In Islam, the marriage is to unite a man and a woman in the sacred contract of unity in accordance with the orders of Allah The Almighty and the practices (traditions) of the Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him).
Islam defines marriage as a “complete social institution and the foundation of human race.” Marriage is defined as a relationship between a man a woman that is based on rights, duties, limits, and responsibilities not only for the marrying couple but also for the families on both sides.
According to the traditions of the Prophet (peace be upon him); “The wife is not a plaything in the hands of the husband, but a moral responsibility, and an equal spiritual being who is entrusted to him.”
Wife therefore is not meant to bring only pleasure and happiness both and happiness but both parties are to fully cooperate with each other in making the marital life a living pleasure.
The Glorious Qura’n in many ayat points out the purpose of marriage, for example:
In Surah Al-Roum (30:21), “And of His signs that He (Allah) created mates for you like yourselves that you may find rest in them, and He put love and compassion between you; surely, in these are signs for those who reflect.”
This Ayah shows that the wife is not inferior to her husband nor the husband is created from any superior material but both are progeny of Adam and Eve (Hawa), have the same origin and same soul.
In Surah An-Nisa (the Woman) (4:1), “O’ Mankind be dutiful to your Lord (Allah), who created you from a single soul, and created your mate, and from the two of them scattered many men and women”.
This Ayah shows that Islam views Marriage as a commitment in the total sense of the word. It is a commitment to life and to the society for the meaningful survival of entire human race. It is a commitment that they make to one another as well as to Allah the Almighty. They are expected to work for mutual fulfillment, love, peace, compassion, comfort and hope.
In Surah Al-Baqarah (2-187), Allah the Almighty says; “Your spouses are a garment to you, and you are a garment to them.”
In Surah Al-A’araf (7:17) “It is Allah, Who created mankind out of one soul, and created his spouse so that you find comfort and rest in each other”.
These Ayat show that the husband and wife are for the mutual support, comfort and protection and cover each other in all extremes of life as a garment covers, provides comfort and protects. The garment is also an adornment, beautifies, covers weaknesses, scars, and what needs to be covered.
Even in the most trying times of married life, the Qura’n commands to be kind towards each other. In Surah An-Nisa” Allah commands; “Live with them in kindness even if you dislike anything about them, it may be that you dislike something in which Allah has placed a lot of good for you.”
The Islamic provisions of marriage apply to men and women equally. It may even be more so for women because a good marriage assures her of economic security as the man is made responsible for her provision, security and total financial support.
purpose of Marriage
The Arabic word "Zawj" means a pair or a mate. The general purpose of marriage is that the two genders live with each other in servitude of Allah; in peace and tranquility, provide company, mutual love and procreate.
Marriage is seen as the only possible way for the genders to unite. One could choose to live any way he or she wants; but choosing marriage is displaying obedience to the Creator.
Marriage is a solemn covenant and should be entered into with total commitment. Your partner should be your choice for life. One should be mature enough to understand the demands of marriage so that the union can be a lasting one. In one of his traditions, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “condemned are those who relish the change of marital partners without valid reasons”.
Islam prescribes certain measures to make the marital bond permanent. The parties must strive to be of proper age, general compatibility, reasonable dowry, good will, free consent, honorable intentions and judicious discretion.
When the parties enter marriage, the intention must be to make it permanent. Marriage in Islam is something unique with very special features of both sacramental and contractual nature. However, if it does not work out for any valid reason, it may be terminated in kindness and honor, with equity and peace.
The Glorious Qura’n sets that principle in Surah Al-Baqarah 2:229-232 and An-Nisa 4:19 and ordains that; “it is a man’s duty to Allah to treat his wife with kindness, honor, and patience; to keep her honorably or free her from the marital bond honorably; and cause her no harm or grief .”
Marriage is a lifelong partnership and not a temporary arrangement of convenience. Both parties must make their efforts to live with each other in harmony, mutual respect, demand their rights only if they are fulfilling responsibilities set forth by The Creator.
The Husband – Wife Relationship
Islam sets the course of behavior for the husband and wife. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said; “The best among you is the one who is best to his family, and most blessed joy in life is a righteous wife”.
In another Hadith, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said; “The best among you are those who have the kindest of behavior and best disposition to their spouses, such are those who show the perfect faith.”
CONDITIONS FOR MARRIAGE
For marriage to be valid, certain conditions must be met such as; a) consent of both parties, b) " Maher" a marriage gift from the groom to his bride, c) two male or female witnesses, d) the marriage should be announced and not be kept secret as it could lead to suspicion and deprivation of religious and legal rights of woman.
A man should not marry if he does not possess the means to maintain a wife, household and future family responsibilities.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) enjoined Muslims to marry and said: “whoever can afford to marry should marry, it keeps the gaze down and keep people chaste; the one who can’t afford to marry should fast as it will have a sobering effect”.
In another tradition, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said; "when a man marries, he fulfills half of his religious obligations, so let him similarly fear, love and obey Allah’s orders in the remaining half of his religion."
Selection of a partner
The prophet recommended the parties to see each other before going through with marriage. There is no concept of courtship, dating and/or trying each other out. The fact remains that the couple knows each other for years, are intimate, live together and yet split. Romance does not equal to a commitment between two people.
Needless to say that marriage should not be based only on physical attraction or romantic notions but on evaluation and compatibility before marriage.
Consent of parties
One of the conditions of a valid marriage is consent of the couple. The arranged marriages where parents choose the spouse and the couple is forced or has no say in the matter are against Islam.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) revoked the marriage of a girl who complained to him that her father wanted to arrange her marriage against her wishes.
wife’s rights - Husbands obligations
According to Qura’n and the teachings of the Prophet; the husband is responsible for the maintenance and economic security of his family. It is truly like we jokingly say:“what is hers’ is hers’ and what is his is also hers.” The maintenance includes her right to lodging, clothing, food, general and medical care, etc. He must lodge her within his means.
The wife is entitled to a marriage gift called “Mahr or Dowry”. A marriage is not valid without it. It is a gift from the groom to the bride. It is an agreed upon amount and to be paid to the girl before the consummation of marriage or thereafter ASAP. Her agreement to the amount is required and nobody else can fix it on her behalf.
She is fully entitled to dispense the Mahr as she likes. The gifts she receives on marriage or thereafter are hers alone. There is no concept of “community property” of a husband and wife.
Like the man, a Muslim woman can also divorce her husband, if it was included as one of the conditions in the marriage contract at the time of marriage. Unfortunately, many Muslims men and women do not know or care to tell their women of their divine rights.
In case of a joint family, a wife’s lodging must be adequate to ensure her privacy, comfort and independence. She is NOT duty bound to cook, clean, pickup after her husband, let alone her husband’s other relatives. Whatever she does for her husband is rewarded by Allah The Almighty as an act of “charity”.
the Husbands rights, WIFE’S obligations
She must look after the comfort of her husband and give due respect.
She must protect his honor, reputation and dignity.
She must be caring for his health, property, and earnings and not spend it lavishly and unnecessarily.
She must raise their children properly.
She should beautify herself only for her husband.
She must care about his liking in all matters including food, company and dress, etc.
She should give her sincere advice when he consults her.
She should not make unfair demands of him.
She must be a loyal friend and a source of strength in adverse circumstances.
Her behavior must be conducive to peace and tranquility.
She must be faithful, trustworthy and honest.
She must not allow any other person to have access to all that is exclusively her husband rights.
She must not receive or entertain non mahram males in the house.
The man has been given the authority in certain matters, only because he is the head of the family. The men are enjoined to use these rights with love, care and compassion with fear of accountability on the Day of Judgment and the love of Allah and his family.
Obedience does not mean blind submission. It must not be in violations to the orders of Allah, as there is no obedience of anybody in disobedience of The Creator.
It must be maintained only with regard to matters that fall under husband rights.
He should respect and be mindful of her susceptibilities.
He should be a source of comfort for her and behave in a manner that genuinely convinces her that she alone is the center of his love, attention and affection.
He must provide her needs within his means.
The husband should help her in the household chores.
He should look after her health and emotional well being.
He must have confidence and trust in her.
He must overlook the minor shortcomings and be forgiving.
He should avoid situations where tempers are lost.
He must avoid habits or hobbies that may displease her.
He must have sympathy for her when she is in distress.
He must not object to his wife meeting her relatives provided no mischief is proven from their side.
He must consult her in family matters and handle situations by mutual consent.
He must deal with her in mild and soft manner.
The Holy Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him) said that: “women should be taken care of as someone takes care of glass. Glass is liable to break easily if not treated carefully. Men must be careful and not injure the delicacy of women because therein lies their beauty”.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) also exalted the intellectual and spiritual status of women and said “that the acquisition of knowledge is an incumbent duty to every Muslim male and female”.
Marriage is a religious duty and is consequently, a moral safeguard as well as a social necessity. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said,"Marriage is my tradition whosoever keeps away from it is not my follower".
Essential rights of Woman in Islam
Here are few of the basic rights of woman in Islam that absolute majority of Muslim women does not have and/or Muslim husbands hesitate to recognize and act upon, for example:
NOT inferior to a male.
Has the right of independent ownership of real estate or any other valuables regardless of the nature, kind or limit of it’s worth
Her right of ownership does not change whether she is single, married or widowed.
Has full rights to buy, sell, or lease any or all her properties and possessions.
Regardless of her wealth, husband is fully responsible for the maintenance of his wife, and children.
Has a right to her keep and spend her money and earnings.
Not under any obligation to spend her income on her husband and or family.
Has specific rights of inheritance in the Glorious Qura’n and her share is for her to keep and spent as she wishes.
Keeps her maiden name after marriage and does not have to change her name.
The right to negotiate marriage terms of her choice.
The right to obtain divorce from her husband, even on the grounds that she simply can't stand him.
In case of divorce a woman’s property or income is not to be taken into account to establish child support, spousal support or debt payment orders.
No legislature, Government, husband, Judge, parents, relative, and/or Clergy could amend, take away or suspend any or all rights that Allah the Almighty has given to women.
EQUALITY IN REWARDS
Husband and wife both have the same religious and moral duties and responsibilities. They both equally face the consequences or rewards of their deeds. The basis and criteria of rewards of punishment in the sight of Allah The Almighty is NOT the gender but the deeds. Allah The Almighty says in;
Surah Al-Imran, 3:195, “And their Lord has accepted and answered their prayers as "Never will I make them lose the reward of any (good) work of any of you be it male or female: you are partners of one another ...”
Surah An-Nisa, 4:124, “If anyone does the righteous deeds be they male or female and have faith, they will enter the paradise and no injustice will be done to them.”
Surah Al-Ahzab, 33:35, “For Muslim men and women and for believing men and women, for devout men and women, for truthful men and women, for men and women who are patient and constant, for men and women who humble themselves, for men and women who give in charity, for men and women who fast (and deny their desires), for men and women who guard their chastity, and for men and women who engage much in Allah's praise, for them has Allah prepared forgiveness and a great reward.”
Surah Al-Hadeed, 57:12, “One Day shall you see the believing men and the believing women how their Light runs forward before them and by their right hands: (they will hear the greeting): "Good news for you this Day! Gardens beneath which rivers flow! (for you) To dwell therein for ever! This is indeed the highest Achievement!”
Unfortunately, majority of the Muslims does not practice or know, neither care to learn, implement, nor teach their women what Islam has enjoined. Islam is the only body of divine enunciation that explicitly lists the rights of women in every facet of their life, does not limit these rights merely to semantics but extends it to everyday implementation and commonsense as well. Islam further expands the rights of women, and it did so more than 1400 years ago is an empirical fact.
The appropriation of human rights, especially the rights of women are a tenet of Islam that is widely confirmed and accessible in the Islamic text. On the other hand, though the dichotomy exists between a divine message and its lack of understanding, implementation and practice by Muslims, one must recognize the distinction.
Unfortunately, it is also a matter of fact that the hypocritical actions, life styles, philosophies and policies of all the political leadership and overwhelming majority of the so called religious leadership of Muslims countries have misrepresented, misguided, misinformed and/or totally neglected the issue of Rights and Status of Women due to their own political agendas, lack of knowledge, rituals, personal reasons or even Vendetta against the women.
Prejudice aside, a famous American jurist Justice Pierre Craibites (Chief Judge International Court of Justice) rightfully observed when he wrote:
"Muhammad, 1400 years ago assured the mothers, wives and daughters of Islam a rank and dignity not yet assured to women by any laws of the West."
In another article titled as “Things Muhammad did for Women”, printed in the Magazine “Asia” USA, Justice Pierre Crabites wrote:
“Mohammad was probably the greatest champion of women's rights the world has ever seen. Islam conferred upon the Muslim wife property rights and judicial status exactly the same as that of her husband. She is free to dispose of and manage her financial assets as she pleases, without let or hindrance from her husband.”
Finally, the value and purpose of marriage take on a special meaning if intertwined with the idea of Allah the Almighty, conceived as religious commitments and internalized as divine blessings. As it is the focal point of Islam and proves the point as what Prophet of Islam said:"when a man marries, he has fulfilled half of his religious obligations, so let him similarly love, fear and obey Allah’s orders in the remaining half of his religion.”
Translation of the Meaning of Glorious Qura’n, Allama Abdullah Yusuf Ali
Kashfun Naqab Amma Yaquluhu AlTirmidhi WaFil Babb, Dr. Shaikh Habibullah Mukhtar