Tag archive for ‘marriage in islam’
The Benefits and Dangers of Marriage
Reprinted from Ummah.com’s archives
Benefits of Marriage
The main benefits of marriage are:
- Seeking children:
- Marriage contributes to the building of society, propagation of the human race, and increasing the numbers of Muslims. Pleasing the Prophet (pbuh), by increasing the numbers of his followers. “Marry the loving and child-bearing, for I shall outnumber the nations by you on the Day of Resurrection.” (Ahmad. A similar narration has been recorded by al-Bayhaqi and al-Tabarani, and Hafiz ibn Hajar cited it in “al-Fath” indicating that it is hasan or sahih according to him)
- Seeking blessings through a righteous child through his Du’a and other good deeds on your behalf after your death, or should the child die young then through his intercession.
- “When the son of Adam dies, his good deeds come to an end, except from three [sources] : perennial charity (sadaqah jariyah), knowledge from which benefit is obtained, and a pious child who prays for him.” [Riyad al-Saliheen]
Other benefits are –
- Protection from Satan through legitimate channelling of the reproductive drive, thereby saving oneself and one’s spouse from related sins.
- Peace of mind and companionship, development of love and mercy between the spouses.
- Development of ties between families.
- Sharing of tasks in the household, such that the overall burden on each person is less.
- Inculcation of a sense of responsibility and improvement of one’s self through expending effort and making sacrifices for the protection and welfare of one’s family, taking care of their needs (physical, material, emotional, spiritual), and bearing inconveniences and each other’s faults patiently.
Dangers of Marriage
At the same time, there are potential dangers to marriage, which one must watch beware of and try to avoid.
Among them :
- Failure to earn halal income, such that one turns to increasing his income through haram means, in the effort to spend on one’s family.
- Failure to fulfil the duties of marriage, in particular the rights of the wife, or failure to be patient with its difficulties. “Every one of you is a guardian, and every one of you is liable to be questioned about those in his care. The man is a guardian with regard to his family, and is liable to be questioned about those in his care. The woman is a guardian with respect to her husband’s house, and is liable to be questioned about that in her care. So, every one of you is a guardian, and every one of you is liable to be questioned about those in his care.” (Bukhari, Muslim)
- Being distracted by one’s family from religious obligations, such that one spends his days and nights in enjoyment with them without caring to ponder over the Hereafter to work for it. “O you who believe! Let not your wealth or your children distract you from the remembrance of Allah. And whoever does that, they are the losers.” [Quran, 63:9]
“A dinar which you spend in the path of Allah, a dinar which you spend [to free] a slave, a dinar which you give as sadaqah to a needy person, and a dinar which you spend on your family : the most superior of these is the one which you spend on your family.”
Our Lord! Grant us wives and offspring who will be the comfort of our eyes, and makes us leaders for the pious. O Allah! Grant blessings and peace to our master Muhammad, and to his Household and Companions.
Rights of the Husband and Wife in Islam
Based on Hammudah `Abd al-`Ati’s famous book, Islam in Focus, with some modifications.
First of all, we’d like to state that in Islam the marriage of a man and a woman is not just a financial and physical arrangement of living together but a sacred contract, a gift of God, to lead a happy, enjoyable life and continue the lineage. The main goal of marriage in Islam is the realization of tranquility and compassions between the spouses. For the attainment of this supreme goal, Islam defined certain duties and rights for the husband and wife.
For a detailed account of these mutual duties and rights, we’d like to cite the following:
“Piety is the basis of choosing the life partner. Many are the statements of the Qur’an and the Sunnah that prescribe kindness and equity, compassion and love, sympathy and consideration, patience and good will. The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, says, “The best Muslim is the one who is best to his family.” Also, he says, “… and the most blessed joy in life is a good, righteous wife.” (Reported by At-Tirmidhi)
The role of the husband evolves around the moral principle that it is his solemn duty to Allah to treat his wife with kindness, honor, and patience; to keep her honorably or free her from the marital bond honorably; and to cause her no harm or grief. Allah Almighty says: “…consort with them in kindness, for if you hate them it may happen that you hate a thing wherein Allah has placed much good.” (An-Nisa': 19)
The role of the wife is summarized in the verse that women have rights even as they have duties, according to what is equitable; but men have a degree over them. Allah Almighty says, “And they (women) have rights similar to those (of men) over them in kindness, and men are a degree above them. Allah is Mighty, Wise.” (Al-Baqaraqh: 228)
This degree is usually interpreted by Muslim scholars in conjunction with another passage which states, among other things, that men are trustees, guardians, and protectors of women because Allah has made some of them excel others and because men expend of their means. Allah Almighty says: “Men are in charge of women, because Allah has made the one of them to excel the other, and because they spend of their property (for the support of women). So good women are the obedient, guarding in secret that which Allah has guarded. As for those from whom you fear rebellion, admonish them and banish them to beds apart, and scourge them. Then if they obey you, seek not a way against them. Lo! Allah is ever High Exalted, Great.” (An-Nisa': 34)
A-The Wife’s Rights; The Husband’s Obligations:
Because the Qur’an and the Sunnah of the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, have commanded kindness to women, it is the husband’s duty to:
1- Consort with his wife in an equitable and kind manner. Allah Almighty says, “… and consort with them in kindness.” (An-Nisa': 19)
2- Have responsibility for the full maintenance of the wife, a duty which he must discharge cheerfully, without reproach, injury, or condescendence. Allah Almighty says: “Let him who has abundance spend of his abundance, and he whose provision is measured, let him spend of that which Allah has given him. Allah asks naught of any soul save that which He has given it. Allah will vouchsafe, after hardship, ease.” (At-Talaq: 7)
Components of Maintenance:
Maintenance entails the wife’s incontestable right to lodging, clothing, nourishing, and general care and well-being.
1-The wife’s residence must be adequate so as to provide her with the reasonable level of privacy, comfort, and independence. The welfare of the wife and the stability of the marriage should be the ultimate goal.
2-What is true of the residence is true of clothing, food, and general care. The wife has the right to be clothed, fed, and cared for by the husband, in accordance with his means and her style of life. These rights are to be exercised without extravagance or miserliness.
A husband is commanded by the law of God to:
1- Treat his wife with equity.
2- Respect her feelings, and to show her kindness and consideration.
3- Not to show his wife any aversion or to subject her to suspense or uncertainty.
4- Not to keep his wife with the intention of inflicting harm on her or hindering her freedom.
5- Let her demand freedom from the marital bond, if he has no love or sympathy for her.
B. The Wife’s Obligations; The Husband’s Rights:
The main obligation of the wife as a partner in a marital relationship is to contribute to the success and blissfulness of the marriage as much as possible. She must be attentive to the comfort and well-being of her mate. She may neither offend him nor hurt his feelings. Perhaps nothing can illustrate the point better than the Qur’anic statement which describes the righteous people as those who pray saying: “Our Lord! Grant unto us wives and offspring who will be the joy and the comfort of our eyes, and guide us to be models of righteousness.” (Al-Furqan: 74)
This is the basis on which all the wife’s obligations rest and from which they flow. To fulfill this basic obligation:
1- The wife must be faithful, trustworthy, and honest.
2- She must not deceive her mate by deliberately avoiding conception lest it deprive him of legitimate progeny.
3- She must not allow any other person to have access to that which is exclusively the husband’s right, i.e. sexual intimacy.
4-She must not receive anyone in his home whom the husband does not like.
5-She may not accept their gifts without his approval. This is probably meant to avoid jealousy, suspicion, gossip, etc., and also to maintain the integrity of all parties concerned.
6- The husband’s possessions are her trust. If she has access to any portion thereof, or if she is entrusted with any fund, she must discharge her duty wisely and thriftily. She may not lend or dispose of any of his belongings without his permission.
7- With respect to intimacy, the wife is to make herself desirable; to be attractive, responsive, and cooperative.
8- A wife may not deny herself to her husband, for the Qur’an speaks of them as a comfort to each other. Due consideration is, of course, given to health and decency.”
14 Benefits of Marriage in Islam
by Shahina Siddiqui, Soundvision.com
The Basis of Marriage in Islam: Equality of All Human Beings
“And among His signs is this, that He created for you mates from among yourselves, that you may dwell in peace and tranquility with them, and He has put love and mercy between your (hearts): Verily in that are signs for those who reflect.” (Quran 30:21).
“O Humans revere your Guardian Lord, Who created you from a single person created of like nature its mate, and from this scattered (like seeds) countless men and women. Reverence Allah through Whom you claim your mutual rights.” (Quran 4:1).
The above verses of the Quran lay out the framework as to what are the basis, the objectives and the goal of marriage in Islam. In the ultimate Wisdom of Allah we are first told that both partners man and woman are created from the same source. That this should be paid attention to as it is one of His signs.
The fact that we come from the same soul signifies our equality as humans, when the essence of our creation is the same, the argument of who is better or greater is redundant. To stress on this fact and then to talk about marriage in the same verse is of great significance for those of us who are in the field of marriage counseling.
The shift in this attitude of equality of genders as human beings cause a imbalance in marital relation ship that leads to dysfunctional marriage. When ever one party considers themselves superior or above the law there is a shift in the balance of power that may lead to misuse or abuse of power as the less valuable partner is seen as an easy prey. Many marital difficulties are based on or caused by control and rule stratagem.
By stressing on the equality of all humans men or women and making it the basis of marriage, Allah in His infinite wisdom has laid the ground rules for establishing peace, as well as the assigning of different roles to husband and wife as functional strategy rather than a question of competence as humans.
Prophet Mohammad (peace and blessings be upon him) has stated that: “men and women are twin halves of each other” (Bukhari). This Hadith also brings home the fact that men and women are created from single source. Furthermore, by using the analogy of twin half the Prophet has underlined the reciprocal nature and the interdependent nature of men and women’s relationship.
Five Conditions for a Peaceful Marriage
The objective and the goal of marriage in Islam according to the above Quranic verse is to enable us to dwell in peace and tranquility. It is important for us to reflect on these words and their significance in the Islamic frame of reference.
In order to have peace certain condition must be met. These prerequisites to peace are:
- Fulfillment of mutual rights. Therefore any injustice whether it is oppression, or persecution, cannot be tolerated if there is to be peace in Muslim homes.
In the domestic realm oppression is manifested when the process of Shura (consultation) is compromised, neglected or ignored. When one partner (in most cases the husband) makes unilateral decisions and applies dictatorial style of leadership, peace is compromised. Persecution is present when there is any form of domestic abuse being perpetrated.
Tranquility on the other hand is a state of being which is achieved when peace has been established. Tranquility is compromised when there is tension, stress and anger. It is a mistake to take tranquility to mean perpetual state of bliss. Since being Muslims does not make us immune to tragedies and catastrophes.
In fact Allah tells us in the Quran that we will be tried (2:155,57). What a state of tranquility does is to empower us to handle life’s difficult moments with our spouses as obedient servants of Allah. Allah in His infinite Mercy also provides us with the tools by which we can achieve this state of peace and tranquility.
The second principle besides Shura on which the Islamic family life is based is Mercy (Rehma), and in this verse Allah is telling us that He has placed mercy between spouses. We are therefore inclined by our very nature to have mercy for our spouses. Mercy is manifested through compassion, forgiveness, caring and humility.
It is obvious that these are all ingredients that make for a successful partnership. Marriage in Islam is above all a partnership based on equality of partners and specification of roles. Lack of mercy in a marriage or a family renders it in Islamic terms dysfunctional.
Allah further states that He has also placed in addition to mercy, love between spouses. It should however be noted that Islamic concept of love is different from the more commonly understood romantic love so valued in the Western cultures.
The basic difference is that love between man and woman in the Islamic context can only be realized and expressed in a legal marriage. In order to develop a healthy avenue for the expression of love between man and woman and to provide security so that such a loving relationship can flourish, it is necessary to give it the protection of Shariah (Islamic law).
14 Benefits of Marriage in Islam
Marital love in Islam inculcates the following:
1. Faith: The love Muslim spouses have for each other is for the sake of Allah that is to gain His pleasure. It is from Allah that we claim our mutual rights (Quran 4:1) and it is to Allah that we are accountable for our behavior as husbands and wives.
2. It sustains: Love is not to consume but to sustain. Allah expresses His love for us by providing sustenance. To love in Islam is to sustain our loved one physically, emotionally, spiritually and intellectually, to the best of our ability (to sustain materially is the husbands duty, however if the wife wishes she can also contribute)
3. Accepts: To love someone is to accept them for who they are. It is selfishness to try and mould someone as we wish them to be. True love does not attempt to crush individuality or control personal differences, but is magnanimous and secure to accommodate differences.
4. Challenges: Love challenges us to be all we can, it encourages us to tap into our talents and takes pride in our achievements. To enable our loved one to realize their potential is the most rewarding experience.
5. Merciful: Mercy compels us to love and love compels us to have mercy. In the Islamic context the two are synonymous. The attribute Allah chose to be the supreme for Himself is that He is the most Merciful. This attribute of Rehman (the Merciful) is mentioned 170 times in the Quran, bringing home the significance for believers to be merciful. Mercy in practical application means to have and show compassion and to be charitable.
6. Forgiving: Love is never too proud to seek forgiveness or too stingy to forgive. It is willing to let go of hurt and letdowns. Forgiveness allows us the opportunity to improve and correct our selves.
7. Respect: To love is to respect and value the person their contributions and their opinions. Respect does not allow us to take for granted our loved ones or to ignore their input. How we interact with our spouses reflects whether we respect them or not.
8. Confidentiality: Trust is the most essential ingredient of love. When trust is betrayed and confidentiality compromised, love loses its soul.
9. Caring: Love fosters a deep fondness that dictates caring and sharing in all that we do. The needs of our loved ones take precedence over our own.
10. Kindness: The Seerah (biography) of our beloved Prophet is rich with examples of acts of kindness, he showed towards his family and particularly his wives. Even when his patience was tried, he was never unkind in word or deed. To love is to be kind.
11. Grows: Marital love is not static it grows and flourishes with each day of marital life. It requires work and commitment, and is nourished through faith when we are thankful and appreciative of Allah blessings.
12. Enhances: Love enhances our image and beautifies our world. It provides emotional security and physical well being.
13. Selflessness: Love gives unconditionally and protects dutifully.
14. Truthful: Love is honesty without cruelty and loyalty without compromise.
Marriage in Islam – Questions and Answers
Sheikh Syed Darsh, graduate of Al-Azhar, Cairo, Chairman of UK Shari’ah Council and expert on family matters, answers some frequently asked questions about marriage.
Question: Is it a sunnah/recommendation to marry one’s cousin or is the reverse true – marry from afar to produce strong progeny?
It is not a sunnah or a recommendation to marry one’s cousin nor is the reverse true; to marry from afar to produce strong progeny. This whole question is left to the social customs or norms.
I am told by a Muslim scholar from a traditional-tribal society that in his culture, the cousin has the social right upon his female cousin and that she is not to be offered to him first. No one may propose to her until he has expressed his wish not to marry her. In a way, within the Arab, particularly tribal societies, they consider marrying within the family, more honourable, more protective; keeping lineage pure and well established.
However, there is a statement which is attributed mistakenly to the Messenger of Allah, “Marry from outside the family, otherwise your offspring will be weak.” In fact this, or something similar, is correctly attributed to Umar ibn Al-Khattab saying to the family of As-Saib, “Your offspring are becoming so thin and weak. Marry outside your close of kin.” In discouraging this marriage, Al-Ghazali in his Ihya Ulum ad-Deen says, “Familiarity and close family tie weaken the sexual desire in both of them. As a result, children become weak.” This is not a good reason. For surely, when partners marry, after a few months they become familiar, there may be nothing new to attract as they know each other inside out, but the natural desire is there.
However, research nowadays is showing that the marriage of close relatives leads to the accumulation of negative inherited qualities. For scientific reasons therefore it may be advisable to marry from afar.
Can a girl/boy choose her/his own partner?
Traditionally girls were the passive partners in such matches. The possibility of meeting, becoming acquainted with or familiarising oneself with the male partner-to-be was not widely available. It was left to families, who know one another in static immovable communities, to arrange such a proposal. Al-Islam has given each party the right to see the family setting. If they like one another, the match may go further and marriage preparation proceed.
One of the companions of the Prophet (SAW) told him one day that he proposed to a girl. The Prophet (SAW) said, “Have you seen her?” He said, “No”. He said to him, “See her. For this would bless your marriage with success”. The same is true as far as the girl is concerned. The messenger of Allah has given the girl the right to express her views on the proposed person. He said, “The permission of the virgin is to be sought. And if she does not object, her silence is her permission.” As for the divorced or one who is widowed, no one has a say with her.
That is, she has to express very clearly her desire in accepting or rejecting. This is the traditional old fashioned way. Nowadays girls go to school and proceed to universities. They meet with boys in classrooms, Islamic societies and at universities up and down the country. They get to know one another in a decent moral environment. They are mature, well educated, cultured and outspoken. These factors have to be taken into consideration.
Once a decent, good mannered Islamically committed young Muslim attracts the attention of a like minded Muslimah, their parents have to be reasonable. Of course, they are interested in the happiness and success of the marriage of their son or daughter, but they have to realise that they are not buying or selling commodities. Their care, compassion and love for their children should not make them extra protective or act as a barrier between their children and their children’s future. In the words of the hadith “If a person with satisfying religious attitude comes to seek your daughter in marriage, accept that. If you do not, there will be great mischief on earth and a great trouble.” At the same time young people who are blessed with education have to show patience, understanding and should argue their case in a rational and respectable manner.
What should we look for in a partner?
It is very difficult to give general guidelines, as people are individuals and as such have different priorities when selecting a life long partner. However, the hadith of the Prophet (SAW) has given us some clues as to what is to be desired most in both men and women. Because it is usually the male who proposes, the address in the hadith is directed to the male would-be-suitor. He said, “A woman maybe be sought in marriage either for her beauty, nobility, wealth or religious inclination. Seek the last and you will be the more successful.” The same holds for the female in the choice of a partner.
However, the hadith does not exclude beauty. It is one of the qualities satisfying and protecting the hungry gaze. If that is required in the young woman, it is required in the man too. Al-Qurtubi reported the Prophet (SAW) as saying, “Do not give your daughters to the ugly or nasty looking. For they desire of men what men desire of women.”
The wife of Thabit ibn Qays said to the messenger of Allah, “My face and his face will never look at one another” He asked her, “Why?” She said, “I looked at him coming in the company of other of his friends and he was the shortest and the ugliest.” The messenger asked her, “Will you return to him the dower he has given you?” She replied, “Even if he asks more, I shall give it to him.” The Prophet (SAW) told the husband, “Take what you have given her and release her.” He did.
The age difference between potential partners should not be too great. It is not fair to give a young girl to a man who is twenty or thirty years her senior. If she, for one reason or another, accepts, or he accepts, then it is their choice. But they should be aware of the future of their relationship and the implications of such a marriage.
A grey haired man passed by a young black haired girl and he proposed to her. She looked at him and said, “I accept, but there is a snag”. He enquired to which she answered, “I have some grey hair.” The man passed on without a word. She called out, “My uncle, look at my hair!” She had hair as black as coal. He said to her, “Why did you say what you did?” She answered, “To let you know that we do not like of men what they do not like of women.”
Marriage is not for fun or experience. It is a life long relationship. For that reason, any factor detrimental to the relationship should be avoided as much as possible. Highly educated males and females should seek partners of similar educational background. Cultural and family background is very important. Common language is an essential way of communicating. Such things help the two partners to understand, communicate and relate to one another and are factors of stability and success.
Financial independence and the ability to provide a decent acceptable level of maintenance. Again, this is a way of insuring that outside influences do not spoil an otherwise happy life.
All ways and means should be considered giving a solid bases for new human experience which is expected to provide a framework for a happy, successful and amicable life. All this is to be considered within the context of Muslims living in Britain today.
A Muslim woman is not allowed to marry a non-Muslim man. A Muslim man has to think very seriously indeed before marrying a woman from the people of the book and conversion just for the sake of marriage may not be a genuine reason. In a non-Muslim country a Muslim man has no right to bring up his children as Muslims, and this obligation particularly if love gradually dries up and the relationship begins to show signs of strain.
The question of common language, background, education and age etc. are meant, in an ordinary stable context, to maximise the chances of success and stability in a very important Islamic institution – that of marriage. However, considering the particular position of Muslim communities living in minority situations, young Muslims, male and female, are exposed to all sorts of challenges be they cultural, linguistic, racial or social. The most fundamental question when choosing a partner is a religious one.
As far as language, background, or social position are concerned, these are not significant factors that absolutely must be fulfilled before a marriage can take place, indeed such considerations may not be relevant to young Muslims living in Britain as they have common language – English, and the social positions of their families in their countries of origins may well be equalised living in Britain. If the prospective partner is of a good character, strong religious inclination and the two young people are happy and feel compatible with one another other considerations are not of such importance.
Can a parent refuse a proposal from a good Muslim for his daughter on the basis that the suitor is not of the same race/caste?
There is no concept of caste in Islam. Racial background is a fact of life. The Qur’an considers the difference of race, colour or language as signs of the creative ability of Allah: “And of His signs is the creation of the heavens and earth and the difference of your language and colours. Lo! Here indeed are signs for men of knowledge.”(Ar-Rum:22).
In chapter 49, verse 13 is the most universal doctrine of human equality and brotherhood: “Oh humankind! We have created you from a male and a female, and then rendered you into nations and tribes so that you might know one another. Indeed the most honourable among you in the sight of Allah is he who is most pious.”
There is a wealth of ahadith quoted by Al-Qurtubi in his commentary on this Qur’anic verse where the messenger of Allah condemned outright any racial impact on the Islamic society. For the very reason we come across many examples of people who, from a racial view, were not considered equal to Arab women marrying among the high tribal class. Bilal married the sister of AbdurRahman ibn Awf. Zayd was married to one of the noble ladies of the tribe of Quraysh and so on.
But customs die hard and no sooner are they abolished, they start to reappear again. Salman al-Farsi proposed to the daughter of Umar, the khalifa. He accepted. His knowledgeable, pious son and great companion of the Prophet(SAW) was upset. He complained to Amr ibn Al-Aas. Amr said, “Leave it to me and I will get him to retract from that.” When Amr met Salman he said to him, “Congratulations. It came to my knowledge that the Commander of the Faithful humbled himself and accepted to give you his daughter in marriage.” Salman felt slighted by this and thought and retorted, “By Allah, I will never accept to marry his daughter!”
Al-Hajjaj, the brute of the Ummayyad era married the daughter of Muhammad ibn Ja’far, Abdul Malik, the Ummayyad king was furious. He said to Muhammad, “You gave one of the noble of Qurayshite women to a slave from Thaqif!” and he ordered Al-Hajjaj to divorce her.
So this social attitude is very difficult to abolish outright. It does not make a difference whether the parents are well educated or unlettered. In the new environment of living in Britain the situation may ease gradually. However, young educated people who find themselves locked in such situations have to be patient to advance their case. Failing that, I would advise them to read my article, “Guardianship in Marriage’.
Should children deliberately go about altering the views of their parents/relatives by marrying in a manner they know is allowed but frowned upon by the others?
This should be the last resort if they really are very emotionally attached to one another. Marriage is a solemn, important bond. It cannot be played about with as a means of changing die-hard customs. The marrying couple will be the first victims of such a deficient gesture. I am saying, if they really love one another, so that this love may sustain them until they are able to change the attitude of their parents, then well and good. Though, it will not change the attitude of the whole community.
However, it would be suicidal to jump into this type of relationship just to change people. It may prove that the couple do not have the common cause to sustain this gesture of rejection. They themselves may reject the attempt. The consequences of such actions can be far reaching.
What are the rituals of marriage of that are the sacred/important ones?
There are no such rituals in an Islamic marriage. It is a simple form of expressing the commitment to live as husband and wife. The procedure is as follows: There is a young man wishing to get married and a young woman who is ready for marriage. Their families know one another and so the man’s family approaches the woman’s family – (The opposite is also appropriate). If there is acceptance, the two persons have the chance of seeing, talking, exploring – in a chaperoned, not in a private manner – with one another. If they choose to settle down, some gifts may be exchanged and a date set for the announcement of the match and working out of the marriage preparations. The families may arrange the civil ceremony first, then go to the mosque or house where the formal Islamic agreement may take place.
The woman’s guardian, usually the father, will say to the would-be-husband, “I give you my daughter, (the girl in my guardianship), in marriage in accordance to the Islamic Shari’ah, in the presence of the witnesses here with the dowry agreed upon. And Allah is our best witness.”
The young man, or his father, will reply by saying, “I accept marrying your daughter, guard, giving her name, to myself” – repeating the other words. Thus, the marriage is concluded.
It is good Islamic practice to announce the ceremony, to hold it in a mosque and to have some form of entertainment. In the words of the Prophet(SAW), “Declare this marriage, have it in the mosque and beat the drums.” This is used to be the best the way of establishing that great, sacred relationship.
What is dowry and who gives it to whom?
The question of dowry is one of the rights of the Muslim woman as part of the correct contract of marriage. The Qur’an states in chapter 4, verse 4: “And give the women their dowries as a free gift, but if they are pleased to offer you any of it accept it with happiness and with wholesome pleasure.”
The dowry is defined in the legal text books as: “the wealth the wife deserves upon her husband as a result of the contract of marriage on the consummation.”
So the dower is to be given by the husband to his correctly wedded wife. It is enjoined by the Qur’an, the practical examples of the Messenger of Allah and the consensus of the companions of the Prophet(SAW).
There is no specific minimum or maximum. The customs of the community play a great part in deciding the agreed amount to be given as dower. In the past, families would ask of a dower which reflects the social status of them. After the spread of education and the maturity of age of both husband and wife, families began to relax this custom, taking into consideration that young people who start work after graduation do not have much money to offer for the girls they have going to marry. Families have come to the realisation that dower is a symbolic gesture. It is good to start building their family life without incurring a debt which may ruin their happiness and future prospects. If both husband and wife are working, the families may prefer that the young couple build their life from scratch together, rather than burdening them with hefty dower which they cannot afford.
It is not Islamic to ask the woman to give dower to the husband. This is not a noble thing to ask a woman. The Islamic requirement is not because the man is going to buy the woman, it is to express his love, care and the dignity of the woman. Whatever expresses these sentiments, great or small, is considered to be an acceptable dowry, simply because it expresses these feelings.
Is it necessary to have a civil marriage?
It is important to have a marriage registered with the civil authority so that it may be recognised. There are many legal implications as a result of such a registration. Firstly, it is the recognised marriage in this country. The civil marriage if it is attended by at least two male Muslim witnesses amounts to a correct Islamic marriage. It is only the social aspect which leads to another ceremony in a mosque with an imam officiating, although these things are not required Islamicly.
Secondly, without the civil marriage, the entitlement to inheritance, pension and legal documentation are not accepted by the authority. For the sake of legality it must be registered.
In Muslim countries nowadays they have made it an administrative obligation to register the marriage. This is to officiate and recognise all aspects that come from the marital relationship. So, if for nothing else, it is a must for the sake of the children.
Weddings these days seem such costly ventures. Is one required to spend huge sums on a wedding?
Weddings are a social expression of the occasion of marriages. Moderation is the Islamic concept in all aspects of a Muslim’s life. Weddings should not be ostentatious nor are they supposed to be expressions of pride and competition. It is not fair for the parents or the young couple to start their life debt ridden as a result of an occasion which lasted a couple of hours or a little longer. Expenses in all steps leading to marriage should not be a burden. Big cars, fancy wedding costumes, big parties, expensive hotels or halls, all such expenses should be avoided. But at the same time, it should not be a dull and gloomy occasion. It is an occasion of great joy and happiness and should be celebrated as such.
The most important is the walima – the dinner party. It is the sunnah so that relatives, friends and acquaintances may come to share the joy of the occasion, to give thanks to Allah and to entertain needy people within the community.
This was a pre-Islamic custom which Islam accepted. It was the responsibility of the husband or his family. The Prophet(SAW) saw some coloured perfume on AbdurRahman. He asked him about it and AbdurRahman replied, “I got married”. The Prophet(SAW) told him, “Make a walima with at least one lamb.” The Prophet(SAW) himself made a number of walimas each time he got married. The walimas differed according to the financial position of the time. The best walima recorded was that of Zaynab. Nearly three hundred people were entertained and fed meat and bread. On other occasions the Prophet(SAW) asked his companions to bring whatever food was available.
The important part is the coming together, sharing the happiness and advertising the new relationship in a moderate and inexpensive manner.
Are secret marriages allowed? Like at universities where girls or boys marry without parental consent, knowledge or approval?
The word used in the question, `secret’, is anathema to the concept of marriage which is a relationship built to secure peace, happiness and tranquillity. There are many rights and obligations resulting from agreement of marriage. These include the honour and integrity of the woman concerned, her family and relations and most importantly, offspring. In so many instances, even with use of precautions, women get pregnant. How can they face this situation? Where lies the blame? And what if the young couple tire of one another after taking what they want from one another? Who loses in such situations? That is why Muslim scholars frown upon secretive arrangements even though other basic formalities were satisfied. They argue that the Shari’ah has made it mandatory to publicise marriage in every available way. They quote a number of statements of the Prophet(SAW) to that effect. For example the statement, “There is no valid marriage without a guardian and two witnesses. Any arrangement short of that is invalid, invalid, invalid.” Another statement quoted by the Hanafi texts, “Any marriage not attended by four people is not a marriage, it is a fornication. They are: the suitors, the guardian and two witnesses.”
Scholars differentiate between two types of what is known as common marriage. Common, here, stands in contrast to well documented marriage. The first is when marriage takes place without being officially recorded. But it takes place within the family, is known among the friends and neighbours but for other reasons it is not registered. Maybe the couple are drawing unmarried benefits or whatever. This is an acceptable religious marriage even though there are unethical motives behind it.
The other type is exactly the one referred to in the question. When the two parties agree to keep it secret. They ask two friends to witness the marriage with the understanding that they do not talk about it. And they did not, I repeat, they did not register it. This does not amount to a secure, tranquil marriage. It is simply satisfying their physical need. The comment of a scholar, who was a judge before taking the chair of the Islamic Shari’ah in the Faculty of Law, Cairo University, is that “We do not condone, nor accept such an arrangement. It is far from the real concept of marriage. Families and girls’ honour should not be treated so flippantly. In my life as a judge I came across so many miserable, depressing cases resulting in acrimonious disputes. Allah’s Shari’ah has to be respectfully followed. Any so called legal fictions in this particular matter must be shunned.”
And Allah says the Truth and guides to the right way.
“Guardianship in Marriage” by Sheikh Darsh Available from Amanah Publications FAO Ashfaq Ali, 841 Barkerend Road, Bradford, BD3 8QJ
Marriage: Quest for Perfection or Search for Happiness?
Marriage is ultimately a quest for peace and tranquility
By Imam Hamid Slimi
Finding someone for marriage is one of the most discussed topics among single people and specifically among our Muslim youth today since relationships between males and females in Islam are not considered right except through the ties of Nikah.
For those who have chosen to abide with the laws and principles of Islam and hold on to chastity and patience, marriage discussions are so fascinating, promising and one of the best outlets of relief. Young people who are struggling, dreaming or even fantasizing about a potential spouse (one they have in mind or hope to find) often do so because the romantic possibilities seem endless; they hope with abandon and trust in God to help them find that person.
“Falling in love”
Our eyes and minds are constantly bombarded with images and thoughts which bring new considerations and efface old ones. Today’s culture and environment have opened so many ways of communication between people that they have taken away the simplicity of life and the contentment which used to help us focus, set life priorities and most importantly understand that no one is perfect and therefore reasonable adjustments always need to be made. The more sophisticated we become the more we demand and expect from the others.
The universal expression of art, literature, movies and music has been very successful in convincing us that “happiness in marriage must start with a love story.” Thus, falling in love has become the “standard” for starting a married life. Consequently, the focus of many becomes the search for love, or the cliche – coup de foudre – when people, who by nature never like to fall, make the sole exception to willingly fall in the ocean of love.
Many want to experience what poets have been ruminating about, what stories and novels have been relating to us, what artists have been illustrating and playing to the world. “Falling in love” in the romantic language means experiencing perfection by tasting the ultimate sweetness that this earthly world can offer and achieving a sort of transcendence towards the ultimate uplifting physical and spiritual experience.
A quest for a perfect partner?
The question which comes to mind is: are those looking to get married on a quest for the perfect partner or on a search for a compatible partnership leading to happiness? We certainly cannot expect what we cannot give and since no one is perfect then why would someone expect perfection to be realized through a partnership made of imperfect beings?
Thinking that the other will be perfect and hence will make me happy and content is an illusion. In reality no one can make you happy and content except yourself and when you accept the fact that you cannot expect others to be perfect because you are not perfect either. In fact this quest for romantic perfection is entirely self-defeating. God Almighty says, “Lo! Allah does not change the condition of a folk until they (first) change by themselves that which is in their hearts;” (Chap. 13 V.11). Only once we let go of this romantic notion which is really a figment of our collective imaginations can we begin our quest towards happiness.
What is happiness?
The million dollar question: what is happiness? Happiness means amongst other things contentment, satisfaction, fulfilment, accomplishment and achievement which are almost linear in fashion. Therefore, if I achieve my goals then I should be happy. The Holy Qur’an states the goals of marriage in the following verse, “And among His signs is this: He created for you mates from yourselves that you might find rest and peace in them, and He ordained between you love and mercy. Lo! Herein indeed are portents for folk who reflect.” (Chap. 30 V. 31)
The goals here are rest, tranquility, peace of the mind and peace of the soul. This is why the sense of peace and harmony is a signal that creates that first acceptance of the other; the exchange of inexpressible signals that follow then grown from acceptance to become Mawaddah or spiritual love. Mawaddah has to be cultivated over time like a fruit-bearing tree; spiritual attachment is cemented by the spiritual enrichment and appreciation, which is unlike the physical desire driven by one’s biology that eventually decreases over time.
Components of a compatible personality
Having said all of this, Islam does recognize the fact that there should be a reasonable level of compatibility between a man and a woman over different aspects of life, mainly personality and faith. The components of a compatible personality used to be and to some degree still are one’s education, manners, perceptions, social upbringing and physical appearance to a certain extent.
As for ethnicity, race, culture, and lineage – these have nothing to do with compatibility since they tend to counter the message of equality, uniformity and human brotherhood stressed by the Qur’an and the Prophet (PBUH) – in fact these elements have always been the causes of division, conflict and even war.
High expectations and low preparation – a formula for divorce
However, even this notion of marriage compatibility has evolved in our days beyond character, reasonable education, etiquette, abilities and reasonable material establishment. Due to today’s economic pressures, compatibility for a large number of those on marriage quest means the full package that is a ‘romantic experience with a wealthy partner’ -or at least a person with ‘stable’ income – and all the better if he or she looks like a prince or princess.
This has led to the unfortunate raising of standards to the degree which is far beyond acceptance and reasonable chemistry, hard work, a sense of responsibility and physical compatibility. The search for mutual compatibility – something that was relatively easy to find – has been replaced by high expectations and low preparation for marriage which according to recent statistics is one of the main causes of divorce today. The high divorce rate in both Muslim and non-Muslim communities have surpassed any historical records.
According to the Prophet (PBUH) marriage is something simple: “If someone with good character comes to you to propose for marriage and you feel pleased and satisfied with his religious beliefs and practices as well as his character (manners and personality), then you should marry him, otherwise there will be fitnah (tribulation and great evil) and big corruption on earth.” (Reported by Imam Tirmidhi and others) He also said, “Women are asked for marriage for four things: wealth, family status, beauty and the practice of faith. So you should marry the one with faith, otherwise you will lose more than you gain.” (Reported by Imam Bukhari and others).
Are we really following his advice or have we gone off the wrong track?
There are several considerations one must make when looking for a future spouse.
- Look for a person from whom you get a feeling of peace, tranquility and a sense of security. This is what matters the most and the rest is icing on the cake.
- For every man there is a right woman and for every woman there is a right man. You only need to look in the right place, the right way at the right time.
- Seek the help of God by praying for your marriage. Even Prophet Musa (Moses) prayed for personal peace and security and God immediately answered him when he said, “My Lord! I am needy of whatever good You send down for me.” (Chap 28 V.24)
- Seek help from those with experience and exposure. People will help you! Put your trust in Allah and in a few trusted people who care about you and would love to see you happy.
- Attend various Islamic gatherings at Islamic centers or in mosques and engage in appropriate (professional) conversation with the members of the opposite sex without being isolated with them.
- You can also correspond with potential mates through third-party Muslim marriage websites or advertising. Our methods of communication have changed and there is nothing wrong with that as long as the principle of professional conduct is maintained.
- In the time of the Prophet (PBUH) the Sahabah (his companions) used to meet people sometimes in his presence and sometimes in other circumstances. For instance, on a number of occasions women used to come presenting themselves as candidates for marriage and accordingly, some men would accept their proposal of marriage. The Sahabah were very simple and undemanding about choosing their partners so long as they fulfilled basic religious and character requirements.
Too many conditions
In our society, generally speaking, we tend to put far too many conditions and requirements that are not essentials from an Islamic perspective in a marriage.
Islamically, the basic things we should consider are religion and character. All other requirements can be compromised on.
Young people have to stop chasing the notion of the perfect one and start looking for the peaceful one. Islam is based on peace and Allah Almighty constantly calls us to the house of peace. Marriage is about finding peace within oneself and with one’s spouse.
Ultimately, there is no one to blame for not finding a partner but oneself because as the Prophet (PBUH) said “Allah has taken it as a duty upon Himself to help the one who seeks Nikah.”
Originally published Tuesday, 06 May 2008
(FLN Magazine – Vol. 1 / Issue 1)
Marriage (Nikah) in Islam
By Irshaad Hussain, Islam from Inside
When my younger sister got married I struggled to write a brief explanation about marriage in Islam, portraying it not simply from the legal (fiqh) standpoint, but from the profound view of marriage presented in the Qur’an and expressed practically in the lives of some of the best exemplars of the religion. This brief explanation was placed on a now long defunct website of mine (called “Tawil”) and subsequently reworked into a short speech read (years later) at my niece’s (my older sister’s daughter’s) wedding reception. The original text of that speech is lost (thanks to me losing my roughly scrawled notes), but what follows is a fairly close reconstruction (I think) of the original.
Marriage (Nikah) in Islam
So… marriage….What is it? What does the Qur’an say about it?
The Prophet (s.a.) was once asked, “What is more important than prayer?” He replied, “The spirit of prayer” – the spirit that animates the prayer. He was asked what is more important than fasting – he replied, the spirit of fasting. For each question concerning an Islamic practise the answer was the same – because the spirit brings the action to life and unfolds its potentials. Without this animating spirit, the prayer is only movement, and the fasting only hunger. But when spirit enters, when a pure and concentrated intention enters, the action is transformed – the prayer gains the potential to become a miraj (an elevating spiritual journey), and the one fasting approaches towards the potential to witness laylatul qadr (the night of destiny – a night when blessings from the spiritual world descend to this world).
So what is more important than marriage? It is the spirit of marriage, the intention which underlies it, the treasures which it contains hidden within it but which must be brought out and realized by the married couple themselves.
The qur’an provides the signposts and waymarks for learning about this potential. It says:
“It is He who created you from a single soul, And made its mate of like nature in order that you might dwell with her in love….” (7:189). So the male and female complete each other – together they make a single self and this is how they must strive to make their lives together – as if they are one being, one person, one spirit.
The Qur’an says: “Your wives are a garment for you, and you are a garment for them.” (2:187). So a husband and wife complete each other – each one takes on a new aspect of their humanity, a new facet and depth to their personality by entering into marriage and this is symbolized in this verse. Garments also conceal the body and protect the wearer so that a husband and wife are each other’s protectors and helpers and each of them safeguards their partner’s honor shaping the state of marriage into a haven and a sanctuary where each should feel safe and secure, sheltered in one another’s care and guardianship.
The qur’an also says “And of everything we created a pair, that happily you may remember.” (Qur’an 51:49) The word for spouse, “zawj”, (this is the word that is used in the marriage ceremony, the Nikah ceremony) – the word zawj literally means one part of a pair – and when the pair come together and act in concert with one another, then concealed potentials within them, potentials that were impossible to realize while they were apart make themselves evident. This is true throughout creation. And human marriage in the Qur’an is considered a reflection of a nature and tendency that exists at all levels of creation. When something is created as one part of a pair it is clearly incomplete without the other – as the Qur’an states, “He himself created the pair, male and female.” (Qur’an 53:45)
The term nikkah which is used for marriage is also used figuratively to describe the coming together of various aspects of creation. For example it says, in the Qur’an, that “the rain married the soil” and then it describes how, from this intimate mingling, something new springs forth – that the earth brings forth flowers and herbage, it opens to new creations, new life, new potentials. So the act of marriage, the mingling through nikah, according to Islam, courses through all things, through all of creation. Each pair of the marriage brings something necessary and something unique to the marriage. The pairs are not identical but complimentary to one another and their unique qualities when they are mingled together produce that which neither one alone could produce.
So each individual of the pair undergoes change and transformation when they come together in marriage because marriage is an intimate mingling of the selves, the souls, the personalities and the beings of two individuals.
In human marriage the change takes place at many levels – from a change in lifestyle, to changes in behavior, to changes in the very soul of the person. And there must be that willingness, on the part of both individuals, to allow this unifying transformation to take place. To accept the self the way it is, is to lock oneself into stagnation and narrowness and to remain an individual – not part of an intimately joined pair. It is to limit and lock up the potential, the beauty and strength that is capable of emerging from the intimate unity made possible through marriage.
Since “God created everything in pairs”, as it states in the Qur’an, and since He “created the male and the female from a single nature, from a single self”, it is God that is the point of reference for the married pair. “He has set up the balance…” of all things, so He is to be looked for to set all things in the right equilibrium. If the two partners of a marriage set themselves in correct relation to God then certainly a perfect balance will be realized within their lives together.
Love is a movement towards unity, towards oneness, and since God is One, “the closer the heart is to Oneness, the stronger the power of love is within it.”
Love is a movement towards unity, towards oneness. “God made their hearts familiar” (8:63) through the light of Oneness that yields spiritual love and familiarity in the heart. For love is the shadow of Oneness, familiarity the shadow of love, and balance the shadow of familiarity.”
Let this married couple be helpers and protectors of one another, let them be a refuge and a comfort to one another, let them be beautiful garments for one another, and let them together experience the many treasures and beauties of marriage.
The Half and the Other Half: the Importance of Marriage in Islam
“Whoever has married has completed half of his religion; therefore, let him fear Allah in the other half.” (Hadith reported by al-Bayhaqi)
There are abundant Hadiths of the Prophet Muhammd (peace be upon him) instructing Muslims how to enjoin good and forbid evil. However, only a few of them instruct us with explicit numbers and proportions how to behave and lead our lives. For example, while Hadiths like taking care of one’s neighbours and sharing food with the poor people fall within the first general category, other Hadiths, like the amount of Zakat a financially able Muslim has to pay, fall within the specific numeral category.
The Hadith of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) that Marriage is half of the religion, should be understood within this context and proportionally consume half of our life to understand, reflect, and act upon.
More than Just a Ritual
The satisfactory completion of half of our duties, responsibilities, and purpose on earth, is NOT satisfied merely by going through the rituals of selecting a spouse, mating, and continuing the human progeny. While such acts are essentials, they are only prerequisites to the overall spirit of the Hadith.
As much as a wholesome fasting transcends the motions of abstaining from food, a nourishing marriage is the realisation of the importance and active participation of the Muslims in their matrimonial life. This would obviously include fulfilling the needs and obligations towards one’s spouse, children, and all those directly or indirectly related to the institution of marriage.
This Hadith draws the boundaries according to which Muslims prioritise, organise, and allocate their financial, emotional, and intellectual resources. On the Day of Judgement, every Muslim will present his/her portfolio to the Divine into two equal portions:
(1) The Marriage Portion
(2) The Everything Else Portion.
Assuming that most, if not every one of us, cannot score perfect on either of the two halves, both portions will need each other to score above 50% for a favourable result (InshaAllah). Since both halves are inter-dependent, no Muslim can reasonably consider focusing on one and neglect the other. Hence, as much as taking care of the marriage institution is important (50% of our time), attempting to favour it at the expense of the other side is, from a numerical viewpoint, a guaranteed recipe for a losing destiny.
May Allah help us balance matrimonial life and the rest of our obligations, and may He bless us to qualify for his Ayah:
“Thus have We made of you an Ummah justly balanced, that ye might be witnesses over the nations, and the Messenger a witness over yourselves.” 2:143