Is Marriage Sinful? – Faraz Rabbani

Is Marriage Sinful?
Understanding Mutual Responsibilities
Faraz Rabbani
(Originally published in Islamica Magazine)

At a recent dinner invitation, I noticed that most of those present had business relationships with each other. I feared that if there wasn’t some radical intervention, the conversation would center on things like guerilla marketing and such—not my cup of tea. So I decided to say something radical, hoping to shift the flow of conversation to human relationships instead. I said, “You know, I think that it is haram for many people to marry.”

Heads turned very fast. Some asked me whether I’d lost my mind. Others simply asked me what I meant.

I wasn’t joking, I said. No, I was very serious.

Many people fall into sin by marrying. Why? Because they enter marriage without understanding the serious responsibility that marriage entails. Then they fail to fulfill their duty as husband or wife, and end up wronging their spouse. Such failure is sinful, even if one’s spouse is similarly remiss.

This returns to an important principle in the Shari‘a that hurting another is worse than hurting oneself. In fact, you have the full right to hurt yourself—in effect, you have the right to go to Hell, if you so wish. However, you have absolutely no right to hurt another—whether materially, emotionally, or in any other way. In marriages, spouses do amazing things to hurt each other, both directly and indirectly—through remissness in fulfilling their rights; and through simple inability to maintain a healthy marital relationship.

So, what can be done about it? The answer to this returns to individuals, parents, and society at large. As individuals, we have to develop an understanding of the keys to healthy human relationships in general and healthy marriages in parti-cular—before and after marriage. Parents have to inculcate an understanding in their children, especially http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2010/01/04/article-1240510-07C180AB000005DC-130_468x389.jpgin the later teen years and after, of good character, of taking the rights of others seriously, and of how to maintain strong relationships. With that, as parents we ourselves have a duty to be examples of successful marital life for our children. In society, we have a communal responsibility to raise awareness of what is needed to make marriages work—practical manner, not just through yet more lecturing on “The Importance of Early Marriage,” because early marriage without sufficient preparedness is as likely to fail as late marriage, if not more.

We need to train our community leaders, imams, and activists in marriage counseling. Seminars and programs must be held within the community for those seeking to get married and for those married. Trained counseling and suitable literature needs should be made available in accessible ways for those married, especially for those having trouble in their marriages.

People have to be made aware of the (often many) resources available in the wider society on marriage. Often, Muslims are wary of going outside the community for counseling (and yet fail to find capable counseling within the community). We need develop lists of reliable counseling services—services that uphold the core marital values Muslims hold dear (and which they fear for when seeking outside counseling). Likewise, there is a lot of good literature on marriage that those marrying and married should seriously consider reading.

As Dr. Ibrahim Kreps and other leading Muslim counselors concur, one of the very best books on marriage is John Gottman’s The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work. This or similar books give practical guidance on improving marriage relationships inhttp://rolfgross.dreamhosters.com/Islam-GE/Img/ch1/MedinaMinaret.jpg our times.

With this, as Muslims we have to look at the radiant example of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) himself. He reminded us that, “The best of you are those best to their spouses, and I am the best of you to their spouse” (Tirmidhi, on the authority of ‘A’isha, God be pleased with her)). We should look regularly and with reflection at the life and example of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), as these give us beautiful examples and clear principles on how to have a successful marriage built on the Qur’anic paradigm of love and mercy, and of striving to live together with a mutual commitment to excellence in dealings.


9 Responses
  1. eman says:

    Jezakala Zhair for this very beneficial article.

  2. Nadine says:

    JazakAllahu Khairan! InshaAllah, this is being posted on my Facebook page for all to see, whether Muslim or not. This is such a well thought out article. A MUST READ for anyone contemplating marriage or divorce for that matter. May Allah continue to inspire you!

  3. Sara says:

    “In society, we have a communal responsibility to raise awareness of what is needed to make marriages work—practical manner, not just through yet more lecturing on “The Importance of Early Marriage,” because early marriage without sufficient preparedness is as likely to fail as late marriage, if not more.”

    … how very true, throwing a couple of young adults into a marriage can be disastrous if they are not well prepared. this simply leads to more fitnah. preaching early marriage is extremely detrimental if not paired with extreme caution and the notion of responsibility.

  4. Dounia says:

    Thank you kindly for this insightful article and great reminder of how we should approach marriage. I myself just remarried and plan to take to heart your words of wisdom. May Allah give us all success in pleasing him through our relationship with our spouses.

  5. Ahmed lewis sr says:

    I was married when I was 30 years old I thought that this woman really love me she was satrn in disguise she even married someone else while she was married to me. After 30 years we got a divorce. and I also found out that the dorter was not child it wash his. Marriage is difficult some have very bad experiences. it is the character of the 2 people that make it work
    and some a good. Couseling doesn’t clear the way

  6. Sara says:

    Jazak Allah khair! What a beautiful article.

  7. Aslm/alkm, Masha’Allah! Marriage indeed! Is a great institution that needs lots of counseling. Is kind of experience never come across unless in, but patience and tolerance does it all. Beautiful efforts, may Allah reward you immensely. Ameen!

  8. Maryam says:

    Jazakallah khair for this very relevant article. While I was reading the article, I couldn’t help but think of the conceptualization of marriage in South Asian households as a purely transactional relationship. In some ways, no different from a business relationship. There is very little emphasis on emotional development and much on superficial actions, not to mention self-sacrifice, reserved only for women. Could you recommend some resources about preparing for marriage and the rights and responsibilities of spouses targeted to South Asian muslims/ parents? Preferably in Urdu?

  9. Miss A says:

    A much needed article!

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