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Marriage is Highly Recommended

It is important to realize that in Islamic texts the idea of marriage is not divorced from sex, nor is it confined to sex for the purpose of procreation. The legal term for marriage is "nikah" which literally means sexual intercourse.

Marriage per se is a highly recommended deed. Allah says, "Marry the spouseless among you ... if they are poor, God will enrich them of His bounty." (Qur'an 24:32) The first word of this verse begins with "fankihu" (Marry!) which is an imperative form of the word nikah. According to the principles of Islamic jurisprudence, any communication in imperative form from God can have two levels of meaning: either it is an obligatory command or a very high recommendation. And therefore we see that in Islam celibacy is not considered as a virtue. Based on this verse we find the Prophet saying that, "Whoever refrains from marriage because of fear of poverty, he has indeed thought badly of God."1 In another verse Allah says, "... [T]hen marry such women as seem good to you -two, three or four. But if you fear that you will not do justice between your wives, then marry only one ..." (4:3)

Sex has been openly recommended in the Qur'an, "When they [i.e., the wives] have cleansed themselves [after menstruation], you go into them as Allah has commanded." (2:222) The phrase 'commanded you' does not refer to any legislative command; that is, it does not mean that as soon as a person's wife becomes clean from her period, he should immediately have sex with her. It is a creative command and refers to the sexual urge which Allah has placed in our nature. And when sexual urge is counted as a creative command of God, then who can associate it in any way with sin and evil?!

Marriage and sex are among the signs of God's power and blessings. The Qur'an says, "And among His Signs is that He has created for you spouses from among yourselves so that you may live in tranquility with them; and He has created love and mercy between you. Verily, in that are signs for those who reflect." (30:21)

From these few verses of the Qur'an, one can easily understand that according to Islam: (a) marriage is a sign of God's power and blessings; (b) marriage is a highly recommended act of virtu which should not be avoided because of poverty; (c) sexual urge is a creative command of God placed in human nature. After equating sex with Allah's creative command, there can be no room for equating it with guilt, sin or evil.

The Prophet and the Imams of Ahlul Bayt also encouraged their followers to marry and to fulfill their sexual urges in lawful ways as can be seen from the followings: The Prophet said, "No house has been built in Islam more beloved in the sight of Allah than through marriage."2 The Prophet said, "O you young men! I recommend sexual intercourse to you."3 Imam 'Ali said, "Marry, because marriage is the tradition of the Prophet. The Prophet said, "Whosoever like to follow my tradition, then he should know that marriage is from my tradition.""4 Imam Riza said, "Three thing are from the traditions of the messengers of God: perfume, shaving the [excessive] hair and frequently visiting one's wife."5 Ishaq bin 'Ammar quotes Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq as follows: "Loving women is among the traditions of the prophets."6 The Prophet said, "Prayer has been made the apple of my eyes, and my pleasure is in women."7 See with how ease the Prophet moves from prayers to the pleasure of women! The Prophet said, "No Muslim man has gained a benefit after [the religion of] Islam better than a Muslim wife who is a cause of his pleasure whenever he looks towards her ..."8 Imam Muhammad al-Baqir quotes the Prophet as follows: "Allah says that, 'Whenever I intend to gather the good of this world and the hereafter for a Muslim, I give him a heart which is humble [to Me], a tongue which praises [Me], a body which can bear [worldly] affection and a believing wife who is a cause of his pleasure whenever he looks towards her and who protects herself and his property when he is absent." See with how ease Allah has combined His praise with the pleasure a man derives from a faithful wife!

Jamil bin Darraj quotes Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq saying, "Mankind has not enjoyed [anything] in this world and the hereafter more than the desire for women. Allah says, 'The love of desire os women ... has been made to seem fair to people.' [3:14] The people of the Paradise do not enjoy anything from it more desirable than sex, neither food nor drink."

1. Wasa'ilu 'sh-Shi'ah, vol.14, p.24

2. Wasa'il, vol.14, p.3

3. Ibid, P.25.

4. Ibid, P.3-4,6.

5. Ibid, P.4.

6. Ibid, P.9.

7. Ibid, P.10.

8. Ibid, P.23.

Adapted from: "Marriage & Morals in Islam" by: "Sayyid Muhammad Rizvi"

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