In this article, the author Rahamathunnissa explains why marriage is the most natural way of merging minds, bodies and souls for eternal peace and joy.
“I am single but not alone.”
“Let me settle in my career first.”
“I don’t want to enchain myself.”
“Let me enjoy my life.”
“I am afraid. I don’t want to undergo the same sufferings that my mother/sister had to undergo.”
“Can’t find a perfect match.”
These are some of the responses we usually hear from a person who hasn’t gotten married yet while already being an adult.
Can we blame them? How justified are we in commenting that the new generation is reluctant to marry, they don’t listen to us, they don’t respect society, etc.?
Have you ever thought why today’s youth, both men and women, do not want to get married? Or if they want to at all, why do they have unrealistic expectations? Why are they afraid they won’t be able to fulfil their spouse’s and family members’ demands?
Let us analyse the factors one by one which lead to this kind of response:
1) Materialistic Worldview: The present generation is highly influenced by the materialistic worldview due to the influence of capitalism and other loss and profit-based ways of thinking. People are encouraged to value everything in terms of money, and material benefits are considered the basis of every relationship. In this market-oriented society, whatever had been provided by the family before is now made available in markets in an attractive way, from food to sex. It is lust and need that controls relationships here and not love.
2) Liberal ideologies: Ideologies like Liberalism, communism, individualism and so on make people believe that being ‘tied’ to family relationships hinders one’s freedom, and each individual has the liberty to listen to their own will and enjoy life. They propagate that there is only one life, that your life is yours, and that you have every right to come out of the restrictions of all norms of society and live as animals live. My body, my rule. That’s what they proclaim. For this, family and children are a hindrance. They also create a notion that marriage is a hindrance to education and career. These ideas attract those who think of only immediate gains and short-term gratifications and neglect the long-term consequences. Even the LGBTQA++ discourses which pose a challenge to marriage and everyday family life are a byproduct of these ideologies.
3) Impositions in the name of religion and culture: Imposing too many unnatural restrictions in the name of religion and culture, creating a general feeling that being away from the opposite sex is essential to go nearer to God, the unnecessary rituals and practices related to marriage like horoscope are all reasons why our younger generation who are comparatively more educated and search for logic in every action to hate marriage.
4) Customs and practices, especially in countries like India: The Dowry system and other related customs and practices make marriages very difficult and prostitution easy. They also create a feeling of grudge in the minds of the youth, especially girls and women, so they are unwilling to enter the knot. Many girls in our society have grown up seeing the silent sufferings of their mothers due to ill-treatment, which creates a sense of fear in their minds and makes them make a firm decision that they will not allow that kind of treatment. Many girls give a clear message that “I am not ready to suffer as my mother used to just to save the relationship.” The more girls get educated, the more aware they are of their rights and the less ready they are for any adjustment or compromise. They are afraid to commit to a life entirely of misery and adjustments. Matrimonial websites and people who run marriage bureaus are complaining of a decline in the registration of girls’ profiles, especially in states like Kerala, where girls’ education levels have been very high since 2015. On the other hand, the change in the attitude of men is prolonged, and most of them still want to uphold the age-old customs and traditions naturally because they get a lot of privileges in that system.
5) The influence of media, including social media: Media portray a very unrealistic picture of brides and bridegrooms and a happy married life. Most of the ads, especially those of Jewellery and wedding dresses, represent the bride as fair, slim, tall and fully clad in expensive dress and jewellery. The bridegroom also is shown similarly. The wedding hall and the menu are all depicted in such a way that an ordinary person cannot even dream of getting married. After marriage, a happy married life in the media means expensive honeymoon trips, shopping, long drives in expensive cars, etc. Some traditional arts and cultural shows also create a Cinderella picture of marriage and wedding. So, even if somebody wants to get married, the unrealistic standards of physical beauty and demands on both parties make marriage a distant dream for many. On the other hand, dramas and cinemas depict married life as bondage full of problems with cruel in-laws, cheating husbands/wives, etc. They portray the ideal bride as someone who does all household chores and suffers with patience in any atrocity. Her place is that of an unpaid maid who is always on call for everyone’s needs, and her needs are least cared for. So, educated girls ask, “Why should I be an unpaid maid in the house of someone if I can manage my living?” The glorification and justification of extramarital or unnatural relationships in movies and cinemas also create an impact on the youth.
6) Market, not families, taking control over weddings: The organisation of the functions has been taken over by event management groups for whom the motto is to get more money spent and make the event more colourful so that it is presentable in the media. The more expense, the more profit. That is their motto and even low-income families fall prey to the attraction of the events displayed and get pressured to spend similarly. So, the youth calculate and calculate and finally come to the conclusion that they are not yet ready for marriage. Many girls comment that my wedding should be ‘A Day’ in my life if I am getting married. Otherwise, I don’t want to. The result is, unnecessary delay in getting married.
7) Legalising outside marriage relationships: The act of governments in different countries to legalise prostitution, homosexuality, lesbianism, live-in relationships, etc., gives a message to the youth that there is no harm in entering into such relationships. They, just like giving license to the selling of drugs, legitimise such immoral acts which ruin generations and undermine the status of women as mere commodities and sex objects. And the poor women are made to believe through propaganda that they are also ‘decent’ professionals. The result is they let themselves exploit and spend a lonely life after all the physical charm is gone as they age and die painful deaths. Rapes and other atrocities against women also spread due to unnecessary delay in marriage. Women are the worst kind of sufferers in this let-loose system.
Impact on Individuals and Society:
The impact of having a more significant number of youth single and family as an institution losing its value is the spread of immorality, leading to a lack of peace and prosperity in society. When an individual decides that they can lead a single life but need not be alone, it means that a particular person is fulfilling basic needs through immoral acts. Having sex outside marriage is not as easy as it has been envisaged. The partner being a stranger, one cannot ensure the cleanliness and lack of any infectious disease in that partner. Since it is only a temporary union, neither partner gets the care and comfort they usually get in a socially accepted marital relationship. Moreover, both partners feel insecure and doubt the other person’s sincerity. The proven fact is these kinds of relations remain only until the partner remains attractive, healthy, or ready to spend money. Psychologically speaking, sexual enjoyment has more to do with the mental state of the partners. Complete enjoyment cannot be guaranteed in an unethical relationship with a stranger accompanied by a guilty feeling. Even those who claim not to have any guilt and justify such acts have this guilty feeling in the corner of their minds, knowingly or unknowingly, because humanity is created in that way. In the long run, they start feeling lonely amidst a lot of temporary partners and undergo stress and depression. They start resorting to other unnatural ways and means to enjoy life and end up becoming drug addicts, resorting to pornographic literature, or even committing suicide.
Those who delay marriage, fearing the expenses and financial liabilities, spend more and earn less. This happens mainly because they don’t have any liability, and there is no need to be financially disciplined. Financial discipline develops automatically in a person who has someone he loves to feed and take care of. This happens naturally with the establishment of a family. Yes, only a morally upright society prospers in all aspects. Moreover, the urge to earn for the needs of the dear ones makes people more productive if the family bond is there.
Getting all the services a family can provide more attractively in the market might seem very progressive. But just as junk food from the market harms one’s health in the long run compared to homemade food, a spouse at home is far better than any partner outside the marriage, however attractive they seem. All that glitters is not gold here. In most cases, each one is bothered and concerned about their interests. The pleasure of living for one another lasts until physical attraction remains.
Children and the old are the worst kind of sufferers when a family as an institution is not established correctly. The old age homes, daycare centres and other artificial establishments cannot provide the same sacrifice, care and protection that the parents and other family members can provide. Children and the weak get abandoned and neglected in such environments where people are selfish and everyone is running after their own pleasure or financial gain. Family is where everyone, whether male or female, old or young, weak or strong, healthy or sick, gets proper care and affection. Relations suffer when everything is counted regarding money, market value or utility.
Quality parenting and proper upbringing of children are affected very severely if they are not born through legitimate relationships. Family is the smallest unit of society, and a child naturally develops all the essential social skills and qualities required to engage with society from well-established families.
The way things are presented by the liberalists who are against the institution of marriage seems very logical. Still, they are just baseless thoughts based on their whims and fancies. If you sit back and think about the argument that your life is yours and you have every right to decide on what to do with it, you will conclude that no one can claim to be independent of any support from anyone. There is no self-made man or woman. Each individual must depend on so many others for every step in life. Similarly, the claim, “It is my life. Let me do whatever I want with it. It is not going to affect any of you”, is not valid. Even the air you breathe out creates an impact on the universe. So, your words and actions will affect all those around you. Mutual dependence and consultation at every step are essential for everyone to prosper correctly. That is possible only through marriage and family.
As Martin Luther King said, “There is no more lovely, friendly and charming relationship, communion or company than a good marriage.”
Essential questions: Are all families leading a happy married life? Aren’t there problems in marriages also? Is marriage the solution to all problems in society?
Those are very valid questions. The answer is simple. If marriages are appropriately conducted, they would pave the way for Paradise on Earth for the couples and those associated with them. For this, we need to educate ourselves and society on the purpose of life and how a family should be established and maintained. How you select your spouse, your purpose of marriage, how you conduct your wedding, and how you prepare yourselves for this relationship are essential. We need to create awareness in society through pre-marital counselling programs for the bride and bridegroom and the immediate family members. While busy shopping and arranging big parties and colourful functions, families give little consideration to this. If at all given, it is mainly to the bride. That is not enough. Both husband and wife are equally responsible for the smooth running of the family and should be prepared for it. Also, the role of immediate relatives is vital in making or breaking the relationship. So, they also need to be educated.
In this regard, Going through the Qur’an and the life and teachings of Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) is helpful. They are lessons that influenced communities and societies directly or indirectly, irrespective of whether they believe in Islam, to become more civilised and progressive.
The Qur’an says that the very beginning of human existence is in pairs as a family.
” And We said, “O Adam, dwell, you and your mate, in Paradise and eat therefrom in [ease and] abundance from wherever you will. But do not approach this tree, lest you be among the wrongdoers.” (Qur’an 2:35)
The Arabic word used in this verse is ‘Uskun’, which is translated as dwell. It has a broader connotation, i.e. ‘to live with peace, tranquility and harmony’.
Usually, people believe that marriage is more of a need for women than for men. Through this verse, the Qur’an hints that it is required for both.
Allah, the Creator of humanity and the universe, commands men and women to marry. And the society must help them in this.
“Arrange marriages between the single men and women among you and between your slave men and slave women, who are righteous. If they are poor, Allah will provide means for them out of His bounty: Allah has boundless resources and He is All-Knowing.” (Qur’an 24:32)
Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) commanded: “O young men, whoever among you can afford to get married, let him marry, for it is more effective in lowering the gaze and protecting the private parts.” (Bukhari, Kitabunnikkah 4676). So, marriage has been prescribed as an act to control the spread of evil and immoral acts in society and a means to get Barakah (blessing or increase) in wealth. The Prophet (PBUH) said: “There are three whom it is right upon Allah to help: one who gets married seeking chastity, a slave who makes a contract with his master to buy his freedom, one who fights for the sake of Allah.” (Recorded by Imam Ahmed, At Tirmidi, An Nasai and Ibn Majah 2518)
The base here is love and mercy, not the physical appearance, expensive wedding, etc.
“And of His signs is that He created for you from yourselves mates that you may find tranquility in them; and He placed between you affection and mercy. Indeed, in that are signs for a people who give thought.” (Qur’an 30:21)
For a healthy and happy married life, tolerance is not the key; it is love and mercy. Initially, they get attracted physically, but for the relationship to be long-lasting and fulfilling, mercy (Rahma) is essential. Life has its ups and downs. One can overcome unexpected difficulties and problems in life if there is a companion to care for and share; for this, Rahma is required, which develops only in a long-term committed relationship, not from a paid temporary sexual partner or other artificial means of companionship or enjoyment.
While emphasizing morality and banning all types of extramarital relationships, the Qur’an and Sunnah encourage the love between husband and wife in all its details. The prophet’s life has exemplary examples of his expression of love towards his wives, like kissing, eating and drinking from the same vessel, playing games, joking, travelling together, etc., which did not prevent him from doing his duty as a prophet or his nearness with Allah. He taught that “When a man has married, he has completed one-half of his religion.” Against the misconception of many, the Prophet (PBUH) taught that getting married does not take one away from God and affects the spirituality of a person. It instead supports a person not getting involved in forbidden acts and controlling and directing their physical urges towards a rewarding act.
many, the Prophet (PBUH) taught that getting married does not take one away from God and affects the spirituality of a person. It instead supports a person not getting involved in forbidden acts and controlling and directing their physical urges towards a rewarding act.
Marriage is a contract in Islam. The Qur’an calls it a firm contract.
And how could you take it back after having enjoyed each other intimately, & she has taken from you a firm commitment? (Qur’an 4:21)
And it is not one-sided. Each one has rights as well as responsibilities.
“…Women have rights similar to those of men equitably…” (Qur’an 2:228)
Unlike live-in relationships or such temporary adjustments, a relationship built through marriage creates a bond that would last forever, even after death. There is no room for feeling insecure or uncertain and doubting the partner’s credulity here. For a believer, it is tough to break it as the Creator hates it. At the same time, there should be room for ending the contract if there is any breach and it hurts any of the partners. But this happens rarely if marriage is conducted as per the instructions of the Creator and His Prophet.
The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said: “A woman is married for four reasons: for her wealth, her status, her beauty, and her religion. So, choose the religious woman, and you will prosper.” (Ibn Maja 1858). This Hadith indicates that to have a happy married life, the prime consideration should be character, not money, outward beauty or other things that are usually considered. It’s a sacred bond with shared values.
There are clear instructions on how weddings should be conducted. The kind of extravagance that we see in today’s commercialised weddings is alien to the Islamic culture and teachings. The Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) said, “best marriage is upon which the least trouble and expense are bestowed. (Mishkat). Make it a family event, and never fall a prey to event management teams. Rich and influential people should take the initiative to make simple marriages a trend. One point to be noted here is that the bride or her guardians need not spend even a single penny for the marriage. The bridegroom has to give something valuable to the bride’s satisfaction to make the marriage valid. This is called ‘Mahar’. So, no girl or her parents need to accumulate dowry and household items for the marriage to happen in Islam. All those practices in the community which make parents/guardians of girls spend their lifetime savings on a girl’s wedding have nothing to do with Qur’an and Sunnah.
To strengthen the relationship, the privacy of married couples is to be ensured. There shouldn’t be any interference. Friends and families should provide enough private time and space for the couples. The instruction of the Qur’an to see the positives in your spouse is a beneficial psychological approach to maintaining the relationship and enjoying married life. Justice is the fundamental principle here.
“…And live with them in kindness. For if you dislike them – perhaps you dislike a thing, and Allah makes therein much good.” (Qur’an 4:19)
Marriage, as taught by Islam, is a means to attain spiritual, emotional and physical fulfillment through mercy and compassion. The Qur’an and the Prophet (PBUH) have given clear-cut instructions for this. One would wonder about the fact that there are more verses in the Qur’an and instructions from the Prophet (PBUH) dealing with family than those which guide the acts of worship like prayer, fasting, Haj, etc. Family life has also been taught as an act of worship. All details cannot be included in an article like this.
To summarise, marriage is not the union of two bodies but the merging of two minds, bodies and souls for both the worlds. It also involves the give and take of two families with different cultures. Acceptance and giving space to each other create a conducive atmosphere within the family for each member to lead a peaceful and fulfilling life. There should be a place for everyone, and everyone should be in that place. To ensure this, there should be proper counselling, formally or informally, to both the bride and groom and immediate family members before marriage.
Family is the most natural, practical, le and balanced system where everyone can find peace and progress It is also the gateway to eternal joy.
Whatever the problems in present families, the institution should remain as all other alternatives are more problematic and artificial. The issues in current families are due to the influence of those ways of thinking that make the youth believe marriage is not essential. Families should remain, and marriages should happen for generations to live peacefully and grow and develop fully, to support and care for the old and young as well as even those who cannot get a life partner due to genuine reasons like special medical or psychological conditions. Yes, follow the guidelines of the Creator. Go back to the original scriptures for help to bring peace in life and live happily ever after
“What greater thing is there for two human souls than to feel that they are joined for life – to strengthen each other in all labour, to rest on each other in all sorrow, to minister each other in silent, unspeakable memories at the moment of the last parting?” George Eliot