Sunday, October 31, 2010
Islam, being a complete and total way of life that is the most beneficial for all mankind, recognizes the natural built-in urges that occur in every healthy normal mature human being. For this reason we find, as usual, the best of guidance in the Qur'aan and the authentic sunnah for how to deal with sexual matters. The following article will provide a general outline on just what Islam prescribes in this important area of life.
It should first be mentioned that Islam encourages healthy and lawful sexual activity. Sex itself is neither a taboo subject nor a preoccupation. It has been dealt with at length and detail in nearly every aspect by scholars of Islam, not as a means of titillation, but in order to guide the ummah of Muhammad in this basic and vital area of life so they can live in a manner that Allah Most High is pleased with. Free and wanton sexual practices are proven unhealthy physically and psychologically and have a tremendous negative impact upon society whereas when people conduct themselves according to the divine guidelines set down by Islam, sexual behavior is both controlled and beneficial for individuals and society.
"Some scholars have concluded that the human being should pledge 1) To walk at least a minimum distance every day 2) To feed his stomach at regular intervals 3) Not to abstain from having lawful sexual intercourse..." [Zaad Al-Ma'ad]
We find that the following general points are advised for people from the Qur'aan and sunnah that afford the believer the means to control his or her self and properly channel their desires. Indeed, the major role of Islam is to provide human beings the means by which they can control themselves, develop in righteousness and fulfill their roles as slaves of Allah.
1.Remembrance of Allah (i.e. through reading and understanding the Qur'aan and Sunnah and seeking refuge in Allah from the whisperings of Shaitan and keeping Allah constantly in mind.
3.Lowering the gaze
5.Staying away from bad company
6.Staying away from places of temptation (fitnah)
The benefits of lawful sexual intercourse are that it protects one's eyes from looking at what is unlawful, it preserves one's chastity and helps to control one's desire and lust against what is unlawful and of course is the means through which society may flourish. Anas Ibn Malik (radiallahu 'anhu) said that "the Prophet (sallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam) use to command us to marry and forbid celibacy severely and say, 'Marry women who are very prolific and loving, for I shall outnumber the prophets by you on the Day of Resurrection.'" [Ahmed, Ibn Hibban, Abu Dawud, An-Nasaa'i]. Also Allah's Messenger (sallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam) said, "Yet I pray and sleep; I fast and break my fast; and I marry women. He who desires other than my sunnah is not my follower". He (sallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam) also said, "O young men, whoever among you has the means to establish a family, he should get married, for marriage preserves the chastity of one's eyes and sexual organ, and whoever cannot afford to establish a family, he must fast from desiring sex, for abstention in that case will protect him from sin." [Al-Bukhaari & Muslim]
Islam even provides guidance as to sexual conduct between spouses and one can read these details in the works of the scholars and in the hadeeth. Notable in this regard is the work of Ibn Qayyim Al-Jowiyyah (b. 1292 d. 1350 CE) who dealt with the subject in detail in his famous book Zaad Al-Ma'aad Fi Huda Khairil-'Ibaad. He deals with what is permissible, recommended and forbidden with regards to sexual conduct and every married Muslim as well as those about to be married should seek such knowledge.
Islam forbids sex outside the lawful marriage tie, and it strictly forbids homosexuality, bestiality and any other harmful or deviant practices. It also provides measures through its laws and ethics to prevent such sinful behavior along with appropriate punishment for those who do so. One of the major causes of sexual immorality today is the absence of limits in many so-called modern societies. This permissive attitude is propagated through the popular media, especially TV and films where prohibited sex is glamorized and encouraged.
Also books, songs and poetry encourage and stimulate the sexual urge among men and women to the point where they can no longer refrain from indulging in what Allah has made forbidden for them. Those who are responsible for the spread of these mediums among society and especially among Muslims have a heavy burden to bear upon their shoulders on the Day of Resurrection.
Constant exposure to the opposite sex or to whatever affords a person the opportunity to indulge in concentration upon them can lead to sexual obsession. Once a person is put in this position "...they will find themselves under constant, irresistible, and compelling influence to engage in sex." [Zaad Al-Ma'aad] Allah Himself refers to this when talking about women's erotic passion and in relation to the sexual inversion of the men engaged in homosexuality and pedophilia.
The first instance is that which is related in the story of Yusuf (alaihi salaam) and the uncontrollable desire of the wife of the Aziz for.
The second can be found in the story of the people of Lot ('alaihi salaam) who sought to satisfy their perverted lusts with the guests of Lot ('alaihi salaam) and ultimately Allah destroyed them. [See Al-Qur'aan Chapter 15]
Ibn Qayyim writes: "Fascination and attraction to physical forms, objects, pictures, statues, idols, books, portraitures, museums, images, arts, nature, beauty, scenery, or obsession and pride about one's own beauty or self sometimes develop into an abnormal excitability and is an illness that must be treated as such. These are creations, and fascination with the creation is a mask that obstructs one's recognition of his Creator. A heart that is filled with love for Allah will see life in this world from a different depth." How true ring such words in these times when films and magazines bombard our senses that our designed to make us focus on the "sexy" celebrity and that have the main theme of how one can make themselves sexually attractive!
We thank Allah Who has told us, "It is He who created you from a single being and out of that, He created its mate, so that he may enjoy the pleasure of living with her" [Al-Qur'aan 7:189] Allah has made the nature of mating congruity between man and woman based on love for they are of like nature and the core of peace and tranquility between them is love. Real satisfaction is not merely based on beauty, looks, intention, goal, will, character, or spiritual attainment, though such elements can help to bring about love, peace and tranquility.
The overemphasis in society on physical beauty and constant exposure or preoccupation with the opposite sex undermines the ability of people to apply wisdom, logic and sound reasoning to overcome desires. This is where the wisdom of keeping good company and staying away form the places of temptation (fitnah) is so crucial, for bad companions will surely do nothing but encourage the wrong behavior. The closest and constant companion for many is the television which is the worst of companions and a center of fitnah, not to mention actual supposed friends who are but shayateen in disguise who call to corruption and immorality by various means.
We must avoid both. Certainly places where men and women freely mix are a great cause of temptation. Take any college campus or even work environment in the west (or even in Muslim countries where adherence to hijaab and separation of the sexes is lax or non-existent) and you will naturally find a higher incidence of unlawful premarital and extramarital relations between the sexes. The same applies to situations where men and women have many opportunities to be alone together.
As Ibn Qayyim said with regards to being infatuated and giving the degree of love to others that belongs only to Allah : "...love for other than Allah is polytheism, and since Allah created one heart for each human being, the focus of such a heart should not be divided...we can say that love for other than Allah is wine for the spirit, and an intoxicant that can cloud one's clarity, and obscure one's real purpose. It inebriates the mind, impairs one's proper functions, occupies the heart from concentrating on the remembrance of Allah...occupying one's heart with attachment and love for someone else besides Allah breaks up one's devotion, for the heart naturally adores its beloved, and that is worship ('ibaadah)."
Allah is most Wise and the guidelines He has laid down regarding lowering the gaze, wearing hijaab, not being alone with the opposite sex who is not mahram and not coming near to zinaa (illicit sex) are all for our benefit in this life and the Hereafter and we ask Allah to guide us to adhere to that which He has taught us, and that He and His Prophet are the most beloved to us all Ameen.
References to Ibn Qayyim's words was taken from the book "Natural Healing With The Medicine Of The Prophet" Translation and Emendation by Muhammad Al-Akili, Pearl Publishing House
Thursday, October 28, 2010
HOW TO LOWER YOUR GAZE
Verily all praise and thanks is due to Allah, we thank and praise Him and we seek His aid and depend upon Him and we ask Him for forgiveness and seek refuge in Him from the evils of ourselves and the wickedness of our deeds. Whoever Allah guides there is no one who can lead him astray, and whoever Allah leads astray there is none who can guide him. I testify that there is nothing deserving of worship in truth except Allah Who is Alone and without any partner and I bear witness that Muhammad is the slave servant and final Prophet and Messenger of Allah. Verily the most truthful and correct speech is the Book of Allah and best of guidance is the guidance of Muhammad (sallallahu alaihi wa sallam). The worst of all matters in religion are those newly invented matters and each invented matter is a forbidden innovation and every forbidden innovation is a straying and every straying is in the fire.
"If I were not a Muslim, I would have contracted AIDS" proclaimed my friend. "The ayats in Sura Nur about lowering our gazes doesn't affect me anymore," expressed another youth, talking about the intense temptations felt by today's young. Difficulty in lowering the gaze by both the young and old is readily perceived on the street, weddings, parties and even in the mosques. What has gone wrong? How can Muslims, called by Allah, our Creator, the model community, the custodians of Truth and the upholders of morality behave this way? Why are we adopting the attitudes and routes of the kuffar? How can we rectify ourselves? What follows is practical and straightforward advice that can work for us and set us free from Satan's stronghold, Inshaa Allah.
Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam), by way of warning and as a reminder said, "There is nothing left after I go more dangerous to men than the temptations of women." [Al-Bukhaari] Being optimistic, a ray of hope was also wisely provided during the Prophet's Last Sermon "There are two things I have left that if the Ummah holds on to they will never go astray the Book of Allah and my Sunnah." [Al-Haakim] When Allah created humans with all our desires and urges, he also revealed to us sufficient and complete guidance to properly channel these desires, both in the midst of Dar-ul-Kufr or Dar-ul-Islam. All we need to do is seek it, contemplate on it and pursue it. "This day I have perfected your deen for you, completed my favors upon you and chosen Islam as your deen." (Al-Maida 5:4)
We should realize the fact the great companions (radiallahu 'anhum) were human beings also. Biologically they were no different from us. They had desires and temptations but yet, they controlled themselves in the best of ways. We can do the same, in shaa Allah. To possess sensual passions is human, to control them is Muslim.
When confronted with an alluring situation like passing by the opposite sex on the street, office or school, Shaitan is constantly tempting us to glare at her/him with evil thoughts. Shaitan is probably excitedly saying, with a big smile, 'Yes, yes, yes!' when we steer into the bait he is setting. During these situations, we should immediately and consciously realize that when we give a second or following glance we are obeying Satan. "O you who believe, follow not the footsteps of the devil" (24:21). By immediately averting our gazes and disobeying Shaitan, we are giving him a "one-two" punch in the face, leaving him frustrated and accursed.
Shaitan rebelled and was expelled by Allah, so let's all rebel against Shaitan and expel him from our hearts. Shaitan intends to fight a war against Muslims, so let's gather our forces behind the Qur'aan and the Sunnah and defeat him. Remember that even if no human eye is watching us, the Ever-Watchful Allah is constantly monitoring the innermost regions of our hearts. Our eyes, limbs, tongue and private parts will be witnesses on the Day of Ressurection and not an atom's worth of deeds will remain unexamined. Our minds are conditioned to associate thoughts of stealing clothes from a store to being in handcuffs and hauled into a police van. Likewise, we should condition our minds to bring the verses of Surah An-Nur in front of our eyes during any tempting situations and imagine that Allah is speaking to us directly: "Say to the believing, men that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty. O you believers! Turn you all together towards Allah that you may attain success" (24:30-31) If the Qur'aan contained only these two ayats, it would be enough to convince me that it is the book of Allah.
With practice, these associations and the remembrance of Allah during tempting situations will prevent us from getting stuck by devilish arrows. Successfully controlling our gazes also increases our avoidance of sinful situations. An Islamic idiom says, "Anything that leads to haram is haram in itself." To do a pious deed earns a reward; to avoid a sin earns a reward too.
One of the biggest culprits in this class is movies. In the name of entertainment, to please our peers and children and an excuse to do something together as a family, we astonishingly allow un-Islamic pictures and dialogues in front of our eyes and ears. Can we ever imagine (a'udhubillah) any sahaba renting the latest hit from Blockbuster Video, or listening to music with alluring lyrics at high volume?
Likewise we watch news on TV and stare at the anchor women, adorned in heavy make-up, scanty clothing and seductive smile. Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam), was once approached by a woman with a proposal for marriage. He took a single glance at her face and turned his face away. Jabir bin Abdullah (radiallahu 'anhu) reported: I asked Allah's messenger about the sudden glance on the face of a non-mahram. He commanded me that I should turn away my eyes. (Muslim) Thus, we are not supposed to stare at faces of non-mahram females, be they are our fellow students, our elders, saleswomen or someone on TV. In our wedding ceremonies and parties and even in many Islamic fundraising dinners, there is heavy free-mixing between brothers and sisters. Often the chairs of males and females are arranged facing each other, knowing that about ninety percent of our sisters do not wear hijab. It is often noticeable to see males and females peeking glances at each other from the opposite ends of the hall. A big curtain is not my intention, but a big iman and befitting Islamic manners is.
The Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam) said, "Verily a woman who is perfumed and passes by men and they smell her scent, is called a zaaniyah (fornicatress or adultress) in the heavens" [Ahmed and others with a hasan isnaad, Saheeh Al-Jaami' 2701]. Compare this with our sisters who clad themselves with expensive perfume, one kilogram of makeup, and then come to mixed gatherings. Will this not attract the attention of males? Let's be real. We have lowered our moral guards so low that a humble word of truth often seems so awfully strange. Let us contemplate the above humble advice and constantly make the supplication, "O Allah help us control our sensual desires until we get married, and even after we marry, let our desires be only towards our spouses.
Friday, October 15, 2010
The Islamic Marriage Ceremony and Beyond
Once a couple has accepted each other as a marriage partner, there is much to plan. This article describes the components of an Islamic wedding with the intention of providing those who are about to marry with an idea of what they can expect and the meaning of each event.
First of all, they need to consult their families and set a date! The couple should discuss their wishes and expectations with both families before setting to work, deciding upon a budget, and organising all that is required. Do you wish to hold the nikah at home or at the masjid? Will you require a separate civil ceremony? Who will you invite? Where will you hold the Walima? All this, and more, requires careful consideration.
The nikah is a simple ceremony in which a man and woman declare their commitment to one another as husband and wife. It is a holy contract to which both must agree and it is considered an act of worship (ibadah).
In the very simplest form of the ceremony, there is the Al-Ijab wal-Qubul (offer and acceptance) only, when the Wali (woman’s guardian in marriage) offers the bride to the groom, who then accepts. TheWali may say: “I give you my daughter/the girl in my guardianship in marriage in accordance to the Islamic Shari'ah in the presence of the witnesses here with the dowry agreed upon. And Allah is our best witness.”
The husband-to-be replies with: “I accept marrying your daughter/guard giving her name to myself in accordance to the Islamic Shari'ah in the presence of the witnesses here with the dowry agreed upon. And Allah is our best witness.” The ceremony is then complete.
However, Islam encourages its followers to announce a marriage and to celebrate this wonderful relationship between a man and a woman. The nikah is also a social activity. The Prophet (ṣall Allahu ʿalayhi wa sallam صلى الله عليه وسلم) said: “Declare this marriage, have it in the mosque and beat the drums.”
Despite being a religious ceremony, the nikah does not need to take place in a mosque. That is a matter of personal choice. However, you will be required to hold a separate civil ceremony. Sometimes, men and women sit separately at the nikah. They may be in a separate room or there may be a partition between them. Again, this is a matter of preference.
All that is required for nikah is:
- the consent of both parties;
- two witnesses (Ash-Shuhud ), who have attained adulthood and are good Muslims of sound mind (usually two males or a male and two females); and
- the payment of mahr (dowry or marriage gift) by the groom to the bride. Mahr will be discussed in greater detail later in this article.
Also important to the nikah, but not required by law, are:
- the presence of the bride’s legal guardian (wali);
- a written marriage contract (Aqd-Nikah) which is signed by the bride, groom and witnesses;
- a responsible person to officiate the ceremony, most often an Imam;
- a sermon (Khutba-tun-Nikah) to bless the marriage
The marriage contract documents are recorded with the mosque and registered with local government, thus fulfilling the civil obligations of the marriage. Without this, the marriage would not be recognised under British law and the legal rights of the spouse, such as inheritance, would not be valid.
The marriage sermon (Khutbah-tun-Nikah) is a way of blessing the marriage and begins by praising Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Taala سبحانه و تعالى). “There is none worthy of worship except Allah and Muhammad is His servant and messenger”, the Muslim confession of faith, is then declared. The main body of the sermon comprises three verses from the holy Qur’an (Quran 4:1, 3:102, 33:70-71) and one hadith:
“By Allah! Among all of you I am the most God-fearing, and among you all, I am the supermost to save myself from the wrath of Allah, yet my state is that I observe prayer and sleep too. I observe fast and suspend observing them; I marry woman also. And he who turns away from my Sunnah has no relation with me.” [Bukhari]
The ceremony draws to a close with Du’a (prayer) for the bride and groom, their families, the local Muslim community and the Muslim community as a whole (ummah).
It is written in the Qur’an that mahr must form part of the marriage contract. The groom gives mahr to his bride as a demonstration of his commitment to her and to providing for her. It can take the form of money, property or possessions. There is no set amount, although moderation is recommended, and the gift is agreed between the bride and the groom.
“And give the women their dowries as a free gift, but if they are pleased to offer you any of it accept it with happiness and with wholesome pleasure.” [Qur’an 4:4]
The groom may pay the mahr before he marries, at the time of marriage, or at a later date, as agreed with his bride. The mahr can even be postponed indefinitely. However, it will become payable immediately in the case of divorce or death. The amount and method of payment is written into a contract, which is signed by the bride, groom and their witnesses. Following this, the Aqd-Nikah is announced to all who attend the nikah.
Traditionally, mahr would reflect the social status of the bride’s family. However, these days, the giving of mahr is seen mainly as a symbol. No one wants to begin married life burdened with debt and, equally, Islam does not wish to prevent men from getting married simply because they cannot afford an expensive dowry.
The wedding banquet (Walima) is traditionally held by the groom after the nikah has taken place. It may take place immediately following the nikah, on the following day, the following week or at a future date, but the purpose of the banquet is for family and friends to share in the groom’s happiness on the occasion of his marriage and to give thanks to Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Taala سبحانه و تعالى).
The Prophet Muhammad (ṣall Allahu ʿalayhi wa sallam صلى الله عليه وسلم) encouraged Muslims to accept invitations to attend marriage ceremonies and marriage feasts: “…and he who refuses to accept an invitation to a marriage feast, verily disobeys Allah and His Prophet”. [Ahmad & Abu Dawood]
The Walima need not be wildly expensive. Islam emphasizes moderation and it is sensible to keep this in mind. Beginning married life with a huge debt, or to burden the families with debt, owing to an extravagant Walima, is unlikely to give you the best start. It is an occasion to celebrate the happiness of the newlyweds and competing with what you may have experienced at a friend or relative’s Walima will most likely lead to escalating costs and detract from the occasion. The Prophet (ṣall Allahu ʿalayhi wa sallam صلى الله عليه وسلم) said: “The best wedding is that upon which the least trouble and expense is bestowed.” [Mishkat]
The Walima gives family members and friends the opportunity to congratulate the happy couple: the bride is congratulated by the women around her and by her family and friends; the groom receives the congratulations of men. The newlyweds are also presented with gifts. It is believed that gifts given willingly will strengthen the relationships between people. Therefore, it is important to keep gifts affordable. The Prophet (ṣall Allahu ʿalayhi wa sallam صلى الله عليه وسلم) said: “Exchange gifts, strengthen your love of one another.” [At-Tirmizi]
A mangni (engagement ceremony) may take place once the couple has accepted each other for marriage. It is provides an opportunity for the two families to come together and for the couple to exchange rings, if they so wish. The outfit of the bride-to-be is traditionally provided by the groom’s family.
It is traditional for the bride to hold a mendhi ceremony, usually at home, shortly before the wedding. The groom’s family provides the henna, which is applied to the bride’s hands and feet. Following the application of mendhi, the bride does not leave the house until the nikah. Her wedding clothes are also provided by the groom’s family.
It is not a religious requirement for the bride and groom to exchange rings in marriage; however it has become tradition. Gold jewellery is acceptable for women only, although silver rings may be worn by men or women.
Anticipation of the wedding night can be a cause of wedding day nerves for most newlyweds, but do try not to let any apprehension spoil your special day. If you know what is expected on this special night, you can reduce the feelings of uncertainty. The Prophet Muhammad (ṣall Allahu ʿalayhi wa sallam صلى الله عليه وسلم) has described for us ways in which the wedding night can be fulfilling and enjoyable.
The Sunnah encourages the groom to place his hands upon his wife’s head and to pray for her. In the words of the Prophet (ṣall Allahu ʿalayhi wa sallam صلى الله عليه وسلم): “O Allah, I ask You her goodness, and the goodness of the inborn dispositions which You have given her, and I solicit Your protection from her evil, and the evil of the inborn dispositions which You have given her.” [Abu Dawud and Ibn Majah]
It is preferable that the groom leads his wife in two raka’at (units of prayer) before asking of Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Taala سبحانه و تعالى) what they wish for themselves. The Prophet (ṣall Allahu ʿalayhi wa sallam صلى الله عليه وسلم) suggested: “O Allah, bless my wife for me, and bless me for her. O Allah, unite between us in good, and if You separate us, separate us in good.” [Abu Shaybah]
The groom should treat his bride with kindness and it is the Sunnah to offer her something to eat or drink. Foreplay is essential: take time to kiss and touch. The Prophet said: “One of you should not fall upon his wife like the way an animal does, let there be a messenger between them.” [Daylami]
Nakedness is allowed but, to preserve modesty, it is preferred if the couple is covered by a sheet, as described by the Prophet (ṣall Allahu ʿalayhi wa sallam صلى الله عليه وسلم): “Verily Allah is modest and discreet and He likes modesty and discretion.” [Ahmad, At-Tirmithi and Abu Dawud]
Take things slowly and gently. Listen to each other and discover what feels good. Like most things in life, sex gets better with practice, so take comfort in the fact that you will soon discover what your partner likes and dislikes. When a woman loses her virginity it may be a bit painful and there may be some blood, but this is not always the case. If you ensure that there has been sufficient foreplay before intercourse, this should make penetration more comfortable.
It is a Sunnah to pray before intercourse: “In the name of Allah. O Allah, keep Satan away from us, and keep Shaytan away from (the offspring) that which You grant us.” [Bukhari]
You are free to have intercourse in any position you choose and as often as you choose.
After sex, couples are advised to bath or shower (ghusl) or, at the very least, wash themselves (wudhu). The Prophet (ṣall Allahu ʿalayhi wa sallam صلى الله عليه وسلم) also said: “If one of you had intercourse with his wife and then wants to come to her again, it is better for him to perform wudhu, for it gives him vigor to come again.” [Muslim]
More information on intercourse can be found in our article on marital etiquette. This also covers what acts are considered haram.
This article has provided an overview of the most important elements of the occasion of marriage. Many communities have their own traditions and perhaps different ways of doing things, which you will learn of as you go about your planning. Do not forget that relatives will prove to be a mine of information and of great help to you at this exciting, yet busy, time.
Sunday, October 10, 2010
Why Islam does not permit boyfriend-girlfriend relationships
Islam clearly divides members of the opposite sex into mahram (relatives that, by law, you cannot marry) and non-mahram (those who are marriageable). It is haram to mix freely with non-mahram and, therefore, having a relationship before marriage (boyfriend or girlfriend) is strictly forbidden.
There is no such thing as “dating” in Islam. When young Muslims are able to marry, they are encouraged to find a suitable partner for marriage, following strict rules of courtship, and always keeping the intention of marriage at the forefront of any interaction.
This article takes a look at why boyfriend/girlfriend relationships are at odds with the teachings of Islam and at the benefits of a society where sexual relations are between spouses only.
Western society is rife with problems related to sex outside marriage as the following list shows:
- Teenage pregnancies (the rate of teenage pregnancies in the UK is the highest in Europe);
- A high incidence of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and AIDS;
- Unwanted pregnancies and abortion;
- High divorce rates;
- Couples co-habit with little commitment to each other;
The attitude towards free sex which has become part of Western culture is spread by the media and is taking effect on Muslim teenagers. Teenage relationships may begin as friendship but, as curiosity and peer pressure get the better of these youngsters, the temptation to sin becomes greater and greater and can eventually lead to sex.
Many Westerners, in their search for “love” and the right partner, move from one relationship to another with little commitment to their partners. This constant meeting and parting leads to heartache, let downs, lack of self-respect and some come to equate happiness with having a boyfriend or girlfriend.
A side effect of having many relationships is tendency to compare your spouse or most recent partner with previous partners, which often leads to a lack of satisfaction (including sexual).
By forbidding relationships outside marriage, Islam experiences a significantly lower incidence of those problems associated with societies that have a relaxed attitude to sex.
Islam places great importance upon the values of modesty and chastity on both men and women and, therefore, sex outside marriage is one of the biggest sins that a Muslim can commit. Indeed, the Prophet (ṣall Allahu ʿalayhi wa sallam صلى الله عليه وسلم) said: “When two people are (illegally) together alone then the third is Shaitaan.” [Bukhari]
Muslims of opposite sexes are not permitted to be alone together before marriage, let alone have any physical contact. Therefore, the trial and error approach to finding a suitable spouse, as practised in West, has no place in our society. Physical relations can take place only within the security of a marriage.
“(Lawful to you in marriage) are chaste women from the believers and chaste women from those who were given the Scripture (Jews and Christians) before your time, when you have given their due Mahr(bridal-money given by the husband to his wife at the time of marriage), desiring chastity (i.e. taking them in legal wedlock) not committing illegal sexual intercourse, nor taking them as girlfriends.” [Al-Ma'idah]
According to the Shariah, all Muslim men and women should wear modest and loose clothing, which does not show nor emphasize their body shape so that they do not attract members of the opposite sex who are non-Mahram. In addition, a woman wears hijab as her head and hair are classed as Awrah(parts which must be covered).
“It is not permissible for a man to look at a woman who is not his wife or un-marriageable relative except for her face and hands (because of the necessity of her need to deal with men in taking and giving and the like). If a man is not safe from lust, he may not look at her face except for when it is demanded by necessity.” [Quduri]
Muslims are also required to lower their gaze when coming into contact with a non-Mahram, as stated in the Holy Qur’an: “Tell believers to lower their gaze, and tell the believing women to lower their gaze.”[Qur’an 24:30, 31]
Islamic “courtship” is focused and involves more people than just the prospective spouses. Choosing a marriage partner is a huge decision and it is one where involvement from experience family members should be welcomed. This ensures that the decision is carefully considered and that long-term compatibility is thoroughly evaluated by people who have your best interests at heart.
If a Muslim brother or sister is ready for marriage it is usual for them to ask friends and family if they know of anyone suitable. If a potential partner is found, then meetings between the couple take place in a chaperoned environment. The Prophet Muhammad (ṣall Allahu ʿalayhi wa sallam صلى الله عليه وسلم) said,“Not one of you should meet a woman alone unless she is accompanied by a relative (mahram).”
This rule is to protect the couple from temptation as they are getting to know each other. Islam is all too aware of our weaknesses as humans and states that Muslims should follow the directions of the Qur’anin lowering their gaze and guarding their modesty.
If the couple agrees to marriage and become engaged, this does not mean that they can then begin a Western-style courtship. Those who believe that they can be alone with their finance/fiancée have misunderstood the rules of Islam or have accepted foreign influences. Until the marriage takes place, the rules regarding non-mahram relationships still applies and both partners should be aware of this. It is recommended that the couple see each other in the presence of a mahram so that they can find out more about each other and develop feelings for one another. However, no relationship is permitted between the couple until the nikah.
Islam regards the family as the building block of society and, to enable the creation of a family, it requires the commitment of a man and a woman to one another in a lawful and life-long relationship. Because of this, dating, and all the associated problems it brings, is completely at odds with Islamic society.
Tuesday, October 5, 2010
Marriage is highly respected in Islam and can be looked upon as a form of worship.
Indeed, brothers and sisters can complete half their faith through marriage, and marriage itself brings many benefits. Young men are encouraged to marry as soon as they are in a position where they can support a wife, and parents of young women are encouraged to allow them to marry as soon as a proposal is made by a suitable man. The Prophet (ṣall Allahu ʿalayhi wa sallam صلى الله عليه وسلم) said,
“Young men, those of you who can support a wife should marry, for it keeps you from looking at women and preserves your chastity.” [Bukhari]
Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Taala سبحانه و تعالى) has given men and women sexual urges. Such feelings are recognised in Islam and are channelled through the institution of marriage. Indeed, procreation within marriage is considered a good deed, worthy of reward. However, sex outside marriage is strictly forbidden.
A Wali is a guardian, usually the closest male relative to a woman (a father, or in his absence, an uncle or brother), who will advise, support and protect her in her search for a marriage partner. A Walishould have a firm understanding of marriage and the importance of compatibility, and must be able act responsibly and give sound advice.
Men do not need a Wali as the Wali’s main role is to protect his guard from enquiries from men who may be unsuitable or whose intentions may not be pure. In this way, enquiries from males are first screened by the Wali, who is able to advise the woman according to his wealth of experience, although she retains the right to make the final decision.
Finding a marriage partner is a huge step – you are looking for a life-long companion, so no decision can be taken lightly. Traditionally, the family was responsible for searching for a suitable partner for the son or daughter and women often played a passive role, although, thanks to the Prophet (ṣall Allahuʿalayhi wa sallam صلى الله عليه وسلم), a girl has the right to express her views on a prospective partner:
"The permission of the virgin is to be sought. And if she does not object, her silence is her permission." [Al-Bukhari, Muslim, and others]
Modern life is quite different; Muslim girls now meet boys at school or at Islamic groups, and communities are no longer static as young people often move away to university or in search of work. This has led to the proliferation of more modern ways of finding a partner.
The most common way of finding a partner is still through ones parents. Give your parents as much information as possible on what you are looking for in a spouse and encourage them to ask friends, family and acquaintances in the Muslim community if they know of a potential partner who is looking to marry. If you have a good relationship with your parents, they can be guided by you and you can have the final say.
Community leaders, such as the Imam or a scholar, will know of other brothers and sisters in the community who are looking for a partner.
Friends can also be of help in your search. Your friends’ spouses may have friends or relatives who are looking to marry. However, make sure that you choose a trusted friend, who will have an idea of what you seek in a companion, and ensure that you involve the Wali as soon as you find someone with potential.
These days, brothers and sisters mix at college, work and at community groups. If you know somebody who you think could be a potential partner, arrange for them to meet your Wali so that the matter of marriage can be discussed. Meeting a partner in this way is allowed; however, both parties shouldbehave modestly.
There are many matrimonial agencies that claim they will find your “perfect match”. Ensure that you research any agency thoroughly before signing up. Find out about their reputation, how contact is made by potential suitors, and what it costs? Whereas some agencies undoubtedly provide a successful service, others are unmonitored and do not respect your privacy; they may give out personal phone numbers so that you are inundated with calls from unsuitable men or women.
The use of matrimonial websites is becoming more and more popular. To many young Muslims, it’s the “new” way. However, it is important to choose a website that has sound Islamic principles at its heart in order to ensure that your search for a marriage partner is halaal.
Before registering, make sure that you read the website thoroughly; a good matrimonial site will publish a code of conduct, confidentiality and privacy statements, which will be easy to find, and the site will be closely monitored, so that any user that abuses the service can be removed from it. The best sites will encourage you to create a username that is different from your own name and will warn you about giving out personal information until you are sure about the person you are in contact with.
Some websites have a live chat facility. Use this rather than other channels such as MSN as it will be monitored and therefore safer. Check out the website’s success rate; the best sites will publish success stories. Read them and get a feel for the type of people who use the service.
When they find somebody who could be a potential match, sisters should encourage them to contact their Wali, and brothers should ask to speak with the Wali. The first meeting should be made with theWali present, although it is permitted for you to meet without a Wali if it is in a public place and the rules of modesty are followed.
“Put your trust in Allah, for Allah loves those who put their trust in Him.” [Qur’an 3:159]