Marriage: a Life Journey together

by: Imam Shamsi Ali*

(An article re-shared for greater benefits)

As an Imam in New York City, one of my responsibilities is officiating marriages within our community. This task is not only important but also paramount, noble, and rewarding. For me, overseeing someone’s marriage is a way to guide and remind them about life’s responsibilities in a serious manner.

Undoubtedly, marriage in Islam holds paramount importance. It is viewed as the first institution in human life, predating educational, economic, or political institutions. This marital institution was established by Allah the Almighty for Adam and Hawa and their progeny.

Marriage also caters to humans’ natural inclinations and desires. In other words, every human being naturally requires a spouse or partner in life. God created every living creature in pairs: “wa khalaqnakum azwaaja”.

Furthermore, marriage in Islam is believed to be an authentic pathway to peace and tranquility. Peace must begin with each of us individually. It’s challenging to envision world peace when humans individually are suffering from inner turmoil. Sakinah, or peace and tranquility, is promised through marriage (litaskunuu ilaihah).

Marriage is a lifelong journey

Marriage can be described in many ways; one such description is that it’s a journey two people (a man and a woman) embark upon for the rest of their lives. From the moment they declare “qabiltuk” (I accept you) until the afterlife, they commit to being together.

For this journey to succeed, I typically deliver some advice in the sermon (a speech to counsel the groom and bride) during the nikah

Firstly, this journey entails significant responsibility. The Prophet informed believers that a person blessed with a righteous spouse has fulfilled half of their religious duties. The remaining half is their individual responsibility to fear Allah.

Secondly, this journey should commence with a clear vision. In Islamic terminology, vision is called “niat” (intention). It’s the answer to a fundamental question each spouse must ask themselves: “why do I want to marry him or her?”. The response to this question will shape the way they navigate their marriage. The hadith says: “verily actions are determined by the intention”.

Thirdly, this journey requires illumination, and the light of marriage is knowledge. There’s a lot to learn in a marriage, such as getting to “know one another” as a couple. Ta’aruf (getting to know one another) is vital for harmonious living, which must start at home.

Fourthly, for this journey to continue, it needs fuel, and love (Al-wuddu) is the fuel for marriage. Allah mentioned in the Holy Quran: “and among His signs in this, that He created for you spouses so that you will find tranquility in one another. And He (Allah) made love and compassion for you to share”.

Fifthly, this journey is a lifelong act of worship (ibadah). In Islam, marriage is a highly rewardable act of worship. Every good thing that occurs between the couple after marriage is considered ibadah. Even just smiling at each other as husband and wife or engaging in a very personal intimate relationship is valued as ibadah in the sight of Allah, as mentioned in a hadith.

Sixthly, this journey is deeply challenging. The path is bumpy and filled with thorns. However, it’s a path that’s also full of blessings and joy. The best way to overcome these challenges is through partnership between the couple. Hence, in Islam, a husband and wife are referred to as “zauj”. The best way to describe “zauj” is through the Quran’s description: “they are a garment for you, and you are a garment for them”. Garments cover each other’s shortcomings when facing life’s challenges.

Lastly, this journey is a voyage towards the real future. Two important aspects relate to this future. Firstly, it’s about the future generations of humanity. Marriage should be the first step in preparing a solid and righteous generation (dzurriyah solihah). Secondly, marriage is a journey to prepare for our future life in the afterlife. As the couple commits to being together in this world, they should also commit to being together in Jannah. InshaAllah!

Manhattan City, 7 August 2023

* an intellectual, social political & religious observer, Imam live in New York.

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