Allah Almighty made the attribute of oneness exclusively for Himself, and created the rest of creation in pairs. He placed the law of attraction between the opposite sexes in order to unite them in marriage, through which they attain both material and spiritual perfection.
It is also interesting that Allah made profane love between man and woman a stepping-stone towards divine love. Therefore, Allah Almighty commanded marriage for humanity in order to preserve the perfection they were endowed with and to preserve human offspring from all sorts of corruption.
Through marriage, humanity is able to protect their most beautiful characteristics which make them truly human. Marriage is the social and spiritual sanctuary for the spiritual and development of humanity. The continuation of the verse:
“Surely we created man of the best stature” (Qur’an:95/4) is related to healthy marriages.
Through the proper fulfillment of the institution of marriage, the human soul can attain peace and contentment, the human body finds its balance and order, human morality is perfected and developed and the welfare and safety of society can be realized. In the absence of marriage, this delicate order can be broken.
Marriage also enables couples to develop their latent abilities.A woman, through showing affection and concern for her children, perfects her love and mercy and over countless hours of work masters how to be a good mother, educator and arbitrator.
A man learns how to be more responsible through family leadership and he acquires maturity. The family unit is the smallest social unit, but it is the most significant one for any nation. Therefore, all the prophets, except Prophet Jesus, who was raised to Heaven, were married.
After the gift of taqwa (piety) the most significant favor of Allah upon a servant is to possess a good spouse. A good spouse is the most essential part of human happiness. The strength of nations depends on the strength of family ties.
The Holy Qur’an indicates that the institution of marriage is a sign of Allah:
“And among His Signs is this, that He created for you mates from among yourselves, that ye may dwell in tranquility with them, and He has put love and mercy between your hearts: verily in that are Signs for those who reflect.” (Qur’an:30/21)
This verse directs us to reflect on the fact that the primary purpose in marriage is to achieve a state of love and mercy for the sake of Allah. Therefore, the Prophet (pbuh) always advised those who were thinking of marriage to choose good believers who have mercy and piety in their hearts.
In the following hadith the Prophet gives advice to a man who wanted to marry: “There are four things for which one marries a woman, i.e., her wealth, her family status, her beauty or her religion. So you should marry the religious woman (otherwise) you will be a loser” (Bukhari, Nikah)
The institution of marriage plays the greatest role in preserving high morality in society; without morality society could easily become corrupt and dissolve through indulgence and selfishness.
Hence, the family and society should enable the young to marry when they reach the proper age and the basic necessities for marriage should be made as easy to acquire as possible.
Therefore, the Prophet (pbuh) describes the best marriage as the one that is carried out without excessive spending. If the material requirements of marriage increase drastically young people may put off marriage due to an inability to handle such a huge financial burden.
Then, their natural desires can only be satisfied through immoral or illegal sexual relations, thus frustrating the goal of establishing a stable family life. This will be suicide for society. The only solution that can prevent such a negative development is to give full support for those who want to marry, both spiritually and financially.
Ibn Arabi advised rich Muslims to help couples to marry, stating that the best continuous charity (sadaqa jariyah) is to help a marriage happen. Those who help bring about a marriage will be rewarded, as they too will have a share in thegood acts of the offspring of the married couple.
In order to make marriage easier, the first step is to cut the cost of getting married to the basic minimum by preventing all sorts of unnecessary waste. In particular, in some marriage ceremonies, alcoholic drinks are served to cater to the desires of the guests. If the first step in the marriage is made with haram (forbidden) acts, how can we expect future happiness for this family?
Allah blesses wedding ceremonies that are performed within the boundaries of Islam through the acceptance of prayers and supplications that are made on these occasions.
If the couples do not appreciate the significance of the marriage and only consider it a formal act for being together, it will usually result in dissolution. In Islam, of all permitted things by Allah, divorce is the most displeasing act. In the following hadith, the Prophet (pbuh) states:
“Get marry and do not divorce! The Throne of Allah is shaken by divorce.” (Muhtar al-Ahadith al-Nabawiyya,228)
In particular, this is true when one of the spouses leaves or violates the sanctity of the marriage just for the sake of seeking pleasure when there is no real problem in the relationship. This is a sin that is not forgiven by Allah, since such this spouse has heedlessly destroyed the rights and trust of the other spouse.
THE RIGHTS AND DUTIES OF COUPLES
In Islam, the head of the family is the husband,as can be understood from the following verse:
“Men are in charge of women, because Allah has given the one a merit (grace) over the other, and because they spend of their property (for the support of women)” (Qur’an:4/34)
According to Islam, the man is responsible for all the financial costs of married life; therefore, he has been given leadership in the family.
However, this leadership does not mean that he has power over or the right to oppress women. This leadership is only to put an order to family affairs, since he represents the family in external affairs. On the other hand, women are in charge of the internal order and organization of the family.
The man has the responsibility of earning a living and providing for the costs of maintenance and financing the family home. He has the physical strength to protect his family. The man has also the duty to lead in prayer. He therefore has been given the responsibility of leadership.
This priority of the man is also manifested in the order of creation; first Adam was created, then Eve was created. Adam and Eve were created from the same soil, thus explaining the reality of the attraction between men and women. In a divinely inspired hadith, the Prophet (pbuh) informs us on behalf of Allah:
“I was a hidden treasure and loved to be known, hence I created the creation.”
As this hadith explains, the cause of creation is divine love. Profane love is a step toward this divine love, and this characteristic is engraved inthe nature of all creation. However, this love should be channeled by divine guidance, that is, through marriage. Therefore, Islam bases family life on the roots of love, high morality, virtue, piety, good interaction, mercy, loyalty and patience, as well as other similar characteristics.
Family life, which was started first in Paradise by Adam and Eve, was continued by their offspring in the world and eternalized by Islam. The laws that Islam introduced make married life a paradise, a continuous spring of mercy. In order to attain this happiness, we should manifest the beauties manifested by our ancestors, Adam and Eve; spouses should love each other spiritually and cooperate in piety. In short, they should be a single soul in two different bodies.
For a happy family life, the rights of the women should be protected and developed. Throughout history, when the rights of women have been respected, societies have lived a life of paradise on earth. However, on the other hand, when they have not been respected, societies have tasted a hellish life. The Prophet (pbuh) commanded his ummah (community) in the Farewell Speech concerning the rights of women:
“O men! Respect the rights of women. Treat them with mercy and love. Fear Allah concerning their rights. You have married them as Allah’s trust; they became your legal wives since you have promised Allah to promise protect their honor and chastity.”
Women should take part in family life in those areas to which they are most suited, such as raising children with lofty characters, organizing the home life and other relevant fields. If they are employed in occupations that go against their nature, the family structure of society will be harmed. A good family life can only be provided when the wife and husband respectively use their innate powers properly, as described by Islam.
It should also be emphasized that in the modern age an artificial competition of equality between men and women is leading them to points which are contrary to their natures. In particular, this competition is destroying the feminine qualities of women and their pride in motherhood.
THE BEST EXAMPLE FOR US ALL…
The Prophet (pbuh) gave the best example of a happy family life. He not only practiced therules of happiness in his life, but also trained his Companions and his own children. When his beloved daughter Fatimah married Imam Ali, the Prophet commanded his daughter to organize the internal matters of the family and charged Imam Ali to organize the external matters.
In this way, he established the distribution of responsibilities on the basis of justice and the nature of the spouses.
His daughter, Fatimah, was very dear to him. Whenever she would come to him, he would stand up out of overflowing love and would seat her in his place. Such a beloved daughter came to her father arid opened her heart to him. She talked of all the chores of the house: the grinding of the grain and the need to go herself and bring water to the house with great difficulty. Then she requested that she be provided with a servant to help her with the execution of these chores. The Prophet responded that no arrangements had yet been made for the Ashab Suffah (residents of the mosque).
Until they were taken care of, he could not pay attention to any other matter. (Abu Dawud,Vol. ll, p. 343).
In another collection of the Prophet’s sayings it is also stated that the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said: “The orphans of Badar have priority over you.” (Abu Dawud, Vol. 11, p.343). At last, he gave this advice to his daughter. “Before going to sleep, you should recite 33 times SubhanAllah, 33 times Alhamdulillah and 34 times AllahuAkbar. Having a servant or slave cannot compare to this remembrance of Allah.” He said: “For you this remembrance of Allah shall be much better than a servant” (Abu Dawud, Vol. ll, p. 340).
THE ROLE OF THE MOTHER
The mother should play the role of uniting the family members with her affection and leadership in the affairs of the home. She must train and educate the children; therefore, Allah Almighty endowed women with many noble qualities, such as great sensitivity, mercy, politeness and the instinct to look after children for the continuation of the family.
The mother is the second leader in family affairs. Through her compassion spiritual contentment is engendered in the family. Mothers have no equal in their mercy and compassion. They first carry us in their wombs, then on their laps, and finally keep carrying us in their hearts until death takes them away.
Mothers who have sacrificed their lives for the sake of their families deserve the highest respect and a lifetime of gratitude. The soft and loving heart of the mother has the capacity to ease the weariness of the father and calm the naughtiness of the children. In order to highlight these facts Allah Almighty states in the Qur’an:
“And We have enjoined upon man concerning his parents- His mother beareth him in weakness upon weakness, and his weaning is two years Give thanks unto Me and unto your parents. Unto me is the journeying.” (Qur’an:31/14)
Highlighting the same fact, Rumi states:
“Respect the rights of the mothers; carry them over your heads. If they did not suffer the pangs of the birth, children could not find a way to come to this world.”
Mercy and compassion find their highest level in the hearts of the mothers. The mothering of human beings is far superior to that of other creatures. The mother not only gives material food to her children but also gives the most necessary spiritual food. They give birth to humans that have the capacity to be close to the Creator of the universe.
From the prophets to ordinary people, each person first takes their spiritual qualities from their mothers. However, not all mothers are equal in giving the same amount of love and mercy to their children.
Some mothers abandon their babies in dustbins or on doorsteps. On the other hand, there are mothers who look after their sick or disabled children for an entire lifetime without complaint.
Therefore, the kingdom of mothers is in accordance with their virtues and mercy. We should not forget that mothers reflect divine mercy; they are the loci of the Divine Names Ar-Rahman and Ar-Rahim (the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful).
The following hadith of the Prophet (pbuh) explains the high status of mothers well:
“Paradise is found under the feet of mothers.” (Daylami, Musnad, 2611)
Parents occupy a special place in Islam. After our duty to obey Allah, they rank second in regard to obedience. Although respecting parents is another subject, here we will give some verses from the Qur’an concerning the rights of parents over their children after spending an entire lifetime for their well-being.
“And your Lord has commanded that you shall not worship (any) but Him, and that you be kind to your parents. If either or both of them reach old age with you, say not to them (so much as) Uff! Nor repel them, and speak to them a generous word. And make yourself submissively gentle to them with compassion, and say: O my Lord! Have mercy on them, as they did cherish and rear me (when I was) little.” (Qur’an:17/23-24)
Thus, it is sated in the Qur’an that parents are rewarded not only in the next world but in this world as well. In short, a happy family life as described by the Qur’an depends on love, mutual respect and sacrifice.
May Allah make our families happy ones, and our homes gardens of paradise. May Allah enable us to guide our families to happiness both in this world and the Hereafter. Amen!