It’s a good time to be a divorce lawyer in Australia this year.  

With more marriages falling apart than ever before, the next generation are beginning to question if getting married at all is even worth the trouble.  In the age of disposable relationships, it’s never been so easy to call it quits.

While divorce lawyers everywhere might be rubbing their hands in anticipation we need to remind ourselves the importance of marriage, and maintaining the stability of the core family unit, as a nation.

Marriage is the beginning of family.  If you want to look at how a community is doing you look at the families within that community.

Is there justice and fairness in their homes? Is there equity and equality, peace and tranquillity? Are members of the family respectful to one another?  Are the rights of every member of the family being fulfilled?

If the answer is yes to all these questions then you have the building blocks of a peaceful, cohesive, resilient community built on mutual respect and compassion.  This is the type of family demonstrated to us by our beloved Prophet Muhammad (S).

However, if you answered no and there is injustice, abuse, violence, neglect and disturbance in the family home, these attributes directly reflect in interactions within the community and the effects are filtered down to future generations.

According to Domestic Violence Statistics, every week in Australia a woman is being killed by a partner or former partner.  One in four women experienced abuse by a current or former partner.”

Additionally, the Australian Institute of Family Studies reports, “In the year 2014-2015, there were 208,111 Australian children suspected of being harmed or at risk of harm from abuse and/or neglect. Emotional abuse was the most common type of substantiated child maltreatment in Australia (43% of all substantiations).”  These are the building blocks of a dysfunctional, hostile society lacking in empathy and compassion.

The statistics are distressing and we need to start investing heavily as a nation on building and preserving healthier marriages.  How is it that the single most common reason people are divorcing in Australia is communication problems?  The most vulnerable members of our community are suffering for it.

Good marriages make good economic sense.  In 2014-2015 Australia spent $4.3 billion dollars on child protection and family support services.  The economic costs to society of violence against women and children was $8.1 billion dollars.  That’s a lot of money and far too much pain and suffering.

It’s worth noting that in a study which analysed Marriage Breakdown in Australia the results showed that “…living together before marriage, having children before marriage…increase the risk of marriage breakdown.” And, “Higher levels of religiosity and having children in marriage reduce the risk of marriage breakdown.”

It’s no surprise the most important quality Islam encourages a person to look for in their future spouse is ‘religious commitment’.  The reason for this is simple.  If the person you marry is God-fearing, they will treat you kindly and justly and understand the repercussions of their actions should they mistreat you.  This is irrespective of gender.

Islam teaches us clearly that man and woman are equal in the eyes of God which form the foundation of equity and equality and eliminates the abuse which stems from a need to control others.  Since alcohol is forbidden in Islam, a Muslim marriage should also have the added benefit of not having alcohol induced family violence.   By being better Muslims we offer a framework of what a peaceful, resilient marriage looks like. We lead by example as we emulate the teachings of our Prophet Muhammad (S).

For my brothers and sisters that are looking to get married or in the process of getting married or experiencing challenges in their marriage, I echo to you the words of Sheikh Yasir Qadhi “If you want something in your life and you aren’t praying tahajjud for it then in reality you don’t really want it.”

May Allah bless us all with marriages brimming with peace and muhabbah and may it be a source of constant gratitude to Him.