Marriage in the Quran

by Shahina Siddiqui


Reproduced with permission of Author

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 “And among His signs is this, that He created for you mates from among yourselves, that you may dwell in peace and tranquility with them, and He has put love and mercy between your (hearts): Verily in that are signs for those who reflect.” [1]

“O Humans revere your Guardian Lord, Who created you from a single person created of like nature its mate, and from this scattered (like seeds) countless men and women. Reverence Allah through whom you claim your mutual rights.” [2]

The above verses of the Qur’an lay out the framework as to what are the foundations and the objectives regarding the goal of marriage in Islam.

In the ultimate wisdom of Allah SWT we are first told that both men and women are created from the same soul and come from the same source. This equality of creation is then presented as an important sign of Allah on which believers should reflect.

The fact that we come from the same soul signifies our equality as humans. Therefore, when the essence of our creation is the same, the argument of which gender is better or greater is redundant. The fact that Allah SWT stresses on this fact, and then mentions the institution of marriage in the same verse is of great significance for those of us who are in the field of marriage counseling.

An attitude of inequality of genders causes an imbalance in marital relationships and leads to dysfunctional marriages. Whenever one partner considers himself superior to the other or above the law, there is a shift in the balance of power that may lead to misuse or abuse of power. Since the less valuable partner is seen as an easy prey. Many marital difficulties are based on or caused by a control and rule stratagem.

By stressing on the equality of all humans- men and women, and making this the basis of marriage, Allah SWTin infinite wisdom has laid the ground rules for establishing peace. Additionally, the assignment of different but complimentary roles to husband and wife are established more for a functional strategy, rather than a question of the competence of each gender.

Prophet Mohammad SAAW has stated that: “men and women are twin halves of each other” [3]. This hadith also emphasizes the fact that men and women are created from a single source. Furthermore, by using the analogy of “twin halves” the prophet has underlined the reciprocal and interdependent nature of the relationship between men and women in general.

The objective and goal of marriage in Islam according to the above Qur’anic verses is to enable us to dwell in peace and tranquility. It is important for us to reflect on these words and their significance in the Islamic frame of reference. In order to have peace, certain conditions must be met. The prerequisites to peace are justice, fairness, equity, equality, and fulfillment of mutual rights. Therefore any injustice whether it is oppression or persecution, cannot be tolerated if there is to be peace in Muslim homes.

In the domestic realm, oppression is manifested when the process of shura (consultation) is compromised, neglected, or ignored. For example, when one partner (in most cases the husband) makes unilateral decisions and applies a dictatorial style of leadership, the family’s peace is compromised.

Persecution is also present when there is any form of domestic abuse being perpetrated by either partner – be it verbal, mental, spiritual, or physical. A Muslim home should be an abuse and violence free zone.

In contrast, tranquility is a state of being which is achieved when peace has been established. Tranquility is compromised when there is tension, stress, and anger present. It is important to note that tranquility does not mean perpetual state of bliss. Being Muslim does not make us immune to tragedies and catastrophes in fact Allah SWT tells us in the Qur’an that we will be tried [4]. The blessing of tranquility is that it empowers us to handle life’s difficult moments with our spouses as obedient and grateful servants of Allah.

Allah SWT in His infinite mercy in the same verse also provides us with the tools by which we can achieve this state of peace and tranquility. The second principle besides shura on which a Muslim family life is based is mercy (rahma). Allah SWT is telling us that He has placed mercy between spouses. We are therefore inclined by our very nature to have mercy for our spouses.

Mercy is manifested through compassion, forgiveness, caring, and humility, and it is obvious that these are all ingredients that make for a successful partnership. Marriage in Islam is above all a merciful partnership based on equality of the partners and specification of roles. Therefore lack of mercy in a marriage or a family renders it dysfunctional in Islamic terms.

Allah SWT further states that He has also placed in addition to mercy, love between spouses. It should however be noted that the Islamic concept of love is different from the more commonly understood romantic love that is so valued in the western cultures.

The basic difference is that love between a man and a woman in the Islamic context can only be realized and expressed in a legal marriage. In order to develop a healthy avenue for its expression and to provide security so that such a loving relationship can flourish, it is necessary to give the love between a man and a woman the protection of the law of the land and of shariah together.

Marital love in Islam inculcates the following:

Faith – The love Muslim spouses have for each other is for the sake of Allah SWT, that is to gain His pleasure. It is from Allah that we claim our mutual rights [2] and it is to Allah that we are accountable for our behavior as husbands and wives.

Sustains – Love is not meant to consume but to sustain us. Allah SWT expresses His love for us by providing sustenance. To love in Islam is to sustain our loved one physically, emotionally, spiritually and intellectually, to the best of our ability (to sustain materially is the husband’s duty, however if the wife wishes she can also contribute).

Accepts – To love someone is to accept them, for who they are. It is selfishness to try and mould someone as we wish them to be, true love does not attempt to crush individuality or control personal differences, but is magnanimous and secure to accommodate differences.

Challenges – Love challenges us to be all we can; it encourages us to tap into our talents and takes pride in our achievements. To enable our loved one to realize their potential is the most rewarding experience.

Merciful – Mercy compels us to love and love compels us to have mercy. In the Islamic context, the two are synonymous. The attribute Allah chose to be the supreme for Himself is that He is the most merciful. This attribute of Rahman (the merciful) is mentioned 170 times in the Qur’an bringing home the significance for believers to be merciful. Mercy in practical application means to have and show compassion and to be charitable.

Forgiving – Love is never too proud to seek forgiveness or too stingy to forgive. It is willing to let go of hurt and letdowns. Forgiveness allows us the opportunity to improve and correct our selves.

Respect –To love is to respect and value a person, their contributions, and their opinions. Respect does not allow us to take for granted our loved ones or to ignore their input. How we interact with our spouses reflects whether we respect them or not.

Confidentiality – Trust is the most essential ingredient of love. When trust is betrayed and confidentiality compromised, love loses its soul.

Caring – Love fosters a deep fondness that dictates caring and sharing in all that we do. The needs of our loved ones take precedence over our own.

Kindness – The seerah of our beloved Prophet Mohammad SAAW is rich with examples of acts of kindness he showed towards his family and particularly his wives. Even when his patients was tried, he was never unkind in word or deed. To love is to be kind.

Grows – Marital love is not static; it grows and flourishes with each day of marital life. It requires work and commitment and is nourished through faith. When we are thankful and appreciative of Allah’s blessings, our love for each other grows.

Enhances – Love enhances our self image and beautifies our world through positive reinforcement and provides emotional security and physical well being.

Selflessness – Love gives unconditionally and protects dutifully.

Truthful – Love is honesty without cruelty and loyalty without compromise.


[1] Qur’an: Chapter. 30, Verse 21.

[2] Qur’an: Chapter 4, Verse 1.

[3] Narrated by Bukhari.

[4] Qur’an: Chapter 2, Verse 155.

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