[30:21] And it is among His signs that He has created for you wives from among yourselves, so that you may find tranquillity in them, and He has created love and kindness between you. Surely in this there are signs for a people who reflect.
Psychologists have long known about the contrast principle and it is easily demonstrated in university campuses around the world with the simplest of experiments. Teacher brings in three buckets of hot, cold and tepid (room temperature) water and a student each (while blindfolded) is asked to place their hand in the hot water bucket and the other in the cold one. Then, both are asked to dip the same hand in tepid (room temperature) water and describe the sensation.
The student who had earlier dipped his hand in hot water describes it as cold while the other describes it as hot. That’s because they had different “comparison points” and anchors.
Marketing gurus and sales people use this principle to maximum effect! In the US estate agents are taught to show “overinflated and mediocre” properties first before showing the actual property which they want to sell and the instant glow in the eyes of the unsuspecting customer tells its own story. The first “overinflated and mediocre” property contrasts and extenuates the second property and the customer views it much better than it actually is.
Car dealers are taught to always negotiate the base (sticker price) of the car before selling options (tinted windows, sunroof, alloys etc) because the cost of £780 for tinted windows seems miniscule compared to the £18,000 which has been agreed for the car.
Similarly department store sales staffs are trained to offer you an additional £60 silk tie after the sale of £600 suit.
Overpriced deserts and drinks at restaurants work on the same principle.
Sara Gutierres, Ph.D., and Douglas Kenrick, Ph.D conducted a series of experiments where male college students were offered a photo of a potential blind date candidate of average attractiveness. If the men were watching “Charlie’s Angels” the photo appeared to be less desirable (then it actually was) to the point where men wouldn’t bother for a date which was available to them. The glamour girls of “Charlie’s Angels” were to blame because they made average attractiveness look mediocre.
We (as Muslims) are bombarded by men and women of “perfect figures” by the media, what do you think it’s doing to our relationships? For men, Allah (SWT) says in the Qur’aan:
[3:14] It has been made attractive for people to love the desired things; that is, women, children, hoarded heaps of gold and silver, branded horses, cattle and tillage. That is an enjoyment of the worldly life; but with Allah lies the beauty of the final resort.
Women are a source of attraction for men to begin with but when the “curvy beauties of the screen” are watched with intent then the perfectly attractive Sunnah loving home wife won’t seem so attractive anymore.
Hollywood or Bollywood, movies, drams, soaps and songs will inevitably downgrade your spouse because Shaytaan is there to exploit the “Law of Contrast” and make the “curvy beauties of the screen” appear much more sensual and attractive than they actually are. Similar is the concept of “intellectual superiority” where the well rehearsed Pundit on the media will make your own spouse look inferior then they really are.
Islamic Tele-evangelism, Nasheed concerts and pop culture are also nothing but deadly to our Islamic ideology while thinly disguised as “Islamic events”. And then we have the massive “Islamic conferences” where speakers are flown in from overseas paid megabucks and housed in 5-star accommodations to deliver “Islamic talks” to thousands of fans.
Where are we heading with all of this?
In our communities, how many of us have heard stories of marital breakdowns where the spouse is deemed to be “physically unattractive” or “intellectually inferior” while we scratch our heads and say, “There isn’t a lot wrong with him or her!”.
Can the “Law of contrast ” be discounted in the breakdown of Muslim family epidemic which every community is experiencing?
Fortunately, the Qur’aan gives solid advice to limit the damage as follows:
- Guard your gaze: The poison of “contrast” enters your heart and mind through your eyes so the Qur’aan commands the first barrier to be placed on the sight:
[24:30] Tell the believing men that they must lower their gazes and guard their private parts; it is more decent for them. Surely Allah is All-Aware of what they do.
[24:31] And tell the believing women that they must lower their gazes…
2. Dolled up Hijabees & Macho Bearded men: How many times have you been to the Masjid and noticed “dolled up Hijabi Sisters” with layers upon layers of makeup and skin tight clothes OR men with tight clothes to show their bodies which they have worked tirelessly at the gym for weeks on end? These “creatures of self-indulgence” must be told that they are committing Haram while enticing others.
[24:31] ….and guard their private parts, and must not expose their adornment, except that which appears thereof, and must wrap their bosoms with their shawls, and must not expose their adornment, except to their husbands or their fathers or the fathers of their husbands, or to their sons or the sons of their husbands, or to their brothers or the sons of their brothers or the sons of their sisters, or to their women, or to those owned by their right hands, or male attendants having no (sexual) urge, or to the children who are not yet conscious of the shames of women. And let them not stamp their feet in a way that the adornment they conceal is known. And repent to Allah O believers, all of you, so that you may achieve success.
3. Thanking Allah (SWT): Next time your spouse does something which pleases you don’t forget to “Thank Allah (SWT)”.
[14:7] (Recall the time) when your Lord declared, .If you express gratitude, I shall certainly give you more, and if you are ungrateful, then My punishment is severe.
4. Mr Perfect & Miss Right? There is a saying “Nobody is perfect” but it’s time to implement it. Next time you are searching for perfection in your spouse, direct that gaze to yourself instead and follow the command of Allah (SWT) for the “dear wife”:
[4:19] O you who believe, it is not lawful for you that you should forcibly take women as inheritance. Do not hold on to them so that you may take away some of what you have given them, unless they commit a clearly shameful act. Live with them in the recognized manner. If you dislike them, then it is quite likely that you dislike something and Allah has placed a lot of good in it.
So before reaching for that remote control next time remember what it’s doing to your relationship!