CAIRO - Seeking to promote family bonds, a group of US Muslim women are championing efforts to build strong marriages based on Islamic teachings and American values.
"I think this is an excellent forum for women to come together and learn," Rania Abdellatif of Laguna Nigel told Los Angeles Times on Sunday, November 25.Abdellatif was one of Muslim women in Orange County in Los Angeles who found support in a group called Wise Wives.
The group was launched by Angie El Sherif, a 27-year-old Muslim, to help wives looking to strengthen their marriages in line with Islamic teachings.
The idea came to Sherif when she found herself drifting from her husband and became worried of her marriage collapse.
Seeking to strengthen her marriage, the Muslim women found support in books written by conservative writers as Laura Schlessinger and Laura Doyle, whose writings are aligned with Islamic views on marriage.
"It stood out because I feel like modern American society is flowing in the opposite direction, where people are becoming more independent, less likely to get married," Sherif said.
Schlessinger is an American talk radio host, socially conservative commentator and author.
Her radio program consists mainly of her responses to callers' requests for personal advice. Her website says that her show "preaches, teaches, and nags about morals, values and ethics.
The Muslim group is built on the belief that a strong marriage is a natural byproduct of getting closer to one's Islamic faith.
It mixes Islamic cornerstone tenets as mutual respect and making home life with American traditional advice for a perfect marriage.
Sherif said the group, which started with six people, also has active chapters in Los Angeles and in Riverside County.
Marriage in Islam is of utmost importance as it is upon the lawful union of a man and a woman that society grows strong and that moral is preserved.
Many US Muslim women found the group inspiring for their marital lives.
"The common ground here is we're just women trying to be better people," said Abdellatif, a mother of three.
For Iman Saymeh, 36, the group has helped her navigate a blended marriage by helping her cultivate her parenting style.
She praised a recent session featuring women who had been married for 25 years or more as particularly helpful.
"Even if you don't participate, you hear other people's questions, Saymeh said.
You think, 'Oh, I'm not the only one,'" she added.
Urging Muslim to keep the family first, Sherif said she is not preaching that women give up everything for the home.
Recently, she has started a publishing company and is working on a children's book.
"I wouldn't want a woman to put all her interests and dreams on the back burner," she said.
"If the wife is happy," she said, "the whole house is happy."The United States is home to an estimated Muslim minority of nearly eight million.