When a young person reaches maturity, he should have the right to establish a family and take part in serving the community by building a stable home where happiness, harmony and peace proven, without any unnecessary obstacle of frustrations. God encourages such unions in the Qur’an as follows:
“Those among you who are single should marry and so should the virtuous ones among your selves, male or female. If they are in poverty, God will give them out of his grace. For God encompasses all and he knows all things.” (Surah Al-Nur 24:32) And the Prophet (pbuh) emphasized it saying, “O young men! He who can afford marriage should marry because it protects his eyes from (lewd stares) and his privates (from indecent acts); and he who can not afford it should fast because fasting will be his best defense.” [Ahmed, Bukhari and Muslim]
Marriage, In Islam, has noble aims tat go beyond mere physical enjoyment and extend to the spiritual horizons of love, comfort and mercy. In this regard God says in the Qur’an:
“And of His signs is that He created for you help-mates from among yourselves that you might find rest in them and He ordained between you love and mercy. Lo! Herein, indeed, are portents for a folk who reflect.” (Surah Al-Rum 30:21)
Marriage is the foundation of the family and the family is the foundation of society. The firmer the basis on which marriage stands. The happier and the more stable the family will be, and the sounder and more compassionate the society will be. In order to achieve this stability, Islam has enjoined certain rules which help in the choosing of a Suitable mate. One of these rules is that one should not only take into consideration and economical physical aspects. But also the social characteristic like good behavior, good morals and piety when one chooses a mate. The Prophet (pbuh) said, “There are four basic reasons for which woman is married; her money, her beauty, her noble birth and her piety. However, you should marry pious woman and you will be satisfied.” [Bukhari & Muslim]. So that the choice might be made effectively and properly. The engagement period (Khitbah) has been set up in Islam. This period permits the woer and his intended wife to see and become acquainted with each other in the presence of their relatives. In such a meeting, the woman is permitted to reveal the parts of her body that a Muslim woman generally reveals (the face and palms of her hands) and talk with her suitor. Al-Mughirah ibn Shu’bah, one of the companions of the Prophet (pbuh), is reported to have been interested in marrying a particular woman. When the Prophet (pbuh) learned of his intention he told him, “Look at her (before marrying her) because it will probably bring more harmony between you.” The woman has been given the same right as well, for when the man sees her unveiled, she will also see him. Islam guarantees the woman the right to choose her mate. But within the limits of modesty and femininity to which bashfulness adds more beauty and perfection. In this connection, the Prophet (pbuh) said, “A divorced or widowed should not be married unless she is consulted as to her opinion, and the virgin should be married off until she gives consent.” [Narrated by Abu Hurairah and collected by Bukhari & Muslim]. The people asked the Prophet (pbuh) how may the shy virgin’s consent be defected. He said, “If she keeps silent.” [Narrated by Ibn Abbas & collected by Muslim]. The Qur’an refers to the marriage contract as a firm covenant hence, Islam gives this bond special consideration. Islam instructs the husband to take care of his wife and to be her best guardian and most faithful partner who will allow her to enjoy all her rights based upon the principles of sincerity and mercy. The Prophet (pbuh) advised Muslim men as follows: “Take care of the women.” [Narrated by Abu Hurairah and collected by Bukhari & Muslim]. And on another occasion he said. “The best of you is he who treats his family best.” [At-Tirmidhi & Ibn Majah].
Accordingly, within Islam, the wife is instructed to obey her husband and not violate his rights. The Prophet (pbuh) said, “If the wife performs her five daily prayers, restrain s herself from adultery, and obeys her husband, she will enter paradise through which ever of its doors she wishes.” [Abu Dawud & Ibn Majah]. He also said,” If a woman dies and her husband is well pleased with her behaviour , she will enter paradise.” [Narrated by Anas and collected by Abu Nu’aim in Al-Hilya].
The fact that in Islam, both men and women are instructed concerning their obligations, creates mutual justice, harmony and persistent love. If a dispute or misunderstanding arises between the two, the husband is requested to have patience and not get angry. In the Qur’an says:
“For if you hate them it may happen that you hate a thing wherein God has placed much good.”
(Surah Al-Nisa 4:19) The Prophet (pbuh) said, “A man who believes should not desert a woman who believes; for, if one of her traits displease him, another trait may please him.” [Ahmad & Ibn Majah]. Islam tries to overcome dispute that may threaten the family with destruction by laying down set procedures for dealing with problems. If discord occurs from the woman’s side, the husband should first admonish her kindly and gently. If she persists he may turn away from her in bed and if she still persists he may strike her lightly and harmlessly. However, if harmony remains impossible to attain, especially after these procedures, a reconciliation committee composed of a deputy from the wife’s side and one from the husband’s side should be set up.
But if the gap between them widens and reconciliation proves impossible, and is their life has turned into a living hell, Islam permits divorce as a last resort. The Prophet (pbuh) said, “The most detested of lawful things to God is divorce.” [Abu Dawud & Ibn Majah]. However, though Islam permits divorce, it had also legislated for it equitable laws. Islam prohibits the husband from divorcing his wife during her monthly period and disallows it during a clean period in which he has had sexual relations with her. During the era of the Prophet (pbuh) ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar22 divorced his wife while she was menstruating. When his father, ‘Umar ibn Khattab, asked the Prophet (pbuh) about the case, the Prophet (pbuh) said, “Let him take her back and wait till she becomes clean, menstruate, then becomes cleans again. At this time he may keep her or he may divorce her provided he do not touch her. This is the period that God has appointed for divorce.” [Bukhari].
Moreover, when the husband wants a divorce, Islam requires that he pronounce one reversible divorce and keep his wife in his house throughout the three-month divorce period, unless she becomes guilty of flagrant lewdness. During this divorce period, which is a sufficient time span for a hasty husband to regret his haste, the husband can take his wife back without any obstacles. In this respect, God says in the Qur’an:
“And heir husband would do better to take them back in case they desire reconciliation.”
(Surah Al-Baqarah 2:228)
When the divorce period of three months is completed, the wife’s relation to him is sever, but, Islam allows them to be rejoined by means of a new marriage contract if they wish to come back to each other. Islam extends the opportunity for the pronouncement of divorce and reconciliation twice. This principle is expressed in the Qur’an as follows:
“Divorce may pronounced twice and after three (the woman) must be retained in honor or released in kindness.” (Al-Baqarah 2:229) Within Islam, the presence of two witness is required in cases of divorce pronouncements so that they may do all they can to stop it. God says:
“And call to witness two just men from among you.” (Surah Al-Baqarah 2:65) These conditions are required in Islam, to keep divorce within the limits of necessity and thus, safeguard the family rights of children as regards their protection and up-bringing. They are aimed at preventing the collapse of the family and the subsequent social disintegration of the following generations.