Friday, July 18, 2008

Lessons in Love, by Way of Economics - NYT

Lessons in Love, by Way of Economics - NYT

Below are select quotes from the article with my sharh (commentary).

"The amount of love you get from an investment in love is correlated, if only roughly, to the amount of yourself you invest in the relationship. If you invest caring, patience and unselfishness, you get those things back."

Indeed -- the amount of ihsan you put into your relationships (in marriage and in general), you get back. And from an Islamic point of view, not only do people generally reciprocate ihsan, but the reward with Allah is even greater.

"Stay with high-quality human beings. And once you find that you are in a junk relationship, sell immediately. Junk situations can look appealing and seductive, but junk is junk."

Yes. Spiritually high-quality. This applies not only to one's spouse, but also friends and teachers. Here junk relationships are those with no other-worldly aspirations or shariah-sanctioned purpose. The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) warned us that if we spend time with a people, we eventually become one of them, "A Man follows the religion of his close friend". So be careful who you befriend.

"Research pays off. The most appealing and seductive (that word again) exterior can hide the most danger and chance of loss. For most of us, diversification in love, at least beyond a very small number, is impossible, so it’s necessary to do a lot of research on the choice you make. It is a rare man or woman who can resist the outward and the surface. But exteriors can hide far too much."

True enough. Brothers and sisters looking to get married: do your research and have others research for you as well...the outward can be deceiving. Find out about the person's friends, actions, interests, and character. The outward bespeaks something of the inward. And do istikhara.

"The returns on your investment should at least equal the cost of the investment. If you are getting less back than you put in over a considerable period of time, back off."

This is a very nafsi approach. Ihsan always pays off. The "returns" one will see in the next life will suffice one even if nothing was "gained" in this life. This again is true for all of one's relationships. Give everyone their due and then some, but don't always expect yours. Allah says in Surah Rahman, "Is the reward for ihsan other than ihsan?".

"You need expectations that match reality before you can make some progress."

Indeed. Many relationship problems are caused by the fairytale Hollywood/Bollywood ideas that are planted in the minds of people. Marriages require love and effort. Don't expect that your spouse will never have a bad day at work or that life will be a never-ending, wild romance. Nor should it be -- the beauty of love is its ability to endure at all times. Find a believer in the true sense of the word, for the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, "Wondrous is the affair of the believer: if an affliction visits him, he is patient, and if good visits him, he is thankful" -- thus all that comes to the believer is good.

"When you have a winner, stick with your winner."

Again, true for marriage, friendships, and teachers. Sh. Hamza Yusuf once said, "if you have one good, sincere friend make shukr to Allah. If you have two like this, make the sajdah of shukr because it is rare!".

"They say that falling in love is wonderful, and that the best is falling in love with what you have."

Probably the best thing he says in the entire article. In a word, this is shukr and acceptance of what Allah has destined for one.

Alhamdulillah 'ala kulli haal. All praise is to Allah, in every condition.


  1. great post. very eye opening.

  2. barak Allahu fi kum.

  3. JazakAllah Khair.

    ( though i do get confused on balancing "keeping good company" with giving one's "less religious relatives" their rights?? Surely spending time with them can have a negative impact, yet, one cannot just ignore them, since, one's relatives have rights over one. Any advice?)

  4. Wa'alaykum AsSalam wa Rahmatullah Sidi Din,

    I would say "keeping good company" pertains to who we spend most of our time with and take as close companions.

    Giving relatives their rights (even if they aren't very religious) pertains to fulfilling the command of Allah Ta'Ala.

    A Related Link:

    Rights of Others in Islam