Respected brothers and sisters. The Qur’anic verse that was recited was the 190th verse of Sura Al-‘Imran. Here, Allah Almighty demands from us a great depth of heart. This world is a Divine laboratory, a Divine classroom. A servant needs to be alert. Why did they come to the world? On whose ground are they living? To what place is their journey? They need to be aware of this. They are to be with the Most High at every moment. They are to observe the Divine embroidery in the manifestations of Divine majesty and constantly exclaim, “Oh my Lord!” They need to be in a state of supplication and seeking refuge. And consider their end in the Hereafter. We need to say, “protect us from the Fire”.
In the other Qur’anic verses recited, the Most High declares that Muslims need to strive to marry off the poor for the welfare of society, that they should not have the slightest hesitation in this matter and that He will provide for them. Because Allah Almighty is the All-Providing (al-Razzaq). Bestowing provisions belongs to Allah Almighty.
In the other Qur’anic verse that was read, the Most High mentions the peace that family life brings. This peace that comes from family is one that is connected to piety. In the other Qur’anic verse, the Most High reveals those things we need to be mindful of. He wills us to educate spouses, educate families, raise generations from these families, to be leaders and guides in piety and to serve as a guide to society. In the last Qur’anic verse recited, Allah Almighty declares, “Surely the noblest, most honorable of you in Allah’s sight is the one best in piety, righteousness, and reverence for Allah.” In this arena of examination, the Most High reveals to us how we are to order our family life, what kind of generation we are to raise and how we are to be ourselves.
Allah Almighty has ordered all creation for the purpose of raising a generation. The animal kingdom is thus. It raises its offspring and protects it until it can stand on its own two feet. Cats, dogs, snakes, scorpions, etc. The scorpion carries on its back. The snake keeps watch while raising its young. The other suckles its young in raising it. And removes it to a protected place. All creatures work tirelessly to raise their progeny. The actual duty of a believer is to raise a model generation that will servants of the Almighty. Other creatures strive to raise their young, their progeny for the physical continuation of their life, within a Divine ecological balance. However, as distinguished from other creatures, the human being exerts the effort to raise their offspring with a spiritual profundity. The greatest fortune is to be a servant to Allah Almighty. The Most High declares, “Surely the noblest, most honorable of you in Allah’s sight is the one best in piety, righteousness, and reverence for Allah.” During the Ascension, Allah Almighty asked His Messenger: “O Messenger, with what shall I honour you?” Allah’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, replied: “Honour me with being a servant to You.” The most important legacy that we can leave for our children is to raise them as the best servants of Allah. This is where the welfare of their Hereafter lies.
Again, the Messenger of Allah’s advice to ‘Abd Allah ibn ‘Umar is striking: “O Ibn ‘Umar, be wary of your religion. Your religion is your flesh and your blood.” That is to say, your religion is your everything. And then in continuation, “Be careful of who you receive your religion from. Learn your religion from those who are straightforward and not from those who have deviated from straightforwardness.” In short, families need to be the soundest seed of society. If families pull away from the spiritual, wounds will begin to develop in society and tragedies will increase. As is unfortunately the case in our day. Divorce is on the rise and family life is being damaged.
The 21st verse from Sura Rum, recited earlier, invites us to reflect deeply upon marriage. For the fate of two people among millions is to merge, a lifelong relationship with one’s ‘better half’ is to begin and the home that they form is to become warmer then the home of their parents, from which they came. A Divine majesty of Allah Almighty is the love that He has granted to hearts. In the Qur’anic verse, the Most High has created from yourselves, mates, “that you may incline towards them and find rest in them”. The first is tranquillity and repose. In other words, the peace and happiness originating in the home is to pervade every stage of life. “…that you may incline towards them and find rest in them”. This family life is to give peace. Secondly, love and affection. It is declared, “…and He has engendered love”. There needs to be love and affection so that family life can be peaceful. Pure love constitutes a step towards Divine love. Base attachments, however, lead to wretchedness. In other words, exalted love makes one prosperous. Base attachment, however, makes one wretched. Exalted love leads one to the Most High. Loves that are wasted in all the wrong places are the wastes in life that bring the most tragedy. The carnal attachments that cannot find a deserving object are the worst wastes of a fleeting life. That is to say, loves that do not find a worthy object, loves wasted in baseness, resemble flowers that blossom along the kerbside. They are doomed to be trampled upon.
Muhy al-Din ibn al-‘Arabi describes the love between Prophet Adam and Eve as follows: “The true home of Eve is the body of Prophet Adam. Prophet Adam had everything in Paradise. But he said, “O my Lord, grant me a partner.” Because loneliness, oneness, unity belongs only to the Most High. Allah Almighty is unlike all creation (mukhalafat al-hawadith) and creates all things in pairs. Prophet Adam, peace be upon him, felt a loneliness within that beauty and splendour of Paradise. “O my Lord, grant me a partner,” he said. When Prophet Adam, peace be upon him, was asleep, Allah Almighty created Eve from his left side. Eve became a part of a whole. A flow of love began from the whole to the part. And a flow of love began from the part to the whole. In this way, a love began in family life. The angels came and told them that they were not married. As an offering to the bride, salutations were sent to the Messenger of Allah, upon him be peace and blessings, three times, and the very first marriage was conduced, in Paradise. This first marriage had begun with salutations and blessings being sent to Allah’s Messenger. And we, praise be to Allah, are of his community, by the grace of the Most High. All praise is due to Allah. In this way, man and woman became an element of attraction for each other. And the examination began. One spirit’s feeling love towards another spirit leads the human being to spiritual love. Through this means, character attains perfection and droplets from the character of Allah’s Messenger are bestowed to the heart. The most perfect, most magnificent, most splendid family life is the family life of Allah’s Messenger. This family life is the ideal. Here, of course, morality is important. Morality is the human being’s rising to virtue by shedding carnality. In other words, it is making carnal desires ineffectual.
A marriage that leads to spiritual repose is a life of Paradise in the world. The blissful family life of humankind began in Paradise. For this reason, they must be in preparation for Paradise in their worldly home so that they can earn their blissful family life in Paradise. Therefore, piety between spouses is essential. One of the names of Allah Almighty is the All-Loving (al-Wadud). The centre of love, therefore, is Allah Almighty. It is necessary that all loves become a step towards attaining nearness to the Almighty. We know the story of Layla and Majnun. If Majnun’s love had become caught up in Layla’s love, it would not have meant anything. Whereas Layla’s love became a stairway elevating him to the Most High. So, all worldly loves – wealth, possessions, children, etc. – are of the status of a Layla. This is just one step. From spiritual love to true love, love for the Almighty is to increase. The grounds for this are family life. If the love between spouses is within the sphere of the permissible, then the true taste of love can be experienced.
As a third element, Allah Almighty declares, “and tenderness” in the Qur’anic verse. Compassion and tenderness, especially in old age, and supporting one another. And this of course requires sacrifice.
Again, there are five key essentials underlying this familial happiness. Practising a religious life first and foremost. This is the foundation of happiness. The happiest home is that of Allah’s Messenger. What existed in that home? There was contentment, resignation and the approval of Allah was sought. There was spirituality. We live in a time where divorce rates have soared. When we look at the situation, we see pulling away from the spiritual life as one of the most important causes. The first article of happiness in the family is religious piety.
The second article is virtue. All parties need to be virtuous. Thinking of each other’s good character traits in difficult times, so as not to give rise to dispute. And if there are small debates, then not to have these in the presence of the children. Not to harm our children.
The third is love. There needs to be love. Its source is the Almighty. Both parties need to strive to increase their virtues in a manner which will attract His approval. Love will increase in this way. They will find a vein leading to each other’s spirits. Both sides need to have piety and God-consciousness. The love of one spirit towards another, as mentioned earlier, leads the servant to Allah Almighty.
The fourth article is tenderness. The most important tenderness is supporting one another in earning prosperity in the Hereafter. The Messenger of Allah states: “One who wakes in the middle of the night to observe the Prayer and wakes his wife, and sprinkles water on her face if she does not wake, may Allah have mercy towards him.” Similarly, “May Allah have mercy on a woman who gets up at night and prays, and wakes her husband, and sprinkles water on his face if does not wake.” This means that there are two things here, the first being sincerity. It is due to this sincerity that they wake each other by sprinkling water on each other’s faces. The second is encouraging the other in piety.
The fifth article is faithfulness. They must make mutual sacrifices in times of difficulty. These, specifically, are the five pillars of a marriage. And a mutual respect must also be heeded. It is essential not to overstep the bounds of earnestness, into insolence, not to transform self-possession into pride and not to turn humility into abasement.
There are those in our day whose marriages are delayed. They must constantly remember that there is good in this. Because, “None knows the unseen save Allah.” We do not know the unseen. There may be those who do not have children. Or those who had children late. They must know that ‘A’isha is an example. Allah Almighty did not grant ‘A’isha a child. If one cannot have children, they must say that there is good in this. This means that a child can hinder certain things. For this reason, Allah, the Most High, wants submission from us in every stage of life.