Marriage in Islam
Islam, unlike other religions is a strong
advocate of marriage. There is no place for celibacy like, for example
the Roman Catholic priests and nuns. The prophet (pbuh) has said
"there is no celibacy in Islam.Marriage is a religious duty and is
consequently a moral safeguard as well as a social necessity. Islam
does not equal celibacy with high "taqwa/Iman". The prophet has
also said, "Marriage is my tradition who so ever keeps away there from
is not from amongst me".Marriage acts as an outlet for sexual needs and
regulate it so one does not become a slave to his/ her desires.It is a
social necessity because through marriage, families are established
and the family is the fundamental unit of our society. Furthermore,
marriage is the only legitimate or halal way to indulge in intimacy
between a man and a woman.
Islam takes a middle of the road position to sexual relations , it
neither condemns it like certain religions, nor does it allow it
freely. Islam urges us to control and regulate our desires, whatever
they may be so that we remain dignified and not become like animals.
The purpose of Marriage
The word "zawj" is used in the Qur'an to mean a pair or a mate. In
general it usage refers to marriage. The general purpose of marriage
is that the sexes can provide company to one another, love to one
another, procreate children and live in peace and tranquility to the
commandments of Allah.
Marriage serves as a means to emotional and sexual gratification
and as a means of tension reduction. It is also a form of Ibadah
because it is obeying Allah and his messenger - i.e. Marriage is seen
as the only possible way for the sexes to unite. One could choose to
live in sin, however by choosing marriage one is displaying obedience
Marriage is "mithaq" - a solemn covenant (agreement). It is not a
matter which can be taken lightly. It should be entered into with
total commitment and full knowledge of what it involves. It is not
like buying a new dress where you can exchange it if you don't like it.
Your partner should be your choice for life. One should be mature
enough to understand the demands of marriage so that the union can be
a lasting one. For a marriage to be valid certain conditions must be
- Consent of both parties.
- "Mahr" a gift from the groom to his bride.
- Witnesses- 2 male or female.
- The marriage should be publicized, it should never be kept
secret as itleads to suspicion and troubles within the community.
Is Marriage obligatory?
According to Imams Abu Hanifah, Ahmad ibn Hanbal and Malik ibn
Anas, marriage is recommendatory, however in certain individuals it
becomes wajib/obligatory. Imam Shaafi'i considers it to be nafl or
mubah (preferable). The general opinion is that if a person, male or
female fears that if he/she does not marry they will commit
fornication, then marriage becomes "wajib". If aperson has strong
sexual urges then it becomes "wajib" for that person to marry.
Marriage should not be put off or delayed especially if one has the
means to do so.
A man, however should not marry if he or she does not possess the
means to maintain a wife and future family, or if he has no sex drive
or if dislikes children, or if he feels marriage will seriously affect
his religious obligation.The general principle is that prophet (pbuh),
enjoined up in the followers to marry.
He said "when a man marries, he has fulfilled half of his religion,
so let him fear Allah regarding the remaining half." This hadith is
narrated by Anas. Islam greatly encourages marriage because it shields
one from and upholds the family unit which Islam places great
Selection of a partner:
The choice of a partner should be the one with the most "taqwa"
(piety). The prophet recommended the suitors see each other before
going through with marriage. It is unreasonable for two people to be
thrown together and be expected to relate and be intimate when they
know nothing of each other. The couple are permitted to look at each
other with a critical eye and not a lustful one. This ruling does not
contradict the ayah which says that believing men and women should
lower their gaze.
The couple, however are not permitted to be alone in a closed room
or go out together alone. As the hadith says "when a man and a woman
are together alone, there is a third presence i.e. shaitan. There is
no concept of courtship in Islam as it is practised in the west. There
is no dating or living in defacto relationship or trying each other
out before they commit to each other seriously. There is to be no
physical relationship what so ever before marriage.
The romantic notions that young people often have, have proven in
most cases to be unrealistic and harmful to those involved. We only
have to look at the alarming divorce rate in the west to understand
this point. e.g. the couple know each other for years, are intimate,
live together and so on yet somehow this does not guarantee the
success of the future marriage. Romance and love simply do not equal
a everlasting bond between two people.Fact: Romance and love die out
very quickly when we have to deal in the real world.The unrealistic
expectations that young people have is what often contributes to the
failure of their relationship.
The west make fun of the Islamic way of marriage in particular
arranged marriage, yet the irony is that statistically arranged
marriages prove to be more successful and lasting than romantic types
of courtship. This is because people are blinded by the physical
attraction and thus do not choose the compatible partner.
Love blinds people to potential problems in the relationship.
There is an Arabic saying: which says "the mirror of love is blind,
it makes zucchini into okra". Arranged marriages on the other hand,
are based not on physical at traction or romantic notions but rather
on critical evaluation of the compatibility of the couple.This is why
they often prove successful.
Consent of parties.
There is a halal arranged marriage and a haram one. It is OK to
arrange marriages by suggestion and recommendation as long as both
parties are agreeable. The other arranged marriage is when parents
choose the future spouse and the couple concerned are forced or have
no choice in the matter. One of the conditions of a valid marriage is
consent of the couple. Marriage by definition is a voluntary union of
The choice of a partner by a Muslim virgin girl is subject to the
approval of the father or guardian under Maliki school. This is to
safeguard her welfare and interests. The prophet said "the widow and
the divorced woman shall not be married until she has consented and
the virgin shall not be married until her consent is obtained. The
prophet did revoke the marriage of a girl who complained to him that
her father had married her against her wishes.
The husband/wife relationship.
The wifes rights - the Husbands obligations.
The husband is responsible for the wifes maintenance. This right
is established by authority of the Qur'an and the sunnah. It is
inconsequential whether the wife is a Muslim , non-Muslim, rich, poor,
healthy or sick. A component of his role as "qawam" (leader) is to
bear the financial responsibility of the family in a generous way so
that his wife may be assured security and thus perform her role devotedly.
The wifes maintenance entails her right to lodging,clothing, food and
general care, like medication, hospital bills etc. He must lodge her
where he resides himself according to his means. The wifes lodge must
be adequate so as to ensure her privacy, comfort and independence. If a
wife has been used to a maid or is unable to attend to her household
duties, it is the husbands duty to provide her with a maid if he can
afford to do so. The prophet is reported to have said: The best Muslim
is one who is the best husband.
2. "M a h r"
The wife is entitled to a marriage gift that is her own. This may
be prompt or deferred depending on the agreement between the parties.
A marriage is not valid without mahr. It does not have to be money or
gold. It can be non-material like teaching her to read the Qur'an.
"Mahr" is a gift from the groom to the bride.This is theIslamic law,
unlike some cultures whereby the brides parents pay the future husband
to marry the daughter. This practice degrades women and is contrary to
the spirit of Islam. There is no specification in the Qur'an as to
what or how much the Mahr has to be. It depends on the parties
3. Non-material rights.
A husband is commanded by the law of Allah to treat his wife with
equity, respect her feelings and show kindness and consideration,
especially if he has another wife.The prophet last sermon stresses
kindness to women.
The Wife Obligations - The Husbands Rights
One of the main duties of the wife is to contribute to the success
and blissfulness of the marriage. She must be attentive to the comfort
and well being of her husband. The Qur'anic ayah which illustrates
this point is: "Our lord, grant us wives and offspring who will be the
apples of our eyes and guide us to be models for the righteous"
The wife must be faithful, trustworthy and honest she must not
deceive herhusband by deliberately avoiding contraception. She must not
allow any other person to have access to that which is exclusively
the husband right i.e. sexual intimacy. She must not receive or
entertain strange males in the house without his knowledge and consent.
She should not be alone with a strange male.She should not accept gifts
from other men without his approval.This is meant to avoid jealousy,
suspicion and gossip. The husband possessions are her trust. She may
not dispose of his belongings without his permission.
A wife should make herself sexually attractive to her husband and
be respon sive to his advances. The wife must not refuse her husband
sexually as this can lead to marital problems and worse still - tempt
the man to adultery. The husband of course should take into account
the wifes health and general consideration should be given.The angels
curse women who refuse their husbands, for this is one of the wifes
most important roles. A hadith states, " A wife must run to her husband
if he calls her, even if she is occupied at the oven.
The purpose of obedience in the relationship is to keep the family
unit running as smoothly as possible. The man has been given the right
to be obeyed because he is the leader and not because he is superior.
If a leader is not obeyed , his leadership will become invalid -
Imagine a king or a teacher or a parent without the necessary authority
which has been entrusted to them. Obedience does not mean blind
obedience. It is subject to conditions:
Here are some example of the types of things that wife must be
- It is required only if what is asked from the wife is within
the permissible categories of action.
- It must be maintained only with regard to matters that fall
under the husband rights.
- Receiving male guests or accepting gifts.
- Disposing of his property.
- Leaving the house without his permission. This includes going
out to work.
- She must accept that if there is a dispute between them he has
the final word - i.e. she must accept his "qawamma" (leadership). Authority is
not the equivalent to power, much less absolute power, so men should not consider
their position as one of power and the womans as subservience or submission.
The office of leadership is not founded for the man. It is allocated to him and
he is appointed to it because he is better qualified for the position. The man
as partof the family unit is bound by the rule of the office. He is answerable
to Allah at all times - so he is not given free reign to rule as he
pleases. His leadership is not unquestionable. If he does something unislamic
the wife is entitled to tell her husband that his behaviour is unacceptable in
Islam. The rights and obligations of each of the sexes are complementary. These
rights and obligations are set out to give the marital relationship the best
chance of success and survival. It is Allah who knows what is best for his
creation. If we have true iman we will accept Allah Shariah so that we can
prosper in this life and in the next.