LATE MARRIAGES & ISLAM By YAQEEN UL HAQ AHMAD SIKANDER

Islam is the absolute and the ultimate way of life and it’s one of the unique features of Islam. Unlike other religions, Islam doesn’t confine itself to mere rituals and lip service, but every act that is done in obedience to Allah is an act of worship in Islam be that earning, social work, studying, striving for excellence, etc. Islam is the only religion that guides man in every sphere of life – social, political, economic, judicial and moral. Consequently no segment of life has been left untouched by Islam. Islam, due to its flexibility, is not silent upon any issue and Shari’ah provides us guidelines & solutions for every problem facing the mankind. Society according to Islam is formed according to the divine principles which are infallible as they have been chosen by Allah Himself for the man to live peacefully in the society. The basic unit of society is family. The family is a human social group whose members are bound together by the bond of blood ties and/or marital relationship. Family in Islam is built on the solid grounds that provide continuity, intimacy and mature reciprocity and moral gratification. Family ties are considered very important and sacred in Islam. About one-third of the Islamic social laws are pertaining to family. That’s why Muhammad (SAW) has said that one who cuts the family ties is not a Muslim. And the families are formed after marriage. Marriage is considered as a sacred covenant in Islam. Marriage has got its highly religious, social and moral advantages & Islam recognizes them all. In the Islamic system, marriage and family

are central and play a pivotal role. Islam lays emphasis on marriage to such an extent that Muhammad (SAW) said that one who doesn’t marry is not amongst us. In another authentic tradition he further said that one who marries has completed half of his religion. This is because a person after marrying is likely not to fall in sins like fornication, eve teasing, lusting after women, etc which form half of the social ills. Marriage is a religious obligation in Islam. It’s the Sunnah (practice) of all the prophets. The Qur’an mentions, “We sent Messengers before you, and appointed for them wives and children” (Surah Ra’d, Chapter 13 v38). And Allah's Messenger (peace be upon him) said, “There are four characteristics (which may be called) the Sunnahs (the practices) of the messengers of Allah: Modesty, but some say, circumcision, the use of perfume, miswak and marriage” (Tirmidhi). Islamic doesn’t allow monasticism. The Qur’an mentions, “But the monasticism which they invented for themselves, We did not prescribe for them” (Surah Hadeed, Chapter 57 v27). Further Muhammad (SAW) said, there is no monasticism in Islam. Marriage is a high moral safeguard and a social commitment. It must be fulfilled by every individual capable of doing so. Muhammad (SAW) is reported to have said, 'O young people! Whoever among you is able to marry, should marry, and whoever is not able to marry, is recommended to fast, as fasting diminishes his sexual power’ (Sahih Bukhari).

Again Allah's Apostle said, "O young people! Whoever among you can marry, should marry, because it helps him lower his gaze and guard his modesty (i.e. his private parts from committing illegal sexual intercourse etc.), and whoever is not able to marry, should fast, as fasting diminishes his sexual power." (Sahih Bukhari). A Sahabee (Companion of Muhamammad) Said Bin Jubair narrates that, Ibn 'Abbas asked me (Said Bin Jubair), "Are you married?" I replied, "No." He said, "Marry, for the best person of this (Muslim) nation (i.e., Muhammad) of all other Muslims, had the largest number of wives" (Sahih Bukhari). Further the implication of marriage can be inferred by the following Hadith. Allah's Apostle said, "From among all the conditions which you have to fulfill, the conditions which make it legal for you to have sexual relations (i.e. the marriage contract) have the greatest right to be fulfilled." (Sahih Bukhari). Marriage in Islam is considered to be an act of extreme virtue and piety. It is a kind of commitment in which both the partners find mutual fulfillment, self gratification, love, peace, tranquility, compassion, comfort and joy. The Qur’an mentions, “It is He who created you from a single person, and made his mate of like nature, in order that he might dwell with her (in love)” (Surah A’raf, Chapter 7 v189). Further the Qur’an says, “And among His Signs is this, that He created for you mates from among yourselves, that you may dwell in tranquility

with them, and He has put love and mercy between your (hearts): verily in that are Signs for those who reflect” (Surah Rum, Chapter 30 v21). Furthermore, Allah's Messenger (peace be upon him) said, "You have seen nothing like marriage for increasing the love of two people” (Tirmidhi). So the above given verses and Prophetic tradition clearly lay down the basic aim of marriage which is to find peace and tranquility with the mate through love and compassion. This is the primary aim of marriage. And if one feels depression, sadness or anxiety on seeing the wife then according to Islam, the basic purpose of marriage is forfeited and there is no need to continue such a marriage. And the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) has said in an authentic Hadith that an Ideal wife has three qualities which are obedience to the husband, keeping his trust and feeling of peace and contentment when he looks at her. The Qur’an also illustrates this point in a verse which reads, “Therefore the righteous women are devoutly obedient, and guard in (the husband’s) absence what Allah would have them guard” (Surah Nisa, Chapter 4 v34). And it is indeed a very great favour of Allah that he has created mates for us as the Qur’an mentions, “And Allah has made for you mates (and companions) of your own nature, and made for you, out of them, sons and daughters and grandchildren, and provided for you sustenance of the best: will they then believe in vain things, and be ungrateful for Allah’s favours?” (Surah Nahl, Chapter 16 v72).

Further the Qur’an mentions, “Grant to us wives and offspring who will be the comfort of our eyes, and give us (the grace) to lead the righteous” (Surah Furqan, Chapter 25 v74). And the Qur’an calls the wife as the garment of men (Surah Baqarah, Chapter 2 v187) which refers to the pleasure which is enjoyed by the man by living with her (See Surah A’raf, Chapter 7 v189 & also Tafseer Tabari). And as earlier mentioned also that every act which is done in obedience to Allah is considered as an act of worship in Islam. In Islam even making love with one’s wife is also an act of worship and a sadaqah. Some of the people from among the companions of the Apostle of Allah (peace be upon him) said to him: “Messenger of Allah, the rich have taken away (all the) reward. They observe prayer as we do, they keep the fasts as we keep them, and they give sadaqah from their surplus riches. Upon this he (the Holy Prophet) said: Has Allah not prescribed for you (a course) by following which you can (also) do sadaqah? In every declaration of the glorification of Allah (i.e. saying SubhanAllah) there is a sadaqah, every Takbir (i.e. saying AllahuAkbar) is a sadaqah, every praise of Him (saying Alhamdulillah) is a sadaqah, every declaration that He is One (La ilaha illallah) is sadaqah, enjoining of good is a sadaqah, forbidding of that which is evil is a Sadaqah, and in man's sexual intercourse (with his wife) there is a Sadaqah. They (the companions) said: Messenger of Allah, is there reward for him who satisfies his sexual passion among us? He said: Tell me, if he were to devote it to something forbidden, would it not be a sin

on his part? Similarly, if he were to devote it to something lawful, he should have a reward” (Sahih Muslim). So all the above given references clearly illustrate the importance of marriage in Islam and its obligation upon all Muslims who can afford to do so. But if we just take a look upon our society today, we will surely find too many iniquities in it. From eve teasing to immoral activities, from smoking to drug addiction, from menace of tuition centres to fornication and lewdness, our society is filled with all these types of evils and what not? Our society is completely fractured in so many areas which require our eminent attention or the consequences will prove dire later on. Late marriages are one the greatest evils of our society today. Many of the social evils rife today are only the consequences of late marriages which are too prevalent in our society. It is a matter about which we all are least concerned; otherwise, this issue is very serious by its nature. As per my research, in Kashmiri society, on an average boys are married from 35-40 and girls between 30-35 years of age or even more. Just lower this by 10 years or even more and just see how many of our social ills will disappear. Marriage makes a person responsible and after marrying, a person will not usually get time for lusting after other women, eve teasing and other immoral activities as he will feel responsible towards his family. There are so many reasons for late marriages that are prevalent in our society today. From a long time I began to think about the reasons for late marriages and I even consulted many learned people and examined their views. Thereafter I summed up various reasons that are responsible for late marriages. One of the main reasons for late marriages is that Kashmiri marriages are not simple and according to my estimate, the total marriage cost comes around a million rupees which a normal middle class person cannot afford at a time. So while

piling up money for the marriage, the years roll by and then one day all the hard earned money is lavishly spent upon Waazwaan and other marriage customs. And due to this stigma of cost involved, many people refrain from marrying at a young age which prevents them from such an economic depression. Then comes another obstacle of conditions and parameters laid down by one’s family to seek a match like family status (Khaandaan), wealth, etc. This makes really difficult to find a match and it takes years before the family finally finds a suitable match. An another reason for late marriages is that studies in current times take a long time and career orientation even makes marriage more difficult. But as far as I found, the major and foremost reason for late marriages is lack of Islamic knowledge among the masses. Consequently they are totally ignorant of the significance of marriage in Islam which has been already discussed. If we honestly realize the significance and obligation of marriage in Islam, then no sane person will make any delay in it. The point to be noted is that in our society marriage is treated merely as a social custom but never as an Ibadah or religious obligation even though our invitation cards start with the Hadith, ‘Annikah Min Sunnati” (Nikah is my practice). Consequently when a man grows up and then starts earning for many years, he feels that he must have a wife to take care of him and his old parents. So at this point, in our society, a person decides to marry. But this is only a motivation of behaviour by the environment. It can never be the purpose of marriage in Islam. If people would have taken marriage an act of extreme virtue and piety, then they will be obliged to do it as early as possible. It is very astonishing that we have so many self made criterias for marriage but we never try to search for Islamic criterias for marriage. Today, the acerb aftermaths of late marriages are before all of us. Late marriages are one of the major reasons for social ills and rise of pre-

marital affairs. Moreover, late marriages can lead to birth of babies having Down’s syndrome and with the growing age sperm loses its vigour which can lead to many abnormalities in children and even infertility. Parents are mainly responsible for not marrying their children at a young age. They are sinful in the view of Shari’ah for making their children suffer. Parents never at all think about this issue and take it too lightly. Parents seem to have no problem if their children have illegal affairs but they have an avid problem if the same child tells them to get him married. Once Abu Hurrairah (RA) said to Muhammad (SAW), "O Allah's Apostle! I am a young man and I am afraid that I may commit illegal sexual intercourse and I cannot afford to marry." He kept silent, and then repeated my question once again, but he kept silent. I said the same (for the third time) and he remained silent. Then repeated my question (for the fourth time), and only then the Prophet said, "O Abu Huraira! The pen has dried after writing what you are going to confront. So (it does not matter whether you) get yourself castrated or not." (Sahih Bukhari). The right to marriage is among the rights granted by the Shari’ah to an individual and one can claim anytime before parents for marriage and parents cannot turn down this claim or they will be transgressing the provisions laid down by the Shari’ah. The Shari’ah gives permission of marriage to an individual to such an extent that if one’s parents deny him/her of marriage, then same individual can get a fatwa written down by some Islamic authority which will nullify the guardianship of the parents and then the same individual can marry legally with some Islamic authority as his/her Wali (guardian) in marriage even without the consent of the parents. And this Nikah is absolutely valid in Islam.

But even though there maybe innumerable evils in the society but renovation is always and still possible. Islam has laid down best principles and guidelines for us in every dimension of life. In Islam there is concept of simple and austere marriages and it must be noted that earning is not a criteria for marriage in Islam. Islam highly encourages us to marry in most simple and austere manner. The following Prophetic Traditions will exemplify this, The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, "The marriage which produces most blessing is that which involves least burden" (Tirmidhi). Further another hadith says, “While I (Sahl Bin Sad) was (sitting) among the people in the company of Allah's Apostle a woman stood up and said, "O Allah's Apostle! She has given herself in marriage to you; please give your opinion of her." The Prophet did not give her any reply. She again stood up and said, "O Allah's Apostle! She has given herself (in marriage) to you; so please give your opinion of her." The Prophet did not give her any reply. She again stood up for the third time and said, "She has given herself in marriage to you: so give your opinion of her." So a man stood up and said, "O Allah's Apostle! Marry her to me." The Prophet asked him, "Have you got anything?" He said, "No." The Prophet said, "Go and search for something, even if it were an iron ring." The man went and searched and then returned saying, "I could not find anything, not even an iron ring." Then the Prophet said, "Do you know something of the Qur'an (by heart)?" He replied, "I know (by heart) such Sura and such Sura." The Prophet said, "Go! I have married her to you for what you know of the Qur'an (by heart)" (Sahih Bukhari). Furthermore, the Prophet (SAW) said to a man,

"Marry, even with (a Mahr equal to) an iron ring." (Sahih Bukhari). Then again as already discussed, we have got so many and too complex criterias for seeking a match which often causes a lot of delay in marriages. Allah's Messenger (peace be upon him) said, 'When someone with whose religion and character you are satisfied asks your daughter in marriage, accede to his request. If you do not do so, there will be temptation on Earth and extensive corruption' (Tirmidhi, Nasa'i and Ibn Majah). The only criterion as illustrated in this hadith for marriage is religiosity and character of the person seeking a match. But the criteria of family status and so on are nowhere mentioned but still it is the greatest criteria for us. These are only innovations that we have invented for ourselves and these prevent us from early marriages. Muhammad (SAW) said, "A woman is married for four things, i.e., her wealth, her family status, her beauty and her religion. So you should marry the religious woman (otherwise) you will be a loser" (Sahih Bukhari). Islam makes marriages too easy but we make them too difficult. Prophet Muhammad (SAW) always emphasized us to makes marriages most simple but in today’s world as scholars say that fornication is too easy & marriage is too difficult. To conclude, only adherence to Islamic values can save us from every problem intriguing the mankind and can put an end to the ongoing spiritual turmoil which is gripping us today. The Qur’an calls the believers as the protectors of one another,

“The Believers, men and women, are protectors, one of another: they enjoin what is just, and forbid what is evil: they observe regular prayers, practice regular charity, and obey Allah and His Messenger. On them will Allah pour His mercy: for Allah is Exalted in power, Wise” (Surah Tawbah, Chapter 9 v71). So let’s together protect ourselves and our society from moral degradation by following the Islamic principles so that we can again see the Islamic values blooming in our lives. Then one day we will practically see all the social evils disappearing from our society but only once we adhere to the Islamic principles and values. (The Author can be reached at www.yaqeenulhaq.info or can be mailed at yaqeen@ymail.com)

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