Here’s a brief introduction of our main speaker, who is Miss Suraiya Nawab, the joint founder and director of the Islamic Careline and Muslim AIDS Program. She has 30 years of experience as a counsellor, a mentor and a community development facilitator. Currently, she’s a private practice, and she does a lot of mentoring.
Everyone needs to recognize their purpose in life and hence she is keen to help people become better versions of themselves. She has been blessed with so many opportunities to gain knowledge in this field that to her, she can only do justice to this blessing by sharing her knowledge with others. Not only that, but she is also a very resilient person as she is a cancer survivor, and she wrote a beautiful book, sharing her experience physically and spiritually. She’s the author of this book “Finding Allah God: My Journey Through Illness”
Suraya took over the invisible mic and thanked Edris for allowing her to share a platform with someone as esteemed and knowledgeable as him. She addressed the attendees by talking about how she sees a lot of young couples and individuals looking to find meaning, inner peace, and fulfillment in their life. She enjoys guiding people to better versions of themselves, helping them see that it’s about loving oneself inside out and not outside in. One’s inner self is what tells a person which way to go and how to get to a life of peace, joy, happiness, and fulfillment. This is her passion and she loves what she does in helping people achieve the things mentioned above.
Next, she informed the attendees that the talk would be mainly focused on the 7 pillars of healthy relationships and marital relationships. However, once understood, the 7 pillars can also be used for other relationships.
She chose the cartoon above to show how trivial arguments can land in the actual dissolution of a marriage. Over her 30 years of experience in martial therapy practice, it seems like the issues that are culminating in marital problems are becoming more and more minute in the bigger picture of marriage. Edris reinforced her point by raising a point on how people seem to lack qualities of perseverance and understanding what their priorities are.
Firstly, unconditional acceptance is an important characteristic as it prevents one from judging, rejecting, manipulating, and controlling others.
The 7 pillars are depicted as part of a building because for any building to be secure, there needs to be a strong foundation. Similarly, relationships require a secure foundation to prosper. Unconditional acceptance is the ‘ground floor’ and the building’s foundation is trust and time. Trust and time are the key elements in any healthy relationship. Due to the fact that trust and time are always evolving, it requires one to be using it optimally and with constant commitment. When there are challenges in marriage such as infidelity and the abuse of social media, most of the time trust gets broken. Yet at the same time, with time, trust can be built. Hence, these 2 are the foundation of having a constant commitment to a relationship.
The 7 pillars include love, honour, self-control, responsibility, truth, faith, and vision. The roof is peace, hope, and joy which is what everyone strives for in relationships and more so in a marital relationship. The ultimate objective of relationships, especially with the fulfillment of a
Nikah contract is that human beings need to be fulfilled. Fulfillment is about being content and being at a place where the outside world doesn’t affect how fulfilled someone is in the relationship. Fulfillment is sought from one’s inner self, inner peace, spirituality, and connection with the spouse and people. In Suraiya’s opinion, the sanctity of the Nikah is based on the principle that it is a form of worship – whatever the couple does for one another, it is to strengthen the nikah bond, the contract between each other for the pleasure of Allah. Therefore, the ultimate goal is that the Nikah is a form of worship that is going to culminate in the couple being in Jannah.
One of the pillars – love, is unconditional in nature. It overlooks imperfections and accepts the other person despite their shortcomings. One needs to love themself and also be selfless in loving their spouse.
Most spouses will see honour as an expected commitment from their partner. However, honour is much less about getting something but giving something to one’s spouse. For example, when addressing each other in public and amongst family members, one should be able to praise their spouse for something. Actions like this are often viewed as honouring the partner.
The reason why the pillars for self-control and responsibility are really wide is that they are so important. Self-control comes from a sense of maturity and it means that one is disciplined enough and sincere about successfully reaching the goals set for the marriage. When two people can consistently prove to each other that they can control their behavior and emotions then they prove they are worthy of trust.
Responsibility is the ability to respond. There is a huge difference between reacting and responding to a situation as it makes a huge difference to the outcome. Reacting is often done out of impulsiveness, lack of maturity, and self-control. The ability to respond is to do it from a place consistent with one’s identity, where the person will be respectful, mature and make wise comments and suggestions for the challenge being faced at that point in time. Responsible people also would not run away from issues and problems, but instead, make sure that they honor the contract of nikah.
Furthermore, truth is also a sign of maturity because a dishonest person will be making choices that are destructive rather than proactive for the relationship. For example, social media addiction is a huge problem in marriages and with the abuse of social media, it replaces truth and honesty completely and this is when the foundation of trust and time starts getting cracks.
Faith is often seen as a religious or spiritual practice but faith in a relationship is strengthened when two people are committed to telling each other the truth. Trusting, honouring, and, loving each other is what makes up having faith in each other. Faith would also include hope in the best outcome of the relationship no matter the situation. Similar to the other pillars, faith will grow with unconditional acceptance, love, truth, honesty and honour.
The purpose of life is to love a life of purpose. If one can remember that, one will realise the importance of a vision is for a couple. For example, couples envisioning themselves for the next 5 years in how do they want to be loving, how to nurture and support one another, and having interdependence instead of codependence. Ultimately, the vision of walking in Jannah.
Before Suraiya Nawab ended her knowledgeable speech on relationships, she emphasised that worship and fulfillment remain a place in the relationship that is continuously growing as long as each partner is working towards achieving the growth and resilience of the relationship together. It is the ultimate test of any relationship.
In a nutshell, trust and openness are the foundation of a relationship. Everyone is encouraged to share our pasts with our spouse instead of hiding them. The past is the point of reference and not your residence. Don’t let your past affect your present. Everyone is also advised to make time for self-reflection on our marriage by making it better / maintaining it. There is no perfect relationship. It is how you accept the imperfections that make it perfect.
Questions and answer session
Question by one of the participants: How do you view Polyamory marriage (intimate relationships with more than one partner, with the informed consent of all partners involved)
Suraiya Nawab: “As a spouse, we need to understand the reason for that decision through communication. We need to make sure it is not impulsive and able to justify the reasons. He/she needs to be responsible for all his/her spouses, so they do not feel jealous and allocate time equally in a mature manner”.
For those who are interested in watching the full recording, it can be found on Edris Khamissa Youtube Channel.
Written by: Nicholas and Pei Zoe
Edited by: Wen Qi