Question: It is mentioned in a saying of the Prophet that driving a wedge between spouses and spoiling a marriage is among Satan’s favorite deeds. How would you recommend married couples stay away from this danger and not have their marriage end in divorce, which is known as the ugliest of lawful deeds in the sight of God?
Answer: Satan is the instigator of all evil deeds and destroyer of good, righteous deeds. We see that negative deeds are ascribed to Satan in the Qur’an, as in: “…Satan decked out their deeds to be appealing to them” (an-Nahl 16:63) and “Then Satan made an evil suggestion to both of them…” (al-A’raf 7:20).
The Stealthy and Sworn Enemy
Satan is further mentioned in the Qur’an as gharur (deluder), as in “…nor let the deluder delude you (in your conceptions) about God” (Luqman 31:33). The original word gharur (deluder) is inflected in the verb form that denotes extreme degree, so its actual meaning is “extremely delusive one.” Thus, Satan has a terrible and dizzying way of deception. He continuously tries to misguide the children of Adam by corrupting their intentions and thoughts with his own twisted ones and intrigues. The term khannas (sneaking whisperer) is used for him in the final chapter of the Qur’an. Because Satan is a stealthy creature who tries to tempt people every which way he can, who withdraws and re-attacks them at every suitable chance, who approaches them in the disguise of being helpful and “seemingly righteous,” who makes beautiful deeds seem ugly, and who does his best to make people slip and fall. As Bediüzzaman puts it, one of the most significant deceptions of Satan is making people deny his own existence (thereby rejecting his influence and interference over their actions). To such a degree that even though some people completely come under his influence and move with satanic impulses, they see themselves as the thinker, decider, planner, and doer in all of such acts. And the carnal soul, which is an innate aspect of human essence, serves as the central control unit or the agent for Satan. As the Qur’an reveals, the carnal soul does not leave a person alone and continually makes evil suggestions. To clarify this with an example, Satan constantly sends different messages to the carnal self similar to those written in Morse code. The carnal self decodes these messages and prompts the person to act accordingly. In the face of such a situation, the children of Adam might act upon the impulses from Satan and the carnal self, and thus commit many evils. Therefore, ending a marriage, separating children from their family, and subsequent material and spiritual misery is one of such grave sins.
Size of the Damage
As mentioned in the initial question, the noble Prophet stated that Satan rejoices at nothing more than a married couple breaking up. Here is the full version of this Prophetic saying. The Devil sets his throne on water: This teaches us about the places frequented by devils and where those creatures are more likely to make people slip and fall. In other words, the Devil resides in places used for immoral pursuits and places—such as beaches—suitable for every kind of evil. Then he sends his forces here and there to do evil: Some of them make people involve usury; some provoke the eye to look at forbidden sights, triggering bohemian feelings and making people act upon their lusts. Some of them control the mouth and make it lie, backbite, or slander others. It can be said that each one of his aides does what they will according to their special ability to tempt. The nearest to him in rank are those that cause greatest dissension. All of them go to the Devil to tell him what they did. One of them comes and says: “I did this and this.” But the Devil tells him, “You have done nothing”: Actually, the Devil is pleased with every sin committed, for in every sin there is a way leading to unbelief. Every sin brings about a dark spot on the heart. At the same time, a person committing a sin virtually takes a step to distance him/herself further from God. However, the Devil expects more from his aides. Then one of them comes and says: “I did not spare such and such man until he broke up with his wife.” The Devil calls him to come nearer and compliments him: “You have done well!”1
This refers to a very common social problem in our time. Breaking up a family is such an important matter for the Devil. While he does not praise many of his aides who have people commit other evils, he may praise much and even reward those who achieve separating married couples. But why is this so important for the Devil? Because, by destroying a marriage, he not only harms the lives of two people, but also that of the children, parents, relatives, loved ones, and in a way an entire society. Given that families are the molecules of a society, broken up families mean dysfunctional society causing serious societal deformations. In addition, separated spouses pose a negative example to others, and this situation might pass to other homes as if it were a contagious disease. Although it appears to be a small scale problem at first sight, this evil done by the Devil and his aides upsets so many things in reality. In this respect, it should never be forgotten that the Devil will not give up striving to turn a cozy home into a hellish pitfall; he will do everything possible to drive a wedge between spouses. Also, he will continually try to damage the family set-up through the acts of devilish people under his control. Undoubtedly, the children of a family caught in such a web of confrontation and conflict will be the ones gravely harmed, since it is not possible for children to grow a sound soul in a family atmosphere of constant unrest. In an environment of constant conflict between a mother and father a child, often stuck in the middle, is put in a difficult situation and every bad word used by the parents against one another will be engraved in the child’s memory. Then the child will go through a series of disappointments and in time, the parents will completely lose respect and credit in the eye of the child. Now think about it, why should the Devil, the sworn archenemy of humanity, not be so rejoiced at such a scene?
Divorce is the Final Solution
The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, stated that divorce is the most displeasing of lawful deeds in the sight of God. Therefore, it will be very wise for both sides to have the necessary knowledge about marriage in order to avoid initiating a process doomed to failure. If it was up to me, I would not let anybody get married without taking a few seminars and reading a few books on marriage. For one or two months at least, I would educate the spouses-to-be so that they would be knowledgeable of the significance of married life, mutual rights and duties, how their relations with one another should be, how to raise children, and the like. It is very difficult to have a sound marriage between two people unaware of their spousal responsibilities. On the other hand, it will be a wise precaution to set the marriage on reasonable grounds from the very beginning, for marriage has no tolerance for emotionalism. Besides emotional inclinations, reason must definitely be there to the utmost degree. It is very difficult to have a peaceful and long lasting marriage solely based on good looks and attraction—married life may enter a difficult period and then end when these are lost with time. Therefore, although emotions have a degree of importance, reason, logic, and judgment must absolutely not be ignored; there must be serious thinking before marriage. Let me add that a person considering marriage should not suffice with his or her own thoughts, but should absolutely consult with other people for sound advice. Also, the traditional process of family visits during the engagement period should not be ignored as this will help create an understanding, within acceptable limits, whether there is conformity of character between the two people.
In addition, beginning from the early days of the marriage, the couple must hang on to the religious principles established for the protection of family and show utmost sensitivity at being discreet about confidential family matters. If this can be maintained, the devil’s aides and human devils will not have any opportunity to penetrate into the home and damage it from within. In addition to such precautions, taking a spiritual shield by praying and seeking refuge in Divine protection all the time is also very important for the continuity of a happy marriage.
However, although all the necessary measures are taken and no flaw of reason and judgment is left, the couple might still not get on well or experience serious disharmony. Satan can abuse this situation via his aides from among the jinn and human beings, and set spouses up against one another by constantly goading them with evil whisperings. As a result of all of these, the opinion may arise that the marriage will not last in terms of the apparent conditions. So divorce can be resorted to as a final solution for such a marriage, if no hope of getting along together remains and an atmosphere of peace cannot be maintained. The Qur’an spares pages for telling how spouses who enter such a sensitive process should act. There is even a chapter (at-Talaq) named after divorce. The Pride of Humanity, peace and blessings be upon him, clarified the details about the relevant verses through his Tradition. His Companions and the great scholars of later generations also pondered over the issue and they drew different conclusions and gave rulings. All of these reflect that divorce is no simple matter but a very sensitive issue. Thus, divorce can be considered under the guidance of reason, logic, sound judgment, and conscience—free from emotionalism and egotism—and within a lawful frame, only after trying everything in the name of continuing the marriage but still no light of hope is seen.
1. Sahih Muslim, Munafiqun, 67; Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Al-Musnad, 3:314
This text is the translation of “Mutlu Bir Yuvanın Düşmanları“