By Muhammad Abdul-Rauf
The practice of marriage is highly recommended and praised in Islam. Here’re some of its advantages…
2- Fulfillment of the Natural Urge
The sexual urge is perhaps the most powerful human inclination. It seems not to be an end in itself, but a means to bring the mates together for the purpose of fertilization. Yet, its fulfillment is the most enjoyable and absorbing of human experiences.
In marriage, there is comfort to the soul, there is beauty to look at, there is company, and there is play and joking and relaxation.
Failure to fulfill this urge is likely to lead either to deviation or to maladjustment. Deviation is dishonorable and is strictly forbidden in Islam.
Therefore, the Prophet (peace be upon him) calls upon youth, saying:
“O you young people! Whoever of you can afford to get married, let him do so. Those who cannot afford it, let them practice fasting, as it may be a protection to them (against sin).” (An-Nasa’i, Al-Bukhari and Ibn Majah)
It is believed that the intense pleasure of the climax of the sexual act, though short-lived, has the value of reminding the believers of the more durable and more perfect enjoyment that awaits them in Paradise. The experience should enhance their zeal to comply with divine teachings.
So the practice of marriage is the way to remove evil and protect against shameful failure.
To try to suppress the sexual urge by other means, such as fasting, may succeed in preventing the eyes from looking at forbidden scenes and keeping the sexual organs away from committing heinous abominations; but there is no way of freeing the heart from engaging in meanest thoughts, pondering and dreaming of acts it craves for, even during the hallowed time of the performance of prayers.
A person of any degree of respectability would never dare to speak openly of such mean thoughts to any creature, but he has no control over his mind to prevent it from roaming into these thoughts when he is addressing his Creator in prayers! Some cannot afford to do without women.
Some also say that two-thirds of man’s wisdom is lost when his male organ becomes erect. Al-Junaid, one of the major founders of the Sufi movement, used to say, “The sexual act is as important to me as food.”
And thus, a wife is food for the man and a measure for purifying his heat.
Therefore, the Prophet (peace be upon him) commanded that whenever a man sees a woman and feels attracted to her, he should go and release his urge with his own wife in order to remove the evil thoughts from his mind. The Prophet sometimes added, “His wife surely can offer as much as this woman does.” He also forbade visiting women when husbands are away.
It is related that Ibn `Abbas, a cousin of the Prophet, once noticed a youth staying behind after a lecture he had given, when the other members of the audience had gone. When Ibn `Abbas asked him about his problem, the reluctant youth complained that when he was overwhelmed by sexual excitement, he released himself by performing masturbation. Ibn `Abbas was horrified and condemned the act, but said that the practice was less abominable than fornication.
It was because of fear of the danger which might arise from an unfulfilled sexual urge that the early Muslims did not hesitate to rush to new marriage once they became widowed. Imam `Ali, cousin and son-in-law of the Prophet, remarried on the seventh day of the death of his wife Fatimah.
3- A Healthy Relaxation
In marriage, there is comfort to the soul, there is beauty to look at, there is company, and there is play and joking and relaxation, all of which relieve the heart from its burdens and make the mind better able to concentrate during prayers and worship.
To be always serious and deprive the soul of its joy is boring to the heart and could blind it. Relaxing through the company of the spouse is healthy; and that is why the Qur’an describes the spouse as a source of mutual comfort. It is said that it is wise to divide one’s time over three types of activities: worshiping the Lord, self-examination and entertainment of the heart.
The Prophet (peace be upon him,) used to say, “Two worldly things have been made beloved to me: women and perfume; but the light of my eye is in prayers.” (Ahmad and An-Nasa’i)
It is related that Al-Asma`i, an ancient Arab philologist, once encountered a beautiful Bedouin woman in the desert wearing a red dress and holding worry beads in her beautifully henna-dyed hand.
Al-Asma`i remarked, “What a contrast!” meaning that the worry beads, a sign of deep religious devotion, and the henna dye in the hands, a popular cosmetic practice, did not go together. The beautiful righteous woman retorted poetically,
“There is in me a devotion to God which I cannot neglect; but there must also be room for my heart and for my pleasure.”
4- A Comfortable Home
Marriage, moreover, provides cooperation in the household and greatly relieves one from worries.
Spouses cooperate in the management of the house, in its upkeep, in cooking and washing, and so forth. And thus, there will be more time for worship and seeking knowledge, and a climate conducive to concentration. It is, therefore, said that a righteous wife is not a worldly asset only; she is a sure way to success on the Day of Judgment.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) says:
“Seek to have a grateful heart, a sweet tongue and a believing, righteous wife who would help you in your endeavor to success on the Last Day.” (Ibn Majah)
He also says:
“Nothing is of more benefit to the believer after Taqwa of Allah than a righteous wife whom, if he commands her she obeys him, if he looks at her he is pleased, if he swears an oath concerning her she fulfills it, and when he is away from her she is sincere towards him with regard to herself and his wealth.” (Ibn Majah)
In another hadith, he said:
“This world is but provisions, and there is no provision in this world better than a righteous wife.” (Abu Dawud and Al-Hakim)
5- Social Importance
Finally, by adding responsibilities upon the individual, marriage enhances his status in society and gives him an opportunity for training in bearing the hardships of life.
Living with a spouse, a person of different inclinations and background, trains one in accommodating oneself to new experiences; each party helps the other in the exercise of the virtues of patience and forbearance.
The responsibility of rearing children and the need to earn for their living are added meritorious aspect arising from marriage. Listen to the Prophet when he says:
“A man will be rewarded for what he spends on his wife, even for putting a morsel of food into her mouth.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
He also says:
“Whoever performs his prayers correctly, and spends on his children in spite of his modest means, and does not speak ill against others, will be in Paradise as close to me as these (two fingers of mine).”
He also says:
“Whosoever is given three daughters and spends on them and treats them well . . . surely God will reward him in Paradise.” (Abu Dawud and At-Tirmidhi)
The article is an excerpt from Marriage in Islam by Muhammad Abdul-Rauf, Ph.D. Fifth printing 1993, published by Al-Saadawi Publications, P.O. Box 4059, Alexandria, VA, U.S.A. 22303.