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Build Love Maps

You know that moment at a wedding when the DJ invites all the married people onto the dance floor for a slow dance. Then he say something like, “If you’ve been married less than 1 year, please leave the floor.” A few moments later, “If you’ve been married less than 3 years, please leave the floor.”

Then 5 years. Then 10. 15. 20. 30. 40. 50. Eventually there are just one or two couples left, someone’s grandparents or even great-grandparents.

Then there’s just the one couple. Married 62 years or something. Their dance is creaky and off-balance, but still, everyone applauds. We cheer and say something like, “Wow! That’s unbelievable.”

Why do we do that? Why do are we impressed with these folks? What makes them special? More importantly, what’s their secret? How did they manage to stay together so long? Surely some of these long-term marriages are the result of endurance and stubbornness. But I suspect most of them survive on the basis of a strong marital friendship.

The marital friendship is the foundation of Dr. Gottman’s Sound Relationship House theory. It’s the thing that sustains a relationship. The couple married for 62 years didn’t stay married because of the absence of conflict, or their enthusiastic sex life, or their good luck. They stayed married because they liked each other. They knew each other.

This is the primary task of the new couple just starting out. Get to know your partner. I promise you, there is, and always will be, more that you don’t know about your partner than you do. Another way of saying this is you can always get to know your partner better. Make it a priority over the lifetime of your relationship.

Dr. Gottman’s term for getting to know your partner’s world is called Build Love Maps. Think of it this way: When you choose to spend your life with someone, you hand them a map to your inner world. Your inner world is, of course, quite complex including the memories of your past, the details of your present, your hopes for the future. It includes your deepest fears and your grandest dreams. But the map you hand your partner is a pencil sketch. A primitive map.

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Zakat eligibility of The FYI

The Family & Youth Institute, or The FYI, is a well-known Muslim organization in the United States. It works to promote mental health and wellness by strengthening and empowering individuals, families, and communities through research and education. It has been working for many years to bring Islamic perspectives to understanding and promoting mental health in our communities.

It is dedicated to serving and supporting Muslims – safeguarding our deen, our families, and our future generations. Therefore, the work of The FYI comes in the category of ‘fi sabeelillah’ or the Path of Allah, within the eight categories where Zakat money can be used.

Zakah expenditures are only for the poor and for the needy and for those employed for it and for bringing hearts together [for Islam] and for freeing captives [or slaves] and for those in debt and for the cause of Allah, and for the [stranded] traveler – an obligation [imposed] by Allah, And Allah, is Knowing and Wise.”
(Al-Tawbah 9:60)

According to scholars who widen the meaning of fee sabeelillah to include any activities that promote Islamic growth, The FYI is indeed eligible to receive part of the Zakat funds for its programs and services. I urge Muslims in America to support this organization through their donations, general charity, and through their Zakat. I ask Allah swt to strengthen and guide The FYI to continue its good work in supporting Muslims.

Shaikh Ali Suleiman Ali, PhD

About Shaikh Ali

Sh. Ali Suleiman Ali was born in Ghana where he spent his childhood studying with various Muslim scholars. He then moved to Saudi Arabia and enrolled in the Islamic University of Madina.  He graduated with a degree in both Arabic and Islamic Studies. Dr. Ali went on to complete his Ph.D. in Islamic Studies at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

Sh. Ali serves on the Advisory Council of The Family & Youth Institute. He is the Senior Imam and Director of the Muslim Community of Western Suburbs in Canton, Michigan. Additionally, he serves as the Director of Muslim Family Services in Detroit and is a council member of the Fiqh Council of North America (FCNA). He is also a member of the North American Imams Federation (NAIF) and the Association of Muslim Jurists of America (AMJA).