Knowledge

How do I deal with a non-practicing spouse?

Question:

I want to find out what is the ruling for a practicing Muslimah whose Muslim husband does not pray except occasionally. He has tried intermittently to establish salah (prayer) but it was not consistent. He doesn’t go to the mosque and he’s never read the entire Qur’an. Before, he would combine three days at once and pray extremely fast. In the end, he gave up and it has been almost two months now. He doesn’t pray Friday prayer, but he fasts the month of Ramadan. He tells me he believes in prayer, but he is very busy with managing his business and works more than 12 hours a day. He comes back home and always gives excuses that he is extremely tired and would promise to pray the next day without fail.

I have put in much effort to encourage and motivate him, read to him ayat (verses) from the Qur’an and ahadeeth (traditions of the Prophet ﷺ, peace be upon him). Sometimes he listens and other times he gets angry/annoyed and tells me all I talk to him about is deen (religion). He doesn’t like communicating with me about religion much and he sometimes complains about my time spent on the deen although he doesn’t mind me wearing the hijab and going to the mosque.

Before we got married, I made it clear to him that we would pray together, share our deen and raise our children according to Islam. He promised me and gave me his word, and I understood he was devout in his heart. I asked a couple of imams about this issue, and they all told me that all I should do is be motivating/encouraging and make du`a’ (supplication). I fear mostly for any children we may have, because they would be confused as to what is the truth and what they should do. This would also cause problems providing an appropriate Islamic environment at home to raise upright Muslim children.

Answer:

It sounds like when you married your husband you expected him to change and become more religious because it was important to you that you marry a religious man. You feel that he has a devout heart and wish that he would manifest his faith outwardly because you fear that if your children do not see him practice his faith they will become confused. The reality is that people will only change when it is important to them. When you chose to marry him, you chose to accept him with his strengths and weaknesses. If he chooses to pray and read Qur’an, it would be ideal for you, but you now realize you can’t control him nor change him and that your ideal is not the reality.

Your decision to marry him was based on a promise but not on the reality of where he is religiously. Despite not being religiously observant, he is encouraging you to grow religiously and does not stand in your way of spiritual growth. His relationship with Allah, subhanahu wa ta`ala (exalted is He), is a personal one and despite your well-intentioned encouragement, he may only be hearing nagging and judgment from you. He may not feel accepted by you for who he is despite his flaws, so he will continue to pull away from you because you may remind him to feel awful about himself for not praying dutifully. This negative spiral will only continue to hurt your relationship and potentially hurt your relationship with your children. The greatest gift you can give to your children is to role model empathy for your husband’s struggle. He may be inspired by your attachment to the faith and the peace it brings you. By role modeling what you wish for your husband and children, you will embody the faith in your family because your actions will “speak” louder than your words. You cannot control how your husband and children choose to practice the faith. Approach your family with tenderness and understanding as they progress in the faith and continue to rely on Allah (swt) when you have feelings of fear and anxiety.

VMCounselors was a collaborative advice column produced by two previous website authors, Amal Killawi, a Clinical Social Worker with a specialization in mental health and marriage education, and Munira Lekovic Ezzeldine, a Marriage and Family Therapist, specializing in premarital counseling. Please note that our counselors are not religious scholars and will not issue religious rulings.

The columns and other materials included on VirtualMosque.com are presented on an “as is” basis, for information purposes only, in the areas of relationships and social commentary (collectively, the “Content”), and are not intended to replace or substitute for any professional medical, legal, financial or other advice. Please note, however, that the Content has not been regularly reviewed by any qualified psychiatrist, psychotherapist or other medical or legal professional in your jurisdiction and is therefore not intended to be relied upon, or to replace, professional medical advice, diagnosis, counseling, therapy or other treatment. If you have any questions regarding the Content posted on this website, you are advised to seek the advice of your physician, mental health provider, or other qualified health provider. Reliance on the Content or this website is solely at your own risk. VirtualMosque.com and the individual authors make no representations or warranties and expressly disclaim any and all liability concerning any treatment or action by any person following the information offered or provided within or through the website. In no event shall VirtualMosque.com or the authors be liable for any loss or damage including without limitation, indirect or consequential loss or damage, or any loss or damage whatsoever arising from loss of data or profits arising out of, or in connection with, the use of this website.

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