Life and Times Blog

Marriage contract of Bilal Randeree & Amina Ebrahim

As a preamble Bilal asked me to include this:
Sahih Bukhari – Volume 7, Book 62, Number 157:
Narrated Al-Miswar bin Makhrama:
I heard Allah’s Apostle who was on the pulpit, saying, “Banu Hisham bin Al-Mughira have requested me to allow them to marry their daughter to Ali bin Abu Talib, but I don’t give permission, and will not give permission unless ‘Ali bin Abi Talib divorces my daughter in order to marry their daughter, because Fatima is a part of my body, and I hate what she hates to see, and what hurts her, hurts me.”

In the name of Allah, most Gracious, most Merciful

This is a marriage contract between Bilal Randeree and Amina Ebrahim
Preamble

“And among His Signs is this that He created for you mates from among yourselves that you may dwell in tranquillity with them and He has put love and mercy between your (hearts); verily in that are Signs for those who reflect.” (Qur’an, Surah Al Rum Verse 21)

We, BILAL RANDEREE and AMINA EBRAHIM, agree to take each other as marriage partners on the understanding that this contract shall regulate our relationship.

While Islam is quite clear that marriage is a contract or agreement between two people, it is distinguished in that it is a contract whose necessary component is love. We pray that our marriage will be blessed by the “love and mercy” of God, and we commit ourselves to constantly striving to ensure that love and caring are strong pillars of our relationship.

Having both descended from the first single human created by Allah, we acknowledge the basic equality of all people, and especially of each other insofar as our respective rights and responsibilities in our marriage are concerned.

Marriage involves the joining of two individuals with the purpose of forming a partnership that will combine our individual strengths, abilities, talents and skills. It will be a partnership based on interdependence, a mutually beneficial relationship where we each retain our individuality and personality but where the relationship is also accorded its significant place.

Together with love and caring, we commit ourselves to striving for a marriage characterised by mutual respect, appreciation, support, co-operation and loyalty between the spouses. These, we believe, will be essential for the success of our marriage and we commit ourselves to upholding these values as determining factors in our dealings with each other, as advised by the Qur’ān and the example of the Prophet Muhammad (s).

Furthermore, we commit ourselves to a spirit of openness, trust, strong communication and mutual consultation in our relationship. We will discuss key decisions fully, taking into consideration, among others, the personal, social and economic consequences thereof.

We commit ourselves to marriage and to relationship-building and strengthening, with the assistance of an outside party, if necessary.

Marriage needs to be a relationship free from abuse: physical, emotional or verbal. And we commit ourselves to building a relationship free of such abuse and one that allows us both to feel safe.

We agree to identify mutually agreed-upon spiritual, career and psychological goals and priorities and strive towards achieving these.

Our daily interactions with each other will be guided by the spirit of fairness, dignity and justice promoted by the Qur’ān and shown to us by the example of the Messenger of Allah, Muhammad (on whom be peace).

We will strive to ensure that our interactions with each other are in a spirit of
• Love, compassion and generosity
• Mutual respect and courtesy
• Openness and honesty
• Communicating freely and fully at all times
• With a willingness to learn from each other and from others
• Generously acknowledging each other’s love, support and achievements
• Having the humility and the courage to admit our mistakes and learn from them.

We understand marriage as being a relationship that should be free from abuse, of an emotional, physical, or verbal nature. We therefore undertake to refrain totally from abusive behaviour and speech toward each other, and to create an environment within which all members of our family will feel safe.

We agree that decisions will be made following a process of mutual consultation (shura) and agreement by both of us. All key decisions will be discussed fully, taking into consideration, amongst others, the social, economic, and academic consequences thereof.

We agree to identify and strive proactively and fully towards achieving mutually-agreed-upon spiritual, financial, career, and psychological goals and priorities, both in our individual and our joint capacities.

We commit ourselves to relationship building and developing a strong and faithful marriage.

We commit ourselves to healthy lifestyles regarding diet, exercise, and stress reduction, and are willing to obtain medical advice and feedback from time to time as a means of ensuring and sustaining our health.

Religious foundation of marriage

We commit ourselves to a life of ongoing learning and growing in understanding – of ourselves, each other, all those we interact with, all of creation, our Creator, and our religion, Islam.

We commit ourselves to creating a home environment which respects and fosters the spirit and message of Islam as upheld in the Qur’an and as demonstrated by Prophet Muhammad (on whom be peace) in his living.

Education

We will both endeavour to educate ourselves as much as is possible – both in terms of education related to our careers and in terms of Islamic education. Neither spouse will have the right to prevent the other from furthering her / his education; nor will either spouse place impediments in the path of the other if the latter seeks to further her / his education.

Marriage rights and responsibilities
Financial rights and obligations
Both of us have the right to seek and secure employment, to derive income from business or other investments, to save and invest our savings, and to develop our respective careers.

We commit ourselves to discussing from time to time, as required by our circumstances, a joint budget and financial plan that will be beneficial to our marriage, in the short and long terms.

We may retain individual bank accounts and have the right to manage and dispose of our individual finances and assets as we deem fit. Nevertheless, we agree that we will consult with each other before incurring any personal expenses that do not benefit the marriage.

Financial responsibilities will be determined and shared in a way that is mutually agreeable and equitable depending on our respective circumstances.

Domestic Responsibilities
We agree to share domestic responsibilities. While Amina will have overall responsibility of the household, it will not be the sole duty of either spouse to maintain an attractive domestic environment or to provide meals and, in general, to maintain the household.

Social relations
We shall strive to the best of our ability, at all times, to lead a full life – one that takes cognisance of the rights of others – interacting with and contributing to the wellbeing of the various communities we are part of and to society at large.

Respect
Respect is an essential ingredient of any marriage. We will at all times endeavour to respect each other’s humanity, intelligence and our respective families. We will thus give due and serious consideration to the words and actions of each other and other members of our family. Neither of us will have any right to physically, mentally or psychologically abuse the other, no matter what justification or rationalisation could be given for such action.

We both commit ourselves to providing a home environment where each of us is able to maintain her / his privacy.

We commit ourselves to building a respectful family environment where no disrespect is shown by any family member to another.

Sexual relations
Sexual relations will be consensual at all times and will, like all other relations in the marriage, be based on mutual trust and respect. We both agree to have an HIV/AIDS test before the wedding.

Polygamy
We both agree to have a monogamous marriage. Bilal agrees that he will not enter into additional polygamous marriages during the validity of this marriage. If he, however, decides to marry another woman, that decision will serve as grounds for Amina to immediately divorce Bilal.

Family obligations
We understand that, as a result of our marriage, we will both have new family structures to relate to. We commit ourselves to interacting with our respective spouse’s family with respect and kindness at all times.

Any decision regarding our living with any member or members of either family or their living with us will require the explicit consent of both of us. In making such decisions, due regard shall be given to the joint and separate responsibilities that we have, and the financial implications of such decisions.

Children
Amina accepts the responsibility for child-bearing and breastfeeding of our children. And, during this period, Bilal will solely be responsible for the material maintenance of the family and household.

We acknowledge that one spouse may take primary responsibility for acting as a child caregiver during the marriage, while the other spouse may assume the burden of support. Any such division of roles will be mutually-agreed to and neither partner will be treated as contributing any less to the family because of that spouse’s particular role. Both parents will play an active role in our children’s upbringing. We undertake to raise our children in an Islamic family environment, with Islam being the family religion and education of the children in Islam being a joint responsibility of both of us.

At the same time, we commit ourselves to the principle of religious understanding and undertake personally that we will respect, and teach our children to respect, other religious views and philosophies, both within Islam and without.

Divorce and related matters

Dispute resolution procedures and the initiation of divorce proceedings
A dispute will be deemed to have resulted during the marriage if either of us declares it to be so. In the event of such a dispute arising we will first use our ability to listen, communicate and learn to find an internal solution.

Both of us agree to allow the other to express any criticism or concern freely (provided it is done respectfully). We undertake not to be dismissive of the other’s concerns without first being self-critical and assessing the criticism or concern from the other’s point of view.

If we realize we are at fault in any way (and we may both be partially at fault), we undertake to acknowledge our faults honestly and fully and if either of us has learnt something beneficial from the other’s concerns we undertake to express our gratitude to the other for helping us see something about ourselves we might not otherwise have done.

If we are unable to resolve a dispute after reflecting, deeply engaging with each other, praying and asking our Creator for assistance, we will appoint a mutually acceptable facilitator or facilitators to mediate and possibly arbitrate (if mediation fails) in the dispute. Relationship-building and counselling may form part of this process.

If the dispute is of a nature that could lead to the termination of the marriage and counselling has not helped to resolve the dispute, before either of us decides to initiate divorce proceedings, we will make a final effort to save our marriage by undergoing a trial separation for a period of three months.

We will follow this procedure in respect of each such dispute. If, however, after this time (in respect of any such dispute) the marriage relationship still cannot be healed, then either of us may initiate divorce proceedings through a legal forum – which is the only forum that may validly terminate the marriage.

We pray that our marriage will not reach a stage where either of us will consider divorce as an option. Notwithstanding any contrary understanding of any law, we agree that both of us will have an equal right to initiate divorce proceedings and that these will be governed in accordance with the terms stipulated in this contract.

Bilal agrees to use the Islamic jurisprudential mechanism of talaq al-tafwid to delegate the right of talaq to Amina so that both of us will possess that right. Whichever of us initiates such proceedings, a procedure of three repudiations will require to be followed as described in the Qur’an in Surah Baqarah verses 228-232.

228. Divorced women shall wait concerning themselves for three monthly periods. Nor is it lawful for them to hide what Allah Hath created in their wombs, if they have faith in Allah and the Last Day. And their husbands have the better right to take them back in that period, if they wish for reconciliation. And women shall have rights similar to the rights against them, according to what is equitable; but men have a degree (of advantage) over them. And Allah is Exalted in Power, Wise.

229. A divorce is only permissible twice: after that, the parties should either hold Together on equitable terms, or separate with kindness. It is not lawful for you, (Men), to take back any of your gifts (from your wives), except when both parties fear that they would be unable to keep the limits ordained by Allah. If ye (judges) do indeed fear that they would be unable to keep the limits ordained by Allah, there is no blame on either of them if she give something for her freedom. These are the limits ordained by Allah. so do not transgress them if any do transgress the limits ordained by Allah, such persons wrong (Themselves as well as others).

230. So if a husband divorces his wife (irrevocably), He cannot, after that, re-marry her until after she has married another husband and he has divorced her. In that case there is no blame on either of them if they re-unite, provided they feel that they can keep the limits ordained by Allah. Such are the limits ordained by Allah, which He makes plain to those who understand.

231. When ye divorce women, and they fulfil the term of their (‘Iddat), either take them back on equitable terms or set them free on equitable terms; but do not take them back to injure them, (or) to take undue advantage; if any one does that; He wrongs his own soul. Do not treat Allah.s Signs as a jest, but solemnly rehearse Allah.s favours on you, and the fact that He sent down to you the Book and Wisdom, for your instruction. And fear Allah, and know that Allah is well acquainted with all things.

232. When ye divorce women, and they fulfil the term of their (‘Iddat), do not prevent them from marrying their (former) husbands, if they mutually agree on equitable terms. This instruction is for all amongst you, who believe in Allah and the Last Day. That is (the course Making for) most virtue and purity amongst you and Allah knows, and ye know not.

In addition, Amina will be able to exercise her right to khula’ by which she will be able to initiate a divorce subject to and by the return of the mahr to Bilal.

Amina will also be able to exercise her right to apply for a faskh to a judicial authority. Among other circumstances, a faskh could be used in cases which involve:
• any physical (threatened or actual) abuse,
• any infidelity, or
• severe or ongoing verbal or emotional abuse.
Such a divorce could be granted unopposed and no trial separation will be necessary.

In all of the three processes above (talaq, khula’ and faskh), a divorce will only be deemed to have been effected once presided over and allowed by a judicial authority that is agreed upon by us both.

Maintenance

Spousal maintenance and the maintenance of children will be determined in a fair and equitable manner at the time of divorce. If necessary, an arbitrator may be used to determine what a ‘fair and equitable’ resolution would be. The agreement will be in writing and binding.

Custody of minor children
The custody of minor children that might result from this marriage shall be determined according to the children’s best interests. Should the custody of children be contested, the matter shall be referred for dispute resolution as set out in this contract. If agreement is reached, this will be incorporated into an agreement which will be attached to the application for divorce.

Irrespective of who gets custody, there shall be no denial of reasonable visitation rights to the parent that is not granted custody.

If the marriage ends in divorce and a child or children have resulted from the marriage, both parents will be responsible for the financial maintenance of the child or children in proportion to their respective incomes at the time, taking into account the effect of the dissolution of marriage on the working lives of both parents.

Conclusion

We undertake to inspire each other to achieve the best that we are capable of.

May Allah grant us the wisdom, honesty, commitment and strength to make this marriage a successful one. And May He bless us with His Love and Mercy.

Signed on this, the 10 day of April 2009 in Cape Town, Republic of South Africa.

Bilal Randeree Amina Ebrahim

This marriage was solemnised on the 10th day of April 2009 at Gatesville Masjid, Gatesville, Cape Town, Republic of South Africa.

April 28, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 29 Comments

Feedback Loops

I was chatting to a friend recently about “tough times” in life. Moments or periods of sadness, pain, despair, loss.
As I chatted to him I recalled a concept from High School Biology, the bodies feedback loop to maintain chemical equilibrium. ( Concept of feedback loops is widely used in different contexts).

There are two types of feedback loops, Positive Feedback Loop (PFL) and Negative Feedback Loop(NFL).

PFL causes an affirming reaction to the feedback it receives, so for eg, woman in labor, they start contracting, a message is sent to the glands that there are contractions, and the brain sends the message to the respective gland to ask it to produce more of the hormone that supports cramping.

A NFL works the opposite way, the body asks the respective gland to produce less of a chemical or enzyme in response to this.

So in the broad context of life, I think God subjects us to Feedback Loops too if we are lucky. I think that the difficulty is God’s way of telling us to return to Him and His way, and to seek His closeness.
It is the turmoil that brings us to awareness of our vulnerability. The feedback of things going wrong should tell us to turn back to God, because no one else has the ability to assist. By turning back to God, we bring ourselves closer to having that pain and despair being solved.A positive negative feedback loop.

April 26, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | 3 Comments

The inner solo

Some mullings inspired by attending the Ghazzali conference last weekend.
Ghazzali’s contribution was of double significance, one in the rational sphere of Islam, the other in the spiritual sphere.

I’ve been feeling jaded, the sense of having seen quite a bit, done quite a bit, known quite a few different types of people, yet still feeling unquenched, unsatisfied.

For the most part, it is insanity to try doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting a different result. Hence, to continue chasing the next ‘thing’ would be foolish.
The physical world must, by virtue of its finite-ness, disapppoint.

We can’t rely on anything in this world for happiness or strength.
We can’t depend on our occupations, for they are subject to cycles, reliant on other individuals. They will vary and if we base any sense of identity on them, any sense of self esteem, self worth, then this sense of identity and self worth, will also be in flux.

We can’t depend on friends or spouses because they are individuals in their own right, with their own quest, their own perspective. To try and forge any meaning of ourselves from them, or to make them our sole source of strength, is to intrude on their own quest. And to weaken our own capacity to be a source for them.
Of course of all the things in the world to draw from, people are of key importance, and its why we nurture relationships, but there must never be a fusion or dependence on others. There will always be a distance after some point.

We can’t rely on our rational mind only, because it varies as our experiences vary, as our exposure varies, as our thoughts evolve.

In seeking any strength, or any happiness, we can’t look to people, or things. We can only look to Him, who is constant, who is not derived from anything and is not subject to anything.
Where do we find Him? Everywhere.
Where do we start to look? Inside.

In a quest for He who is open ended, not bound by space, nor time, nor imagination, nor matter, we are essentially alone. A task as huge as this, a goal as awesome as this, an attempt to reach out to the Divine, in the hope that the attempt will allow us that He reaches down to us, is a solitary task.
Because to reach out to Him, we have to reach deep within ourselves. DEEP within ourSelves.And no matter what our relationship with others, that core of our being is impenetrable, it requires such intense effort to reach it ourselves, it is impossible for another to get close to it or assist it, or for us to do the same for another.

But then what is the task of a Sheikh? I would think only to guide you on how to reach into that core.Not by any means to accompany you to it.

In seeking what we wish God to be to us, we try and reflect that to others. We are seeking for that state of internal quiet, where all we hear is our heartbeat, Du DUFF, du DUFF, and all we feel is Peace…Peace…
In seeking that, we try to reflect that with others, where to others we only feel Peace…Peace…
And we seek people who guide us to that peace.With whom we create a space for that peace. A combination between the rational commonality and the inner peace.

April 25, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Ghazzali conference

Last weekend (17th-19th) was a Ghazzali conference in Cape Town. God’s grace allowed me the opportunity to attend.

Keynote speaker was Shaykh Abdul Hakeem Murad aka T J Winter.

I’ve never been keen on punting individuals, as it sometimes creates a groupie culture that may result in narrow mindedness and a sense of partisanship. I must however say that I was completely awe struck by the Shaykh’s talks. A definate combination of the content and his delivery.

He isn’t the sort of checklist power orator, with a booming voice, varied tones, appropriate gesturing. He is calm, he is measured, and there is something about that calmness that calms you, a calm that overcomes you into a sense of vigilant attention. A penetrating receptiveness.
I really can’t describe to you how incisive his words were, you often hear about people who speak directly through you, into you. I must say I felt this acutely with his delivery.It was so acute, that at one point I actually recalled the hadith where Rasool (SAW) talks about being squeezed by Jibreel (AS) on Wahi. I felt that my insides were being wrung whilst listening to this man speak. A healthily oppressive kind of truth that finds such resistance by the well established Nafs that it actually hurts.It actually hurt. I felt shattered by the immensity and complete relevance of what the man said

The talks were about the message of Ghazzali, rather than about the life or personality of Imam Ghazzali, although his personality can’t really be separated from his message, an interpretation of The Message.

Imam Ghazzali, for those who don’t know, was a Muslim Theologian of high caliber and wide acclaim, who reached a point of discontent in spite of his immense theological prowess, prompting him to abandon his environment and set off on a journey of ten years of mysticism to seek a deeper contentment, awareness.

Many things were spoken of, I can only hope that I have grasped this content at a deeper level, because I cannot recall them all in words. I do recall being completely entranced by the message.

A major take home message for me was the fact that the intellect is limited. That no matter how extensively we may read, study, discuss, analyse, without a healthy and cultivated soul, we will be disappointed.
The message was especially poignant given the point I am in life, rudderless. Jaded even.

There was a line: The soul of a man illuminates his intellect.

Beyond the limitations of the intellect, the emphasis on a healthy soul hit a chord. It isn’t something I haven’t heard before, but as mentioned, a combination of the speakers Nur, and my own sense of vulnerability made it strike a little deeper this time.

Ghazzali’s experience was one of a person who had scoured the length and breadth of his mental ability, and still found that he had fell short of a deeper penetration of God’s essence.
If it was relevant for a man who had occupied himself with knowledge of God to set out and seek more internally, how much more relevant is it for us, who are pre-occupied with mundane things to set out in search of a deeper, more illuminating truth, experience.

An essential part of this quest for Closeness with Allah, which is the crux of a spiritual journey, is Love.
The speaker spoke extensively about this Love. I can’t hope to even scratch the depth of what he said, but a key point was that an essential pre-condition of Love is humility. To realise that we are nothing.We know nothing. We have nothing. That all we have is Allah. A hadith mentioned was that Allah has said that he created the heavens and the earth for man, but he created the heart of man for Himself. And that the heavens and the earth cannot contain Allah, but the heart of man can.
That is a definite spur on the path to purification. A flaming torch that should guide us and motivate us to deeper levels of penetration.

The love that we cultivate for Allah, translates into a mercy for all our fellow beings, it creates a more merciful approach to life, and its disappointments too. It softens a person. And softness was indeed the way of our Prophet SAW, who was merciful, mild mannered, and just. Soft but Just.

I must confess I have always been wary about Sufi groups and the authority of their Sheikhs. This is mostly as a result of the indo-pak brand of Sufism I was exposed to , which seemed to build its credibility on the back of walking-on-water sheikhs and other such fantastical powers. Also exposure to members of some tariqa’s wherein the Sheikh has absolute power over his mureeds, dictating nuances of the daily lives, overriding family decisions.

But this is an incorrect, or rather limited view of Tariqas. After a more considered process of introspection, exposure, discussion and experience,that began around March last year, I have come around to thinking that for this internal journey a teacher is indeed needed. Yes, a Sheikh.

Other major lines were:
Anger is like a burning coal in the hearts of Adam.
Remember often the ender of pleasures (death)
Path to purification begins with a sense of brokenness.
Fear and hope are the two wings of a believer.
How can a man ask to have authority over his spouse if he has no mastery over himself?
Death should be a motivator for righteous living.
That which is valuable morally is that which can be universally applied.
No one has truly believed until he has doubted.
If basis for any occupation is not love, we wont find peace in the rest of it.
Liberalism has a habit of delivering people into social situations where they really suffer.
The soul is an ocean with no shore.
KNOW THYSELF.KNOW THYSELF.KNOW THYSELF.
Tragedy of modernity is that we have become very good at manipulating things, technology, environment, governments, but we have become more detached from ourselves.
Logic won’t take you beyond first principles, if the internal isn’t sorted out, external will collapse.
Love is the perception of Allah’s perfection in the things he has created.
What matters in this world is human consciousness and its relation to its source.
KNOW THYSELF.KNOW THYSELF.KNOW THYSELF.
The more you develop spiritually, the more you appreciate the boundaries set by Allah.
Shariah is the path to deeper truth.
Deeper truth is within the Shariah, as butter is within milk(to be extracted)(this bears relevance to claims against Sufism that it focuses on the spiritual whilst ignoring fiqh, which is absolutely not true, fiqh/shariah is the very first step)
Happiness comes from doing good tasks well.
KNOW THYSELF.KNOW THYSELF.KNOW THYSELF.
Love is the dynamo of our religion.
Just as people in battle have a heightened sense of physical vigilance, people who wage an active internal jihad also have a heightened consciousness.

Anyone who attended and is reading this, PLEASE PLEASE ADD TO IT.

April 24, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

The long shot.

I have always pushed the long shot. I have always reasoned that fate has shown me a path, and fate will decide its end, but its for me to persist along it.
If fate has decided it not to be, then such it is, but so long as the path is open, I PUSH on. To be able to walk off with no regrets. Disappointment for sure, but I don’t like the regret of thinking what if I had…?

There’s rarely something you think is really good for you, or that you really want and when those things come along, I labor hard.I believe inclination is Guided Intuition.Guided by Him.
If fate fails it, I have only lost an effort, and am in the same position. If I dont push on the path, I have failed it.
(Would fate have failed or assisted me if I had done nothing? Too deep and circular an argument for me).

I know I like the freedom that comes from knowing you have gone the last mile. Fate has assisted me on too many a long shot for me to ever hesitate pursuing something that seems to be Good. I believe intuition is Guided Intuition. Guided by Him.
The logic is standard, you don’t try and either you win or lose, more often you seem to lose with no try.
You do try, and fail. You have only lost effort, but bought freedom from the What If?

But logic aside, when you think you need to graduate, or you think a person is worth the pursuit, or you think you need to get into a program, on one of those rare occasions when you think you KNOW, and you definitely FEEL, you have no choice, you can’t help giving it your all. You just can’t help it.I believe inclination is Guided Intuition.Guided by Him.

Last week I gave 4 separate people the advice to be bold, and chase, and crawl. (BTW, only 2 involved a pursuit of an opposite sex).

It is an ethos I believe in. The long shot, to try what fate has shown you, and to honor your sense of Know & Feel.I believe inclination is Guided Intuition.Guided by Him.He in whom we Trust, who’s guidance and companionship and protection we beg for.

April 1, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | 5 Comments