Marriage as a Social Duty to preserve Humankind
ISLAM wants to build a model society. It gives utmost attention to the family lives of the believers. In the Holy Quran, the principles of marriage are set out for the welfare of both the individual and the society. Marriage is a social duty on the part of the community to preserve humankind, as well as providing a medium for love and mercy between men and women.
In Islam marriage is a pledge and a covenant between the married couple. Allah says "They have taken from you a solemn covenant" (4:21). It is a covenant in which each partner has to abide by his obligations. The worth of this solemn covenant in fact lies in the implication of protection, love and mercy. It is not a title deed, a sale contract a lease or any sort of slavery. The choice of a wife is restricted only to those whom Islam has permitted a man to wed and this is elaborately explained in Surah Al Nisa.
Like other contracts, marriage in Islam is a sort of contract that does not require a clergy, nor does it require a religious ceremony. Islam considers marriage a mithhaq (covenant) settled on mutual agreement and understanding between man and woman.
The basic condition for a marriage to take place is the acceptance of both parties involved, and the presence of two witnesses. The mutual consent is technically called ijab (affirmation or declaration) and qubul (acceptance or consent). This shows that no woman can be forced to marry a particular man without her consent. A majority of the Islamic scholars agree that the consent of woman's wali (guardian) is a condition for the validity of the contract.
The Holy Quran says that men are the protectors and maintainers of women because Allah has given them more physical strength than women and they (men) are supposed to support them from their means. The qualities of patience, forbearance, obedience and devotion are bestowed more in women to strike a happy balance among the family. Allah has described a caring husband and an obedient wife as most righteous.
It has been made clear that the obedience is first towards Allah. Neither husband nor wife should tolerate the other's follies or sins if these are against Allah's injunctions. It is human nature for squabbles to take place and misunderstandings to occur, but the husband and wife have been asked to fear Almighty Allah, be patient, and exercise self-restraint - all qualities most appreciated by Almighty God.
The Holy Quran has laid down clear cut measures for settling disputes between married couples. Both men and women should admonish in a polite manner in case they find fault with each other. Harsher measures are detrimental to the interest of the family. Use of physical force or abusive language, under any circumstances, have been forbidden between wife and husband and between parents and children. Even in the worst situation of disputes between wife and husband, resorting to violence or use of loud and harsh words are not permissible. As a last resort, arbitration has been suggested, though it is discouraged as much as possible.
The relationship between the husband and wife is described in the Holy Quran thus: "They are as a garment to you and you are garment to them". The husband and wife are for mutual support, mutual comfort and mutual protection. The husband and wife who are bound together by love and tenderness that Almighty God has put between them. The Holy Quran says: "The best garment is the garment of God - consciousness", meaning thereby to follow the orders and guidance of Holy Quran. Thus wife and husband can overcome the shortcomings of each other and be supportive for each other and eventually can take good care of their children who by and large form a small unit in a larger society.
The Holy Quran lays the greatest possible stress on kindly and good treatment towards the wife. Kindness and tolerance are even recommended in the case when the wife and husband are temporarily estranged from each other. Upon marriage, Islam has asked the man to give mehr to his wife as a "free gift", out of sheer good will and conviction that it is her own. It is not the right of husband to benefit from it. Unless she allows this herself. This is the case of every person who has the right to possess and use his own property.
In this way Holy Quran establishes women's right of true property ownership, free of control or dominance on the part of husband.
- (KT 28/9/2001)