Allah has created men and women as company for one another, and so that they can procreate and live in peace and tranquility according to the commandments of Allah and the directions of His Messenger. The Quran says:
“And among His signs is this, that He created for you mates from among yourselves, that you may dwell in tranquility with them, and He has put love and mercy between your hearts. Undoubtedly in these are signs for those who reflect.”
(Noble Quran 30:21)
“And Allah has made for you your mates of your own nature, and made for you, out of them, sons and daughters and grandchildren, and provided for you sustenance of the best.”
(Noble Quran 16:72)
These verses of the Noble Quran clearly show that in contrast to other religions like Christianity, Buddhism, Judaism etc. which consider celibacy or monasticism as a great virtue and a means of salvation, Islam considers marriage as one of the most virtuous and approved institutions. The Messenger of Allah (SallAllahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) declared, “There is no monasticism in Islam.” He further ordained,
“O you young men! Whoever is able to marry should marry, for that will help him to lower his gaze and guard his modesty.”
Modesty was regarded as a great virtue by the Prophet (SallAllahu Alayhi Wa Sallam). He said,
“Modesty is part of faith.”
The importance of the institution or marriage receives its greatest emphasis from the following Hadith of the Prophet, SallAllahu Alayhi Wa Sallam,
“Marriage is my sunnah. Whosoever keeps away from it is not from me.”
With these Quranic injunctions and the guidance from the Prophet (SallAllahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) in mind, we shall examine the institution of marriage in the Shari’ah.
The word Zawaj is used in the Quran to signify a pair or a mate. But in common parlance it stands for marriage. Since the family is the nucleus of Islamic society, and marriage is the only way to bring families into existence, the Prophet (SallAllahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) insisted upon his followers entering into marriage The Shari’ah prescribes rules to regulate the functioning of the family so that both spouses can live together in love, security, and tranquility. Marriage in Islam has aspects of both ‘Ibadah (worship) of Allah and mu’amalah (transactions between human beings).
In its ‘Ibadah aspect, marriage is an act pleasing to Allah because it is in accordance with his commandments that husband and wife love each other and help each other to make efforts to continue the human race and rear and nurse their children to become true servants of Allah.
In its mu’amalah aspect, marriage being a lawful response to the basic biological instinct to have sexual intercourse and to procreate children, the Shari’ah has prescribed detailed rules for translating this response into a living human institution reinforced by a whole framework of legally enforceable rights and duties, not only of the spouses, but also of their offspring.
These aspects are beautifully explained in a tradition of the Prophet, SallAllahu Alayhi Wa Sallam. It is narrated by Anas, RadhiAllahu Anhu, that the Messenger of Allah (SallAllahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) said:
“When a man marries, he has fulfilled half of his religion, so let him fear Allah regarding the remaining half.”
The Prophet, SallAllahu Alayhi Wa Sallam, considered marriage for a Muslim as half of his religion because it shields him from promiscuity, adultery, fornication, homosexuality etc., which ultimately lead to many other evils like slander, quarreling, homicide, loss of property and disintegration of the family. According to the Prophet (SallAllahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) the remaining half of the faith can be saved by Taqwa