Marriage in the Quran
There are a number of verses in the Quran which relate to marriage directly or indirectly. These verse can give us a basic understanding of what Allah intended for us in the area of marriage.
Women and Men are Brother and Sister
The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: "An-Nisa'u shaqa'iqu ar-rijal." "Women are the full siblings of men."
We Come from the Same Common Ancestor
All women and men are descended from the same original human being. This blood connection is related to the rights and obligations between men and women. Please refer to the opening of Surah An-Nisa:
"O, People beware of your Lord who created you from a single soul and created there from it mate and brought about from those two many men and women. And beware of Allah by whom you ask one another and the wombs. Allah is surely watching you." [Noble Quran 4:1]
Affection Between the Spouses is one of Allah's Signs
The affection which Allah has created in the hearts of the two spouses is one of His great signs for the people of understanding. Such people can look at this aspect of Allah's creation and be reminded of the greatness of Allah's work and power and the magnificent mercy Allah has placed in His creation. Please refer to Surah Ar-Rum:
"And among His signs are that He created for you from your selves mates that you may attain calm unto them and He placed between you affection and compassion. Surely in that are signs for a people who reflect." [Noble Quran 30:21]
"He is the one who created you from a single soul and made from it its mate that he may attain calm unto her." [Noble Quran 7:189]
According to this, the relationship between husband and wife should be one of affection, compassion and mutual understanding. If husband and wife do not find this in their marriage, then they need to look to their Islam and the completeness of their uboodiya (slavery and complete worship) to Allah Most High. By each of them focusing on the completeness of their Islam and carefully maintaining their obligations toward the other - instead of focusing on the faults of the other and attempting to use Islam as a stick with which to beat them down - the affection, compassion and great calm or peace of home life will insha'Allah be found.
Allah Specifically Orders Men to be Kind to their Wives
Since the most common marital flaw from the man's side is cruelty, lack of kindness or lack of compassion, Allah and His Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) have stressed on the man the need for kindness and good treatment. Allah said:
"And interact with your wives in a good manner for if you feel dislike for them, it may well be that you dislike something in which Allah places much good." [Noble Quran 4:19]
On this same subject, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said:
"Khairukum khairukum li'ahlihi wa ana khairukum li'ahliy."
"The best off you is the best of you toward his family (i.e., wife) and I am the best of you toward my family." At-Tirmidhi & others (sahih)
Allah Reminds Women to be Obedient to their Husbands
The Islamic household is arranged in the same way as the Muslim Ummah as a whole. There is an Amir who is in charge and has final authority as well as final responsibility over the household just as the Khalifah has over the Ummah as a whole.
The Khalifah is required to consult with the people of knowledge before taking important decisions. After this consultation, he is not bound by their opinions however. Rather, he is commanded to take what he sees as the best and most correct decision, even though it may not be the favored opinion among those with whom he consulted. The Khalifah is under no obligation to consult those of no knowledge or expertise in the Shari'ah and/or the issue at hand.
Likewise the Muslim husband. His wife is his fellow adult in the household. He is encouraged to consult with her in decisions in which she may have some constructive input to offer. Like the Khalifah, he is not bound by any of her opinions and is required to always strive to take the Islamically correct course of action. Young children are not part of the "shura" of the father, particularly in issues of upbringing and discipline. Mother and father must work together on these issues with final authority and decision-making always belonging to the father. It is easy to find examples of families suffering great discord when the correct relationship between husband and wife is not maintained or when one of them puts the children above the other. It then become a question of who is raising whom?
The Muslim father has been ordered by Allah to do everything in his power to protect his wife and children from the fire. This is his responsibility and his authority - even if it goes against their opinions. Allah said:
"O you who believe, guard yourselves and your family members from a fire whose fuel is people and stones. Over it are ferocious and powerful angels. They do not disobey and of Allah's orders and do whatever they are told." [Noble Quran 66:6]
Since the main temptation for the woman in marriage is disobedience and disrespect toward her husband, Islam stresses on her to control this aspect of her personality just as it stresses on the man to avoid cruelty and lack of compassion. Allah said:
"Men are in authority over women with that with which Allah as preferred some of you over others and with that which they spend of their wealth. So the righteous [women] are the obedient [women] those who guard in absence that which Allah has guarded. As for those from whom you detect rebelliousness, reproach them, separate from them in sleeping and strike them. If they obey you, do not desire a way at them. Surely, Allah is the High, the Great." [Noble Quran 4:34]
Of course, this obedience is only in that which is not disobedience to Allah Most High as is clear from the statement of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him):
"Laa taa'ata li makhluqin fiy ma'siyati khaliq."
"There can be no obedience to a created being in disobedience to the Creator."
In a sahih hadith, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) mentions that one of the signs of Qiyama is "when a husband is obedient to his wife."
Marriage is the Sunnah of the Prophets
It was the way of the prophets of Allah Most High to marry and have children. 'Isa was a notable exception whose life was quite short and who never did either of these things. He never taught celibacy and is not to be taken as an example in this regard. Allah said:
"We have sent messengers before you and made for them wives and descendants." [Noble Quran 13:38]
Marriage Must Begin and Continue in the Proper Manner
The previous evidences illustrate the make-up of the correct Islamic marriage. It is one in which there is affection and compassion between the spouses. It is one in which both spouses love Allah more than all else. It is one in which the husband is kind and generous toward his wife and in which the wife is obedient and respectful toward her husband. They should each find repose and peace in each other's company. Why then is our actual reality so far from this ideal in so many cases?
Obviously, the first place we should look is to our selves and our actions. Secondly, experience has shown that marriages which start off incorrectly and in disobedience are usually doomed to failure. For example, many Muslims look for a spouse as the disbelievers do: looking for who is attractive to them and talking at length with them in order to "get to know them". Certainly, a Muslim should try to know about the person they intend to marry, but meeting and talking in person or on the phone is not the proper way to go about it. This will usually lead to finding a marriage partner based on their attractiveness. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) has informed us that anyone who selects a mate based on anything other than their piety is doomed to failure:
"A woman is sought in marriage for four things: her beauty, her wealth, her social status and her family ties. Attain victory with the one piety, may your hands be in the dust!"
The meaning of "may your hands be in the dust" is may you be afflicted (e.g., with poverty) if you fail to heed what I am saying to you.
Marriage is one of the most important social relationships in society. If it goes sour, there is little hope for the overall society - especially the next generation. Note the following supplication from the lips of those who have repented and do good deeds:
"And those who say: Our Lord! Grant us from our wives and our descendents coolness of the eyes and make us an example for the people of piety." [Noble Quran 25:74]
Marriage is an Act of Worship and "Half One's Religion"
The importance of Marriage in Islam can be seen in the following hadith:
"Man tazawwaja faqad istakmala nisfa al-iman falyattiqi Allaha fiy an-nisf al-baaqiy."
"Whoever marries has completed half of his faith. So let him beware of Allah regarding the other half."
This is, of course, when a person marries for the correct reasons and in the correct manner. Many scholars have commented that marriage is preferable to concentrating on extra acts of worship.