Rafed English

The Parents' House

Muslim society, before the attack of materialism, used to marry off its sons and daughters, and both parties - the parents and the children - were satisfied and content with the parents house as an abode for the newly-weds, without distinguishing between whether the house belonged to the parents of the bride or of the groom. The couple would live in one of the rooms of the house and everyone would contribute to the income, work and affairs of the household. 41 Because of this, marriage was simple and easy regarding housing and furniture and assistance, and the new couple would learn from the older ones various aspects of life. Others would live in a new house whose land was free according to the law the land belongs to Allah and whoever lives upon it' 42. The methods of construction were simple and humble, and there were no governmental difficulties such as taxes or planning permission or the like.

I still recall that the people at the Holy city of Karbala were almost one hundred thousand in number and upon analysis; we would not find more than four unmarried men among them. Today however, the situation is quite the opposite. Society has collaborated with the state, which lays down false laws in this respect. But wherever there is no steadfastness and no organisation in exercising sexual capacity, it becomes distorted and perverse.

It is necessary - if we desire happiness - to re-balance society, and to return to the Qur'anic verse: ' He releases them from their heavy burdens and the yokes that were upon them'. 43 So that there will no longer exist any social burdens or legal fetters, and therein lies the happiness of Muslims in this world and the next 44 includes all possessions. If the custom present in certain countries now and as was usual among the earlier Muslims, of the couple being satisfied with their belongings before the wedding then this would doubtless be an important factor in decreasing the level of non-marriage and corruption.

My father told me that they used to live in Samarra in a single house, and when his sister got married, the gift was very humble, not exceeding a new dress, which her husband bought for her. On the night of the marriage the bride moved to the room of the groom and the matter was concluded.

I actually saw them myself. Theirs was the happiest of households and they produced fine children and grandchildren.

Contentment is a treasure which never runs out, and contentment with reality, without the vain excesses and exaggerations, which usually surround things, causes mental and physical comfort.

History records the dowry of Fatima al-Zahra 45 and the circumstances of her marriage. The dowry was the sum of thirty dirhams according to various versions. The furnishings of her marriage were basic in the extreme so that even the carpet of the room was of sand, as is reported. Despite this it was the happiest of houses not only in the history of Islam but also in the history of humanity.

The messenger of God made this dowry sunna and made it the dowry of all his daughters so it came to be known as the dowry of the sunna. However, stealth and bravery are required from educationalists and in Islamic circles, and from parents so that they can do away with these man-made laws and detrimental customs. 46.

This criterion that the prophet has mentioned is the criterion of common sense also. Naturally the person must be able to provide for his family if the wife so needs, just as he should not be an invalid particularly with a venereal disease or that, which incapacitates him from fulfilling the sexual needs of the wife.

If the behaviour of either of the married couple is not good, the house becomes like a hell, and if one or other of them does not have a code of conduct, which keeps them from wrongdoing then the man, might even be prepared for his wife to become a prostitute. Religion and morals can be judged from previous behaviour, and as to whether he or she is capable of bearing children can be known from the relatives 47 and from certain medical checks.

As for beauty, wealth, position, and social status and so on, they are not in the least bit essential (impossible as not everyone is beautiful and wealthy).

As for age, for if the balance of Islam in marrying every widow and widower is looked at then no fault could be found in either comparing age or neglecting to do so although it is probably better to pay attention to this element also. Hence the Qur'anic reference to the People of Heaven as 'equal in age'. 48

Hence we still see, even in this age, that this is the custom of many Muslims although it was more prevalent in the past when it was Islamic.

The wearing of the veil for women is also part of the religion as is restraint by men from practising forbidden acts, particularly in this material age with its voracious appetite for lust and seduction. 49

This is correct one hundred percent. This is because the unmarried man does not have the motivation to earn money in the same way that the man who feels a responsibility does. This in addition to the fact that it is a matter from the unseen world as is everything we see in this world; it has its apparent cause and its real cause which is the will of Allah.

However, despite this, a means of subsistence should be acquired including place of abode and other needs. Islam has laid down laws in this respect like the land belongs to Allah and whoever develops it' 50, or whoever attains something which no other Muslim has first attained then he has the greater right to it'. 51

Therefore it is possible that a charitable organisation could build simple homes on land with wells or the like for general water and rainwater tanks for drinking water, with an orchard for fruits and vegetables and rearing animals. Then they could be leased which would make things very simple for housing and food and also clothing which could be made from the wool of the animals reared in the house. If there were someone in the house who could sew or perform another task for the family then that would be enough to cover half the expenses. The other half could be obtained by work, which also promotes physical and mental health, self-satisfaction and independence from others.

So if God blesses us with manufacture and agriculture and we have water and earth and willing hands, we will have become independent from others. As Ali said: Become independent from whoever you wish and you will become his equal'. 52 53

There is no doubt that complexity however small and minor causes delays and in any number add up to a greater delay. Therefore if these matters were abolished along with all the other officialities of which there are an abundance these days, marriage would become easy and would be popular among young men and women as well as divorcees and so on.

54 The West has progressed and flourished relative to the extent it has practised it. Muslims have regressed whenever they have neglected and ignored it.

This principle must be applied to the married couple. They are, together, free in the choices they make in everything that God has permitted. The only exception which many scholars have noted is in the rights of the virgin girl if her father or paternal grandfather are living, in which case she is subject to their opinion and requires their permission to marry. When the giving of permission is feasible and no other secondary principle applies, then her wishes should be satisfied and permission given.

Similarly, it is not at all conceivable that the young man or woman should be compelled to marry a certain person. Not only is this against the sacred law and common sense, it very often causes problems, the least of which are separation, estrangement and divorce, and in some cases can reach the level of murder and suicide as is common today.

What place is there for compulsion in the relationship of marriage the meaning of which is the intimate companionship of husband and wife by day and by night at home or abroad, and throughout all the circumstances and mental states of each party?

Therefore the marriage of the two must arise out of mutual agreement and no one should have the right to force them to marry.
41 The author refers to practises in countries where the state does not provide any support for housing etc. In such cases the newly wed couples would continue to live with the parents. This may not be applicable in countries where state support is provided for housing. (Editor's note).

42 The Complete Branches of Religion; Volume 5; Page 279.

43 The Holy Qur'an: The Heights (7): 157.

44 Shi'a Guide; volume 15; Page 1.

45 One of the daughters of the Prophet. Fatima married 'Ali. (Translator's note)

46 Seas of Lights: Volume 100, p 373.

47 This is often neglected.

48 The Holy Qur'an: The Inevitable Event (56): 37.

49 The Holy Qur'an: Light (24): 32.

50 The Complete Branches of Religion; Volume 5; Page 279.

51 Shi'a Guide; Volume 17; Page 238.

52 Seas of Lights; Volume 72; Page 107.

53 Sometimes the family would give some sugar to the notary although many of them did not even accept this.

54 Seas of Lights; Volume 2; Page 272.

Adapted from the book; "The Family" by: "Imam Muhammad Shirazi"

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