A believer loves because of his faith, and because Allah, his Creator and Lord, loves, too. When he loves certain people, articles and experiences, he loves them only because, and in the name, of Allah, in that they all exist only due to Allah’s grace and love. They are the objects of divine love. As a form of reciprocation, they love and are being loved by the All-Loving God. The entire process unfolds for Allah’s sake alone.
In an ideal scenario, Muslim man and Muslim woman should not get married because they think they will then and thereby have achieved love. Rather, they should get united as husband and wife believing that they have what it takes to continuously grow and build love throughout their lives until the end. They are to see each other as indispensable partners in pursuing and experiencing, both individually and collectively, the ultimate heavenly love, which is the only guarantee of all the legitimately successful forms of terrestrial love, including the coveted love between spouses.
A husband and wife are partners in life’s principled and weighty mission, which extends beyond the confines of this world into the realm of the Hereafter. That is why when Allah speaks about marriage and pair bonding of man and woman as the foundation of human society, He draws attention to the notions of living in tranquility as well as the existence of love and compassion between them. All the three components, anchored in strong faith, are essential for realizing life’s purpose and for attaining its mission.
Marriage provides a physical, emotional and spiritual fulfillment without which the personality remains impeded and depressed. While Allah, the Almighty, has emphasized on marriage and disliked anyone remaining single, He has also outlined the rights of the husband and wife. If we are mindful of these rights which Allah has defined then differences will never arise. Rather, it’ll be a highly successful life.
Allah, the Almighty, has discussed the importance, aim and secret to success of a marital life in the following verse:
وَمِنْ اٰيٰتِہٖٓ اَنْ خَلَقَ لَكُمْ مِّنْ اَنْفُسِكُمْ اَزْوَاجًا لِّتَسْكُنُوْٓا اِلَيْہَا وَجَعَلَ بَيْنَكُمْ مَّوَدَّۃً وَّرَحْمَۃً اِنَّ فِيْ ذٰلِكَ لَاٰيٰتٍ لِّــقَوْمٍ يَّتَفَكَّرُوْنَ
“And of His signs is that He created for you from yourselves mates that you may find tranquillity in them; and He placed between you affection and mercy. Indeed in that are signs for a people who give thought.” [Ar-Room 30:21]
- Marriage is among the signs of Allah. It is Allah who has placed attraction and a charm for each other in the partner’s heart. Both are vital and essential for each other.
- Marriage is a medium of peace and tranquility (لِّتَسْكُنُوْٓا اِلَيْہَا). Both husband and wife are incomplete without each other. Peace is achieved when they come together and complement each other.
- The key to the foundation of this relationship is not wealth, beauty or lineage. Rather, it is attributed to love and mercy. وَجَعَلَ بَيْنَكُمْ مَّوَدَّۃً وَّرَحْمَۃً means that human life stands firm based on love and mercy. If there is no love and mercy after marriage then it means that life is unstable.
The Holy Quran has used two words – love and mercy. A building does not stand firm only on the basis of strong bricks. Simply laying bricks on top of each other does not strengthen a wall. What strengthens it is the material that is placed between the two bricks which binds the two together. The strength of the materials will not allow the wall to break down even during earthquakes. It is love and mercy which binds the husband and wife together and provides strength to this blessed relationship. Life sustains this relationship despite the most difficult situations and the most unpleasant circumstances.
- Love, in the initial stages, and mercy, when the couple grow old and weak and do not have the ability to serve each other, strengthen the relationship.
- Love is between two adults but children grow up in the shade of mercy.
- Love entails equality whereas mercy includes sacrifice. It means this relationship will not survive on serving each other equally. Rather, sometimes it’s the feeling of sacrifice which is required. Allah has placed these emotions right in the beginning to prevent severing of this relationship.
Through care and compassion, the members of a household show mercy to one another, and each of them is aware of his duty towards the others. Out of a sense of decency, each of them refrains from being the cause of separation or of the family collapsing. Think about the words of Allah, may He be exalted (interpretation of the meaning):
هُوَ الَّذِي خَلَقَكُمْ مِنْ نَفْسٍ وَاحِدَةٍ وَجَعَلَ مِنْهَا زَوْجَهَا لِيَسْكُنَ إِلَيْهَ
“It is He who created you from one soul and created from it its mate that he might dwell in security with her” [Al-A‘raaf 7:189]
The above verse refers to Hawwa’; Allah created her from Adam, from the shortest rib on his left hand side. If He had made all the descendants of Adam males, and had created females for them from a different kind, either from among the jinn or animals, this harmony would not exist between them and their wives; rather the result would have been aversion, if their wives were of a different kind. Moreover, by His perfect mercy towards humanity, Allah made their wives of their own kind, and He created between them affection, which is love, and compassion, which is kindness. So a man may keep his wife either because he loves her, or out of compassion towards her because he has children from her, or because she needs him with regard to maintenance, or because they get along well, or for other reasons. [Tafseer Ibn Katheer (6/309)]
Allah, may He be exalted, also says (interpretation of the meaning):
وَعَاشِرُوهُنَّ بِٱلْمَعْرُوفِ ۚ فَإِن كَرِهْتُمُوهُنَّ فَعَسَىٰٓ أَن تَكْرَهُوا۟ شَيْـًٔا وَيَجْعَلَ ٱللَّهُ فِيهِ خَيْرًا كَثِيرًا
“And live with them [wives] in kindness. For if you dislike them – perhaps you dislike a thing and Allah makes therein much good” [An-Nisaa’ 4:19]
Elsewhere in the Quran, husband and wife are described as “garments” for each other.
هُنَّ لِبَاسٌ لَكُمْ وَأَنْتُمْ لِبَاسٌ لَهُنَّ
“They are clothing for you and you are clothing for them” [Al-Baqarah 2:187]
Allah has enjoined upon spouses everything that will create and strengthen love between them, and He has forbidden to them everything that goes against that. If the two spouses understand this principle which governs how they should interact with one another, then their life will be well ordered and it will be as Allah wants to it be, filled with tranquility, love and compassion.
Once, the Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) was sitting with one of his Companions when another man passed by them. The man who was sitting with the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “I love this man (for Allah’s sake).”
The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said,“Have you told him?”The man replied in the negative.
So the Prophet said,“Go and tell him.”Thereupon, the man stood up and said to the other man, “I love you for Allah’s sake.”
The other replied, “May Allah, for Whose sake you love me, love you.” (Ahmad)
The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) used to express his love toward his wives by word and deed. As for words, it is reported that
`Amr ibn Al-`Aas (may Allah be pleased with him) asked the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) saying, “O Allah’s Messenger, whom do you love most, after Allah Almighty?” He (peace and blessings be upon him) replied,“`A’ishah.”`
Amr ibn Al-`Aas then said, “And from among the men?”
The Prophet answered,“Her father (Abu Bakr).”
This hadith shows how great was the Prophet’s love for `A’ishah, and this love was well-known among his Companions.
`A’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) said, “It would happen that Allah’s Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) would take a utensil containing food, give it to me while I was having my menstrual period, and adjure me to eat from it. Then he would take the vessel being keen to put his mouth on the same place I put my mouth on.” Of course, the Prophet did this as a kind of compliment and to let his wife feel his affection. `A’ishah also swore that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) used to do the same when drinking water. She would drink then he would take the utensil and drink from it, putting his mouth where she had put hers.
By doing such things, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) intended to guide his nation as to how the relation between the spouses should be, how affection and mercy can last between them, and how the husband can talk gently and play with his wife.
The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said,“Be lenient toward glass vessels (that is, women)!”
In this hadith, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) called women “glass vessels,” for they need care either in treatment or even in speech. It goes without saying that our wives are more deserving to be treated kindly. They are our helpmates, our children’s mothers, the ones who make our homes comfortable and fulfill our love desires.
Each spouse is enjoined by Islam to do everything that will create and strengthen love, and is forbidden to do whatever is contrary to that. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) forbade a man to pray and fast a great deal if that will impact upon his wife’s rights.
Al-Bukhaari (1153) narrated that ‘Abd-Allaah ibn ‘Amr (may Allaah be pleased with him) said:
The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said to me:
“Have I not heard that you spend all night in prayer and fast every day?” I said: “I do that.” He said: “But if you do that, your eyes will become weak and you will become tired. But your body has rights over you and your wife has rights over you. So fast and break your fast, pray qiyaam and sleep.”
Based on this, each spouse should be keen to please the other and not do anything that will cause anger or annoyance. The relationship between husband and wife should be based on good and kind treatment, love and compassion.
وَلَهُنَّ مِثْلُ الَّذِي عَلَيْهِنَّ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ
“And they (women) have rights (over their husbands as regards living expenses) similar (to those of their husbands) over them (as regards obedience and respect) to what is reasonable” [Al-Baqarah 2:228]
Allah’s Messenger said:
“The wife is the guardian over the house of her husband and his children.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]
“If I were to command a single person to bow in prostration to another person, I could have commanded a woman to bow down (in obedience and respect, not in worship) to her husband.” [Abu Daawood]
Allah’s Messenger said:
“The best woman is the one who when you look at her, you are pleased; when you order her, she obeys; if you are absent from her, she guards herself and your property.” [At-Tabarani]
It was narrated that Abu Hurayrah (may Allaah be pleased with him) said:
The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said:
“If a man calls his wife to his bed and she refuses, and he stays angry with her all night, the angels will curse her until morning.” [Al-Bukhaari, 3237; Muslim, 1436]
Love between the husband and the wife is something natural. It cannot be said concerning such a thing that it is obligatory according to sharee‘ah, or that Islam enjoins it; rather in such matters, what could be attained naturally is sufficient and there is no need for a religious text to enjoin it.
The one who imagines that married life nothing but a romantic novel or rosy dream is looking for something that cannot exist in real life, as real life inherently involves toil, hardship and difficulty. Allah, may He be exalted, says (interpretation of the meaning):
لَقَدْ خَلَقْنَا الْإِنْسَانَ فِي كَبَدٍ
“We have certainly created man into hardship” [Al-Balad 90:4]
The poet said:
Life is inherently difficult and tough, yet you want it to be free from all problems and troubles; the one who expects from life the opposite of its inherent nature is like one who seeks a brand of fire from water.
Once we understand this, and we look at life realistically, we will see that seeking a life that is perfect or free of trouble is something unattainable, and it is sufficient to not let what you see of problems prevent you from finding some comfort and being determined to keep going. Hence
‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) said to a man who wanted to divorce his wife:
Why do you want to divorce her?
He said: I do not love her.
He said: Are all families based on love only?
What about care and decency? (‘Uyuun al-Akhbaar, 3/18).
What this means is: bear with patience any annoyance from your friend and your wife, for people in general face similar situations with their wives and their friends as you do, but they may stick together even though they are not entirely happy with one another and do not love one another, but the need that each of them has for the other keeps them together!
Shaykh as-Sa‘di (may Allah have mercy on him) said:
The husband is obliged to live with his wife in kindness, keeping good company with her, refraining from hurting her, treating her well, and being nice to her. That includes maintenance, clothing and so on.
“For if you dislike them – perhaps you dislike a thing and Allah makes therein much good” that is, you – husbands – should keep your wives even if you dislike them, for there is much good in that, which includes obeying the command of Allah and accepting His instructions, which leads to happiness in this world and the hereafter.
Moreover, the husband’s forcing himself to be kind to his wife, despite his not loving her – is striving against his nafs and striving to attain good manners and a good attitude. Perhaps the dislike may cease and be replaced with love, as often happens. Perhaps he may be blessed with a righteous child from her, who will benefit his parents in this world and the hereafter. This applies when it is possible to keep her without falling into what is forbidden. [Tafseer as-Sa‘di (p, 172)]
Muslim (1467) narrated that Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) said:
The Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said: “No believing man should hate a believing woman. If he dislikes one of her characteristics, he may be pleased with another.”
An-Nawawi (may Allah have mercy on him) said: That is, he should not despise her, for if he finds in her one characteristic that he dislikes, he will find another that is pleasing to him. She may be hot-tempered and aggressive, but she may also be religiously committed, beautiful, or chaste, or kind to him, and so on.
We beseech Allah to inculcate love and affection among all married men and women!