Marriage in Islam - a Wedding Khutbah
This is a lecture delivered by Engr. Bashir Lawal at the wedding ceremony of Brother Surajudeen Sulayman and sister Maimunah Ali. The wedding was held at the school of Physiotherapy, Kano, Nigeria on February 4, 2000.
Bashir Lawal is the Co-ordinator of the Islamic Vanguard Movement of Nigeria.
(Zawaj.com Editor's Note: While some of the practices discussed in this lecture may seem strange to Muslims in the West, it should be borne in mind that they are relevant in the context in which this khutbah was delivered, namely that of African and other local cultural traditions).
As ordained by Allah, Islam is made to be a comprehensive way of life to be followed by any person who has hope in Allah and in the hereafter. Allah addresses all things that mankind will encounter in his sojourn on Earth, He does not want man to live a try-and-error life. He guided them with Prophets, who are equally human beings as the first executors of Allah's commands. And to bring His message to an end, the world was blessed with the holy Qur'an as Allah's final revelation and Prophet Muhammad as the seal of the Prophets who Allah adjudged 'the best of character'.
Allah extensively addresses issue of marriage. It is the only legal institution to bring about family, which is the nucleus of the society; for extra-marital relations are categorically condemned and prohibited.
Al-Nikaah is the Arabic word for marriage. It is a religio-legal contract between two spouses, which legalizes them to stay together as husband and wife in order to carry out marital obligations and responsibilities. The essence of this lecture is to bring to the notice of the Muslims and non-Muslims alike about the teachings of Islam on marriage and its beauties. Also to bring into the limelight the excesses and deviations being committed in the institution with the view that Muslims will tend towards treading the path of Allah and the guidance of the holy Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) which will only free them from the shackles of burdens derived from the marriage ceremony.
THE ESSENCE OF MARRIAGE:
According to the opening verse of this lecture, Allah created man and woman so that they can provide company to one another, love one another, procreate and live in tranquility. Marriage has been made to be one of the signs of understanding and reflecting the glory of Allah.
Celibacy is not considered a virtue in Islam, or a means of getting closer to Allah as done by other religions like Christianity, Buddhism and Jainism etc. The Prophet (SAWS) said: "The marriage is of my Tradition; whoever keeps away therefrom is not from among me".
Marriage is an act of Ibadah or worship. Worship is not limited to praying, fasting etc., but permeates every good act, services to humanity, every productive efforts and even every good word is a part of a true Muslim's worship of his creator. As regarding this there was a day the Prophet (SAWS) was discussing with some of his companions and he mentioned that "Even when you are having affairs with yours wife, Allah will reward you." The Sahabah could not believe it but he asked them, supposing you are having affairs with somebody's wife, would Allah not punish you?
Another purpose of marriage is to respond to the basic biological instinct of procreation. The development of the family is an essential ingredient of Islamic society. Children are to be brought up with all the fatherly and motherly care. They are to be educated and catered for by their parents. The Prophet said:
"Marry the affectionate woman, who can give birth to children so that on the day of resurrection I will be delighted by your multitude compared with other nations." (reported by Nisa'ai & Abu Dawud)
SELECTION OF A SPOUSE
The Prophet (SAWS) said: "A woman is normally sought as a wife for any one of four reasons: Her wealth, her noble lineage, her beauty or her religion character. Be blessed by closing the God-fearing woman or else you will be a loser." (reported by Bukhari & Muslim)
This statement also applies to women looking for husband. Choosing a God-fearing person as a partner should be the concern of all believers. It is unfortunate that when selecting spouses, the first place of call for guidance for many Muslims is the soothsayer or a Mallam who will gaze at the future for the best husband or wife. This contradicts the teaching of Islam. Hafsah (wife of the Prophet) reported that the Prophet (SAWS) said: "The salat of whoever approaches a fortuneteller and asks him about anything will not be accepted for forty days and nights".
Abu Hurayrah and Al-hassan both reported from the Prophet (SAWS) "Whoever approaches a fortuneteller and believes in what he says has disbelieved in what was revealed to Muhammad."
As regards this, the parents are strongly warned about taking their wards to any soothsayers or having any thing to do with them. However, since choosing a partner is a serious business of making a decision that will make or mar one's life, the Prophet taught us prayer to undertake when we want to choose or make a decision on issues. This prayer is known as 'Istikhaara' i.e. the prayer of divine guidance. If this prayer is done with sincerity of heart, Allah will guide one to a good decision (the prayer is of two Rakat, preferably in the night after the Taslim, one should recite Allah's praise, glorification and Salat for the Prophet and then recite the supplication.
In selecting a spouse, the fundamental thing is for the spouse to be a Muslim. Tribal sentiment should not be a factor. Thus the situation that some parents refuse their child to marry from a particular tribe is unacceptable as far as Islam is concerned. We have seen marriages that the couples are from the same village as required by the parents but at the end of the day, the marriage collapsed. Under Islamic law, if a parent refuses her daughter from marrying a man because they are not from the same town or tribe, the state has right to conduct the marriage on behalf of the father and make it valid.
The ladies are advised that money, affluence and all goodies of life are ephemeral and they will not be forever. Women should desist on creating a class for their type of man they would want to marry in terms of wealth. Our Prophet was not rich when married his first heartthrob Khadijah (may Allah have mercy on them), in fact, he was working under her. And who says a poor man of today will not be rich tomorrow? Whoever comes to you with love, sincerity and affection, accept him to marry you and live a happy life, rather than go after non-religious wealthy men who, at a twinkling of an eye, will dump you or send you packing.
In selecting a spouse, parents have a say in the type of husband their daughter will marry. However under Shariah, a girl cannot be given in marriage outside her will. The would-be-husband and would-be-wife must have seen each other and agree to marry each other. It was reported that when Mughira ibn Shu'bah made a proposal of marriage to a woman, the holy Prophet (SAWS) asked him if he had seen her and on his replying negatively, he (SAW) enjoined him to see her because it was likely to bring about greater love and concord between them. However, caution must be exercised as regards this not to be mistaken as the modern day courtship. The etiquette of Islam is that the two should not be left in a room alone. Unfortunately, we have transgressed in this matter to the extent that ever before solemnization, the would-be-wife will sleep in her finance's house, some go to the extent of pre marital sexual intercourse in the name of wanting to know of their sexual "compatibility".
Neither a lady should be imposed on a man as wife nor a man be imposed on a woman as husband, whether because of the friendship the parents, an inter-family system, because of past promises or as a mean of setting debt. During the time of the Prophet (SAWS), a girl reported to the Prophet (SAWS) that her father had given her in marriage without her consent. The Prophet nullified the marriage, and warned the father on such an act.
No doubt, when the heart desires something, one may not have a rest of mind until the heart obtains what it desires. In choosing a partner, it should not be a do-or-die affair. Hence, in case the proposal is not accepted our confidence should be reposed in Allah as the Provider of good things. Such practices as going to a herbalist to super impose the love is not acceptable, nor is the practice of conducting a "remote sensing." Those who use such unconventional methods to marry a girl or husband will only enjoy the marriage for a short time because there is a limit to which "juju" or hypnotism can work. It should also be noted that the offsprings of such unions may become irresponsible or retarded.
But it is possible that
ye dislike a thing, which is good for you, and that ye love a
thing is bad for you. But Allah knoweth, and ye know not."
As earlier stated, Islam permits only marriage between a man and woman as bestiality is met with strong punishment under Shariah. Extensively Allah listed that certain category of people should not marry each other. This is stated in holy Qur'ran chapter 4:22 - 24:
"And marry not women whom your father married - except what is past: It was shameful and odious - an abominable custom indeed. Prohibited to you (for marriage) are - your mothers, daughters, sisters, father's sisters, mother's sisters, brother's daughters, sister's daughters, foster - mothers (who gave you suck) foster-sisters, your wife's mother, your step-daughters under your guardianship, born of your wives to whom ye have gone in - no prohibition if you have not gone in (those who have been) wives of your sons proceeding except for what is past; for Allah is oft-forgiving. Most merciful - Also (prohibited are) women already married, except those whom your right hands possess; Thus hath Allah ordained (prohibitions) against; except for these, all others are lawful, provided ye seek (them in marriage) with gifts from your property - desiring chastity, not lust. Seeing that ye derive benefit from them, give them their dowers (at least) as prescribed; but if, after a dower is proscribed; ye agree mutually (to vary it). There is no blame on you, and Allah is All-knowing, All-wise".
A woman cannot have more than one husband at a time; likewise a man cannot have more than four wives at a time. This does not hold if any of the wives dies or is divorced.
MARRIAGE TO A NON-MUSLIM
There is only one way of life established by Allah for mankind, this is known as deen (literarily translated as religion).
"The religion before Allah is Islam (submission to his will): Nor did the people of the book dissent therefore except through envy of each other, after knowledge had come to them. But if any deny the signs of Allah, Allah is swift in calling to account." Q3:19
Based on this, a Muslims would want his progeny to follow the path of Islam and would love everybody to be within the fold of Islam. Even though a child belongs to both parents, the principal role of the father is to give proper education to his children. He is to guide the child spiritually for the child is recognized with the paternal side as he bears the name of his father rather than mother.
Al-Qur'an says, "call them with the name of their fathers,........"
Because of this Islam is liberal with the religion of the
woman the Muslim man will marry. Allah accepts the marriage of
the women of the people of the book (Christian and Jews) by Muslim
However, a Muslim woman must not marry any other person than a Muslim man, this is the decree of Allah. And the reason is not far fetched: this is to protect the religion of the woman among other reasons. Allah says.
"Let there be no compulsion in
religion, Truth stands clear from error...."
While a Muslim who marries a woman of the people of the book can not force her to accept Islam, there is no such security for a Muslim woman if she marries a non-Muslim. Likewise there are some religious obligations to be undertaken by her which can only be respected by a Muslim husband. Authority of the home lies with the husband. What would Muslim woman do if authorized by a non-Muslim Husband to carry out an act contrary to the teaching of Islam? Can she disobey her husband, knowing fully well that disobedience to the husband is a path leading to hell? And finally, Allah says in the holy Qur'an, 3:85:
If anyone desires a religion other than Islam (submission to Allah), Never will it be accepted of him; and in the hereafter, he will be in the ranks of those who have lost (all spiritual good).
Then would a Muslim woman who strongly believes in this word of Allah want her children to be losers in the hereafter where there will be everlasting perdition for the losers?
It should be said that in the 1980's there was a Fatwa (religious legislation) from Saudi Arabia, that even though Allah accepts a Muslim man marrying people of the book, Allah did not make it compulsory; therefore, Muslim men should try to avoid it. There are abundant beautiful Muslim ladies in the society. If they are not married should we leave them to non-Muslims to marry? Moreso, the offspring of such unions are religiously confused and such families fall into religious disharmony. The idea that marrying a Christian lady is a jihad because she will be converted to Islam is unacceptable. It is better to marry a Muslim lady and convert her to be a better Muslim.
Before Marriage can be solemnized, there are four key elements that must be present:
This is the simplicity of Islam as regards joining the couples together.
The Mahr (Dower)
According to the Prophet; The best marriage is the one that is not costliest. Mahr is the marriage gift from the bridegroom to his bride and becomes her exclusive property, which can not be taken back except the wife requests for divorce (khul). Allah says,
"And give these the women (on marriage) their dower as a free gift but if they, of their own good pleasure, remit any part of it to you, take is and enjoy it with good cheer." Q4:4
The amount of Mahr was not fixed by the Prophet. It is not only money, it can also be in kind. The Prophet encouraged the women to be lenient with what they will demand as Mahr. The early Muslims lived a contented life with the holy Prophet with a pair of shoes only. This was reported by Amr ibn Rabiah in a marriage of a woman belonging to Banu Fazarah, the Prophet asked her, "Are you happy with yourself with a pair of shoes?" She said 'yes'. The Prophet (SAWS) then permitted her to marry.
Also, the Prophet (SAWS) offered in marriage a woman to a man that had only one pair of trousers. The man did not have anything to give, not even an iron ring. Instead the Prophet requested him to teach the woman some parts of holy Qur'an as her Dower.
With this contentment, these women did not marry but Muslims neither did the men shun marriage because of the poverty. Unfortunately, the Muslim Ummah (community) has forgotten these stories. Women of today are demanding more than what is affordable by average income earners as dower (mahr). The society does not help in this matter either. All the marriage gifts will be displayed and scrutinized on the eve of marriage day. The parents even encourage their daughters to take as much from their would-be-husband as possible, for after marriage the husband may not be buying gifts for his wife again nor have time to take good care of her.
The tradition that sees dower as property of the brides parents is not Islamic, nor the Bride price being paid as a price tag on the woman. Islam accepts giving gifts; the would-be-husband can give his would-be-in-laws any befitting gift, but they should not instigate their daughter to request money (some even request a home) for them or their extended family.
It should be known that the Bride and her groom are not to be proclaimed husband and wife until the bride's guardian officially releases his daughter in the presence of at least two witnesses after the payment of the Dower or agreement made on its payment (for it can be differed if the bridegroom has no means).
Extra care should be taken about the misconception that some youths have about this. It is misguidance that since the bride's father and his family have accepted to offer their daughter in marriage and a kind of social interaction takes place between two families (to know each other) therefore, the would be couple could be having a sexual relationship. This is not so. There must be proper solemnization of which an official proclamation will be made. There is a difference between "We know that you are marrying our daughter/We accept her to marry you" and "Take her in marriage Affairs". The way of the Prophet (SAWS) is strictly followed so that the reward of marriage will be maximized. Any ambiguity should not be entertained.
Among the acts of Ibadah (worship) that should be made known to people (unlike sadaqah) is marriage. There should be no secret marriage. This calls for the necessity of at least two pious Muslims as witnesses.
It is advisable that the publicity includes celebration, no matter how small it will be. It must not be a show of extravagance. It may be done even with slaughtering of a single goat.
Unfortunately, it is this marriage celebration (feast) that is delaying many couples from marrying, for they may not be able to afford its cost implication because of the belief that it should be attended by the shakers and movers of the society. Some couples entered into debt of which they were able to offset only after three years of their marriage just because of the marriage party. The Muslims are supposed to be an example to be emulated by others.
DUTIES OF HUSBAND AND WIFE
After the marriage has been solemnized, the couples will start living together until death or divorce separates them. With their togetherness, there are some collective responsibilities for them and also some individual roles that each should play to make a happy and loving family. Marriage will open the eyes of the couple to hidden characters of each other which did not manifest during their courtship. Even twins that were born from the same womb and on the same day do have quarrels with each other. More so the couples that know each other for a short period of time. Therefore, newly wedded couples are advised in strong term to be patient with each other and study carefully whatever can be disparity in their ways of life, which can jeopardize their marriage.
The first duty every Muslim owes Allah is to worship Him:
"I have not created humans and jinns but to worship.":
The essence of worshipping Allah is to inherit His pleasure in the hereafter. Thus the married couple owes it a duty such that both of them will enter paradise. Therefore, upholding the pillars of Islam and striving in Allah's cause should be their goal, which should not be compromised for any other thing. If Allah blesses them with children, it is their duty to give them a good education and bid them to follow Islamic tenets. In fact, the life of the family should revolve around Islam, and also create avenues to learn and discuss about Islam.
Responsibilities of the Husband
"Men are protectors and maintainers of women, because Allah has given the one more (Strength) than the other, and because they support them from their means." Q:4:34.
Allah has created men and women equal, but each with different role and duties, however the best person in the sight of Allah is not determined by gender but by Taqwa (piety). According to the above verse, man is bestowed leadership. Thus the final authority of the home lies with the husband because he is bestowed the responsibility of being the breadwinner. The husband according to the Prophet (SAWS) must feed his wife, clothe her and shelter her.
Though he is the leader, he should not be a dictator. He should try as much as possible to consult his family on matters even though their decision may not be final with him. The Prophet exemplified this during the treaty of Hudaibiyah where he sought the opinion of his wife Hafsat. At it was that wife's opinion that saved the community from the logjam.
Another aspect of the duty of the husband is to be considerate and render any assistance that can make his wife's living more bearable. The Prophet (SAWS) assisted his wife in doing some work like cutting firewood, fetching water etc. This is not only because of the love he had for his wives but because he taught us that
"The best among you is he that brought ease most to his brother."
Husband and wife are brother and sister in Islam. Each one should help and encourage the other to worship Allah. From this one could learn that it is not a crime if the wife is cooking and her baby is crying that the husband assists in attending to the crying child. Or if she is cooking the husband may also be assisting in washing the dirty plates instead of watching the television. Under shariah of Islam, if a woman washes clothes, cooks, etc. she is doing it to earn blessing from Allah, not that it is compulsory to do so.
Responsibilities of the Wife
The primary duty of woman is in keeping the custody of her husband's home. She is expected to be the comfort of his eyes. She is expected to make life more bearable for her husband, she is to assist and advise him and take good care of his children for he will be away from home seeking to support his family. The property of her husband should not be given out except with his permission and she should not be extravagant in spending.
QUARRELS BETWEEN HUSBAND AND WIFE
The rate of divorce is so high in our society to the extent that non-Muslims believe that divorce is part of Islamic etiquette. However, the Prophet said that divorce is the most disliked of all allowable things in the sight of Allah.
The cause of divorce is lack of understanding, patience and tolerance between the couples. In this regard, the husband as the leader should show maturity and understand that women are generally emotional. Pronouncement of divorce is not the solution to a quarrel. If a wife is divorced, how are we sure that another wife to be married will not behave like the one that was divorced or even worse?
Allah enjoins the husband to first admonish his wife about her wrong doings. If she did not yield, he can then sever conjugal relations with her and if the wife is adamant then she can be given a light spanking which is the worst form of disgrace.
"..... As to those women on whose part fear disloyalty and ill-conduct, admonish them first, (next) refuse to share their beds, and (last) spank them (lightly), but if they return to obedience seek not against them means of annoyance." Q4:38
Finally, in resolving any crisis, the husband and wife are not left alone at the mercy of each other. Islam recognizes the extended family role in marriage.
"If ye fear a breach between them twain, appoint (two) arbiters, one from his family, and the other from hers, if they wish for peace, Allah would cause their reconciliation: For Allah hath full knowledge, and is acquainted with all things." Q4:35
EURO-CHRISTIAN INFLUENCE ON MUSLIM MARRIAGE
The Prophet (SAWS) said,
"You will follows the ways of those nations who were before you, span by span and cubit by cubit so much so that even if they entered a hole of a mastigure (lizard), you would follow them." We said "O Allah's messenger! (Do you mean) the Jews and the Christians?" He said "Who else ?"
With the advent of western education, the Muslims culture and etiquette are infiltrated to the extent that some of the good things that Islam stands for are corrupted or bastardized. Some of the marriage insignias of the Kuffar (unbelievers) have been adopted in the Muslim marriage ceremony. They contributed to what make marriage expensive and bring a lot of Bid'ah (innovation) and deviation from the sunnah of the Prophet (SAWS). Among these Euro-Christians of influences are:
".. If you obey a group of those who were given the book, you would turn back to dis-believers after you had believed." Q 3:100
There are many ways of doing things but as far as the belief of any conscious Muslim, the best way of doing things is that ordained by Allah and practiced by the Prophet Muhammad (SAWS). For any marriage to enjoy the maximum blessing from Allah it must follow the dictates of Allah according to the holy Qur'an and the Sunnah of the Prophet (SAWS).
In conclusion, I call your attention once again to the following points:
All Praises belong to Allah the Lord of the universe.
An Islamic Vanguard Publication