Fiqh of Pre-marriage
The Fiqh of Pre-Marriage: Designed for “Youth” and Parents
Class taught by Shaikh Jamaal Zarabozo (www.jamaalzarabozo.com)
Planned topics include:
Is marriage obligatory?
Whom one is allowed to marry (marriage with non-Muslims).
The ramifications of zinaa (illegal sexual intercourse).
Age of marriage and delaying marriage.
What to Look for in a Spouse.
Relations with the opposite sex, being in seclusion, speech.
Dating, internet dating, “Speed-dating” etc.
The role of the wali, obstacles to marriage; removal of the wali if necessary.
Rules of engagement.
Recommended Text: None
Time: Sundays 4:00-5:15 PM PDT (from Feb. 26, 4:15-5:30; March 11 TBA)
Winter 2012: January 8 - March 11, 2012
2012-01-08 Class Notes
Happiest people. Why are Danish the happiest people? Danish are the happiest because they have the lowest expectations. So if you have low expectations then, you’re not disappointed.
Marriage is a reality
Marriage is a reality. Many people, before they get married, they think of marriage as a fantasy. Especially true on the women side. Probably about ⅓ of the marriages that Sheikh knows about, after marriage, the husband is usually very happy and the woman is crying. This is very typical. This happens in about 90% of cases Sheikh knows about. Man can’t understand why the lady is crying. Has to do with the expectations.
Men and women have different goals/ideas about marriage
When they enter into the marriage, women have a very different idea and men also have a very different goal/idea of what they’re getting out of marriage. Marriage is not a fantasy, it is part of this world. The nature of this world is there is ibtila, struggle/toil.
There is no such thing as a fairytale marriage
We can even see that in the example of the Prophet (saw), so the Prophet (saw), we know the grandeur of his character and still at times he had differences with his wife. They had differences of view about this dunya and what they wanted from this dunya and what the Prophet (saw) was providing for them. If there’s anyone who’d have a fairytale marriage it would be Prophet (saw) but if that was the case, he would not be a good role model for mankind, wallahu alam that’s why Allah has made him have problems so that he’s a role model for the whole mankind.
Ayesha (r.a) was one of the most beloved persons to the Prophet (s.a.w.)
This does not mean that marriage cannot be wonderful/beautiful, infact if it is done properly, it’s supposed to be very beautiful for both husband and the wife. And that will be accomplished inshaAllah. Even in the case of Rasul, even though there were complications, issues of gheerah (feeling of honor/jealousy and it is good quality as long as not taken to extreme), this does not mean he did not have a happy relationship. Infact the Prophet (saw) made it clear that he loved Aishah (ra) and they had an excellent relationship.
How does Quran describe marriage?
We’ll be covering inshaAllah issues that people need to be aware of even before they get started with the marriage process. We’re going to touch first on how marriage is discussed in quran and how Allah gives the picture of husband/wives in Quran. One of the important verses we see in the quran, Allah (swt) points to the relationship b/w the husband and wives, as one of the signs of his greatness in fact one of the signs of Tahweed. Verse from Surah Rum.
Surah Rum 30:21
And of His signs is that He created for you from yourselves mates that you may find tranquillity in them; and He placed between you affection and mercy. Indeed in that are signs for a people who give thought.
So Allah (swt) is pointing to the relationship b/w husband and wife as one of his signs (min ayatihi). He’s created this other creation coming from the same source, coming from man. As Allah (swt) in Surah Nisa’.
There are many signs in this verse. In this verse Allah(swt) is reminding us that he created man from a single soul and from that soul he created his wife and the mankind..
Surah Nisa’ 4:1
O mankind, fear your Lord, who created you from one soul and created from it its mate and dispersed from both of them many men and women. And fear Allah, through whom you ask one another, and the wombs. Indeed Allah is ever, over you, an Observer.
Even modern society now agrees about many differences between men and women
Men and women are very different. From the same soul, two beings unique and distinct beings are created. Every society recognizes this. regardless of how much the feminist movement tries, there are still books like “Men are from mars...” “why men don’t ask for directions”....virtually there are every kind of differences b/w men and women.
Spouse have been made as source of comfort and tranquility for each other
And yet, Allah has made the other one the source of comfort and tranquility even though they are so different. The spouse has been made for the purpose, male for the female and vice versa is actually to bring comfort and tranquility. Not to fight but to bring comfort and tranquility. And with that comfort/tranquility, with that feeling comes Muwaddah and Rahmah. It’s from this feeling, “wa ja’ala bainakum muhabbataun wa rahmah”. This is indeed a sign for those people who would reflect.
Loving and merciful relationship should be the norm and not the exception
There’s also something that is very clear, the relationship b/w husband and wife, the norm, the way it’s supposed to be, it’s supposed to be a relationship of tranquility and love and mercy. That is something that is very clear in this verse. Allah swt does not point to this sign, unless it was norm and how it’s supposed to exist. If Allah was pointing to the exception, it would not make any sense. The reality is, this is what exists and this is how it should be, that’s what Allah is trying to point out. And if it is not there, from the shariah point of view that there’s room for improvement in that marriage relationship, something not quite correct and sound. When you study the fiqh of marriage, you get a very dry legalize study of marriage. Here’s the right of the husband and here’s the right of his wife....Sh was giving a lecture about marriage, he was going to start with the rights of the wives...and one brother objected saying start with rights of the husbands since we never get to it.
People don’t think of rights and obligations. This is one of the problems today in society that people think only of rights but not responsibility. There’s a bigger picture here, it’s not about the rights of spouses, those rights that Allah has instituted for us that guidance for family structure are the means to the goal of bringing love and mercy to their spouses.
Surah Al Araf 7:189
It is He who created you from one soul and created from it its mate that he might dwell in security with her. And when he covers her, she carries a light burden and continues therein. And when it becomes heavy, they both invoke Allah , their Lord, "If You should give us a good [child], we will surely be among the grateful."
Love and mercy arises from the feeling of tranquility
Talking about the creation of Adam/Hawwa and Allah created the spouse for him. That is why Allah explains that this is why He created Eve for Adam. From the get go, the main picture we see of this institution of marriage is that of tranquility, love and mercy. And this is the true love, as the mufassireen highlight this fact. The real love and the mercy comes as a result of tranquility and mercy they have towards each other. We’re going to talk later about what to look for in the spouses. One of the major problems we have is this idea of romantic love and that should exist before marriage.
How husband should treat his wife?
O you who have believed, it is not lawful for you to inherit women by compulsion. And do not make difficulties for them in order to take [back] part of what you gave them unless they commit a clear immorality. And live with them in kindness. For if you dislike them - perhaps you dislike a thing and Allah makes therein much good.
In other places where Allah talks about the relationship b/w husband and wife, “and treat your wives in a goodly manner”, al-ma’ruf. Al-Ma’ruf is a term we see a lot in the Quran. It’s not just something considered “acceptable” from society point of view, but it’s by definition “good”. which all societies should recognize as good. Allah (swt) is telling us to treat our wives with ma’ruf.
What should husband do when he is upset with his wife?
You have to realize, relationship is very close and so emotions get involved. The husband may not realize the good that is in his spouse. That’s why Allah is reminding the husband that if you dislike something there may be something that you like more in her.
Unsuccessful marriages is a reality
And even if the marriage is not working out very well. Islam is meant for reality, and marriage is reality and Islam is meant for this reality as well. So Allah has given guidance about this reality. Some of the religions before like Christianity, go against the nature of this realty. That’s why you find Roman Catholic church, you’d see that it looks down on marriage, and look down on the relationship b/w husband and wife. Vast majority of catholic church doesn’t believe in divorce until recently.
“Keep them in a good manner or you let them go in a good manner”
AlHamdulillah for Islam. One of the things is that even when the situation is not going very well, the relationship b/w the husband and wife has to be based on good principles. Allah (swt) says about divorce in Surah Baqarah:231. Allah (swt), used the same word “maruf” for keeping or letting them go. Used the same words in surah Talaq. Relationship b/w husband and wife always has to be based on the principles and guidance of Quran and Sunnah even when things are bad.
Surah Baqarah 2:231
And when you divorce women and they have [nearly] fulfilled their term, either retain them according to acceptable terms or release them according to acceptable terms, and do not keep them, intending harm, to transgress [against them]. And whoever does that has certainly wronged himself. And do not take the verses of Allah in jest. And remember the favor of Allah upon you and what has been revealed to you of the Book and wisdom by which He instructs you. And fear Allah and know that Allah is Knowing of all things.
Surah At Talaq 65:2
And when they have [nearly] fulfilled their term, either retain them according to acceptable terms or part with them according to acceptable terms. And bring to witness two just men from among you and establish the testimony for [the acceptance of] Allah . That is instructed to whoever should believe in Allah and the Last day. And whoever fears Allah - He will make for him a way out
“The best among you is the one who is best to his wife”
" خَيْرُكُمْ خَيْرُكُمْ لأَهْلِهِ وَأَنَا خَيْرُكُمْ لأَهْلِي "
The Prophet (SAWS) said the best of you is the best to his family and I am the best to my family. In this context “ahlihi” probably means best to his wife.
When a person is good in marriage, this is a sign of the outstanding personality of that individual.
It is easy to be nice to people for a short period of time, for example when you meet them in masjid. But the one who sees you during the worst of time, is your spouse. They have their own needs and if you can be good to them when you are in stressful times then you can be good in the best of times. If you can be good and excellent to your wife, this is a sign that you’ll be good and excellent all the time.
How you behave towards your spouse is one of the judge of your Islamic behavior
One way of judging your overall Islamic behavior, is to look at how you behave towards your spouse. If you’re good to your spouse, that will permeate in all your actions. This is really going to be the sign of how you’re behaving overall. Allah (swt) has taken this institution of marriage and made it clear, in general, the best amongst human beings also marry.
All of the prophets were married except Prophet Isa
As Allah says about messengers, Ra’d:38. All of the Prophet before Muhammad (saw) except Isa got married. and the Prophet made it a point that it is not part of taqwa that you avoid marriage, It’s in fact the opposite.
Surah Ra’d 13:38
And We have already sent messengers before you and assigned to them wives and descendants. And it was not for a messenger to come with a sign except by permission of Allah . For every term is a decree.
You cannot avoid marriage
1401 وحدثني أبو بكر بن نافع العبدي حدثنا بهز حدثنا حماد بن سلمة عن ثابت عن أنس أن نفرا من أصحاب النبيصلى الله عليه وسلم سألوا أزواج النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم عن عمله في السر فقال بعضهم لا أتزوج النساء وقال بعضهم لا آكل اللحم وقال بعضهم لا أنام على فراش فحمد الله وأثنى عليه فقال ما بال أقوام قالوا كذا وكذا لكني أصلي وأنام وأصوم وأفطر وأتزوج النساء فمن رغب عن سنتي فليس مني
I’m sure we’re all familiar with the hadeeth of some people who came to the wives of the Prophet (saw) and said they’re deficient in their worship and one of them said, he would never marry and they would think that that would get them closer to Allah. and the Prophet (saw) said, “By Allah I fear Allah the most and I have the most Taqwa”. And amongst that he said, “I get married to women and whoever turns away from my sunnah is not from me”.
One of the goals (Maqasid) of shariah is to preserve and protect the institute of marriage
In fact the ulema of usool, they all agree, preserving/instituting, protecting and safeguarding and making it stronger, all agree one of the goals/ maqasids of Shariah. And actually this goal of the shariah even takes precedence over Aql and Maal (wealth and intellect) as a goal of shariah. It protects individual from some of the greatest crime.
Sexual deviancy is an evil that society should avoid
We’re unfortunately living in a time where fornication and sexual deviations are not considered evil or wrong even though the shariah considers some of the greatest wrong you can commit. The punishment of zina or even the punishment of accusing someone of zina is one of the harshest punishment, since that is one of the way of preserving the shariah.
Taking steps towards marriage is an important step towards protecting the shariah
So when a person takes steps towards marriage, he’s taking steps towards this very important institution of shariah. It’s very important for everyone before they get married and even if someone is already married if they have not realized the importance of this institution and they have not given the proper priority in their hearts and mind, it’s time for them to change and realize what a great and important institution this is.
Intention should drive your steps towards marriage
They should realize what it is they’re working towards those who are thinking of getting married and one of the most important thing they should keep in mind is to go towards marriage and get married and if they have problems, deal with the problems in the proper manner. So you have to have good intention and you should make sure you’re following the proper steps, and after marriage, you need to ensure you follow the proper steps after marriage.
Your household belongs to Allah swt and what you do there should be within the bounds of Allah swt
You could visit some communities in US, 20 years back, all of them are converts to Islam. And they’d be coming with a lot of baggage from before. One misconception they had, the man thinks that his house is his castle and he can do whatever he wants. But that’s wrong and he should realize that whatever is done within the house is by accordance to the Will of Allah (swt).
You should try to seek good barakah, a good spouse
Make sure it starts out in proper way and inshaAllah you have a good intention. Because you’ve to realize what you’re seeking. you’re actually seeking a barakah from Allah (swt), a good spouse. If you look at some of the text from Prophet (Saw), you’d realize that a good spouse is a great blessing to have.
“Four sources of happiness in this dunya”
(حديث مرفوع) حَدَّثَنَا عَبْدُ اللَّهِ , نا الْحَسَنُ بْنُ عَلَوِيَّةَ الْقَطَّانُ , نا مُحَمَّدُ بْنُ عَبْدِ الْعَزِيزِ بْنِ أَبِي رِزْمَةَ الْخُرَاسَانِيُّ , نا الْفَضْلُ بْنُ مُوسَى , عَنْ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ بْنِ سَعِيدٍ , عَنْ إِسْمَاعِيلَ بْنِ مُحَمَّدٍ , عَنْ أَبِيهِ , عَنْ جَدِّهِ يَعْنِي سَعْدًا , قَالَ : قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ : " أَرْبَعَةٌ مِنَ السَّعَادَةِ : الْمَرْأَةُ الصَّالِحَةُ وَالْمَسْكَنُ الْوَاسِعُ وَالْجَارُ الصَّالِحُ وَالْمَرْكَبُ الْهَنِئُ , وَأَرْبَعَةٌ مِنَ الشَّقَاءِ : الْمَرْأَةُ السُّوءُ وَالْجَارُ السُّوءُ وَالْمَسْكَنُ الضَّيِّقُ وَالْمَرْكَبُ السُّوءُ "
Prophet (saw) said, “There are four sources of happiness in this dunya (make life easier in this dunya), one is a Pious or good wife. 2) A spacious house, 3) Pious neighbor, 4) good means of transportation”
Four source of unhappiness
Then there are four sources of unhappiness, 1) Evil Wife 2) Evil Neighbor 3) Cramped House 4) Evil means of transportation”
An evil wife could make your life miserable. So when you are thinking about seeking a wife, you should consider one who is good, then it is a blessing from Allah swt.
1467 حدثني محمد بن عبد الله بن نمير الهمداني حدثنا عبد الله بن يزيد حدثنا حيوة أخبرني شرحبيل بن شريك أنه سمع أبا عبد الرحمن الحبلي يحدث عن عبد الله بن عمرو أن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم قال الدنيا متاع وخير متاع الدنيا المرأة الصالحة
Prophet saws also said: Everything in this world is a commodity, the best in this dunya is a good pious wife. It is better than all of the other sources of enjoyment in this world.
Prophet saws told Muaadh, a thankful heart, a tongue that remembers Allah, a pious wife who would help you in this world and akhira is better than anything else in this world.
When both partners are good, then you become a team and help one another become better. This is what you should try to seek when you are looking for a spouse. And that is the reason why you should have proper intention and follow the proper steps. Then Allah swt would bless you.
(حديث مرفوع) مَنْ تَزَوَّجَ فَقَدْ أَحْرَزَ نِصْفَ دِينِهِ ، فَلْيَتَّقِ اللَّهَ فِي النِّصْفِ الآخَرِ.
Prophet (saws) also has given us the importance of marriage. Whoever has married has completed half his Deen and let him have taqwa in the remaining half.
In explaining this hadith, scholars said that opposite sex could be a fitna, and if you remove this fitna, then half of your faith is protected.
So you have to start properly and have good intention. Unfortunately people start good but then emotions take over.
There have been many cases of brothers who get involved in Islamic activity, and then they get to a point when they are getting ready to marry. And he wants to marry for the sake of Allah swt and to preserve the institute of marriage. So he starts good.
In England, we have lots of immigrant Muslim communities, and you have generation gap. Shaikh found many cases and that is why he is singling it out. The immigrant community there were laborers or workers and not that educated, so there is difference in the immigrant community there compared to the US. Sometimes the student has better understanding of Islam, and their parents has a cultural understanding of Islam. Child is attracted at an intellectual level more than their parents.
Now let us say that this youth is involved in MSA where the genders meet. Some say MSA stands for matrimonial students’ association.
What happens is that many students meet up with members of the other gender at the MSA. And they are on the same path; they become emotional. Then they take it to generation gap parents. And they don’t like the shade of colour or doesn’t speak that or this language. In some ways it is good to marry from your own culture. Or they are not within certain distance of a city.
Or even that there is a particular order or marriage of siblings. In many times in these kinds of cases, they make the ijtihaad that the objections of the father, etc are not valid and he is not acting as a wali.
Could there be a case where the wali could create obstacles for your marriage? This could happen and we will discuss it later.
So in many cases they decide that this man is not qualified to be a wali. They are overcome with emotions and they are at the point where they have to get married. And it becomes an overriding goal. So the brother chooses one of the friends and says why don’t you be the wali. Is this allowed?
What can happen is that the goal of getting married becomes overriding and the actual goals of marriage get lost. This happens a lot. Someone starts out with good intentions, then people become emotional and they lose sight of their goals. For example, this is true regarding Groups and Jamats. In the end even for sincere Muslims their “Group” becomes the goal. One will even attack another Muslim for the sake of his “Group”, unfortunately.
So it is important to follow all the guidance of the Shari’ah and you have to make sure that all of these things are done properly according to the Shari’ah. You check yourself to make sure your intention is still sincere. This has to continue after you’re married. Then you will be able to raise marriage from a mundane act of this dunya to an act of worship.
Question and Answer session
A: Sometimes there are clearer differences between spouses about Imaan. You have to be careful if the differences start to affect your Iman, regardless of how it started. When staying in the relationship starts to hurt your deen, then you should seriously start to think. For worldly matters, then you might try to reconcile, and if it is not hurting your deen.
2012-01-15 Class Notes
Class cancelled as Shaikh Jamaal is not feeling well. Please make dua for him.
2012-01-22 Class Notes
There are number of points that we will discuss that will also benefit those who are married. And may Allah swt make your marriage stronger, Insha-allah.
One very important question that you should think about is what marriage mean to you? What is its goal and purpose? What do you expect from it?
Before we discuss the Islamic benefits we will discuss a posting on the Internet about “What marriage means to your?”
Kamal Al Sharawi is a counsellor who visits MCA and he does marriage counselling for 30 years. He wrote, one of the ..... attitude indicates behaviour. A negative attitude leads to break down of marriage.
What does marriage mean to you?
These are answers of non-Muslims: Commitment, being a slave to a guy and he owns you, Pain and hurt, Lifelong commitment between man and woman, a living commitment with the support of the family, end of freedom, end of orginality, end of religion, a piece of paper, end of extra income.
Your attitude affects how you act.
One of the aspects that we mentioned earlier, a pious spouse is a blessing from Allah swt (see notes of lecture from Jan 8th). It does not have to be painful or torterous. It should be a relationship of sakinah, love and comfort, and .....
It should be beneficial and good thing. And if you approach it with a positve attitute, it should benefit us.
Our understanding of marriage should be united. Shariah has explained to us what is marriage, what is our goal of marriage, and the spouses should have a unified vision of what is marriage.
What is the definition of marriage?
A definition from a student of the class: A legal union between a man and a woman that is sanctioned by the shariah.
Nikkah and Zawaj (two words used in the Shariah). Nikkah: bringing together, putting one part to another part to make a whole. Even the word that the shariah uses (sanctioned by the shariah) has that understanding and meaning of bringing the two together.
Originally it has the idea of bringing and uniting two together. Also the word, zawwaja/tazweej, pairing a thing with a thing making it united and simiiar to each other.
It is the matter of bringing two things together and making them as one unit. Giving us the meaning of togetherness.
Shariah definition of marriage
Every book of fiqh is going to give you a shariah definition. In general, shariah definition are legalize. a typical definition of marriage in books of fiqh, “A contract that results in two parties physically enjoying each other in a matter allowed by the shariah.”
Abu Zahra’s definition of marriage
Abu Zahra (died last century), real understanding of marriage goes beyond that what is defined in a legal defintion, he defines that, “It is a contract that results with a man and a woman living together and supporting each other within the limits of what has been laid down for them on rights and obligations.”
Ibn Uthaymien’s defintion of marriage
Ibn Uthaymien, comprehensive view, “Mutual contract between a man and a woman whose goal is for each to enjoy one another and to become a pious family in a sound society.” His defintion includes what are the goals and purposes of the marriage.
What are some of the purposes and goals of marriage according to the Shariah?
We’re talking about the ones defined by the Shariah. In reality, what marriage is all about from shariah perspective.
If they enter the marriage with two different goals, then it is going to be problematic. And if from the beginning if they understand what is marriage and act upon it, then the result will be different.
One of the purposes of marriage is procreation, which is the continuation of the human species. Allah swt has made continuation of human species contingent upon the physical contact between man and woman.
Of course you do not need marriage for procreation, but we are talking about what the shariah allows. Not every procreation is allowed by the shariah.
The evidence for it can be found in the hadith of the Prophet saws.
Prophet said, marriage is part of my sunnah and whoever does not follow my sunnah is not from me. So get married and I would boast of it in on the day of judgement ........
Goal of marriage is to increase the muslim ummah and to perpetuate the muslim. And prophet would be able to boast about it on the day of judgement about his ummah.
The goal is not simply to have children. There is difference between quality and quantity. When Zachariah was making a dua for his inheritors, he asked from Allah, pious and sound children. He asked for good children.
At that, Zechariah called upon his Lord, saying, "My Lord, grant me from Yourself a good offspring. Indeed, You are the Hearer of supplication."
The question is not just children but we want pious children. We want our next generation to be good muslims. And we want to have the next generation of good Muslims. Just procreating is not sufficient, but with children who are pious and pleasing allah swt and making a difference in the humanity.
The burden is upon the husband and the wife. Majority of the burden is on the wife. How are you going to raise your children that are sound and pious?
This brings up a topic that we might discuss later, which is of birth control. Is it permissible in Islam to limit the number of children that you have. Remember the goal is not to just have children but pious children.
Guidance is in the hand of Allah swt, but we have to follow the asbaab. It is not just financial constraints, but it is also your time commitment. You should not have a determined number in mind as your goal when you think of marriage. But the end result would be .......
Children do add to the family. So from the beginning to say that we do not want any children is not good. Neither is to say that you plan to have some specific number in mind.
Genetic issue is something that is different and we will discuss that birth control is between that is permissible and that which is makrooh. These questions will come later in the course.
One of the other goals of marriage in Islam is the physical pleasure between husband and wife.
Those you who are familiar with Christianity, for many years the only reason for physical pleasure was only for procreation. And they considered it to be guilt with any kind of sexual pleasure. They considered it to be a necessary evil. This was an extreme And then in the 60s, sex was only for sexual pleasure, which is another extreme. So they moved between two extremes.
Satisfying the physical pleasure is allowed in Islam. It is natural for human beings to attracted to the opposite sex.
In a verse, Allah swt says ...
It is clear from this verse (3:14).
زُيِّنَ لِلنَّاسِ حُبُّ الشَّهَوَاتِ مِنَ النِّسَاءِ
Beautified for people is the love of that which they desire - of women
When prophet spoke about marriage, he said, whoever has the means should get married. Marriage lowers the gaze and protects the private parts.
So the hadith says that there is a need for physical pleasure and the marriage protects it.
Prophet said that if a person does not have means, then he should fast. Because fasting protects against these urges. And he has to find the ways to curb these urges. There are no alternatives out of the way that shariah allows for satisfying these urges.
Part of the goal is to make yourself chaste and to provide .... And then this person will have help from Allah swt.
Hadith: There are three individuals who have right upon Allah swt and he will ..... one of them is the one who is seeking a pious spouse.
If your goal is to satisfy your urge that is in the manner provided by the Shariah. Then Allah swt will consider it as an act of ibadah even when you satisfy your urge in a manner that is permissible.
Prophet describe have sexual relationship with your spouse as sadaqah or charity that would be rewarded. The sahaba were surprised when they heard it. They could understand other acts of sadaqah, so they asked the prophet that even if one is going to fulfill his desires and it will be considered sadaqah. The prophet replied that if satisfied it in a way that is haraam then he will bear the burden for it, and if he satisfies in a manner that is halaal then he will be rewarded for it.
A wrong concept in Muslim Cultures regarding sexual relations:
In our Muslim cultures there is still an issue, there are people who look upon the sexual relationship between spouses as something un-speakable, something filthy. It is an un-Islamic practice. This is a natural urge from Allah (swt) and it needs to be dealt with in a proper Islamic manner. Lack of such relationships can lead to illnesses and consequences for society.
It is through marriage that one attains a complete maturity. In marriage, both man and woman start to feel a strong contract. This undertaking of responsibilities on the shoulder matures a person. There are many examples where brothers were very immature before marriage but after marriage they change and start to show changes towards maturity. Their attitude towards life changes and they start thinking that life is serious. With children the sense of responsibility grows even further. Being in a place of leadership and responsibility helps develop the individual a character. And bring the person closer to Allah swt. As we discussed last time, a person who gets marriage completes half of his deen. Before you did not care about it and now you are careful about your time and resources. And it helps you become a better muslim.
Another goal of marriage is to bring the husband and wife together in order to assist one another. A human being is a social animal. Society is made up of smaller structures or bricks. And these smaller structures are houses. So you need one another. We should enter a marriage contract in order to assist one another. When you enter a contract with the understanding that you are going to assist one another, then you will be aware of one another’s shortcomings and you will be there to assist them and fulfill their gaps.
There are also many psychological and physiological goals of the marriage
And of His signs is that He created for you from yourselves mates that you may find tranquillity in them; and He placed between you affection and mercy. Indeed in that are signs for a people who give thought.
He has created you from a single person and has created from him his wife.
يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ اتَّقُوا رَبَّكُمُ الَّذِي خَلَقَكُم مِّن نَّفْسٍ وَاحِدَةٍ وَخَلَقَ مِنْهَا زَوْجَهَا
If you are not married and if you enter with proper understanding, you will be strong and successful. Al-Gahazzali talks about relationship between husband and wife. He discusses it as the relaxing and destressing. It should be the case that one person that you can feel relax with is the wife. In life you have difficulties and responsibilites in life. Thus when you come back form your work you should have someone who is mercy and compassionate towards you. Human body cannot live constantly with stress, even in Ibaadath, Allah does not put stress on us, we dont have to fast every day and we dont have to pray every night. Allah knows that we can put only so much.
We need a source that is a source of comfort, relief and relaxation. The one that you can play and, have fun and laugh with, should be your wife. The Prophet (saw) would sit for example with his companion and they’d joke about the days of jahiliyya Prophet (saws) used to smile, he’d have a relaxed relationship with his friend. But in his seerah, who’s the only one in seerah who he said to, let’s race. It’s his wife Ayesha. This is the individual actually that you should have fun with. It is supposed to be the source of who you should have fun with.
Like in the hadith of Jabir (ra) where he asked why didn’t you marry some one young where you could have fun with her, you can laugh with her. There are some Ulema they describe that when they are with men they are with responsibility. It is not there job when they are with other men they are serious and when they go to their wife they are relaxed and they are having fun. This is the example set by Prophet (saw) where he had fun with his wife. Unlike, today it is not the same, when people want to have fun they go out with brothers and similarly sisters go out with other sisters to have fun but not to their spouse.
Another aspect is to form the corner stone of moral society and bringing up next generation in very sound and positive way. The marriage is also about creating next generation and it is also sadaqa jariya to leave pious children. You have to form good society and societies are made up of families. In general parents have great influence over children. It is very important to bring up the children in the situation of happiness. If this is not the case then children will be effected when they see their parents fighting.
Lastly, Marriage, It brings families together. This is conditionally on the fact that the husband and wife deal with each other properly. If this is not the case the it can be war between family.
Notes from Q & A from class:
In Shariah there are only two things: Proposal (Khitba) and Contract (Aqd). One can get out of the proposal anytime. If the proposal goes too far where the gifts were exchanged etc....then there are other fiqh issues which we will deal with in the future. It is the Aqd (Contract) where the matter becomes solid based upon the Shariah.
2012-01-29 Class Notes
On February 19, Kamaal Sharawi will be a guest lecturer (from Arizona) who is author of Tranquility ..... in Islamic Marriage. He is a counsellor for Islamic Marriages for last 20 years. His book is recommended by the Shaikh and he brings his experience when writing about the topic.
We have discussed the general concept of marriage, the goal and purpose behind marriage in Islam. Today we will discuss the ruling about marriage in Islam.
Many of the madhab discuss the default case (the Asl) and also other possible scenarios. In the Hanafi, Maliki and some of the Hanbali school, marriage could be waajib or haraam, the entire spectrum of rulings that are there in Islam.
First Case: A person is certain that he will fall into Zina (may be due to past issues, may have done it in the past, etc....) if he does not get married and at the same time he has financial ability to get married and he knows that he can treat his wife properly (i.e. according to the Islamic way).
You have to be emotionally prepared for marriage. You should be aware of your obligations. You have to know what marriage involves, before you get married.
In the first case, we have an individual who has emotional and financial capabilities to treat his wife properly. In this case the Hanafis say, if he believes that by not getting married he will fall into sin, then it is fard or obligatory for an individual to get married.
Hanbalis say it is waajib since they differ about what is fard (fard is stronger than waajib for the Hanafis). On the rest they have similar argument as Hanafis).
Second Case: A person is not worried that he will fall into sin. On the other hand, he does not have financial means to get married. There is a difference between being poor and not having means at all. If some one does not have financial means at all or if he is certain that he will commit dhulm to his wife if he gets married. Then the ruling is that it is haraam for him to get married. So such an individual has elements of Taqwa related to abstaining from Zina, but his character is lacking the elements to be a good companion (as defined in Islam) to his wife. Since there is a rule in Usul al Fiqh: Any action that leads to haraam is itself haraam. Also there is another rule: if an act which is Wajib, which requires a certain “means” to achieve the Wajib, then that particular “means” becomes Wajib as well.
For example, if you go to nightclub and it is unavoidable for you to look at women, then it is haraam for you to go to a nightclub.
It is not a question of getting everybody married off. There has to be a goal. You should not misconstrue shaikh’s arguments as being against marriage. Marriage has to be based on ....... Shariah has many goals for marriage and if it is not followed properly, then it could be an unhappy and stressful situation, or being trapped into a miserable situation.
Case Three: If he believes that he may not treat his wife properly, and he does not fear Zina then it is also Haram for him to get married.
Case Four: He knows that he will fall into Zina if he does not marry and if he marries he will not treat his wife properly (according to Islam). What should be a ruling in this case?
He has a track record for treating women improperly. In the shariah, there is usually a way out.
It is not necessary that Shariah always provide the way out. Here it is obligatory for him to first fix himself, he has to realize that there is something wrong with him, he has a disease and he needs to correct himself. The hadith says: “ Those of you who can marry should marry and if not then you should fast since fasting is a protection for you”. Neither does he have a right to commit dhulm against his wife, nor can he commit zina, it becomes obligatory for him to fast and correct himself.
Default Case: Some one has means to get married and he does not fear that he will fall into sin. In this case the marriage is Mandub (recommended) and this is Hanbali, Maliki and Hanafi opinion.
Conclusion: According to Maliikis, Hanafis Hanbalis & some shafiees, the default case for marriage is that it is sunnah or mandub (both terms are in the meaning of ‘recommended’)
Well known opinion of Shafiees is different and we will discuss it later.
One scholar, Imam Nawawi, who had means and yet did not get married. One reason why he did not get married is that he feared that he would fall into sins for fulfilling the rights of his wife. Everybody should think about this before getting married. You should think about obligations before getting married. Nawawi had this opinion is because that all of the actions done by a woman in the house (such as preparing food, taking care of household) are voluntary acts, she is not obligated to perform those actions and she does not commit any sin if she does not perform these actions.
Imam Nawawi thought it would be difficult for him to match her voluntary actions. And he might not be able to live up to his obligations towards his wife.
All of these cases that we have discussed are for a man. What about the rulings for a woman, should they be similar? She does not have financial obligations, but she does have some obligations.
Let us say that a woman is not interested in men at the present time. And she feels that she will not be able to fulfill sexual needs or rights of her husband. Then would it be haraam or makrooh for her to get married. So you can see that the same kind of principles or rulings might apply, even if the scholars might not have discussed them.
According to many of the Shafiees and some Malikis, they argue that marriage is simply mubah, it is not even mustahab or mandub.
The prophet (saws) himself was married and his clear example should raise status of marriage in the default case from mubah to more than that.
Could the default case be obligatory?
Yes according to the Dhahiris and opinion of Imam Ahmad. They say it is obligatory for every individual. They use the same verses as used by the Shafiees. They say the command is in the imperative. They also argue imperative implies obligation. And no matter how pious somebody might be, the opposite sex is such a fitnah, then the person who is not married is opening himself to a fitnah. And hence it is obligatory for them to get married.
It is true that the default of the imperative is obligatory unless there is evidence to show otherwise and proof of this is the second part of hadith: “...........if you do not have the means to get married then you should fast”. Here the means can mean lack of money or availability of the girl one wants to marry etc... So based on this conclusion: that marriage is recommended. Another proof is that many of the Sahabah (while in state of Islam) were not always married. In fact there is a Sahabiah (feeling companion) who did not marry all her life.
For the community as a whole, marriage is fard kifaayah. Marriage could be sunnah for the individual but fard for the community, why? Suppose no Muslims got married. It is due to Maqasid Shariah, preservation of Deen requires it.
Most of what has been passed down has been from the previous ulema. And they were worried about zina. But nowadays people can fall into other sins, such as pornography. Pornography is a big fitna for the youth. In days of old, you had to make an effort to fall into that sin, but nowadays it is easy to fall into this sin, and who knows what would happen in the future. The three A of pornography are: Accessibility, Affordability, Anonymity. This is one of the reasons why it is so pervasive. Is pornography equal to zina? (Note: it is much more dangerous for males than females as the male brain is more highly-tuned to it; also note that the female brain can be easily damaged by it). What if someone fears that he will fall into this sin. Note that the human brain is the number 1 sexual organ in the human body. If you corrupt your brain, especially with respect to sexual matters, it can have long-term effects. It can affect marriage in the short and long term and affect the individual outside of marriage. The ideas of sexual perversion are often a result of pornography.
Is this a case where marriage becomes obligatory for the individual? The default case conditions apply here; he has the means to get married, he does not fear harming his wife, etc.
Pornography can have the same affect as any other addiction. One of largest problems related to pornography is the “addictability” of it. Not everyone who does something is an addict, but the possibility is definitely there.
Could pornography be considered to be more dangerous than zina? Don’t take pornography lightly. If you feel that this threat is coming to you, then you better get prepared for marriage. And stay away from pornography, since it could remain with you even after you get married. In zina, it takes two to tango, but pornography is easier to commit.
Some say that pornography is not haraam, what do you say about it? There are different kinds of zina, it is zina of the eyes. You don’t need hadith or ayat from the verses. If something that is so dangerous and harmful that we do not need specific verses or ayat to stay away from it.
The stimulation and joy that you get from pornography is different from proper sexual relationship. It is not the case that a married person turns to this sin, because he is not satisfied by his wife. So getting married to a second wife is not going to solve that problem. If they have a wife and they have sexual relationships with their wife and yet get into pornography, then you can say that they have some real problems and issues.
What about the option of remaining single, is that an option for men?
If you feel that you will not fall into zina, then there is no harm to remain single. The default ruling is that marriage is sunnah, then it is not a sin if he does not get married.
“The Bachelor Scholars” (19 scholars): There are number of ulema who remained bachelors. They gave preference to knowledge over marriage. In his book, he discusses ..... They had some other goals. Marriage takes time and effort. And if you feel that ......
Bish Al-Hafi, Hunad al-Kufi (Zuhd author), Ibn Jarir at-Tabari, Abu Aliya al-farsi, az-Zamakhshari, an-Nawawi, ibn Taymiyyah, Syed Qutb.
Nothing in Shariah that obligates individual like these to get married (such as loners or people who have other goals/desires).
In general the ruling for women is the same, unless there is evidence that shows that it is not allowed for women to remain single.
The only direct evidence is the hadith from Musnad Ahmad that is considered to be weak.
Hadith: “Oh Ali there are three things that cannot be delayed, one is marrying of a single woman if someone capable is found”
We have lots of biographical dictionaries in our Islamic History books, especially works by Dhahaabi since he brings nice anecdotes. He brings examples of women who died single. he praises them for their good qualities. If some one is known to have bad qualities then he would make dua for them and us and ask Allah swt to forgive them, and yet we do not find any dua from Dhahaabi when mentions women who remained single and died single.
Examples from Dhahaabi’s biographies:
Umm Shareeq never got married. She offered herself to the Prophet (saw) for marriage. He was not interested in marrying her. She was never married for the rest of her life.
Some of the other that Dhahaabi describes are Khadija ... Malikatah bin Iskandiriyay, she was a scholar of hadith and her brother was a scholar of hadith. He describes her teachers, she died in 561 Hijri and she died as a virgin. She used to pray all night.
He describes .. maqdasiyyah. He describes how she got her knowledge.
Zaynab bin kamal al maqdasiyyah. She is pious, of excellent character .... she died in .....
There is a big difference now between Muslim culture and Islamic texts. There are many things that need to be worked on with regards to culture, especially on the sister’s side. if someone goes too long without getting married, it can cause a great deal of psychological issues. Divorced women and widowed women are in many cases treated like outcasts and are harassed in some cultures. Also, women who do not have any children. These groups are often treated very harshly by others due to cultural reasons. These kinds of things are wrong from the Shariah perspective and be especially harmful to someone.
We hope that the next generation will retain the good things of their Muslim culture and leave the bad things; focusing on the deen over all things.
When someone chooses to remain single, which is not necessarily a good choice as you are giving up something great. It doesn’t matter how close you are to a great friend; you can never match the closeness and intimacy between a husband and wife.
Marriage should be done at the proper time, in the proper manner, so that we can get the proper marriage and its effects mentioned in the Islamic texts.
We should not force someone to get married if they are not ready psychologically as it forces the person on the defensive.
The next topic that will be discussed is what is the proper age for marriage. Is there such an age in the Shariah? if you delay marriage, what are the consequences and causes behind it? What are some of the possible benefits? We want to understand from the shariah point of view when is the best time for someone to get married and delaying marriage.
2012-02-05 Class Notes
The question of delaying marriage or not getting married is conditional upon the fact that the person does not fear falling into zina or other haram acts. One of the purposes of marriage is to help people remain chaste.
One question to consider is modern Western society where we work in mixed environments. You never know when your heart might succumb to something. Especially sisters -- this is not the traditional double standard, but when someone slips it is much easier for a woman to find a man willing to do something than vice versa. Men are more willing to do the act, while it is the woman who says no. The tipping point in the act of zina is when the woman decides to go forward. If you look in the Qur’an you see that Allah (swt) mentions the male first (e.g. thief, believing person, Muslims, etc). Except in one case: the verse of zina -- the zaniatu and the zaani. Surat an Nur verse 2:
الزَّانِيَةُ وَالزَّانِي فَاجْلِدُوا كُلَّ وَاحِدٍ مِّنْهُمَا مِائَةَ جَلْدَةٍ ۖ وَلَا تَأْخُذْكُم بِهِمَا رَأْفَةٌ فِي دِينِ اللَّهِ إِن كُنتُمْ تُؤْمِنُونَ بِاللَّهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الْآخِرِ ۖ وَلْيَشْهَدْ عَذَابَهُمَا طَائِفَةٌ مِّنَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ
The [unmarried] woman or [unmarried] man found guilty of sexual intercourse - lash each one of them with a hundred lashes, and do not be taken by pity for them in the religion of Allah , if you should believe in Allah and the Last Day. And let a group of the believers witness their punishment.
No one knows when they are going to make a mistake or when they will end up in difficult situations. Deciding not to get married is an act that is not a sin. This is a natural desire. It is easy for people to slip. Usually there are many factors involved in marriage -- e.g. pleasing family. The ultimate purpose of a human being is to worship Allah (SWT), whether or not you are married.
It’s important to understand the proper shari’a perspective, not just the cultural pressure. It is not proper from a Shari’ah perspective that people should be married young.
The average age for (first) marriage there is a lot of variety. There has been a trend for it to increase. E.g. In Pakistan 1961, average age for marriage was 16, but by 1998 it was over 22. Average age for male was 22.3, by 1998 was 26.4.
In general the men get married older (Bangladesh: 28.9 for men, 18 for women). Iraq in 2007: 24.5 for men, 13 for women. In Kuwait: 32.8 for men, 15.4 for women. Malaysia (2010): 28 yrs for men, 25 for women (note: large non-Muslim population). Egypt 25.9 for men, 24 for women. Libya: Men 32 yrs, Women 29 yrs.
Cf Germany: Men 33 years, Women 30. Norway 33 for men, 31 for women. In USA in 1890 average for males 26.1, for females 22. In 1950, 22 for males, and 20.3 for women. Even within one country, you can get lots of variation. In 1958, he was 23 years old and he married his cousin he was 13 years old (not that unusual in Louisiana, but was shocking for the rest of the country).
This data shows that even within Muslim nations, there is a wide range of average age of first marriage.
Q: What are the causes for delaying marriage, and what are the benefits and costs of doing this.
- Financial reasons can make the marriage date later. Because you need money to get married and support a family. So you have to sometimes save just for the wedding.
- Education opportunities will lead to people delaying marriage in order to gain education.
- Older sibling putting it off.
- Visa issues.
- High expectations with potential spouses.
- Changes in mortality rate (formerly because you would lose children etc).
- Effects of westernization: Western notions of romantic love and pre-marital experimentation.
- Effect of Western feminist movements lead to a decrease in the value of marriage and parenthood.
- Love of the freedom of being single (probably affects women more than men).
- Medical advances in conception and being able to give birth later in life.
- Bad experience with the parents’ marriage. Children see the kind of marriage their parents have and they are not interested in that type of marriage (from a cultural perspective).
- Taken longer for men to attain the right level of maturity.
- Increased mahr (and other expenses related to getting married).
- Financial independence of each spouse -- they might enjoy their financial independence.
- Lack of possible candidates -- good quality candidates. Some of the things that may be were not discussed or considered.
- Corruption due to watching TV etc.
- The idea of beauty being corrupted by mass media, etc. Your brain is very important in terms of perception. Males have an image of the female body that are unrealistic.
- Educational opportunities for sisters - is this good or bad? Let’s assume it’s good, Islamically oriented education. A study done in Pakistan found that education increases the stature of the woman in the marriage.
Harms related to delaying marriage:
- Increased risk of zina.
- Pool of good candidates is likely to decrease.
- Harder to adjust later in life.
- Lack of chance to have children to have Ummah.
- Bigger generation gap -- may make it more difficult to interact them.
- Losing out on the health benefits of marriage.
- Not having energy to raise children.
Potential benefits resulting from delaying marriage:
- Partners are more mature.
- Chances to put people in better financial position.
- Better prepared for marriage.
- More time for da’wah and Islamic studies and career development.
- Slightly older may raise children better.
Shari’ah perspective on the proper age of marriage:
- No specific age.
- Closes thing is the hadith that says “O Shabaab. Whoever can get married should do so. And he who is incapable should fast a lot.” You look through the books of fiqh and the most common opinion is from puberty up to the age of 30 (though some opinions hold 40). Some of the books of fiqh suggest getting married between the age of 14 and 20. Some of the Maaliki books consider at what age is it considered delaying marriage -- some said 30, 35, 40, 45. Depends on the ‘urf of the people. What about Prophet (SAWS) getting married at 25? Note that this marriage formed before Islam was revealed.
What about delaying marriage for purpose of dedicating oneself for worship? Hanafis Malikis Dhaahiris consider it a form of ibaadah and that this is not a reason to delay. But Shafi’ had a different view because it’s Mubaah.
What about delaying marriage for the purposes of education/dawah? Prophet (SAWS) said that children make a person miserly, greedy, ignorant and someone who experiences pain. The point is that the person becomes busy such that he will not be able to seek knowledge.
S Bu records a narration from Umar (RA) who said “tafaqqahu qabla an tasawwadu” -- you must gain understanding of the deen before “tasawwadu” -- either becoming old, but if you look in the books of the Arabic language you generally see the meaning of tasawwud means tazawwuj. I.e. “get knowledge before getting married.” Abu ‘Ubaid said it means you should learn knowledge while you’re still young before you have children etc. Some say it’s more general.
Al-khateeb al-baghdaadi -- he said it is preferred for the student to be single as long as he can, and not to cut himself of by being busy with the rights of the wife/spouse. Ibn Al Jawzi said: the student of knowledge should put off knowledge as long as he can -- Ahmad b Hanbal did not get married until he was 40 years old. Some of them complained about what happened to seeking knowledge after getting married.
Once you have children that’s going to add to the situation.
In general they were talking about religious knowledge. There’s no question should seek the religious knowledge before they get married. More than one reason for that. Your role in the marriage are related to your knowledge of the deen. But what is the appropriate level of knowledge of deen? Also note that at that time, it was about traveling for knowledge. Marriage and traveling didn’t always mix. Makes it much more difficult. But now it’s possible for husband and wife to learn together. But children do come into the picture.
What about secular knowledge? You need a degree to get a job. Given that there is general permission for getting married at any time, why not? What about getting married before education? Can assist in protection in an environment with many inter-gender interactions.
The conclusion of this discussion is to understand the Shariah views regarding delaying marriage. Mis-conceptions of the shariah views on this issue can cause a lot of pressure to be put on people due to these cultural misconceptions. Their psychological attitude to the marriage as a result of these misunderstandings can have a negative impact on the marriage.
If you find yourself overcome by desires that you fear will cause you to do something haram, you should pursue marriage.
it is part of the beauty of the shariah that all the things that need to be fixed in humanity are fixed and those things that can be left flexible in humanity are left flexibility by the shariah. Once we start playing with these guidelines, we can cause harm to the individual and society as a whole.
The purpose of this discussion is to overcome very strong cultural biases. The more and better we understand the shariah, the better our lives and marriages will be. The purpose of this background information is to try to put us in a situation where our marriages will be the best. Think about how central our marriages are to our lives. Marriage should be an environment of sakinah and tranquility.
2012-02-12 Class Notes
Q: Last week we ended with a question on delayed marriage in which one has not found the suitor?
A: So delayed marriage can happen due to choice or could be due to circumstances. Important points for both cases:
1) Protect themselves from the sources of haraam. Avoid places and people which would harm them and make them fall into sin, they should stay away from it.
2) They are some possible benefits and harms of delaying marriage. So one should focus on the positive side and develop yourself Islamically, Knowledge-wise, grow spiritually, etc.... So delaying marriage can be good if one keeps a positive outlook and benefit from your situation (in the end final trust is in Allah (swt)).
Categories of people whom we are not allowed to marry
Today we want to talk about categories of people allowed and those not allowed to marry, consequently it tells whom we are allowed to marry. We will address it from the point of view of males, since the Qur’an discusses it this way. The transposition can be made in most of the cases to female point of view.
Basic verses about the categories of forbidden spouses are from Surah Nisaa verses 22-23:
وَلَا تَنكِحُوا مَا نَكَحَ آبَاؤُكُم مِّنَ النِّسَاءِ إِلَّا مَا قَدْ سَلَفَ ۚ إِنَّهُ كَانَ فَاحِشَةً وَمَقْتًا وَسَاءَ سَبِيلًا
And do not marry those [women] whom your fathers married, except what has already occurred. Indeed, it was an immorality and hateful [to Allah ] and was evil as a way.
حُرِّمَتْ عَلَيْكُمْ أُمَّهَاتُكُمْ وَبَنَاتُكُمْ وَأَخَوَاتُكُمْ وَعَمَّاتُكُمْ وَخَالَاتُكُمْ وَبَنَاتُ الْأَخِ وَبَنَاتُ الْأُخْتِ وَأُمَّهَاتُكُمُ اللَّاتِي أَرْضَعْنَكُمْ وَأَخَوَاتُكُم مِّنَ الرَّضَاعَةِ وَأُمَّهَاتُ نِسَائِكُمْ وَرَبَائِبُكُمُ اللَّاتِي فِي حُجُورِكُم مِّن نِّسَائِكُمُ اللَّاتِي دَخَلْتُم بِهِنَّ فَإِن لَّمْ تَكُونُوا دَخَلْتُم بِهِنَّ فَلَا جُنَاحَ عَلَيْكُمْ وَحَلَائِلُ أَبْنَائِكُمُ الَّذِينَ مِنْ أَصْلَابِكُمْ وَأَن تَجْمَعُوا بَيْنَ الْأُخْتَيْنِ إِلَّا مَا قَدْ سَلَفَ ۗ إِنَّ اللَّهَ كَانَ غَفُورًا رَّحِيمًا
Prohibited to you [for marriage] are your mothers, your daughters, your sisters, your father's sisters, your mother's sisters, your brother's daughters, your sister's daughters, your [milk] mothers who nursed you, your sisters through nursing, your wives' mothers, and your step-daughters under your guardianship [born] of your wives unto whom you have gone in. But if you have not gone in unto them, there is no sin upon you. And [also prohibited are] the wives of your sons who are from your [own] loins, and that you take [in marriage] two sisters simultaneously, except for what has already occurred. Indeed, Allah is ever Forgiving and Merciful.
The permissible spouses:
In essence this was in reference (at least the time it was revealed) where the son would inherit the wives of his father. Allah (SWT) says those things are not permissible. Then Allah (SWT) describes a number of categories.
وَالْمُحْصَنَاتُ مِنَ النِّسَاءِ إِلَّا مَا مَلَكَتْ أَيْمَانُكُمْ ۖ كِتَابَ اللَّهِ عَلَيْكُمْ ۚ وَأُحِلَّ لَكُم مَّا وَرَاءَ ذَٰلِكُمْ أَن تَبْتَغُوا بِأَمْوَالِكُم مُّحْصِنِينَ غَيْرَ مُسَافِحِينَ ۚ فَمَا اسْتَمْتَعْتُم بِهِ مِنْهُنَّ فَآتُوهُنَّ أُجُورَهُنَّ فَرِيضَةً ۚ وَلَا جُنَاحَ عَلَيْكُمْ فِيمَا تَرَاضَيْتُم بِهِ مِن بَعْدِ الْفَرِيضَةِ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ كَانَ عَلِيمًا حَكِيمًا
And [also prohibited to you are all] married women except those your right hands possess. [This is] the decree of Allah upon you. And lawful to you are [all others] beyond these, [provided] that you seek them [in marriage] with [gifts from] your property, desiring chastity, not unlawful sexual intercourse. So for whatever you enjoy [of marriage] from them, give them their due compensation as an obligation. And there is no blame upon you for what you mutually agree to beyond the obligation. Indeed, Allah is ever Knowing and Wise.
We can categorize them into two major groups. These the two major groups can be further subdivided.
1. Groups that are forever forbidden to you (these women are Mahram always for the man)
1a. Forever forbidden due to blood relationships
Such as your female descendants, your daughter, your granddaughter and so on. And also you direct female ascendants, such as your mothers, your grandmothers. And you also have to include female ascendants from your father’s side. Also siblings of your parents, e.g. aunts, etc. The also descends of your siblings, and your children’s siblings etc.
Footnote: A good fiqh question is why grandmothers are not explicitly mentioned even when they are included in the above category (hint mafhoom al mukhalafah maybe?).
Permanent means, that you cannot marry them forever, even after you divorce your wife, or your wife dies.
1b. Forever forbidden due to marital relationships.
Wives of any direct ascendants. Wives of any direct ascendants. Note: whether or not it was your actual mother, but also the other wives of your father.
Wives of descendents, e.g. daughters in Law.
Ascendants of wives, your mother in law. She becomes permanently forbidden as soon as you sign the marriage contract. Shariah distinguishes between step relationships and blood relations (the Shariah does not treat adopted children as blood-relations).
Step daughter becomes permanently forbidden after you consummate your marriage. This conditional part as mentioned in the verse of the Quran, majority of scholars say it refers back to your step daughter and not your mother-in-law. This asymmetry is due to .......
Why this difference between the two? Ulema have given reasons why this differences exist and most of them are conjecture. One of the differences is that as you get married, the mother-in-law is already an adult and you might have need to be in close contact with you. However in the case of the step daughter, due to age differences you might not have any need to be in contact with them.
There is an important point in the verse, it talks about the step daughters who are in your guardianship or under your care. What about the case of your step daughter is a grown woman and she does not live in your household. Can you marry her after you divorce your wife? Majority of the scholars say that this statement is not a conditional clause, rather it is stating the normal case, and hence they are permanently forbidden to you, as soon as you consummate the marriage.
Shaikh is explaining the normal case, by giving another example of the verse of the Qur’an that says that do not force into prostitution slave women who want to remain chaste. Shaikh explains that the additional statement about those who want to remain chaste, is just stating the normal cause and not specifying a condition on the slave women. Here you cannot say that if the slave women who do not want to remain chaste, it is allowable for your to force them into prostitution. Rather it simply states the default case of the category of women described in the verse. Similarly, in the above verse, it is stating the nominal case of step daughters in your guardianship, rather than specifying a conditional claim.
1c. Forever forbidden due to breast-feeding relationships.
This is mentioned in the Qur’an in the same verse. It mentions two categories mothers and sisters who are breast fed by the same mother. The prohibition does not stop over there, because of the hadith of the Prophet saws, which says that the relationship of breast fed mother is the same as that of the blood mother.
Shaikh is explaining it by drawing a diagram of a breast-fed mother who had breast fed many children. If you were breast-fed by a woman, then all of the children breast fed by her are now part of your extended family. This is a way of extending your family relationships. If you have girls that are breast fed by the same breast-fed mother, then her (since she is your sister due to your relationship with your breast-fed mother) daughters are also forbidden to you. If the breast-feeding mother has a sister, then she becomes your aunt.
Another important point is that you have to worry about the source of milk. Women lactate when they are pregnant or are raising her infant children. Since the lactation is due to the relationship between a woman and a man, so now the husband of the breast-feeding mother is now your foster uncle and so is her brother.
Suppose we have a mother1 and mother2. And mother1 has a daughter. Mother2 has three sons, son1, son2, and son3. Suppose mother1 breastfeeds son1. Can daughter marry son2? There is no relationship between son2 and mother1. So, yes she can marry son2.
There are a lot of difference of opinions about when does this breast feeding create this permanent forbidden relationship. How often should it occur? Majority of the opinion is that before the child starts solid foods and the child has had a full meal of milk. They differ about how many times it should have occurred, should it be five, seven, ten times. We do not have to worry about it. The most agreed opinion is that it should have occurred only once. This is based on the generality of the verse. This is the view of Ali ibn Abi Talib, Ibn Masud, Imam Malik.
Second opinion is that it must be separate 5 times this is the view of A’isha, Ibn Hazm, As-Shafi and Imam Ahmad. This is the strongest opinion.
It is the milk, not the act of suckling, that is the cause of this “breastfeeding relationship.”
2. Groups that are forbidden to you on a temporary basis.
The verse in the Quran, it is forbidden to marry two sisters at the same time. So your spouse’s sister is temporarily forbidden in marriage. After you divorce your spouse or if she dies, then it is permissible for you to marry her sister.
In addition, the Prophet prohibited you from marrying a woman and her aunt at the same time. Again if the wife is divorced or after the death of wife he can marry her aunt.
If a man has divorced his wife three times than it is a temporary position which can be removed. So if a man divorces the woman once, then he can remarry by new mahr. But if three divorces are done, then he can remarry this woman unless she re-marries another man and gets divorced three times from this second man.
After the third divorce it is forbidden to marry that women unless she is married to some other man. Now after she is married to some other person and she is divorced or the husband is dead then this person can marry her again.
If a man has 4 wives, then all the other women are forbidden for him temporarily.
It is not allowed to marry a women who is in state of Ihram.
It is not allowed to marry a women if they made li3aan in the past unless he admits that he was lying when he accused this is according to some scholar.
It is not allowed to marry a woman who is not a Muslim, Jewish or Christian. Exception: unless they become Muslim.
Is it allowed to marry who is in her period? Yes, this doesn’t have anything to do with validity of marriage.
It is allowed for a woman who is in her menses to sign the marriage contract, her being in the state of menses does not temporarily forbid her from marrying.
The Shariah allows people who are insane (note: there are different levels of insanity) or soundness of mind to get married. Marriage might be beneficial to them, and there might be different level of sanity.
Marriage between man and woman who had illegal sexual relationship with each other
Now we discuss another important question. Is it permissible for a muslim man and a woman who have been in illegal sexual relationship to get married to one another? This is question that is asked in many Islamic centers in the US.
The sahaba differed on this point, In the sunan of daralqutni,
some sahaba said that they should remain separate completely. Others said the first act was haram and then they can get married and do things in halal ways.
Lot of contemporary scholars don’t seem to have any problems in two of them getting married. There are something taken into consideration.
They committed zina and if they are making taubah for committing zina. If they are sincere in making tawbah in this case they should choose to remain away from one another. You should distance from one who engage you in to do something Haram this is part of Tawbah. They will also might have to do with trust after getting marriage. The shariah doesn’t give the fixed law which means it depends on circumstances.
For example, we have a society where zina is hardly made, so then covering the rare sin is a good thing. If the zina is widespread, then it is better to separate them since marriage can mean for young ones that lets commit zina, then we can marry afterwards.
Allah (swt) says in Surah An-Nur verse 3
الزَّانِي لَا يَنكِحُ إِلَّا زَانِيَةً أَوْ مُشْرِكَةً وَالزَّانِيَةُ لَا يَنكِحُهَا إِلَّا زَانٍ أَوْ مُشْرِكٌ ۚ وَحُرِّمَ ذَٰلِكَ عَلَى الْمُؤْمِنِينَ
The fornicator does not marry except a [female] fornicator or polytheist, and none marries her except a fornicator or a polytheist, and that has been made unlawful to the believers.
We discussed this surah in Principles of Tafseer of Ayat al Ahkaam. OUr conclusion was that the word nikaah here means sexual relationships and not just the act of a marriage contract. So the word na-ka-ha here is used differently. So it is not a command for the marriage contract, but that they fornicator deserves to have relationship with a fornicator and a polytheist deserves to have relationships with a polytheist.
According to Imam Shafi, Imam Malik and Imam Abu Hanifa this is makruh (Tanzihi). According to Imam Ahmed this act is Haram. Majority of scholars they quote a hadith of Prophet (Saw). In which some one came to Prophet (saws) and said I have wife and she is more beloved to me but she does not repel from the hand of toucher. So Prophet (saws) said divorce her. Then man said I cannot live without her. So Prophet (saws) said then live with this deficiency.
Those scholar interpret this and say that the act of touching is euphemism for the act of Zina, shaikh strong disagrees with this interpretation. There are lot of things that women do which is short of zina. To say she is committing zina this is not correct. In today’s terminology, she might be a flirt, etc.
Imam Ahmad says this hadith is weak. Interpretation of the verse and this hadith which leads the scholar to say that it is makruh for someone who is chaste to marry someone who is immoral. This is weak opinion. They say this is makruh tanzeeh which means this is close to mubaah. So this is at least makruh tahreemi to the minimum and even Haram as said by Imam Ahmad.
Shaikh is differentiating between a person who commits a sin and does not repent and person who repents after committing the sin. The person who repents is now considered to be chaste.
Shaikh also warns us about how some Muslim parents have double standards for their sons and daughters. They allow their sons to commit all kinds of sins and when it comes time to marriage, even though the boy has not repented, they look for a good chaste Muslim girl. This is wrong. They should not be raising their children with such double standards. Both boys and girls should be raised to be chaste and pure.
Next week we will have a guest lecturer, Kamal al Sharaawy who has many years of experience on this topic.
2012-02-19 Class Notes
Guest lecture by Dr Kamal al Shaarawy; author of the book “Dwell in Tranquility”. The web: www.salaamhearts.com
(based in Phoenix, AZ); www.livinghearts.com
Self Published (2011)
Dr Kamal is primarily dealing with sisters and helping them find someone as they have many more obstacles and limitations in access than brothers.
1.) The primary place should be the masajid and the community centers to start looking.
2.) Be proactive. Let the brothers know that you are looking for a wife. Something needs to be started.
Don’t pay attention to statistics; we can make different statistics. We must choose according to the Islamic guidelines. These numbers are a result of issues out there pertaining to people not adhering to these guidelines.
The challenge is that many sisters are isolated and many of them are depressed.
The third option would be the social media. It is becoming a reality that can’t be ignored. There are many match-making websites out there. Salaam Hearts, for example, tries their hardest to keep the environment in accordance to Islamic guidelines. There is a wali option available so that a wali is always present when interacting.
Be aware that there are many Muslims online and some many lie, cheat and deceive.
We must address our challenges in a practical way.
What Dr Kamal has seen from his experience is that people are paralyzed by experiences and personal experiences and basically give up on the process. People need to be proactive to push the community leadership to take this issue up.
The sisters have very limited choices compared to the brothers and have even more difficulties in getting to know someone from overseas.
With some training, this issue can be addressed proactively on the community level.
Where to meet and how to meet comes down to being prepared for marriage. They have a lot of issues, they have distorted views, they don’t understand Islamic principles related to marriage.
We have to start by understanding our position and responsibilities to the other part and what rights each party has. Misconceptions regarding these areas often come up much later in a marriage as Dr Kamal has seen.
Back to Lecture:
One question is the one of getting married to Ahl-ul-Kitaab:Men marrying ahl-al-kitaab, there are 2 verses related to this in Quran
وَلَا تَنكِحُوا الْمُشْرِكَاتِ حَتَّىٰ يُؤْمِنَّ ۚ وَلَأَمَةٌ مُّؤْمِنَةٌ خَيْرٌ مِّن مُّشْرِكَةٍ وَلَوْ أَعْجَبَتْكُمْ ۗ وَلَا تُنكِحُوا الْمُشْرِكِينَ حَتَّىٰ يُؤْمِنُوا ۚ وَلَعَبْدٌ مُّؤْمِنٌ خَيْرٌ مِّن مُّشْرِكٍ وَلَوْ أَعْجَبَكُمْ ۗ أُولَٰئِكَ يَدْعُونَ إِلَى النَّارِ ۖ وَاللَّهُ يَدْعُو إِلَى الْجَنَّةِ وَالْمَغْفِرَةِ بِإِذْنِهِ ۖ وَيُبَيِّنُ آيَاتِهِ لِلنَّاسِ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَتَذَكَّرُونَ
And do not marry polytheistic women until they believe. And a believing slave woman is better than a polytheist, even though she might please you. And do not marry polytheistic men [to your women] until they believe. And a believing slave is better than a polytheist, even though he might please you. Those invite [you] to the Fire, but Allah invites to Paradise and to forgiveness, by His permission. And He makes clear His verses to the people that perhaps they may remember.
الْيَوْمَ أُحِلَّ لَكُمُ الطَّيِّبَاتُ ۖ وَطَعَامُ الَّذِينَ أُوتُوا الْكِتَابَ حِلٌّ لَّكُمْ وَطَعَامُكُمْ حِلٌّ لَّهُمْ ۖ وَالْمُحْصَنَاتُ مِنَ الْمُؤْمِنَاتِ وَالْمُحْصَنَاتُ مِنَ الَّذِينَ أُوتُوا الْكِتَابَ مِن قَبْلِكُمْ إِذَا آتَيْتُمُوهُنَّ أُجُورَهُنَّ مُحْصِنِينَ غَيْرَ مُسَافِحِينَ وَلَا مُتَّخِذِي أَخْدَانٍ ۗ وَمَن يَكْفُرْ بِالْإِيمَانِ فَقَدْ حَبِطَ عَمَلُهُ وَهُوَ فِي الْآخِرَةِ مِنَ الْخَاسِرِينَ
This day [all] good foods have been made lawful, and the food of those who were given the Scripture is lawful for you and your food is lawful for them. And [lawful in marriage are] chaste women from among the believers and chaste women from among those who were given the Scripture before you, when you have given them their due compensation, desiring chastity, not unlawful sexual intercourse or taking [secret] lovers. And whoever denies the faith - his work has become worthless, and he, in the Hereafter, will be among the losers.
Is there any contradiction in these verses, where in one verse it says do not marry mushrikaath and in the other verse it says it is permissible.
Ibn Umar was of the opinion that it is not permissible at all to marry Ahl-al-Kitaab.
One technical question is that in order to be Ahl e kitaab; do you have to be bani Israel? Most of the Jews today are converts from much later. So can we consider them ahl e kitaab? The strongest opinion is that Ahl e kitaab is that it includes those who converted. The proof is that the letter of Prophet (saws) sent a letter to the Emperor of Rome in which the verse was quoted addressing the Romans as ahl e kitab. So Shaykh is of opinion that the opinion which does not consider them ahl e kitaab is weak opinion.
In the verses of the Quran the Ahl e Kitaab are differentiated from the Ahl e Kitaab. Nothing of Surat al Maidah has been abrogated according to the statement of Ali (ra), so Ahl e kitaab according to 5:5 above have to be kept as Ahl e kitab distinct from Mushrikeen. Among the Sahabah Ibn Umar (ra) was of opinion not to marry Ahl e Kitaab. Umar (ra) also showed dislike for marrying ahl e kitaab. Huthaifah (ra) challenged him and asked him are you saying that it is haraam. And Umar did not respond so Huthaifah kept his wife.
So some scholars do take this opinion that it’s better not to marry since they’re disbelievers.
Majority of scholars approved it. This was the view of Imam Malik, Abu Hanifah and others. Those who said it’s not permissible is a well-known group. Everyone outside of that group pretty much said permissible. However even those who say it’s permissible, they still show some dislike for it. Jabir bin Abdullah, he was asked about marrying Jewish/Christian women, in conquest of kufah we did that but when we returned to Hijaz, we divorced them. Ibn Baz disliked Muslim men marrying non-muslim women. He mentioned some reason, one being, single woman are looking for spouses and muslim men marry non-muslim women, the muslim woman would not find husbands. And Sh. bin Baz also said, more and more women are listening and obeying their wives, so it’s dangerous if the non-muslim wife is running the show, for you and your kids. It’s also going to become easy to accept the woman’s family, her way of life etc. Nothing wrong to have love for his non-muslim wife, but once that love falls over to accepting her way of life etc, then he’s getting to a dangerous level and to a stage of sin. If a muslim man cannot understand that, he might be committing the sin. Also, he doesn’t know what the wife will be teaching his kids behind his back. In general, scholars put down strict conditions.
Conditions for Marrying the Non-Muslim Woman:
1) She must be practicing her religion. She cannot be a christian or jew by name.
2) They must not be from ahl-ul-harb. Those people who are at war with the muslims. Ibn Abi shaibah from ibn abbas, it is not allowed to marry the women of the book if they’re from those people who are fighting Islam. Some of the schools restrict to only a case of necessity. Some of the statements they make, you get the idea that it’s restricted to ahl-ul-dhimmah, who are under the Islamic law. Because that’s the only way man can make sure that the family is run Islamically. Since if he’s outside the Islamic state, there’s no way he can control the behavior of wife and how the children are brought up. Some Islamic mosques, make the woman sign the contract that she’ll bring the children according to Islamic religion. But that has no value in US law, since its pre-nuptial and does not apply to children that are not born.
3) she must be `afeefah (chaste). That’s also probably difficult to find in US now.
(She must be from Ahlul-dhimma as per Point 2 or inferred from Point 2)
At the same time, it’s not being stated that marriage is totally invalid. It may be highly disapproved and close to haraam. It may even be haraam if it meets the condition but it does not mean it’s invalid. There’s a difference b/w the two.
An important principle in Fiqh: Continuation is different from Initiation
What happens to a lot of brothers; they might not be practicing and they got married. After some time they become religious. This principle (qaeda fiqhiyyah), states that continuation of something does not have the same ruling as the beginning of something. So if you’re in the marriage because of some mistake of the past, then that marriage is allowed to continue. That’s based on Qaidah Fiqhiyah.
If you put the whole picture together, it seems there’s no question that this is something that should be avoided for MANY MANY reasons. Whether the marriage is completely invalid, sheikh is not saying that but in general it should be something avoided.
Why did Allah (swt) make it permissible in the first place?
Ibn Tamiyyah discussed this theory. If someone is a jew or christian and they’re sincere towards Allah and they’re open towards Allah. In the sense they are practicing their religion with all of it’s faults and they think they’re worshipping Allah. If those women are in guidance and authority of a muslim in which they’re going to be able to see what islam is and to see what she is worshipping doesn’t have meaning to it this is one of the best way so of bringing them to islam. Sheikh knows of many women who have been married to muslims and they converted to islam. Some of them left their husband after conversion :)
Jihad doesn’t force people to convert to islam but it forces them to see the beauty of islam. Similarly for a marriage in this case. That’s ibn Taymiyyah’s theory. Eventually one has to see ask the question, if such a marriage is affecting my Deen.
2012-02-26 Class Notes
Just a few other points to discuss with respect to whom one can marry (one or two more categories left). We finished the question of marriage to a woman from ahl khitaab.
What about a Muslim woman marrying a non-muslim man?
This is not allowed by ‘ijma. However, what about the case where a Muslim woman comes to the mosque and says to the imam of hte masjid and introduced a non-muslim man stating that he would like to become a muslim.
Chances are, if you are going to be in a leadership position in a community in the future, you will run into this situation more than once. For example, Sh Yasir Birjas refuses these kinds of cases according to a student online. He asks for a proper course to be completed regarding Islam and then come back.
The problem here is that, theoretically speaking, the man is the head of the household. if that man is becoming Muslim for the purpose of marriage, that could be a problem. Changing religion in the Western culture means that you’re changing your name and doing a few other things. For example, if a Jewish woman and a Christian man date and want to convert later, it’s a simple thing to do. It’s not as simple for Muslims as we take these matters more seriously. Even the idea of conversion was not about changing the way of their lives, it was a superficial thing (according to the Western culture). When people come from this American culture, this is what they are thinking.
For Muslims, we need to take things more seriously as there are obligation to uphold the principles of Islam and we have an obligation to not do something for the sister than might hurt her deen; ultimately you will be affected by our spouse.
This is why many of our Ulama like ibn Jabreen would not accept or allow that marriage until there is at least some sign that the person understands why they are embracing Islam and being a muslim.
If after some time he demonstrates this seriousness, the marriage can go ahead.
What if a Muslim man brings a Hindu woman and says that this is a Hindu woman and she wants to become muslima and we would like to get married?
She won’t be the head of household but men will of course be affected by their spouses; if she is not serious about becoming Muslim and practicing, it will have a negative affect on the man’s deen.
In this situation, it is better to wait until the woman is serious about becoming Muslim and then carry out the marriage.
Especially in this country, we have as many people leaving Islam as are embracing Islam since many of them don’t realize what the commitment means. Changing religion in this country is not what we understand as changing religion in the perspective of the Deen. Many people in the west don’t understand what they are really getting into.
In the Hanafi books of fiqh, if someone wants to become Muslim and you tell him just wait, this action of telling them to wait is an act of kufr. They are the toughest Madhab in these regards. But we don’t want to put the person into the situation where they are getting into something that they don’t understand. We want to make sure that their perception of Islam is correct. If he becomes Muslim at the wrong time, we would be doing great harm to him and the community. We need to guide people through the process.
Is it allowed to propose to a sister who already has been proposed to by a Muslim brother?
This is a concept that actually has caused a great deal of harm for sisters. Those who are doing it, basically the Walis, they think they are applying a hadith of the prophet (saas). The Prophet (saas) said that “it is not allowed for a man to make a proposal against a brother’s proposal until he marries the woman or gives her up”. This hadith has to be understood properly.
What happens is that the way people understand it is that if a brother proposes to a sister and the sister is thinking about it, and during this thinking process they do not allow any other brother to see her; she has to make up her mind on this brother. This is very unfair to the sister because she may think that there is no other guy out there.. she might think that the market is pretty bad and there are no other choices. It is allowed for the sister to be proposed to by more than one man. This hadith about not proposing against a brother’s proposal is if the woman accepts the proposal; if she accepts then it isn’t appropriate for someone to come along and interfere with that proposal now that she is engaged. If she has not acceptd the proposal, she is free to look around to see who is the best out there.
The proof for that is the hadith of Fatimah bint Qais. Fatimah came to the prophet (saas) after she had finished her idda and told the prophet saas that Muawiya ibn abi Sufyan and Ibn Jahm had proposed to her. The prophet (saas) did not ask what are they doing proposeing to you. The prophet saas said don’t marry this man, or that man but marry this other man. So she had proposals yet the Prophet (saas) recommended a 3rd person. This shows that the first hadith we mentioned means that if she accepts a proposal then it is considered a violation of a right of brotherhood (a right of respect) for someone to then come along and give a proposal. Some of the Ulama also mentioned, in particular the Malikis and al Uzaiy, they say that if that brother who proposed and was accepted and if that person is known to be a fasiq, then he is not deserving of the rights of brotherhood, and therefore it is considered permissible even after she has accepted the proposal, to make a proposal. Some even said that this is an obligation. The prophet (saas) said that the deen is sincere well-wishing and conduct to one another. Therefore, out of sincerity to that woman, one should make a proposal over the other person.
If the sister doesn’t know who is out there and she thinks that if I say no and this man leaves and I won’t find anyone else. Perhaps there is someone who is better out there for her. If someone proposes to her, she doesn’t have to answer right away and she can take her time. Side note: he is not bound to wait for her response.
Fasiq means some kind of evil doer; for example the person doesn’t pray or has bad character.
There is some asymmetry in the case of who you can marry with respect to muslim men and women.
Next, we will look at the qualities one should look for in a spouse.
These are qualities that make a spouse good (or make up a good spouse). This also means that some of these qualities, since these are qualities that make a spouse good, even if you are already married these are good qualities to have and should be worked on. This will only make you a better spouse and will therefore improve the quality of your marriage and relationship with your spouse.
Choosing the right spouse
Choosing the right spouse is of course one of the most important steps in having a good marriage. Because of that, the shariah has given us many qualities that can be looked for in a spouse. However, you have to realize that these are various qualities and there are two important aspects to keep in mind:
1) Give the qualities the proper priorities.
You need to look at the qualities relative to one another and give priority based on those that deserve the higher priority. Some of them will be much more important than others. to place too much emphasis on the wrong quality can be harmful in the long run. To just concentrate on one quality and ignore all others is another mistake. In our particular case, some qualities may not be as important as others. We have the general guidelines but also have the specific cases where some are not as vital to us.
By the way, if you are looking for a spouse and you don’t know what qualities to look for, this is not a good situation to be in. Your marriage will be for the rest of your life inshaAllah and as such it is important that you keep in mind all sorts of qualities. The shariah has pointed us to some and we will also talk about some others not discussed explicitly int eh shariah.
2) Choose the best for your progeny, marry those who are qualified, and get married to them
The prophet saas has told us in a hadith giving us the idea that we should be careful about our choice of spouses. The prophet (saas) said choose the best for your progeny, marry those who are qualified (those who have the qualities that are good) and get married to them. Here shaikh explained that if you are looking for a spouse for your children, you should select the one that has those qualities.
Qualities to prioritize when choosing a spouse:
Priority #1: Religiosity should be the most important priority for choosing a spouse
In a hadith in which the Prophet saas described why people get married to women, (not necesasrily approving or disapproving of the qualities mentioned) a woman is married because of her religiousness, her wealth or her beauty. so go for the one who is religious and may your hands be filled with dust (an idiom for may you prosper). The Prophet (saas) here is telling us what is the most important characteristic, religiousness. We spoke in the first lecture regarding the great blessing that having a pious spouse is. This should be the number one criteria.
Misconceptions about the outward signs of religiosity - “Dressing the sunnah”
However, a mistake that many people make is that religiousness or religiosity is not simply what is on the outside and it is not simply what someone shows in public. It is true that if someone has real taqwa or emaan in his heart, it will be shown on the outside. However, just looking at someone and seeing the outward signs of religiousness doesn’t mean that there is a lot of taqwa or emaan in there hearts. For example, if a brother sees a sister dressed in full niqaab, he might say mashaAllah look there is a religious sister. They just look at the outward sign or seeing people show up to events... this might be a good sign but this is not sufficient. You have to try to find out really if this person really has taqwa and emaan. This means that you must ask beyond these things.
How do you determine some body’s religiosity?
There is a famous saying from Umar Khattab; if you see someone in a masjid, this is not a sign of their taqwa. if you travel with them or do business with them, then you know more about them. you must ask those who know him whether this person has taqwa. We cannot say for sure what is hidden in the heart, however the more experience or interaction you have with someone the more you can say about their level of emaan. Has he cheated with you or lied to you in business transactions. These are signs of taqwa. Does the person backbite, cheat, steal, lie, etc.
Critiquing a person who is proposing is not backbiting, it is halaal
Another big mistake that some communities have is that they think that speaking bad about an individual is backbiting and is haram. There are cases where ghriba (backbiting) is halaal. The Ulama of hadith understand this as well. Part of having well wishing and good conduct for others is that you must speak the truth about someone. If someone has qualities that don’t make him a good candidate for marriage, you must let the person know. Don’t conceal it. This does not fall under concealing the faults or sins of someone; we are talking about someone getting stuck with this person for the rest of their lives. For women this can be much more harmful but can also be harmful for the man (depending on the situation). If you know that the person is violent or has another bad quality that can cause harm, you are compelled and mandated to speak.
Virtues of Religiosity - It can help resolve issues in a marriage when problems might occur in the future
If someone is religious and really religious, if they have problems in the marriage they are the easiest to work with to resolve a problem. They have more concern with pleasing Allah swt than taking their rights or taking advantage of something. Marriage itself, the relationship, friction within the marriage and divorce are areas where personal feelings get involved the most. If you can find someone who really is religiousness, that will make the marriage much better.
Surah Talaq discusses various virtues of taqwa. If you read the verses about taqwa, you will find a verse in Surah al Talaq that demonstrates what real taqwa is.[Edit: Shaikh is highlighting the fact that taqwa is an important virtue that becomes very critical when you have to deal with talaq. Shaikh has mentioned this point earlier in many other classes, since the situation becomes very tense and both parties go to extremes, unless they both have taqwa.]
It is not just about looking at the external; you must ask about the person.
Virtues of religiosity - Avoiding bidah which can lead to kufr
This addresses another concern: marrying someone of ahl bidah.
Marrying someone from these cateogires is obviously something you don’t want to do. Bidah is extremely dangerous. Those scholars that talk about teh goals of shaytan say that if shaytan cannot drag someone into kufr, he will bring them into bidah (not sins) as it gives someone a false idea that they are pleasing Allah but in reality you are displeasing Allah. Marrying someone of ahl bidah would cause great harm to you as you would end up falling into their bidah as well most likely.
Imam Ahmed once said that the “fasiq of ahl sunnah is better than the one who seems to be pious from ahl bidah”.
Double standards of religiosity between males and females
Obviously this quality of religiousness applies to both the male and female. Sometimes we have double-standards and those double standards can be very dangerous; we expect the sister to be so pious and pure and chaste and the same is not expected of the boy. We must be sure that we do not fall into this. If we have sons, we have to make sure that they don’t fall into haram just as we make sure that the daughters don’t fall into haram.
There were three cases in this communities where the sons were allowed to do various haram things and the daughters were not allowed to do it; the main complaint from the daughters was that why are the boys allowed to play around and the girls aren’t?
In one of these three cases, one of the girls left the family and moved in with another muslim sister. In another case, the daughter moved in with her boyfriend. In the third case, the daughter left Islam.
When we talk about religiousness, we are talking with respect to both the boy and the girl.
Priority #2: Al Khuluq or Good character is the second most quality when selecting a spouse
Another very important characteristic highlighted by the prophet saas is al-khuluq.
The prophet saas said that if someone whose religion or character you are pleased with comes to you to marry your daughter, then marry her to him. if you do not, there will be commotion on the earth and there will be much evil.
This hadith doesn’t mean that someone has good deen and his khuluq will be bad; the deen includes having good khuluq. Encouraging others to doing good deeds and having patience is part of hte deen. The prophet saas separates these two to highlight the essential nature of khuluq with respect to the deen.
Many hadith and statements that we have of the Prophet saas stress the importance of khuluq.
There is a verse in the Qur’an, Surah Noor verse 26,
الْخَبِيثَاتُ لِلْخَبِيثِينَ وَالْخَبِيثُونَ لِلْخَبِيثَاتِ ۖ وَالطَّيِّبَاتُ لِلطَّيِّبِينَ وَالطَّيِّبُونَ لِلطَّيِّبَاتِ ۚ أُولَٰئِكَ مُبَرَّءُونَ مِمَّا يَقُولُونَ ۖ لَهُم مَّغْفِرَةٌ وَرِزْقٌ كَرِيمٌ
Evil words are for evil men, and evil men are [subjected] to evil words. And good words are for good men, and good men are [an object] of good words. Those [good people] are declared innocent of what the slanderers say. For them is forgiveness and noble provision.
One of the translations is that good men are for good women and bad men are for bad women. This is one of four interpretations of this verse.
Importance of khuluq - Lack of good character can make your life miserable
In any case, when it comes to marriage, this aspect of the deen is of extreme importance. As we said, you will be spending a good portion of your time with this individual and how you behave towards one another will determine how blissful you marriage is. Someone will a terrible khuluq can make your life miserable.
Imagine if you are married to someone who has a bad temper; if you make a little mistake they hit the roof. This is not good for anything. What if they become violent? both the husband and wife can be abusive; this doesn’t get the attention from society as a whole: domestic abuse is the wife v husband and vice versa. Bad language, bad behavior, etc. THis is something that must be looked into.
Khuluq is part of the Deen
The Prophet saas emphasized khuluq for this reason as part of the deen.
How do you determine some body’s khuluq?
Sometimes you can look at the person’s family and get an idea about the person’s khuluq.
Religiousness and khuluq are two of the most important characteristic. If a spouse has these two qualities, that would make a great spouse mashaAllah. These two aspects are the ones that make the individual lovable, someone that you will want to be with, someone who’s company you will seek and enjoy. Even if you are already married, these are two qualities that you should strive to improve. The better spouse you are hopefully will improve the relationship with the spouse.
if you start turning down people of good character, what kind of people are you accepting? what kind of qualities are you looking for? the good qualities are being ignored. People are married for qualities that are not important; the prophet saas has warned that this will lead to a lot of fitnah. The wali must give these qualities the priority that they deserve.
Priority #3: Choose a spouse who is capable of child-bearing (Al Walut) which is one of the goals of marriage
The third characteristic the Prophet saas mentioned is looking for a woman who is child-bearing.
The Prophet saas said marry the woman who is loving and child-bearing for I shall boast about your numbers on the day of judgment. This hadith goes back to one of the goals of marriage which is to procreate the human race and increase the number of muslims.
How can you determine a woman is al walut?
The scholars have asked how are you supposed to know if a woman is al walut? They say that you should look at their female relatives in the family and you can get an idea in general how fertile the woman is.
This is just one of the characteristics. In your particular case, this characteristic may not be important to you; eg in the case where an older person is seeking to get married. What is also the case, there are many brothers that have the idea in their mind that they want to have a big family with a lot of children. yet most of those brothers have not thought of this aspect to look for in a prospective spouse; does this person come from a family that has many children? again looking at the female relatives can give an indication regarding this. This should be thought of before-hand.
In the end result, this is what Allah swt decrees for an individual; maybe in a particular case something works out or doesn’t in terms of the number of children.
Again this is a characteristic/quality that must be given its weight.
Priority #4: Choosing a virgin spouse - A virgin man should choose a virgin woman
The prophet (saas) also mentioned marrying virgins. The prophet (saas) said to marry the virgin as they are sweeter with the mouth, more child bearing and satisfied with less. Another hadith said that they are easily stimulated and easier to please and lesser prone to deceive. A hadith of Jabr where the prophet (saas) asked if he married a virgin or non-virgin.
In a virgin woman, there is a kind of innocence that over time is lost as they have experience with a man. The Ulama said that the love a woman has for the first man is often the greatest. They considered this important.
Choosing the proper context and weight for the priority of virginity
This is a quality that must be understood in the proper context. This also applies to both men and women. In one of the hanafi books of fiqh, it is said that it is preferable to marry a virgi daughter to a man that has not been married before. In the Sunan of Sayed ibn Mansour, he heard of Umar ibn al-khattab speaking of a woman married to an elder man. He said to marry a woman to a man that is similar to her. You find this a lot in the books of fiqh; look for a virgin man for your virgin daughter. It doesn’t mean that there is anything shameful or wrong in married a widower or a woman that has been divorced. It depends on the circumstances.
We see this specifically in the hadith about Jabir; the Prophet (saas) did not disapprove of what he did as Jabir explained that his father was martyred and was left with many young sisters. He thought it would be better to marry a more mature woman that would help him with these younger sisters; basically he looked at this situation and made a decision based on what qualities to put priority on. On the other hand, we had an example of the Prophet saas marrying A’isha who was much younger than him and a virgin.
Priority #5: Choosing a spouse towards whom the other spouse has attraction
Another important quality that the scholars have mentioned is the quality of beauty or some kind of physical attraction.
One of the purposes of marriage is to keep the person from committing sins (zina, looking at something haram, etc).
Virtues of attraction to your spouse
The best way to achieve this is to make sure that there is attraction in the relationship. If they abhor each other, they will be tempted by others around them. It would be difficult to control one’s self. You may feel very depressed or may be unhappy with the choice made.
The Prophet (saas) granted a woman hula or separation just because she complained about how ugly her husband was to her. Just because of that, the Prophet (saas) allowed them to be separated.
How do you determine the attractiveness of a spouse?
In some cultures in the Muslim world, men and women get married without even seeing each other first. The prophet (saas) asked a man that was getting married if he had seen the woman. He said no and the prophet (saas) ordered him to go look at her as it will put some love for her in you.
By the way, once again this applies to the brother and the sister. We will discuss later the limits of how to see each other before marriage.
Syed ibn Mansoor quotes Umar Khattab as saying do not force your young girls to marry ugly men for they also love what you love. Ibn abi Deen the famous hanafi scholar said that a daughter should not be married to an ugly man or an older man but rather marry to someone similar to her.
Alhamdulillah in Islam, both sides are taken care of with these aspects and characteristics to look for.
Remember not to put too much priority to the attractiveness of your spouse
This aspect must be given its proper priority. For some people, this is the ultimate criteria. This is dead wrong; a handsome man or a beautiful woman can make your life miserable. Just look at this society; how many times do we see a woman getting together with a handsome man and being miserable as he turns out to be a terrible person. Don’t put this priority before religiousness. This is just one characteristic and while it is important it needs to be put in its place.
Dangers of having a heightened sense of your own attractiveness
This can be dangerous especially if the man or woman know of their beauty/handsomeness.
There are more qualities to discuss but we will discuss them next time...
Q: How much can be seen of the potential spouse, photographs, etc?
A: This will be discussed later.
2012-03-04 Class Notes
Next week’s class will be held from 3:50 to 5:00 PDT
Continuing the discussion of qualities to look for in a spouse
Priority #6: Wealth
Prophet saws described in hadith that we narrated earlier, where he mentioned reasons for marrying a woman, he does not state reasons but for one, he said that: A woman is married for her religiousness, her wealth or her beauty, so go for the one of religion to fully benefit.
In this particular case, a man looking for a wife, it states that a woman is sometimes married because of wealth. This was true in pre-Islamic times, and this is true even in Islamic times.
Even if woman is independently wealthy, the man is responsible for the household, the woman is not responsible financially for the household. But a husband can benefit from her wealth. She might be willing to spend on her children. But in general this question of wealth is stressed by ulema when a woman is looking for a husband and not vice versa.
Even in this society, it is the woman who is taken advantage of, so it is particularly important to protect her, so he should have means, or potential to have means, or he has willingness. So these are three different things, some might have potential but might not be willing to provide.
Hadith of Fatima bint Qais: In the case of Fatima b. Qais, she told the Prophet (SAWS) of the options before her. But the Prophet (SAWS) said that Mu’awiyah was not a man of wealth, she would be better off being from another more affluent person.
This quality should be given its proper weight. Many times it is the parents who cause many problems, when they look for social status rather than benefit for their son or daughter, and this is a big problem. Someone might be qualified to support a wife, but he may not have potential for the demands of the in-laws. So this must not override the first two priorities that we mentioned earlier, that of good character and religiosity.
In one case, a sister was proposed to by some brothers and they were decent. But the parents of the girl insisted that they weren’t good enough, until they finally found an individual that had a lot of money. But there were strong signs that the family were not religious. So he sat down with the brother and told him his concerns, but one of the reasons they divorced a few years later, they divorced. It was a clear case that the only thing that led them to accept him was the money.
It is an important one -- especially that the man be financially responsible. But it should not come before khuluq and deen.
Priority #7: Lineage
The Prophet (SAWS) also mentioned to marry for lineage. The Prophet (SAWS) said humans are like mines: the best of them in the days of ignorance are the best in Islam if they comprehend the deen.
If someone comes from a good family, usually those qualities rub off on the child. The boy is sometimes asked “what caste are you from?” (obviously we are not talking about this kind of lineage sensitivity). If the family is good, then most likely the girl or boy was brought up with good qualities.
American saying: “You can’t teach class.”
If a person does not respect others, he will not have respect even after he gains wealths.
So you should look into the family, and see whether family had those qualities. You should look at the family and the behaviour of the family and what is their social standing in how they behave, what is their dignity, what is their respect among others, and this will definitely have an impact on their children. Aspects like their speech, their behaviour is driven by it.
Poor people can have class as well -- the rich many times fall into things which are not good due to their wealth and ability to spend. Is the family dignified and respectable?
Those qualities we have been describing so far are ones that have been specifically mentioned in hadith.
What about love or feeling of love before marriage?
There are obviously other qualities that a person looks for in a relationship. In Western culture one of the most important ones is the existence of love before the marriage. You should not get married to someone before there is love, or so Western lore tells us.
Many Muslim scholars have commented on this, saying that it is not really a correct Islamic belief. Abdurrahmaan Khaaliq says that they have subverted the meaning of the word love, to be more about desire, and passion. Love is a noble quantity and there be love between spouses as we discussed earlier; it is a very good quality. But shaytan has used it and applied it in a different way.
Notion of Romantic Love
There is this notion of romantic love -- this feeling a “spark” between a man and a woman. If you grow up in the west, there is the idea that this has to exist before a marriage occurs. A lot of the movies, books, songs, etc are about this romantic love. The #1 grossing movie in history is “Titanic” which is a love story between a rich girl and a poor boy and their love is only for few hours. He dies 24 hours later and he still lives in her heart. Or there are romantic comedies, where they hate each other and then they fall into love, like Harry met Sally. But they don’t show the reality of mundane activities and how they behave then.
Marriage does not need temporary sparks. There are myths and dangers that accompany romantic love. Our kids are being influenced by the culture and the notion of romantic love, of a soul-mate before they get married.
Myths about romantic love
Myth #1: Love conquers all
There are classic myths is that love conquers all. If they really have this love, then their marriage will work, even if they hate each other’s in-laws or other aspects of each other. The divorce rate in USA is enough of an evidence that this does not work. But this romantic love is not sufficient and this myth will not help you in marriage.
Myth #2: Love is going to change your partner
This also does not work.
Myth #3: Romantic love lasts forever
This has been dis-proven with multiple studies and research. In general it lasts between two and four years. Story in Romeo and Juliet, even the love potions lasted only three years. So when it wears off, what are you left with? When the passion dies, what are you left with?
Psychological studies show that in the state of this romantic love, early stages produces dopamine in the brain and it produces a euphoric feeling, affecting the brain, and it forms a kind of addiction. Then when it fades away, the individual needs a “new fix” -- those who are together longer -- not just romantic love.
They would show pictures of their partner and it would have a different effect on the brain. One of the things that many people mention -- this idea of marriage for romantic love is a relatively new idea. Many times they find that this romantic love in a secular society it replaces much of the things that religion used to fulfill. They see that the other person “completes” them. They are more in love “with the idea of being in love” than being in love with that person. And many times this is followed by depression and then looking for ultimate source of happiness. Any time someone looks for ultimate source in anyone or anything other than Allah swt, it will ultimately lead to failure. And this is what is happening in romantic love. And this will eventually come to an end.
Because of the nature of this romantic love, many psychologists say that this is more harmful for marriage than entering into marriage on a reasonable basis.
Few books in Western Psychology about perils of romantic love:
1. Cynical book about romantic love called “Love in the Western World.” by Denis De Rougemont (here)
2. A book by Robert Johnson about understanding romantic love.
Both of these authors say that having romantic love as the basis for marriage is disastrous.
3. Another author, Keelin Page wrote a text on Romantic Love and Marriage, a psychoanalytic approach (here), says that it will continue to fail marriage.
4. Carroll Hubster also has written a book on similar topic.
Just because romantic love exists is not going to lead to successful marriage. However if they look at the other factors before getting married such as khuluq, and then if they get married, and even if romantic love wears off, they can have longer lasting marriage because of these other factors.
There is a hadith from the Prophet (SAWS) that says: “there is nothing like marriage for two people who love one another.” If there is an emotional attachment and there is an Islamic marriage with the other requirements being met, they will grow into a more permanent love for one another. Note: that there is another narration of the hadith where the woman is proposed to by a rich person and a poor person,the parents prefer the rich person, but the woman prefers the poor person and the messenger was asked and he made the above statement. This part of the hadith(the story) is not authentic (i.e. Sahih or Hasan). The Prophet (SAWS) made it a general statement.
Marriage should not be just based on emotions. And romantic love is an emotion. And this marriage will probably not last. It is important that the final decision be based on more objective factors in order for the marriage to be successful.
Hadith about remaining chaste even after experiencing passionate love
There is a hadith that describes what should people do when this feeling of romantic love occurs at any time. This could occur at any time, between a man and a woman who is not halal for him. This might happen. And this hadith says:
“If someone has this kind of passionate love/feeling/desire, and then remains chaste, and then conceals that feeling, and then is patient and then dies, then that person is a shaheed.”
Ibn al Qayyim and Al-Albaani say this hadith is a fabrication -- this seems a bit strong from the point of view of the isnaad.
Ibn Taymiyyah has discussed this hadith in many places, he thinks there are some questions in the chain, but there is much evidence that if someone withholds himself from al-muharramaat, and does not mention that to anyone else, and remains patient that there is a great reward for that person. E.g. the verse “the one who has taqwa of Allah and is patient, Allah will reward them.” This has been discussed at multiple places in Majmoo al Fatawa (e.g. see Vol 14, pg208, Publisher? I think, Majmoo al Fatawaa has not been translated into English yet).
If someone vents his feeling but does not do haraam, then they are not remaining patient, and keeping it only between themselves and Allah swt, then their reward may be reduced. However if they conceal it and remain patient then they will receive complete reward.
This is true for all passions, e.g. homosexuality or gambling. If you restrain yourself for the sake of Allah (SWT) for the fear of Allah (SWT). You have to restrain your feeling and not act upon it.
For example Allah (swt) mentions in the Qur’an:
But as for he who feared the position of his Lord and prevented the soul from [unlawful] inclination,
Then indeed, Paradise will be [his] refuge.
Conclusions about romantic love
#1: Do not buy into romantic love. And don’t get brainwashed into it and wait for finding somebody with whom they fall into love.
#2: If two individuals do feel some spark and if there are other aspects on which they get married, then Insha-allah their marriage might become successful.
#3: Love is goal of marriage and it should not be confused with romantic love and infatuation
#4: Do not get married solely based on emotions.
We will discuss one more quality and some more points about romantic love. And the we will discuss issues.
Priority #8: Kafaa’ah
The books talk about kafaa’ah, or compatibility. This might be a big issue for woman because it is more difficult for her to get out of marriage and it is not that big an issue for a man??????
Questions related to compatibility
Scholars say that this quality of compatibility changes with time and place. One of the other qualities some people bring about compatibility is educational level or intelligence level. Should this be taken into consideration or is it not necessary. Does it matter if woman is at higher educational level than the man? Can you take educational level as proxy for knowledge and intelligence? Is intelligence important?
Student discussion about educational requirements or intelligence requirements
Educational level is not necessarily related to intelligence level, according to the students.
We can narrow our discussion to high school level versus university education and not tie it to specific types of education such as engineers, doctors, etc.
Secular versus religious education, a spouse will be able to bring up the level of their spouse.
People have to be conscious about this fact when they are looking for a spouse, that this (intelligence/education) could play a role in the marriage. It depends a lot on the character of man or woman. Suppose if a person is very intellectual and does not have the necessary social skills to interact, then he should look for an intellectual spouse.
Scholars say that it is best if man is equal to the woman. This is just a general statement. If you find somebody who has religion and good character, and then she has education, then it is for your benefit. Similar to earlier remarks about beauty. A man should not block himself from these additional attributes. As long as deen and khuluq is there, then you will benefit from your wife, if she has religious knowledge, then you will benefit from it.
You should think about education level and intelligence level, it should not be considered as negative, as long as it is combined with deen and khuluq. One scholar said finding an intelligent, religious spouse, then it is “Noor 3la Noor”, light upon light. Sisters should also look for this quality, since it will benefit her also.
Kafaa’ah is a very broad category, but there are some aspects that are minimum requirements, whereas others are recommendations.
HW: Think about remainder of compatibility issues and what are the red flags?
2012-03-11 Class Notes
This is the last class for this quarter.
Discussion of the quality of compatibility of spouses
We are discussing the qualities of a prospective spouse and in particular we are going to discuss the quality of compatibility which is very popular in the west.
Evidence for compatibility from hadith of the prophet
There is a hadith of the Prophet in which he says, Souls are like troops collected together (shaikh said that it is difficult to translate the term that has been translated as “troops collected together”), those who are similar and like one another.
People with similar qualities are able to get along with one another, and those who do not share those qualities are not able to get along with another.
Commentators incorrectly say that the souls predate the human body and that they were together before being placed in the body and then when they find each other... This is not a correct understanding and ....
There is a narration that Al-Albaani and other scholars who narrate this hadith: there was a woman who was known to be humorous and jolly, when they made hijrah, she spent time and became friends with another humorous woman. She then quoted this hadith that we mentioned about souls are like troops...
In general, those who are righteous are likely to spend time with other righteous people, and not those involved in sinning.
If you look at the scholars in the history of Islam, many discuss why you like/love one another, and the topic of compatibility, affinity etc -- these are the main reasons why people like each other and why they love one another and this kind of affinity. In many cases, they took Greek philosophy and adapted.
Many scholars took this idea of affinity however, and then used this to justify why humans cannot truly love Allah (SWT). There are numerous texts that clearly show that we are supposed to love Allah swt. (For more on this topic see the notes for this quarter’s class on Forty hadith of Nawawi.) Yet another example of taking a theory and applying it in a context where it doesn’t apply.
Evidence for compatibility from contemporary scientific and psychological studies
Even Muslim web sites, they join people based on this idea of compatibility. There have been many studies done where they find spouses tend to be alike in age, religion, intelligence, interests, wealth, sex drive. Couples that are more alike report greater happiness. Partnerships based on similarity seem to be more stable.
Other studies show that serious discrepancies can cause issues. E.g. Tzing did research that people who differed wildly in educational level. And people did not grow closer over time if there were serious discrepancies.
Discussion of compatibility tests and websites
This does not mean that compatibility tests are necessarily good keys to finding a spouse. We want to avoid two extremes: romantic love and ignore other factors, or relying on compatibility factors. Going to either extremes might have some issues.
Art Linkletter matched the first couple using compatibility test in 1956. This couple got engaged and he offered to pay for their honeymoon, this occurred in 1956
The problem with a lot of these compatibility test is that there needs to be shown that they lead to successful marriages. Websites such as eHarmony and others make claims about successful marriages or relationships. But those claims are not backed up. In a 2004 American Psychological Association -- a paper showing that eHarmony matched people well, but then shortly after that a paper came out attacking the methodology of that paper.
Now we have Islamic websites that are doing similar tests, we have to make an attempt to validate these tests, since if these tests are not sound, then you are making a decision based on some criteria that has not yet been validated. It is incumbent upon us. Do not rely completely upon those tests, since you might be passing up on somebody who might be good for you and you are ignoring somebody based on those tests.
Many of these tests are already built into Islamic relationships. For example, a test that shows high level of correlation for successful relationships is fidelity of sexual relationship, which is a given for Islamic marriages. These are some highly correlated factors according to these tests: Attitude towards pornography, tolerance to smoking, physical attractiveness. And as Muslims we have these already built-in in our deen. Especially amongst those who are religious.
When looking for a spouse you have to identify what you might call “deal breakers.” These are things that are causes of tension in the marriage that were not settled beforehand. In other cases, the issues were discussed, but some of the parties were not complete in discussing the particular issues. Prospective spouses need to be honest with themselves and honest with their prospect.
Whether the wife will be a stay-at-home wife or a career mum
Some brothers insist that the wife works. Others are the exact opposite -- they don’t want their wives working. Sisters are the same, some want their career; but others that insist that they want to stay at home.
Having children right away vs waiting
Maybe they have strong feelings about. IT doesn’t mean the family will break up, but there is no reason to avoid potential arguments.
Living in the USA vs living overseas
Some people don’t want to live overseas.
What kind of neighborhood are you willing to live in
E.g. brother used to living in a crime-infested neighborhood, but the woman can’t. It is the woman’s standard of living that has to be lived up to. Part of the role of wali is to bring up issues that maybe people don’t think about.
How important is culture and how rigid are you with respect to it
Any cross-cultural marriage will have issues. But there are numerous successful marriages that are cross-cultural. Often times culture is tied to Islam. Culture unfortunately covers many things that are part of the Shari’ah. E.g. bridal arrangements. Relationships with in-laws. These are very important questions to bring up.
Another aspect is “religiousness”
Even if your prospective spouse describes themselves as “religious” but what about attitudes to riba, music, ikhtilaat, hijaab. If you wait til after the marriage, that can be a disaster. People didn’t realize how different views of Islam, then almost from the first night there are problems.
Kamal Sha’rawy feels that if the other party doesn’t ask questions about you and your situation or are not showing interest in each other, this is not a good sign.
You may not find the perfect individual. In the long run, you might have to compromise and be flexible. So you have to decide what’s important. If you disagree on the less important things, that’s OK. You don’t have to be identical on all of the issues. E.g. for one individual, being active in the community is something of extreme importance. But for somebody else, it’s not that important. Spicy food vs mild. For young couples, their interests don’t seem to be aligned. E.g. they might ask: do you like hiking? He might say no. It could be due to a number of reasons, e.g. he hasn’t hiked before.
People have a tendency and if they are religious they find ways to get along.
Living with in-laws
Taking care of daily things around the house
Assuming the sister knows how to cook (not necessarily the case all of the time).
The standard of housework
How much autonomy
Attitudes towards child-rearing and homeschooling v public school
Leaving questions for when they come up in the marriage (eg if the local school is really bad)
Online social habits
Dealing with in-laws (is the wife expected to take care of her parents-in-law)
There is a take-home exam.