Peace Peace wrote in pidgin:
“No be even the days or duration they spent with each other is the wahala ….the wahala is what is the reason that leads them to divorce …I heard one or two cases ….One case is bcos husand said I wana eat beans the wife cooked rice ….that is all. The brother gives the wife red card, By Ileya, it will make one year of marriage …..The second case is aftter a brother spent a very huge amount of money for this wedding, we rougly calculated up to 750k after 4 months the marriage crashed bcos he saw his wife putting jams ..blankish to food she wana give to him …that is the end …I have many cases here …time no permit me …May Allah give an understanding and patience in our marriage …….I am scared to propose I am just fed up.”
Cases or such record breaking divorce could be traced to the spread of a dangerous ‘virus’ which has been contracted by many ‘small small’ Brothers and Sisters as stated by Abu Haneefah. So many innocent young Muslim ladies have been lured into unprepared and premature marriages that eventually end up in unwarranted divorce cases. They claim early marriage is an encouraged practice of the holy Prophet Muhammad (Sunnah), ignoring and jeopardising other celebrated Sunnatic practices like importance of seeking knowledge, pursuing a decent living, respect for elders, marrying with the consent of the wife’s family and other enviable ethics, ethos and practices associated with Islamic marriage.
These neophytes do hide under an attempt to make marriage simple and less burdensome to cajole family members and circumvent other essential things as family consent, psychological, physical and financial readiness and maturity of both man and woman as stipulated by Islam.
Prophet Muhammad was quoted to have said: “When a man is capable of (ready for) marriage, let him get married (noting that the readiness is all encompassing) and if he is not, he should keep fasting”.
Obviously, youthful exuberance, immaturity, lack of thorough understanding of religious demands and above all, dearth of proper guidance of elders account for the high rate of divorce among the supposedly informed youths.
Except impotence or an established case of Zina (adultery) on either of the partner, divorce, an act that is seriously discouraged and frowned at by Islam is not expected to be so rampant and quickened.
It was AbdulWaasi Muddathiir, another FB friend who threw more light on this disturbing matter, “To all those who are surprised of the four (4) days duration: to a ‘neo-salafist’, there’s no time frame to pronounce divorce or take subsequent wives (mathna, thulatha…)”
While discussing this mind-boggling issue at another platform, a colleague narrated a horrible experience: “One of them married my wife’s elder sister, he and a friend just came home with a basket of fruits, visited the mum and the wife (fiance) introduced him. Thereafter, they went to see the olori ebi (family head). Only for the Sister, through a salafi man, to come home the following week to pack the loads….. The mother opened mouth like, haaaaaa! Just like that….. But you know, our mother after being bamboosed with “Anobi sope, Islam leyi…” she succumbed.
“But the day I wept for them was when a family function came up, she came with protruded belly, covering it by force with khimar, and everyone opened eyes like “Haaaaa, Alhaja…… Kilese yiii” She was not comfortable.
Another colleague narrated a more unpalatable experience:
“My wife and I visited a salafiyy brother. My wife ALMOST wept when she shook the hand of his wife. The hand was so hard with wounds and bruises as a result washing and other house chores. They live in a single room in his mother’s house with three (3) kids but instead of the husband to make life easier for his family by probably getting machines to help his wife or secure a more spacious apartment for his family, he married another wife into another apartment. He claimed Mathna (second wife) is “ogun owo” (a quick way to riches). He speaks good English but said Allah will not question him for not sending his kids to school but he will be queried for not teaching them Deen!
“My wife wept … Some of these Sisters are suffering and also scared because they (immature and erratic men) can divorce them anytime. It’s horrible! Not only on nikah, they deny them the joy of their entire life!,” he said.
Learning from experienced hands
It is nevertheless obvious that this divorce phenomenon which cuts across both Southern and Northern part of the country is more rampant among the Salafi brethren. Prior to this era, Muslim youths (particularly Lagos MSSN) have a well structured approach that has put the divorce rate among the Brothers and Sisters at near-zero percent. Brethren are scrutinized to ascertain readiness in terms of religious and material requirements before a proposed marriage is approved by the very senior colleagues otherwise known as elders.
However, this editing-auditing-gate-keeping approach which involves sanctioning, securing parents’ approval and getting the Nikah adequately publicised to avoid all shades of doubt has over the years been criticised by the Salafis. In fact, It is one of the major reasons they denounce and condemn some Islamic organisations. These passionate youths claim the organised groups do not allow non-members to marry their Sisters. They actually want to marry their choice Sister without going through the mill, the hurdles and the rigours.
What is happening among these inexperienced but energetic youngsters is an attempt to redefine marriage as a union without burden and sexual enjoyment without responsibility. It is an incursion of alien practice in our clime.
But, come to think of it, what else do we expect when the veritable processes that lead to a successful marriage – including the roles and the impact of the family are rendered useless. What do we expect to reap from a tradition that trivialises Sadaqqi (the bride price) which legalises the woman’s privacy for the man.
Even in Saudi Arabia, like in many Islamic countries, there are strict rules that stipulate official certification for men (in terms of financial, material, physical and psychological preparedness/readiness) before getting married. Controls are built based on experience to ensure couples are ready and certified religiously and materially before their admission into the life-long journey of marital relationship!
What is more pathetic is the unpalatable consequence of this practice which sees innocent Sisters being divorced into a not too organised community.
Interestingly, many notable Sheikhs who have been progenitors and protagonists of the ill-prepared marriages do organise very befitting weddings for their own children. This development have left many wondering why the scholars did not shun Walimah (celebration) by quietly giving away their daughters. Many wondered why they choose to publicise and hold Nikah in top-notch event centres with enough food and drinks for everyone.
Calamity in the waiting
It is obvious that since these young generation have no distinctive organisations They remain unorganised with no proper guidance, wisdom of the sage and experience of the elders.
Hence, the young divorcees and sometimes the widows are left in the wilderness with neither the family, Islamic organisation or Muslim Community to care for them.
This is why some have advocated mandatory publicity of Nikah as a way of addressing divorce. Most times, unscrupulous young men find it easy to either abandon or send Sisters packing since they’ve got very little to lose. After all, he has got three (3) additional spaces to fill and very few individuals are aware of the marriage in the first instance….
It must therefore be noted that when young men start divorcing young ladies with reckless abandon in a loose society like ours, where virtually anything goes; when a nation is beset with unmitigated production of divorcees in a clime where young men prefers single ladies as Mathna, Thulaatha and Ruba’a to divorcees and widows; when a deluge of social menace rears its ugly head in a nation that has no provision for divorcees and widows, one can only expect a time bomb of a calamitous proportion of social dislocation to explode in no distant period.
The Way out
While the rise in divorce has been identified as a growing concern, it is important for Muslim elders to close ranks, irrespective of affiliations, with a view to addressing the issue headlong.
“… And let not your hatred of a folk… seduce you to transgress; but cooperate with one another unto righteousness and pious duty. And help not one another unto sin and transgression, but keep your duty to Allah. Lo! Allah is severe in punishment.” Qur’an 5:3
If this is not addressed strategically, Muslim Women may begin to tend toward feminism in a bid to find protection
Hence, scholars and various organisations or groups must consciously and honestly train their members on the sacredness of the institution of marriage and the rights of women. Marital counselling centers or institutions must be established from where betrothed couples would be made to go through pre-marital and marital counselling. Both the intending and young couples should also be urged to read and share knowledge on successful marrital relationships beyond the cosmetic romantic movies obtainable in Nollywood, Hollywood or Bollywood.
The essence and impact of reading “Every Woman” and Al-Jibaly Marriage Series together can surely not be underestimated.
Muslim leaders and organisations should constantly organise Marriage/Couple’s Seminars for Muslim families to get them enlightened on the challenges associated with marriages and how Islam has comprehensively profered solutions to them.
Regular workshops should be considered to accommodate presentations of real life and practical scenarios from the participants, with a view to providing realistic solutions to problems.
Weekly Family Usrah and other relevant mechanisms including alternative crisis resolutions and methods should also be explored.
And of course, young Muslim Brothers and Sisters must be made to realise that, in as much as they want to cherish and savour their freedom, the blessing of being in a Jamaa’h (group or organisation) cannot be over emphasised. After all, if they pass on today, somebody must take over their widows/widowers, just as the responsibility of caring for their children (orphans) will naturally fall on someone else. This is where organisations become virtually inevitable, particularly in a developing country like ours.
It is therefore important for the larger Muslim Community to rise up to the challenge of the threat being constituted by these young and inexperienced lads and ladies. The Ummah and indeed the Nigerian nation must similarly brace up to nip this unfortunate development in the bud to forestall a corrosive social crisis.
After all, Marriage is meant to be Enjoyed and not to be Endured!
Elder Yinka Salaam
Voice of Nigeria, Lagos