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Sanusi Lafiagi

One of the raging issues on the social media for quite a few days now, and which has tore/is tearing/may tear families apart and ruin relationships is whether or not it is right for couples to set passwords on their mobile and electronic devices for whatever reason(s). The anti-locking writers, mostly sisters, have argued that couples locking their devices is a breach of the sacred marital vow of faithfulness and mutual trust. They submit that where couples are sincere with each other and are not “using the back knife to eat each other’s yam”, there would be absolutely no need for either of them to lock his/her device from the other’s access.

On the other hand, the pro-locking group, mainly brothers, also contended that there is nothing wrong in couples locking their phones from each other if there are sufficient grounds to do so, so long as no marital vow is broken. Some of them, however, maintained that this rule is exclusive for the husbands, and that the wives must either not lock their phones, or must submit their passwords to their husbands if and when they demand for it.

Personally, I believe that no two marriages are similar, and that each couple has a responsibility of designing what best work them in a marriage. Whoever feels that locking the devices away from his/her partner is the best way to protect their marriage should do so; and whoever feels otherwise should do exactly what best suits his/her situation. In the end, what matters is how well we are doing in our marriage.

Marriage as an institution is too important than to be destroyed by how we handle our devices. Marriage is as old as man himself. It has existed centuries before the advent of modern technological devices. Many of our parents and grandparents who died before the millennium did not even live to see what a mobile phone looks like, let alone operate one. Yet, they had the best of marriage, most of which spanned 50 years. Today, we cannot downplay the impact and influence of the electronic and mobile devices in shaping our homes. We, therefore, must come to the realization that the way we operate our devices tells a lot on our marriage.

I have seen a couple argue and wrestle over a remote control. The husband wanted to watch El-Classico, but the wife didn’t want to miss Jenifer’s Diary. Each of them had programmed the show separately. The shows clashed and none was willing to let the other have his/her way. In the end, they put up a show of shame that left their neigbhours in a state of maniacal bewilderment. Similarly, I have also watched a couple exchange punches over who the person on the other end of the call was. The husband claimed it was his male friend, the wife argued it was his woman friend. In the end, what maturity and sanity could not settle, black eye, bruised arm and swollen face did.

Suspicions and distrusts are dangerous to our marriage. Unfaithfulness is, too. Couples must learn to respect each other’s privacy and must not breach it except if there are compelling evidence to be suspicious. In that case, let the suspecting partner confront the other with concrete reasons and proofs and demand for explanation. Other than that, no one should become unnecessarily suspicious of the other over a mere password issue. Know this, your partner locking his/her device away from you is not a sign of infidelity, just as not locking his/her device is not a sign of faithfulness. If he/she is smart enough not to be caught, you’d never know what’s happening behind your back.

For me, I’m given to locking all my devices, from phones to iPads to laptops. In fact, my car has about 3 different security locks!!! If it were possible, I’d lock everything that I wear, from caps to shirts to trousers to sandals. This was not something that I started after marriage. No. That’s just who I am. I give utmost priority to my privacy at all times. On this platform as well as on others, I have encounters everyday with many people who confide in him their personal or marital problems. It would be a breach of ethics to expose such sensitive information to my spouses or friends. If I wanted to show something to my spouses or friends on my device, I unlock it for them and make sure that they don’t see beyond such materials. I hardly leave my device in the hands of anyone, no matter how close.

This is not about mistrusts or suspicion, it’s about ethics and privacy. I have 5 different kinds of lives: a personal life, family life (parents and siblings), marital life, business life (my place of work, colleagues, etc) and Da’wah life. It’s not everything about each of the other four elements that my spouses can know about. They can only know as much as I feel is necessary for them to know. That’s it. 

The bottom line is, we all must learn to respect our marriages and not allow our mobile devices come between us and our spouses. Whatever you’re doing with your device that may hurt your spouse or ruin your marriage on the basis that it’s harām, stay away from it and make necessary amends. However, if it’s something halāl like working assiduously on a thāniyah, thālithah or rābi’ah, so long as it is done within the framework of what Allāh and His apostle permit, then, go ahead with it and accomplish it.

Password or no password, our marriages must work!!!

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