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.