Love, too, is Inherited
(From the hadith "Love is inherited" in Al Adab Al Mufrad, a compilation on manners and etiquettes collected by Imam Bukhari)
An anonymous sister shares her heartache at the stagnant state of her relationship – and her resolve to turn it around.
As a wedding gift, we received a frame, in beautiful Arabic calligraphy, of the Quranic verse: “And from His signs is that He has created for you, from among yourselves, spouses, so that you may dwell in tranquility with them. And He has placed love and Mercy between your hearts. Therein are signs for those who reflect.” Those days, we reminded ourselves that the love we shared was a mercy from Allah, the Most Loving. We knew we were each other’s garments.
Somehow, as we moved house several times, and our hearts also made several moves of their own, that frame found its way to a dusty basement, among boxes of memorabilia that no one has the heart to part with, amid boxes that we hope will one day be unpacked. Whereas once it stood proud, reminding us of our love, today, it is symbolic of all the dust that has set into our lives. Our marriage lies in two boxes. The first is memories of laughter and friendship; the second is a box that is should be attended to, but neither of us has the energy to expend on it.
Where did the love go? When last were we able to take delight in each other’s company? When did intellectually stimulating conversation get replaced by terse discussions about the current sad state of affairs? When did the love notes get replaced by a folder – application for khula’ – a folder that I have not yet deleted, as the possibility lies in a question mark.
“Love too is inherited” our Prophet taught. And even if, for no other reason but that our children will learn from our ability to love, it is essential that we preserve that love. We serve our husbands. They learn the lesson behind the service: is it executed with ihsaan, in the best possible way, or grudgingly when we feel we have no choice. They see it in our preparation of meals, in the smile with which we great our spouse. Do we relish their company, or look for an opportunity to escape?
“Love, too is inherited” said our Prophet (SAW).
I look at my daughter, and wish for her a husband who will nurture her, accept her special whimsies, and see the warmth behind her seemingly hot temperament. I look at my son, and pray that he will find a partner who will stand by him through his trials, accept his weaknesses and his strengths, who will see his sincerity. From us, they will learn to love, to accept love, and to expect love.
And so, I take stock of my ledger. In the black book in the recesses of my mind, every action of his is recorded and revisited. When the going gets rough, it is almost as if I remember every negative word or action, with relish, and take pleasure in my sorrows. Will I balance that with the times he has loved me when I was unlovable? With the gentleness he showed me when I was at my weakest? When I read of the Prophet (SAW)’s tenderness to his wives, will I look at him as failing to keep up with the prophetic example, or will I see that I was no Khadija to the trials and hardships that he faced?
Love too is inherited. What legacy will I pass on?
So, tonight, while my heart is still sore, and I fear his rejection, after all I have done and said, I will risk being vulnerable. And learn the secrets that come only to those who can risk being vulnerable.
I will risk making the first moves to reconciliation.
Because love, too, is inherited.
This article was published in the second issue of SISTERS.
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