MARRIAGE IN ISLAM INTRODUCTION
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
:الحمد لله، والصلاة والسلام على رسول الله، وبعد
AlHamdu lillah, all praises are due to Almighty Allah (SWT/سبحانه وتعالى), and may His peace and blessings be upon our noble and illustrious Prophet Muhammad (SAW/صلى الله عليه وسلم).
During the next few weeks we will highlight, Allah willing, the most critical aspects of marriage from an Islamic perspective, starting in this article (as an introduction to the topic) with its importance in the lives of individuals and the community.
Being a complete and perfect way of life and a blueprint for a moral and virtuous worldly existence, Islam has placed a great deal of emphasis on the institution of marriage and its success. There are numerous references to married life and family issues in the Quran, our Sacred Book (by the way, Islam is actually quite unique in this regard), in the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah (SAW) and in our Islamic tradition and teachings.
Marriage and having a lifelong spouse and children are gifts and bounties from Allah Almighty, especially if the marriage is a happy and successful one and the spouse in particular is a loving and caring person. These great blessings (which also come with huge responsibilities) help to make us complete individuals by fulfilling our physical, emotional and spiritual needs and therefore give us substance, purpose and happiness in this worldly life and a pathway to Allah’s pleasure and to Paradise in the next.
In addition, there is more harmony, felicity and upliftment in societies where the institution of marriage is respected and its true value appreciated. The bonds between the individual units are strengthened and the familial ties extend beyond the immediate circles to connect humanity, the children of Adam and Hawwa/Eve (AS), our common ancestors. By doing so we will be completing, on a larger and different dimension, the “circle of life”. Allah (SWT) says at the beginning of Surat al-Nisaa’ (”The Women''):
يَـٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلنَّاسُ ٱتَّقُوا۟ رَبَّكُمُ ٱلَّذِى خَلَقَكُم مِّن نَّفْسٍ وَٰحِدَةٍ وَخَلَقَ مِنْهَا زَوْجَهَا وَبَثَّ مِنْهُمَا رِجَالًا كَثِيرًا وَنِسَآءً ۚ وَٱتَّقُوا۟ ٱللَّهَ ٱلَّذِى تَسَآءَلُونَ بِهِۦ وَٱلْأَرْحَامَ ۚ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ كَانَ عَلَيْكُمْ رَقِيبًا
"O Humans, revere your Guardian Lord, Who created you from a single soul, and from it created of like-nature its mate, and through both scattered (like seeds) countless men and women. Reverence Allah through Whom you demand your mutual rights and (honor) family ties. Surely Allah is Ever Watchful over you" (Quran 4:1)
It is not surprising therefore that Prophet Muhammd (SAW) would recite this verse when his companions got married and with almost every khutbah (sermon) he delivered. It undoubtedly sets a foundation and a norm for a fully integrated community by focusing on the growth of its individuals and the ties that ultimately bind them.
Marriage is perhaps the most significant human relationship we have, and thus the spousal relationship features prominently in our deen - this beautiful way of life we have been blessed with as Muslims. We are told in the Quran that we were created in pairs and marriage makes us whole and completes our deen. (The word for marriage in Arabic, zawaaj /زواج, is in fact derived from the word for a pair, zawj / زوج ; also used for spouse.) Prophet Muhammad (SAW) said: “When a person marries, they have fulfilled half of their deen; let them also be conscious of Allah in the other half”.
إذا تزوَّج العبدُ فقد استكمَل نصفَ الدِّين، فليتقِ اللهَ في النصف الباقي
Establishing a meaningful and solemn bond between spouses is therefore highly recommended in Islam, and can even be obligatory for those who will be stray from the moral way (and therefore distracted from their relationship with Allah) or commit sins if unmarried. The Prophet Muhammad (SAW) himself says: “I marry women…… and marriage is from my sunnah (tradition), and whoever does not practice my sunnah has nothing to do with me.”
وأتزوَّجُ النِّساءَ فمَن رغِبَ عن سُنَّتي فليسَ منِّي / النِّكَاحُ مِنْ سُنَّتِي فَمَنْ لَمْ يَعْمَلْ بِسُنَّتِي فَلَيْسَ مِنِّي
Islam is a perfect and practical way of life and recognizes that marriage is an integral part of our being. Islam has, moreover, prescribed for us the most virtuous path to Allah’s pleasure and Paradise. The goals of our sacred laws (shari’ah/الشريعة) include the preservation of the individuals’ honor and dignity and the ethical upliftment of the community. The shari’ah aims at establishing a society that is virtuous, pure and organic, and if its members are true to its mandates, then such a society will be the envy of all.
All praises are indeed due to Allah (SWT).
Next time: Preparing for Marriage and Choosing a Partner (in sha Allah)
PREPARING ONESELF FOR MARRIAGE
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
:الحمد لله، والصلاة والسلام على رسول الله، وبعد
هُوَ ٱلَّذِى خَلَقَكُم مِّن نَّفۡسٍ وَٲحِدَةٍ وَجَعَلَ مِنۡہَا زَوۡجَهَا لِيَسۡكُنَ إِلَيۡہَاۖ فَلَمَّا تَغَشَّٮٰهَا حَمَلَتۡ حَمۡلاً خَفِيفًا فَمَرَّتۡ بِهِۦۖ فَلَمَّآ أَثۡقَلَت دَّعَوَا ٱللَّهَ رَبَّهُمَا لَٮِٕنۡ ءَاتَيۡتَنَا صَـٰلِحًا لَّنَكُونَنَّ مِنَ ٱلشَّـٰكِرِينَ
"It is He (Allah) who created you from a single person, and made his spouse of like-nature, in order that he might dwell with her (in love). When they are united, she bears a light burden and carries it about (unnoticed). When she grows heavy, they both pray to Allah their Lord (saying): "if You give us a righteous child, we vow we shall (ever) be grateful." (Quran, 7:189)
Finding a suitable partner and then living the rest of one's life in a happy and successful marriage is a noble goal most people have, and probably the most important decision they will make in their life. It is at the same time also one of the objectives of Islam, and thus we have comprehensive guidelines in our teachings to help us navigate through the challenges we invariably will face leading up to marriage. This comprehensive Islamic guidance incorporates the individual’s preparation for marriage, a process that starts way before the union.
The ultimate goal in life for most human beings is finding lasting peace and (spiritual) comfort and upliftment. These can be temporal, false or elusive if we are looking for them outside of Islam and its framework. Allah (SWT) in the Glorious Quran uses many terms and sources for this concept, including words like sakeenah/ سكينة (tranquility/dwelling in harmony), as in the ayah above. This inner peace can be found primarily in a social context, and in marriage and family life in particular - if the Islamic guidelines are followed closely.
For a marriage to be a success, there must be a basis of imaan (faith) and taqwa (consciousness of Allah), among other ingredients. Khurshid Ahmad writes in his book, Family Life in Islam: "The relationship between husband and wife is a spiritual relationship and sustains and generates love, kindness, mercy, compassion, mutual confidence, self-sacrifice, solace and succor." And for the relationship to flourish it is moreover necessary to give it the protection under the Shari’ah (Islamic Law).
The healthy Muslim marriage begins with a strong practice of Islamic traditions from early on in life, even before the process of spousal selection. In fact, the stronger the relationship one has with Allah Almighty before one decides to get married, the more ideal a spouse such an individual would make and the more sought after they are for marriage. The idea is to become among those of ‘purity” (Tayyibeen and Tayyibaat / الطيّبين والطيّبات ) who are, as Allah says, meant for each other (Quran 24:26).
Muslims must therefore establish, in their own relationship with Allah, a firm bond based on faith and trust, and on loyalty and responsibility. They must inculcate values that will reflect in their relationships with those around them, foremost among them are family members, with a heavy emphasis on those who are closest and in the same household! This intersection of the two relationships is alluded to in the opening ayah of Surat al-Nisaa’ “Women”, Chapter 4 of the Quran (as discussed in the previous article).
Human beings have needs and wants, and our teachings have recognized them and prescribed ways to fulfill them in a Halaal or lawful manner, praise indeed be to Allah. One of those needs and wants is marriage, and in the final estimation it is a necessity in the lives of most people (though there will always be some who will establish “the spousal relationship” in a Haraam or unlawful way). Islam has, in addition, provided for us the institution of marriage as a means to fulfill our emotional, social and physical needs; for many couples their intellectual growth is also fostered in the interactions between pouses. These different needs are over and above the spiritual needs that we already addressed.
Marriage is the ideal platform for meeting our emotional needs and reciprocating the love, care and tenderness we receive in our lives. Allah has promised that in marriage, if done correctly, there will be sakeenah; tranquility, solace and contentment. This in turn will generate peace of mind, compassion and happiness, which results in mutual affection and tenderness towards each other. Together all these emotions are what we may call “love”. Al-Imam Ja’far al-Saadiq (RA) is reported to have said: “Whenever a person's love for their spouse increases, their iman/faith increases”.
Man is by nature a social being and as such we aspire to be a part of a community and to interact and grow with others around us - preferably with those we love. We have been endowed with an innate tendency to start our own family, just as we aspire to enjoy Allah's blessings with, and in the form of, children. In this way, we can be assured of the continuity of the human race in the manner prescribed by Him (SWT). This idea is mentioned numerous times in the Quran, for example:
وَٱللَّهُ جَعَلَ لَكُم مِّنۡ أَنفُسِكُمۡ أَزۡوَٲجًا وَجَعَلَ لَكُم مِّنۡ أَزۡوَٲجِڪُم بَنِينَ وَحَفَدَةً وَرَزَقَكُم مِّنَ ٱلطَّيِّبَـٰتِۚ أَفَبِٱلۡبَـٰطِلِ يُؤۡمِنُونَ وَبِنِعۡمَتِ ٱللَّهِ هُمۡ يَكۡفُرُونَ
And Allah has made for you spouses of your own nature. And made for you through them, children and grandchildren, and provided for you good, lawful sustenance. Will they then be faithful to falsehood, and ungrateful for Allah's favors? (16:72)
Our children are a significant part of our lives and they play an important role in stabilizing the family foundations and building a healthy and chaste society. It is vital therefore to provide them with the purest and healthiest environment for their upbringing and their ultimate preparation for marriage as well.
Human beings have natural instincts and desires but these must be controlled, nurtured and fulfilled in a manner pleasing to Allah (SWT). Among the quality of the believers, He praises their chastity and purity:
وَٱلَّذِينَ هُمۡ لِفُرُوجِهِمۡ حَـٰفِظُونَ
“And those who guard their private parts (from illegal sexual acts)” (Quran, 23:5).
Prophet Muhammad (SAW) indicated that if we meet our physical needs in a Halaal way we are rewarded for that by Allah as an act of obedience and worship. He also acknowledged the desire that could start to play havoc in the mind and body of young adults (and others) and may lead to Haraam pursuits. He (peace be upon him) thus proactively encouraged marriage as the best solution to that problem:
عَنْ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ قَالَ قَالَ لَنَا رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ: يَا مَعْشَرَ الشَّبَابِ مَنْ اسْتَطَاعَ مِنْكُمْ الْبَاءَةَ فَلْيَتَزَوَّجْ فَإِنَّهُ أَغَضُّ لِلْبَصَرِ وَأَحْصَنُ لِلْفَرْجِ وَمَنْ لَمْ يَسْتَطِعْ فَعَلَيْهِ بِالصَّوْمِ فَإِنَّهُ لَهُ وِجَاءٌ
Abdullah ibn Mas’ud reported: The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “O young folks, if you are able to support a spouse, get married. Verily, it lowers the gaze and guards chastity. Whoever is not able to do so, they must fast as it will restrain their passions.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
We are given, through marriage, a safe and serene space to meet our needs and wants, and as Muslims we use this as a platform to reach higher levels of purification and spirituality. Abstaining from marriage, on the other hand, has been proven to result often in physical and mental disorders. Doctors from Georgia State University in a study published in 2001 found that those who choose to be celibate or single are frequently afflicted with feelings of anger, frustration, self-doubt and even depression.
Allah (SWT) created us as a unique part of this world. He breathed into our souls His sublime spirit and gave us many qualities that are of a divine nature, though in a limited human capacity. Among them are love, compassion, forgiveness, generosity, selflessness, etc. The onus is on us to recognize these traits, develop them and then express them continuously, just as we expect them in all that Allah Almighty has ordained for us. And there is no greater joy and satisfaction than to experience them with others.
We ask Allah to bless us and our families: O Allah, instill in our hearts all the good qualities of the exemplary believers and allow us to fully demonstrate them with those around us. O Allah, strengthen the ties of family and community and unite our hearts - locally, regionally and globally.
Next time (Allah willing): Finding the most suitable spouse.
FINDING AND CHOOSING A SUITABLE SPOUSE
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
:الحمد لله، والصلاة والسلام على رسول الله، وبعد
وَأَنكِحُواْ ٱلۡأَيَـٰمَىٰ مِنكُمۡ وَٱلصَّـٰلِحِينَ مِنۡ عِبَادِكُمۡ وَإِمَآٮِٕڪُمۡۚ إِن يَكُونُواْ فُقَرَآءَ يُغۡنِهِمُ ٱللَّهُ مِن فَضۡلِهِۦۗ وَٱللَّهُ وَٲسِعٌ عَلِيمٌ
"Marry off those among you who are single, or the virtuous ones among your servants, male or female: if they are needy, Allah will make them free of want out of His grace: for Allah is All-Bountiful, and He knows all things." (Quran, 24:32)
Muslims have been encouraged (and in some cases obligated) by the Quranic paradigm and the sunnah/tradition of Prophet Muhammad (SAW/PBUH) to live a large part of their adult life (if not all of it) within the framework of marriage. As they enter into adulthood they must plan to have a Halaal or lawful and legitimate relationship, and finding a suitable Muslim partner is an Islamic imperative that has to be part of their goals in life.
Before even looking for a compatible life partner, there are certain criteria to be met and requirements or conditions to fulfill - in the prospective choice certainly, but also in the person seeking a spouse! This will go a long way in helping them to develop a stronger Islamic personality and to fulfill the purpose of their existence as delineated by Allah Almighty and effectively carry out the responsibility of each being the khalifah or steward of, and on, this earth. And if they share a common way of life (deen) and have the same aspirations, they will help build, in a harmonious way, a well integrated and virtuous community.
Every Muslim individual seeking marriage should be sufficiently prepared for it: physically, psychologically (mentally and emotionallly), socially and financially or economically. They must be informed about marriage in Islam: what it means, its purpose, choosing a suitable spouse, how to make the marriage work and how to resolve conflicts, and - most importantly - to be aware of their mutual Rights, Roles and Responsibilities, which we usually refer to as the three “R”s of a happy and successful Muslim marriage. Some knowledge about divorce in Islam is highly recommended too.
Usually, the criteria for selecting a spouse are whittled down to one or a combination of some of the following: religion or piety, moral character and ethical behavior, wealth, beauty, lineage and (socio-economic) rank or status, congeniality, compatibility, etc. Whichever of these criteria is/are used to select a matrimonial partner, the likelihood is that those attributes will be the sum total of the marriage. The Quran therefore enjoins Muslims to choose a partner who is good and pure (Tayyib / طيّب), so that they may together dwell in harmony and attain the bliss of a life that is good and pure (Hayaah Tayyibah / حياة طيبة) as mentioned in the Quran (16:97).
The Messenger of Allah (SAW) also guided the believers, both the males and females, to choose a prospective Muslim spouse who excels in their outward and inner expression of the deen (دين / piety and character):
وعن أبي هريرة رضي الله عنه، عن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم قال: "تنكح المرأة لأربع: لمالها، ولحسبها، ولجمالها، ولدينها، فاظفر بذات الدين تربت يداك" (متفق عليه)
Abu Hurairah (RAA, may Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Prophet (SAW) said, "A woman is married for four things: for her wealth, for her lineage, for her beauty or for her deen. Select the one who has deen, may your hands be rubbed in dust!” [This means either: “may you be blessed” or “(otherwise) you will perish”.] (al-Bukhari and Muslim)
وَعَنْهُ قَالَ: قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ: "إِذَا خَطَبَ إِلَيْكُمْ مَنْ تَرْضَوْنَ دِينَهُ وَخُلُقَهُ فَزَوِّجُوهُ إِنْ لَا تَفْعَلُوهُ تَكُنْ فِتَنَةٌ فِي الْأَرْضِ وَفَسَادٌ عَرِيضٌ" . (رَوَاهُ التِّرْمِذِيُّ)
He also reported Allah’s Messenger (SAW) as saying, “When someone with whose deen and character you are satisfied asks for (your daughter in) marriage, accede to his request. If you do not do so there will be tribulation on the earth and extensive corruption." (al-Tirmidhi)
With so much emphasis placed on the quality of the deen of each partner in a marriage, it makes absolutely no sense for a Muslim to marry outside the religion of Islam. Allah Almighty says:
وَلَا تَنكِحُواْ ٱلۡمُشۡرِكَـٰتِ حَتَّىٰ يُؤۡمِنَّۚ وَلَأَمَةٌ مُّؤۡمِنَةٌ خَيْرٌ مِّن مُّشْرِكَةٍ وَلَوۡ أَعۡجَبَتۡكُمۡۗ وَلَا تُنكِحُواْ ٱلۡمُشۡرِكِينَ حَتَّىٰ يُؤۡمِنُواْۚ وَلَعَبْدٌ مُّؤۡمِنٌ خَيْرٌ مِّن مُّشْرِكٍ وَلَوۡ أَعۡجَبَكُمۡۗ أُوْلَـٰٓٮِٕكَ يَدۡعُونَ إِلَى ٱلنَّارِۖ وَٱللَّهُ يَدۡعُوٓاْ إِلَى ٱلۡجَنَّةِ وَٱلۡمَغۡفِرَةِ بِإِذۡنِهِۦۖ وَيُبَيِّنُ ءَايَـٰتِهِۦ لِلنَّاسِ لَعَلَّهُمۡ يَتَذَكَّرُونَ
Do not marry unbelieving women until they believe; a slave woman who believes is better than an unbelieving woman even though she may allure you. Nor marry (your women) to unbelievers until they believe: a man slave who believes is better than an unbeliever, even though he may allure you. Unbelievers do (but) beckon you to the Fire, while Allah beckons by His Grace to the Garden (of Paradise) and forgiveness, and He makes His Signs clear to the people, that they be mindful. (Quran 2:221)
Among the preconditions for choosing a suitable spouse in islam, falling in love is NOT one of them. Two important things to keep in mind: One: that the Islamic concept of love (as explained below) is different from the more commonly understood romantic (often, illicit) “love” relationships so valued in some non Islamic cultures. Two: that Allah (SWT) places love (mawaddah / مودّة ) between the (married) spouses (Quran 30:21), and this can only be realized and expressed in a lawful marriage. Yes, it may start to germinate upon the commitment to marriage by the prospective couple, but it can only fully blossom after the marriage is effected and the couple live together legally.
Love in the Islamic sense is to give and share, and to care and cherish - but for the sake and pleasure of Allah Almighty, who is always the main player (and Protector) in the “Love Triangle”. And just as Allah expresses His love (raHmah / رحمة ) for us as the Nourisher, the Cherisher and the Sustainer, we too demonstrate our love for our spouses by sustaining them spiritually, emotionally, physically, intellectually and materially, as described by Sister Shahina Siddiqui, a leading social worker in Canada. She concludes by stating that: “Love is not to consume but to sustain”. Allahu Akbar (Allah is the Greatest)!
Entering into marriage, if done in the correct Islamic manner and for the sake of Allah Almighty, is in itself an act of worship (‘ibaadah / عبادة ) and the rewards thereof are tremendous. Allah’s bounty is assured for those who wish to share divine love and live a life of purity, following the sunnah of our beloved Prophet (SAW) and the righteous folk after him. Allah’s Messenger (SAW) told us, according to a Hadith in Sunan al-Tirmidhi, that: “among the people Allah (SWT) obliges Himself to help ... is the one who wants to marry to live a chaste life".
“ حق على الله عونهم: … الناكح الذي يريد العفاف“
It is said that there is no fulfilling Muslim marriage without a spiritual foundation, and that it is a union of two souls/spirits before even being a partnership of two individuals (in the same home). The primary objective therefore of developing and implementing a marriage preparation program is to produce stronger individuals and families - spiritually speaking, for the most part - who will in turn renew and strengthen the foundations of Muslim society.
In the next article, we will focus on the period between the selection of a prospective spouse and the marriage ceremony, God willing. All praises are due to Allah, the Lord of the universe, the Merciful, the Mercy-giving, the Most Loving and Ever Compassionate.