What are some examples of the best marriages in history, in these tumultuous times for us to be inspired by? Dr Amna Shabi from Pune has a list for you –
Marriage is an institution wherein two individuals and two families unite for future generations. The world has witnessed several marriages – somewhere, men, in the name of patriarchy, are dominant, and somewhere, women rule under the garb of feminism. Both the Greek civilisation and the Roman civilisation gave in to chauvinism, whereas today, the modern world is held captive in recognition of women’s empowerment. Islam provides an equilibrium to these marriage-affiliated issues. Islam describes in great detail the purpose of marriage in Verse 21 of Surah Ar-Rum, which states that Allah created humans in the form of spouses to give each other and obtain a life of sakinah (peace), mawaddah (love) and rahmah (affection). Besides, in various instances, it also provides guidance with respect to day-to-day conduct and family life. Apart from accommodating family laws, the Quran also nurtures us with the knowledge of basic familial etiquette. Its elucidation is in the form of life lessons and examples.
The divine book gives paradigms of four couples.
First and foremost is an example of a perfect marriage wherein both the husband and wife are pious, God-fearing, religious and practising Muslims. They loved, respected, feared and obeyed their creator. To name them, they are Ibraheem AS and Hajar AS. Prophet Ibraheem AS vowed to God that,
﴾قُلْ إِنَّ صَلَاتِي وَنُسُكِي وَمَحْيَايَ وَمَمَاتِي لِلَّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ ﴿
(Verse 162 from Al An’am)
Say, “Surely my prayer, my sacrifice, my life, and my death are all for Allah—Lord of all worlds.
He spent his entire life in fulfilling this promise. His life stands out as an epitome of sacrifice. He sacrificed his career, family, fame and popularity, hometown, and newborn child.
God states the blessings bestowed upon IbraheemAS and his family in verse 27 of this Al Ankaboot
وَوَهَبْنَا لَهُۥٓ إِسْحَـٰقَ وَيَعْقُوبَ وَجَعَلْنَا فِى ذُرِّيَّتِهِ ٱلنُّبُوَّةَ وَٱلْكِتَـٰبَ وَءَاتَيْنَـٰهُ أَجْرَهُۥ فِى ٱلدُّنْيَا ۖ وَإِنَّهُۥ فِى ٱلْـَٔاخِرَةِ لَمِنَ ٱلصَّـٰلِحِينَ ٢٧
And we granted him Ishāq (Isaac) and Ya‘qūb (Jacob), and assigned Prophet-hood and the Book to his progeny, and gave him his reward in the world; and of course, in the Hereafter, he will be one of the righteous.
Ibraheem AS holds a prime reputation amongst the believers of Islam, Christianity, and Judaism. He has earned the title of being Khaleelullah – God’s friend. His only aim in life was God’s appeasement.
Today, we know him as the father of the Prophets.
Throughout his life, the person who stood beside him was his wife, Hajar AS. She never complained, she never whined, she never demanded. When he left Hajar AS and their child in the barren desert with insubstantial resources, she asked if this was God’s will? Hajar’s understanding and comprehension of the religion was so deep that she knew what her husband was destined for! Their lives weren’t self-centred. Their lives were God-centred. What we need to acquire is this transformation within our lives. From hatred, malice, betrayal, lies and pride, we need to focus on our mannerisms, piety, god-fearing attitude and aakhirah.
The second example that the Quran quotes is about two pious prophets and their irreligious wives. These are Prophet Nuh AS and Prophet Lut AS and their respective wives.
Nuh AS was one of the greatest prophets in Islam. He spread the word of god for nearly a thousand years. He managed to gather a handful of followers. Amongst those who refrained from following the way of God was his wife. She was a non-believer. The Quran calls her a scandalous, perverted and satanic woman. She did not stand by him in troubled times. Also, the Qur’an indicates a great calamity, enough to have destroyed people but to have saved him and his generations to come. Nuh AS’ wife is referred to in the Qur’an as an evil woman. When God emphasises the notion that everyone is for themselves on the Day of Judgement and that marital relations will not be to your aid when the judgement takes place, the Qur’an says in the tenth verse of the chapter At-Tahreem, that God sets forth, for an example to the Unbelievers, the wife of Noah and the wife of Lut: they were (respectively) under two of our righteous servants, but they were false to their (husbands). They profited nothing before God on their account but were told: “Enter ye the Fire along with (others) that enter!
Here, we comprehend that believing in God’s oneness, practising religiosity, and believing in the true god is essential.
The third pioneer that the Quran acquaints us with is that of a respectful, steadfast wife, Aasiya AS and a blasphemous Pharoah. Aasiya AS was Musa’s adoptive mother and a believer. Despite being Pharoah’s wife, Aasiya AS submitted herself to God. She accepted Musa AS’ monotheism over Pharoah’s beliefs. The Quran exemplifies her as the woman of paradise and quotes her in the 11th verse of the chapter At-Tahreem, stating that Allah sets forth an example for the believers: the wife of Pharaoh, who prayed, “My Lord! Build me a house in Paradise near You, deliver me from Pharaoh and his ˹evil˺ doing, and save me from the wrongdoing people.”
She had all the luxuries of the world.
She lived in a grand palace. She could have straightforwardly and painlessly rejected the faith and enjoyed the comforts of the castle. But she chose to endure a marriage with an oppressor who was the worst of them all. Yet, she, too, found the courage to stand up to him with no one else at her side but God. Her Lord granted her true victory because of her perfect faith. She achieved a significantly elevated status. She is an example for the entire world: no matter your situation, your dignity and honour can stay intact as long as you stay true to who you are and what you believe.
The last example concerning marriage that the Qur’an quotes is about the treacherous Abu Lahab and his equally treacherous wife, Umme Jameel. Abu Lahab was Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) paternal uncle, neighbour, and father of two sons-in-law. He was a staunch critic of his the newly professed faith. Although he belonged to the same clan as that of the PBUH SAW, Abu Lahab left no stone unturned in expressing his malaise and hatred towards Islam. Walking hand in hand with him in this endeavour was his wife, Umme Jameel. Ibn Ishaq says that Umm Jameel was called “the carrier of firewood” because she carried thorns and cast them in Muhammad’s way where he would pass. God revealed the following, wherein hell was destined for the couple.
May the hands of Abu Lahab be ruined, and ruined, is he. His wealth will not avail him or that which he gained will not avail him. He will burn in a Fire of flame And his wife – the carrier of firewood. Around her neck is a rope of fibre. (Surah Al Masad)
Consequently, taking these famous life examples from the Qur’an, we must decipher that marriage is undoubtedly for the Duniya. But with the aid of a moralistically upright spouse, this commotion and the hustle and bustle called marriage could eventually turn into profits of the hereafter.