بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ
In the name of Allah, the most Gracious, the most Merciful.
يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ اتَّقُوا رَبَّكُمُ الَّذِي خَلَقَكُم مِّن نَّفْسٍ وَاحِدَةٍ وَخَلَقَ مِنْهَا زَوْجَهَا وَبَثَّ مِنْهُمَا رِجَالًا كَثِيرًا وَنِسَاءً ۚ وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ الَّذِي تَسَاءَلُونَ بِهِ وَالْأَرْحَامَ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ كَانَ عَلَيْكُمْ رَقِيبًا
Ya ayyuha alnnasu ittaqoo rabbakumu allathee khalaqakum min nafsin wahidatin wakhalaqa minha zawjaha wabaththa minhuma rijalan katheeran wanisaan waittaqoo Allaha allathee tasaaloona bihi waalarhama inna Allaha kana AAalaykum raqeeban
“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.”
(Surah An-Nisa, Quran 4:1)
My dear brothers and sisters. Allah knows His creation. He knows the limits of His creation. He knows the capacity of His creation. He knows the desire of His creation. He knows the needs of His creation, and the wants of His creation. Allah knows all of that. And one of the needs of humanity is companionship. What has Allah created for us as a way for fulfilling that companionship is none other than Nikkah or marriage. That is the way for fulfilling the human need for intimacy and for companionship. Marriage is a difficult topic to talk about. Because as the khatibah, we have to consider where all of the audience might be. When we have such a variety of ages, a variety of life circumstances, a variety of history, how do we go about talking about such a enormous topic? Anything you read about marriage, it is pages long. No one ever says three tips to a marriage and marital success. No one ever does that. Because there’s too much to say about the topic. How can we focus just on what the Quran says, and some things from what the Prophet (pbuh) says. Not to say, “This is it, the manual for marriage”. But as a reminder for all those that are married, those that used to be married, those that wish to get married one day, no matter the circumstance, what are the things that we can focus on.
Allah describes marriage as mithaqun ghalith. What is mithaq? It is the covenant. It is the pledge. It is the pledge to Allah. The same term is used for the pledge between Allah and the Prophet. Before He gives them this huge responsibility of Prophethood, He takes from them mithaqun ghalith. He takes from them this huge and enormous pledge. And that is the same term that He uses describe marriage. So marriage is not something small. It is not something small that it is a pledge. It is a covenant between two people.
Let’s start with some of the purposes behind marriage.
The first thing is that covenant between two people that fulfils the human need for companionship. The second thing, of course, is that that marriage is the foundation of the family in this community. Communities are made up of families, so the primary unit of support is the family, and socially strong families build stronger communities. I’m sure you’ve heard every Nikkah you go to the verse where Allah says:
وَمِنْ آيَاتِهِ أَنْ خَلَقَ لَكُم مِّنْ أَنفُسِكُمْ أَزْوَاجًا إِلَيْهَا وَجَعَلَ بَيْنَكُم مَّوَدَّةً وَرَحْمَةً
Wamin ayatihi an khalaqa lakum min anfusikum azwajan azwajan litaskunoo ilayha wajaAAala baynakum mawaddatan warahmatan
“And of His signs is that He created for you from yourselves mates that you may find tranquillity in them.”
(Surah Ar-Rum, Quran 30:21)
وَجَعَلَ بَيْنَكُم مَّوَدَّةً وَرَحْمَةً and he has made between you placed between you mawaddah.
Muhabbah is the emotion – love. Allah describes himself as Al-Wadud, the loving. So, mawaddah is when love is in action. What are the things which we do for those that we love? Whether they are friends, whether they are siblings, whether they are children, whether they are our parents, whether they are our spouses. Mawaddah focuses on the actions of love, because that love takes work, for it to prosper and for it to grow.
وَجَعَلَ بَيْنَكُم مَّوَدَّةً وَرَحْمَةً And He has placed mercy – to realize that there will be difficult times. There will be good times and there will be challenging times. There will be challenging times in that companionship when it comes to friends, but also when it comes to your family, and especially when it comes to your spouse. There will be challenging times and that is when it is important for you to remember mercy. A lot of times people come an Imam and they say “We just want to know, what are our rights that we can obtain? And what are our responsibilities that we owe?” The fact of the matter is that when you use words like rights and responsibilities, it feels like it should belong more in a court of justice, where there’s a judge and the judge is saying this is your right and this is your right and this is your responsibility.
The fact of the matter is that within Islam, there’s a lot more flexibility there. Some of the terms of agreement are little negotiable. There’s room there. A simple example is when it comes to the Mahar, the gift that the husband gives to the wife upon marriage. It differs from culture to culture, from time to time, from place to place. There’s some direction from the time of the Prophet (pbuh) but he never closed it. Even after him there was Umar, who was a Khalifa and he said the dowry has gotten too high, and we must limit it.
Marriage is not about rights and responsibilities, as much as it is about مَّوَدَّةً وَرَحْمَةً , love and mercy. If we devolve into rights and responsibilities, then it feels like we’re in a court and that we need a judge to determine who’s right and who should be doing what. Rather, this is something that is negotiated within those that belong to the agreement. Another word for Nikkah is contract. Not a contract in the sense of something boring and stale, but a contract where both parties mutually agree to something. A contract is where, in Islamic law, we talk about الْتِزام (altizam) . A contract can only be conducted with tarazi when both parties are happy with with the contract. Don’t think of marriage contract as the rights and the responsibilities but think about it as coming together to be happy and to be content.
So what does it take for your marriage? What does it take for your relationship to be happy? It will not be the same as your parents. It will not be the same as your children. It will not be the same as your brother or your sister or your cousin. It will be different. It will be for you. When you think about that relationship, think not about your rights and your responsibilities. Think more about love and mercy. “My wife is having a difficult time with this. My wife is having a difficult time with this. Let me let me give her some mercy here. Let me give a little here. Let me give a lot here.” The more you put into the relationship, the more you will get out of it. But if you stick a stick to my guns and say, “No I cannot give because I if I give then you will take.” That is the wrong direction. What’s needed here is mercy. May Allah makes that easy for us. Ameen.
The second verse, which I’d like to talk about when it comes to marriage is where Allah says:
هُنَّ لِبَاسٌ لَّكُمْ وَأَنتُمْ لِبَاسٌ لَّهُنَّ
hunna libasun lakum waantum libasun lahunna
(Surah Al-Baqarah, Quran 2:187)
“You are like garments for one another you are like clothing for one another.”
What does that mean? What is what is the purpose of clothing? Think of all the things which clothing does for you. It protects you. It covers your faults covers, your flaws. It beautifies you. It adorns you. It brings you confidence. There are many more things because clothing can mean different things to different people. That is your companion. That is your spouse – like a garment. You protect each other, you cover each other’s faults, you beautify each other, you bring each other confidence. That is part of your marriage. That is part of this relationship which Allah talks about and that is why just with these two simple verses, the Prophet (pbuh) told us that Nikkah is half of faith, that marriage is half of faith.
A young man told me, “Well my mother told me that cleanliness is half of faith and you’re telling me that marriage is half of my faith, so if I get married and I am super clean and my my deen is complete them I guess I’m complete”. But really cleanliness is not just vacuuming your room and cleaning your room. It is much more than that. It is purity of heart, it is purity of actions, it is purity of words. It’s not something as simple as cleaning your room. There’s much more to that purity and that cleanliness. Nikkah is half of your faith because it is part of what fulfils that faith. The Prophet said, “The best rizq and the best provision of this dunya is a good spouse”. So may Allah bless us with that. Ameen and may Allah give us that rizq and give us the ability to work for that rizq and so that is part of marriage that it is half of our deen.
The next thing about marriage is that it helps us with our modesty and our chastity. This is an important purpose of marriage. However it is not the primary purpose of marriage. If a 16 year old comes and says, “I need to get married. I will fall into haram if I don’t,” what do you do? What do you say? Marriage is a choice which you make for the rest of your life. You need to know how to choose a spouse. You need to know yourself in order for you to know how you are going to choose a spouse. The one who knows themselves knows their Lord. You need to know yourself and understand your own self before you can go and make that choice. So even though modesty is an important part of marriage, it is not a primary goal. We must be careful with that.
Another thing which goes back to marriage being half of deen is that the Prophet (pbuh) said, “…marriage is my way”. The Prophet (pbuh) said, “Nikkah is from my way and whoever strays from my way purposefully, purposefully strays from my way and they are not among us”. These are very strong words. But notice that he says ‘waman raghiba’. He didn’t say the one who does not get married. There were scholars who dedicated their lives to knowledge and they simply just didn’t have the time or the wherewithal to pursue marriage. That was okay. But the Prophet said, ‘man raghiba‘. The desire is something other than married. Desire something totally other than married, different from someone not getting married. The next part is really important. But before I get there, the marriage is from the Sunnah of the Prophet (pbuh), the way of the prophets. So much so that Prophet Isa, who will return, will get married when he returns – to complete that Sunnah. That is the way of the Prophet.
The next purpose of marriage is procreation, to have children. The Prophet (pbuh) encouraged us to have children. The Prophet (pbuh) said that he wants us to increase the numbers of the ummah that on the Day of Judgment. His ummah will be huge. That is a part of marriage – to increase the ummah, and for there to be sadaqa jariya in our lives, (continuous charity). When we go to our graves, all of our deeds go out, except the beneficial knowledge that we passed on, or a righteous child which makes dua for us.
This brings me to my next point. If marriage and having children are so great and so meaningful, and so purposeful, what’s stopping us? I’m speaking mostly to my generation. For those thinking “we’re past that point”, think about your children. What is stopping people from getting married and having children? This is a tense subject. There’s a lot of pressure when it comes to these two topics. There’s a lot of pressure given from relatives. “Why aren’t you married? Yeah. I know somebody, my friend or a friend knows somebody, would you like to meet them? Oh, you got married? When are the children coming?” There’s a lot of pressure there. Everywhere you go, if you are a newly wed, you get those questions. If you’re not married yet, you get those questions. “When’s the time coming? Alright, you’re this old. Alright, the clock is ticking.” That pressure that comes with that is what causes this subject to be difficult.
It’s important that we don’t talk about it in a way which pressures people but we talk about it in a open way to discuss the realities of the situation. On the one hand, it’s important for us to recognize that it takes longer in this society to get settled, to reach a place where you know yourself, and you know what you want, because there’s so many things you could want. It’s confusing, because there’s so many things that you could want. You don’t know what you want. You don’t know what to do, you don’t know how to go about it. You don’t necessarily have a good picture of how to do it, you don’t have a good snapshot of how to do it, because your parents did it in a certain way, and that’s not a way that’s realistic for you anymore.
So how do you approach it? How do you approach it?
Like I said, it takes longer become settled in this society. Look at the cost of living, the income to housing ratio. Look at that. That fact makes everything take longer. There are student loan debts, and other debts people have. You have to think about that as well, more than ever before. There’s also there’s a fear of failure, because the divorce rate is so high. “What if I’m one of those? What if I don’t have any good role models? What if my parents relationship wasn’t so great, or my siblings’ relationships?” There’s this fear of failure. So what can you do?
When it comes to children, fertility can be an issue. It’s important to talk about that. Even if you want children, you’re trying and then everyone’s pressuring you about having children, then that’s difficult emotionally. It’s important that the relationship of the couple is secure before having children. Children cannot fix the relationship with a lot of issues. It’s important to be free of judgment and free of pressure. Don’t go around pointing fingers. But instead, let’s open up the discussion on this. For us to get to that next step of marriage – children – it’s important for there to be a sense of trust in Allah.
In Islam, we believe in tying the camel. Once you’ve tied the knot, it’s a good knot. You don’t need to double and triple and quadruple tie it. You’re going to spend all your time and all your rope links just tying those knots. We have to realize that there’s never going to be a perfect time. There has to be that element of trust in Allah. There has to be that element of hope in the wisdom of Allah. Whatever Allah does, He does for a reason. So let’s not put pressure on our family members, but instead let’s have open conversations about these topics.
Before I conclude, I’d like to leave with three things that we can all remember and take as a reminder for our relationships. May Allah help us to do that.
Number One – You are like garments for one another. This is what Allah says – to protect, to cover, to beautify, to adorn.
Number Two – In order for us to find peace in one another, as Allah says, we must make time for each other. You’re busy with the kids, you’re busy with work, you must make time for yourself. So that you can find the time to find that peace in yourself and to find the love and to find the mercy to seek it. Every rizq is something which we seek. Every provision which Allah gives to us is something which we must seek. We must seek the peace and seek the love and seek the mercy. It will not just come to us unconditionally.
Number Three – don’t forget rahma (mercy). When going through challenging times, find the mercy. Think about the things which you love about your spouse. Think about the things which you can do for your spouse to alleviate their difficulties, to alleviate their challenges.
May Allah grant us good relationships . May Allah give Barakah in our in our families. May Allah guide us. May Allah unite us. May Allah help us build strong families that can be the foundation of a good community. May Allah give success to the next generation of young people that are getting married. May Allah help them to get through that and to place their trust in Him and their hope in Allah. May Allah help them to tie their camels and take the means that are necessary in order to seek the righteous spouse. May Allah grant them a righteous spouse. May Allah grant them righteous children. Those that are sick may Allah cure them, those that are in need May Allah fulfill their needs. Ameen
عِبَادَ اللّهِ إِنَّ اللَّهَ يَأْمُرُ بِالْعَدْلِ وَالْإِحْسَانِ وَإِيتَاءِ ذِي الْقُرْبَىٰ وَيَنْهَىٰ عَنِ الْفَحْشَاءِ وَالْمُنكَرِ وَالْبَغْيِ يَعِظُكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَذَكَّرُونَ
Servants of Allah. Indeed, Allah orders justice and good conduct and giving to relatives and forbids immorality and bad conduct and oppression. He admonishes you that perhaps you will be reminded.
اُذْكُرُوا اللَّهَ الْعَظِيمَ يَذْكُرْكُمْ واشْكُرُوهُ يَزِدْكُمْ واسْتَغْفِرُوهُ يَغْفِرْ لكُمْ واتّقُوهُ يَجْعَلْ لَكُمْ مِنْ أَمْرِكُمْ مَخْرَجًا
Remember Allah, the Great – He will remember you. Thank Him for His favors, He will increase you therein. And seek forgiveness from Him, He will forgive you. And be conscious of Him, He will provide you a way out of difficult matters.
And, establish the prayer.
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