Praying Is His Only Problem

Question and answer details
Praying Is His Only Problem
As-salamu `alaykum. I got married eight months ago, it was a traditional marriage but I chose my husband, so I was not forced at all. We were engaged for one year, we got to know each other in that time, and we always talked about praying. My husband, al-hamdu lillah, is well behaved, has never committed a major sin in his life. He is reserved and serious about his studying and work. He is very interested in Islamic history and loves listening to the Qur’an. He always gives zakah (obligatory alms) and is loyal to his family. His fault is that he does not pray regularly. This bothered me when we were engaged; he told me that once we were married and lived in the same house then he would pray regularly—with my help. He sounded honest about that, so I started trying when we were engaged and he did improve. However, once we got married, he missed many prayers; the problem is that he goes to work from 8 am to 9 pm so I don’t see him during the day. I send him messages, reminding him to pray at the office, but I know he doesn’t. When he comes back, I ask him if we can pray the `Isha’ Prayer (Night Prayer) together, he says okay and then goes to sleep without praying! I have tried telling him what the consequences are if he does not pray, I have tried being nice about it and angry. I showed him how much I am worried...he just doesn’t get it, but he knows what he is doing is wrong. I always make du`aa' (supplication) for him after each Prayer, and I hope God will listen to me. I always pray in front of him when I can, but it does nothing to him. Please tell me what to do. I don’t know anyone close to him, like a brother or friend that could talk to him. Another problem is that his father doesn’t pray and neither do his brothers, but his mother does. His father is his role model! I really need help! I love my husband, and this is the only problem we're facing, but to me it’s major! I'm always sad and annoyed about it, I don’t want this to go further—I'm tired of being worried. My hope in Allah is great, but I'm scared that it won’t be solved. Please try to help me as much as you can, I'm desperate. Thank you
Samir Jerez
As-salamu `alaykum Sister:

Thank you for your example of dedication and in understanding the balance of serving our spouse(s) and serving Allah Most High. Not praying is a significant sin of neglect, especially when one knows this is an obligation. Many people, unfortunately, believe that doing something that is visibly harmful is something sinful; many people associate it with breaking the laws of the land. However, not doing something we are told to do is considered a grave sin, and Prayer is without a doubt amongst those obligations.

Waiting until one is married to carry out this obligation is actually a major sin. He is placing your home and marriage as the criteria for praying. This is a stance of ignorance that scholars can argue is a form of shirk (associating other beings with Allah)—as the association of your home or marriage is the criteria for praying.
By not honoring the pledge he set himself he is committing another error. In other words, not keeping your word is lying...yet another sin.

You say that you pray in front of him. I hope that this means you are praying in his presence in order to remind him, and not in front of him as in leading the Prayer. It is admirable that you encourage prayer and is part of your obligation to Allah Most High to take a role in setting the example.

My recommendation in this matter is to include the practice of some ideas on motivating him. While this is like treating him with kid gloves, this is a gentle way on your part to bring about the reminder of this obligation without indignity on his part. One thing you may consider would be to inform him of your interest, as a family, to partake in some activities at the mosque. This may show him the examples of other brothers, and praying together has a greater reward than praying alone.

Another thing that you may do as a person running the household—this is a presumption on my part—is to ensure that his breakfast is made after he leads you in Prayer. Try to avoid making this a condition, but let him know that you would not want to forego your part. You can do the same with preparing or serving dinner after Maghrib Prayers (Sunset Prayers). Another example would be to retire in the evening only after ‘Isha’ Prayer was performed. You can offer to read as little as one ayah (verse) from the Qur’an each night and/or morning.

If you two ever entertain, maybe you should consider inviting over families that you know hold to their prayers, and ask him to lead the Prayer when they come. These things and others are not designed to bribe or trick him into praying. However, they are useful in helping to create an environment that may spur other good things that promote our service to Allah Most High.

I pray that Allah Most High opens all of our hearts to be more conscious in praying and serving His will. Allah knows best.

For further guidance please refer to the following link:

Can I Get Married to Someone Who Does not Pray?

From Counselor Hwaa Irfan

As-salamu `alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh sister, and may Allah continue to bless your marriage.

Your marriage has a caring and responsible husband and a loving and pious wife—these are your blessings, so say al-hamdu lillah.
    Purity is half of faith. Al-hamdu lillah fills the scales, and subhan Allah and al-hamdu lillah fill that which is between heaven and earth. Prayer is light; charity is a proof; patience is illumination; and the Qur’an is an argument for or against you. Everyone starts his day and is a vendor of his soul, either freeing it or bringing about its ruin” (An-Nawawis #23)

You know, the wonderful thing about the requisite acts of worship,wajib, is that they synchronize with the rhythm of the day, like the natural order of things. Less effort is needed to fulfill those obligations and one can carry them out wholeheartedly. When demands of everyday life seemingly work in contradiction to that order, it can de-vitalize ones enthusiasm if one is not careful and diligent enough. But one can also fulfill those obligations as a matter of routine, without any commitment towards those obligations, at which point aspects of worship can become ritualistic.

You have done well to guide him; continue to do so with all the patience and compassion you can. If you become demanding about it, as if he is a child, it can be off-putting and make him feel more pressured. Remember, he works long hours and unless he is thoroughly enjoying his job, he will feel less inclined to do what he is obliged to do.

In addition, from what you have said, it seems that he does not do much else! If this is the case, in addition to the guidance given by Dr. Samir Jerez, it might be worthwhile to select an appropriate time when you are both relaxed, to establish what is going on inside of him. Sometimes we can want so much for the people we care for, without first ascertaining precisely what the psychological barriers are.
    "And those who were given the knowledge said: Woe to you! Allah's reward is better for him who believes and does good, and none is made to receive this except the patient." (Al-Qasas 28: 80)

Be mindful about your concern for his prayers when he is at work. Suspicion can create a cloud of darkness that is difficult to steer ones way through. Trust in Allah and keep up your supplications for him; this would be of greater support for him. If it is a case of “the mind is willing, but the flesh is weak”, then your husband is in need of some physical or mental activity that increases his alertness and energy flow.

Sometimes, we can feel completely exhausted, not due to physical exertion but to mental exhaustion, which affects the body directly. I recall the story of a man who went to see Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) and said, "I have a wife who always welcomes me when I come home and escorts me to the door when I leave. When she finds me sad and unhappy she consoles me by saying, ‘If you are thinking of sustenance, then do not despair, because Allah provides sustenance, and if you are thinking about the next life, then may Allah increase your intellect and efforts’.” Then Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) said:
    Allah surely has functionaries and agents in this world and your wife is one of those. Such a woman would be rewarded half as much as a martyr."

So when you go to pray and your husband is present, take an extra prayer mat and lay it alongside yours and without expectation submit to your Creator, and if He wills, your husband will join you ,in sha’ Allah.