Benefits of Marriage

The above discussion brings us to the benefits of marriage and the philosophy of the matrimonial bond.

Marriage is one of the fundamental sociological institutions. Mankind, since its very beginning, has kept to it without any disruption. Even the so called `uncivilized’ tribes and primitive societies treat marriage as a sacred bond. Such an institution must be based on the foundation of the nature it-self.

Philosophy of Marriage: Islam has based its matrimonial laws on the correlation between masculinity and femininity. Obviously this complementary system in man and woman – and it is the most intricate and inter-related one, permeating their whole beings – was not created in vain or without purpose. The male by his nature is attracted to the female, and vice versa.

And this system has only one goal in sight: Procreation. Islamic marriage is based on this reality, and all its matrimonial rules revolve around this axis. On this foundation are based the Islamic laws concerning chastity and conjugal rights, exclusive attachment of the wife to her husband and the rules of divorce and `iddah (the waiting-period after a woman has been widowed or divorced before she can re-marry), legitimacy and parentage, custody of children and their upbringing, inheritance and other related matters.

In short, marriage is the only legal and honourable way of satisfying sexual desire, and the husband and wife by their union ensure the survival of mankind. Although almost all the burden in this task falls on the woman, the initial steps can-not be taken without the participation of the man.

This is the philosophy of marriage. And it also shows the first and primary benefit of matrimony.

The Holy Prophet said:
Marry and procreate and increase your population . . .

Second Benefit of Marriage: The second benefit is that the husband and the wife jointly (but with division or responsibilities) perform the tasks which they are faced with in establishing a family. And each finds his or her fulfilment in the other. As explained earlier, woman is not fit to earn livelihood; man is not fit to manage domestic affairs. Marriage binds them to make up each other’s deficiencies, so that the family may prosper.

The man will spend his energies in earning a livelihood for himself and his family. The woman will manage the domestic life with that income. Allah has reminded us of this very point in these words

And marry those among you who are single, and the virtuous ones among your slaves, male and female: if they be in poverty, Allah will make them rich by His Grace; for Allah is abundantly-giving, All-knowing. ( Qur’an, 24:32)

It is for this reason that al-Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq (a.s.) said: “The sustenance is with women and dependants.” Domestic science is the natural preserve of women, and by their efficient management they can make the money stretch far.

Modern non-Islamic societies have laid the foundation of matrimony on only this cooperation between husband and wife, while in Islam it is a secondary, not the primary, benefit. Marriage, according to present day societies, is a co-operative venture, albeit much narrower in scope than other such institutions, like a municipality or a club.

It is for this reason that modern laws do not pay any attention to the rules of chastity etc. This inadequate foundation – cooperation in life – has given rise to a vast multitude of social problems and has created chaos in domestic life, because it is not in complete harmony with realities of creation and nature. Man is a social animal, no doubt. Everyone cooperates with everyone else, dividing the labour and work according to one’s aptitude. But this factor requires cooperation between any two persons; it does not specifically call for cooperation between a man and a woman.

Therefore, it is a weak foundation on which to build the edifice of matrimony. If marriage were only a co-operative institution, there would be no need of any special rule for matrimony; the general rules governing associations and co-operative societies would be enough. It would negate the virtues of chastity and fidelity, nullify the concept of legitimacy and affinity, and abrogate the rules of inheritance – as some “advanced” societies have done. If we accept this ultimate result of the modern philosophy of marriage, we will have to accept that all this complicated and inter-related system in the bodies of man and woman was created without any purpose.

Now to return to our original topic. The basic philosophy and secondary benefit of marriage have already been described. It was because of those benefits that the Holy Prophet said: “The worst of your dead is the unmarried one.”

Now, we may understand the meaning of the ayah:

They (wives) are your garment and you are their garment.

The garment serves three purposes: it beautifies, it covers the parts of the body, and it protects from cold and heat. Allah says

O’ Children of Adam! We have bestowed upon you garment to cover your shame, and to be an adornment to you. And the garment of righteousness, that is the best . . .(Qur’an, 7:26)

Husband and wife, by uniting together, cover the natural shortcomings of each other, and this union protects them from hardships and difficulties which one faces by living alone; the sun of happiness and prosperity shines on the horizon of life; and both, by their joint efforts, discharge all the duties laid upon them by human nature. -al-islam.org

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