Guest Author - Linda Heywood
There is no instruction in the Quran that say parents must choose a spouse for their child, this is a custom that has been carried over into religion. There is also no instruction in the Quran that says a Muslim must marry another Muslim. God says a believing man or a believing woman is better than an idolater. When a father gives his daughter’s hand in marriage the man she has chosen should believe in God alone and follow a scripture.
Chapter 2, verse 221
Do not marry idolatresses unless they believe; a believing woman is better than an idolatress, even if you like her. Nor shall you give your daughters in marriage to idolatrous men, unless they believe. A believing man is better than an idolater, even if you like him. These invite to Hell, while God invites to Paradise and forgiveness, as He wills. He clarifies His revelations for the people, that they may take heed.
When a couple decide to become engaged they can either announce it publicly or kept it a secret but clandestine meetings and sex before marriage are not allowed.
Chapter 2, verse 235
You commit no sin by announcing your engagement to the women, or keeping it secret. God knows that you will think about them. Do not meet them secretly, unless you have something righteous to discuss. Do not consummate the marriage until their interim is fulfilled. You should know that God knows your innermost thoughts, and observe Him. You should know that God is Forgiver, Clement.
Marrying more than one woman is known as polygamy. There are rules in place regarding this practise and they are there for the protection of women. Polygamy is not designed for the sexual gratification of men. Polygamy gives widows and orphans the chance to have a home and security. God tells men that unless they can treat each woman fairly and afford them financially it is better to be content with just one wife.
Chapter 4, verse 3
If you deem it best for the orphans, you may marry their mothers - you may marry two, three, or four. If you fear lest you become unfair, then you shall be content with only one, or with what you already have. Additionally, you are thus more likely to avoid financial hardship.
Chapter four of the Quran is called Women, it is the chapter which illustrates how a woman should be treated and it is intended to be for the protection of women not against them. In this chapter the guidelines can be found for issues such as dowries and polygamy, women’s inheritance rights and adultery, the protection of women, rebellion in the marriage and marriage arbitration in separation or breakdown of the marriage. God also tells us in this chapter who we are not allowed to marry such as women who were previously married to fathers, (step-mothers), mothers and fathers, aunts and uncles, nieces and nephews and two sisters at the same time.
Divorce is discouraged but not forbidden. Arbitration should first be sort out but if no compromise can be reached then divorce can be granted. If a couple do not wish to be together then it is not fair if a woman is left neither enjoying the marriage, nor able to marry someone else.
Chapter 4, verse 128-130
If a woman senses oppression or desertion from her husband, the couple shall try to reconcile their differences, for conciliation is best for them. Selfishness is a human trait, and if you do good and lead a righteous life, God is fully Cognizant of everything you do. You can never be equitable in dealing with more than one wife, no matter how hard you try. Therefore, do not be so biased as to leave one of them hanging. If you correct this situation and maintain righteousness, God is Forgiver, Most Merciful. If the couple must decide to part, God will provide for each of them from His bounties. God is Bounteous, Most Wise.
Most of the rules pertaining to marriage in the Quran are directed at men. Fathers give their daughters hand in marriage to their husbands. A man takes his wife. A wife takes her husband’s name in some cultures. This is the way it has been for as long as marriages have been performed. The rule is that the men are responsible for the women (4:34). This means that it is the responsibility of the husband to take care of his wife and ensure that she has everything she needs. This does not mean a woman cannot think for herself, but she should respect the fact that the man is the head of the household.
In today’s societies the roles of men and women have been thrown into a blender and what has come out is a mix-up of the traditional roles and responsibilities with feminism and sexual equality. Respect for each other, consideration and compassion, honesty and trust are the responsibility of both the husband and the wife. Marriage is encouraged in the Quran for those who are single (24:32). Love and care is placed into the hearts of a couple by God, it is a love that should be cherished and nurtured. In many marriages love grows over the years and never dies with death. Marriage brings tranquillity and contentment to a couple, and then come children.
Chapter 30, verse 21
Among His proofs is that He created for you spouses from among yourselves, in order to have tranquillity and contentment with each other, and He placed in your hearts love and care towards your spouses. In this, there are sufficient proofs for people who think.