Women, Marriage and Family
A-úthú billáhi minash shaytánir rajím. Bismilláhir Rahmánir Rahím!
“O mankind, Fear your Lord Who created you from a single soul and out of it created its mate; and out of the two has spread a multitude of men and women. Fear Allah in Whose name you demand your mutual rights, and head the ties of kinship, Surely Allah is ever watchful over you.” (4/1)
This verse is from Surat An-Nisa which means Women in Arabic. In part, it deals with women, orphans, marriage and family rights. Its very title should be enough to show the noble position Islam has reserved for women.
This verse expresses simply and forcefully the Islamic standpoint on the status of women and the mutual rights and duties of the two sexes. First of all, Allah makes it clear that both men and women have been created in the same manner and their destinies are inter-related, as if they are the two parts of a single body.
Both male and female have been created of a single soul, and then, that single soul was molded into two shapes, but there is no conflict or hostility between them.
In life’s journey, man has been provided with a partner from his own species, whose role is complementary and who is like a part of his body. The entire human race originates from this pair. Allah blessed their union, love and companionship with great abundance so that those who were two multiplied into so many millions, so that no one can tell how many have been borne into the world.
The verse says,
“Fear Allah through Whom you demand your mutual rights and in whose name you lay your claim on one another “.
All our mutual rights are referred to Allah. We are His creatures. His will is the standard and measure of Good. Our duties are measured by our conformity with His will.
Our mutual rights and duties arise out of His Law, the sense of Right that is planted in us by Him.
In the human race no one is sufficient unto himself. We are all dependent on one another. Every one is at once the receiver and the giver; not that the receivers are on one side and the givers are at the opposite.
Every one is linked in the mesh of rights and duties; in the network of civilized life each stands in need of others.
Without a woman, no man can accomplish his natural role and his journey in a pleasant and comfortable manner. Likewise, no virtuous woman can lead a happy and content life without a life partner.
Allah, the Creator has made them dependent on each other so that without one another the life of each must remain incomplete
Again, it is proclaimed that it is Allah in whose name we should demand our rights of one another. The Islamic society is founded upon belief in God, in His power, Majesty and Oneness. The partnership between a Muslim man and a Muslim woman becomes legitimate in the name of Allah.
It is the name of Allah that makes strangers relatives and distant ones near ones.
The bond between man and wife is a bond of faith and love, and in its depth, intimacy and naturalness, it is absolutely unique.
All this is the miracle of the name of Allah. A new world is born by invoking His name. A Muslim man and a Muslim woman cannot mix freely with one another; some times they cannot even travel together, until the name of Allah comes to dwell between them and the sacred tie is made.
In its magnificent and unique style, the Quran has represented the basic reality of human society, the interdependence of its members, their co-relation and mutuality, in the few simple words:
” through Whom you demand your mutual rights “
It, then, proceeds to urge us to be careful of our duty to Allah in Whose name we make the unlawful lawful, and bring about revolution in our lives. The Quran has used another matchless expression, also, to describe the profound relationship between husband and wife. It says:
” They are raiment (clothing or garments) for you and you are raiment for them”. (2/187)
It is the Quran alone that could use the word ” raiment” in this context. Men and women are each other’s garments.
The commentators comment that “they are for mutual support, mutual comfort, and mutual protection.” Support goes much further than material or physical support and protection. It is the love for each other expressed in words of encouragement, caring, understanding, feeling responsible for and having a deep respect for each other’s person, ideas and beliefs.
Support is a mutual expression of love, and has no pre-conditions other than that it should subscribe to the Islamic Shariah.
Sad to say, sometimes we support or withhold our support as a means of rewarding or punishing our family.
Can you imagine a man suddenly falling out of love with his wife because the food she made for him was bit salty or too hot for him, or because she did not iron his shirt properly. Can you imagine a man wanting to divorce his wife because his shirt was not ironed properly. Support must have the effect of helping our partner gain fulfillment in the special gifts or interests, which Allah has given her or him
Clothing is also essential for warmth, for concealment and hiding nakedness and as an adornment of life . The verse conveys every thing that can be said concerning the relationship of love, faith and trust between man and wife. In Islam, matrimony or marriage is not regarded as a necessity but given the status of an act of worship, which brings a man closer to God.
The concept of marriage is not based on biological or social necessity without which the enjoyment of life is not complete, but it is religious. The Prophet, gave the greatest example of it in his own life. He said:
“The best among you is he who is good to his family, and, among you, I am the best for my family. “
If you study the life of the Prophet, you will be struck by the examples of his respect for women. His regard for women and his sentiments are not to be found in the lives of greatest champions of women rights, nor in the lives of the most notable holy men and reformers. He was kind to his wives. He did his best to please them and make them happy. He shared with them their legitimate recreational activities.
He was also kind and affectionate with children that he would even cut short his prayer, so dear to his heart, if he heard a child crying. Nothing could have been more precious to him than Salah, yet, he would say: ” some times I would like to prolong my Salah, but I hear a child crying and shorten the service, thinking that its mother would be restless.”
These are the examples we have before us. Allah urges us to protect the dignity of His name we have brought in, not merely using it to our advantage. This commandment is for both men and women.
We are living in a western society. We have not only to introduce the tenets of Islam to our non-Muslim neighbours, but also to present before them living models of the Islamic family-system. Undoubtedly, Western civilization is rapidly on the decline. One of the foremost causes of this is the disintegration of the family.
Love and trust, which are cornerstones of married life, are yielding to selfishness and sensuality. Some of the statistics and studies undertaken by western academic, social and religious institutions say much about the miserable situation of the western family in general, and the British family in particular.
There ought to be love and sympathy on both sides, husband and wife, for in that alone lies true happiness. Even poverty and starvation can be tolerated where there is love and the willingness to enter into and share the feelings of one another. There are, even now, many families in the East which do not have enough to eat and yet live happily because there is mutual love and loyal companionship. Here, in the West there is every thing – wealth, scientific innovation, and materialistic advancement – but many hearts are devoid of peace and contentment.
Modern man is equipped with power, but lacking in vision.
The conqueror of solar radiation cannot brighten his own destiny.
The traveler to the moon – can not explore the world of his own ideas and make his home a place of happiness and tranquillity.
Those of you who have been here for some time must be aware of this distressing aspect of life in this society, so I need not say more.
The verse that I have quoted explains the fundamental truth that human society is based upon interdependence and respect for each other’s rights and needs. Islam seeks to strengthen our awareness of this basic truth. We should feel grateful to the person through whom the needs are fulfilled.
May Allah guide us to the straight path and enable us to follow the examples set by the Prophet, sws. May Alláh help us to present the real pattern of Islamic life and social conduct. Our living example must appeal to the non Muslims who have gone weary of western family life. We must encourage them to think over and examine closely the social commandment of Islam. In this way we may be able to render a valuable service to this country and to Islam.
“Our Lord Grant unto us wives and offspring who will be the comfort of our eyes, and give us the grace to lead the righteous.”
[du’á in Arabic]
Ameen! Aqeemus Salaah!