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The Give and Take of a Good Relationship

Imām al-Saʿdī

An explanation of the famous ḥadīth of the Prophet (ﷺ) regarding living with one’s spouse in harmony. A call to overlook faults and to abandon nitpicking.

Imām ʾAbd al-Raḥmān ibn Nāṣir al-Saʿdī (1376 AH) said:

“The saying of the Prophet [ﷺ] ‘Let no believing man revile his wife [a believing woman]. If he finds himself hating one of her qualities, he will indeed find himself loving another one [of her attributes]’, offers two major benefits:

  1. The first is that it guides to the righteous way of dealing with one’s wife, close family, friends, workers, and whomsoever there exists any type of relationship or communication. It highlights that every person should fully and wholly prepare themselves for the fact that there must exist some type of flaw, deficiency, or hated thing [in that acquaintance]. So if you find that [flaw], compare it to your responsibility [concerning that acquaintance] and your duty of consistent communication [with that person] in order to cultivate consistent feelings of affection [between yourselves]. This is accomplished through reminding oneself constantly of this person’s good attributes and habits and the praiseworthy purposes of the relationship for yourselves and how it could affect others. It is by not distracting ourselves with those deficiencies, instead concentrating on the good of persistent  companionship and communication, that feelings of comfort can blossom.
  2. By this, the second benefit of this ḥadīth can occur which is the removal of all forms of worry and stress. This ensures the relationship is kept completely pure with both parties consistently carrying out their responsibilities towards one another regardless of whether those responsibilities are wājib (obligatory) [in the sight of Allāh] or mustaḥabb (recommended). Thus, do both parties derive true comfort and ease from one other. Whomsoever is not guided to this advice of the Prophet [ﷺ] and chooses to invert the matter will notice every single tiny flaw and completely ignore any good that is present. There is no doubt this person must be plagued by the sickness of stress. He has chosen to contaminate the affection that could have existed between him and his acquaintance. This will inevitably lead to both parties shirking their duties towards one another; duties which [Allāh has ordered] them to fulfil.”

Source: Al-Wasāʾil al-Mufīdah li-al-Ḥayāt al-Saʿīdah: 44-45
Translated by: Riyāḍ al-Kanadī

Published: May 12, 2022
Edited: April 3, 2023

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