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An Imam’s Five Languages of Love

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Diaries of Imam
By Abdullah Hasan
Writer and Imam
love picture
It is extremely important that a couple enjoy quality time with one another, especially after having children.

Editor's note: In this piece, we continue with the second part of The Imam Who Talks About Love and Emotions. Imam Abdullah Hasan talks about the model of Prophet Muhammad as a husband while he introduces five methods for better interaction with spouses.

In the coming series we will publish an account of a Christian husband who talks about love and emotions as his religion teaches.

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1. Words of Affirmation - Express Your Feelings Verbally:

Read more articles by Imam Abdullah:

Introductory to the Diaries

- Lost in Translation (Diary # 1)

The words we use to express our appreciation and love for our spouse is of paramount importance in our endeavour to a blissful marriage.

It is using words to affirm the other person. Sometimes complementing your spouse on how well she looks, or saying thank you after he has taken the garbage out, or complimenting the wife’s cooking (even though this particular dish is not to your taste buds. It is allowed in Islam!), helps to achieve that goal. It could be a written word – by writing a letter, or e-mail, text, facebook, twitter. There are many ways this can be accomplished. For some people, and I have observed this primarily in women, this is the best thing a husband can do for his wife.

If your spouse’s primary love language is words of affirmation, your spoken praise and appreciation will fall like rain parched soil. Before long, you will see new life sprouting in your marriage as your spouse responds to your words of love.

Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) was once asked by ‘Amr Ibn Al ‘As, “O Messenger of Allah, who do you love most?” Prophet Muhammad replied “Aisha.” ‘Amr then asked, “And amongst the men,” The Prophet then said, “Her Father.” (Bukhari)

He showed his love even in her absence. Note how the Prophet said, “her father,” and related the answer back to his beloved even though he was asked about whom he loved most among the men.

Prophet Muhammad would praise his wife in front of other people; he said that value of Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) among women was the same value of thareed (bread soaked in soup) compared to other foods (Narrated by Muslim).

He (peace and blessings be upon him) declared his love for his wife openly. The prophet said about her first wife Khadija (may Allah be pleased with her) “I have been given her love.” (Narrated by Muslim).

He was softly spoken. He would not censure his wives nor would did he veer raise his voice or his hands. Kind words penetrates and leaves an unforgettable mark that transcends anything else. This is why the wives of the Prophet all said that they would not want to spend their time with anyone else except the Prophet.

It also important to tell your spouse occasionally that you love her/him. Many people, for some reason or another, find it difficult to say ‘I love you’. Not because they do not love their spouse but perhaps it is the way they have been brought up or that they are following the status quo – that it is not manly to express your love for your wife.

On the contrary, in Islam, this is the basis of chivalry and manhood as taught by the beloved prophet.

2. Acts of Service - Show Your Love Through Actions:

Ever heard the saying “actions speak louder than words?” Using words to express your love for your spouse is not the only way; we should prove that we love our spouse through our actions as well as speech.

One of the ways of showing your spouse love is beautifying yourself for them. Ibn Abbas would always brush his hair and make sure his appearance is pleasing before entering his home, he would say “just as I would like me wife to beautiful for me, I like to look beautiful for her.” (Narrated by Tirmidhi).

One can take part in beautifying their spouse; they can brush their spouse’s hair, and apply perfume on them just as Aisha used to do for Allah’s Messenger. A’isha (may Allah be pleased with her) reported:  When the Prophet was in the mosque he put his head in to my place and I combed his hair. (Narrated by Muslim).

The Prophet was described by his wife that ‘he was in the service of his family’ (Bukhari). In other narrations, they explained that he used to help in the house. He would sew his own clothes, sweep the floor, repair his shoes, service himself (without asking his wives) etc.

Acts of service can be for instance taking the garbage out, cleaning the dishes, ironing the clothes for your spouse, or helping the wife in the kitchen once in a while.

I have to emphasise the word ‘help’. It does not mean he becomes the cook and she helps! Unless the responsibilities have changed. And there is nothing wrong in the husband cooking for the family once in a while, is it?

One of the most important things is that one is clean so that their spouse is not repulsed by them, the Prophet said “Verily Allah is pure and loves the pure, is clean and loves the clean, is beneficent and loves the beneficent, is generous and loves the generous.”

If acts of service are your spouse’s primary love language, nothing will speak more deeply to him or her emotionally than simple acts of service.

The spouses should have a comprehensive outlook and prioritize the languages to suit the needs of their spouse. If someone is able to fulfil all of the basic love languages then that is better.

3. Receiving Gfts:

‘In every society throughout human history, gift giving has been perceived as an expression of love. Giving gifts is universal, because there is something inside the human psyche that says if you love someone, you will give to him or her.

What many people do not understand is that for some people, receiving gifts is their primary love language. It is the thing that makes them feel loved most deeply. If you are married to someone whose primary love language is gift giving, you will make your spouse  feel loved and treasured by giving  gifts on birthdays, holidays (`Eids), anniversaries, and ‘’no occasion’’ days.

The gifts need not be expensive or elaborate; it’s the thought that counts. Even something as simple as a homemade card or a few cheerful flowers will communicate your love to your spouse. Little things mean a lot to many people.’

4. Quality Time – Give Your Undivided Attention:

It is extremely important that a couple enjoy quality time with one another, especially after having children. This time can be used to learn more about one another’s likes and dislikes; or the time can be spent engaging in activities and hobbies that the couple enjoy together.

The passion in most marriages dies out after a few years due to the lack of quality time alone. Some may make the excuse that they do not find enough time, but this quality time does can be even only an hour, you can go out to drink coffee together (alone), or you can go for a walk in the park. We must understand that this element of privacy is essential in order to have a healthy, lively relationship.

This is also an important reminder to Islamic workers. Much of their time is spent outside teaching, giving da’wah, organising events etc. Some brothers find it extremely difficult to find the right amount of time to give to their wives due to the great number of commitments they have outside. That is important and needed but if your spouse is not receiving adequate time every week then the marriage may start to show some rifts.

This has unfortunately happen to many brothers I know to the point that one wife said to her husband, ‘may I check your diary so I can book some appointments with you’?

Therefore it is very important to set aside some time for the family. This could be by including family time in your weekly diary.

The Prophet would allocate time and days to each one of his wives adequately and fairly.

5. Intimacy – Physical touch:

Intimacy strengthens the bond and connection between married couples, it is a means by which husband and wife can satisfy their desires. Intimacy is also the means by which one can show their spouse love, and affection. This increases the happiness, comfort and security within the marriage. Being intimate does not just refer to sexual intercourse, it also includes kissing, embracing, touching. Both spouses have the duty to be sexually available to one another, and both husband and wife have the right upon their spouse to have their conjugal rights and desires fulfilled.

It is from the Sunnah of Allah’s Messenger to passionately kiss one’s wife, Aisha narrates that the Messenger of Allah would kiss one of his wives and then leave for prayer without performing wudhu. Urwa Ibn Zubayr (her nephew) says that I asked Aisha: “It must have been you?” (Upon hearing this) Aisha smiled.”  (Tirmidhi, Abu Dawud, Nisai)

When Aisha was asked “what was the first thing the Prophet would do when he entered his house?” she said that the first thing he would do was use the miswak; the ‘Ulamah commented on this and said that it was so he could kiss her. (Bukhari)

In order to obtain optimal results, each spouse should know what pleases their partner, and this can only be known through communication.

The Prophet commanded the men to fear Allah regarding women, and to treat them with kindness because they were only made lawful to them through the words of Allah (i.e. the marriage contract). He said: “And enjoin on one another goodness towards women; verily they are married to you: you have no power over them at all unless they come in for a flagrantly filthy action; but if they are devoted to you, then seek no way against them. And verily, you have rights over your women, and they have rights over you.” ( Narrated by Tirmidhi).

Finally, a person’s primary love language may be words of affirmation; it does not however mean that a spouse only focuses on this. What it means is that he or she should give more importance and priority to this aspect but at the same time they should not neglect other aspects. The spouses should have a comprehensive outlook and prioritize the languages to suit the needs of their spouse. If someone is able to fulfil all of the basic love languages then that is better.

So what is your love language?

Related Links:
Marital Rights in Islam
The Ideal Husband
Prophet Muhammad's Principles of Communication
Treating Your Wife: Which Example Do You Follow?
Abdullah Hasan is a Imam/Khateeb of Masjid Ibrahim, London U.K, and is an Islamic advisor at Nour Domestic Violence charity. He also delivers talks on various Islamic issues at university campuses, mosques and Islamic centres here in Britain and abroad.

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