Ashraf and his wife don’t sit next to each other during Jumat services.
Even when going to the Masjids, they go in different vehicles; and when they travel in the same car, it is usually a very quiet and uncomfortable ride.
Ashraf sat at his usual spot in the masjid; the fourth line on the far left row. His wife sat on the back row.
The Imam took to the podium.
“Husbands, stop wasting your time praying”
the Imam began.
The congregants got alarmed. No one expects to hear an Imam saying prayer is a waste of time.
I am not here to discourage you to pray, but to encourage you to pray right.
Husbands, stop wasting your time praying if you are not treating your wives well.
You come to masjid driving your expensive Cars, giving your offerings and tithes, active in the masjid, some of you are leaders; but how are you treating your wife?
You may look good to us members, but it is your wife and children that know who you truly are” said the Imam
Ashraf turned to face his wife. She looked at him. Ashraf could see her eyes.
Her left eye swollen from the blow he gave her last week when she confronted him about his alcoholism, pornography use and mischievous behavior.
People couldn’t tell she had a black eye because of the make up she had on, so well done.
The Imam continued, “People have perfected the art of cover up. Here in Mosque, so many are hurting but you wouldn’t know.
People come here wearing their nice clothes, shiny smiles, they are active in Mosque but hurting a lot in their marriage.
“We have become numb and plastic, brushing things under the carpet. But today we shall heal; and shall address those wounds we hide.”
The Imam cleared his throat and continued, “Many of those who are hurting their spouses are using the Mosque to hide.
They think that because they give offerings and pay Chanda because they make public prayers,
because they read the Word or because they hold a leadership position that they are right with God.
God is also interested in what you do in your marriage and in your family.
The Word says that when you treat your wife badly, it hinders your prayers. Men, you claim to be prayerful? Hear this,
“Your first ministry is your home. Stop trying to blackmail God with your service in Mosque yet you are mean and hurtful towards your spouse.”
Many of the members of the congregation got restless and unsettled.
The Imam continued, “Many of those who are being hurt by their spouse hide their pain and want to project an image that all is well to validate that they are blessed and in control.
Some of you are active in Masjid to run away from the pain in your marriages”.
The congregation was silent. Some straightening their wears, others fidgeting with their Qurans, adjusting their sitting position.
This Imam was preaching truth and it was uncomfortable.
The Imam continued, “The husbands are not the only ones guilty here… Wives, don’t you know the Hadith says when your husband found you he found good virtuous woman and you brought favour?
Then why are you the source of your husband’s headache and stress?
Have you been so toxic that you have turned your prayerful husband into a prayer-less one?
Do you make him regret marrying you because you bring more complications than he had before marrying you?
How you treat your husband can be a stumbling block in his walk with God or an environment that encourages growth.
Many of you wives married your individual husbands primarily because of their relationship with God,
so why are you now destroying their relationship with God instead of celebrating and nurturing it?
Why are you being a burden to your husband emotionally,
financially instead of being one who brings favour?”
Ashrafn’s wife looked at her husband. He also looked at her, and she looked away.
The Imam paused to drink his glass of water.
And he continued, “When I am thirsty, I drink a glass of water.
When your spouse gets thirsty, will you allow God to use you to bless your spouse?
You’ve been told many sermons that focus on you as an individual, that God will make you prosper as an individual.
I am here to tell you,
your blessings are tied to people,
you are blessed to be a blessing to others.
Our God is not an individualistic God.
Your blessing is tied to your marriage,
It’s not about you;
it is about rasulullah and rasulullah is about love.
What good is it to prosper and be successful when you have no love?
It is all vanity.
God cares about your family, how you treat your spouse and children”
“Yes, we pray.
But what kind of prayers does your spouse pray because of you?
When your spouse prays,
is it largely to cry to God because of the hurt you bring?
Is it to plead with God to change you from the monster you’ve become?
Is it to plead for grace to deal with how difficult you are?
Or is to give thanks for you?”
Silence as grave yard
“Are you really prayerful?
Do you really value prayer?
What is prayer?
Then why is it that many of you find it easy to come to us Imams for us to pray with you as an individual,
you find it is easy to pray in public, in a masjid but find it so hard to pray with your spouse?
Isn’t that telling of what is going on in your marriage?
Don’t you know that the more you pray with your spouse the stronger your marriage will be?
But how can you find it easy to pray with a spouse you hurt or who hurts you?”
The imam paused and looked at the congregation.
Eyes staring at him.
“I challenge you.
I challenge you to pray with your spouse and to treat your spouse well.
You must save your home,
you are the head of the home.
I challenge you to stand up and go to where your wife is and pray with her as a start of a more prayerful chapter in your marriage.
Don’t do it because I asked you to but because you want to.
One by one,
the husbands present stood up.
Ashraf stood up too.
He walked to where his wife was.
The face of ashraf’s wife overwhelmed with love,
she looked on as her husband walked to her.
She almost stood up but he gave hand gestures at her to stay seated.
Ashraf reached where she sat.
Their eyes met.
Ashraf knelt down.
He stared at her then kissed her swollen left eye.
“I am sorry”
“Can I pray with you?”
She got up from her seat and knelt down too.
There, on the floor as the service was still ongoing, husbands prayed with their wives.
Ashraf prayed kneeling with his wife.
They prayed for forgiveness, for thanksgiving,
for love, for renewal, for peace, for direction;
for their marriage.
Marriages were healed.
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You might just be saving a marriage at the verge of being broken.