There are many contemporary challenges that young Muslims face when it comes to the issue of marriage. Today, we find many youth having difficulty getting married for a variety of different reasons. In some cases, parents think their children are too young, have not finished their degrees, or are financially unable to marry.
Marriage is among the most important institutions in Islam, as it promotes a healthy family and community founded on love and mercy. God tells us in the Quran, “And of His signs is that He created spouses for you out of yourselves so that you might take comfort in them, and He created love and mercy between you.” In a narration from Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), he strongly states, “Of my tradition is to marry.” Thus, we can see that in the religion of Islam, marriage is of the utmost importance.
There are many contemporary challenges that young Muslims face when it comes to the issue of marriage. Today, we find many youth having difficulty getting married for a variety of different reasons. In some cases, parents think their children are too young, have not finished their degrees, or are financially unable to marry. And unfortunately, in other cases, parents consider the person the child wants to marry unsuitable because they are from a different ethnic background. For us to progress as a community, it is imperative that we hold on to the divine teachings that the Prophet and Imams (pbut) have given us, especially when it relates to marriage.
Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) has advised us that, “There is no foundation that has been built in Islam more loved by God Almighty, than marriage.” At a very young age we begin to lay the foundation of our lives by establishing an educational background that serves as a framework for our future careers. Similarly, just as the best time for starting an education is at a young age, the best time for marriage is in our youth. While an academic background is needed earlier in life to enter into a career path, marriage is necessary at a young age to keep us safe from entering a sinful lifestyle. Therefore, while achieving an education is important, it does not need to come at the expense of getting married. There is no ruling or law in Islam that forbids the pursuit of knowledge and marriage at the same time. Hence, we can begin to see why marriage is the most beloved foundation built in Islam by God Almighty.
Financial Complications of Marriage
Financial hurdles are perhaps another major obstacle to allowing our youth to get married. God has promised, “Marry the single people among you…If they are poor, God will make them rich through His favor.” It is important to recognize that God has given a guarantee to help those who want to get married but do not have the means. We need to entrust our affairs to Him in this regard.
Moreover, many young men are afraid of getting married due to the dowry that has to be given to the bride. These days, some families of the bride ask for a large sum of money that is often unaffordable to the groom. Islamically, the dowry is a gift that the bride requests from her husband and can be anything tangible (not necessarily money). We see the best example of this in the life of Imam Ali (p) and Lady Fatimah (p). Imam Ali (p) had nothing to give Lady Fatimah (p) for her dowry. The Holy Prophet (pbuh) advised Imam Ali (p) to sell his shield and give its worth to Lady Fatimah (p) as her dowry. Sayyid al-Sistani has stated that, “Guardians are not permitted to prevent their daughters from getting married, nor are they permitted to put obstacles in their way using improper traditions not required by God, such as asking for exorbitant dowers.”
Often, we see parents refusing to let their children marry someone who is outside their cultural or ethnic background. No matter how pious the person is, parents tend to concentrate on the fact that they do not come from the same country or speak the same language. This is not part of Islamic conduct. God states, “We have created you all male and female and have made you nations and tribes so that you would recognize each other. The most honorable among you in the sight of God is the most pious of you.” God has created us from different backgrounds so that we may get to know one another and learn about each other.
Furthermore, the Holy Prophet (pbuh) states, “If someone with good etiquette and religiousness comes to you [for marriage], then marry him. If you do not, then you have caused great corruption on Earth” It is extremely important to note that in this narration, there is not even a small hint that speaks about race. Additionally, the Holy Prophet (pbuh&hp) did not direct any of his family to only marry within their bloodline. There are many sayyid (those who come from the lineage of the Holy Prophet (pbuh&hp)) families that do not allow their children to marry non-sayyid individuals, regardless of their excellence in piety and other good qualities. This has no basis in Islam. According to Sayyid al-Sistani, not allowing one’s children to marry outside of the sayyid lineage is an example of “improper traditions not required by God” and “there are many sources of corruption in these traditions.”
- Choose a God-conscious spouse. We see some youth today getting married for the wrong reasons. Some marry solely for beauty or wealth forgetting that there is something far more important: faith. The Holy Prophet (pbuh) states, “A [person] who marries… for the sake of… wealth, God leaves him [to consume the wealth until it depletes], and the one who marries… for… beauty, he will find… [the beauty depleting with old age], and the one who marries… for the sake of… faith (religiousness), God will give [him the long-lasting wealth and beauty].”
- Concentrate on Islamic Practices. As stated above, many of the youth are finding it difficult to get married due to cultural practices, such as sayyids marrying only sayyids. We should instead focus on what the religion of Islam permits and forbids. This way, we will allow the challenges of getting married to slowly disappear.
- Parents should offer their help. Parents should find creative ways to support their children’s marrying early, even while attending college, such as by continuing to help pay for their children’s tuition until they are ready to support themselves independently. In addition, if the youth are not financially ready to have their own place, parents could offer their help by allowing their children to live at home. This will not only provide great support for the new couple, but also provide much needed support for aging parents who may require additional care.
- Have a written document. Although Islamic marriages are solemnized verbally, it is important to have written documentation to record many of the points discussed above. By having any stipulations (i.e., dowry) recorded, a newlywed couple can eliminate fears of unexpected demands.