About 20 years ago as a freshly qualified mediator at the offices of the Muslim Judicial Council under the guidance of Imam Abdul Mou’tie Saban and Moulana Yusuf Karaan I handled a case where the husband was a drug addict. He had no resolve to quit and his wife demanded that I assist her with divorce procedures. On deeper investigation, I determined that, although his addiction was an important issue and a problem, the wife wanted a divorce for a very different reason.
Her actual gripe was that her husband had opened his wage packet on his way home from work. This action was unprecedented since he knew that it was to remain sealed until she opened it. Early in the marriage they had established a rule where he worked during the week for the family and Saturday for himself. The Saturday money was for drugs and he returned the Sunday, ready for work on Monday.
To his wife, he had broken a cardinal rule and divorce was inevitable. As an apprentice, I concluded that drugs were not the main problem at that particular time but the husband’s inability to submit to his wife’s instruction was the key to saving the marriage. After mediation he agreed not to open the wage packet in future. I also suggested that I was able to assist with his drug addiction as I was in regular contact with recovery institutes. The husband quietly replied that he would get back to me.
A few years later the couple returned, again his wife was adamant for divorce. On investigation I understood that their eldest daughter was at university and she was visited by friends who were from reputable families. The husband’s addiction had now become a potential source of embarrassment. Few self-respecting young men would court a young lady whose father was associated with narcotics.
After years of addiction, to save his marriage and his daughter’s self-esteem, he considered quitting his destructive activities. Through the use of mathematics and economics, I helped him along. Since he was spending on average R2000 a month on drugs, in a year he spends R24 000. Over twenty years he had spent R480 000 which was equivalent to a decent house in a middle class suburb 20 years ago. Though he had worked for thirty years the husband had few material assets, his wasted life and his financial reality over and above the other issues, finally tipped the scales.
Recently I met the couple accompanied by their daughter who had since, established a successful career. She was happily married and her parents lived with her in the leafier suburbs. The family seemed peaceful especially the women, who had twice previously demanded a divorce.
In the end those whose lives are controlled by addiction should know that peace of mind, body and soul is not possible if you are dependent on drugs, alcohol, and materialism and so on. In the end something has to give, instead of all those wasted years can we image how successful this family could have been, had the husband listened 20 years ago?
Cllr Yagyah Adams
Cape Muslim Congress