The point is that our marriage is by contract; it is a civil contract between two equal parties, between two equal families, not just between two individuals. It is a civil contract that requires the consent of the two parties. The two parties may include outside of the Shari'ah requirements, anything that may lead to their happiness and mutually agreeable to both of them.
Once the marriage has taken place and the contract has been signed and agreed upon, witnessed not only by the individual spouses, but also by their guardians and their elders, then it becomes a legal and binding document. Now, this creates a constitution for the marriage.
Now consider its fate, and the home as a state. It has internal affairs and it has external affairs, it has public security affairs and it has police affairs and jail affairs, sometimes. It has educational affairs and it has propaganda affairs, and public information. All the ministries of government, all the functions of the ministries of government are there to be performed in the family, in the home unit.
Can you imagine all these activities being carried out without a constitution in the state? But such is the Western marriage. The Western marriage has no constitution.
It is a state without a constitution. They say it is a sacrament and a sacrament is an equal act; it is a mysterious cement which has created, a cadre or framework that has been vested upon that couple outside of their family and it is not spelled out, that is to say, nobody knows its terms and this is why when there is dispute, when there is trouble, when the marriage is on the rocks, they have to refer to custom, to common law, to what- ever the arbitrary wisdom of the judge may happen to hit upon by way of solution.
Therefore, we can say that the Western marriage is a chaotic marriage, it is the founding of an institution without a constitution, whereas our Islamic marriage, being built upon the constitution, its terms being spelled out in the constitution which is the contract of marriage, is an orderly, a societal institution, that is to say it is an institution very much in society.
And Allah, Subhanahu Wa Ta'ala, has commanded us in the Holy Book that if we agree on anything, to write it down, and writing down the contract of marriage is a blessed act which saves the marriage as well as a great deal of unhappiness and suffering.
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