A common question that I am asked, is from Muslim women whose husbands do not pray salah, and/or do not seem very interested either in developing themselves spiritually or with seeking Islamic knowledge. Essentially, what can Muslim women do about husbands who are not as religious as they are? How does a Muslim woman concerned about both her faith and her husband, handle this situation?
This situation can feel frustrating, and at times, may even make one feel down. It can be difficult, not just because you as a wife want to be supported in your endeavors, spiritual struggles, and journey, but also because you want the best for your beloved husband. You want him to also feel the spiritual benefits you are feeling, and want Allahto be pleased with him. Perhaps you can also see the guilt/pain or spiritual void in him, and that pains you too.
We are all on different paths in our journey towards Allah. We reach there in different ways and in different periods of our lives, and each one of us is responsible for our own spiritual journey. Even when we become practicing Muslims, some days we feel spiritually stronger, and other days less so.
You know your husband better than I do, and if your husband is the type who will take your advice, encouragement, and reminders as something solely positive, then of course go ahead and do that. However, the truth is that most men (and perhaps even some women) will not take well your well-intentioned advice. It may come across as critical, condescending, or judgmental, or he may even feel threatened or less respected rather than supported and empowered. This is dangerous as it could lead to toxicity in a relationship; going against the purpose of marriage, which is to have a harmonious loving peaceful family environment. So, what should one do in this type of situation?
My advice is as follows:
1. Let go completely of making judgments about your husband.
Don’t think to yourself: “he is so wrong” or “why is he sinning?,” etc. When that thought comes to your mind, say astaghfirullah (I ask Allahfor forgiveness) and remind yourself that a) the blessing Allah has given you to stay away from that sin can be taken away from you any second, and b) in the eyes of Allah , despite your husband not praying possibly even his compulsory prayers, he may be more beloved to Allah than you, or may even have a better ending (death) than you. If you can at this point, make du’a for him, please do so.
Eventually all judgement of that person will cease from your heart, and these judgemental thoughts will no longer come to your heart and consume you with negative energy. Shaytan causes rifts when one starts judging, which then leads to looking down on others; when that was never intended in the first place.
2. Make sincere du’a for your husband at every given opportunity without letting him know that you are, and do it with immense love.You can pray that Allah guides him, makes him among His most beloved of servants, helps him, eases his difficulties, and grants him Jannah; and any other du’a you want to make. The Prophet said: “The du’a of a Muslim for his brother in his absence is responded to. There is an angel in front of him that has been assigned to him; every time he makes a du’a for his brother with good, the angel assigned to him says, ‘Ameen! And to you the same.’” [Muslim]
Wake up for tahajjud if you can, and make du’a. You want the best for your spouse regardless of how it impacts you, and remind yourself that you are doing this not for you, but to please Allah. Sincere du’a is SO powerful!
3. Continue sincerely loving your husband and fulfilling all his marital and human rights.
In fact, I would recommend that you even go above and beyond if you can. For example, show him extra love and care, make him that extra cup of tea or his favorite dish when he wasn’t expecting it, etc. Do not in any way think that just because he is not obeying Allah, your obligation to obey him as a husband has gone or reduced. Rather, you are obeying Allah by obeying him, and even if your heart may feel that your husband doesn’t deserve to be obeyed or loved, you are wiser, more intelligent, and have more knowledge; you will obey him and love him even more because Allah asked you to.
4. Radiate with positive energy and never look down on your husband or make him feel less.
Be positive around him and with him, and look at the positives he brings to your life and to others around him.
5. Be discreet in your optional worship, if helpful.
If you can sense that your husband may feel uncomfortable, guilty, or sad if you do optional acts of worship in front of him -and you do have another space you can do it in, or you can do it silently or conveniently at another time-, take those options. The immense barakah (blessings) of you doing optional good deeds such as praying Quran, doing dhikr of Allah, learning the deen, etc., will diffuse throughout your household and to your husband too. You do not need to do it in front of him for the barakah to reach him. For example, say you are praying tasbeeh fatimi whilst your husband is near you, if you can discreetly count it on your fingers rather than on a physical tasbeeh (rosary), then do that. It is not good manners nor good for our spirituality to inadvertently rub our good actions in people’s faces, even if we do not intend to do that. Unless of course you are confident that this won’t make him feel uneasy; rather encourage him to pray too or let this serve as a beautiful reminder.
6. Everything you do in your life, do it solely to please Allah.
This includes any way you serve or do nice things for your husband. When you do something solely to please Allah, you are rewarded immensely by Allah , and lots of barakah will enter your life. Furthermore, when you do an act of service to a human solely for the sake of Allah , you don’t have any expectations from that person to ‘pay you back,’ or start thinking of yourself as a ‘victim,’ or that you are taken ‘advantage’ of. This gives you immense freedom, as you do not expect anything back and there’s no room for resentment to build.