Marriage in Islam
Nature has so arranged that man and woman are attracted to each other. This natural attraction binds them together and they lead a common life and form a family. This natural tendency, the instinct of sex, should be guided to the right direction so that it may be utilized in the service of humanity. Though the common life of a husband and wife originates from the sexual instinct, it gradually develops into a deep, spiritual, sentimental, social and economic relationship. That is what Islam calls matrimony.
Islam has attached great importance to the question of marriage in its social system. In the Holy Qur'an and the sayings of the Holy Prophet we find that marriage has been greatly encouraged. Prophet Muhammad (p.b.u.h.&h.h.) said;
"No institution of Islam is liked by Allah more than that of marriage."
The basic objectives of marriage in Islam are, first, securing a comfortable atmosphere for a husband and wife and, second, producing a new generation of healthy, faithful and virtuous children.
With regard to the first objective, the Holy Qur'an says:
"One of His signs is that He created for you spouses of your own species, so that you might find comfort with them. And He put mutual love and affection in your hearts. Surely in this there are lessons for the thinking people" (30:21)
A Muslim husband and wife who follow the teachings of the Holy Qur'an should always be a source of comfort for each other, their relationship should reach far above that of mere sexual enjoyment and should reach the stage of cordial friendship accompanied by mutual benevolence.
With regard to the second objective, the Holy Qur'an says:
"He is the Creator of the heavens and the earth. He has given you partners from among yourselves and, similarly, made the cattle also males and females. That is how he multiplies you. Nothing can be compared to Him; He is the All-hearing, the All-seeing." (43:11)
One of the most critical questions connected to marriage and the formation of the family is that of choosing a spouse. Freedom in choosing a husband or wife is a principle to which Islam pays much attention. Compatibility between two parties can exist only if they choose each other out of their own free will after careful study and without coercion.
According to Islamic law, the first condition of the validity of a marriage contract is that it should be proposed by the woman and accepted by the man and both of them should act freely in this matter. No impositions are allowed in this respect. A young man once complained to an Imam that his parents were compelling him to marry a girl whom he did not like, whereas he was interested in another girl. The Imam said to him: "Marry that girl whom you like," Still, consultation with the parents of both parties is strongly advised, since marriage establishes a social contract between two families. Such consultation shows respect for the parents and is conducive to better understanding between relatives of both sides.
Choosing a suitable spouse is the first step in establishing a sound family. The Holy Prophet said:
"Marry your equals; choose your partner in life from among them and select the best mothers for your offspring."
At first glance, this saying from the Holy Prophet may seem racist or prejudiced.