MANA Participates in Marriage and Family Seminar in Boston
February 7-14 2010 marked National Marriage Week around the country. Among the events listed on the National Healthy Marriage Resource Center’s website promoting the week was a marriage and family seminar hosted by Mosque for the Praise of Allah in Boston titled, "What's Love Got to Do With It?"
The event, held at the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center, began the weekend with a Friday evening discussion of the definition and meaning of love. Brothers and sisters worked in groups with facilitators, Br. Abrigal Forrester and Sr. Malikah Rushdan, to brainstorm their definition of love. There were as many definitions as there were program attendees. The weekend progressed with a seminar provided by Dr. Aneesah Nadir, President of the Islamic Social Services Association (ISSA), MANA shura member and Director of the MANA Healthy Marriage Initiative.
Dr. Nadir spent the afternoon sharing exercises from her Before the Nikah© Marriage Preparation Course. Participants began the process of getting to know themselves through a personal self assessment. Some said they were challenged by the assignment because they had not had the opportunity to take stock of who they were, what strengths and problem areas they brought to the marriage and what they really valued in life. One sister said, "I’m having trouble with the assignment because after years of marriage and catering to everyone else’s needs I lost myself leaving me unaware of who I really am and what my personal interests are."
Dr. Nadir and program attendees engaged in activities that gave them an opportunity to consider what they are looking for in a future spouse and steps to really get to know their potential spouse. Participants explored the expectations they have for their future spouse and their marriage. They practiced anger management skills, and discussed ways to improve their communication with their spouse. Before the day was over a few tears of had been shed as participants developed an awareness of the very important job of preparing for a future spouse and how much more important this job is for healthy family life. Dr. Nadir looks forward to returning to Boston and other parts of the country as she prepares to release her book “So You Think You’re Ready for Marriage," a guide to marriage preparation for Muslims.
One sister attending the seminare indicated that marriage education and premarital counseling needed to be required. Imam Abdullah Faaruuq, program organizer and a MANA Shura member took the opportunity to share steps MANA is taking to establish premarital services as a requirement before the marriage ceremony. He proudly shared the signing of the Healthy Marriage Covenant by many imams and community leaders at the 2008 MANA conference.
The weekend seminar ended with a lively discussion of polygyny in the Muslim community led by Sr. Khalidah Bilal. As strong feelings were shared about the practice of polygyny the discussion opened a seldom discussed topic in the Muslim community.
Healthy marriage events are scheduled in New Haven, Connecticut through May. Atlanta and Detroit SHARE Centers will focus on healthy marriage at the upcoming MANA regional conferences in April in June. The Islamic Social Services Association asks community leaders to mark their calendar in preparation for National Muslim Healthy Marriage Week in mid August.