Marriage is a basic remedy for the sexual appetite. Alternative solutions are merely to enable you to bide your time until the proper circumstances for marriage arrive: maturity, adequate financial resources, and a virtuous woman. The Messenger of Allah, May Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “O young men! Any of you who are able to marry should do so. It lowers the eyes and protects the private parts. Any of you who are unable to do so should fast. Fasting is a protection for you.” Young men are addressed because they have the strength and youthful vigour. They are subject to sexual desire for women and are generally not free of it. An Nawawi said, “My companions consider the term ‘young men’ to cover all those who are between the age of puberty and thirty years old.” The Prophet [peace be upon him] prescribed marriage for those who have the means for it and those who do not have means should fast and control their desires until the time Allah opens the way for them. We find the source of this in the Noble Quran where Allah Almighty says:
“Any of you who do not have the means to marry believing free women may marry believing slave girls who are owned by those among you. Allah knows best about your belief – you are all equally believers. Marry them with their owners’ permission and give them dowries correctly and courteously as married women, not in fornication or taking them as lovers. When they are married, if they commit fornication, they should receive half the punishment of free women. This is for those of you who are afraid of committing fornication. But to be patient would be better for you. Allah is All-Knowing, Most Merciful.” (Surah an Nisa: Ayah 25)
This is a dispensation from Allah and a mercy for those Muslims who lack the financial resources to marry believing free women. He therefore unlocks another door for them, but still concludes by saying, “But to be patient would be better for you,” since marriage to slave-girls entails risks in respect of the upbringing of the children which result from it. Islam desires strong progeny who will grow up with dignity, honour and clear lineage and establish Muslim society on firm foundations. That is why the basis of all marriages must be thoroughly sound. Otherwise, it is better to be patient with your sexual desire and to remain abstinent, a policy endorsed by Allah in Surat an Nur when He says:
“Those who cannot find the means to marry should be abstinent until Allah enriches them from His unbounded favour.” (Surah an Noor: Ayah 33)
This call for abstinence and purity is only demanded when a man does not possess adequate financial means to marry. However, when he has the means, marriage becomes an obligatory duty in the Shari’ah. Listen to the guidance of the noble Prophet [peace be upon him] regarding the necessity and importance of marriage. It is related from Anas ibn Malik, may Allah be pleased with him, that he heard the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, say, “Whosoever wants to meet Allah pure and purified should marry free women.”
Abu Ayyub, may Allah be pleased with him, said that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “Four things are part of the sunan of the Messengers: henna, perfume, siwak and marriage.”
‘Abdullah ibn ‘Amr ibn al ‘As, may Allah be pleased with both of them, said that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “This world is passing enjoyment. One of the best kinds of provision it contains is a woman who helps her husband regarding the Next World. A poor man is one who has no wife and a poor woman is on who has no husband.”
Abu Umamah, May Allah be pleased with him, said that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “There is nothing more beneficial to a believer after fear of Allah Almighty than a virtuous wife. When he orders her to do something, she obeys. When he looks at her, she delights him. When he requests her to do something, she carries it out. When he is absent from her, she is faithful to him both n respect of herself and his property.”
Anas, May Allah be pleased with him, related that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said,” Any man whom Allah provides with a virtuous wife has been helped to half his Deen, so he should fear Allah regarding the other half.”
Abu Hurayrah, may Allah be pleased with him, related that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “There are three people whom it is mandatory for Allah to help: someone who does jihad in the way of Allah, a slave who has been given a contact to free himself and desires to fulfil it and someone who marries out of the desire to preserve his chastity.”
Abu Buhayh, may Allah be pleased with him, related that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “Whoever is affluent should marry. If he does not marry, he is not with me.”
Anas ibn Malik, May Allah be pleased with him, said “A group of people came to the houses of the wives of the prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, to ask about the worship of the Prophet. When they were told, it seemed that they thought that the amount was not sufficient. They said, ‘Where are we in relation to the Prophet?’Allah has forgiven him his past and future errors,’ One of them declared, ‘As for myself, I will pray all night,’ Another said, ‘I will fast continually and never break it.’ Another said, ‘I will withdraw from women and never marry.’ The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace came to them and said, ‘Are you the people who said such and such? By Allah, I have more fear of Allah than you and more awareness of Him, but I fast and break the fast, and sleep, and marry women. Anyone who is averse to my Sunna is not with me.’”
The importance of marriage in Islam.
The reasons for the immense importance held by marriage in the life of the Muslims are summarised in the following points:
It is obedience to the command of Allah, who says in the Quran: “Marry those among you who are unmarried and your slaves and slave girls who are righteous. If they are poor Allah will enrich them from His overflowing favour.” (Surah an Noor: Ayah 32)
• It is following the guidance of our beloved Prophet [peace be upon him] and the Messengers of Allah since Allah Almighty said in His description of the Messengers: “We sent Messengers before you and gave them wives and children too” (Surah ar Ra’d: Ayah 38). An aspect of Allah’s love for the human race lies in enabling them to have children perpetuate the human species. The child is the goal of both the legal contract and the physical pleasure it sanctions. However, there is no pleasure in the life of the Muslim which does not entail subsequent responsibility as shown in this case by the upbringing of children.
• It gives repose and delight to the soul since sitting with, looking at, and playing with one’s spouse allows the heart to relax and strengthens it for worship. Without this the soul would grow wearied and turn away from the truth. The Almighty says: “Among His signs is that He created for you spouses from yourselves so that you might find repose with them. And He has placed between you affection and mercy. In that there are certainly signs for people who reflect.” (Surah ar Rum: Ayah 22).
• It fortifies the heart against Shaytan by satisfying sexual desire and therefore averting the dangers of unbridled sexual appetite. It is like an impregnable fortress which protects the Muslims from fortification and so saves them from falling into abyss which plunges people into the lower levels of Hellfire in this world before the Next. There is no more effective way of dealing with sexual energy.
• It provides an arena for combating and disciplining the lower self through taking care of the family and looking after their needs, putting up with their faults and failings, and striving to bring them up well and guide them to the right path. The Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said: “What a man spends on his family is sadaqa.” He said, “A man is rewarded for the mouthful he gives to his wife.”
Truly man should be amazed at the wisdom of the way his lord deals with the sexual instinct. It allows the sexual appetite to be satisfied, provides man with progeny and encourages him to strive on behalf of his family. Every aspect of the human self is taken into account and the result is a pure fruit whose fragrance permeates all parts of Muslim society Muslims are encouraged to satisfy their sexual instinct and by doing so achieve good in this world and the Next. This made the leaders among the Companions and the Followers eager to marry as they were to please Allah and His Messenger. ‘Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, said, “I force myself to have sexual intercourse hoping that Allah will bring forth by means of it another human being to glorify and remember Him.”
Ibn Mas’u d, may Allah be pleased with said, “Even if only ten days of my life remained, I would still get married because I would not like to meet Allah unmarried.” He also said, Seek wealth through marriage in conformity with the words of Allah, ‘If they are poor Allah will enrich them from His overflowing favour’ (Surah an Noor: Ayah 32)”.
Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal said, “Anyone who calls on you not to marry has called you to do something other than Islam.”He, May Allah have mercy on him, married two days after the death of his wife and said, “I do not want to spend a night as an unmarried man.”
(Dealing with Lust and Greed according to Islam, Shaykh ‘Abd al Hamid Kishk)