Marriage is a sacred tie which Allah Almighty has legislated as mercy for His servants so that humankind may perpetuate, and the instincts which He instilled in it may be regulated. Thus, man's virtue and creed are safeguarded, he will have companionship in his solitude, his loneliness will thus be removed and life regulated.
Allah Almighty has said, "And Allah has made mates (and companions) of your own nature for you and made sons and daughters and grandchildren out of them for you, and provided of the best sustenance for you: Then will they [still] believe in vain things and be ungrateful to God's favors?” (Qur'an, 16:72). He has also said, "And among His Signs is this: He created mates for you from your own selves so that you may dwell in tranquility with them, and He has put love and mercy between your (hearts); truly (there) are Signs in that for those who reflect” (Qur'an, 30:21).
The Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny) has said, "One who gets married acquired half of his religion; so, let him fear Allah with regard to the remaining half."[i] Imam al-Rida (peace be upon him) has said, "A servant of Allah earns nothing better than a good wife: When he sees her, she pleases him, and when he is away from her, she safeguards him with regard to her own self and to his wealth."[ii]
Marriage is one of the highly recommended acts; in fact, it is disliked to abandon it. The Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny) said, “There is no establishment in Islam more beloved to Almighty Allah than marriage” He also said: "One who likes to be like me in nature and character, he should follow my Sunnah, and my Sunnah includes marriage.” He (peace be upon him and his progeny) has also said, "One who likes to meet Allah pure and purified, let him do so with a spouse.” He (peace be upon him and his progeny) has also said, "Two Rak'ahs of prayer offered by a married man are better than a single man spending the whole night praying and the day fasting."[iii] He (peace be upon him and his progeny) has said, "The wretched dead from among you are those who are unmarried."[iv] There are many other such narrations from the Prophet and the Ahl Al-Bayt (peace be upon them).
Some such texts have advised against refraining from marriage out of fear of poverty, and that one who does so thinks ill of Allah Almighty.[v] Actually, they have stated that marriage is one of the means of sustenance, and that such sustenance is granted due to being with spouse and family dependents,[vi] and so on. Above all this, Allah Almighty has made a promise to us in His Glorious Book: He says, "Marry those among you who are single, the virtuous ones among your slaves, male or female: If they are in poverty, Allah will grant them means out of His grace, for Allah encompasses all, and He knows all things” (Qur'an, 24:32).
This is especially emphasized for expatriate men and women: They often live in societies in which they may encounter many temptations of various kinds to commit what is Islamically prohibited, openly offering them without modesty or a religious or ethical barrier. Rather, these immoralities have become commonplace and one has become used to them such that he has forgotten about the motivations of modesty, thus killing the principles within him. So, if he is not shielded by a marriage that satisfies his desires and safeguards his virtues, he will be subject to fall into the abyss of sins and descend into the pits of decay from which one may not be able to return.
The believers, may Allah Almighty facilitate them, must pay heed to easing the matter of marriage by lightening its restrictions, minimizing its expenses and cooperating for its sake, so they may uphold the Sunnah and prevent moral corruption and sedition. In a tradition narrated by al-Sukuni from Imam al-Sadiq (peace be upon him), the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him and his progeny) said, "The best women of my nation are the one whose faces are most beautiful and their dowers are the least."[vii]
In a tradition narrated by Khalid Ibn Najeeh, Imam al-Sadiq (peace be upon him) said, "As for a woman's ill fate, [it is due to] her dowry being too much, and ingratitude to her husband…"[viii] In a tradition narrated by al-Sukuni, Imam al-Sadiq (peace be upon him) quotes the Commander of the Faithful (peace be upon him) saying, "The best kind of intermediation is that you mediate between two individuals in a marriage until Allah brings them together."[ix] There are many more such traditions.
If one is unable to get married, he should shield himself with the fear of God and patience, and keep himself away from the places of transgression and sedition. He should be aware of the schemes and deceptions of Satan. He should curb himself from persuasions towards evil, adorn himself with chastity and virtue, rise above falling into the abyss of shame and vice, uphold the advice of Allah Almighty in which He says, "Let those who do not find the means for marriage keep themselves chaste until Allah gives them means out of His grace” (Qur'an, 24:33).
The Imams from among the Ahl al-Bayt (peace be upon them) are narrated to have said: that it is recommended while being single to seek help by fasting and allowing the hair to grow[x]. Through these methods, the need for marriage is lessened. We plead to the most Praised One to help believing youths, to protect them during their hardship, to increase their faith and to protect them from wrongdoing.
"…and He (always) prepares a way out for those who fear Allah. And He provides for him from (sources) which he can never imagine. And if anyone puts his trust in Allah, Allah suffices him. Allah will surely accomplish His purpose: Truly, Allah has appointed a due proportion for all things” (Qur'an, 65:2-3).
There are some marriage-related pieces of advice which concern all believers, especially for expatriates:
Firstly, Islam, through its Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny) and Imams from among his Progeny (peace be upon them), has emphasized on leaving aside differences related to lineage in marriage, that a believing male is the peer of a believing female, that attention should be paid to one's faith, ethical conduct, virtue and trustworthiness. The Infallible Ones (peace be upon them) have in numerous narrations been quoted as having said, "If someone comes to you seeking to marry, and if you are pleased with his conduct and adherence to religion, then marry him; if you do not, there will be sedition in the land and a great corruption."[xi] If a believer who seeks to get married adheres to the tenets of his creed, especially if he has means, so he can take care of his expenses and those of his dependents, then there is no excuse for rejecting him. Imam al-Sadiq (peace be upon him) has said, "Compatibility [in marriage between spouses] is that he should be chaste and he should have means."[xii]
Also, caution should be applied when marrying one who is ill mannered and who is not committed to his religion. The Prophet and his Ahl al-Bayt (peace be upon them) have forbidden it, especially with regard to one who takes intoxicants. Many traditions have clearly prohibited finding him a wife to marry.
This is especially emphasized for those who live in foreign lands. If the husband does not possess the strength of the creed, ethics, virtue and the sense of responsibility, the wife will be exposed to tragic conditions. She is bound with the marriage tie which prohibits her from managing her destiny if her husband does not safeguard her rights and be sensitive about her feelings. She is in the hand of one who does not safeguard her rights or respect her sanctity.
Secondly, Many traditions of the Prophet and his Ahl al-Bayt (peace be upon them), including what we have cited above, emphasize early marriage for a man as well as women. Imam al-Ridha (peace be upon him) has said, "Gabriel descended once to the Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny) and said, 'O Muhammed! Your Lord greets you and says that the virgins among the women are like fruits on trees: if the fruits are ripe but find none to pick them, they will be spoiled by the sun and strewn by the wind …’ A man stood up and said, 'O Messenger of Allah! Who should we marry them off to?' The Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny) said, 'Marry them to those who are their peers.' The man asked who the peers might be, whereupon the Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny) said, 'The believers are peers of each other. The believers are peers of one another.'"[xiii]
It is natural that this especially applies to expatriates who live in some societies where sex is advertised in a blatant way through various methods of temptation and encouragement without a religious, moral or cultural deterrent. One's sexual instinct appears actively when he is a teenager, and it escalates to the peak when one has passed puberty, while he has not yet strengthened within himself religious and moral restraints from satisfying these desires by the available – and even promoted – illegitimate ways in such societies. This renders him prone to falling into the pitfall of vice in a way after which he cannot be saved once he becomes used to it and in harmony with it.
If we suppose that he is strong enough to avoid slipping into doing what is prohibited by the barriers which he has such as religion, morality and the effects of social norm established in his homeland, he will definitely be subjected to severe suffering and to bitter struggle within his self, which may disturb his life, beset his condition or drag him into complex repercussions and negativities. This is not the case if one is fortified – when the sexual instinct appears within him – by marriage which satisfies this instinct through the legitimate way. The individual may become used to such a lawful mean of sexual enjoyment in such a way that he does not seek prohibited ways. Allah, the most Praised and Exalted One, is the One Who helps, Who protects.
Thirdly, The primary motives for getting married may include sexual pleasure and satisfaction of one's desires. However, the most important objective in building the home for marriage, as per the Sharia and humanity, is to form the family, organize its affairs, fortify its harmony, strengthen affection among them, make its members content and establish cooperation among the members of the family for their own goodness and wellbeing.
Both spouses have to pay due regard to this and bear its responsibility. They should be cautious against turning marriage into a door to dispute, discord and the attempt by each spouse to take advantage of the other, violate each other’s right, and harm each other, for this is one of the most serious prohibitions.
The Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny) has said, "If one is married to a woman who harms him, Allah does not accept her prayers, nor does He accept her good deeds, until she helps him and pleases him, even if she fasts all the time, prays always, sets slaves free and spends money in the cause of Allah, yet she will be the first to enter the Fire.” Then he (peace be upon him and his progeny) said, "And the man bears the same burden and receives the same penalty if he harms and oppresses her.”[xiv]
Rather, each spouse has to perform the functions of his position in which Allah Almighty placed him and must not transgress it. Since Allah Almighty made the husband in charge, he is expected to do what suits this position in terms of what is required by wisdom and protection of his family’s entity, by being patient, by trying to lighten the burden of crises, absorb problems and take the time to resolve them. He must be patient when harmed, overlook when mistakes happen and forgive when one slips. He should avoid anger, scolding, argumentation, miserliness, etc., all of which are the means of the accursed Satan. He should seek support and help from Allah Almighty and derive success from Him.
The woman, too, must know her position and bear her responsibility. She must not forget that her Jihad which Allah, the most Praised One, wants her to perform is to be a good companion of the husband, endeavor to please him, be responsive to him, be patient when troubled by him, for he has more rights over her than anyone else, so much so that it has been narrated that the Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny) said, "Had I ordered anybody to prostrate to somebody else, I would have ordered the woman to prostrate to her husband."[xv]
Allah Almighty did not place each of the spouses in their respective positions, disciplining them through His own methods, except to safeguard the entity of the family, its solidarity, and to make its members blessed and righteous. They must derive the greatest lessons by observing some other societies where their divergence from the above has led to the destruction of homes, the breakdown of the family and its disintegration, the shattering of the family structure and its dispersal, and the actual abolishment of the family, thus causing its members to be at a loss, and to miss the objective.
Blessed is one who is admonished by what others do and who derives moral lessons from whatever surrounds him. Surely Allah, Praised and Exalted is He, is the One Who leads us to the Right Path.
Q1: Can we pay the share of the Imam (peace be upon him) from the Khums to help get a believer in the West married, while the same amount of money in the currency here can get many needy believers in several Islamic countries married?
A: If one has an urgent need to get married, and if the only help available at the time is the share of the Imam (peace be upon him), it is permissible to spend the said share for it without extensive spending. Such spending must be done only after consulting the Hakim Shar’i or his reliable agent, and after balancing the situation and seeing whether the circumstances that surround the case make him a valid beneficiary of the aforementioned share of Khums.
Q2: Should the wife obey her husband in regards to traveling far with him?
A: Yes, she should, unless she has a religiously-recognized excuse such as fear or the like.
Q3: In some Western countries, a daughter can separate from her father’s home, financially and in terms of accommodation, when she is more than 16 years old. Then she becomes independent in administering her affairs. If she consults with her father or mother, she will only be soliciting their opinion or out of politeness and affection. Does a virgin daughter, such as this, have the right to get married without obtaining her father's permission in this regard, be it a temporary or a permanent marriage?
A: If this independence is by way of her father placing her in charge of her own affairs including the affairs of marriage in such a way that she is given permission by him to marry whomever she wants, then her marriage is valid without the requirement of obtaining special permission from him.
But if this independence is due to the imposition of man-made laws, rather than the father placing her in charge of her own affairs, then such a marriage is not valid.However, if the daughter’s religion regards such a marriage as being valid, even if their religion accepts the man-made laws in this regard, it will then be valid.
Q4: A mature virgin woman, of the age of 25 years for example, gets married without referring to her guardian; is her marriage valid?
A: Her marriage contract is invalid without her guardian's permission. Therefore, if she knows that she has to refer to her guardian according to the Sharia, but she does not do so and the man has had intercourse with her, she will be an adulteress. But if she does not know about the requirement of obtaining permission, the intercourse will be the result of a misconception and she will not be an adulteress. However, if the guardian gives his permission afterwards, the contract becomes valid. The guardian should consider her best interests even after she gets involved in the said contract.
Q5: Is a Muslim man permitted to marry a non-Muslim woman from among the People of the Book, by way of a permanent or temporary marriage?
A: Yes, he is, but such a marriage is very much disliked especially if she is Magian. Yes, if he already is married to a Muslim woman, he is not allowed to marry a woman from among the People of the Book by way of a permanent marriage without the Muslim wife’s consent.
Q6: Is a permanent marriage contract permissible with a woman who is not Jewish, Christian or Magians , such as an atheist, Buddhist or a follower of some other faith?
A: A Muslim man is not permitted to enter into a marriage contract with such a woman, be it a permanent or a temporary marriage; and permission in marrying non-Muslim women is restricted to Jewish, Christian or Magian women
Q7: In some countries in the West, marriage with a non-Muslim woman may pose a risk to the children, because of the pressure of the social conditions and the laws in effect in the land, as well as the differences in languages. A father may not be able to guarantee his children following Islam. Instead, they may follow their mother's religion, or they may distance themselves from religion altogether as a result of their parents having religious differences. Can this render it impermissible to marry a non-Muslim woman?
A: By itself, this does not prevent such a marriage and make it impermissible. However such a marriage is disliked, as mentioned already. Actually, having children by such a marriage may be disliked, but it does not reach the level of prohibition.
Nevertheless, if he does have children by such a marriage, he must, in his capacity as the father and the one in charge of his children’s affairs, protect their religion and give them an Islamic upbringing no matter what efforts are exerted and hardships are borne. Allah, the most Praised and Exalted One, says, “O you who believe! Save yourselves and your families from a fire whose fuel is men and stones, over which stern (and) strong angels are appointed, (angels) who do not flinch (from executing) the commands they receive from Allah but do (precisely) what they are commanded” (Qur'an, 66:6).
The thirteenth chapter of the Introduction includes some advice which may be beneficial in this respect.
Q8: Some Muslims in non-Muslim countries get married in accordance to man-made laws or based on the woman’s religion if the wife is not Muslim, after their agreement to get married. Is such a marriage regarded as being valid according to the Sharia, and do the rules of wedlock apply to it? If the answer is in the negative, what is the ruling relevant to his wife and children in such a case? What is their status with regard to inheritance when death takes place in this situation?
A: Firstly, two conditions have to be met with regard to marriage:
(1) A marriage contract is solemnized between a man and a woman through articulation in any language.
(2) The pronunciation of the marriage contract, if performed by someone other than the spouses by proxy, must be based on an authorization by the spouses to be represented. The individual who pronounces the marriage contract represents them in solemnizing the contact in his capacity as their agent. The marriage is not valid if it is pronounced by someone else if it is based on this being amongst his affairs that he undertakes it independently, even if he does so after they are satisfied with it. The marriage contract by the clergyman should be based on him being their appointed representative and not as him acting independently.
Secondly, a marriage contract is not valid if it is solemnized at government offices if the spouses only declare their agreement to get married. Rather, the marriage contract has to be solemnized by their own pronouncement or that of their appointed representative, even if one of them or both would authorize the government official who would pronounce the contract on behalf of one or both of them.
Thirdly, if the contract is not valid according to the Sharia, and if the spouses enjoy sexual activities with each other and have sexual intercourse knowing that it is not valid, such enjoyment is forbidden and the intercourse will be adultery. The children resulting from it will be illegitimate for one who knew the invalidity of the marriage; so they do not inherit him. If the spouses have intercourse out of ignorance, the children will be the result of a misconception, and they will inherit the one who is ignorant about the invalidity of his marriage.
If one of them knows that it is invalid whereas the other is ignorant about it, the children are regarded as illegitimate only in respect to the one who knows of the invalidity, and the children are a result of misconception in respect to the one who did not know of the invalidity, and they inherit him. Similarly, if the religion of one spouse recognized the marriage contract as valid, such as a Christian wife who sees her church marriage as being valid according to her faith, the children with respect to her will then be the outcome of a valid marriage, even if she believes the said marriage to be invalid according to Islam, because each nation has its customary marriage.
Q9: In some non-Muslim countries, there are relationships between a man and a woman who are recognized by the law and custom as spouses or partners without any form of marital contract. They live together and they may even have children together. Is it possible for the Sharia to consider such a relationship as marriage? What is the ruling regarding the children born out of it? Can a Muslim marry a woman from the People of the Book who is in this type of relationship?
A: If the couple was Muslim then cohabitation and sexual enjoyment is not valid between a man and a woman without a marriage tie, and this tie does not materialize unless the contract is articulated, pronounced. As regarding the relationship referred to in the question, it is not a marital relationship. It is not endorsed by the Sharia, nor does it impose rights on either party, nor does it justify for them to have any sexual activity.
The sexual intercourse through this relationship is adultery, and the children resulting from it are illegitimate who have no right to inherit their parents. This applies to Muslims.
As regarding non-Muslims, the matter is the same unless their religion regards it as marriage. The children who are born from a relationship which is recognized as marriage in the religion of the parents are considered to be of legitimate birth.
Q10: In some Western countries, one who seeks divorce, be it the husband or the wife, has to pay a percentage of his money to the other party. In some countries, the law obligates the divorce-seeker to pay the other party a sum of maintenance money for twenty years, for example. If a marriage is thus established, will the individual be obligated to comply at the time of divorce?
A: It is not obligatory unless it is agreed that it is a condition in the religious marriage contract. The mere existence of such a law does not mean that it is a Sharia-recognized condition of the marriage. If we suppose that both parties agree on such a condition in the marriage contract, it is binding even if the law changes or the divorce takes place in another country which does not have such a law.
Q11: If both sides are aware of the aforementioned law and they entered into the marriage contract, is this regarded as an implicit acceptance of it?
A: Mere knowledge of the law does not make it an implicit condition on which the contract is based. And therefore it is not binding according to the Sharia.
Q12: Is it correct to pronounce a marriage contract over the telephone?
A: Yes, it is.
Q13: Is it correct to make the dowry of the marriage the performance of Hajj or a copy of the Holy Qur'an?
A: This is permissible and it is obligatory to offer it in the way that is commonly done so.
Q14: With regard to a wife’s deferred dowry, if it becomes due at the time of divorce, and its value at the time when they married greatly differs from its value at the time when it becomes due, either because the currency is devalued or for any other reason, what is the ruling in this case?
A: It remains as it is, without any increase or decrease, as is the case with all other debts.
Q15: A non-Muslim woman may declare the Shahada in order to get married to a Muslim, while those who hear her declaration do not see any credible possibility that she really believed in the Islamic faith; will those who hear her declaration have to treat her as a Muslim woman?
A: In entering Islam, it is not sufficient to declare the Shahada unless it is done with recognition of its content so as it appears from the status of the individual that he had indeed embraced Islam and recognized it, even if such conversion was not based on sufficient proof, since recognition is not necessarily believing in Islam out of full perception, but it is applying it and practically acting upon it.
Q16: A young Muslim girl wishes to get married to a person who, according to both Sharia and convention, is her peer. But her father refuses it completely; the father rejects everyone who seeks her hand unless he or one of his family members is wealthy even if he was not religious. Is the father permitted by the Sharia to marry his daughter off based on his own desire while ignoring her own wish?
A: The marriage of one's daughter is not valid without her consent. Yes, if she consents in order to fulfill her father's wish, her marriage will be valid. Also, he must not prevent her from marrying one who is compatible with her except if he is considering her best interest. If this takes place due to his control and without his consideration for her best interest, his guardianship over her will be void.
Q17: A non-Muslim woman married to a non-Muslim man wants to enter into the folds of Islam. She has children. Her husband threatened her that if she did embrace the Islamic faith, he would evict her and divorce her. He would then take her children from her and make her relatives go against her. What is the ruling and how can she deal with her situation knowing that she is convinced that she has to accept the Islamic creed?
A: Accepting Islam is mandatory upon her even if this leads to her separation from her husband. Actually, she is prohibited from staying with him as long as he remains a non-Muslim while she is a believer in Islam. She is prohibited from allowing him to have a sexual relationship with her. If he doesn’t also accept Islam as his religion until the end of the waiting period specified for divorce, her separation from him is complete and her marriage to him has ended. "He (always) prepares a way out for those who fear Allah” (Qur'an, 65:2). Allah will compensate her for the loss of her clan with the clan of faith and Islam. The Almighty says, "Believers are but a single brotherhood” (Qur'an, 49:10).
However, if she fears for her life, that she may be killed or severely harmed, it is permissible for her to be discreet about being a Muslim and about performing its obligations as much as she can until Allah Almighty provides a way out for her.
Q18: In the chapter of marriage your treatise of practical Islamic laws, Minhaj-ul-Saliheen, at the end of the section of the etiquettes of marriage, there is the following text: “… Rather, it is recommended for her (i.e. wife) to beautify herself, to apply perfume and prepare herself for him (her husband).” And in a section dealing with disobedience (Nushooz), the text reads: "A wife has to permit her husband to enjoy her, with the exception of anal sex, to remove anything offensive; furthermore, she should prepare herself, wear perfume and embellish herself through the means her husband makes available for her and as he wants her to be.” What is obligatory in this case and what is recommended?
A: What is obligatory on her is to respond to her husband with regard to what he asks her for and prepares for her embellishment. What is recommended is that she prepares and beautifies herself beforehand, even if he does not ask her to do so; rather, it is recommended for her to offer herself to him.
Q19: Since the laws in many countries do not obligate the husband to spend on his wife, these laws deal with the wife separately. On this basis, some countries pay a refugee wife a stipend just as they pay the refugee husband. In this case, does the wife have the right to receive and own the stipends assigned for her, and is her husband still obligated to provide for her despite that?
A: Yes, she has the right to receive the stipend set aside for her and to own it, while her husband is still obligated to provide for her.
Q20: What is meant by the duty of maintenance expenses which is obligatory on the husband and father? Does it mean what is suitable for the husband, or is it what suits the conditions of the wife, within the limits that can be met by the husband without causing difficulties for him?
A: The obligatory duty of maintenance expenses for the husband and father refers to expenses towards:
(a) Accommodation which shelters the occupant and protects him from heat, cold, rain, etc., and protects him from harm of people and animals;
(b) Food and drink in such amount which the body essentially requires,
(c) Clothing as such that the body requires and does not lead to insult.
In the case of the wife in particular, she should be provided with that which enjoying her company and intercourse requires if her husband seeks it, such as the provision of adornment and beautification, and of water for bathing and cleansing that removes discomfort. In fact, based on an obligatory precaution, he is duty-bound to provide water for the Ghusl required for the state of Janabah which he caused.
As for any further expenses, it is due to one's generosity which is highly commended by the Sharia. It is a way that well maintains companionship on which the family is based: Each member of the family spends more money or service that he is obligated in order to please the rest, to create harmony and to firm their companionship.
Q21: Is the wife allowed to leave the house without the permission of her husband?
A: No, she is not allowed.
Q22: A girl loses her virginity through adultery or marriage without permission of her guardian. Is she regarded as a non-virgin now, while it is known that a non-virgin does not need the permission of her guardian for future marriage? So, is a woman such as this, permitted to marry without first getting such permission?
A: She is still treated as a virgin. She is not permitted to get married without her father's permission because the ruling that applies to a virgin applies to her too, except through a valid marriage with the permission of her guardian followed by consummation.
However, in the case of marriage without permission, if her father accepted it after it taking place, this marriage will become valid and she will be considered then as non-virgin.
[i]Bihar Al-Anwar, Vol. 100, p. 219.
[ii]Wasaail Al-Shi'a, Vol. 14, p. 22.
[iii]Ibid., Vol. 14, p. 7.
[v]Ibid., Vol. 14, p. 24.
[vi]Ibid., Vol. 14, p. 25.
[vii]Ibid., Vol. 14, p. 16.
[ix]Ibid., Vol. 14, pp. 16-17.
[x]Ibid., Vol. 14, p. 178.
[xi]Ibid., Vol. 14, p. 51.
[xiv]Ibid., Vol. 14, p. 116.
[xv]Ibid., Vol. 14, p. 115.