By Adil James, MMNS
E. Lansing–May 30–Muslim Family Services is a powerful local institution designed to provide social services to Muslims in Southeast Michigan.
While it is generally true that Muslim families are stronger by many measures than their non-Muslim counterparts, nevertheless there are problems that Muslims face in their family lives. This past Saturday afternoon a surprisingly large daytime group of about 60 Muslims, men and women, attended the Islamic Society of Greater Lansing to listen to a five hour presentation by MFS on the troubles faced by Muslim families.
A part of the presentation was an engaging conversation in which each member of the audience was asked to provide a â€œrecipe for a happy marriage,â€ and then each spouseâ€™s response was introduced to that spouse–an interesting means of encouraging Muslim families to engage with one another on sharing dreams and aspirations, and understanding of responsibilities and roles–and of making sure that all members of the team have thought about the needs and wants of the others.
Also, MFS encouraged people to make an effort to show love for one another by surprising them with gifts.
According to its website, MFS is a division of ICNA Relief, a social welfare department of ICNA, whose mission is â€œto assist, educate, and facilitate in the success and flourishing of families based on Islamic teachings through education, counseling and liaison and supportive services.â€
In fact Muslim social service organizations are sometimes the neglected stepchild among Muslim institutions. Muslims would frequently rather look the other way than admit that there are family problems of abuse in our families. Perhaps only the imams know the full extent of the difficulties faced by their congregants, because the imams are the first people contacted by people with issues. In fact most of us would probably rather not know the problems that are around us.
And so it is actually a sign of courage that some people face these problems head on, such as Shaikh Ali Suleman Ali, imam of MCWS, Prof. Asim Hussain of Wayne State University, Sr. Sharifa Harvey, MSW, and many others.
Shaykh Ali of MCWS discussed at length the procedure for determining whether people are suitable for one another, emphasizing that the man should not be much older than his wife, and that the woman should generally not be older than the man.
He explored ways in which Muslims can approach one another in order to seek marriage, encouraging men to speak either indirectly through friends or even directly but in a halal way, starting from the beginning with the question â€œI am interested in you for marriage–if you are interested in me also, then I can speak to my parents and we can begin the process of approaching marriage–if you are not interested, then I will look elsewhere.â€
Shaykh Aki told a beautiful story of a Sahabi named Julaybib whom Prophet (s) encouraged to marry, and who became engaged through Prophetâ€™s (s) barakah to a woman. Before they were able to be married Sayyidina Julaybib (ra) was killed at the battle of Uhud. And although so many close Companions were killed there, Prophet (s) said â€œI miss Julaybib.â€
For more information about Muslim Family Services, please visit www.muslimfamilyservices.org or call 313-366-6800. MFS is located at 12346 McDougall, in Detroit.