Amid life’s hustle and bustle, where work deadlines, household chores, and the endless cycle of responsibilities often take precedence, many couples find themselves longing for a way to reconnect with their spouses and rekindle the flames of love that once burned so brightly. To their rescue came the Marriage Keepers, Brother Marcus and Sister Cecelia Muhammad, with the 13th Annual Marriage Retreat which was held in Phoenix, Arizona, August 24-27.
In a world where relationships are put to the test more than ever, The Marriage Keepers and their annual retreats emerged as a beacon of hope for male-female couples seeking to improve the quality of their marriage and strengthen their bonds. Founded by the husband-and-wife team, The Marriage Keepers are humbled by the overwhelming response of the Believers having a good time, saying how the Marriage Retreat was helping their marriage, according to Sister Cecelia.
“There were things that they were not thinking about or considering, and by coming to the Marriage Retreat, it opened a lot for them,” she stated. “Everything was around the sacredness of the institution of marriage, and really promoting that, because it is half of our faith as Muslims, that we are going to go through trials and tribulations, but at the end of the day, it’s all to glorify God and to make us into a god, and not just followers,” continued Sis. Cecelia.
Themed, “How Allah (God) blesses us through the seasons of our marriage,” the retreat featured in-depth sessions focusing on some of the top issues in marriage, such as communication, ignoring boundaries, lack of sexual intimacy, fighting about money, selfishness, value differences, different life stages, boredom, and jealousy.
Nestled in the sanctuary of Muhammad Mosque No. 32, far away from the chaos of daily life, couples newly married and some celebrating 30-50 years of marriage, embarked on a transformative journey at The Marriage Retreat. It spanned a long weekend, and from rave reviews, fulfilled its promise of providing a space for participants to rediscover the joy, communication, and intimacy that first drew them together.
The backdrop for the soul-nurturing experience, whether attended in person or online, was the Teachings of the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad, under the guidance of the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, who will celebrate 70 years of marriage with Mother Khadijah Farrakhan on September 12!
Retreat hosts and their team put great effort into planning and preparation, and it showed, according to participants who learned critical things, like what season their marriages were in, how to stay married, and how to navigate those problems in marriage.
Indeed! The couples arrived with a mixture of anticipation, apprehension, and hope, carrying with them the baggage of years of toil and tribulation, but also the dreams of recapturing the magic that had once defined their relationships. They left with a toolbox of spiritual, mental and physical resources to strengthen and protect their marriages, from wisdom and experiences shared during break-out men-only and women-only sessions to a financial, wealth-building seminar.
Sister Reva Muhammad and her husband of 53 years, Brother Reginald Muhammad from Hammond, Indiana, have been attending the Marriage Retreat since 2014. “I love it! I love it, I really do! First of all, there’s always something to learn at the Marriage Retreat. It’s never a point where being married for a long time, you know everything, because that’s not true. At least I found that’s not true,” she stated.
“I enjoy the camaraderie with the other Marriage Keepers. Brother Marcus and Sister Cecelia do a wonderful job with the material that they present. All in all, I would tell anybody, if you’re married, come! Come to the Marriage Retreat,” added Sister Reva.
Brother Richard Muhammad of Atlanta, who has been married to Sister Tequella Muhammad for two-and-a-half years, shared their story. They were motivated to attend the retreat to obtain the tools to survive marriage. “A lot of times, we assume that we know what we’re doing is good for the marriage, but we’re not, especially in the savage world that we live in,” stated Brother Richard, who feels it should be mandatory that all believing couples attend the event.
“In Islam, we have the actual tools, with Islam and the Minister’s words, and other Believers, who’ve been through the trials of marriage for 30 plus years to help those that are coming into marriage to make sense of it all, not as an assumption or a feeling, but actual facts and an actual institution,” he said.
Before the culmination of the retreat with a vow renewal ceremony conducted by Student Minister Abdul Halim Muhammad of Mosque No. 32, Student Minister Ishmael Muhammad, National Assistant to Minister Farrakhan, shared divine guidance from the Minister on the subject matter:
“The Bible teaches that Allah (God) made the woman and brought her unto the man. In this case, Allah (God) was the perfect matchmaker, for he made the man. He knew what He put in the man, and He knew what the man would need to complete his make. So, Allah joined these two in marriage and declared that a man should leave his mother and father and cleave unto his wife, and they shall be one flesh.”
That indicates, said Student Minister Ishmael, that if a man and a woman in marriage are to become one flesh, in them shall also be one mind and one spirit. “And this is what presents the difficulty, making the two of one mind,” he stated. He concluded by encouraging couples to continue striving for peace in their homes.
As the retreat came to a close, couples, like Brother Nkenge X and wife Sister Mariah, who celebrated their third-year anniversary on July 26, departed with a renewed sense of hope and commitment. This is the young couple’s second time participating in the Marriage Retreat, their first in-person, and as shared by other couples, the experience not only brought them closer to each other but also taught them valuable skills to navigate the challenges that lay ahead.
“I really feel recharged and rejuvenated well before the last day of the retreat, and it was interesting because from the onset, that was the intention and they fulfilled it quite easily,” stated Brother Nkenge. “I didn’t need the full experience to be ready to renew my commitment to my wife, and so I think in addition to that, I found a lot of value in the conversations and advice from the couples that we met that were older than us, who had a real tenure in marriage, 30, 40, 50, 60 years, and we don’t see many of those people in real life,” he added.
“What’s different about this is the Marriage Keepers. They use lots of resources, from the Teachings, but also a lot of resources from the world, and at most marriage retreats, you’re only getting resources from the world, the general public,” said Sister Mariah.
—Charlene Muhammad, National Correspondent