Are we really ready for marriage?

So I often hear girls being told to prepare for marriage by making sure you know how to cook amazing food and can keep the house spotless. Now I’m not saying that we shouldn’t know how to cook and keep our homes clean, after all cleanliness is half of faith. But I feel that there is far too much emphasis on this.

So what if you don’t know how to make 3 different types of biryani or 4 different types of paratas? Is it really going to impact your marriage that much? Yes of course you should know how to cook enough to not starve and be able to keep your house tidy but there are some far more important things that girls should know before they get married. I personally didn’t know how to cook lavish meals like biryani and I still don’t but it’s not something that has had any impact on our marriage. I actually learnt to cook after marriage properly, I call my mum asking for her recipes and then cook different things. I’ve learnt how to cook because I needed to be able to do it. My husband has no issues with the fact that I can’t make some dishes yet and he’s fine that I’m still learning and even helps me when he can. But I really think we need to teach more than just the cooking and cleaning.

Take for example how to be financially mature. We should be teaching girls how to handle money, how to save for emergencies and not spend all we earn on things we just want. We should know how to budget for all the different things in our lives so that we don’t finish our money before the end of the month. This is actually quite difficult especially if you’re not used to it, it took me and my husband months of trial and error before we figured out our budgeting.

We should also teach girls how to be emotionally mature. When they get married they will have to make a lot of adjustments and compromise halfway with their spouse and they need to be able to handle doing that. The lifestyle we had and that of your husbands will not be the same, that much I can guarantee so when differences occur we need to know how to handle it in a mature and calm manner. Also you may not always agree with your in laws so how do you handle this? Do you shout back at them if they say something to you that you don’t like? Or do you remain calm and speak to your husband in private about how best to handle the situation? Can we control our temper and be polite to those who may say rude and inconsiderate things to us? When we’re criticised for how we are as a spouse are we going to jump straight into critising them? We need to teach them patience and how to control our tongues.

We should teach our girls to be independent and know how to handle things in the outside world not just inside the home. Give them a good education so that they can experience what the world is like and be in tune with what is going on in our country and the rest of the world. We need to be able to balance our many roles and responsibilities and it can be very overwhelming initially. So we should allow them to have responsibilities before they get married so they can see that these are the types of things that they will need to be able to do once they’re married.

We need to teach our girls the rights and responsibilities of being a wife islamically. They need to know in islam what it says about marriage. How the prophet (saw) taught us to have a successful marriage. We focus so much on having a fairytale wedding yet we rarely learn what do we do once this fairytale is over.

Lastly I just want to say that although I wrote this in the context of a girl (because I am a girl) it also applies for the boys. I also feel it’s important for brothers to know how to cook. If your wife is ill or if she goes home for a few days or she’s gone out how will you survive if you can’t make yourself something to eat? The answer by the way isn’t takeaway because that’s where budgeting comes into play. They also need to ensure they know their rights and responsibilities and understand that the single life won’t work now that they’re married.

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The only Certainty in Life

…He gives life and causes death… Quran (9:116)

I find it so strange that people think it’s pessimistic to talk about death. Surely if we remembered death more often we would be much more realistic people? It is better than denying what is certain. Knowing that we could die tomorrow should make us change our perspective on life. Wouldn’t we live life to its fullest everyday. We wouldn’t procrastinate on things we have been meaning to do. But we forget that we will die, instead we think we will live forever. How many people regret not doing things? The biggest regret we will have is not doing enough good deeds at our death bed, and know for sure that death is your only certainty in life.

We are taught by the prophet (saw) to increase in the remembrance of the destroyer of desires; death. He also told us to visit the graveyards to remind ourselves of death. This is a reminder we need. We should remember death. But it needs to be balanced like everything else in life, if all we think about is death we won’t be able to do anything in life but if we never remember death then we may procrastinate in doing the things we need to do. 
Before you are even born the angel in your mothers womb writes down when you will die. We need to just think about that for a moment. And we read these Hadiths and don’t even reflect on what it actually means, what is the purpose of us knowing this? What does the prophet (saw) want to teach us?
Even the dua we recite every morning as we wake up is about thanking Allah for giving us life after having taken it from us. This should be reminder to us every morning that Allah has given us the opportunity to do something good, to seek His forgiveness to change ourselves for the better.

It’s strange that when we travel, go on a holiday or move to a new place we meticulously plan every detail and decide what we need to take with us yet the journey that every single one of us is  most definately going to take we don’t prepare for. It reminds me of the story of Dawud (as), the angel of death came to him and he was surprised, saying you came without warning. The angel of death replied, saying that he had in fact told Dawud (as) that he would come. He asked him about his fathers death , his neighbours death, his friends death. People around him had died and this was his message to Dawud (as) that he will be coming for him too. So when someone we know passes away it should remind us that one day this will be us and we need to prepare ourselves for it.
So then how should we be preparing for it? There are many things we can do, we should increase in our good deeds; give more in charity, be good to our family and friends, fast, pray our salah etc. We also should increase in our seeking forgiveness for all the sins we have committed. All the haram we indulged in, the rights of others we trampled over, slander, gossip, stealing. Whatever it was that we did we need to seek forgiveness for it. Seek forgiveness all the time as we don’t know which breath will be our last. 
I will leave you with this quote from Imam Al-Ghazali: O friend, the cloth from which your burial shroud will be cut has already reached the market yet you remain unaware.