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Is marriage a lottery?

By Afis A. Oladosu
09 October 2015   |   4:58 am
“And among His signs is this, that He created for you mates from among yourselves, that you may dwell in tranquillity with them, and He has put love and mercy between your hearts. Undoubtedly in these are signs for those who reflect.”(Quran 30:21). “Yes. Marriage is a lottery”. “No. It is not. It is not…
image source mendourmarriage

image source mendourmarriage

“And among His signs is this, that He created for you mates from among yourselves, that you may dwell in tranquillity with them, and He has put love and mercy between your hearts. Undoubtedly in these are signs for those who reflect.”(Quran 30:21).

“Yes. Marriage is a lottery”. “No. It is not. It is not meant to be!” No matter your perspective, the institution of marriage is as old as the human civilization. It is because Prophet Adam and Hawa (upon them be peace) were tied together in wedlock in the celestial that we derive validity to sing the praise of the Almighty each time the female and male genders find union on terrestrial earth. In other words, when Prophet Adam and Hawa ate ‘the forbidden fruit’, it is with certainty that I argue that the ‘forbidden fruit’ is itself destined to be ‘eaten’ by those to whom it is forbidden; we commit infractions against the Divine will with His knowledge but not with His command.

Profane as it appears, marriage has continued to be an important issue of concern to humanity. Every day the wedding bells continue to ring; every passing week, we hear of couples breaking the marital vows. Thus when ‘learned’ men and women choose to engage the topic of marriage, it is to remind all and sundry that when there is no peace at the home front, the city centre would become insuperable and riddled with indignities.

Brethren, marriage, also called matrimony or wedlock, is a socially or ritually recognized union or legal contract between two willing and matured individuals. It is established on rights and obligations between the latter, between them and their children, and between them and their in-laws. It is considered a cultural universal. For example, among the Arabs during the days of Jahiliya, marriage is of ten different types. No matter the option which catches your fancy, it is usually Arab women during that era before the advent of Islam, particularly those in the lower class, who suffered most from failed marriages. To women of the era, marriage was not about lottery. Rather, it was usually an interaction between the powerful and the powerless.

But it was not only among the Arabs that marriage could feature the bad, the good and the ugly. In China, excessive love between husband and wife was seen as a threat to the solidarity of the extended family. Parents could force a son to divorce his wife if her behaviour or work habits did not please them, whether or not he loved her. They could also require him take a concubine if his wife did not produce a son. If a son’s romantic attachment to his wife rivalled his parents’ claims on the couple’s time and labour, the parents might even send her back to her parents. In the Chinese language the term love did not traditionally apply to feelings between husband and wife. It was used to describe an illicit, socially disapproved relationship.

Further, a woman in ancient China might bring one or more of her sisters to her husband’s home as backup wives. Eskimo couples, in North America often had cospousal arrangements in which each partner had sexual relations with the other’s spouse. In Tibet and parts of India, Kashmir, and Nepal, a woman may be married to two or more brothers, all of whom share sexual access to her.

In medieval Europe, Antonia Fraser, wife of Henry III, posited that ‘marriage was the triumphal arch through which women, almost without exception, had to pass in order to reach the public eye. And after marriage followed, in theory, the total self-abnegation of the woman”. In contemporary western world, marriage is like coke: you either take it or leave it. The more popular the couple, the more the possibility of the marriage hitting the rock. If you desire to appreciate the other side of marital life in America, turn your cable television to the Divorce Court.

Now in Islam, marriage is one of the recommended acts of worship expected of every Muslim who is able and can afford to shoulder its responsibilities. (Q. 24: 32). The Prophet of Islam says: “O you young men! Whoever is able to marry should marry, for that will help him to lower his gaze and guard his modesty.”. In Islam, modesty is regarded as a great virtue by the Prophet. He said, “Modesty is part of faith”. Perhaps the greatest incentive for marriage is exemplified in the following statements of the Prophet: “Marriage is my Sunnah. Whosoever keeps away from it is not from me.”

It is probably based on the above tradition that marriage, variously known as al-Nikah or al-Zawaj is a solemn and sacred social contract between a man and woman. It is regarded as a strong covenant (mithaqun ghalithun) as expressed in Quran 4:21. In entering into it, two conditions are usually important to be fulfilled: the primary and the secondary. The primary condition are Ijab and Qabul, Mahr (sadaaq). Allah says “And give the women (on marriage) their mahr as a (nikah) free gift” (Quran 4:4). The secondary conditions include the consent of a guardian (wakeel) representing the bride, written marriage contract (Aqd-Nikah) signed by the bride and the groom and the presence of two adult and sane witnesses. It is traditional that the Khutbat-Nikah (marriage sermon and invocation of blessings) should equally be organised to solemnize the marriage.

Brethren, I was taken aback the other day when I learnt that the marriage of a young sister in the neighbourhood cost her parents a princely sum of three million naira. Sister, wedding feasts in Islam is expected to be a modest one. It should not be a platform for indulgence in illusion and fakery. In other words, of what use is the Lexus car the bridegroom rented for the occasion? Why should I begin my marital life by pretending to be what I am not? Why should I premise my future life on deceit and deception? The Prophet says one of the signposts of a blissful marital life is that in which the bride-groom incurs little or no debt in order to make it happen; it is that in which the bride reduces her crave and desire for material gifts.

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