Marriage is a sacred undertaking. It is from the time of Prophet Adam (A.S) that marriage has been an important act in one’s life and is one of the main decisions. In Islam men and women are encouraged to enter into marriage in order to build a righteous family. Marriage, as a social institution, is essentially a civil contract. And as a civil contract it rests on the same footing as other contracts. Its validity depends on the capacity of the contracting parties, which according to Islamic law, consist in having maturity (bulugh) and discretion. Mutual consent and public declaration of the marriage contract are its essentials. The law does not insist on any particular form in which this contract is entered into or on any specific religious ceremony, although there are different traditional forms prevalent amongst the Muslims in different parts of the world. In principle it has been stressed that marriage should take place publicly. Other members of the society should know of this development. Normally, the Nikah (contract of marriage) takes place at a social gathering where members of both the families and other friends and relatives gather. In the Nikah-sermon the persons known as Qazi in the light of Holy Quran and Sunnah invite the spouses to a life of God-consciousness, purity, mutual love and loyalty and social responsibility. As far as the Shariah is concerned, the validity of the marriage depends on proposition on one side (ijab) and acceptance (qubul) on the other. This offer and the acceptance can take place directly between the parties, or through an agent (Wakil). In a traditional Muslim marriage, the bride’s consent is procured through her representative. Normally there are atleast two witnesses to this matrimonial contract, entered into at a family ceremony. There is also a dower (mahr) which the husband pays to the wife and which is far her sole and exclusive use and benefit. After the consummation of marriage, the bridegroom holds a feast for the relatives and friends. The real purpose of these gatherings and feast is to make the events a social function and to let the society know of it and participate in it. The Holy Prophet (S.A.W) has recommended the people to hold this celebration with simplicity and to share each other’s joy. He (S.A.W) said, the best wedding is that upon which the least trouble and expense is bestowed. Islam is the only perfect way of life. It has not left any aspect of a man’s day-to-day life untouched and unguided. Holy Prophet Mohammad (S.A.W) said, Marriage is a part of my Sunnah. Whoever runs away from my path is not from amongst us (Ibn Majah). He (S.A.W) emphasizes the need to choose a righteous or religious partner in life in entering into family or marriage life. The Holy Prophet (S.A.W) says, A women is married for four things, i.e., her wealth, her family status, her beauty and her religion. So you should marry the religious women, otherwise you will be a loser (Bukhari 7/27). With righteous parents, children in the family learn the values of love and compassion, of sacrifice for others, of tolerance, mercy and kindness, and other virtuous or righteous deeds. It is the family that provides the most congenial and fulfillment of the development of human personality based on love and mercy. According to Holy Quran (30:21), And Amongst His signs is this, that He created for your mates from among yourselves, that you may dwell in tranquility with them, and He has put love and mercy between your (hearths). Verily in that are signs for those who reflect. Holy Prophet (S.A.W) said, when some one with whose religion and character you are satisfied ask your daughter in marriage, accede to his request. If you do not do so, there will be temptation on Earth and extensive corruption (Tirmidhi, 3090). The sign of a righteous women is that she obeys her husband in all matters that Islam has permitted to the best of her ability. Islam permits boy and girl to see each other also inquire about the character of each other who intend to marry. What, however, stands out prominently is that marriage in Muslim society is not merely a private arrangement between the husband and wife. For Muslims, Allah’s commandments are for the benefit of humanity. The Creator does not place any unrealistic burdens upon people but provides us with divine rules and guidance that are advantageous and beneficial to us all. Goodness comes from Allah and corruption on earth comes from human beings (Quran, 4:79). It is unfortunate that we have forgotten the right way of being married. The family is a part of the Islamic social order.
Prophet Mohammad (S.A.W) says, There is nothing more pleasing to Allah than the house where a marriage takes place, and nothing is more displeasing to him than the house where it is severed by divorce.
The structure of Muslim family is threefold. The first and the closest consist of the husband, the wife, their children, their parents who live with them, and servants, if any. The next group, the central fold of the family, consist of a number of close relatives, whether they live together or not, who have special claims upon each other, who move freely inside the family with whom marriage is forbidden (regarded as mahram) and between whom there is no hijab (purdah). This constitutes the real core of the Muslim family, sharing each other joys, sorrow, hopes and fears. Relations based on consanguinity, include (i) father, mother, grandfather, grandmother and other direct forbears; (ii) direct descendants, that is son, daughters, grandsons, granddaughters, etc. (iii) relations of the second degree (such as brothers, sisters and their descendants), (iv) father’s or mother’s sister. Those based on affinity include (i) mother-in-law, father-in-law, grandmother-in-law, grandfather-in-law; (ii) wife’s daughters, husband’s sons or their grand-or great-granddaughters or sons respectively; (iii) son’s wife, son’s son’s wife, daughter’s husband, and (iv) stepmothers and stepfathers. With some exceptions the same relations are forbidden through foster-nursing. All those relations who are outside this fold constitute the outer periphery of the Muslim family. They, too, have their rights and obligations. Regarding marriage, it has been said that first find a girl/boy from your relatives, then from your neighbours, if you can’t find from these two then only go outside (for purpose of marriage). In Islam it’s mandatory that both the girl and the boy should be willing to marry each other. The objective of marriage, aside from human reproduction is love, mercy, mutual respect, justice, emotional well being and spiritual harmony (Quran, 30:21). Holy Prophet (S.A.W) said, when a man marries he has fulfilled half of the religion, so let him fear Allah regarding the remaining half (Tirmidhi, 3096). In another Hadith Holy Prophet Mohammad (S.A.W) said, Among the Muslims the most perfect, as regards his faith, is the one whose character is excellent and the best among you are those who treat their wives well (Tirmidhi, 628,278). A women holds a very high status in the Islamic faith. The status of women in Islam is something unique, something novel, something that has no similarity to any other system. Women is recognized as a full and equal partner of man in the procreation of humankind. Allah the Exalted has enjoined on the believing men to treat their wives with kindness, as the following verse of Holy Quran shows: O you who believe! You are forbidden to inherit women against their will. Nor should you treat them with harshness, that you may take away part of the dower you given them, except where they have been guilty of open lawdness, on the contrary live with them on a footing of kindness and equity. If you take a dislike to them it may be that you dislike thing, and Allah brings about through it a great deal of good (Quran, 4:19). Marriage was simple in the days of Prohet Mohammad (S.A.W) and was affordable to all, but at present situation is different. Finding the right spouse has become harder than ever before. We usually use the word gift for something that we give voluntarily to a person we like. Dowry, what is usually defined asa ‘gift’ given along with the bride by a bride’s family to the bridegroom, is used as a tool of coercion and greed in modern societies. Generally, the price of dowry is set higher than the bride’s family can afford. In Islam, in contrast, it is the man who pays the mahr (dower) to the women unless the women chooses not to take it (Quran, 4:4). Culture that demand dowry from the bride’s family are actually practicing the opposite of what Allah has commanded. They have reversed Allah’s words in their practice. It is unfortunate to see people submitting themselves to dictates of parents/culture rather than to the will of Almighty Allah who is our Creator, Cherisher, and Sustainer. Why aren’t people listening to the message of Islam instead of following the customs around them? It is observed that when the women brings less than the negotiated amount, she has to endure constant torture from her in-laws after marriage. In many cases this abuse extends to divorce or murder, with a bride being killed by her dissatisfied in-laws or husband. Dowry besides being one of the major cause of divorce and late marriage has also become a barrier for the poor people to arrange their marriage in a so called good and developed society. In truth, Islam encourages marriage with only one women. When one’s married life is good he remains mentally and spiritually contended. In Islam there is no clash or competition between husband and wife, both are different genders and both have unique roles. The primarily responsibility of woman is to concentrate on the home and the family, and all that is required to operate and develop these institutions. She, too, has certain social responsibilities, rights and duties, but her primary concern is the family. The responsibility for earning a living rests with the husband, while that of proper education, training and upbringing of the children and the optimal functioning of the home and wider family relationships rests with the wife. This is the functional distribution of roles and activities of wife and husband in Islam. Educated women is considered as an asset in a Muslim family.
In Islam the righteous wife is considered as the sign of paradise for her husband on earth. The Messenger of Allah (S.A.W) gave glad tidings to those righteous women that obey their husbands, he (S.A.W) said, if the women offer prayers five times a day, protect their honour and chastity and remain faithfull to her husband, she may enter paradise by whatever gate she desires (Taghreeb ul Tarheeb). According to Holy Prophet (S.A.W), There is nothing more pleasing to Allah than the house where a marriage takes place, and nothing is more displeasing to Him than the house where it is severed by divorce. Man has been made head of the family so that order and discipline are maintained. Both are enjoined to discharge their respective functions with justice and equity. The Holy Prophet (S.A.W) says, the smart man is the one who takes stock off himself and strives to do that which will benefit him after death, and the helpless one is the one who follows his own whims and desires and engages in wishful thinking (assuming that Allah will forgive him regardless of what he does and that he does not need to strive to good deeds) (Reported by Al-Bukhari). Islam guides us at every step of our life. If we would truly follow the teachings about marriage in Islam, no male or female would face any kind of problem in their marriage. May Allah give us strength to behave and act just as He likes us to do and be pleased with us, and that should be purpose of our lives.
The author a teacher at S K University of Agriculture Sciences & Technology-SKUAST Srinagar writes on Islamic topics exclusively for “Kashmr Horizon”. The views expressed by the author are his personal