Page 86 - Islam In Focus

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marriage as a purely economic transaction. In fact, the least focal aspect of marriage
in Islam is the economic factor, no matter how powerful this may be. The Prophet is
reported to have said that a woman is ordinarily sought as wife for her wealth, for her
beauty, for the nobility of her stock, or for her religious qualities; but blessed and
fortunate is he who chooses his mate for piety in preference to everything else. The
Qur’ an commands marriage to the spouseless and the pious even thought they may be
poor and slaves (24:32). On the other hand, whatever dowry (marriage gifts) a man
gives his prospective wife belongs to her; and whatever she may have acquired prior
to or after marriage is hers alone. There is no necessary community of property of
husbands and wives. Furthermore, it is the husband who is responsible for the
maintenance and economic security of the family. He must even provide the wife with
the kind of help and service to which she was used before marriage, and, according to
some scholars, she is under no legal obligation to do the routine housework, although
she may do so, and usually does, for some reason or other, e.g. cooperation, economy,
The Permanence of Marriage
Because Islam considers marriage a very serious commitment, it has prescribed
certain measures to make the marital bond as permanent as humanly possible. The
parties must strive to meet the conditions of proper age, general compatibility,
reasonable dowry, good will, free consent, unselfish guardianship, honorable
intentions, and judicious discretion. When the parties enter into a marital contract, the
intention must be clear to make the bond permanent, free from the casual and
temporary designations. For this reason, trial marriages, term marriages, and all
marriages that appear experimental, casual, or temporary are forbidden in Islam. (We
are aware of the complex and intricate arguments used by some Sheea Muslims as
regards the so – called mut’ ah marriage. We appreciate the scholarly dimension of the
problem but see no purpose in pursuing it here. Interested readers are referred to the
detailed discussion of the whole matter in our book The Family Structure in Islam.).
In one of his most unequivocal statements, the Prophet declared that condemned are
the men and women who relish the frequent change of marital partners, that is, the
“ tasters” who enjoy one partner for a while, then shift to another, then to a third, and
so on.
However, to insist on the permanent character of marriage does not mean that the
marital contract is absolutely indissoluble. Muslims are designated by the Qur’ an as a
Middle Nation ??? ? ???? (ummatan wasatan) and Islam is truly a religion of the
“ Golden Mean” , the well – balanced and well – integrated system. This is particularly
clear in the case of marriage which Islam regards as neither a sacrament nor a simple
civil contract. Rather, marriage in Islam is something unique with very special
features of both sacramental and contractural nature. It is equally true that the
alternative to this casual or temporary extremity is not the other extreme of absolute
indissolubility of the marital contract. The Islamic course is one of equitable and
realistic moderation. The marriage contract should be taken as a serious, permanent
bond. But if it does not work well for any valid reason, it may be terminated in
kindness and honor, with equity and peace.