Leaders Sign Healthy Marriage Covenant
Promoting Healthy Marital Life Among Muslims
by Aneesah Nadir
Imam Siraj Wahhaj, Imam Al-Hajj Talib ‘Abdur-Rashid, Imam Zaid Shakir, Imam Mohamed Magid, Imam Faheem Shuaibe, Minister Jameel Muhammad, Dr. Altaf Hussain, Dr. Ingrid Matson and Sr. Tayyibah Taylor were among the many Muslim leaders and community members who signed the Healthy Marriage Covenant at the 2nd Annual MANA conference in Philadelphia November 28-30th. The long awaited launch of the MANA Healthy Marriage Initiative was marked with the signing of a pledge by MANA community leaders, supporters and community members. The Convenant reads:
"We commit our efforts and resources to make healthy marriages and spiritually-based families a top priority in our communities. We commit ourselves to:
- Require at least three sessions of premarital counseling
- Organize efforts on an annual basis aimed at premarital preparation
- Establish a policy of zero tolerance of domestic violence
- Organize efforts on an annual basis aimed at marital enhancement
- Train Masjid leaders in marital counseling and establish a system of marital counseling"
The signing of the Covenant marks the beginning of MANA’s commitment to premarital advisement and counseling as a requirement prior to officiating marriage ceremonies, and an end to “drive- by- nikahs”. No longer will the practice of officiating marriages without at least three sessions of premarital advisement or counseling be accepted among Muslims in mosques that are part of the MANA network. No longer will spousal abuse or family violence be tolerated. Signing the Covenant is a key strategy of The Healthy Marriage Initiative. The MANA Healthy Marriage Initiative is a collaborative effort between MANA and the Islamic Social Services Association-USA to promote healthy marital life among Muslims in the U.S.
Efforts are underway to implement a practice long held by other religious communities to require marriage education, advisement and counseling prior to marriage. The foundation of a healthy community is healthy families. A healthy marriage is the cornerstone of the family. Research indicates that positive health, economic and social outcomes are associated with healthy marital and family life. Sadly, the Muslim community is suffering from an unacceptable rate of divorce and family violence. Single parent families, poverty, spiritual decay, Muslim singles opting out of marriage are symptoms of the decline in healthy marriages, families and communities. Fewer and fewer Muslim marriages are a reflection of the tranquility, love and mercy Allah has enjoined upon us.
Next steps in the implementation of the HMI include identifying premarital advisors and counselors, marriage and family life educators, as well as marriage preparation and education programs that are currently available. Training opportunities are being scheduled to ready a cadre of advisors, counselors, educators, and mentors to provide the continuum of marriage and family programs and services essential to developing healthy marriages and families among Muslims. Training workshops are also available for Imams and community leaders to learn about premarital and marital counseling.
To establish programs that promote healthy marriage in your community organize an event highlighting healthy marriage and the Initiative. Meet with your local community leaders to plan local events focused on healthy marriage. Work with your local masjid to sign the Healthy Marriage Covenant. Organize a HMI committee to champion the HMI in your masjid and local area. Work with the HMI Taskforce to conduct training workshops for Imams, community leaders and community members in your masjid or local area. Let’s work together to end “drive- by- nikahs” and domestic violence!
Allah has said, “ And among His signs is this, that He created for you mates from among yourselves, that you may dwell in tranquility with them , and He has put love and mercy between your (hearts); verily in that are signs for those who reflect”. (al-Rum, 30:21)
(For more information contact Aneesah Nadir, HMI coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org or 480 233 6547)