When Two Become One

In Islam, the family is not just a factory for the procreation of the human species, although the preservation and continuation of the race is one of its objectives.

It is the basis of the entire socio-cultural structure and a self-sustaining mechanism to ensure social, ideological and cultural stability over the entire span of society on the one hand and in time, past, present and future, on the other.

Preservation of the Human Race

The survival of the human race and culture, and continuity in the functioning of man’s vicegerency depends on the effective operations of the mechanism for procreation and reproduction.

Nature has provided for this in that the psychological and physiological differences between the sexes are complementary to each other. All the facts of procreation demand that the process needs a stable structure to come into operation.

Man, woman and child are all in need of a permanent and lasting institution in order to fulfill this role. The family is the institution which can take care of the entire process, from the initial phases to its fruition.

God says in the Quran what means:

{O Mankind, be conscious of your duty to your Lord, Who created you from a single soul, created of like nature, his mate, and from the two created and spread many men and women.} (4:1)

{Your wives are tilth for you; so go to your tilth whenever you wish; and take care of what is for you, and heed God and know that you will meet Him.} (2:223)

Protection of Morals

The sexual urge is a natural and creative urge. Although common to all living beings, in the case of men and women there are some unique aspects.

In other animals, it is primarily for procreation and is regulated through instinct and the processes of nature. The mating urge is not effective at all times; it is bound by its own seasons and cycles.

With humanity, this is not so. The urge is always there and lacks any built-in physiological control mechanism. But control and regulation are essential for a healthy existence, even at a biological level.

They become more important at the social and cultural levels. Neither total abstinence nor unceasing promiscuity can lead to a stable and healthy existence.

Islam forbids non-marital sex in all its forms. But it enjoins marriage to enable men and women to fulfill their natural urges, to enjoy this aspect of life in such a way that pleasure and responsibility go hand in hand.

Sex is through marriage and marriage alone provides the control mechanism for the sexual urge. It also acts as a safety valve for sexual morality.

Through it, fulfillment and sublimation are achieved in a balanced way and equilibrium is attained in inter-sex relations. The Quran calls marriage a hisn, a ‘castle’, i.e. (it is a protection) against a life of debauchery.

God says in the Quran what means:

{So marry them with their guardian’s permission and give them their marriage portions as wives, they being chaste, not committing fornication or having illicit friendships.} (4: 25)

At another place, the same point is stressed with reference to the man:

{And respectable, believing women (are lawful) as well as respectable women from among those who are given the Book before you, once you have given them their marriage portion and taken them in wedlock, not fornicating or having illicit friendships.} (5:5)

Marriage is a spiritual relationship that sustains and generates love

Psycho-Emotional Stability

Another objective of marriage is to attain psychological, emotional and spiritual companionship. The relationship in the family, between all its members, and most important of all, between the husband and wife, is not merely a utilitarian relationship.

Marriage is a spiritual relationship that sustains and generates love, kindness, mercy, compassion, mutual confidence, self-sacrifice, solace and succor.

The best in human nature expresses itself in the flowering of these relationships. It is only in the context of the family that what is spiritually potential in men and women becomes real and sets the pace of the blossoming of goodness and virtue within the family and outside it.

In marriage companionship, each partner seeks ever-increasing fulfillment. With children in the family, the values of fellow-feeling, of love and compassion, of sacrifice for others, of tolerance and kindness are translated into reality and implanted in character.

It is the family that provides the most congenial climate for the development and fulfillment of human personality. That is why the Prophet Muhammad has said that home is the best place in the world.

This function of marriage and family is emphasized in the Quran in a number of ways. It says:

{And (one) of His signs is that He created for you, of yourselves, spouses so that you may console yourselves with them (and find rest and tranquility in them). He has set between you love and mercy.} (20:31)

At another place, the relationship between the spouses has been described as that between “the body and the garment”:

{They are garments for you and you are garments for them.} (2: 187)

This emphasizes their sameness, their oneness, something much more sublime than legal equality. The husband and the wife both are described as each other’s raiment, not one as the garment and the other the body.

A garment is something nearest to the human body; it is that part of the external world, which becomes a part of our being. Such is the closeness of the relationship between the spouses. Dress is something that covers the body and protects it. The spouses are protectors and guardians of each other.

The dress beautifies the wearer. One feels oneself incomplete without it. Husband and wife complement each other; one completes and perfects and beautifies the other.

This relationship also protects the morals, without this shield one is exposed to the dangers of illicit carnality.

All these aspects have been captured in the single but succinct phrase:

“You are like a garment for each other.”


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