• marriage-in-islam-beyond-the-words-i-do-part-i

    MARRIAGE IN ISLAM: BEYOND THE WORDS “I DO” (PART I)

    Watching some local drama series on the television, most often than not, when it comes to characters playing the roles as a marriage couple, we would see that if not the husband who is having an extra-marital affair with another lady or a few women, the wife is, with another guy or a few men. And at the end of the day, the ones who have to suffer most of the repercussions of the marital discrepancies are the children, resulting in the family institution being all wrecked and shattered to unamendable pieces.

     

    A family unit having marital problems is the kind of theme that most dramas are portraying. No matter how cliché or common the story lines are, we cannot be in denial that such things do happen to some of our friends or our family members, if not to ourselves. Na’udzubillahi min dzalik. Being imperfect and fallible beings, who sin and make mistakes every single day, it would be too far-fetched, if not impossible, to dream for a “perfect” marriage or family life. Be that as it may, we should always strive to be the best that we can, as a husband or wife or parent for the interest of our own family institution. After all, taking care of our marriage and family is an amanah that should not be taken lightly.

     

    Some people might have a misconception lingering in their minds that marriage in Islam is as simple as the words “I do,” or “Aku terima nikahnya,” This wrong perception must certainly stop and be corrected. With marriage, obligations and responsibilities come into play, and both husband and wife must know and need to shoulder together these duties to build a happy marriage life. Bear in mind that marriage will not be a successful one, unilaterally. It only functions successfully if each and every single unit of the family institution works hand in hand to make it a reality. As one of the primary purposes of marriage in Islam is for procreation, a stable marriage life is needed to build a happy family institution. Hence, in this article we will start with the very basic concept of marriage in Islam, proceeded with the Muslim model of a happy family.

     

    THE CONCEPT OF MARRIAGE IN ISLAM

    In Islam, marriage is not merely to make halal the love-relationship between a man and a woman. Instead, it is a sacred union where marriage itself is considered as an act of worship. The Prophet s.a.w. in a reliable hadeeth narrated by At-Tabarani, had said, “Whoever marries has completed half of his faith. So let him have fear of Allah in the remaining half.” Dr. Aisha Hamdan, the author of “Nurturing Eeman in Children” in quoting this hadeeth has stated that since marriage is regarded as an act of worship to Allah, both husband and wife need to steer and lead their marriage life by observing the commandments that Allah has laid down in respect of marriage. And in so doing, the marriage couple needs to always equip themselves with knowledge so that their marriage life is nurtured and moulded in such a way that is pleasing Allah and in line with the teachings of the Qur’an and Sunnah.

     

    Considerations prior to marriage

    As people could be easily infatuated with and be blinded by love, it is very pertinent to consider the right person you are going to spend the rest of your life with, as your spouse is the one that will be your support system and your other half, in creating a family that is filled with mawaddah, sakeenah wa rahmah.

     

    Taqwa or righteousness is one of the key considerations in selecting a spouse. Allah says in Surah Al-Nuur verse 32: “Marry those among you who are single, and the virtuous ones among your slaves, male or female; if they are in poverty, Allah will give them means out of His grace: For Allah is Ample-giving, and He knows all things”. In commenting about this verse, the writer of “Tuhfat al-‘Arous (The Bride’s Boon)” stated that “religiousness is the only condition mentioned in the verse for a suitable match”.

     

    And in fact, in a famous authentic hadeeth narrated by Bukhari and Muslim, the Prophet said: “A woman is married for four things: her wealth, her family status, her beauty and her religion. So you should marry the one who is superior in religion, otherwise you will be a loser”. Based on the Quranic verse and the hadeeth of the Prophet, by marrying someone who is faithful to his or her religion, a marriage and family that are erected towards seeking Allah’s pleasure can be achieved, and whenever something is done that is not incompliance with the Islamic faith, the other spouse can help to rectify the wrong done and pull the other back on track towards the truth, as stated by Dr. Aisha Hamdan, in her book entitled “Nurturing Eeman in Children” at page 50.

     

    Marriage and parenting are interrelated. A righteous marriage couple needs to be guided on how to steer and navigate their marriage life towards building a blessed and happy family institution. Below are listed the ingredients to build a happy family from the Islamic perspective.

     

    MUSLIM MODEL OF A HAPPY FAMILY

    In an article written by Nur Zahidah Hj Jaapar from UiTM and Associate Professor Raihanah Hj Azahari from the Department of Fiqh and Usul, Academy of Islamic Studies in University of Malaya, they have come up with a Muslim model of a happy family, containing a number of important elements that need to be worked out and considered by both husband and wife as parents. The two main ingredients are iman and ‘amal. Whereby, the authors divided iman into ‘aqeedah and ‘ilm. Meanwhile, ‘amal will be further divided into niyyah, akhlaq, social, amanah, as well as physical and economic safety/stability. The first part of this article will only touch on iman and the categorisations under it.

     

    Iman

    This element is discussed based on what Akram Radamursi wrote in his book entitled “al-Usrah al-Muslimah fi al-‘Alim al-Mu’asir”. According to the writers of the article, Allah stresses on the importance of protecting our faith and piety (taqwa) in strengthening the relationship among family members. In verse 1 of Surah An-Nisaa’, Allah says:

    O mankind! Be dutiful to your Lord, Who created you from a single person (Adam), and from him (Adam) He created his wife [Hawwa (Eve)], and from them both He created many men and women and fear Allah through Whom you demand your mutual (rights), and (do not cut the relations of) the wombs (kinship). Surely, Allah is Ever an All-Watcher over you”.

    (Translation by Muhsin Khan)

     

    Dr. Aisha Hamdan in her parenting book (as cited in the preceding paragraph), had elaborated on this point rather beautifully. Since iman is what lies in the heart and to be meant as a “sincere faith” in the six pillars of iman, a child who is nurtured with iman will make a choice in his or her life from within instead of due to the external influences. And with iman in the heart, a child’s actions are directed towards reaping for Allah’s pleasure instead of seeking for worldly gains. Not only children, a husband and wife who have iman will be wary of their conducts and ensure that what they are doing are in line with what their faith preaches. With iman, the structure of a Muslim family is sturdy and firm, and without it, just like a house with broken pillars, it will inevitably collapse and crush to pieces. As iman is the basic foundation of the life of a human being, it is the most crucial element that needs to be instilled in one’s own family.

     

    ‘Aqeedah

    Next, according to the writers of the article, the second element of a Muslim model of a happy family is ‘aqeedah. And this is based on Yusuf Qasim in his book called “Huquq al-‘Usrah fi al-Fiqh al-Islami”. The writers said that the strength of one’s iman is very much connected with the soundness of the ‘aqeedah of each and every individual Muslim including a husband and wife. And the ‘aqeedah is considered as sound and strong when a person’s ‘aqeedah is based on a firm faith and trust in the existence of Allah, in line with the teachings of the Qur’an and Sunnah, and to refrain from associating Allah with anything else (syirk) as well as a firm belief in the perfect traits/characteristics of Allah.

     

    A verse in the Qur’an which reflects the call for a true ‘aqeedah is as laid down in Surah al-A’raf, verse 59, whereby Allah says:

    We had certainly sent Noah to his people, and he said, “O my people, worship Allah; you have no deity other than Him. Indeed, I fear for you the punishment of a tremendous Day.

     (Translation by Muhsin Khan)

     

    According to Dr. Aisha Hamdan, ‘aqa’id (the plural for ‘aqeedah) connote “those things that people’s hearts affirm and believe in; things that people accept as true”. In elaborating about the relationship between ‘aqeedah and iman, she wrote that iman is founded and based on ‘aqeedah and the connection between ‘aqeedah, iman and family-building is that the existence of these two elements will be some sort of a compass which would direct the hearts of all the entities in a family unit to lead their lives with a sincere intention to please Allah, and to duly follow His commandments because of Him and not to please anybody else, as Allah says in Surah Al-Baqarah verse 165 that: “… those who believe are stronger in love for Allah…”.

     

    ‘Ilm

    The next element is ‘ilm, and this is based on what was written by Yusuf Qaradawi, in his book called “Fi Tariq ila Allah”. According to the writers of the article, knowledge is the most essential precondition in attaining happiness as every single thing in this world needs to be based upon knowledge. As a Muslim who is knowledgeable, he/she needs to act according to what he/she is taught or has learned, especially in being fearful to God (taqwa). As Allah says in the Qur’an, in verse 28 of Surah Faatir:

    …It is only those who have knowledge among His slaves that fear Allah…

    (Translation by Muhsin Khan)

     

    Seeking and possessing knowledge are very much needed in building a happy and blessed Muslim family as knowledge will drive us to “which is true in life-to the straight path,” as written by Dr. Aisha Hamdan on “the importance of knowledge”.

     

    CONCLUSION

    To conclude the first part of this discussion, by having a profound understanding of the true concept of marriage in Islam, and the underlying objectives that a Muslim marriage aims to achieve, both husband and wife will have a clearer outlook on how they should direct their lives, in becoming righteous servants of Allah and in playing their roles as husband and wife and future parents for their children. The first three essential ingredients in building a happy and blessed Muslim family which are highlighted in this present article, concern with the inner souls and minds of human beings. Despite their intangible nature, iman, ‘aqeedah and ‘ilm are three key-ingredients that need to be strengthened first and foremost, as they lay the basic foundation in building the blocks of a successful marriage or even family life from the Islamic perspective. Without these three, a marriage or even a family life will lose its Islamic essence and true happiness will never be achieved. Wallahu a’lam.

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