The third section of the Muslim Law concerns transaction, [Arabic: Mu’âmalât]. Transactions are subdivided into marriage; inheritance; contracts; sale; barter and agency.
Marriage is enjoined by the Prophet upon every Muslim, while celibacy is frequently condemned by him. It is related in the traditions that the Prophet said: “When a man marries he has fulfilled half of the religion; so let him fear Allâh regarding the remaining half.” [Al-Tirmidhi-3096]
The following are some of the saying of the Prophet on the subject of marriage:- “The best wedding is that upon which the least trouble and expense are bestowed.” [Mishkat al-Masabih]
“The worst kind of food is the wedding feast to which the rich are invited and the poor are ignored. He who does not come to the feast, he in fact disobeys Allâh and His Messenger (may peace be upon him).” [Sahih Muslim, Hadîth 3349]
“Marry women who love their husbands and be very prolific, for I wish you to be more numerous than any other people’… [Mishkat al-Masabih, book 13]
“If there comes to you with an offer of marriage (for your daughter, sister, etc.) one with whose religious commitment and character you are pleased, then marry (your daughter, sister, etc, to) him. If you do not do so, there will be mischief on earth and widespread corruption.” [al-Tirmidhi, 1004; hasan in Saheeh al-Jaami’, 270], “A woman may be married for four reasons: for her property, her status. her beauty and her religion, so try to get one who is religious, may your hand be besmeared with dust.” [Saheeh Muslim-3457], “All young men who have arrived at the age of puberty should marry, for marriage protect them against intemperance.” [Muslim – Book 8, Hadîth 3231], “The best of mahrs is the simplest (or most affordable).” [Narrated by al-Haakim and al-Bayhaqi, sahih - Saheeh al-Jaami’, 3279].
“If one of you proposes marriage to a woman, if he can look at her to see that which will encourage him to go ahead and marry her, then let him do so…” [Abi Dawood, 1832-1834].
“A virgin cannot be married until her consent has been sought and a previously-married woman cannot be married until she has been consulted.” They said, “O Messenger of Allâh, what is her consent?” He said, “If she remains silent.” [Narrated by Al-Bukhari, 5136; Muslim, 1419]
From the above-mentioned teachings of the Prophet, it is clear that Islam encourages marriage and condemns celibacy. Men and women must marry, not once in their lives, but so long as they have the strength and can afford to support each other.
During the pre-Islamic period of the Arabs, there was no limit to the number of wives a man could take. But Islam limited the number to one, with permission to marry, if necessary, two or three or even four, provided that one can treat them with justice and equality in one’s relation with them as husband, which is extremely difficult. Hence the tendency of Islamic Law is towards monogamy, though it does not definitely bind a man to take only one wife. In other words, monogamy is the rule, and polygamy is an exception, it being a remedial course to be resorted to certain cases and under certain conditions.
In the early days of Islam, wars of conquests ended in the capture of a large number of women, some of whom were supported by the conquerors. Polygamy then became a necessity and offered a ready solution to social problems. The same solution might be resorted to if similar social conditions would suggest themselves. A number of the faithful followers of the Prophet were being killed in religious warfare. Public policy and morals required that their widows and grown-up daughters should be adequately provided for and given protecting shelter. It was, within the limit of four wives prescribed by the law, the believers took in marriage the widows and daughters of their friends, who had sacrificed themselves in the cause of their religion. The greatest sacrifice in this respect was made by the Prophet himself, whose additional object in having as many as nine wives – all of whom [except ‘A’isha] were elderly women – was to propagate the teachings of Islam through them among the women of Arabia. It was through the Prophet’s wives that the Arab women, who embraced Islam, came to know what the institutions of the new religion – as envisaged by the daily life of the Prophet – really were.
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