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How The Quran Encourages Marriage

Below is an assignment my friends and I submitted as part of our "Ayaat al-Ahkaam" semester for an `Aalimah course. It focuses on the Quranic command (Hukm) to get married and encourage others to marry. 

By Afreen, Noreen, Sarah and Zaufishan.  

Surah An-Noor
VERSE 32: "And marry the unmarried among you and the righteous among your male slaves and female slaves. If they should be poor, Allah will enrich them from His bounty, and Allah is all-Encompassing and Knowing. 
VERSE 33: But let them who find not [the means for] marriage abstain [from sexual relations] until Allah enriches them from His bounty. And those who seek a contract [for eventual emancipation] from among whom your right hands possess - then make a contract with them if you know there is within them goodness and give them from the wealth of Allah which He has given you. And do not compel your slave girls to prostitution, if they desire chastity, to seek [thereby] the temporary interests of worldly life. And if someone should compel them, then indeed, Allah is [to them], after their compulsion, Forgiving and Merciful. 
VERSE 34: And We have certainly sent down to you distinct verses and examples from those who passed on before you and an admonition for those who fear Allah." 

Surah Noor Revelation Background
As the 24th chapter of the Qur'an, Surah Noor is called and considered a chapter of illumination and discovery. It gives guidance on new situations thereby taking people out of darkness, and provides a clear truth to corruptions, particularly regarding the scandal against `Aishah in verses 11-12

Debate exists as to whether the Surah was revealed after or before the Battle of the Trenches (Khandaq), however, it was revealed in Madina and strongly deals with social legislation in this first Islamic state. Rights such as human rights, slavery laws, family obligation, giving court testimonies and rules to stop social perversions such as prostitution and adultery. 

Overall the Surah talks about itself in the first few verses as having ‘ayaati bayyinaat’ (آياتٍ بَيِّناتٍ), clear evidences, particularly about the relationships between men and women.

The Command to Marry 

Verse 32 contains a direct command to help anyone single get married, whether they are classed as 'free' and therefore independent, or 'slaves'. Allah says, "And marry the single among you, and the righteous slaves - male and female," (24:32). 

Firstly, Allah's command to marry is specifically for unmarried individuals, the Ayaami (الْأَيَامَىٰ ), men and women. If they are mature and working in society they need to move onto the next phase of life for spiritual development. Marriage is therefore an essential act in Shari`ah and anyone seeking to get married should not be prevented by other people or for other reasons. 

The pious men and women are described as 'Saleheen' (وَالصَّالِحِينَ), believing Muslims who just so happen to be slaves at that time as well. From the 6th century till today therefore, the command to marry is also aimed at the owners who have the authority to initialise a Nikkah - a Muslim marriage. 

The reason for mentioning the Saleheen here is that a slave Muslim man or woman does not have the control to freely decide for themselves or live comfortably within Allah's Shari`ah, most probably because their owners were not always Muslims themselves. Such individuals can and did become stuck with the religious conflict against extra-marital affairs. 

Muslim slaves have the same right as free Muslims and Allah supports this right by telling the Muslim owners to protect their believing slaves, who should not have Haram relationships and be afforded to carry out and organise their own marriages. 

Allah Will Finance You
Coupled with this guideline is an answer to our inner question concerning marriage. 
 "...If they are poor, Allah will enrich them from His bounty. Allah is all-encompassing, all-knowing." (24:32) 
What if single Muslims don't have jobs? What if they cannot afford the debt of a wedding and supporting a wife? Children are expensive too! 

A Companion as Prophet Muhammad a similar question. The Prophet replied stating that even a small gift of his metal ring can count as the wedding Mahr, or including the Qur'an portion he had memorised can be included in the Mahr - according to Imam Abu Hanifah the Mahr is part of the wedding contract. 

Allah puts our thoughts to rest by stating He is the only One to enrich us ( يُغْنِهِمُ اللَّـهُ), He is Al-Ghani Who always provides from His limitless bounty (فَضْلِهِ); He is All-Knowing and has already decided when we were in the womb what our provision (Rizq) and earning would be therefore Allah is teaching us: the worry for lack of finances should not be a mental restriction, especially for those feeling they are too poor (فُقَرَاءَ ) to afford a marriage. 

In support of this, Prophet Muhammad said: 
'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. Whoever cannot do that, then let him fast, for it is a protection for him.' [Bukhari]

He also said, 'Marry and have children, for I will be proud of you before the nations of the day of Resurrection.' His encouragement to marry, along with the Qur'anic ayaat is a protection against Shaytaan and unlawful desires. 

Keep Your Chastity 
Allah revealed the only alternative to marriage and contractual rulings of freedom for slaves in verse 33. Muslims are not allowed to have sexual relations outside of marriage. If a man has the means to easily provide the Mahr and he fears that without marriage he may be tempted to fornicate, marriage becomes Waajib or Fard on him. As it also states in Surah An –Nisa: Then it is better for you that you practice self-restraint. 
"But let them who find not [the means for] marriage abstain [from sexual relations] until Allah enriches them from His bounty..." (24:33). 
Slaves are the main topic in this ayah but Allah continues the guidelines for marriage by stating that whoever cannot marry at all, and whoever has the strong desire to marry should do the sane thing and be abstinent; "remain chaste" here in Arabic (وَلْيَسْتَعْفِفِ) can be interpreted as fasting, as Prophet Muhammad confirmed in the Hadith above, "fast for it is a protection for him". Prophet Muhammad regarded marriage as half of one's faith because it is a shield and protection against promiscuity, fornication and adultery. 

Fasting reduces the sexual desire although it is not necessarily a long-term solution therefore Allah adds beautifully again, "abstain until Allah enriches them from His Bounty"; this means there will be goodness in the end - either through a marriage and/or the reward of fasting. 

The Mukatab 'Contracted' Slave 
"...And those who seek a contract [for eventual emancipation] from among whom your right hands possess - then make a contract with them if you know there is within them goodness and give them from the wealth of Allah which He has given you..." (24:33). 
Two rulings are derived from this ayah regarding the freedom of slaves: 
  1. For those slaves wishing to free themselves by 'writing a contract' (the Mukatab slave), the owners are allowed to make a time-limited contract with them on the condition that they possess "goodness" (khair). If they are hardworking, honest believers, and legally mature enough to marry, it is up to the owners' judgement to make a fair contact of freedom. 
  2. Based on the writing of this contract the owner should give a reasonable portion of wealth from that which Allah provided for him, to the slave. This now becomes a form of material wealth to begin their married lives and writes off any debt the slave owed so that he has earned his freedom. 
Allah is encouraging the marriage here of the slaves again to promote the importance and dutiful actions leading up to a financially sound Halal marriage. Allah removes the shackles of debt, promiscuity and permanent slavery by laying down firm guidelines for a contract of marriage and freedom. 

Dealing with Prostitution 
Further, in the Madini city of Prophet Muhammad, filthy practices became prevalent which strongly affected the Muslims. A lead hypocrite during the time called Abdullah ibn 'Ubayy became influential in perverse behaviour and forced the Muslim women slaves into prostitution as a business for himself. The women complained to Abu Bakr which led to this amazing verse being revealed as a solution to their horrible situation. Allah says "do not compel the slave girls into prostitution... To only seek temporary worldly gain" (عَرَضَ الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا)" (24:33). 

This tells us it is outright Haraam and inhuman to traffic young girls. Also, who is to blame? "If someone compels them... Allah is Forgiving," meaning that is the ones forcing them into prostitution who earn the sin, the wrath of Allah and the blame, while it is not the sin of the slave girls if they are forced; Allah is forgiving and merciful to them. 

Finally - A Reminder 
Allah ends this particular topic on marriage and adultery by reminding us of the earlier verses; "We have sent down to you clear verses as examples of those who came and passed away before you, as an admonition for those who fear Allah" (24:34). This is a beautiful conclusion to a small portion dedicated to commands (Ahkaam), Allah's laws (Shari`ah) and warnings or punishments (Hudood).

Alongside these rulings, Allah discourages lewd behaviour by legalising a harsh punishment for any man or woman willingly having unlawful intercourse – outside of marriage. In ayah 2 of Surah an-Noor Allah revealed, 
 “The [unmarried] woman or [unmarried] man found guilty of sexual intercourse - lash each one of them with a hundred lashes, and do not be taken by pity for them in the religion of Allah , if you should believe in Allah and the Last Day. And let a group of the believers witness their punishment.” (Qur’an, Noor, 24:2) 

Allah uses the word ‘Az-zaaniyatu’, the adulteress before the male equivalent, ‘Az-zaanee’ because generally women tend to instigate seductions more than men. This is not a random error. If we look around us women are willingly objectified from advertisements to politics to sell their “assets” for any type of attention. Women who are not in Hijaab have not yet understood Allah’s deterrents to support modesty. Likewise in another Qur’an verse Allah mentions the male thief before the female thief because generally men have a stronger ability to steal out of greed and desperation. Conclusively, Allah teaches everyone that if a man is found guilty of adultery, his accomplice will not always be a victim. 

We learn in this verse that both adulteress and adulterer are to be given one hundred lashes equally. That these lashings are supposed to be “witnessed”, meaning carried out publicly, and that the one executing this punishment should “not be taken by pity” for them because it is order of Allah Al-Hakeem. 

Today, pre-adolescent children aged 12 and younger, are permitted to date, to form intimate relationships and ultimately to have sexual intercourse. When did we allow this to happen to our children? 

Allah’s rules against promiscuity means everyone committing unlawful intercourse does deserve the punishment. Though this seems a scary consequence we have to remind ourselves again that Allah is the King, He made us and His rules protect our dignity and families. It would take just one public flogging of the adult fornicators to drastically reduce anyone else thinking of doing the same and in turn save society from many social problems. We cannot compare modern-day floggings to the real ruling here imposed by Allah. Innocent women and children, young boys, have faced this punishment without just cause - this is not the justice Allah talks about.

Thus Allah ends His ayah with “if you believe in Allah and the Last Day”. We should question ourselves now, who do we believe in – our ability to get away with adultery, or Allah Who knows it already? 

In these four verses of Surah an-Noor (2, 32-34) Allah has already made us focus on the first natural law of desire – vision, and then He tells us that controlling our desires through our vision is at the core of being pro-marriage and anti-adultery. Lowering one’s gaze is therefore integral to reducing sexual desire and getting married as soon as financially and physically possible will prevent one from falling into the footsteps of Shaytaan towards adulterous behaviour. 

To conclude, there are many spiritual and material benefits to marriage which is why it is an emphasised Sunnah. Raising a family starts a lineage, children and wives bring blessings that eliminate poverty and depression. 

Marriage is a security against most of the seductions of modern society and as it is characterised as 'half of deen', it helps promote selfless responsibility in an individual and guard half of one's faith against the whispers and unlawful lures from Shaytaan

Allah therefore describes marriage as a contract of spirituality - you are bound to another person's soul with Allah as the Witness, and you will have to answer to Him as to whether you guarded your contracts or broke them. 


Jazakallah for reading. 
Any comments are humbly requested. 

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