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