31.3 MARRIAGE, al alaaqat al zawjiyyat

By Professor Omar Hasan Kasule Sr.


Marriage is a natural institution that is encouraged. It is a civil contract that is legally valid under these conditions: 2 adult witnesses, question and answer, and mahr. Unlike other civil contracts, it cannot be concluded for a limited duration. No conditions repugnant to the sharia can be valid in a marriage contract. Marriage is a source of psychological, social, and emotional tranquility and stability. It protects from sexual corruption. It provides the best social structure for childbearing and child rearing. The ideal age for marriage varies by gender and society. Exogamy and monogamy are preferred. Polygamy is allowed in some situations and forbidden if justice cannot be maintained. Success in marriage depends on selection of the right spouse, spousal compatibility (psychological, emotional, socio-economic and culture), and tolerance and adjustment for incompatibilities. The qualities looked for in a husband are religious commitment, kindness, a gentle attitude to women, intelligence, strength of personality, a good family background, a known lineage, knowledge of the Qur’an and sunnat. The qualities of a prospective wife are: religion, pedigree, wealth, and beauty. The best and permanent value is religion (Islam, iman, taqwat). A good wife is patient, humble, charitable, sincere, loyal, trusting, supportive, obedient without feeling inferior, peaceful, cheerful, modest, chaste, and respectful of the husband's parents, relatives, and friends.



The pillars of marriage are pronouncement, witnesses, wali, bride, and bridegroom. The prospective spouses must be of legal age and legally competent. Social equality and financial ability are desirable but are not necessary condition. Exogamy is preferred for medical reasons. Mahr establishes the woman’s financial independence. A good spouse is the best asset on earth. Each spouse must be prepared to adapt and to try to do what will please the other one. The following factors determine success of failure of the relationship: successful communication, love and empathy, kindness, mutual respect, mutual understanding, respect for rights and responsibilities, sexual attractiveness, conflict resolution and control of jealousy.



Marital failure manifests in the appearance of the home, and behavior of the 2 spouses. The general atmosphere in the home is unhappiness. There is depression, loss of interest, and de-motivation. The following are possible causes of marital problems: sexual dysfunction, poor communication, infidelity, incompatibility, mental illness, personal incompetence of either spouse, social stresses, social dysfunction, and poor communication. Misunderstandings should be minimized. The best policy is to avoid conflict by each spouse doing what pleases and avoiding what annoys the other. Unresolved conflicts could lead to spousal physical or emotional abuse. Primarily the two spouses talking to one another and finding the cause of conflict should solve conflicts. If they cannot resolve the matter they should seek arbitration by people of wisdom and character.



A marriage can be dissolved by death, divorce, or annulment by a court of law. Although permitted, divorce is the most hated of the permitted things. Reconciliation should be attempted before the final divorce. Even after divorce, good treatment of the wife in enjoined by the institution of the post-divorce financial support. When a divorce occurs, both spouses are partners in the failure. The following factors are related to the risk of divorce (1) Socio-economic (SES) differences between spouses (2) a big age difference or both being too young (3) financial difficulties. Divorce is preceded by (1) withdrawal of love (2) lack of attention to the needs of each spouse (3) belittling (4) criticism. Divorce impacts both the spouses: anger, depression, and a feeling of relief if the relation was abusive. Children of divorce are affected economically and emotionally. They cannot understand what happened. The effects are long-term. The signs and symptom of family failure are bad physical appearance of the home (dirt, poverty), poor behavior and interaction of family members (conflict, laziness, lack of outings and regular meals). The house is not organized and is often dirty. Conflict is the commonest manifestation of family failure. Love and mutual help are replaced by acrimony and bad feelings. Conflict is commonest between the spouses. It could also occur between parents and children or among the children. Other members of the extended family may also be involved. Lack of routines and regular meals are manifestations of lack of leadership and initiative in a failing family. Laziness indicates lack of purpose and low motivation.

(c) Professor Omar Hasan Kasule Sr. 2004