بسم لله الرحمان الرحيم
The Blessing of Marriage in Islam
Wesley Ja’far Porter
In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful. We give all our praise to Allah, we ask for his guidance, and we seek his forgiveness. We seek refuge in him from the evil within ourselves and from evil in our deeds. Allah guides whom he wills and he misguides whom he wills, and we ask Allah to guide us on the straight path. I bear witness that there is no god but Allah and that he has no partners, and I bear witness that Muhammad is the slave and messenger of Allah.
Allah (swt) says in the Qur'an, "O mankind! reverence your Guardian-Lord Who created you from a single person created of like nature his mate and from them twain scattered (like seeds) countless men and women; reverence Allah through Whom ye demand your mutual (rights) and (reverence) the wombs (that bore you): for Allah ever watches over you. (Surah 4:1)
Allah also said, It is He Who has created man from water: then has He established relationships of lineage and marriage: for thy Lord has power over all things. (Surah 25:54)
In a sahih hadith recorded in the collection of imam Bukhari, narrated by Anas ibn Malik, (ra) we read, “A group of three men came to the houses of the wives of the Prophet (sws) asking how the Prophet worshipped (Allah), and when they were informed about that, they considered their worship insufficient and said, "Where are we from the Prophet as his past and future sins have been forgiven." Then one of them said, "I will offer the prayer throughout the night forever." The other said, "I will fast throughout the year and will not break my fast." The third said, "I will keep away from the women and will not marry forever." Allah's Apostle came to them and said, "Are you the same people who said so-and-so? By Allah, I am more submissive to Allah and more afraid of Him than you; yet I fast and break my fast, I do sleep and I also marry women. So he who does not follow my tradition in religion, is not from me. The last of these men said he would stay away from women, and never marry. The prophet responds by pointing out the fact the HE, the messenger of Allah, who has more taqwa and iman than any other man or woman on Earth, has wives, and enjoys his time with them. In Islam, it is absolutely wajib, or obligatory to marry. According to another hadith, the prophet (sws) also said, “when a man marries, he has fulfilled half of his religion , so let him fear Allah regarding the remaining half." If marriage is half of our deen, then does that mean that without it, we only have 50% of our deen? For any of you who are students or teachers you know what kind of score 50% is, and it’s not good.
In Islam, there is no room for celibacy. The Catholics relate celibacy to taqwa, and having pure faith. This is absolutely unacceptable in Islam. We’ve seen in recent years, a multitude of cases of sexual child abuse amongst some Catholic priests in this country, and this is a testament to the fact we as human beings are not created to be without a mate, and when deprived of that, severe psychological problems can develop.
Marriage is a blessing that is almost unsurpassed by anything else in our lives. For myself, I can honestly say that my marriage was probably the best thing that ever happened to me, with the exception of embracing Islam. It’s difficult to discribe in words all the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual blessings associated with marriage. But, to say the least it is one of the most important things any of us will do.
But, with any great blessing, comes great responsibility. For a man, taking on a wife is an incredible undertaking. Allah has said in his Qur’an that men are protectors and the sustainers of women. This means that when a woman agrees to marry a man, it means that she is entrusting him with her livelihood, that she is trusting that he will take care of her, provide for her, and give her the love and respect that she is entitled to by Allah. Likewise, women have many responsibilities toward their husband when it comes to marriage.
The marriage ceremony in Islam is actually a rather simple thing. The actual requirements for a marriage ceremony are very few. This allows for there to be room for cultural traditions in the ceremony. When we look to Muslim weddings around the world we see a very wide range of traditions. But, within each of them, are the basic requirements of nikkah, or marriage in Islam. The requirements are first that there needs to be agreement by both the bride and the groom for the marriage. While a persons family can most certainly be involved with the selection of a mate, no person, male or female, can be forced to marry someone that they do not approve. Also, another extremely important requirement for the marriage is the mahr, or dowry. Allah (swt) says, "And give to the women whom you marry their Mahr with a good heart, but if they, of their own good pleasure, remit any part of it to you, take it, and enjoy it without fear of any harm as Allâh has made it lawful." (Surah 4:4)
In some cultures, such as American Christian traditions, the bride will actually give the groom a dowry, but this is not the case in Islam. In Islam the groom is obligated to give or promise to give a fixed dowry to the bride at the time of the nikkah. The mahr is the brides right, and she has the right to ask whatever she wants so long as it is reasonable to the groom. It is also her right to expect it at the time of marriage, or to defer it, or even to wave it. Ultimately it is her right. Also, there needs to be witnesses. These witnesses should be Muslims, although additional non-Muslim witnesses are welcome and even encouraged. The officiator of the nikkah should also be a Muslim, who is knowledgeable of the deen of Islam, and the important aspects of marriage. This person does not necessarily have to be an imam, however, in this country it is important that he be someone that is legally certified to officiate weddings. Many Muslims do not file their marriage with the state government, but there are many scholars who believe that this could be at least mukruh or even haram, because in Islam the marriage should be something recognized by local authorities in order to ensure that both parties are legally entitled to full rights of marriage under the local law. It matters not that the local government is a non-Muslim one. We are required to obey authorities and laws regardless of whether or not they are Muslim, so long as they don't prevent one from performing obligatory aspects of Islam. After the officiator delivers a khutbah and takes the promise from both the bride and the groom, the two are then married, and only then are halal towards each other.
As I said, there are many responsibilities involved with marriage. Both the husband and the wife have rights over each other. These rights could be roughly divided into material rights, and non-material rights. Allah (swt) says in the Qur'an, And they (women) have rights similar to those of their husbands over them to what is reasonable, but men have a degree of responsibility over them. And Allah is All-Mighty, All-Wise.
The prophet (sws) said, as recorded in Sahih Al Tirmidhi, said, "Listen! You have your rights upon your wives and they have their rights upon you. Your right is that they shall not allow anyone you dislike, to trample your bed and do not permit those whom you dislike to enter your home. Their right is that you should treat them well in the matter of food and clothing."
Material Rights of the Wife~ The husband is responsible for the upkeep of the household, expenses, and seeing that all of the wife’s needs are taken care of. She may work if she chooses but she should not be obligated to. The husband should share in the household chores and when she becomes ill or unable to complete tasks, it is his responsibility to pick up the slack.
Non-Material Rights~ The husband has the responsibility to treat his wife as his partner and companion, and NOT as his servant. He is not to force her to engage in sexual activity that is deemed haram. He should not take anything of her wealth without her consent. He should consult her in matters in his life, and in their family affairs. He should be gentle and kind to her, and always try to never become angry or insulting. Women are generally emotional beings and it is important that they feel loved and appreciated on a daily basis.
Material Rights of the Husband~ The wife is expected to safe guard the husband’s property in his absence. She should not allow people in his house whom he would not approve, and she should not mingle or make friends with people that he would not approve of. It is also important for her to take part in the household chores although that is not her responsibility alone, and also to nourish and tend to the couples children.
Non-Material~ She should also be gentle, loving and respectful to her husband. When her husband is stressed she should seek to ease his troubles. Actually men can be rather emotional at times as well as women, even if we don’t like to admit it. And, they both should try to be physically attractive for each other, in order to help prevent the possibility of zina, or adultery.
Also it needs to be noted that when searching for a mate, a pious, faithful person is always better than a non-pious one. Many times people are attracted to someone because of their wealth, or physical appearance, or family status, or the tribe they come from, etc. However, none of these things should take priority over the persons dedication to the deen of Islam. In the Sahih al Bukhari, the prophet Muhammad (sws) is recorded to have said, A wealthy man passed by Allah's Apostle and Allah's Apostle asked (his companions) "What do you say about this (man)?" They replied, "If he asks for a lady's hand, he ought to be given her in marriage; and if he intercedes (for someone) his intercessor should be accepted; and if he speaks, he should be listened to." Allah's Apostle kept silent, and then a man from among the poor Muslims passed by, an Allah's Apostle asked (them) "What do you say about this man?" They replied, "If he asks for a lady's hand in marriage he does not deserve to be married, and he intercedes (for someone), his intercession should not be accepted; And if he speaks, he should not be listened to." Allah's Apostle corrected the companions and said, "This poor man is better than so many of the first as filling the earth."
A Qulu Qawli Hatha, Wa StaghfirAllaha lii Walakum
Today, one of the biggest issues that critics of Islam raise, is the issue of the treatment of women. A lot of people in our society today like to talk about equality between men and women. Men and women should be equal. It sounds reasonable. In reality, there can be no equality between men and women. Now before anyone reports me to Fox News, let me explain. 1+1=2, 3x4=12. The term “equals”, means that what’s on one side of an equation is the “same” as what’s on the other side. To say that men are “equal” to women is not correct. Men are most certainly not the “same” as women. There are obviously huge physical, mental, and emotional differences between men women. So rather than use the term “equality” it is better to use the term “equity”. We have equitable responsibilities, and have a balanced degree of rights over each other. Woman are NOT to be considered second class citizens. They are not to be considered inferior in intellect strictly based on their gender. And, most of all we should not judge them, based on how they look or dress. Likewise, women should not see men as overbearing or over-controlling just because they expect certain things in a wife. When it comes to marriage it is absolutely important that in addition to understanding our roles as husbands and wives, we understand our roles simply as Muslim men and Muslim women first.
We have seen in the media, stories of gross mistreatment of women in the old Muslim world. Now while of course the media often exaggerates or practices selective covering, these things DO happen. There ARE Muslims who treat their women like this. But, this is not because of Islam, it is because of their ignorance of Islam. We can rant and rave until we’re blue in the face about the ignorant portrayals of Islam that we see from our critics, but not of it matters until we first turn our ranting and raving on those Muslims who actually DO these things. These dogs that call themselves men, who use the message of Allah (swt) and the words of our beloved prophet Muhammad (sws) to carry out such acts of barbarism against the women that, in their devotion to Allah, rely on these so-called men for their sustenance. The most righteous amongst you are those who are best to your wives. That is the message of Islam. May Allah protect us from such things, and may we be an example to our community, our country, and our world what marriage really is in Islam.
For those of us who are married, let us take the time to remember our spouses and appreciate what they are to us, and how much they mean to us. Let us thank Allah (swt) that He blessed us with such a thing in this dunya. Let us always strive to participate with our spouse in the development of our deen. To read Qur’an together, to make du’a together, and encourage each other in increasing our iman. And, for those of us who are not married, take this time to make du’a to Allah that He may grant you with a good, and righteous spouse.