In 1998, we wrote a book called Tranquil Hearts – A Guide to Marriage which was co-published by The Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (MUIS) and The Muslim Converts’ Association of Singapore (MCAS) and since then used as a textbook for MCAS’s marriage preparation course until today. After a decade, we started to rewrite the book to address newly observed challenges on contemporary Muslim marriages brought on by technological advances and social changes. There was also the need to address online chatter against Islamic marital values which came with the advent of the Internet after the book’s publication.
In that process, we noted that globalisation, intermigration and multiracialism are increasingly common worldwide, exposing the Muslim ummah to alternative values concerning marriage, family life and divorce. The Muslim diaspora in Western lands and minorities in multi-religious societies are inevitably influenced to conform to mainstream norms of the majority. Yet, even majority Muslim communities are no more immune to the seductive onslaught of modern values with the information overload from the Internet, not to mention popular culture, arts, and entertainment. A knee-jerk reaction would be to isolate and insulate the community from such influences.
However, having lived as practising Muslims in cosmopolitan Singapore, we know that Islam has what it takes to face these influences, embrace the good and repel the bad. So, we set out to re-orientate Tranquil Hearts towards identifying which is which, as far as marriage is concerned. By the end of the rewrite, a new book had taken shape which we believe could be of use to the English-speaking Muslim public beyond our shores – be they in UK, US, NZ, Australia and English-speaking parts of Europe and Asia. We hope the book might help contemporary Muslim couples make sense of the relevance and applicability of Islamic marital ideals in this vastly changing social environment. Hence the title which borrows three keywords from the Quranic verse Rum 30:21:
Tranquillity, Love, Mercy – Islamic Ideals, Modern Marriages.