Seven Principles of Marriage in Islam
1. Marriage (nikah), the shared life of man and woman, is commended in Islam as being honourable and good. It was the way of God’s prophets and messengers, with the notable exception of Jesus Christ, peace be upon him. The Qur’an says: وَلَقَدْ أَرْسَلْنَا رُسُلاً مِنْ قَبْلِكَ وَجَعَلْنَا لَهُمْ أَزْوَاجًا وَذُرِّيَّةً – We sent Messengers before you, and appointed for them wives and children. [13:38]
2. The Qur’an describes marriage as: مِيثَاقًا غَلِيظًا – a solemn covenant [4:21] Given the sacred and solemn nature of marriage, it mustn’t be entered into hastily or unadvisedly, but rather, honourably, reverently and soberly; and with trust in God.
3. The causes for marriage must be contemplated upon before embarking on this quest of intimacy. In Islam’s legal literature, we find the causes for which marriage was ordained are said to be: [i] That the natural instincts of love and intimacy implanted by God can be given blessed expression. [ii] For the increase of humankind and for children to be raised in God’s remembrance and in reverant thanks of Him. [iii] For the benefit of society at large: for family is the foundation of a just and caring society; it is the realm where love, duty, commitment and sacrifice are first encountered and learnt.
To state the above in the more clinical language of today’s anthropologists, the function of marriage is to ensure: [i] social reproduction, [ii] socializing of children and [iii] the passing on of social capital.
4. Speaking about the greater goal of marriage, it’s actual spirit, the Qur’an says: وَمِنْ آيَاتِهِ أَنْ خَلَقَ لَكُمْ مِنْ أَنفُسِكُمْ أَزْوَاجًا لِتَسْكُنُوا إِلَيْهَا وَجَعَلَ بَيْنَكُمْ مَوَدَّةً وَرَحْمَةً إِنَّ فِي ذَلِكَ لآياتٍ لِقَوْمٍ يَتَفَكَّرُونَ – And of His signs is that He created for you wives from yourselves that you might find tranquility in them, and He set between you love and affection. In this are signs for people who reflect. [30:21] Thus, let spouses seek to be loving companions on a sacred journey.
5. The Qur’an wants marriage life to be a life of mutual kindness and companionship. It says, while primarily addressing men: وَعَاشِرُوهُنَّ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ – Live with them in kindness. [4:19] And it insists: وَآتُوهُنَّ أُجُورَهُنَّ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ – Give them their dowry in kindness. [4:25] And if it be the case: فَإمْسَاكٌ بِمَعْرُوفٍ أَوْ تَسْرِيحٌ بِإِحْسَانٍ – Keep them honourably, or release them in kindness. [2:229] Allah also warns men: أَسْكِنُوهُنَّ مِنْ حَيْثُ سَكَنتُمْ مِنْ وُجْدِكُمْ وَلاَ تُضَارُّوهُنَّ لِتُضَيِّقُوا عَلَيْهِنَّ – House them in your own homes, according to your means. And do not harass them, so as to make life intolerable for them. [65:6]
So the affair, whether marriage or divorce, is to be one of kindness. The mark of a real Muslim man is nothing less; all else just isn’t manliness in any real sense of the word.
6. As for a Muslim women’s role in nurturing marital harmony, Allah says: فَالصَّالِحَاتُ قَانِتَاتٌ حَافِظَاتٌ لِلْغَيْبِ بِمَا حَفِظَ اللَّه – So virtuous women are humbly obedient, guarding in absence what Allah would have them guard. [4:34]
7. The Qur’an depicts how it wishes spouses to be with each other, using this beautiful and intimate imagery: هُنَّ لِبَاسٌ لَكُمْ وَأَنْتُمْ لِبَاسٌ لَهُنَّ – They are a garment for you and you are a garment for them. [2:187]
To conclude: The entire issue of marriage in Islam revolves around mutual love, compassion, kindness, understanding and companionship. Whenever spouses enter the marital home, let them each hang their egos up on the coat peg. For marital becomes martial when the “i” is pushed foreword!
Wa’Llahu wali al-tawfiq.
A most concise yet informative article on marriage. May Allah give us the tawfiq to put it into practise. Thank you.
Jazakallahu khayran for your comment, and amin to your du‘a.
Diamonds on a wedding ring couldn’t shine brighter than those points in your article.
Would you have any advise on how to negotiate a fair and reasonable dowry? God bless you for your troubles.
Fair and reasonable dowries, as you know, are judged by societal norms and conventions. In this case, one could ask a few people who have been married in the past year or so, and then determine a dowry on that basis. Of course, the prophetic guidance tells us that the marriage and dowry not involving exorbitant or extravagant costs are best.
I was thinking that it makes more sense for the dowry to be declared up front before both parties get emotionally invested. To negotiate a dowry seems ignoble especially after infatuation.
I don’t understand why MuzMatch or other matrimonial sites don’t have an entry with the profile. Perhaps the male party can have a field too for their budget.
Sheikh Joe Bradford advised recently asking for an investment rather than cash as a dowry. This seems like a good idea.
On the other hand, it seems like the female party may be willing to lower the dowry if the male has attributes deserving that.
It’s very well speaking of the guidance to ask for lower diaries but it seems often these teachings are abused or weaponized against cheating women of their due rights.
How would the Shariah offer guidance on the matter of voluntary chemical castration for beta males who can’t avoid reasonable dowries? Perhaps they should up their game, so even an Emirati princess would abandon their accustomed luxurious life to live in a bedsit above a Greggs on the high street.
I don’t know how these chickenshop Salafis manage to get married with their dowries of a translation of al-Usul al-Thalatha. Either the dude is that special or her father never showed her any love.
God grant you prosperity for attending to my query.
The matter of the mahr, or dowry/dower, is flexible – as you’re aware. Wherever possible, a woman and her family should try to ensure it serves the woman’s interests (as opposed to being some insignificant that can be flippantly agreed to).
Shaykh Joe Bradford’s idea does indeed seem good.
Chemical castrations and beta males … I feel like a book title coming along here … possibly a film too?
I would appreciate your erudite thoughts on the following as a way to make the institution of marriage a means to galvanise the community of believers (God bless you):
Make marriage a means to building dynasties…
🔴MuzMatchPlus: a matrimonial service using not only Myers-Briggs type indicator but also DNA profiles and capital growth projection to bring optimal outcomes for the primordial purposes of marriage: organisation of property and progeny. Bring back dynastic ambitions to the process of marriage. Aim for triple barrel names Khan-Ashante-Yaxley to embody the sedentary cosmopolitan ideal of the urbane Sunni elite. No more inbreeding.
🔴The Game Aim: bring a critical mass of believers to fulfil the first imperative in the Quran, to have taqwā, at Ibn Juzayy levels three and four of taqwā (guarding against the doubtful matters and guarding against extraneous matters) to unlock divine bonuses promised in the Quran (and who is more truthful than God):
1. Moral rectitude of one’s offspring 4:7
2. Blessing from above and below 7:96
3. Provisions and escape from difficulties 65:2
4. Safety 27:53
5. Protection 16:128
6. Victory 24:52
7. Good end to life 38:49
8. Paradise itself 19:63
🔴 The new KAYI tribe of Khan-Ashante-Yaxley Inc. and Lord KAYI
Lord KAYI, unsmiling, austere, performs ablutions from diamond encrusted pots, which hold no value in his heart. He rides into the village dressed in tweed from his ancestral highland castle to sacrifice a stag with his own hands for Eid al-Adha. He does this every year to the acclaim of locals whose economy he revived and with which he leverages control over local government.
🔴 Down with Muslim BTS (beard & thobe squad)! Long live Muslim BTS (Barbour & Tweed squires)!
🔴 The smart study reality. The smarter teach reality. The smartest create reality. And imagination leads where reality follows.
While I’m sure you’ve given such matters a considerable amount of consideration and depth of thought – far more than I have – I can’t help shake of the feeling that some of this slight has echos of early twentieth century social engineering?
And while I understand that some of this is intellectual ‘tongue in cheek’ (given how I’ve got to know you over these past five years); and given also how we do need to up the ante in many areas, the marriage issues will, I feel, have to be managed in the age old way of patience, sincere advice and drumming home ideals. Radical or revolutionary change doesn’t really bring about the desired long term ends. In fact, it has an uncanny way of causing more harm than good.
We ask Allah for guidance, grace and ease.
It appears there are two sources of anguish neither of which can be satisfied simultaneously: ignorance and loneliness.
The former can only be remedied with the latter whilst the latter remains unresolved. The more one grows in learning and insight, the more one is alienated from those around him including finding an appropriate life partner. Perhaps it is an arrogance that makes one feels one has a unique personality that supersedes basic templates or archetypes of being human.
To make clear with the comment above: I agree revolutionaries rarely rebuild better than what they tear down. I am advocating conservative change i.e. when the ends are no longer being fulfilled, cautiously tweak the means. That appears to me to be the history of the Shariah in its articulation and implementation. If marriage is largely determined by societal norms then one can reconsider the means for the optimisation for its ends in light of my proposals.
Societal norms – not just in terms of marriage, but other areas too – do change, evolve and get tweaked. That it happens organically – keeping a shari‘ah eye on such changes, and allowing as much flexibility as shari‘ah wisdom and foresight permits – is probably better than any attempts at social engineering. And Allah knows best.
Love has its price. Love has its responsibilities. Love is not an entitlement. Accept loneliness as normal and it is no longer felt.