Marriage in Islam

“And marry the unmarried among you and the righteous among your male slaves and female slaves. If they should be poor, Allah will enrich them from His bounty, and Allah is all-Encompassing and knowing.” (24:32)

Sayyid Saabiq, may Allah have mercy on him, said in his book, Fiqh as-Sunnah: Islam has not legalized discharging sexual desire except through marriage, for Allah, the Exalted, did not want to equate man with other creatures, such that he fulfills his desire without understanding, or that his relationship with the female be a chaotic one without regulation.

Islam has instituted a system that safeguards man’s honor and dignity. The relationship between man and woman only occurs after the mutual consent of both parties is sought, and the marriage is attested and witnessed by others and that both spouses belong to each other. In this right, a proper and safe way for this relationship is established, progeny would be safeguarded from going astray and preserved, and the woman is also safeguarded from all evil. Islam has preserved the core of the family that is nourished by motherly care, and taken care of by fatherly affection. Thereafter children would grow up in a suitable environment. This is the system that Islam has instituted and it has effaced all others besides it.

It is appropriate to mention in brief the steps taken in Islam in order to marry a woman.

1ST STEP: Choosing The Wife

In Islam, there is a specific way to choose a wife, for the purpose of marriage in Islam is not only to satisfy one’s sexual desire; rather, marriage is the first step in forming a family. For this reason, a Muslim should choose a wife with whom family relations can be maintained. This cannot happen unless a man marries a pious wife, who fears Allah, and fulfills her rightful duties, without ignoring other aspects, such as beautifying herself for her husband. Allah Allah (y) says: “And marry the unmarried among you and the righteous among your male slaves and female slaves. If they should be poor, Allah will enrich them from His bounty, and Allah is all-Encompassing and knowing.” (24:32)

The Prophet (s) clarified the things that attract one to get married, and as we previously stated the most important factor among them is piety and Deen. He said: “A woman is married for one of four reasons: for her wealth, her lineage, her beauty and her Deen. Marry on account of Deen, may you prosper!” (Bukhari)

Islam encourages guardians to make matters that relate to marriage uncomplicated. The Messenger of Allah Propeta (s) said: “A sign of woman’s Barakah (blessing) is the ease in her engagement, dowry and labor (child birth).” (Haakim)

Islam seeks to prepare men to be husbands, who fit the description of the Prophet. The Prophet (s) : “The believers with the most complete and strong faith are those who possess good character and manners, and the best of you is he who is the best to his family.” (Tirmidthi)

Islam also seeks to prepare women to be wives, who fit the description of the Prophet (s) .He was asked, “Which women are the best?” He said, “[She is] the one who pleases [her husband] when he looks at her, follows him when he instructs her, and does not disobey him when he calls her [to satisfy his sexual desire] and helps him [as long as that matter is not unlawful].” (Nasa’ee)

Islam seeks to prepare the family to be a helpful element in the society. The Prophet (s) said: “May Allah have mercy on a man who performed night prayers and awoke his wife, and if she refused to do awaken, he sprinkled some water on her face. May Allah have mercy on a woman who performed night prayers, awoke her husband, and if he refused, sprinkled some water on his face.” (Ibn Khuzaimah)

2ND STEP:Looking At The Woman

Islam seeks to establish lasting marital relations. A person should seek an attractive spouse who has good character and manners, so that both would be committed in this relationship. Therefore, Islam has allowed both spouses to look at each other.

A man came to the Prophet (s) and informed him that he was engaged to a woman from the Ansaar. He (s) said to him, “Have you looked at her?’ He said, ‘No!’ Thereupon the Prophet (s) said to him: ‘Go and look at her, for indeed there is something in the eyes of the Ansar [women].” (Muslim)

The Prophet (s) mentioned the wisdom for seeing a woman in this regard. Anas reported that Al-Mughira b. Shu’bah engaged him self to a woman and the Prophet (s) said to him: “Go and look at her, for this will bring you closer together.” (Ibn Majah)

The Islamic society is one that is safe and secure from social problems. Love and affection, between husband and wife, are normal feelings [in Islam]. As long as this love is pure, innocent, and lawful, Islam acknowledges it. The Prophet (s) said: “There is nothing better for two who love one another than marriage.” (Ibn Majah)

Islam encourages that one intercede for a pious man to marry a pious woman who love each other.

Ibn Abbas said that the husband of Bareerah, may Allah be pleased with her, a servant named Mugeeth, used to walk behind her weeping, while his tears would be falling off his beard. The Prophet (s) said to Abbas: “O Abbas, are you not amazed at how much Mugeeth loves Bareerah, and at how much she dislikes him?” He then said to her, “Why don’t you go back to him?” She asked him, “Are you ordering me to do so?” He (s) said, “I am only interceding on his behalf.” She said, “I have no need for him.” (Bukhari)

Islam also encourages male guardians to propose for women under their guardianship to suitable, pious men, after taking their consent. For the guardian should be keen on acquiring what is best for those under him. Allah (y) says: “And when he came to the well of Madyan, he found there a crowd of people watering [their flocks], and he found aside from them two women driving back [their flocks]. He said, ‘What is your circumstance?’ They said, ‘We do not water until the shepherds dispatch [their flocks], and our father is an old man.’ So he watered [their flocks] for them, and then he went back to the shade and said, ‘My Lord, indeed I am, for whatever good You would send down to me, in need.’ Then one of the two women came to him walking with shyness. She said, ‘Indeed, my father invites you that he may reward you for having watered for us. So when he came to him and related to him the story, he said, ‘Fear not. You have escaped from the wrongdoing people.’ One of the women said, ‘O my father, hire him. Indeed, the best one you can hire is the strong and the trustworthy.’ He said, ‘Indeed, I wish to wed you one of these, my two daughters, on [the condition] that you serve me for eight years, but if you complete ten, it will be [as a favor] from you. And I do not wish to put you in difficulty. You will find me, if Allah wills, from among the righteous.’ [Moses] said, ‘That is [established] between me and you. Whichever of the two terms I complete - there is no injustice to me, and Allah, over what we say, is Witness.’” (28:23-28)

Salim b. Abdullah said that he heard Abdullah b. Umar say that Umar b. al-Khat’tab said: “When [my daughter] Hafsa b. Umar lost her husband Khunais bin Hudahaafah as-Sahmi, I met Uthman b. Affan and suggested that he marry Hafsah, saying, ‘If you wish, I will marry Hafsah bint Umar to you.’ On that, he said, ‘I will think about it.’ I waited for a few days and then he said to me, ‘I am of the opinion that I shall not marry at present.’ Then I met Abu Bakr and said, ‘If you wish, I will marry Hafsah bint Umar to you.’ He kept quiet and did not give me any reply, and I became angrier with him than I was with Uthman. Some days later, the Messenger of Allah requested her hand in marriage, and I married her to him. Later on, Abu Bakr met me and said, ‘Perhaps you were angry with me when you offered me Hafsah for marriage and I gave no reply to you?’ I said, ‘Yes.’ Abu Bakr said, ‘Nothing prevented me from accepting your offer except that the Messenger of Allah had referred to the issue of Hafsa, and I did not want to disclose the secret of the Messenger of Allah (s) but had he [i.e. the Prophet (s) [given her up, I would surely have accepted her.’” (Bukhari)

3RD STEP: Marriage Contract,Dowry And Wedding Feast

The Pillars and Preconditions of Marriage:

  • Both parties accept and approve of the marriage.

    The Prophet (s) said:“The widowed woman or divorcee is not to be married unless she approves, and the virgin is not to be married until her permission is sought.’ The Companions said, ‘O Messenger of Allah (s) how is her permission sought?’ He said, ‘If she remains silent.’” (Bukhari)

    The Prophet (s) said:If a woman is forced into marrying someone, she has the right to seek annulment of that marriage. Khansaa bin Jidhaam alAnsaariyah told the Prophet (s) that her father forced her to marry someone, while she disliked him, so the Prophet (s) annulled the marriage. (Bukhari)

    These precautionary measures are taken so that the family would not fall apart, and to prevent evil from spreading in society (i.e. cheating on the other spouse) which results when one of the spouses dislikes the other

  • The guardian is a prerequisite for the validity of marriage.

    The Prophet (s) said:“No marriage is valid unless one has a guardian and two trustworthy witnesses [to attest the marriage]. If marriage is completed without these elements it is a false marriage, and if they dispute with one another, then the ruler is the guardian for the woman who has no guardian.” (Ibn Hibban)

    This measure is taken so that the relationship of the kith and kin would not be severed. Usually, the guardian is more knowledgeable and keen to benefit those under his care. He would choose a suitable person who would keep her happy.

    In the event the woman has no male guardian or her family prevented her from marrying a suitable person, the ruler becomes her guardian. The Prophet (s) said,“The ruler is the guardian for the woman who has no guardian.”

    Ibn Abbas said on the commentary of the ayah: “O you who have believed, it is not lawful for you to inherit women by compulsion. And do not make difficulties for them in order to take [back] part of what you gave them unless they commit a clear immorality. And live with them in kindness. For if you dislike them – perhaps you dislike a thing and Allah makes therein much good.” (4:19)

    In the Pre-Islamic Era of Ignorance, when a man died, his guardians were the rightful heirs of his wife. The woman was part of the man’s property and inherited along with his property. Whoever of them wanted to marry her would marry her, or they would not allow her to get married, so Allah revealed the aforementioned ayah.

  • When both parties agree, it becomes a duty upon the husband to give his spouse her due dowry.

    Allah (y) says: “And give the women [upon marriage] their dowry graciously. But if they give up willingly to you anything of it, then take it in satisfaction and ease.” (4:4)

    The Mahr (dowry) should be reasonable. The Prophet (s) said: “A sign of woman’s Barakah (blessing), is ease in her engagement, dowry and [child birth].” (Haakim)

    Umar b. al-Khattab, the second Caliph, said: “Do not make the marital dowry excessive. Were it praiseworthy or a means of piety, the Messenger of Allah would have done so. He did not give any of his wives or take for his daughters more than twelve Ooqiyah.” (Tirmidthi, Abu Dawood & Ibn Majah)

    If any conditions were placed in the marriage contract, they must be fulfilled and the husband or wife must abide by them. The Prophet (s) said: “The most rightful conditions one must fulfill are those that relate to marriage.” (Bukhari)

    In order for happiness to spread, one must invite family and friends to a wedding banquet. Its purpose is to publicize the marriage.

    Anas b. Malik said that Abdurrahman b. Auf came from Makkah to Madinah and the Prophet (s) made a bond of brotherhood between him and Sa’d b. ar-Rabi al-Ansari. Al-Ansari had two wives, so he suggested that Abdurrahman take half, from his wives and property. Abdurrahman replied, “May Allah bless you with your wives and property. Kindly show me the market.” So Abdurrahman went to the market and gained some dried yoghurt and some butter. After a few days the Prophet (s) saw Abdurrahman with some yellow stains on his clothes and asked him, “What is that O Abdurrahman?” He replied, “I have married a woman from the Ansar.” The Prophet (s) asked, “How much dowry did you give her?” He replied, “The weight of one date stone of gold.” The Prophet (s) said, “Offer a Walimah (wedding banquet) if even with one sheep.” (Bukhari)

    One should not be wasteful and extravagant in this banquet. Allah (y) says: “Verily the wasteful are brothers of the devils, and the devil is ever ungrateful to his Rubb.” (17:27)

    It is necessary upon the person who is invited to attend the banquet, unless he has a valid reason. The Prophet (s) said:“Whoever is invited to a wedding banquet should attend.” (Bukhari)

    The guests who attend the wedding banquet should supplicate for their hosts, as in the Hadeeth of the Prophet (s) : اللهم اغْفِرْ لَهُمْ وارْحَمْهُم وبارِكْ لَهُمْ فيما رَزَقْتَهُم Al’laahum’magh fir la-hum wur-ham-hom wa baarik la’hom fee’maa razaqtahom “O Allah, forgive them, and have mercy on them, and bless them in that which You have provided them.” (Ibn Hibban)

    The guests should also supplicate Allah for both the spouses saying: بارَكَ اللهُ لَكَ وبارَك عَلَيْك وجَمَع بَيْنَكُما في خَي Baarakal-laawho laka wa baaraka alaika wa ja’ma’a bainakoma fee khair “May Allah bless you both and gather you in goodness.” (Haakim) (Ibn Hibban)

    Using the tambourine (duff) and singing innocent songs that do not excite a person sexually during this occasion are lawful for women in order to publicize the marriage.

    The Prophet (s) said to A’ishah who had prepared a woman for a man from the Ansaar as his bride:“O A’ishah! Weren’t you amused [during the marriage ceremony]? Indeed, the Ansaar like amusement.” (Bukhari)