The Global Magazine for Muslim Women

Book Review: When Muslim Marriage Fails

When Muslim Marriage Fails: Divorce Chronicles and Commentaries, by Sister Suzy Ismail, is one of the most important books written for Muslims in the 21st century. Why is it so important? In a time when divorce has become the social norm, it is absolutely imperative that we strive to form strong, long-lasting relationships, not only for ourselves, but also for the sake of Allah subhana wa ta’ala, who has commanded us to do so. Most of you must be wondering how this book on Islamic marriage differs from the hundreds of other books that speak of this very topic. Why read this specific book, when you have, no doubt, already been exposed to workshops, lectures, and other literary texts that explain the various issues that arise in marriage? This book presents marital discord in a way that few others have chosen to do, offering the same narrative from two different perspectives, with additional commentary on marital issues after each story. Sister Suzy has provided us with another resource from which we can learn how to improve our relationships, but she has done so in a way that highlights issues in a non-judgmental manner, allowing for an unbiased analysis of failed marriages.

Perhaps one of the greatest strengths of this book is the way in which text is formatted. Each couple’s story is told by both the husband and the wife, followed closely by an analysis of the marriage by a prominent Muslim figure in the community. It is important that each side of the story be told as there are often varying views on marriage and lifestyle that partners bring to a relationship. Having only one spouse tell their side of the story would not achieve the same means, as it is from these two perspectives that we learn a very valuable lesson: there is no absolute right or wrong in marriage; rather, because each person is different and comes into a marriage with different beliefs and expectations it is difficult to place blame on any one person or action.

The five stories presented in the book each focus on various marital issues. The first story focuses on cultural differences and physical abuse, the second on infidelity and distrust, the third on cultural variances, the fourth on marriage between older couple, and the last on financial and personal struggles. There are however, two commonalities between each of these five stories. The first is that analysis focuses on the lack of open communication between the husband and wife. The evaluations provided at the end of each story discuss this lack of communication and its effects on relationships. The evaluations also focus on the inherent differences in beliefs, cultures, traditions, and personal ideologies that each person brings into a relationship. With respect to the first and fourth couple, each person had grown up with a different sense of what a healthy marriage should be. These cultural deviations, along with the lack of communicating these expectations led to the demise of these marriages. All five stories offer an honest and realistic view on marriage, and the issues that arise, while the commentaries point out mistakes that could have been avoided or worked out, in some circumstances even before the marriage.

Overall, the book does an incredible job of highlighting sensitive marital issues that are often considered taboo. Sister Suzy provides us with a better understanding of how a marriage works, leaving very little room for finger pointing or blaming, because as is so often the case, no one person deserves all the blame. Rather, failed marriages are often the culmination of many tiny mistakes and infractions on the part of both parties. And because Sister Suzy has so eloquently presented these stories and analyzed their misfortunes, this text seems to be a great read not just for Muslim men and women looking to marry in the near future, but for men and women of all ages, races, and religion, as it encompasses various issues that arise in all marriages.

Your Sister,

Aisha B. Ali

The Marriage & Love Issue

By Modest Beautiful Muslima Magazine in MBMuslima Magazine

20 pages, published 11/17/2012

“The husband and wife relationship is the most dynamic relationship on this planet. In no other relationship is an individual’s patience tested more. In no other relationship is an individual’s character tested more. No other relationship carries the level of trust, teamwork, tranquility and intimacy.” -Yasmin Essa
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